The constitution states all persons are free to profess their chosen religious beliefs and to engage in ceremonies and acts of worship. The legislature may not enact laws that establish or prohibit any religion. The constitution provides for the separation of religion and state and defines the country as secular. Government, nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and religious representatives stated enforcement of the constitutional right of religious freedom sometimes conflicted with the constitutional right to autonomy provided to indigenous communities. NGOs, including some religious organizations, reported that inhabitants in some rural and indigenous communities, primarily in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, were pressured to adhere to the majority religion or face banishment, denial of social services, or imprisonment. Within these communities, some families belonging to minority religions were required to pay for and participate in community and religious gatherings, and in some cases were forcibly displaced by community members. NGOs reported that displaced individuals who sought the assistance or protection of local authorities were often ignored.
The Catholic Multimedia Center (CMC) reported priests and other religious leaders in some parts of the country continued to be targeted and subjected to extortion, death threats, and intimidation by criminal groups. There were multiple reports of priests who were kidnapped and killed. The CMC reported in early December that seven priests were killed during the year. Government officials stated many of these incidents were not a result of targeting for religious beliefs but rather incidents related to crime in the country as a whole. NGOs stated that some priests were targeted because of their advocacy on behalf of human rights of communities. Jewish community representatives reported low levels of anti-Semitism and good interreligious cooperation on addressing instances of anti-Semitism.
U.S. embassy and consulate representatives met with government representatives to discuss concerns about violence toward Catholic priests and other religious leaders and reports of discrimination toward evangelical Protestants in some communities. In August the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom met with government officials, representatives of the Catholic Church, minority religious groups, and NGOs to discuss reports of religious discrimination. In July the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism met with Jewish community representatives. Embassy officers met with members of religious groups and NGOs to gather details about specific cases. During the U.S.-Mexico Human Rights Dialogue on October 27, officials from the U.S. government underscored the importance of protecting religious leaders.