Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 11:29 GMT

2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Nauru

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 17 November 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Nauru, 17 November 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4cf2d07a46.html [accessed 25 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

[Covers the period from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010]

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

The government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period.

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief, affiliation, belief, or practice; however, some elements of the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities occasionally voiced discomfort with religious groups viewed as unorthodox, in particular The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and Jehovah's Witnesses.

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 an area of eight square miles and a population of 9,300. Christianity is the primary religion. According to the 2002 census, approximately two-thirds of Christians are Protestant, and the remainder is Catholic. Ethnic Chinese residents, estimated to constitute approximately 5 percent of the population, may be Confucian, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, or nonreligious. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons stated that they had small numbers of followers in the country.

Missionaries representing several Christian groups are active in the country and operate freely.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion. Under the constitution the rights to freedom of conscience, expression, assembly, and association may be restricted by any law "which is reasonably required ... in the interests of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health." The government had in the past cited this provision as a basis for preventing foreign churches from proselytizing native-born citizens but did not do so during the reporting period.

There is no state religion.

The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Easter and Christmas.

The government informed Mormon and Jehovah's Witnesses leaders that under the provisions of the Birth, Death, and Marriage Ordinance, their churches must register with the government to operate in an official capacity, which includes proselytizing, building churches, holding religious services, and otherwise practicing their religion. The legal counsel for the Mormons asserted that while the ordinance in question permits the government to recognize a religious denomination, it requires such recognition only if a denomination's ministers wish to solemnize marriages. Only the Catholic Church and two long-standing Protestant denominations, the Nauru Congregational Church and the Kiribati Protestant Church, are officially registered to operate. A small, breakaway Protestant congregation, catering principally to expatriate workers, is not registered. Jehovah's Witnesses representatives reported that while they have not registered, they have not had any problems with the government granting visas to their missionaries. They have always held religious services without interference by the government. The Mormon Church reported that it submitted a registration request in 1999; however, the government has not responded either to the original request or to follow-up inquiries.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

The government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

Economic problems resulting from sharply declining income from the country's phosphate mining industry have led to social strains, and some elements of the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities occasionally voiced discomfort with religious groups perceived as foreign, in particular Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses; however, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses stated that their missionaries have not faced any social hostility in the country.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

Although the U.S. government does not maintain an embassy in the country, the U.S. ambassador to Fiji is also accredited to the government. Representatives of the U.S. embassy in Fiji discussed religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Search Refworld

Countries