International Religious Freedom Report 2003
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has a total area of 12,589 square miles, and its population is approximately 1,964,036. Estimates of religious identification vary. According to the 2002 census, the numbers are: Roman Catholic, 1,135,626; Evangelical, 14,736; Other Protestant, 1,399; Orthodox, 45,908; Other Christian, 1,877; Islam, 47,488; Jewish, 99; Oriental, 1,026; other religion, 558; Agnostic, 271; Believer, but belongs to no religion, 68,714; Unbeliever/atheist, 199,264; Did not want to reply, 307,973; Unknown, 139,097.

The Orthodox and Muslim populations appear to correspond to the country's immigrant Serb and Bosniak populations, respectively. These groups tend to have a lower socioeconomic status in society.

Foreign missionaries, including a mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and other religious groups (including Hare Krishna, Scientology, and Unification organizations) operate without hindrance.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The Government at all levels strives to protect this right in full, and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors.

There are no formal requirements for recognition as a religion by the Government. If they wish to be recognized as legal entities, religious communities must register with the Government's Office for Religious Communities. By the end of the reporting period, no groups were denied registration; however, no new groups have successfully completed the registration process since the Office's current Director assumed his duties in 2000. The Human Rights Ombudsman is investigating formal complaints from several smaller religious communities that their applications for registration have gone without response for over a year. The Office for Religious Communities is working on a new draft law on religious communities, with input from interested groups, which would establish clearly defined registration procedures and requirements. Some groups have expressed concern that certain language under consideration including a minimum membership requirement of 100 persons and a legally distinct status for autochtonous religions could be discriminatory.

In 1999 the Government signed an agreement regarding the legal position of the Roman Catholic Church in Slovenia with the Bishop's Conference and concluded a similar agreement in 2000 with the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovenia. Other religious communities have expressed interest in negotiating similar agreements with the Government. In December 2001, the Government concluded an Agreement on Legal Questions with The Holy See.

Religious groups, including foreign missionaries, must register with the Ministry of the Interior if they wish to receive value-added tax rebates on a quarterly basis. All groups in the country report equal access to registration and tax rebate status.

The appropriate role for religious instruction in schools continues to be an issue of debate. The Constitution states that parents are entitled to give their children "a moral and religious upbringing." Only those schools supported by religious bodies teach religion.

In May 2002, the Law on Defense was amended to include a provision specifically providing military personnel with the right to religious services and creating a chaplain corps to provide services in the Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Muslim faiths. As of June 30, one Protestant and three Catholic Chaplains were employed by the Slovenian Armed Forces under the Law's provisions.

The Roman Catholic Church was a major property holder in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia before World War II. After the war, much church property--churches and support buildings, residences, businesses, and forests--was confiscated and nationalized by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After Slovenian independence in 1991, Parliament passed legislation calling for denationalization (restitution or compensation) within a fixed period. Despite the Catholic Church's numerical predominance, restitution of its property remains a politically unpopular issue. In July 2001, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a decree returning approximately 20,396 acres of forests in Triglav National Park to the Church; however, in May 2002, this decree was annulled by the Ljubljana Administrative Court in response to multiple legal challenges.

According to the Office for Religious Communities, it has been Government policy since 1991 to pay the share of social insurance contribution for clergy and other full time religious workers that is normally paid by an employer. The Human Rights Ombudsman is investigating complaints from several smaller religious communities that they do not receive this benefit.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

On October 14, 2002, two plainclothes police officers arrested Amela Djogic, the wife of Mufti Osman Djogic, for failing to produce proper identification documents when requested to do so. She was released with a fine and an official warning once her husband brought her passport to the police station. The Djogics accused authorities of singling her out for such treatment because she was wearing a headscarf. After investigating the issue, a special police commission concluded on November 5 that the officers acted improperly. New guidelines for police identification procedures were implemented and all officers immediately were informed of new conduct regulations. The incident received considerable media attention and prompted other members of the Muslim community to come forward with stories of similar experiences. However, the Mufti now reports that the problem appears to have been adequately addressed. It is generally believed that the officers involved were acting upon an ethnic rather than a religious stereotype.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

Societal attitudes toward religion are complex. Historical events dating long before the country's independence color societal perceptions regarding the dominant Catholic Church. Much of the gulf between the (at least nominally) Catholic center-right and the largely agnostic or atheistic left stems from the massacre of large numbers of alleged Nazi and Fascist collaborators in the years 1946-48. Many of the so-called collaborators were successful businessmen whose assets were confiscated after they were killed or driven from the country, and many were prominent Catholics. Societal attitudes towards the minority Muslim and Serb Orthodox communities generally are tolerant; however, some persons fear the possible emergence of Muslim fundamentalism.

Interfaith relations are generally amicable, although there is little warmth between the majority Catholic Church and foreign missionary groups, such as the Mormons, which are viewed as aggressive proselytizers.

While there are no governmental restrictions on the Muslim community's freedom of worship, services commonly are held in private homes under cramped conditions. The community has conceptual plans to build a new facility in Ljubljana. In 2001 the Ljubljana Municipality Council selected one of five potential sites that the city had previously identified for the facility, and tasked the city's planning department to begin preparing the materials necessary to move ahead with the project. As of June 30, nothing had been put forward to the Council by the planning department. Several other religious communities have expressed concerns about excessive delays and/or a lack of transparency in municipal permitting processes.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. The U.S. Embassy has held extensive discussions with the Government on the topic of property denationalization in the context of the rule of law, although it has not discussed specifically church property during these sessions. In addition, the Embassy has made informal inquiries into the status of the mosque construction project. The Embassy meets with members of all major religious communities, representatives of nongovernmental organizations that address religious freedom issues, and government officials from relevant offices and ministries.