Freedom of Religion in Romania
The 1991 Constitution of Romania as well as other laws of the country, allow for freedom of religion within the country. These laws protect the right of religious followers to organize and prohibit forced religious practice. Asking an individual to identify their religion is illegal in both the public and the private sector. To receive certain tax exemptions, a religious entity must be legally registered with the government. Eighteen religions and denominations are recognized by the state.
Eastern Orthodox Christianity
The most widely practiced religion in Romania is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Approximately 81% of the population identifies as Orthodox Christian. The Romanian Orthodox Church was established in 1859 under the Kingdom of Romania and in 1872, it was declared autocephalous. When the country came under Communist rule in 1947, the Church underwent a reformation of its hierarchy. The government eventually came to control the church elections, pay the salaries of clergy, and remove anti-communist members to concentration camps. The country moved toward democracy beginning in 1989, and the Church became free of state control at that time. Among the individuals who identify as Orthodox Christians, church attendance is low. Only about 25.4% attend church weekly, 37.8% on major holidays, 18.9% attend once a month, 10.2% once a year and 3.4% do not attend church at all.
Catholicism falls under two denominations in Romania: Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic. Together, they make up approximately 5.1% of the total population. This percentage has gradually declined since 1948.
Of the two, the Roman Catholic Church has the biggest base of followers, making it the second largest denomination in the country. The Roman Catholic Church has existed in Romania since Medieval times and, like the Eastern Orthodox Church underwent persecution during the Communist era. In 1990, its relationship with the Holy See was reestablished. The majority of its practitioners live in Transylvania and Bacau County in Moldavia.
The Greek Catholic Church has a union with the Roman Catholic Church, although it conducts services in the Romanian language and uses the Byzantine liturgical rite. Its followers primarily inhabit the northern region of Transylvania and represent only .75% of the Romanian population. The Eastern Orthodox Church has claimed some properties belonging to the Greek Catholic Church; the two are in dispute.
Protestants make up 5.95% of the population of Romania. The major denominations within this religion include: Reformed (2.99%), Pentecostal (1.8%), Baptist (.56%), Seventh-Day Adventist (.4%), and Unitarian (.29%). The Reformed Church, which has the biggest following, belongs to the Calvinist Church. Around 95% of its followers are Hungarian, which is also the main language of the church. This is the third largest denomination after the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic religions.
Other Religions In Romania
Other religions practiced in Romania include Islam (0.3%), Jehovah’s Witnesses (0.25%), Old Believers (0.16%), and Judaism (0.02%).
Religious Persecution In The Country
Despite legalizing religious freedom, Romania has many reports of religious persecution. Some religious groups find it difficult to register, thus continuing to practice without government recognition. Other religions, particularly the Greek Catholic Church, have difficulty reacquiring its previously confiscated properties from the Orthodox Church. In addition, the Orthodox Church has been accused of preventing non-Orthodox members from entering the cemeteries. Anti-Semitic reports have also occurred, which include the destruction of synagogues, anti-Semitic sermons, and denials of the Holocaust.