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Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà

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Pologne

  • December 2014 : Ban on ritual slaughter inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Poland

The Constitutional Tribunal, following the motion of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities, resolved the issue of the questioned consistency of the ritual slaughter of animals with the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2nd April 1997. In the judgment of 10th December 2014, the Tribunal stated that Art. 34 para. 1 of the Act of 21th August 1997, on the protection of animals, insofar as it does not allow the subjecting of animals to slaughter in accordance with special methods prescribed by religious rites, as well as Art. 35 para. 1 and 4 of this Act, insofar as it provides criminal liability for subjecting animals to this kind of slaughter, are inconsistent with Art. 53 para. 1, 2 and 5 of the Constitution in connection with Art. 9 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The judgment of the Tribunal confirms that the freedom of religion, and especially the right to manifest religion, encompasses the right of religious organizations to practice ritual slaughter. The absolute prohibition of this kind of practices constitutes, in the Tribunal’s view, an unfounded (in the light of the Art. 53 para. 5 of the Constitution and Art. 9 para. 2 of the Convention) restriction of the freedom of religion.
The judgment was delivered by the full bench of the Tribunal, but five judges submitted dissenting opinions. The verdict was met with approval by Jewish and Muslim religious circles, and was received with loud opposition from animal rights activists.
Since the day the judgment was delivered (12th December 2014), the contested provisions of the Act on the protection of animals have no longer been in force insofar as they prohibited ritual slaughter. This means that the issue of ritual slaughter in Poland is today regulated by the Council Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009 of 24th September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing. Art. 4 para. 4 states that in the case of animals subject to particular methods of slaughter prescribed by religious rites, the requirements for stunning animals before killing shall not apply, provided that the slaughter takes place in a slaughterhouse.

  • May 2014 : Registration proceedings of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are judged devoid of purpose

The Registration Authority stated that the applicants asking for registration of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster did not represent a religious community as referred to in article 2 of the Act of 17 May 1989 on the guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion. The registration process has thus become devoid of purpose. The Authority considered that this community had not been founded to profess and to spread a religious faith, but for a different purpose. Therefore they were not in a situation to open the procedure of registration.

  • 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.”

  • Religion in public schools

Judgement of 2nd December 2009 Polish Constitutional Tribunal (U 10/07)

Counting of grades from compulsory lessons of religion or ethics to the final average of the school certificate

Legal provisions of the review :

An ordinance of the Minister of National Education of 13 th July 2007, amending the regulations on conditions and methods for assessing and promoting students and learners, and conducting tests and examinations in public schools. Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 13 July 2007 states that grades from compulsory lessons derived from the classification of the annual assessment shall be included in the classification derived from religion or ethics, for which the student attended during the school year. In addition, the student final results in a primary school, secondary school, upper secondary education or the existing secondary school in the final classification, includes an assessment of the classification of religion or ethics, if a student attended classes during the study at the school.

Basis of review :

Constitution of the Republic of Poland (Article 25 para. 2, Article 32 para. 1 and 2, Article 53 para. 3 in conjunction with Article 48 para. 1)
Act of 17 th May 1989 on guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion (Article 6 para. 2, Article 10 para. 1, Article 20 para. 2 and 3)

Complaints of the applicants :

According to the applicants, the regulation violates three principles : separation of church and state, equality before the law, and the right to freedom of parents raising a child according to their own conscience. According to the applicants, the regulation is inconsistent with the constitutional principle of government impartiality in matters of religious beliefs and outlooks on life. According to this principle, impartiality of the public authorities should be interpreted as neutrality in these matters. Public authorities should not promote any religious doctrine. However, among the objectives of the regulation of the Ordinance of 13 July 2007 set out in the explanatory memorandum, one finds motivating the student to additional effort and celebrating the work resulting from participation in activities such as religion or ethics. To provide positive evaluation of religion and ethics is to encourage students to choose these lessons. Regulation is contrary to the constitutional principle of equality before the law. Indeed, the regulation introduces different ways of calculating the average assessments for students attending the ethics or religion, and students not involved in these activities.

Ruling :

The Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the regulation of the Ordinance of the Minister of National Education of 13 July 2007 amending the regulation on conditions and methods for assessing and promoting students and learners, and conducting tests and examinations in public schools is consistent with Constitution

is not inconsistent with the Act of 17 th May 1989 on guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion

Principal reasons for the ruling :

1. Teaching religion is one of the manifestations of religious freedom in the light of the contemporary standards of a pluralistic democratic society. It is not the role of the State to impose religious education program and to bring the program to teach religion.
2. The Constitutional Tribunal emphasized that the counting grades of religion or ethics to the final average is a consequence of attachment of religion or ethics of the school certificates. Once they were on the certificate, they should be treated in the same way as grades of other subjects.
3. The Constitutional Tribunal held that the regulation of the Ordinance was not a manifestation of favoritism of any religious ideology, because parents and children can choose between lessons of religion or ethics. In practice, the decision of choice of religion may be carried out under social pressure, because the majority of Polish citizens are Roman Catholics. However, such circumstances only express the low social tolerance, which is not a matter the Constitutional Tribunal can deal with.

  • Exposition of the cross in public space

Resolution of 3rd December 2009 of the Polish Sejm (Low Chamber of the Polish Parliament) concerning protection of freedom of conscience and promotion of values based on the common heritage of European nations :

- “recognizing that a symbol of the cross is not only a religious symbol and a symbol of God’s love for people, but also in the public sphere reiterates readiness to sacrifice for the other man takes the value of fostering respect for the dignity of every human being and his rights
- declaring the sensitivity to respect freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- referring to the libertarian traditions of the Republic of the Both Nations, which was Europe’s model of religious and ethnic tolerance
- showing the elementary and positive contribution of Christianity to the development rights the human being, the culture of the Europe and unity of our continent
- declaring that both the individual and the community have right to express their own religious and cultural identity which is not confined to the private sphere
- remembering that in the past especially during in the Nazi and Soviet domination, acts of hostility toward religion were connected by mass violations human rights and lead to discrimination - keeping in mind the words spoken by the Pope John Paul II in the historical expose in the Polish Parliament in June 1999 that "democracy without values easily turns into open or tingly disguised totalitarism"
- expressing concern at the decisions in order to reconcile the freedom of religion, ignoring the rights and feelings of believers and the storm social peace and evaluate critically verdict of the European Court of Human Rights (case Lautsi v. Italy) challenging the legal aspects of crucifixes in classrooms in Italy. Polish Sejm is able to take the challenge with the others European parliaments (members of the Council of Europe) to create a joint reflection concerning the ways to protect freedom of religion by the spirit of promoting the values of the common heritage of European nations".

In the legislative process, 357 deputies voted for the resolution and 40 deputies were against. Resolution of 4th February 2010 of the Polish Senate has similar content.