According to the constitution, the state respects and provides for “religious liberty and spiritual beliefs, in accordance with the worldview [of the individual].” The constitution states the government is independent of all religion and provides guarantees for religious freedom and spiritual rights. The constitution and other laws give educational institutions the right to teach religion and indigenous spiritual belief classes with the aim of encouraging mutual respect among religious communities. While religion classes are optional, curriculum materials must promote religious tolerance. The constitution prohibits religious discrimination in access to educational institutions, and protects the right of access to public sport and recreational activities without regard to religion.
The law requires religious groups to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) Office of Religion and Nongovernmental Organizations as NGOs in order to operate legally. Religious groups must submit an annual report to the office to remain on the registry. Those receiving foreign sources of funding may not register, but may enter into a framework agreement with the government for three years that affords them the same judicial standing as NGOs, including tax-exempt status. Registered religious groups receive tax, customs, and other legal benefits.
According to a registration law enacted in 2013, the government may not deny legal recognition to any organization based on its articles of faith. There is no fee for registration, but the complex procedure typically requires legal assistance and several bureaucratic antecedents, such as registering the legal name of the organization, in order to register as a religious organization. Among the other requirements, religious organizations must file a notarized listing of the names, identification numbers, tax certificates, and police files of national leaders, as well as notarized lists of names and identification numbers of their entire membership. The current MFA Office of Religion and Nongovernmental Organization registry includes 429 registered religious groups, and 100 religious groups are currently in the process of submitting the necessary legal paperwork to be registered.
According to a decree signed by President Evo Morales in April which the government stated was designed to facilitate the implementation of the religious registration law, religious organizations must file a notarized listing of the names and identification numbers of their entire membership and provide a schedule of their annual activities for “control and follow-up” by the MFA. Religious organizations also had to include procedures for “the admission and exclusion of members, the rights and obligation of members, and an internal disciplinary regimen,” among other provisions.
All teachers, including those in private religious schools, must receive their training in government-run academies.