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.