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Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal Framework

The constitution provides for freedom of conscience and the free exercise of worship.  It states that these practices must not be “opposed to morals, to good customs or to the public order.”  Religious groups may establish and maintain places of worship, as long as the locations comply with public hygiene and security regulations established by laws and municipal orders.

According to the constitution, religion and state are officially separate.  The law prohibits discrimination based on religion, provides civil remedies to victims of discrimination based on their religion or belief, and increases criminal penalties for acts of discriminatory violence.  The law prohibits discrimination in the provision of discrimination in the provision of social services, education, ability to practice religious beliefs or gain employment, property rights, and the rights to build places of worship.

The law does not require religious groups to register with the government; however, there are tax benefits for those that do.  Once registered, a religious group is recognized as a religious nonprofit organization; religious organizations have the option of adopting a charter and bylaws suited to a religious entity rather than a private corporation or a secular nonprofit.  Under the law, religious nonprofit organizations may create affiliates, such as charitable foundations, schools, or additional houses of worship, which retain the tax benefits of the religious parent organization.  According to ONAR, public law recognizes more than 3,200 religious organizations as legal entities.  By law, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) may not refuse to accept the registration petition of a religious entity, although it may object to petitions within 90 days if legal prerequisites for registration are not satisfied.

Applicants for religious nonprofit status must present the MOJ with an authorized copy of their charter, corresponding bylaws with signatures, and the national identification numbers of charter signatories.  The bylaws must include the organization’s mission, creed, and structure.  The charter must specify the signatories, the name of the organization, and its physical address, and it must include confirmation that bylaws have been approved by the religious institutions’ charter signatories.  In the event the MOJ raises objections to the group, the group may petition; the petitioning group has 60 days to address the MOJ’s objections or can challenge them in court.  Once a religious entity is registered, the state may not dissolve it by decree.  If concerns are raised about a religious group’s activities after registration, the semi-autonomous Council for the Defense of the State may initiate a judicial review of the matter.  The government has never deregistered a legally registered group.  One registration per religious group is sufficient to extend nonprofit status to affiliates, such as additional places of worship or schools, clubs, and sports organizations, without registering them as separate entities.  According to ONAR, the MOJ receives approximately 30 petitions monthly.  The MOJ has not objected to any petition and has registered every group that completed the required paperwork.

By law, all schools must offer religious education for two teaching hours per week through pre-elementary, elementary, middle, and high school.  Local school administrators decide how religious education classes are structured.  The majority of religious instruction in public schools is Catholic.  The Ministry of Education also has approved instruction curricula designed by 14 other religious groups, such as orthodox and reformed Jews, evangelical Christians, and Seventh-day Adventists.  Schools must provide religious instruction for students according to students’ religious affiliations.  Parents may have their children excused from religious education.  Parents also have the right to homeschool their children for religious reasons or enroll them in private, religiously oriented schools.

The law grants religious groups the right to appoint chaplains to offer religious services in public hospitals and prisons.  Prisoners may request religious accommodations.  Regulations for the armed forces and law enforcement agencies allow officially registered religious groups to appoint chaplains to serve in each branch of the armed forces, in the national uniformed police, and the national investigative police.

The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Government Practices

According to ONAR and media reports, from January to November arsonists set fire to 13 churches, primarily in rural Araucania Region and in Santiago Region during Pope Francis’ January visit.  There were at least eight arson attacks against churches the previous year.  Of the affected churches, three were evangelical Christian and the others Catholic.  The Araucania region is home to the country’s largest indigenous community, the Mapuche.  According to political sources, the church attacks appeared to fit into the pattern of protest and sabotage by the Mapuche group Weichan Auka Mapu and Mapuche land rights sympathizers.  They said the attacks targeted a wide range of institutions and private-sector business interests in the Araucania region, including trucks, farm equipment, a kindergarten, and farm structures.  According to anthropologists, while the Mapuche largely identify as Christian, they maintain historic grievances against the government for seizing Mapuche lands, and against Christian churches, which the Mapuche hold responsible for “colonialization” of the regions.  No one was hurt in the attacks.  Several Catholic and evangelical churches and Mapuche leaders publicly called on authorities to strengthen their investigations into church burnings.

