| Religious Freedom Ranking:
3.5 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement
Gabon, despite being composed of over 40 ethnic groups, is one of Africa’s most stable countries. This is due in part to the presence of French troops and oil. However, while the country has enjoyed relative peace, there are accounts of corruption in the government and there is a huge gap between rich and poor.
Gabon has a population of about 1.5 million people. The majority of the population is composed of Bantu tribes including four major tribal groupings (Fang, Eshira, Bapounou, Bateke). There are about 154,000 other Africans and Europeans, including 10,700 French and 11,000 persons of dual nationality. The nation is approximately 73 percent Christian, including non-citizens. However, animism is widely believed in and practiced, including among some Christians. Government statistics number the Muslim population at 5 to 10 percent. This includes non-citizens. In addition the current President is Muslim.
According to the Constitution, liberty of conscience and the free practice of religion shall be guaranteed to all, provided that "public order is maintained." The right to form associations or societies, establishments in the social interest and religious communities is also guaranteed to everyone, within the conditions established by law. Religious communities are to regulate and administer their affairs independently, with the reservation of respecting the principles of national sovereignty and public order.
All acts of racial, ethnic or religious discrimination, as well as all regionalist propaganda capable of threatening the internal security of the state or the territorial integrity of the Republic are punishable by law.
The government generally respects the rights of religious freedom afforded in the Constitution. However, the government banned the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1983. The ban remains in effect but apparently is not enforced. The government encourages religious groups to register although it does not require it. Some Protestant groups have claimed that the government favors Roman Catholics and Muslims in hiring and promotion in the military and also have complained that the Catholic Church receives free air time on television while Protestant churches do not.
2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report on Gabon
Gabon - New World Encyclopedia
Gabon Country Profile- BBC News