Freedom of religion in Paraguay

Freedom of religion in Paraguay is provided in the Constitution of Paraguay, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion. The law at all levels protects this right in full against abuse, either by governmental or private actors. The government generally respects religious freedom in practice; however, it occasionally fails to enforce religious freedom laws when abuses occurred. There were some reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice; however, prominent societal leaders took positive steps to promote religious freedom.[1]

Religious demography

The country has an area of 406,752 square kilometres and a population of 6.3 million. According to the 2002 national census, 89.6 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, and 6.2 percent is evangelical Protestant. Groups that constitute less than 5 percent of the population include Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Mennonites, Muslims, and Baha'is. A 2006 survey indicates similar results; however, 84.7 percent of respondents consider themselves Catholic, a decrease from 2002.[1]

Native-born citizens tend to be Catholic, while immigrants generally belong to other religious groups. The eastern department of Alto Parana has a large Muslim community due to substantial immigration from the Middle East, particularly Lebanon. A large Mennonite community flourishes in the western department of Boquerón. Members of other religious groups are concentrated in the largest cities, including Asunción, Ciudad del Este, and Encarnación. Non-Catholic immigrant groups tend to have a higher per capita income than the primarily Catholic, native-born citizens. Membership in religious groups is high.[1]