In April judges sentenced brothers Pablo and Benito Trangol to 10 years in prison for arson due to their involvement in the 2016 burning of Our Father Evangelical Church in Temuco.  The brothers denied involvement in the incident and affiliation with Weichan Auka Mapu.  Weichan Auka Mapu did not claim responsibility for the church burning.

In response to the church burnings and unrest in the region, President Pinera traveled to Araucania in September and announced the National Accord for Development and Peace in the Araucania, a program led by the minister of social development to address the roots of the Mapuche conflict, including ethnicity and religion.  The program includes formal constitutional recognition of the country’s indigenous peoples and institutional measures to promote their political participation, mechanisms for government-Mapuche dialogue, and a plan for major investment in infrastructure.  Media reported some Mapuche viewed the initiative as a continuation of “economic colonialism” in the region.  In September several Mapuche marched in Temuco and other indigenous communities to reject the plan.  Other Mapuche leaders in Temuco expressed guarded optimism about the plan.

In July the government granted a Mapuche spiritual leader convicted of homicide a 48-hour temporary release from prison to visit his rewe, or sacred altar, “to renew his spiritual energy.”  The government’s action was widely covered by the press.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization whose mandates include documenting and memorializing the Holocaust, wrote an open letter to President Pinera denouncing his meeting in May with PA President Abbas.  The letter stated that government reception of PA delegates over the last year “has led to increasing anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activity, especially on university campuses.”  The government did not respond publicly to the letter.

In June several Jewish organizations expressed concern when the mayor of Valdivia announced the town would join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.  The measure prohibits the city from working with any business that benefits or is linked to “Israel’s occupation of Palestine” or “Israel’s apartheid policy that targets Palestinians.”  At year’s end, the central government continued to assess the constitutionality of the city’s decision.

In July the Office of the National Prosecutor announced it had investigated 158 members of the country’s Roman Catholic Church for committing or covering up sexual abuse of minors and adults.  The investigation subjects included reports of abuse by bishops, other clerics, and lay workers filed since 2000, with some reported abuses dating back to 1960.  According to the office, the number of victims was 266, including 178 children and teenagers.  In August investigating prosecutors raided the headquarters of the Catholic Church’s Episcopal Conference as part of a widespread investigation into sex abuse committed by members of the Marist Brothers order.

Catholic and Episcopalian leaders condemned congress’ September approval of a gender identity law, allowing transgender individuals 14 years and older with parental or a guardian’s consent to change their name and gender in official records.  In January authorities removed a group of protesters from congress after they interrupted a debate over sex changes for transgender youth.  The protesters said sex change operations were “against the will of God” and contrary to religious teachings.

In March the government disbanded the Interfaith Advisory Council, a roundtable organization created by the previous administration and comprising religious leaders representing the country’s religious communities, including Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and Baha’is, among others.  ONAR said it would convene another similar body, with members chosen by the new administration, but the government did not form the council by year’s end.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

Jewish community leaders stated concern about a rise in religious tensions, citing a perceived increase in acrimony towards Jews, especially on the part of the country’s Palestinian population, after the U.S. government moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  La Comunidad Judia de Chile, a leading Jewish civil society organization, reported a graffiti drawing reading “Resist Palestine” outside a Jewish community center in Santiago; a flyer that read “Free Palestine” inside the bathroom of a Sephardic Jewish community center in Santiago in July; and an article in a Valdivia city newspaper authored by a local Chilean-Palestinian youth group that denounced Israel as “an apartheid state and a terrorist country that has initiated an ethnic and cultural extermination” against the Palestinian people.

According to media, the General Union of Palestinian Students chapter at the University of Chile’s Law School denounced and boycotted the student council campaign of a Jewish student who they said professed Zionist beliefs.  The Organization of Jewish Students of Chile condemned the boycott in a public statement, saying the statements regarding Zionism were “a way to hide anti-Semitism.”

Jewish community leaders also expressed concern about anti-Semitic social media commentary against individual and Jewish community groups.  In May graffiti found on the walls of the E50 Republic of Israel public school read “No to the plan andinia [sic], inform yourself” (referring to a long-held conspiracy theory circulated by anti-Semitic groups that Jews planned on creating a Jewish state in parts of Chile and Argentina) and “Israel terrorist state,” along with the Star of David, an equal sign, and following it, a swastika.


Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal Framework

The constitution grants all individuals the right to practice and profess publicly and freely the religion of their choice and prohibits discrimination based on religion.  It states the government has a responsibility to “protect voluntary religious practice, as well as the expression of those who do not profess any religion, and will favor an atmosphere of plurality and tolerance.”  Individuals have the right to change their religion.  The constitution also states secular ethics are the basis for public service and the country’s legal system.  The constitution grants the right of self-determination to indigenous communities, including provisions granting freedom to “develop and strengthen their identity, feeling of belonging, ancestral traditions and form of social organization.”

A 1937 agreement (concordat) with the Holy See accords juridical status to the Catholic Church and grants it financial privileges and tax exemptions.  Other religious groups must register as legal entities with the government under a separate 1937 religious law and a 2000 decree on religion.  If a religious group wishes to provide social services, it must also register under a 2017 executive decree regulating civil society.  The 2017 decree dictates how civil society organizations must register to obtain and maintain legal status.  Current regulations require individual religious congregations and organizations to conduct this registration process through the MOJ.

The National Secretary for Policy Management’s Office of Planning maintains a national database of legally recognized civil society organizations, including religious groups.  Registration provides religious groups with legal and nonprofit status.  An officially registered organization is eligible to receive government funding and exemptions from certain taxes.

To register as a religious group, the organization must present to the government a charter signed by all of its founding members and provide information on its leadership and physical location.  Three experts in religious matters appointed by the MOJ evaluate the application, in consultation with religious organizations already legally established in the country.  The 2017 decree does not specify the criteria for selection of religious experts.  The registration process is free.  Failure to obtain legal status through registration may result in the dissolution of the group and liquidation of its physical property by the government.  To register as a social or civil society organization, religious groups require the same documentation, as well as approved statutes and a description of the mission statement and objectives of the organization.  According to the MOJ, registrants must deliver the paperwork to the MOJ’s Quito office in person.

The law prohibits public schools from providing religious instruction, but private schools may do so.  Private schools must comply with Ministry of Education standards.  There are no legal restrictions specifying which religious groups may establish schools.

Foreign religious missionaries and volunteers must apply for a temporary residence visa to work in the country and present a letter of invitation from the sponsoring organization to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The letter must include a commitment to cover the applicant’s living expenses and detail the applicant’s proposed activities.  Applicants also must provide a certified copy of the bylaws of the sponsoring organization and the name of its legal representative as approved by the government.

The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Government Practices

On November 14, President Moreno signed an executive decree that formally dissolved the MOJ.  On August 21, he announced he would dissolve the MOJ as part of an ongoing government downsizing program, but he did not specify which government entity would assume the functions exercised by the MOJ.  The decree states that the SPM would assume responsibilities for issues related to religion and religious groups within 90 days.  According to an MOJ official, the government had begun transitioning functions to the SPM but had not finalized the changeover by year’s end.  The MOJ continued to manage the registration process during the transition, including the registration process for religious groups.  MOJ representatives said there was a reduction in personnel in their office, from seven analysts in 2017 to four, who reviewed registration paperwork.  They also confirmed the MOJ would continue to provide registration services to religious groups until the government formally reassigned such functions to another entity.

Many religious groups stated the registration process had been onerous and disruptive to their activities at times, but the difficulties were bureaucratic in nature.  Numerous leaders noted long processing delays started under the previous administration; one evangelical Christian leader cited an example of registration paperwork for legal representatives having taken two to three years to process.  A Muslim leader attributed the delays to a reduction in MOJ staff members in the processing office.  Many noted that the 2017 decree had not been in effect long enough to assess whether it had improved the registration process.  Guayaquil-based leaders said the administrative costs and registration delays occurred because the Guayaquil satellite office sent the registration forms to Quito for final processing.  Evangelical Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist leaders agreed the delays and onerous requirements led many groups, especially small groups, not to apply for registration.  According to these leaders, unregistered groups often met in private homes.  Without a legal representative, groups were unable to open bank accounts or engage in formal land transactions.

