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Monday, 23 November 2009 07:11
Religious Freedom Ranking
3 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement

The Constitution provides for the generally free practice of religion. There is no official state religion. However, the preamble of to the Constitution states that “The nation of Belize shall be founded upon principles which acknowledge the supremacy of God.”  A 2002 amendment in the Constitution requires that one of twelve Senate members be appointed in accordance with the advice of the Belize Council of Churches and the Evangelical Association of Churches.

The country has a population of 333,000.  According to a 2000 census, Roman Catholics comprise 49.6 percent of the population; Pentecostals 7.4 percent; Anglicans 5.3 percent; Seventh-day Adventists 5.2 percent; Mennonites 4.1 percent; Baptists 3.5 percent; Methodists 3.5 percent and Nazarenes 2.6 percent.  Other religious groups include Hindus, Baha’is, Buddhists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Chinese Christian Mission, Chinese Christian Church, Muslims, Rastafarians and members of the Salvation Army.

The Constitution gives the government the right to intervene in religious issues “for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons without the unsolicited intervention of members of any other religion.”  It is illegal to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their religion. There have been no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief.

The government mandates that religious organizations register with the Belize Companies Registry after paying a fee. Registered foreign religious workers must purchase a religious worker’s permit to freely proselytize. There is a yearly fee for that also.

The Constitution states that religious communities may establish “places of education” and says “no such community shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for person of that community.”  The law allows public and church-run schools from kindergarten through sixth grade to receive one class per week of religious instruction.

Parents can exempt their children from attending such classes.

There have been no reports of religious prisoners or forced religious conversions.

 

2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom on Belize

Last Updated on Monday, 13 February 2012 12:50