Even after joining the EU in 2004, the Czech Republic retains one of the most restrictive registration requirements for religious groups, one that greatly constraints the autonomy of churches. Churches are ranked into two categories, and only religious denominations registered at the second tier (whose membership amounts to at least 10,000) may perform marriage ceremonies and may serve as chaplains in prisons and military barracks. Given the country's pronounced secularization, Christian Democrat political formations play a small role in Czech politics, and religious education entered public schools in the republic much later than in other Eastern European countries. Tolerant legislation carried out from the communist time permitted abortion on a large scale and this has encouraged “abortion tourism,” which has happened hand in hand with an internationally criticized, state-sponsored sterilization program targeting the Roma ethnic minority.
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