Archive for the ‘parliament’ category

Georgia passes new freedom of religion legislation

July 9, 2011

On the 5th July 2011 the Georgian Parliament passed into law new legislation that ensures the religious freedoms of ‘religious groups recognized as religious organizations in member States of the Council of Europe or having close historic ties with Georgia.’

Initial drafts limited the freedoms to just five groups, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Evangelical Baptist church of Georgia, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Jewish and Muslim communities of Georgia, in addition to the special status still accorded the Orthodox Church of Georgia. The Baptist Archbishop in Georgia, Malkhaz Songulashvili, reports that following the release of the first draft, Bishop Rusudan Gotziridze (Baptist), lobbied the parliament and requested that the legislation should be extended to all religious groups in Georgia. The draft was subsequently amended to meet this request. A press release from the Embassy of Georgia in London specifically refers to Evangelicals being granted the same freedoms.

According to the Embassy’s press release, lawmaker, Nugzar Tsiklauri, said ‘Georgia is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country and every citizen of this country, regardless of what religion he belongs to, must have equal rights.’

Previously it has only been possible for the majority of religious organisations to register as a non-profit association. The new legislation now allows for registration as a religious association although the lawmakers have been careful to allow religious organisations to decide whether they want to continue as a non-profit association or register as a religious association. The legislation is designed to ensure maximum flexibility for such organisations.

A copy of the press release can be downloaded here.

EU-atheist Summit ‘odd’ according to participant

October 21, 2010

 

 

Atheists and Freemasons met collectively with EU leaders last Friday, 15th October 2010, in a bid to receive equal rights with Europe’s religious leaders. David Pollock, the European Humanist Federation’s President told EUObserver ‘There was lots of good will and not a great deal else. It was all a bit odd.’ Five secular atheists and twelve Freemasons met with the presidents of the European Council, Commission, and Parliament for a two-hour meeting.

The EU’s Lisbon Treaty establishes a legal basis for regular and transparent dialogue between the EU’s political leaders and  Europe’s religious leaders. In defending the right to consultation, the European Humanist Federation claimed that one in three European have no religion. In adopting the statistical high-ground it is odd that the EHF avoided pointing out that therefore 66% of European DO consider themselves religious. More importantly, however, remains the question as to whether Europeans welcome the contribution made by religious groups to cultural, society, and political processes. European Values Survey data tends to support the view that a majority of Europeans generally favour the contribution that religious groups make to the public life.

It must also be said that whilst there may be some doubts about the secrecy of certain aspects of contemporary religion in Europe, there will be many Europeans who see Freemasonry as a self-consciously secretive organisation. English Freemasons are also required to believe in a deity, although continental Freemasons may be atheist. Freemasonry has generally favoured separation of Church and State in Europe with occasionally unfortunate examples of discrimination (a charge readily levelled by them against religious organisations). We know of one professional colleague who was offered a place at a masonic University in Italy and was told that they would have to drop their intended PhD research interest in church-related welfare programmes as a pre-condition of accepting a place on that university’s doctoral programme.

For a full report of the meeting you can view the full EUObserver article by clicking here.

From the European Parliament

June 8, 2010

Two issues recently brought to our attention by the office of Care for Europe

Elections in the Netherlands and Czech Republic

Voters in the Netherlands go to the polls this Wednesday (9 June) to elect a new Parliament. These elections are being held early because the ruling Christian Democrat/Labour/Christian Union coalition fell apart earlier this year over the stationing of Dutch troops in Afghanistan. According to the polls the right if centre People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) could take as many as half of current Christian Democrat votes and become the largest party, but it will still need coalition partners.

In the Czech Republic, last Sunday’s elections had an unexpected result. Although the Social Democrats did scrape through as the largest party, with only 22.8% of the vote, their position is well below that of the three right of centre parties led by the Civic Democrats (ODS). Both the Christian Democrats and the Greens failed to achieve the 5% threshold necessary for any seats in the parliament.

Prayer: Please pray for wise choices by the Dutch voters, and for both countries an early formation of a coalition government willing to take strong action in the national interest in response to the current financial crisis.

European Parliament Written Declaration on setting up a European early warning system (EWS) for paedophiles and sex offenders

This excellent Written Declaration (No. 29) – the equivalent of a Westminster Early Day Motion – is currently open for signature by MEPs. It is calling for a system to prevent sex offenders escaping surveillance by moving from one European country to another. Please consider contacting you MEP/s to ask them to consider giving this Declaration their support.

Please pray that this declaration will be successful in attracting MEP signatures and achieving concerted European action to protect children.

Source: European Impact Direct (7th June 2010)