The MOJ said it assisted approximately 36 individuals per day with the registration process for both religious and civil society organizations.  Training and in-person assistance were available only in Quito.  MOJ representatives said it took approximately one to three months to register as a social organization if the group correctly completed all paperwork the first time.  If paperwork contained errors and/or organizations did not respond to the MOJ with additional information in a timely manner, the registration process took approximately six months to one year.  They stated that the revised registration process under the 2017 decree made it easier for foreigners to start social groups and participate as legal representatives.  According to the MOJ, since 2010 the number of religious groups registered increased from approximately 2,000 to an estimated 3,560 religious groups.  Officials stated that approximately 1,140 were in the process of registration as of September.

Evangelical Christian and Catholic representatives expressed concern about their ability to teach children in their community about gender and family in a manner consistent with their beliefs.  They stated that a presidential decree, published on May 15, required private religious schools to teach a definition of gender not in line with their religious beliefs.  The original text of the decree required schools to teach the “mainstreaming of gender identity, new masculinity, women in their diversity, the prevention and eradication of violence against women, and the elimination of gender stereotypes.”  In response to religious groups’ stated concerns, President Moreno revised the decree on July 19.  The new text states that curriculum must teach “the equality of men and women in all political, economic, and social spheres, the socio-cultural construction of roles and values associated with the behavior of men free from sexism [machismo] or supremacy over women, the prevention and eradication of violence against women, the development of nondiscriminatory conduct, and the elimination of all forms of stereotypes…”  According to media reports, religious groups held peaceful marches in Quito and Guayaquil at the end of July to express their continued concerns about possible reforms to educational texts.

Jewish and Muslim leaders said customs regulations interfered with their ability to import kosher and halal foods, beverages, and plants for use in religious festivals.  A Jewish leader stated that problems arose from onerous paperwork, phytosanitary restrictions, and regulations limiting imports of certain plant and animal products.

At year’s end, a case filed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and accepted for review in 2014 was still pending before the Constitutional Court.  The case involved a conflict in the northern town of Iluman between Jehovah’s Witnesses who wanted to build a new assembly hall and indigenous residents who opposed it.  Two lower courts had previously ruled in favor of the residents, concluding that their right to self-determination was a valid rationale for preventing the practice of religion.  Representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses stated that in 2017, they had reached an agreement with the indigenous community to continue their activities while the legal case was pending.

Numerous religious leaders stated that the Moreno government, which took office in May 2017, verbally expressed greater support for freedom of religion than the previous administration.  They said the Moreno government was more open to their opinions and did not restrict their ability to function in society, unlike the previous administration.

On October 30, President Moreno and Foreign Minister Jose Valencia joined the Jewish community in celebrating the 80th anniversary of its official founding in the country.  President Moreno gave remarks highlighting the positive contributions of the Jewish community.  On November 9, the Foreign Ministry hosted an event to honor and posthumously reinstate diplomat Manuel Antonio Munoz Borrero, whom the government dismissed from his position as consul in Stockholm in 1942 for providing passports to Jews escaping the Holocaust.

A new interfaith working group including representatives from the Baha’i, Catholic, evangelical Christian, Jewish, Church of Jesus Christ, and Muslim communities formed in October.  On November 27, President Moreno met with the group.  Members discussed their concerns about the National Assembly’s new draft education law and their interest in working with the government to address social issues.  They delivered a letter expressing their shared concerns about the education law.  They also discussed ideas for collaboration to improve the well-being of the nation through interfaith initiatives and faith-based outreach.  On November 28, President Moreno released a social media video acknowledging the positive meeting.  He stated, “It was heartwarming to note that for the first time in Ecuador, representatives from all of the churches and communities of faith met together to work on a project for his neighbor and to contribute to the education law reform.  We are forging a community united by spirituality!”

Representatives from interfaith group CONALIR, which includes representatives from the Adventist, Anglican, Baha’i, Buddhist, Catholic, evangelical Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox, and Protestant faith communities, stated they met with members of the National Assembly to promote a draft religious law, developed by a group of interfaith leaders and pending since 2009, to foster greater religious freedom and equality.  The draft law would revise the 1937 religion law and 2000 decree on religion.  CONALIR said it would create greater equality between other religious groups and the Catholic Church, which benefitted from a separate 1937 agreement with the Holy See that accorded juridical and tax exempt status to the Catholic Church.  CONALIR leadership stated that a new religious law should articulate the government’s commitment to equality for all religions, and reinforce the constitutional principle of freedom from discrimination based on religious beliefs.  Additionally, the group proposed updating the registration process for religious groups, and reforming tax and labor laws specifically to recognize the nonprofit status of all religious groups and their need to rely on volunteer labor for certain activities groups.  In August the group began conducting a series of human rights workshops on the importance of religious equality under the law.

