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Religion in Croatia

The country has an area of 21,831 square miles and a population of 4.5 million. Approximately 85 percent of the population is Roman Catholic and 6 percent is Serbian Orthodox Christian (SPC). Groups that constitute less than 5 percent of the population include Muslims, Jews, and followers of other religions. Religious affiliation correlates closely with the country's ethnic makeup. SPC followers, predominantly ethnic Serbs, live primarily in cities and areas bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro. Most members of other minority religious groups reside in urban areas. Most immigrants are Roman Catholic ethnic Croats from Bosnia.

There is no official state religion; however, the Roman Catholic Church receives state financial support and other benefits established in concordats between the government and the Vatican. In line with the concordats signed with the Roman Catholic Church and in an effort to define further their rights and privileges within a legal framework, the government has additional agreements with the following 15 religious communities: the SPC, Islamic Community of Croatia, Evangelical Church, Reformed Christian Church, Pentecostal Church, Union of Pentecostal Churches of Christ, Christian Adventist Church, Union of Baptist Churches, Church of God, Church of Christ, Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Macedonian Orthodox Church, Croatian Old Catholic Church, and Bet Israel Jewish Community. The Coordinating Committee of Jewish Communities continued to seek a similar agreement with the state.

The concordats and other government agreements with non-Roman Catholic religious communities allow state financing for some salaries and pensions for religious officials through government-managed pension and health funds. Marriages conducted by the religious communities having agreements with the state are officially recognized, eliminating the need to register the marriages in the civil registry office. The concordats and agreements also regulate public school catechisms and military chaplains.

The government requires that religious training be provided in public schools, although attendance is optional. The Roman Catholic catechism is the predominant religious teaching offered in public schools. In April 2010 the Constitutional Court refused to rule on the constitutionality of an agreement between the government and the Vatican related to the provision of catechism in elementary and high schools. The court stated that it lacked jurisdiction in the matter since it was unable to rule on the merits of international treaties. The decision was in response to a suit filed in 2000 claiming that the agreement violated the equal rights of all citizens. The suit claimed that those who did not attend catechism were not provided with classes in either their own faith or on ethics.

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Page last modified: 16-11-2012 18:59:27 ZULU