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Legal framework on freedom of religion and actual application

The preamble to the constitution states that the people of Ecuador “recognis[e] our age-old roots […], celebrat[e] the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) […] and invoke[e] the name of God and recognis[e] our diverse forms of religion and spirituality.”[1] Under article 1, the country is described as an “inter-cultural, mult-inational and secular state”. The state, according to article 3(4), guarantees “secular ethics as the basis for public service and the legal regulatory system”. Under article 11(2), “no one shall be discriminated against for reasons of cultural identity, […] religion [or] ideology.”

Under article 66(8), the state recognises and guarantees “the rights of persons […] to practise, keep, change, [or] profess in public or private one’s religion or beliefs and to disseminate them individually or collectively, with the constraints imposed by respect for the rights of others”. Under the same article, the state also protects “voluntary religious practice as well as the expression of those who profess no religion whatsoever”. Under article 19, “it is forbidden to broadcast advertisements that foment […] religious or political intolerance.”

Article 57 provides that indigenous communities have “the collective rights […] to uphold, protect and develop collective knowledge, their science, technologies and ancestral wisdom […], the right to restore, promote and protect ritual and holy places” and “that  the dignity and diversity of their cultures [and] traditions be reflected in public education and in the media.”

Article 66(11) provides for “the right to confidentiality about one’s convictions [including] one’s religious beliefs”. No one is obliged to “make statements about these convictions”.

Under article 28, “public education shall be universal and secular”. Article 29 declares that parents or guardians are free to choose their children’s education in accordance with their beliefs. Under the Code of Children and Adolescents, the state, in article 61, guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion to children and adolescents. Article 34 guarantees the people’s right to preserve and develop their spiritual, cultural and religious identity and values. The code, in article 52, also prohibits the use of children and adolescents for the purposes of political or religious proselytism.[2]

In 1937 the Ecuadorian government entered into an agreement with the Holy See in which the Catholic Church is guaranteed the freedom to carry out its ministry and provide education. Catholic dioceses and other institutions are accorded legal recognition.[3]


In June 2017 the Adventist Church held a series of meetings to strengthen the practice of religious freedom.[4]

In November 2017 the first inter-faith music festival was held in Guayaquil. The director of the Guayaquil Symphony Orchestra described the festival as a dialogue involving the choirs of the city’s many churches and faiths.[5]

In December of 2017 an inter-faith meeting was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Experts from various institutions said inter-faith dialogue was a force for tolerance in society.[6]

In December 2017 a competition for the best Christmas nativity scene was held in Portoviejo. Each entry displayed the distinctive traits of each participating ethnic group. In urban areas, live nativity scenes are also performed with participants wearing indigenous, mestizo and Afro-Ecuadorian garments.[7]

In February 2018 President Moreno met with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador to discuss issues of national concern. Given the secular nature of the state, the meeting suggested that both sides were committed to dialogue.[8]

In January 2018 the Pop Up Café Samborondón Theatre was closed following complaints by Catholic groups about a play titled “The Holy Foreskin”, which they viewed as blasphemous and as a mockery of religion. In a statement, the theatre explained that it was never its intention to offend religious sensibilities.[9]

Prospects for freedom of religion

Few significant incidents of intolerance towards religious views have been reported in the period under review. The different faith groups enjoy freedom to express their views. The situation for freedom of religion is good and the outlook for the future is positive.

Endnotes / Sources

[1] Ecuador’s Constitution of 2008 with Amendments through 2015,,, (accessed 14th May 2018).

[2] Código de la Niñez y Adolescencia, Ecuador, artices 34, 52 and 61,, (accessed 3rd  April 2018).

[3] Modus Vivendi que restablece relaciones entre Ecuador y la Santa Sede de 1937,, (accessed 3rd April 2018).

[4] ‘Iglesia Adventista en Ecuador fortalece la Libertad Religiosa’, Noticias Adventistas, 20th June 2017,, (accessed 24th April 2018).

[5] ‘Festival de música interreligiosa empieza hoy en la urbe porteña’, El Telégrafo, 1st November 2017,, (accessed 25th April 2018).

[6] ‘Proponen en Quito el diálogo interreligioso como fórmula de convivencia’, Agencia EFE, 16th December 2017,, (accessed 25th April 2018).

[7] A. García, M.V. Espinosa y W. Benalcazar, ‘Las etnias del país se incluyen en los pesebres navideños’, El Comercio, 19th December 2017,, (accessed 25th April 2018).

[8] ‘Presidente Moreno se reunió con la cúpula de la Iglesia Católica’, El Comercio, 21st February 2018,, (accessed 12th March 2018).

[9] ‘Pop Up Café Samborondón fue clausurado: una obra causó polémica’, El Comercio, 12th January 2018,, (accessed 12th March 2018).

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Founded in 1947 as a Catholic aid organization for war refugees and recognized as a papal foundation since 2011, ACN is dedicated to the service of Christians around the world, through information, prayer and action, wherever they are persecuted or oppressed or suffering material need. ACN supports every year an average of 6000 projects in close to 150 countries, thanks to private donations, as the foundation receives no public funding.