According to religious leaders, the government enforced registration requirements inconsistently. They stated the government rarely levied fines, but periodically announced unregistered religious groups were subject to fines or closure and should register as soon as possible.
In August in Mongomo, reportedly at the first lady’s mother’s request, Iglesia Santo en Cristo, an evangelical church serving more than 100 parishioners, was destroyed. To date, the church has not been indemnified.
Unlike in previous years, the Governor of Bioko Norte granted the Federation of Evangelical Churches’ request for an Easter procession in Malabo, and 4,000 people took part. The national police initially tried to stop the procession, but when the religious leaders insisted they had the governor’s authorization, the event was allowed to proceed.
The government licensed a Catholic radio station to begin operation. In October an evangelical and a Presbyterian group, who broadcast their programs on Sunday mornings in paid time slots (at a cost of 20,000 Central African Francs (CFA); $33 per month) on the state-owned national radio, were told that the minister of information, press, and radio, had cancelled its programming. Weekly Catholic and Muslim programs were allowed to continue on national radio free of charge. Until the end of 2014, the national radio reportedly charged 200,000 CFA ($332) per month for the Muslim broadcast.
Protestant groups, including the Reformed Church, Seventh-day Adventists, Assemblies of God, Baptists, and evangelicals operated primary and secondary schools. These schools had to be registered with the government and fulfill standard curriculum requirements.
While the government routinely granted religious groups permission for any activities outside of places of worship, except in private homes, it usually denied permits to hold activities outside of the prescribed hours of 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Evangelical groups continued to hold activities outside the prescribed period. The authorities routinely issued permits for proselytism. Religious leaders said door-to-door proselytism occurred without incident.
As of the beginning of the year, foreign evangelical missionaries were required to obtain residency permits to remain in the country. Evangelicals reported the permits were prohibitively expensive, leading some missionaries to risk the consequences of not obtaining or renewing such permits. The local police reportedly enforced the requirement with threatened deportation. The residency permits were not required for Catholic missionaries.
Catholic masses were a normal part of all major ceremonial functions, such as the October 12 National Day and the June 5 President’s Birthday holiday. According to foreign news reports, the government was constructing a residence for the pope in Mongomo, with an enclosed chapel. Catholic leaders met publicly with government officials and were usually the only religious leaders to do so. Catholic and Reformed Church leaders were often seated in preferred locations at official functions.
Some non-Catholics who worked for the government continued to report their supervisors strongly encouraged participation in religious activities related to their government positions, including attending Catholic masses.
President Teodoro Obiang created an Office of Islamic and Arabic Affairs in October.
The first lady, a Catholic, financed a new mosque that was completed in Malabo. The president attended the inauguration and delivered a speech on religious tolerance.