Chile - Religions
The Roman Catholic Church was disestablished by the constitution of 1925, but Roman Catholicism remains the principal religion. According to a 1998 national survey completed by the Center for Public Studies, about 72% of the population are at least nominally Catholic. About 16% of the population describe themselves as Evangelical, a term which includes most non-Catholic churches, with the exception of Orthodox faiths, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. The Jewish community has about 30,000 members, making up less than 1%. Islam and the Baha'i Faith are also represented. Amerindians still practice an indigenous religion involving shamanism.
Traditionally, the Roman Catholic Church has held a privileged status in the country. In March 2000, however, a new law on religion, ley de culto , was adopted to allow non-Catholic churches certain rights and permissions. For instance, churches are allowed to set up affiliate organizations, such as schools and clubs, without establishing them as separate, independent corporations. Under the 2000 law, non-Catholic religious groups leaders are permitted to have chaplains in public hospitals, prisons, and military units. However, a 2002 report indicated that implementation of these laws had been somewhat lax, so that non-Catholic religious leaders faced difficulties in access to public institutions. There were also reports of discrimination against non-Catholics in military employment.