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  • October 2022 : Resolution on the Importance of Freedom of Religion

On 19 October, Parliament adopted a resolution declaring that freedom of religion, belief and conscience is one of the fundamental universal inalienable human rights and freedoms binding all humankind. The draft resolution was submitted by the members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic for OĽANO. With this resolution, the Parliament strongly opposes trends that question the importance of freedom of religion or belief as universal, fundamental and inalienable human right and freedom. It also called for the full respect for freedom of religion or belief and condemned any violence motivated by hatred based on the faith or belief of others.

The National Council also pointed to the growing intolerance towards people of other faiths, beliefs and opinions based on different ideological and value settings. It called on the Government, the European Union and international organisations to advocate for the proper tracing, documentation and investigation of all allegations of hate crimes motivated by the faith or belief of others, as well as the immediate release of all those imprisoned solely on the basis of their faith or belief. The resolution also called for regular monitoring of the situation of freedom of religion or belief and for action to be taken in favour of those suffering for their faith or belief. Effective education on the subject should also be introduced, they said.

Michal Puchovský, Miroslav Tizik
  • September 2022 : Criticism of the Office of the Commissioner for Religious Freedom

Since 8 September 2021, Anna Záborská has been protecting religious freedom in Slovakia and around the world. She was appointed to the post just days before Pope Francis arrived in Slovakia. On 8 September 2021, the government appointed Anna Záborská, a member of the National Council, as the Commissioner for the Protection of Religious Freedom. The new office under her leadership is tasked with preventing religious extremism and upholding freedom of belief in accordance with the Constitution of the Slovak Republic. The plenipotentiary can attend government meetings and inform ministers about the problems of religious minorities. During her one year in office and the seven months since the creation of her office, she has met with ministers only once, mid-April 2022. As a representative of religious freedom, she has not convinced the general public, she hardly attends public events in her new position and her office’s social network page is followed by only 300 people. DShe informs her fans online about Zambian Christians hearing the Bible in their native language for the first time, for example, or about the World Day for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In Slovakia, she has been approached by Old Catholics who have asked for her help in facilitating registration, but since the situation has not changed, they criticise her for inaction. The NGOs Ethos and the Institute of Human Rights (IHR) also have doubts about the performance of the Defender of Religious Freedom. Their representatives handed in an appeal with more than 12 thousand signatures to the government office in early September calling for the resignation of Anna Záborská. This is because the Commissioner refused to support a proposal to amend the law on the registration of churches, and that the politician continues to raise her profile by proposing laws based on religious dogmas but contradicting the opinions of experts.

Michal Puchovský, Miroslav Tizik
  • March 2022 : Slovak parliament refused novelisation of law about religious freedom and registration of religious communities

Slovak parliamentarian Tomáš Valášek (Progresívne Slovensko) put forward a modernisation of the law regulating the registration of religious organisations. The principal idea behind it was to reform the unbalanced rules of official registration of new groups, which are now obligated to gather 50,000 signatures of their believers. Valášek suggested creating two levels of registration. For the first step of registration, only 150 signatures of believers would be sufficient. This basic level of state approval would immediately provide the benefits of a legal status, giving to newly registered religious organisations the rights to assemble for the religious purpose, to set up buildings for religious meetings and to access state media immediately. Access to the right to a financial contribution from the state budget, as well as several other rights, would be granted to entities only after the second stage of registration. The conditions to get second level of state approval would be ten years of continuous activity and an increase of the number of believers to 1 per thousand of Slovak population (about 5 000). The novelisation also proposed to add a paragraph condemning the attempts to abuse religious freedom to interfere with the rights of other persons, most notably from LGBTI+ community and women. The goal was to emphasise the responsibility of registered churches and religious societies in creating a tolerant society.
The novelisation was not approved by the Slovak parliament. It caused media heat between secularists, small unregistered religious groups and conservative Christians. The first two groups are long-time critics of the current Slovak system of religious law, which they perceive as “too strict”. Conservative Christians have understood the novelisation as a threat to their religious freedom to criticise homosexuality and abortion from the perspective of Christian morals. They expressed concerns about foreign religion, unfitting religious buildings and possible waves of immigrants from Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist countries.

Michal Puchovský, Miroslav Tizik
  • 28 February 2022 : Removal of restrictions on participation in worship by the unvaccinated

As of February 28, the criteria for attendance at worship services have been relaxed to allow for 500 people or 50 percent of the capacity of the premises. It is up to the parishes to choose whether they set the limit to 500 people or to 50 percent of the capacity space. Previously, 100 people max. could attend Mass, or more depending on capacity. Starting March 28, they are to lift the capacity restriction altogether. The unvaccinated have also been able to attend masses since February 28, as the government is removing covid passport checks.

