The constitution and other laws provide for freedom of conscience, thought, and religion, and for freedom to change one’s religion or beliefs. While the law requires registration for religious groups to conduct a full range of activities, religious groups stated they could conduct most normal functions without registration.
Although The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ) was, as in previous years, unable to register during the year, representatives of the church stated it had made progress towards registration and were optimistic it would obtain some form of official recognition after COVID-19 restrictions in the country were fully lifted.
There were no reports of significant societal actions affecting religious freedom.
The U.S. Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to the government. The U.S. embassy utilized social media to promote religious pluralism and tolerance, including highlighting comments by the U.S. President and other U.S. officials during major Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim celebrations, including Diwali and Ramadan, in support of religious tolerance and practices.
The U.S. government estimates the total population at 9,811 (midyear 2022). According to the 2011 national census, approximately 95 percent of the population are Christian. The Nauru Congregational Church (which includes the Nauru Protestant Church) is the largest Christian group, constituting 36 percent of the population, followed by the Roman Catholic Church at 33 percent, the Nauru Independent Assembly of God at 13 percent, and the Nauru Independent Church at 10 percent. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Baptists, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ each constitute less than 1 percent of the population. Two percent of the population reports no religious affiliation. Ethnic Chinese residents, estimated to constitute 5 percent of the population, are Confucian, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, or nonreligious.
Data gathered by several nongovernmental organizations indicate that as of June 30, 100 persons fleeing their home countries lived in Nauru, a decline from 106 in 2021 due to resettlement. Most of those coming to the country were from Muslim-majority countries, although some were Christian.
The constitution provides for the freedom of conscience, expression, assembly, and association, and for freedom to change one’s religion or beliefs. These rights may be restricted by any law that is “reasonably required” in the interests of defense or public safety, order, morality, or health.
Under the law, religious groups must register with the government to operate in an official capacity, which includes proselytizing, building houses of worship, holding religious services, and officiating at marriages. A cabinet memorandum sets out requirements for registration of new religious groups, including having at least 750 enrolled members, land, a building in the country, and leadership by a Nauruan member of the clergy, who must reside in the country. The Catholic Church, Nauru Congregational Church, Assemblies of God, Nauru Independent Church, and Seventh-day Adventist Church are officially registered.
Religious groups may operate private schools, and a number do so. In public schools, the government allows religious groups to have a weekly religious education program during school hours, but it does not require schools to offer such education. In schools where religious education is provided, students are required to attend the program led by the representative of their respective religious group. Students whose faith is not represented are required to undertake independent study during the class time devoted to religious education.
The country is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Although the law requires registration for religious groups to conduct a full range of activities, local religious leaders stated the government continued to require such recognition only if a denomination’s clergy wished to officiate at marriages. Religious groups stated they could conduct most normal functions, including services and meetings, without registration. There were no reports the government discriminated in the registration process, although the requirements make it nearly impossible for any new group to register. Although the Church of Jesus Christ was, as in previous years, unable to register during the year, representatives of the church stated it had made progress towards registration and remained optimistic it could ultimately obtain some form of official recognition.
The U.S. Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to the government. The U.S. government does not maintain an embassy in Nauru.
The embassy utilized social media to promote religious pluralism and tolerance, highlighting comments by the U.S. President and posts during major Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim celebrations, including Diwali and Ramadan, in support of religious tolerance and practices.