Current state religions
The following states recognize some form of Christianity as their state or official religion (by denomination):
Jurisdictions where Roman Catholicism has been established as a state or official religion:
- Costa Rica: article 75 of the constitution of Costa Rica confirms that “The Roman Catholic and Apostolic Religion is the religion of the State, which contributes to its maintenance, without preventing the free exercise in the Republic of other forms of worship that are not opposed to universal morality or good customs.”
- Liechtenstein: the constitution of Liechtenstein describes the Catholic Church as the state religion and enjoying “the full protection of the State”. The constitution does however ensure that people of other faiths “shall be entitled to practise their creeds and to hold religious services to the extent consistent with morality and public order.”
- Malta: Article 2 of the Constitution of Malta declares that “the religion of Malta is the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion”
- Monaco: article 9 of the constitution of Monaco describes “La religion catholique, apostolique et romaine” [the catholic, apostolic and Roman religion]” as the religion of the state.
- Vatican City: the Vatican is an Elective, Theocratic, or sacerdotal Absolute Monarchy ruled by the Pope, who is also the Vicar of the Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope’s official residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace.
Jurisdictions that give various degrees of recognition in their constitutions to Roman Catholicism without establishing it as the state religion:
- Argentina – article 2 of the Constitution explicitly states that the government supports the Catholic Church, but the constitution does not establish a state religion.
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Panama – the Constitution recognizes Catholicism as “the religion of the majority” of citizens but does not designate it as the official state religion.
The jurisdictions below give various degrees of recognition in their constitutions to Eastern Orthodoxy, but without establishing it as the state religion:
- Greece: The Church of Greece is recognized by the Greek Constitution as the prevailing religion in Greece. However, this provision does not give official status to the Church of Greece, while all other religions are recognized as equal and may be practiced freely. Therefore, this provision is considered a dead letter and can only be interpreted as a nationalistic historical remnant.
- Georgia: Georgian Orthodox Church is not the state church of Georgia but has a special constitutional agreement with the state, with the constitution recognising “the special role of the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia in the history of Georgia and its independence from the state.” (See also Concordat of 2002)
- Bulgaria: in the Bulgarian Constitution, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is recognized as “the traditional religion” of the Bulgarian people, but the state itself remains secular.
- England: the Church of England is the established church in England, but not in the United Kingdom as a whole. It is the only established Anglican church worldwide. The Anglican Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland are not established churches and they are independent from the Church of England. The British monarch is the titular Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The 26 most senior bishops in the Church of England are Lords Spiritual and have seats in the House of Lords of the UK Parliament.
- Isle of Man: the Church of England is the established church on the Isle of Man. The Bishop of Sodor and Man is an ex officio member of the Legislative Council of the upper house of the Tynwald.
- Jersey the Church of England is the established church in the Jersey and the leader of the church on the island the Dean of Jersey is a non-voting member of the States of Jersey.
- Guernsey the Church of England is the established church in and the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the leader of the Church of England in the territory is the Dean of Guernsey.
- Tuvalu: The Church of Tuvalu is the state religion, although in practice this merely entitles it to “the privilege of performing special services on major national events”. The Constitution of Tuvalu guarantees freedom of religion, including the freedom to practice, the freedom to change religion, the right not to receive religious instruction at school or to attend religious ceremonies at school, and the right not to “take an oath or make an affirmation that is contrary to his religion or belief”.
- Scotland: The Church of Scotland is recognized as the national church of Scotland, but is not a state church and thus differs from the Church of England. Its constitution, which is recognised by acts of the British Parliament, gives it complete independence from the state.
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- Denmark: section 4 of the Constitution of Denmark confirms the Church of Denmark as the state church.
- Iceland: the Constitution of Iceland confirms the Church of Iceland as the state church of Iceland.
- Norway: the Constitution of Norway stipulates that “The Church of Norway, an Evangelical-Lutheran church, will remain the Established Church of Norway and will as such be supported by the State.” This was amended in 2012, from “Evangelical-Lutheran religion remains the public religion of the State”. The church is granted autonomy in doctrine and appointment of bishops. A bill passed in 2016 creates the Church of Norway as an independent legal entity from 1 January 2017. The Church of Norway will still obtain financial support from the state of Norway, but is no longer the official state religion and is no longer a state civil service agency.
- Finland: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has a special relationship with the Finnish state, its internal structure being described in a special law, the Church Act. The Church Act can be amended only by a decision of the synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and subsequent ratification by the Parliament of Finland. The Church Act is protected by the Constitution of Finland and the state can not change the Church Act without changing the constitution. The church has a power to tax its members and all corporations unless a majority of shareholders are members of the Finnish Orthodox Church. The state collects these taxes for the church, for a fee. On the other hand, the church is required to give a burial place for everyone in its graveyards. The President of Finland also decides the themes for intercession days. The church does not consider itself a state church, as the Finnish state does not have the power to influence its internal workings or its theology, although it has a veto in those changes of the internal structure which require changing the Church Act. Neither does the Finnish state accord any precedence to Lutherans or the Lutheran faith in its own acts. The Union of Freethinkers of Finland has criticized the official endorsement of the two churches by the Finnish state, and has campaigned for the separation of church and state.
- Sweden: the Church of Sweden was until 2000 the official state church of Sweden, and Lutheranism was therefore the state religion of Sweden. In spite of the separation between the state and the church in 2000, the Church of Sweden still has a special status in Sweden. Sweden is therefore often seen as a midway between having a state religion and not. The church has its own legal regulation in the 1998 Church of Sweden Act, which regulates the church’s basic structure, creeds and right to tax members of the church. According to the Act, the Church of Sweden must be a democratic, Lutheran people’s church. Only the Swedish Riksdag can change this fact. The connections to the Swedish royal family are complicated. For example, the Swedish constitution stipulates that the Monarch of Sweden must be a true Lutheran, accepting the doctrine of the Church of Sweden. All members of the royal house must accept the same doctrine to be able to inherit the Throne of Sweden. The parishes of the Church of Sweden were the smallest administrative entities in Sweden and were used as civil registration and taxation units until 1 January 2016.