Archive for the ‘Religious Law’ 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.

New demographics drive new Religious Law in Spain

March 20, 2010

Monitoring and compiling European religious statistics is a thankless task but just occasionally we hear of a story that encourages us to continue. A report this week from AC Press News expects the Spanish Government to publish draft proposals for its new Law on Religious Freedom this Spring, following statements from José Manuel Contreras, Director of the Department of Relations with Confessions.

The introduction of the Law is seen as a direct response to changing Christian Demographics in Spain (already reported on by Nova in the latest edition of Christian Research’s Quadrant magazine) and is described as an attempt to rethink legal secularism. According to ACPress Contreras stated publically that ‘the law of 1980 responds to a reality different from today’s’ in which there are a million Muslims, one and a half million Evangelicals, 600,000 Orthodox and some Buddhists and Mormons, in addition to the 77% of the Spanish population who say they are Catholics (including practising and not practising).

The new law is likely to lead to the removal of religious symbols from public buildings, address the legal status of ministers, regulate the collective rights of Christian denominations and associations, widen access to subsidies for charitable work carried out by churches, and deal with land ownership by church communities.

It seems that European mission and Christianity is facing something of a sea-shift across the continent as existing accords and agreements between Church and State are being reviewed and, in some cases, revised.