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Twenty Years and More:  Research into Minority Religions,  New Religious Movements and 'the New Spirituality' PowerPoint Presentation
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Twenty Years and More:  Research into Minority Religions,  New Religious Movements and 'the New Spirituality'. INFORM and CESNUR in association with ISORECEA April 16-20, 2008 - London School of Economics.

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Twenty Years and More: Research into Minority Religions, New Religious Movements and 'the New Spirituality'

INFORM and CESNUR in association with ISORECEAApril 16-20, 2008 - London School of Economics

slide2
Shifting Legal Frameworks for Protection of Non-Traditional Religious Communities in Post-Communist Lands

Presiding and Introducing: W. Cole DURHAM, Jr. (Brigham Young University, Provo)

  • The Changing Legal Setting for Religious Groups in Russia - Alexander VERKHOVSKY (Director, SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis, Moscow)
  • Position of Non-traditional Religious Communities Following the Adoption of the Romanian Law on Religious Freedom and the General Regime of Religious Denominations - Romanita IORDACHE (Human Rights Lawyer, Center for Legal Resources, Romania)
  • Religious Rights in the Georgian Setting - Archil GIORGADZE (Head of Human Rights Protection Unit, Office of the Prosecutor General of Georgia)
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Position of Non-traditional Religious Communities Following the Adoption of the Romanian Law on Religious Freedom and the General Regime of Religious Denominations

by Romanita IORDACHE

Full comment of Romanian Law published in

"österreichisches Archiv für recht & religion 2007, pp. 194-221". The article is available at http://www.univie.ac.at/recht-religion/archiv

background of the romanian 2006 law
Background of the Romanian 2006 Law
  • Situation of religious minorities prior to 1948
  • Religious freedom between 1948-1989 – 14 state recognized/ controlled religious denominations
  • Status of religious minorities between 1989 -2006 – 18 state recognized religious denominations
status of religious minorities between 1989 2006 restrictive process based on decree 177 1948
Status of religious minorities between 1989 - 2006 – restrictive process based on Decree 177/1948
  • State recognized religious denominations
  • Religious denominations not recognized by the state:
    • No legal personality
    • Registered as religious associations=NGOs
    • Attempts of being recognized as culte
      • The case of Jehovah Witnesses – Supreme Court cases (4) + ECHR case –friendly settlement
constitutional guarantees art 29
Constitutional guarantees – Art.29
  • (1) Freedom of thought, opinion, and religious beliefs shall not be restricted in any form whatsoever. No one shall be compelled to embrace an opinion or religion contrary to his own convictions.
  • (2) Freedom of conscience is guaranteed; it must be manifested in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect.
  • (3) All religions shall be free and organized in accordance with their own statutes, under the terms laid down by law.
  • (4) Any forms, means, acts or actions of religious enmity shall be prohibited in the relationships among the cults.
  • (5) Religious cults shall be autonomous from the State and shall enjoy support from it, including the facilitation of religious assistance in the army, in hospitals, prisons, homes and orphanages.
  • (6) Parents or legal tutors have the right to ensure, in accordance with their own convictions, the education of minor children whose responsibility devolves on them.
adoption of 2006 law
Adoption of 2006 law
  • Previous drafts – 4-5
  • Stakeholders:
    • State recognized religious denominations – variety of positions – approval by ROC/dissent of GCC (conditioned), JW (rejected) & Baptists, Adventists – withdrew endorsement
    • Denominations not recognized
    • International concerns: OSCE, Venice Commission, US Helsinki Commission
    • Domestic concerns: anti-religious groups and human rights NGOs

Voting process

- tacit approval by Senate=no debate on the floor and no voting

- Chamber of Deputies – slow process; surprise adoption – one vote against, one abstention and majority pro

main provisions of the 2006 law
Main provisions of the 2006 law
  • No definition of religion
  • Protection of forum internum
  • Art. 9 ECHR + legitimate aims for limitations – “public security”
  • Three tier system
  • Preferential status of dominant ROC
  • Autonomy of state recognized religious denominations public utility status
main provisions of the 2006 law 2
Main provisions of the 2006 law (2)
  • Art. 9 – quasi – Separation/ Neutrality/Equality Clause

(1) There is no State Religion in Romania; the State is neutral towards any religious persuasion or atheistic ideology.

(2) The denominations are equal before the law and public authorities. The State, though its authorities, shall neither promote nor support the granting of privileges or the instatement of discrimination towards any denomination.

  • Art. 13 – prohibition of religious defamation and public offending of religious symbols
  • Sensitive issue – restitution of religious assets seized after 1948 – postponed (Art.30)
conditions for registration as first tier status different standards
Conditions for registration as first tier status – different standards
  • Previously recognized simplified procedure
  • Newcomers:
    • religious associations that, “through their activities and number of worshipers, provide guarantees of sustainability, stability and public interest (?).”
    • bylaws and canon codes of recognised denominations are to be recognised “insofar as they do not, in their contents, threaten public security, order, health and morality or the fundamental human rights and liberties.”
    • high numerical threshold of 0.1 per cent of the populationRomanian citizens residing in Romania (approximately 22,000 people) to qualify for ‘religious denomination’ status, = highest in OSCE
    • a strict time-requirement of a 12-year waiting period
registration as religious associations
Registration as religious associations
  • 300 believers (only Romanian citizens or residents in Romania) = 3 persons establishing a NFP association  impact on management of temporal issues of religious communities (access to public subsidies, tax exemptions, property, labor relations, relation with authorities – education, pastoral support in detention, army, hospitals etc.)
  • Process- SSRA issues an opinion – 8 so far judge
impact of law on nrms
Impact of law on NRMs
  • Duty to transform status for NRMs previously registered as religious associations
  • Restrictive criteria for registration for NRMs currently seeking legal status as first tier or second tier denominations
  • Disparate impact of some provisions of the law (prohibition of offense against religious symbols, provisions on access to graveyards, taxation, education, pastoral support etc.)
  • Encouraging further attacks – see decision of the national equality body following a complaint filed by Bahai in relation with the content of the Manuals of Religious Education approved by the MoE which used offensive language in relation with NRMs