Religion in Moldova is separate from the state in that it is much different from any other state religion in Western Europe. The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova provides for freedom of religion, and the national government generally respects this right in practice; however, the law includes restrictions that at times may inhibit the activities of some religious groups.
The generally amicable relationship among religions in Moldovan society contributes to religious freedom; however, disputes among various branches of the Christian Orthodox faith continue. Other religions practiced in Moldova include Islam and Judaism.
The primary religion is Christianity, 90% of the population nominally being Eastern Orthodox. Administratively, there are two autonomous churches belonging to two autocephalous churches (Russian and Romanian) within the Eastern Orthodox communion. The autonomous Metropolis of Chişinău and Moldova (belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church), according to the State Service on Religious Issues, has 1,194 parishes; the Metropolis of Bessarabia (belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church) has 124 parishes. In addition followers of the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers) make up approximately 3.6 percent of the population. The religious traditions of the Eastern Orthodoxy are entwined with the culture and patrimony of the country. Many self-professed atheists routinely celebrate religious holidays, cross themselves, and even light candles and kiss icons if local tradition and the occasion demand.
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, the 1992 Law on Religions, which codifies religious freedoms, contains restrictions that inhibit the activities of unregistered religious groups. Although the law was amended in 2002, many of the restrictions remain in place. The law provides for freedom of religious practice, including each person's right to profess his or her religion in any form. It also protects the confidentiality of the confessional, allows denominations to establish associations and foundations, and states that the Government may not interfere in the religious activities of denominations. The law specifies that "in order to organize and function", religious organizations must be registered with the Government, and unregistered groups may not own property, engage employees, or obtain space in public cemeteries in their own names.