The EU has just adopted a very important text on the question of Religious Freedom.
Whilst its provisions are still not European Law for the time being, this is the final draft of the proposals that will be offered to the Commission for actual legislation.
Happily, several questions that have arisen in recent decades over the intellectual persecution by some radical secularist ideologues of (particularly) the Christian religious freedoms are explicitly provided against in the proposals :
Collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief
(h) It should be stressed in the Guidelines that an indispensable part of freedom of religion or belief is the right of each individual to manifest the freedom of religion or belief alone or in community with others; this includes:
– the freedom to worship or assemble in connection with a religion or belief, and to establish and maintain places and religious sites for these purposes;
– the freedom not to participate in any given religious activity or event,
– the freedom to establish and maintain appropriate religious, media, educational, health, social, charitable or humanitarian institutions;
– the freedom to solicit and receive voluntary financial and other contributions from individuals and institutions;
– the freedom to train, appoint, elect or designate by succession appropriate leaders called for by the requirements and standards of any religion or belief;
– the freedom to establish and maintain communications with individuals and communities in matters of religion and belief at the national and international levels; equally, it should be noted in the Guidelines that the right to exercise religion in community with others (in the context of which ‘individual freedoms must always be respected) should not unnecessarily be limited to officially recognised places of worship, and that all undue limitations to the freedom of assembly should be condemned by the EU; the Guidelines should underline that States have a duty to remain neutral and impartial towards religious groups, including as regards symbolic or financial support;
(k) As recognised by internationally accepted standards, the parents or legal guardians of a child have the liberty to ensure that their children receive a religious and moral education in conformity with their own convictions, and the child shall not be compelled to receive teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his or her parents or legal guardians, the best interests of the child being the guiding principle; the right of parents to educate their children according to their religious or non-religious convictions includes their right to deny any undue interference by state or non-state actors in their education opposed to their religious or non-religious convictions; the Guidelines should stress these aspects of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and should also guarantee secularisation in public education, and EU delegations should take appropriate action if this principle is violated;
I find these proposals to be an interesting mix of both some intrinsically secularist notions, and some intrinsically religious requirements — and on the face of the more general nature of the proposals, they may end up requiring of the UK that the Church of England shall be disestablished (though I will leave others to read the document for themselves and make up their opinion about these aspects).
My own interest is in the specific protections that are being proposed herein for all religiously-minded folk, including Catholic Christians.
It is a significant step forward for the EU that parents’ rights and the rights of religious communities to provide a religious education to their children is being proposed as a strongly worded inalienable human right !!! This right has been under constant assault from atheists and secularists for nearly 50 years, and it is very gratifying to finally see someone acting to put a stop to this horrendous persecution of religious families in Europe.
That public education is defined as being secularised is of little importance in the face of this great advancement, given that it already has been so secularised throughout nearly the whole of Europe — though here, the public education that is provided in Italy may sadly be put under assault (except that I have great faith in the Italian genius for finding detours around any overly oppressive lawmaking).
The proposals on the Collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief are a LOT more interesting though !!!
It is of the very NATURE of a religion to be collective, and we can see here that the EU is at last decided upon formally defining religion and the associated religious freedoms to be of a collective nature. This is amazingly good news, in the face of the constant barrage of propaganda from the atheists and secularists to try and turn religion into a purely private affair.
Noteworthy, is the expressed desire that religions and religious communities should have a right to establish charities that are consistent with their religious beliefs, and one cannot help but think of the ghastly cases of the Christian Adoption agencies that have been forced to shut down or lose their charitable status in the face of secularist legislative aggressions and persecutions, in the UK for example.
It is very refreshing to see a secular institution of the EU positively recognising that religious freedoms cannot be limited to freedom of belief and freedom of assembly.
This is a great advancement, and we should be celebrating it, notwithstanding the more secularist notions that are simultaneously being vehicled in this document.