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2016

Current debates in 2016:
Current debates that concern law and religion issues in 2016 the Czech Republic are immigration, before all from Islamic countries, relations of the public to Islam, and (...)

  • Current debates in 2016:

Current debates that concern law and religion issues in 2016 the Czech Republic are immigration, before all from Islamic countries, relations of the public to Islam, and reactions to the Islamic terrorism in all the Europe and America.

Immigration

One case especially attracted the attention of the public. It was the attempt to accept Arabic immigrants of Christian faith from Iraq, from January till April 2016. Organizers hoped it would be easier to integrate these people, with a cultural background closer to the Czech society than Islamic ones. The second reason was the offer of Christian denominations in the Czech Republic to take care of the immigrants, with the help of Czech Christian families and facilities. The first phase of organized immigration was to bring to the Czech Republic 153 immigrants from Iraq.

The process was thoroughly organized by a foundation led by Czech Christians from several denominations with the help of the Czech State, especially the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic. 89 immigrants came by plane to the Czech Republic, and were accommodated in well prepared adequate facilities. The language and professional teachers were ready to do all for their integration in some months. After this preparatory course they had secured work places and permanent residence in the Czech Republic. Their further integration was even prepared, with the help of Christian denominations.

After some time, part of these immigrants decided to immigrate illegally to Germany, and a another part returned home. The rest of them stayed in the Czech Republic and fulfilled the agreed requirements.
The above-mentioned behaviour of a substantial part of the immigrants disappointed the Czech public, even the Christians. The transmigration of a group to Germany is especially still connected with bitterness. The behaviour of these immigrants, who had been like the others accepted with love as asylum seekers, seemed to have a rude economic background. The knowledge of their ingratitude is an obstacle to the further opening to immigration.

Property settlement

Other topic of debates has been the practical realization of the Act No. 428/2012 Sb., on Property Settlement with Churches and Religious Societies. The Act lays down the process of partial restitution of economic property and its partial compensation. Litigation concerning the restitution of some pieces of church property was the topic of media discussions. Some cases have been settled to the detriment of religious institutions, only because of formal reasons.

  • Good Friday, a national public holiday of the Czech Republic

The Senate, the second chamber of the Czech Parliament, approved on its session on 2 December 2015 an amendment to an Act on holidays reintroducing Good Friday as a national statutory holiday of the Czech Republic. The bill was submitted by a group of 93 deputies of the House of Deputies, a lower chamber of the Czech Parliament, belonging to various political parties. The Act was signed by the President of the Czech Republic and published under No. 359/2015 Sb. It came into force on 21 December 2015.
Good Friday had been a national public holiday from the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918 till 1952, when it was cancelled as a legal holiday by the communist regime.
The number of public holidays in the Czech Republic is 14.

5 December 2016

2014

Three newly registered religious communities
In 2013, three new religious communities were registered in the Czech Republic. In March 2013, the Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, mostly (...)

  • Three newly registered religious communities

In 2013, three new religious communities were registered in the Czech Republic.
In March 2013, the Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, mostly composed of Armenian members living in the Czech Republic, was registered.
The second religious community to be registered in 2013 was the Salvation Army. It had been active in democratic Czechoslovakia since 1919, but the Nazi and communist regimes interrupted its activity. It was renewed in 1990 as a civic association under the influence of the Dutch mission. Its registration as a religious community took place in September 2013. The Salvation Army manages several charitable institutions in different parts of the Czech Republic.
The third religious community, registered in October 2013, is the New Life Church. It is one of the five “faith churches”, which have spread throughout the Czech Republic during the last decades. The other four have been registered respectively in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Each of these newly registered religious communities gathers more than 300 adult members. The competent body for the registration of religious communities is the Department of Churches of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. There are currently thirty-six registered religious communities in the Czech Republic.

4 April 2014

2013

January 2013: the new act on the property settlement with Churches and religious societies has been published
Act no. 428/2012 Coll. of 8 November 2012 on the property settlement with churches (...)

