Section I. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.
A 1996 amendment to the Constitution declared the country a Christian nation while providing for freedom of religion in practice. The Government respects the right of all faiths to worship freely.
There are governmental controls that require the registration of religious groups. The Government approves all applications for registration from religious groups without discrimination. There were no reports that the Government rejected any religious groups that attempted to register or obtain licenses.
Approximately 85 percent of the population are Christian; 5 percent are Muslim; 5 percent adhere to other faiths, including Hinduism and Baha'ism; and 5 percent are atheist.
The Christian faith was introduced by foreign missionary groups in the 1890's. The majority of indigenous persons are either Roman Catholics or Protestants and are spread throughout the country. Currently, there is an upsurge of new Pentecostal churches, commonly known as the "born again" churches, which have attracted many young persons into their ranks.
Muslims are concentrated in certain parts of the country where citizens of Asian origin have settled along the railroad line from Lusaka to Livingstone, in Chipata, and in the eastern province. Most citizens of Asian origin are Muslims, although Hindus constitute a small percentage. A limited number of indigenous persons are also Muslim.
Foreign missionary groups operate in the country and include the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Church of God. There were no reports that these missionary groups faced any special requirements or restrictions.
Some members of the Muslim community have complained that their religion has been discriminated against since the country was declared a Christian nation. They contend that they are unable freely to teach and practice Islam. However, other Muslim organizations state that they have not experienced any restrictions on their actions. There are mosques in the country, and the Government does not appear to hinder Muslim worship or teaching.
The Government permits religious instruction in public schools. Such instruction is conducted in the dominant Christian religion. Religious instruction in Islam and other faiths is conducted in private schools owned and controlled by those faiths.
Some religious organizations operate radio stations and television networks.
In December 1996, the Government established an office for religious affairs at the level of deputy minister in the President's Office at State House. The office is responsible for dealing with issues that pertain to religion and worship, and to the promotion of state-church understanding and interfaith dialog.
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
There are amicable relations between the various religious communities.
Leaders of various ecumenical movements, namely, the Zambia Episcopal Conference, the Christian Council of Zambia, and the Evangelical Foundation of Zambia hold regular meetings to promote mutual understanding and interfaith dialog, and to discuss national issues.
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.
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