The constitution provides for the right to profess and to practice one’s faith freely.
The Secretariat of Worship in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship manages relations between the government and the Catholic Church and administers the registration of non-Catholic religious groups. The secretariat maintains offices in 10 provinces, including seven offices in Buenos Aires Province.
By law, the government “sustains the apostolic Roman Catholic faith,” but the Supreme Court has ruled that it is not an official or state religion. The government provides the Catholic Church with tax-exempt subsidies, institutional privileges such as school subsidies, significant autonomy for parochial schools, and licensing preferences for radio frequencies.
Non-Catholic groups can register with the Secretariat of Worship. Registration is not compulsory, but allows religious groups to receive tax-exempt status, apply for visas for religious officials, hold public activities, and receive other benefits. The new Civil and Commercial Code adopted in October (taking effect January 1, 2015) allows non-Catholic religious groups to register as religious groups with similar benefits to Catholics; under prior laws, non-Catholic groups had to register as civic associations. To register, religious groups are required to have a place of worship, an organizational charter, and an ordained clergy, among other provisions. Registration is not required for private religious services, such as those in homes, but is sometimes necessary in order to conduct activities in public spaces pursuant to local regulations. For example, city authorities may require groups to obtain permits to use public parks for public activities, and they may require the religious group be registered with the secretariat to receive the permit. Once an organization is registered, it must report to the secretariat any significant changes or decisions made regarding its leadership, governing structure, size of membership, address of headquarters, or other relevant information. The government has recognized over 5,000 non-Catholic religious groups.
Foreign religious officials of registered religious groups can apply for a separate category of visa to enter the country. The length of the visa can vary depending on the purpose of the travel. Foreign missionaries of registered religious groups must apply to the Secretariat of Worship, which in turn notifies immigration authorities to request the issuance of the appropriate documents.
By law public education is secular. Students may request elective courses of instruction in the religion of their choice in some public schools, which may be conducted in the school or at a religious institution. Many churches, synagogues, and mosques operate private schools.
The board of the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Racism (INADI), a government agency under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, includes representatives of the major religious groups. INADI investigates suspected and reported incidents of discrimination based on religion. The agency also supports victims of religious discrimination and promotes proactive measures to prevent discrimination.