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Religious Freedom Ranking
3 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement
PalauThe Constitution provides religious freedom for its citizens.  There have been no recent reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

The country has a population of 20,000 people.  Exactly 65 percent of the population is Roman Catholic.  Other religious groups include the Evangelical Church, 2,000 followers, Seventh-day Adventists, 1,000; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 300; and Jehovah’s Witnesses, 90.  Modekngei is a religion unique to the country that embraces both animist and Christian beliefs. It has approximately 1,800 supporters.  A group of 6,800 Catholic Filipinos as well as a small group of Bangladeshi Muslims reside in Palau. It is reported that six Chinese Uighur Muslims, previous Guantanamo Bay detainees, live on the island.

The government does not endorse or restrain religious activities.  However, a prayer is usually given at government-subsidized ceremonies and occasions.

It is required that all religious groups register with the Office of the Attorney General as nonprofit organizations. Such groups are excused from paying certain types of taxes.

Foreign missionaries can operate only if they have attained a missionary permit at the Office of Immigration. The Seventh-day Adventists and the Evangelical Church have missionaries educating in their own elementary and high schools. Religious teaching is not allowed in public schools. Yet, the government may provide financial support to religious schools if requested by a delegate of any religion.

A ban on work permits for Bangladeshis, Indians and Sri Lankans originated in 1998 when the Division of Labor denied work permits for citizens of Bangladesh because employers complained these workers’ non-Christian traditions impeded with activities in the workplace.  In 2001 a similar ban took effect for Indians and Sri Lankans of non-Christian backgrounds. There have been no further reports on this issue.

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

2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom on Palau
Last Updated on Monday, 13 February 2012 17:53