Tuvalu is a parliamentary democracy located midway between Hawaii and Australia in the Pacific Ocean. The islands of Tuvalu are no more than fifteen feet above sea level, and the islands are often the victim of cyclones. Rising sea levels also threaten the nation.
As of 2020, Tuvalu’s population was 11,792 million. The majority of the population (around 97%) is affiliated with the Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu or EKT. Seventh-day Adventists make up 1.4% of the population, and 1% are part of the Baha’i faith. There are also some Catholics, Muslims, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Constitution provides for separation of church and state; however, the Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu (in Tuvaluan, Te Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu, or EKT) is by law the state church, although the main benefit of this status is “the privilege of performing special services on major national events.”
The preamble of the Constitution states the country is “an independent State based on Christian principles, the Rule of Law, and Tuvaluan custom and tradition”, while the Principles of the Constitution underscore that the right of Tuvaluans to “a full, free and happy life, and to moral, spiritual, personal and material welfare” are rights that are “given to them by God.”
Government ceremonies at the national level, such as the opening of parliament, and at the island-council level, often include Christian prayers and clergy.
The Penal Code proscribes “insult to religion of any class” and “writing or uttering words with intent to wound religious feelings” (Articles 123 and 127 respectively). As misdemeanors they are punishable with prison terms. Violations of article 123 are punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine, while violations of Article 127 is punishable by one year in prison.
Humanists International has not identified any cases in which the law has been enforced.