The constitution provides for freedom of religion on the condition that the practice of a religion not violate public morality, decency, or public order. The Directorate of Justice and Religion (DJR), an office in the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace, is charged with maintaining a registry of religious groups, disbursing funds to religious organizations, and promoting awareness and understanding among religious communities. Each group must register with the DJR in order to have legal status as a religious organization. The Venezuelan Evangelical Council said that some evangelical religious organizations have waited several months, and in some cases years, to be registered. Anti Semitism appeared in government owned and government affiliated media, and Jewish community leaders publicly expressed concern. Following remarks in February in which President Nicolas Maduro stated that Israel was involved in a coup attempt, the country’s largest Jewish organization, The Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV), reported an intensification of anti Semitic sentiment and a 20 percent increase in anti Semitic speech in official media. All registered religious groups were eligible for government funding to support social services, but most funding went to Catholic groups and churches politically aligned with the government. Evangelicals expressed concern with the government’s insistence on dealing with a centralized body of evangelical churches in the country, made up of only those churches the government supported. Land disputes, carried over from government expropriation of churches from years past, remained unresolved.
There were no reports of significant societal actions affecting religious freedom.
Government officials did not respond to U.S. requests for meetings on religious freedom issues. The U.S. embassy maintained close contact with most religious communities.