- November 2013 : Ban on religious slaughter
Since the end of December 2012, the religious slaughter is not permitted any more in Poland. The Constitutional Court ruled that the Ordinance of 9 September 2004 by the Minister of the Agriculture and Rural Development concerning the conditions of religious slaughter is inconsistent with the Law on the Protection of animals. According to the judgment of the Polish constitutional tribunal (27 November 2012), this ministerial ordinance is no more in force from 1st January 2013. Therefore, the government proposed a draft amendment to the Law on the Protection of Animals that would have allowed the ritual slaughter to be performed in accordance with the religious needs. This draft was rejected by the Parliament on 12 July 2013. The Jewish community has voiced strong reaction and has requested the Polish constitutional tribunal to examine of the Law on the Protection of Animals in the light of the Constitution (art. 53) and the ECHR (art. 9). Representatives of the community were informed late November that the Constitutional Tribunal will consider the appeal they filed. The date for the tribunal session has not yet been set.
- 15 March 2013 : The Register of Churches and other Religious Organisations : Refusal to register the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
On 15 March 2013, the Minister of Administration and Digitization, who maintains the Register of churches and other religious organizations, refused to register the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The motion to register the church was submitted on 27 July 2012, after which it was corrected by the petitioners on 4 and 6 September 2012. It was stated in the motion that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was established in the US in 2005 and is inspired by “the revelation of the prophet Bobbie Henderson”.
In the course of the registration proceedings, the Minister asked the Institute of Religion of the Jagiellonian University to prepare an expert opinion which would answer the following question : “can the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, in light of the documents submitted, be considered a religious community referred to in art. 2 para. 1 of the act of 17 May 1989 on the guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion” ? The authors of the expert opinion stated that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster should be counted among joke religions, and its doctrine “definitely shows the signs of a parody of already-existing doctrines”. “It can thus be assumed that the group does not so much intend to create its own doctrine and gather a circle of followers around it in order to set up a new religious community as to ridicule the principles of another religion (in this case, the Christian religion).”
Justifying his decision, the Minister emphasized that the Register may only contain religious communities that are set up in order to profess and promote their religious faith. He shared the experts’ view that, in fact, we are dealing “with a kind of anti-religion.” On those grounds, he stated that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster did not meet the criteria set out in art. 2 para. 1 of the act of 17 May 1989 on the guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion.
The petitioners have already said that they will submit a written request to have their case reviewed by the Minister. According to the current regulations, they may also complain to administrative court.
It is worth mentioning that in the past, the refusal to include a particular group in the Register of churches and other religious organizations has sometimes been justified on the grounds that the group at issue did not have a religious character. The same argumentation was used by the Supreme Administrative Court in the judgment of 22 January 1999, who confirmed the legitimacy of the decision issued by the Minister of the Interior and Administration (responsible for the Register of churches and other religious organizations at the time) in which the Minister refused to register the Polish Raëlian Movement. The doctrine of the movement was based on Claude Vorilhon’s views expressed in his book entitled “Raël. The message given to me by extra-terrestrials. They took me to their planet.”