Back to Index

U.S. Department of State
Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999

Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Washington, DC, September 9, 1999


Section I. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice. There is no state religion, nor does the State subsidize any particular denomination.

The Government does not formally recognize any religion. There are no registration requirements for religious organizations.

A vast majority of citizens--over 90 percent--identify themselves as Christian. The two largest denominations are the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches, although there are also smaller numbers of Baptists, Methodists, and Mormons. The Himba, an ethnic group that constitutes less than 1 percent of the population, practice a traditional religion oriented toward their natural environment in the desert northwest. Other non-Christian denominations include the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Baha'i faiths. Practitioners of these religions are predominantly immigrants, descendents of immigrants, or converted after recent proselytizing. They reside primarily in urban areas.

Some foreign missionaries have complained about the difficulty of obtaining work and residency permits. However, the difficulty that religious workers experience in obtaining work and residency permits is a bureaucratic impediment that faces all foreign nationals.

The Government does not have specific programs to promote interfaith understanding.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.

There were no reports of religious detainees or prisoners.

There were no reports of the forced religious conversion of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section II. Societal Attitudes

Relations between the many religious communities are amicable.

Section III. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the overall context of the promotion of human rights. The Embassy has sought to convince the Government on a number of occasions to revise its policy on granting residence and work permits for foreign nationals, including both religious and lay workers. Embassy staff members have frequent contact with citizens and foreign visitors from a wide variety of religious faiths.

[End of Document]

[Home Page] [Cos'è il CESNUR] [Biblioteca del CESNUR] [Testi e documenti] [Libri] [Convegni]

[Home Page] [About CESNUR] [CESNUR Library] [Texts & Documents] [Book Reviews] [Conferences]

Revised last: 10-09-1999