Catholic and evangelical Christian leaders stated that the current administration had not forced any private religious schools to close during the year, unlike during the previous administration.  Church of Jesus Christ leaders reported no issues with opening new religious schools.  Catholic leaders noted that costs had kept them from re-opening previously closed schools in smaller and more rural communities.

All religious leaders said they were concerned about the elimination of the MOJ as the point of contact for religious groups and the uncertainty over which entity would regulate the registration process in the future.  They underscored the need for a religious ministry or office focused on religious issues in the government.  They also stated their opinion that religious issues were not a top priority among the many other pressing demands on the Moreno government.  CONALIR leadership said it regretted that the new human rights ombudsman had not released by the end of the year a public awareness video produced in 2017 on religious freedom.  The Ombudsman’s Office stated that the office was still reviewing an official study on religious freedom in the country before deciding whether to release the video.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

Many religious leaders said that society exhibited a general lack of knowledge about religious traditions and practices outside of Catholicism, such as traditional female head coverings in the Islamic and Greek Orthodox faiths.  A Buddhist leader said that society frequently confused Hindu practices with Buddhist practices.  Baha’i leaders stated that individuals, but not institutions, had prejudices against minority religious groups.  Some religious leaders expressed concerns about what they considered an erosion of traditional religious values in issues such as gender identity and education.


Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal Framework

The constitution bars discrimination and persecution based on religious affiliation or belief and provides for freedom of religion, either individually or in association with others.  It states every person has the right to privacy of religious conviction.  It establishes the separation of religion and state but recognizes the Catholic Church’s role as “an important element in the historical, cultural, and moral development” of the country.

A 1980 concordat between the government and the Holy See accords the Catholic Church certain institutional privileges in education, taxation, and immigration of religious workers.  The subsequent 2011 religious freedom law exempts Catholic Church buildings, houses, and other real estate holdings from property taxes.  Other religious groups often must pay property taxes on their schools and clerical residences, depending on the municipal jurisdiction and whether the group seeks and/or receives tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization.  The law exempts Catholic religious workers from taxes on international travel.  The government also exempts all work-related earnings of Catholic priests and bishops from income taxes.  By law, the military may employ only Catholic clergy as chaplains.

The MOJ is responsible for engaging with religious groups.

The 2016 revised implementing regulations to the religious freedom law make registration with the MOJ’s Directorate of Justice and Religious Freedom optional and voluntary.  The stated purpose of the registry is to promote integrity and facilitate a relationship with the government.  The revised regulations do not require government registration for a religious group to obtain institutional benefits, but doing so allows religious groups to engage with the government.  They allow all religious groups, registered or not, to apply for tax exemptions and worker or resident visas directly with the pertinent government institutions.  Registration is free, the process usually takes one week, and the MOJ provides assistance in completing the application forms.

According to the law, all prisoners, regardless of their religious affiliation, may practice their religion and seek the ministry of someone of their same faith.

The law mandates that all schools, public and private, provide religious education through the primary and secondary levels, “without violating the freedom of conscience of the student, parents, or teachers.”  The law permits only the teaching of Catholicism in public schools, and the Ministry of Education requires the presiding Catholic bishop of an area to approve the public schools’ religious education teachers.  Parents may request the school principal to exempt their children from mandatory religion classes.  The government may grant exemptions from the religious education requirement to secular private schools and non-Catholic religious schools.  Non-Catholic children attending Catholic schools are also exempt from classes on Catholicism.  The law states schools may not academically disadvantage students seeking exemptions from Catholic education classes.

The law requires all employers to accommodate the religious days and holidays of all employees; this accommodation includes allowing an employee to use annual vacation leave for this purpose.

