Freedom of Religion in Bulgaria

Freedom of religion in Bulgaria is important and Bulgarians pride themselves on this tolerance which they have come to be known for, especially in a region which has seen severe religious and political tension in the past and in recent history.Shinto-Buddhism

However, freedom of religion in the country is more than a mere attitude observed in the people of Bulgaria. Furthermore, it is enshrined in the constitution of the country, which legally protects people to practice whichever religion they may choose. The constitution states that Orthodoxy is the traditional and therefore default religion in the country and thus does not have to declare itself in court as other religious groups have to do if they want to have a premise or practice their religion in groups. What individuals do in their home is a different matter, partly because it would not be possible to monitor this in any way.

The state designates a certain amount of money to the different religious groups in the country. It is believed to be around $1.8 million between all the different religious groups in Bulgaria. They do not all receive the same amount. The Orthodox Church receives the most at around $1.4 million. This is because over 80% of people in Bulgaria subscribe to Orthodoxy. The rest is then divided between the other religious groups depending on their size.

There have been some instances of the state interfering in religious affairs in Bulgaria. For example, back in 2008, the Muslim conference elected a new chief which was challenged by a fellow Islamic leader. The court ruled in favour of the challenger and the election was overturned, much to the dismay of many, believing that the state should stay out of such affairs. Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country have also reported problems with the state.