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Armenia PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 08:41
Religious Freedom Ranking:
2.5 out of 5 stars: Poor

 

The Constitution provides for religious freedom; however, the Armenian Church received favored status and minority religious groups face restrictions. There have been reports of abuses and discrimination based on religious belief.

The country has a population of three million. An estimated 90 percent of residents belong to the Armenian Church, one of the six ancient “autocephalous” Eastern churches.  Other minority religious groups that constitute less than 5 percent of the population include the Roman Catholic Church, Armenian Uniate (Mekhitarist) Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Armenian Evangelical Christian, Molokan, Pentecostal Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Yezidis (non-Muslims Kurds who practice Yezidism), Jews, Sunni Muslims Kurds, Shi’ite Muslims and Baha’is.

The Constitution acknowledges "the exclusive mission of the Armenian Church as a national church in the spiritual life, development of the national culture, and preservation of the national identity of the people of Armenia." The Constitution and the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations establish separation of church and state but recognizes the Armenian Church authorized status as the national church.

The 2007 Law on the Relations of the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian Church controls the unique bond between the state and the Armenian Church and gives special freedoms to the Armenian Church that are not obtainable to minority groups. It also recognizes the roles that the ethical and moral value of the Armenian Church plays in society. Most residents agree that the Armenian Church has a huge influence on the national identity and cultural heritage of the country.

It is optional for NGOs to register with the government; however, only registered groups attain legal status. The Department of Religious Affairs and National Minorities manages the registration process.  No religious organization has been denied from registering. However, the Christian Cultural Ministries International (CCMI), an NGO linked with the Yerevan Evangelical Church, reported that the government delayed its projects due to religious discrimination.

Public school teachers teach Armenian Church history in the public school curriculum. No other kind of religious courses are taught in primary or secondary public schools.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation claimed that it was forbidden to rent large areas to hold annual spiritual gatherings.  In some cases the congregation previously signed contracts that were eventually revoked.  The congregation contended that the Armenian Church pressured the owners to refuse their requests.

From July 1, 2009, to June 1, 2010, 35 Jehovah’s Witnesses were imprisoned for avoiding work with the military or alternative service based on their religious beliefs.  It was last reported that after following an agreement with the deputy prosecutor general, the Jehovah’s Witnesses who stood trial were excused from being put under pretrial detention, with an exception in the Armavir area.

There have been no reports of forced religious conversions.

2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom on Armeni
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 February 2012 12:23