Foreign religious workers must apply for a visa through the Office of Immigration of the Ministry of Interior.  If the religious group registers with the MOJ, the immigration office accepts this as proof the applicant group is a religious organization.  If the group does not register with the MOJ, the immigration office makes its decision on a case-by-case basis.

The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Government Practices

In July the government removed a 2016 requirement that religious entities seeking to register must have at least 500 adult members, changing it to allow any group to register voluntarily regardless of its size or categorization.  At year’s end, the government had registered 133 non-Catholic groups that had voluntarily requested registration, an increase from 115 in 2017, including the Church of Jesus Christ and a number of small evangelical Protestant groups.  According to the MOJ and local interfaith groups, the government accepted and approved the applications from all interested religious groups, and there were no reported denials.

Some Catholic Church members and members of religious minorities continued to criticize aspects of the 2011 religious freedom law, stating it maintained institutional preferences for the Catholic Church, particularly regarding tax exemptions.  In its regular meetings with the MOJ, the Interreligious Council continued to press for equal access to government benefits for all religious groups, including tax exemptions on income, import duties, property, and sales; visas for religious workers; and opportunities to serve as military chaplains.  Members of the council said they were pleased with the new regulations and the government’s response to requests for tax benefits from non-Catholic religious groups.

The executive branch, through the MOJ, continued to engage religious communities on matters affecting the communities, including the registration process, taxation exemptions, religious worker visas, budgetary support for religious groups, and prisoners’ rights to religious practice.  The MOJ continued to interact regularly with the public through its Office of Catholic Affairs and Office of Interfaith Affairs for non-Catholic Religious Groups.  Government engagement with religious groups included regular conferences, workshops, and other interfaith meetings to discuss the registration process, joint charity campaigns, public outreach, and cultural events.  The government and religious groups, including the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, and various Protestant churches, hosted these engagements for the entire community.

According to the MOJ’s Office of Catholic Affairs, the government continued to pay stipends to the Catholic cardinal, six archbishops, and approximately 1,000 other Catholic Church officials, totaling approximately 2.6 million soles ($770,000) annually.  Some Catholic clergy and laypersons employed by the Church received remuneration from the government in addition to Church stipends, including 44 active bishops, four auxiliary bishops, and some priests.  These individuals represented approximately one-eighth of the Catholic clergy and pastoral agents.  In addition, the government provided each Catholic diocese with a monthly institutional subsidy, based on the 1980 concordat with the Holy See.  According to Catholic Church representatives, the Church used these and other Church funds to provide humanitarian services to the poor, regardless of their religious affiliation or nonaffiliation.  Similar stipends were not available to other religious groups.

Protestant pastors said some non-Catholic soldiers continued to have difficulty finding and attending non-Catholic religious services because by law only Catholic chaplains may serve in the military.

MOJ representatives organized an interfaith meeting in March to coordinate religious community humanitarian support for approximately 600,000 Venezuelans in the country during the year and to ensure all religious groups provided services to them regardless of their religious affiliation.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

The Interreligious Council continued its dialogue among religious entities including evangelical and other Protestant groups, as well as Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Eastern Orthodox, and Church of Jesus Christ representatives.  The council engaged religious communities on the government’s revised religious freedom regulations, the protection of religious freedom, and assistance to displaced Venezuelans regardless of their religious affiliation or no affiliation.

Jewish community leaders said some individuals continued to engage occasionally in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on social media, usually focused on Israel, but they did not provide specific examples.  They said the government and both private and government-run media did not engage in this activity.  Muslim and Jewish community members again stated some public and private schools and employers occasionally required their members to use accumulated leave for non-Catholic religious holidays such as Eid al-Fitr and Yom Kippur, an option in accordance with the law.

At one well-attended interfaith event in October, the Church of Jesus Christ hosted an expert panel to discuss the importance of religious freedom, stressing this freedom includes the right to have no particular religion.  Several government officials and former officials participated in the event.

Religious groups and interfaith organizations coordinated with the government, civil society, and international organizations to provide humanitarian assistance, regardless of their religious affiliation, to the hundreds of thousands of displaced Venezuelans entering the country since 2015.  There were no reported attempts to proselytize.  Various evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches in Tumbes worked with the government, International Organization for Migration, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to provide temporary housing to Venezuelans entering the northern border.

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