Under the constitution, Islam is Libya's official religion and the government publicly supports a preference for a moderate practice of Islam. About 97% of the people are Sunni Muslim. In an effort to eliminate alternative political power bases, the government banned the once powerful Sanusiyya Islamic order. Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi then established the Islamic Call Society, which is the Islamic arm of the government's foreign policy. The ICS's main goal was to promote a moderate form of Islam, reflecting the views of the government. In 1992, the government stated its intention to disband the ICS, however, reports indicate that some elements of the organization are still in effect.
Though other religions are generally tolerated, the government places a number of restrictions which essentially limit the practice of non-Muslim faiths. For example, there is a government imposed limit of one church per denomination per city and there are no known places of worship for the small number of Hindus, Baha'is and Buddhists within the country. Members of non-Muslim faiths are, however, free to worship within their own homes. There are about 50,000 Christians in the country, of whom the majority are Roman Catholics. In 1997 the Vatican established diplomatic relations with Libya, stating that Libya had taken steps to protect freedom of religion. Other denominations include Anglican and Coptic and Greek Orthodox. There is also a very small Jewish community.