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  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Tibetan Buddhist

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Vajrayana Buddhist (84.1%)

Features Of Constitution

Is there a constitution?3 Yes
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion?3 Yes


Constitution Year4 2008
Last Amended4 not amended
Source4 Constitution Drafting Committee (Bhutan)
Translation4 Source is an English translation
Current as of4 May 11, 2011

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)4

[ARDA Note: The below text has been extensively annotated by ARDA staff. Translations or explanations of selected terms were provided in the Glossary section of the constitution and have been incorporated by ARDA staff directly into the below document as bracketed text.]


We, the people of Bhutan:
BLESSED by the Triple Gem [Buddha, Dharma and Sangha], the protection of our guardian deities, the wisdom of our leaders, the everlasting fortunes of the Pelden Drukpa [Glorious Bhutan] and the guidance of His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo [King], Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck;
SOLEMNLY pledging ourselves to strengthen the sovereignty of Bhutan, to secure the blessings of liberty, to ensure justice and tranquility and to enhance the unity, happiness and well being of the people for all time;
DO HEREBY ordain and adopt this Constitution for the Kingdom of Bhutan on the Fifteenth Day of the Fifth Month of the Male Earth Rat Year corresponding to the Eighteenth Day of July, Two Thousand and Eight.

Article 2: The Institution of Monarchy

…2. The Chhoe-sid-nyi [dual system of religion and politics (temporal and secular)] shall be unified in the person of the Druk Gyalpo [King] who, as a Buddhist, shall be the upholder of the Chhoe-sid [Religion and politics (temporal and secular)]. 3. The title to the Golden Throne of Bhutan shall vest in the legitimate descendants of Druk Gyalpo [King] Ugyen Wangchuck as enshrined in the inviolable and historic Gyenja [Agreement] of the Thirteenth Day, Eleventh Month of the Earth Monkey Year, corresponding to the Seventeenth Day of December, Nineteen Hundred and Seven and shall:
(a) Pass only to children born of lawful marriage;
(b) Pass by hereditary succession to the direct lineal descendants on the abdication or demise of the Druk Gyalpo [King], in order of seniority, with a prince taking precedence over a princess, subject to the requirement that, in the event of shortcomings in the elder prince, it shall be the sacred duty of the Druk Gyalpo [King] to select and proclaim the most capable prince or princess as heir to the Throne;
(c) Pass to the child of the Queen who is pregnant at the time of the demise of the Druk Gyalpo [King] if no heir exists under section 3(b);
(d) Pass to the nearest collateral line of the descendants of the Druk Gyalpo [King] in accordance with the principle of lineal descent, with preference being given for elder over the younger, if the Druk Gyalpo [King] has no direct lineal descendant;
(e) Not pass to children incapable of exercising the Royal Prerogatives by reason of physical or mental infirmity; and
(f) Not pass to a person entitled to succeed to the Throne who enters into a marriage with a person other than a natural born citizen of Bhutan.
4. The successor to the Throne shall receive dar [scarf that symbolizes the conferring of rank] from the Machhen [holy relic] of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal [who unified Bhutan in the 17th century] at Punakha Dzong and shall be crowned on the Golden Throne.
…15. The Druk Gyalpo [King] shall not be answerable in a court of law for His actions and His person shall be sacrosanct.

Article 3: Spiritual Heritage

1. Buddhism is the spiritual heritage of Bhutan, which promotes the principles and values of peace, non-violence, compassion and tolerance.
2. The Druk Gyalpo [King] is the protector of all religions in Bhutan.
3. It shall be the responsibility of religious institutions and personalities to promote the spiritual heritage of the country while also ensuring that religion remains separate from politics in Bhutan. Religious institutions and personalities shall remain above politics.
4. The Druk Gyalpo [King] shall, on the recommendation of the Five Lopons [Teachers], appoint a learned and respected monk ordained in accordance with the Druk-lu [the


1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

3.  Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

4.  The constitutional excerpts shown above are reproduced from the websites given in the "Source" field; the links to these websites were active as of May 2011. Where the constitutional text shown on these websites was provided in a language other than English, this text was translated to English by ARDA staff with assistance from web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish. Constitutional text was converted to American English where applicable. Constitutional clauses were judged to contain religious content based largely on the standards used in the construction of the Religion and State Constitutions Dataset collected by Jonathan Fox. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to highlight religious content in articles that also contain content that does not pertain to matters of religion. The data on this page were correct to the best of the knowledge of the ARDA as of the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

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