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Bolivia

Religious Freedom Ranking:

3.5 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement

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Bolivia MapThe Constitution provides for the generally free practice of religion. Article 4 of the Constitution states that, “The state respects and guarantees religious liberty and spiritual beliefs, in accordance with its worldview. The state is independent from religion.” Previously, there had been written agreements between the government and the Catholic Church formalizing its operations in the areas of health, education and social welfare. Recently, since the adoption of Article 4, the government no longer financially supports the Catholic Church. However, the government continues to support many of the church’s social welfare projects. The Catholic Church also exercises a degree of political influence through the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.


The country has a population of 10 million people. According to the 2001 National Statistical Institute, 78 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, 16 percent Protestant or evangelical, 3 percent follow other Christian denominations, 2.5 percent are nonbelievers and less than 0.2 percent includes Islam, Baha’i Faith, Judaism, Buddhism and Shinto. There are an estimated 185,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Corpus Christi, All Souls’ Day and Christmas.


Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and non-Catholic religious organizations and missionary groups must register with the governor’s office of their state departments to receive approval and tax exemptions. Nonprofit religious groups and missionary groups must register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship’s Office of the Director of Religion to receive approval and tax exemptions. The Director of Religion can remove a religious organization that fails to submit an annual report to them. The organization is informed before removal. No organizations have been denied registration. Nonregistered religious groups were free to gather without government interference.


In some public schools, Catholicism is taught. It is optional to attend such classes, but students face peer pressure to participate. However, this pressure has decreased in recent years. Non-Catholic religious instruction is not accessible in public schools for students of other religious faiths.


Interfaith meetings between the government and Catholics, Protestants and Mormon organizations work together on social, health and educational programs. Leaders from Islam, Judaism, Baha’i, Catholic and indigenous communities continually hold interfaith meetings to reduce tension between the groups.


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


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

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 13:57