Religious freedom is guaranteed by the Romanian constitution. Religious differences in Romania like most other countries, run along ethnic lines. Religion plays a central role in cultural matters also. Romanian Orthodox Christianity has the largest following. Other people are Lutheran, Islamic and Uniate also known as Greek Catholics, because of the help they received from the Roman Catholic church during the time when religion was outlawed in Romania.

The Romanian Orthodox church is independent and separate from the Roman Catholic Church. The Orthodox priests marry and have families.

Easter is the family's most important holiday. Some homes keeping the old customs might have a religious calendar on their wall. They may also have icons hanging on the walls, some decorated with a piece of material. The Orthodox services usually require chanting of "Amen" in unison with beautiful harmonies.

In Orthodox churches people stand in orderly lines, with men on the right and women on the left. As a rule, Orthodox churches and monasteries are open even on weekdays.

Roman Catholicism and Calvinism are strong among the Hungarian population who live in Romania along the Hungarian border. In Calvinist and Lutheran churches men usually sit in galleries, with the women sitting in order of seniority behind the priest's wife and children in the front rows.

Lutheran services with German chorales sung to organ accompaniment are unique. Members of the Seventh day Adventists worship on Saturdays.

In the past the communist constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, but with qualifications. Churches could not run schools other than seminaries. The present government has taken a firm pro-religious stand, for example, icons of the Orthodox Church, line President Constantinescu's office shelves.

Did you know?

Religious paintings decorate the outside walls of many Romanian churches. This art form developed during the 1500s to remind people of their religious faith.