Michal Puchovský, Miroslav Tizik
  • 1st February 2022 : Call by religious societies to open services to the unvaccinated

On February 1st, representatives of Christian churches and Jewish religious communities have joined together to alert the public and political leaders on the importance of celebrating public worship. They claim that this observance is an essential part of the expression of faith for the believers. They call for worship to be included among the basic human needs to which all people should have access without distinction. This includes the unvaccinated. The letter, signed by the President of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and General Bishop of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession Ivan Eľko, the President of the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities Richard Duda and the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia (KBS) Stanislav Zvolen-ský, was handed over by Archbishop Zvolenenský during a meeting with the Prime Minister. "We ask you that in terms of the spiritual life connected with religion - which belongs to the fundamental rights and freedoms defined in the Constitution of the Slovak Republic - the worship services should also be considered essential", the ecumenical initiative wrote to the Prime Minister. The platform also wanted to ensure that the government does not classify church services during pandemic measures as mass events, but, on the contrary, that the decrees remember that churches are essential establishments, just like grocery stores or drugstores, which, if strict rules are followed, allow the unvaccinated to enter. At the same time, church representatives remind the Prime Minister that it has long been impossible for unvaccinated worshippers to attend church services in Slovakia only, not in other EU countries.

Michal Puchovský, Miroslav Tizik
  • May 2011 : The Ministry of Culture refused the registration of the Church Christian Fellowship of Slovakia

The Ministry of Culture, as the registering body by Law on the freedom of religious faith and the position of churches and religious societies as subsequently amended, refused the registration of the Church Christian Fellowship of Slovakia – its decision came into force in May 2011.
Extensive and long-term expert argumentation and accumulated evidence unequivocally proved that the Church Christian Fellowship of Slovakia did not meet the registration requirements provided by law. The reason for this disapproving decision was the fact that the founding and activities of the Church Christian Fellowship of Slovakia were contrary to the law on the freedom of religious faith and the position of churches and religious societies, as well as other regulations. At the same time, these activities are in conflict with the principles of humanity and tolerance, the protection of citizens´ health, and they endanger the civil rights, too.

Michaela Moravcikova
  • December 2009 : eclaration on displaying religious symbols

On December 10, 2009, the National Assembly of the Slovak Republic adopted the Declaration on Displaying Religious Symbols in Schools and Public Institutions (Vyhlásenie Národnej rady Slovenskej republiky o umiestňovaní náboženských symbolov v školách a vo verejných inštitúciách v súlade s kultúrnou tradíciou krajiny). The Slovak Parliament declares that the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, which qualified the displaying of crosses in schools in Italy as a violation of parents´ rights to educate their children according to their own beliefs, contradicts the cultural heritage and Christian history of Europe. Displaying crosses in schools and public institutions represents a tradition owned by many European countries, Slovakia included. To respect this tradition cannot be understood either as a restraint of freedom of religion and belief or a violation of the parents´ rights to educate their children according to their own beliefs.
Displaying of religious symbols in schools and public institutions represents fully the right of every member state of the European Union, including Slovakia, and it is in accordance with the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted in 1950.
103 MPs from 125 MPs present (the total number of Slovak MPs is 150) voted for this Declaration.

Michaela Moravcikova
  • March 2007 : Amendment on the Law 308/1991

On March 29, 2007 the National Council of the Slovak Republic adopted the parliamentary draft amendment on the Law 308/1991 Col. on the Freedom of Belief and the Position of Churches and Religious Societies (see Main texts). The draft amendment passed by the Parliament modifies the wording of the Art 11 and Art 12. The registration is to require a consent of 20,000 members, not only persons "claiming a church" – i.e. sympathisers according to the existing broader interpretation of the formulation put in the Law. The given number of church members have to be major citizens of the Slovak Republic resident on its territory. According to the adopted amendment the preparatory committee must also submit statutory declarations of no less than 20,000 members (major citizens of the Slovak Republic resident on its territory), stating that they claim a church or a religious society, they endorse the proposal of its registration, they are church members, they know the basic articles of faith and the doctrine, and they are aware of rights and duties following from their membership in the church or religious society.
The Law 201/2007, modifying and amending the Law 308/1991 coll. on the Freedom of Belief and the Position of Churches and Religious Societies in the wording of the Law 394/200 coll., was published in the Collection of Laws on April 26, 2007, and after being signed by President, it comes into force on May 1, 2007.

Michaela Moravcikova

D 8 mars 2022    AMichaela Moravcikova AMichal Puchovský AMiroslav Tížik

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