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Costa Rica - Religion

The US government estimates the total population at 4.8 million (July 2015 estimate). According to an August 2013 opinion poll by the Center for Investigations and Political Studies of the University of Costa Rica, an estimated 72.8 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, 14.8 percent Protestant, including evangelicals, 3.6 percent other religious denominations, and 8.4 percent no religious affiliation. The majority of Protestants are Pentecostal, with smaller numbers of Baptists and others. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) estimates its membership at 35,000. The Lutheran Church estimates it has more than 1,500 members.

The Jewish Zionist Center estimates that there are between 3,000 and 3,500 Jews. Approximately 1,000 Quakers live in the cloud forest reserve of Monteverde, Puntarenas. Jehovahs Witnesses represent 1.3 percent of the population and have a strong presence on the Caribbean coast. Groups that together constitute less than 5 percent of the population include followers of Islam, Taoism, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (Hare Krishnas), Scientology, Tenrikyo, and the Bahai Faith. Some indigenous people practice animism.

Roman Catholicism is the constitutionally mandated state religion, and the state is required to contribute to its maintenance. The constitution recognizes the right to practice the religion of ones choice and prohibits the state from impeding the free exercise of religions that do not impugn universal morality or proper behavior. It also provides opportunity for redress in the case of an alleged violation of a citizens religious freedom. Some non-Catholic leaders stated the constitution did not sufficiently address the specific concerns of non-Catholic religious groups. Protestants said they were registered as a secular association, but preferred a separate registration specifically covering church construction and operations, permits to organize events, and pastoral access to hospitals and jails for non-Catholic religious groups. There were no reports of significant societal actions affecting religious freedom.

Observers stated that since President Luis Guillermo Solis assumed office in May 2014, the relationship among the Catholic Church, Christian groups, and the government had changed. They cite as example his decision not participate in the annual Catholic pilgrimage to the countrys principal church, as all former presidents had. He did, however, participate in the next days Mass in honor of the Patron Virgin. President Solis did not allow Catholic bishops to speak during the inauguration day ceremony or the Independence Day celebrations.

The constitution recognizes the right to practice the religion of ones choice. By law, a person claiming a violation of religious freedom may file suit with the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, and may also file a motion before the Constitutional Chamber to have a statute or regulation declared unconstitutional. Additionally, a person claiming a violation of religious freedom may appeal to the Administrative Court to sue the government for alleged discriminatory acts. Legal protections cover discrimination by private persons and entities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religion is responsible for managing the governments relationship with the Catholic Church and other religious groups. According to the law, a group with a minimum of 10 persons may incorporate as an association with juridical status by registering with the public registry of the Ministry of Justice. The government does not require religious groups to register, nor does it inhibit the establishment of religious groups through taxation or special licensing requirements. Religious groups, however, must register if they choose to engage in any type of fundraising activity and to obtain legal representation and standing.





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