Under the Finnish constitution, freedom of religion is a fundamental right. It is no less a human right, defined as such by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Freedom of Religion Act guarantees every Finn the right to belong to the religious community of their choice. Every person has the right to profess a faith, express their beliefs and to practise religion both individually and within a community.
The principle of positive religious freedom undergirds the Freedom of Religion Act. It stipulates that no one may be forced to belong to any religious community, or to participate in a religious ceremony in violation of their conscience.
The Freedom of Religion Act recognises that religion is both an individual's choice and an element of a community's tradition. The Act accords special recognition to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church. The current act came into force on 1 August 2003, replacing the act of 1922.