The constitution provides for the freedom to change religion or belief and the freedom to show and spread religious belief through worship, teaching, observance, or practice. The law designates the Ekalesia A Kelisiano Tuvalu (Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu, or EKT) as the state church and allows it to conduct “special services on major national events.” The powers of the ombudsman include oversight of a national human rights institution to promote and protect human rights, including religious freedom, and labor law prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. Traditional island councils, including on Nanumanga, Nukufetau, and Vaitupu, reportedly continued to discourage public meetings of several minority religious groups, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, and informal religious bans on such groups by traditional leaders remained in place. Missionaries continued to practice without government restrictions on some islands, such as Funafuti. The government imposed a 15-minute pause on all public activities in the capital Funafuti every evening so that EKT members could observe evening prayers, although prayer was not mandatory.
On smaller islands, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minority religious groups were reportedly perceived by residents as being outside of traditional norms. Local traditional leaders of the island of Vaitupu sometimes discouraged groups from proselytizing and withheld approval for meetings other than the EKT and Seventh-day Adventists. Local minority religious leaders said the EKT continued to exert considerable influence in the social, cultural, and political life of the country. For example, the Church continued to limit social and sports activities on Sunday and encouraged a modest dress code in local villages.
U.S. embassy officials met with representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to discuss religious freedom and the role of religion in society. The embassy used social media platforms to promote religious pluralism and tolerance, posting messages during major Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim celebrations in support of religious tolerance and practices.