International Religious Freedom Report 2004
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

There was no change in the status of religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has a total area of approximately 444 square miles, and its population is approximately 80,100. According to a July 2003 estimate by the country's Ministry of Information Systems Division, about 87 percent of the population is Roman Catholic and 7 percent is Anglican. There are other Christian churches, including Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, the Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal Church, the Pentecostal Assembly, the Nazarites, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Hinduism, Islam, and the Baha'i Faith also are practiced, although there are no mosques or temples in the islands. Almost 50 percent of the population is estimated to be religiously active. It is unknown whether there are atheists in the country.

A few foreign missionary groups practice in the country, including the Missionaries of Charity, which is a Roman Catholic organization.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The Government at all levels strives to protect this right in full and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors. There is no state religion.

The Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Seventh-day Adventist churches and the Islamic mosques have individual acts of incorporation. The Baha'i local spiritual assembly was incorporated in 1999. Other churches that are not corporate bodies are registered as associations with the Registrar General and are entitled to tax-free privileges, similar to a charity. All religious organizations must register to be entitled to tax-free privileges. If an organization does not want tax-free privileges, it is not required to register.

The Government tends to remain uninvolved with religious matters, but it provides program time to different religious organizations on the national radio broadcasting service. On Sundays a radio broadcast of a Catholic Mass alternates each week with a broadcast of an Anglican service. The Islam and Hindu faiths are allowed 15-minute broadcasts every Friday, and the Baha'i and Seventh-day Adventists faiths are allowed 15-minute broadcasts every Saturday.

Government employees of all faiths can request paid leave on any of their holy days, and such leave generally is granted. Former President France Albert Rene's wife is a member of the Baha'i Faith, while the majority of government ministers are Catholic.

The Roman Catholic holidays of Good Friday, Easter, Corpus Cristi, Assumption of Mary, All Saints Day, and Christmas are national holidays. These holidays do not negatively affect any religious groups.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

In the past, the Government did not demonstrate favoritism toward one religion over another; however, in 2003 the Government gave a grant of $400,000 (2 million Seychelles rupees) to the Anglican Church to construct a new cathedral, and $400,000 (2 million Seychelles rupees) to the Roman Catholic Church.

According to the Government, a portion of the national budget is periodically allocated to provide assistance to faiths that request financial support at the beginning of each year. In the past, the Baha'i and Hindu religions have benefited from these grants, which are awarded on a case-by-case basis and based on the availability of the budget.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

Forced Religious Conversion

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

Abuses by Terrorist Organizations

There were no reported abuses targeted at specific religions by terrorist organizations during the period covered by this report.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

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