Protesters Claim Secular Status for Costa Rica

While thousands of demonstrators across the United States marched in support of female empowerment and denounced President Donald Trump’s views on immigration, abortion, LGBT rights and women’s rights on Saturday, January 20, in Costa Rica dozens of people gathered in front of the Catedral  – the Cathedral of the Costa Rican – in downtown San Jose to demand a secular state.

Costa Rica is one of the few Latin American countries that has an official religion.

The protesters marched through downtown San Jose, chanting slogans and displaying signs against Article 75 of the Constitution, which defines the Catholic religion as the official of the State.

“Estado laico ya” and “religión + constitución = discriminación” (“Lay state already” and “religion + constitution = discrimination”), read on the signs by the demonstrators, mostly young people.

“If the Pope were a woman, abortion would be legal,” chanted a women’s group that participated in the activity defending the secular state.

“That the state has an official religion is as if it had an official soccer team, it’s an absurdity,” Victor Hurtado, president of the Sociedad Racionalista Costarricense (Costa Rican Rationalist Society), told AFP.

He described the official religion as a “blackmail,” because under that premise, public resources collected from the taxes of all Costa Ricans will end in the hands of the Catholic Church, even if the one who pays them is not Catholic.

The Costa Rican Constitution also establishes full freedom of worship. However, adversaries of the confessional state consider that the Catholic Church has an inordinate influence on public institutions.