International Religious Freedom Report 2004
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 as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 999 square miles, and its population is approximately 450,000. The country is historically Roman Catholic, and Catholicism remains the predominant faith. According to a 1979 law, the Government may not collect or maintain statistics on religious affiliation; but over 90 percent of the population is estimated to be baptized Catholic. The Lutheran and Calvinist Churches are the largest Protestant denominations. Muslims are estimated to number approximately 6,000 persons, including approximately 885 refugees from Montenegro; Orthodox (Greek, Serbian, Russian, and Romanian) adherents are estimated to number 5,000 persons; and there are approximately 1,000 Jews. The Baha'i Faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Universal Church, and Jehovah's Witnesses are represented in smaller numbers. The number of professed atheists reportedly is growing.

There are no significant foreign missionary groups. Many religious groups described as "sects" are represented in the country. They are expected to obey the law, but their activities have not become significant political or social issues.

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 is no state religion. The Government does not register religious groups. However, based on the Concordat of 1801, some churches receive financial support from the state. The Constitution specifically provides for state payment of the salaries and pensions of clergy of those religions who have signed conventions with the Government. Pursuant to negotiated agreements with the Government, the following religious groups receive such support: Roman Catholic, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Jewish, and some other Protestant denominations. In 2003, the Romanian and Serbian Orthodox and Anglican Churches also concluded conventions with the Government.

An application for financial support for the Muslim community has been under consideration for over seven years. In late 2003, the Muslim community named a national representative and single interlocutor, which allowed discussions over the convention to proceed. Once signed, the convention will allow the Muslim community to receive government funding. There was no agreement by the end of the period covered by this report.

The following religious holy days are considered national holidays: Shrove Monday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Assumption Day, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, Christmas, and the second day of Christmas.

There is a long tradition of religious education in public schools. A 1997 convention between the Minister of National Education and the Roman Catholic Archbishop governs religious instruction. In accordance with this convention, religious instruction is a local matter, coordinated at the communal level between representatives of the Catholic Church and communal authorities. Government-paid lay teachers provide instruction (totaling two school hours per week) at the primary school level. Parents and pupils may choose between instruction in Roman Catholicism or an ethics course; requests for exemption from religious instruction are addressed on an individual basis. Although approximately 85 percent of primary school students choose religious instruction, the number drops to 65 percent for high school students.

The State subsidizes private religious schools. All private, religious, and nonsectarian schools are eligible for and receive government subsidies, if the religious group has concluded a convention with the State. The State also subsidizes a Catholic seminary.

The government launched a pilot program in one high school that provides nondenominational values education, highlighting the principal world religions and schools of thought. This program was developed in consultation with the Catholic Church and Muslim community, among others, and, after five years, it is intended to be made universal in the country's school system.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

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

There were no reports of religious detainees or prisoners.

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.

Abuse by Terrorist Organizations

There were no reported abuses targeted at specific religions by terrorist organizations during the period covered by this report.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom. The Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim faiths work well together on an interfaith basis. Differences among religious faiths are not a significant source of tension in society. There were no reports of verbal or physical violence against Jewish persons or property during the period covered by this report.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its policy to promote human rights. The Embassy's Human Rights Officer has met with representatives of several government ministries at a working level to discuss issues related to religious freedoms. The ministries were cooperative interlocutors, who spoke openly about the relationship between religious groups and the Government. The Human Rights Officer also met with representatives from religious groups and nongovernmental organizations, none of whom voiced any concern over the state of religious freedom in the country.