The constitution states no law may be passed to establish a state religion or impair the free exercise of religion. Senior government officials regularly met with religious leaders to promote the government’s commitment to freedom of religion. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some U.S. missionaries, church workers, and religious teachers from various churches departed the country. Multiple religious leaders reported many of their staff and congregation members had to remain outside the country due to travel restrictions. At year’s end, the backlog of returnees outpaced the limited number of repatriation seats available. The government continued to provide grants to private, church-affiliated schools and continued to state it made no distinction between public and private schools in its grant programs. All private schools were either Catholic or Protestant.
The Ahmadi Muslim community that had previously been established at a community center in Pohnpei State was inactive during the year due to the community organizers being off-island as a result of COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Ahmadi Muslims reported that the closure of the center was not due to any mistreatment of their community. The Interdenominational Council in Pohnpei stated it encouraged unity among religious groups by addressing local social problems and promoting cooperation among religious communities. The council was inactive for most of the year as a result of key members being unable to return to the country due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, but it restarted monthly meetings in November.
U.S. embassy officers held discussions with senior government officials and local religious leaders to promote religious inclusion and tolerance, including in Pohnpei and Yap States.