The constitution states that the country is secular, prohibits religious discrimination, provides for freedom of religion or belief, bans the use of religion for political ends, and stipulates that impositions on freedom of conscience stemming from “religious fanaticism” shall be punishable by law. Following a February statement by Catholic bishops that expressed “serious reservations” regarding presidential election preparations, the government launched a campaign reminding civil society and religious organizations to remain politically impartial and refrain from commenting on government practices. In the same statement, the bishops criticized government COVID-19 restrictions that they said had prevented persons from celebrating the previous Christmas. In September, Antoinette Kebi, executive secretary of the government’s Consultative Council on Women, told women representatives from religious groups that the prohibition on the use of religion for political purposes was not intended to limit the free exercise of religion but rather to ensure that religion was not used as a pretext to violate the principles of equality between men and women. In October, press reported that representatives of religious groups responded favorably to a request by Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso for their support for the government’s campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council of Churches of Congo and the High Islamic Council, the largest bodies representing religious organizations in the country, with support from the United Nations and World Health Organization, organized multiple educational training sessions entailing interreligious cooperation on such issues as civil society engagement in promoting political stability, enhancing the role of women in religious organizations, and increasing citizen participation in democratic processes.
U.S. embassy officials discussed religious freedom and tolerance in engagements with government leaders. Issues raised included interfaith relations and the impact of COVID-19 prevention measures on religious gatherings. The Charge d’Affaires hosted meetings of local representatives of religious groups that were members of the Interconfessional Platform for Dignity and Peace for the Great Lakes, an association of faith groups from seven countries from the region, and highlighted the meetings in social media posts. The stated mission of the platform, which included representatives of the dozen largest religious denominations in the country, was to promote peace and equal access to opportunity, regardless of religious denomination, and improve the relationship between the government and religious organizations.