Under the Freedom of Religion Act, the religious communities are the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the Orthodox Church of Finland, and religious communities registered according to the provisions of the Act.
Religion can also be practised within an ideological association or without any arrangements under public law.
Evangelical Lutheran Church
About 73% of Finns belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church has a special status as an institution under public law. The organisation and administration of the Church is governed by the Church Act. The Evangelical Lutheran Church has the exclusive constitutional right to take initiative for amendments to the Act.
The Orthodox Church of Finland has about 60,000 members, which makes about 1% of Finns.
It is an autonomous Orthodox church belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as well as an institution under public law, whose organisation and administration are governed by legislation.
Registered religious communities
Some 1.6% of Finns belong to registered religious communities, the largest of which are the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Evangelical Free Church of Finland and the Catholic Church in Finland.
The purpose of a registered religious community is to carry out and support individual, communal and public activities relating to the profession and practice of a religion. In so doing, it must respect basic and human rights. The purpose may not be financial gain.
Registered religious communities mainly finance their activities with donations, membership fees and fund-raising.
The register of religious communities
The Freedom of Religion Act forms a legislative framework for the founding and activities of registered religious communities.
A registered religious community is a type of independent special legal subject, like a registered association, corporation, co-operative or trust. The register of religious communities is kept by the National Board of Patents and Registration.
An Expert Board functioning in connection with the Ministry of Education and Culture has the task of giving the National Board of Patents and Registration its opinion whether the purpose and forms of activity of a particular religious community are in compliance with the Freedom of Religion Act.
Joni Hiitola, Senior Ministerial Adviser
Ministry of Education and Culture, Kulttuuri- ja taidepolitiikan osasto (KUPO), Strategic Steering Division Telephone:0295330108