  • January 2013: the new act on the property settlement with Churches and religious societies has been published

Act no. 428/2012 Coll. of 8 November 2012 on the property settlement with churches and religious societies and on amendments of certain other laws was published on 5 December 2012 in the Collection of Laws of the Czech Republic No. 155. The act came into force on 1 January 2013, with the exception of section 13 of the act (the section limiting transfers of property that was subject to a wrongdoing), which came into force on 5 December 2012.
The aim of the Act is reparation of property harms done by the communist regime to churches and religious societies from 25th February 1948 till the end of 1989. The Act combines restitution in kind of property withdrawn to churches and religious societies during the mentioned period of time and financial compensation for non-restored property.

6 March 2013

2012

July 2012: Adopting a bill on compensation for goods confiscated from churches
In the night of 13-14 July 2012, Czech Ministers passed a law that provides for returning 56% of the property (...)

  • July 2012: Adopting a bill on compensation for goods confiscated from churches

In the night of 13-14 July 2012, Czech Ministers passed a law that provides for returning 56% of the property confiscated under the Communist regime (buildings, land, ponds and forests) to 17 recognised churches, representing a total value of 75 billion crowns (2.98 billion euros).
In parallel, the state will pay nearly 59 billion crowns (2.35 billion euros) to churches in compensation for property that can no longer be returned today, a payment which is to be spread over a period of 30 years.
A 17 year transition period is provided for, during which the state will continue to pay churches the equivalent of the current annual grant (approximately 52 million euros allocated to paying clergy salaries), thereafter reduced by 5% each year.
The law must still be voted on by the senate, where it risks being rejected by the parliamentary opposition.

For more information, see the article on the Radio Prague website.

  • November 2012: Final vote on restitution of church property

After being rejected by the Senate, on 8 November 2012 the Lower House of Parliament approved once again the draft law on the restitution of property to churches and religious communities (see July 2012 above) by 102 votes to 200.
The text of the law was submitted to the President of the Republic, Václav Klaus, who, despite his reservations, decided not to use his veto.
The law will come into force in 2013.

  • October 2012: Bill on Property Settlement between the State and Churches and Religious Societies

The Bill on Property Settlement between the State and Churches and religious societies is presently at the top of the political and legal debate. The Bill aims at the reparation of harms done by the communist regime to the properties of churches or religious societies between 25th February 1948 and the end of 1989. It also takes into account the absence of State subsidies provided for the salaries of spiritual ministers during this period of time. The money involved in the Bill is meant as a compensation for the non-restored properties of the religious communities expropriated at the time of the Communist regime.
The Bill was prepared by the Government of the Czech Republic in accordance with the Policy Statement from the Government of the Czech Republic of 4th August 2010. The Policy Statement was based on a political agreement three political parties actually involved in the contemporary coalition government. The particular provision reads: “The government’s aim is to resolve as soon as possible the question of a settlement between the State and the churches and religious societies, in order to make right and to allow the churches and religious societies to fulfil their functions independently of the State.”
17 registered churches and religious societies were consulted about this Bill. It was then submitted to the Parliament of the Czech Republic in January 2012.
On 14th July 2012 the House of Deputies (Lower House) of the Czech Parliament adopted the Bill by a majority of 93 votes out of the total number of 182 present deputies. The parliamentary discussion revealed that the left-wing parliamentary opposition (communists and social democrats) is strictly opposed to the Bill. The opposition argues mostly on the unsuitability of large expenses in the current time of economic crisis.
On 15th August 2012, the Senate (Upper House), along with the social democratic majority, refused the Bill by votes of 43 senators from the total number of 77 present senators.
The Bill returns now to the House of Deputies, according to the Constitution. The Senate’s veto could be outvoted by the qualified majority of the House of Deputies members, i.e. majority of all members of the House. The House of Deputies having 200 members, the qualified majority is 101 members.

12 November 2012