The constitution provides for freedom of religion, including freedom of worship and the free expression of all beliefs for all citizens. Although there is no state religion, the constitution recognizes the distinct legal personality of the Catholic Church. Most individuals had access to their chosen places of worship and the freedom to worship as they saw fit; however, some Mayan spiritual leaders reported the government limited their access to some Mayan historical sites.
The ultra-orthodox Jewish group Lev Tahor relocated from the town of San Juan la Laguna to Guatemala City in August following mutual tensions with the local indigenous community. Group members reported harassment by local community youth, and town leaders expressed concern about what they described as the group’s secretive and isolationist tendencies. Government officials responded to Lev Tahor’s requests for assistance and sought to defuse the situation. The group ultimately chose to leave San Juan la Laguna voluntarily, while government officials considered how best to respond.
The U.S. embassy held meetings with government officials to address a number of issues relating to religious freedom to include access to Mayan historical sites by Mayan spiritual groups and respect for the rights of minority groups to practice their religion without interference. Embassy representatives met with officials in the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH) to discuss the tensions between the Lev Tahor and the local indigenous community. Embassy officers met regularly with leaders of religious groups to discuss issues of access to religious sites and encourage tolerance for all beliefs.