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2020. June 11.

Decision 3193/2020. on freedom of religion

Decision number: IV/1676/2019.
Subject of the case:

Constitutional complaint against the Act CCVI of 2011 on the Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on Churches, Denominations and Religious Communities (freedom of religion)

The Constitutional Court rejected the constitutional complaint aimed at establishing the conflict with the Fundamental Law and annulling certain provisions of the Act on the Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on Churches, Denominations and Religious Communities. The petitioning religious communities have complained that only registered and established churches are entitled to the state supplement for the offered part of the income tax paid by individuals, which discriminates against other religious communities. The petitioners also considered it to be contrary to the Fundamental Law that providing religious education in schools was not available to all religious communities with legal personality. The petitioners also complained that although the established church is the most favourable category, there is no objective set of criteria about which religious communities can be recognized as churches and that this issue is decided by Parliament and is therefore the result of a political decision. The petitioners also sought the annulment of the provisions of the Act that requires a court decision on whether a community engages in religious activity, as this provision violates the principle of the separate operation of the State and the church. In its decision, the Constitutional Court held, inter alia, that it does not follow from the individual fundamental right to the freedom of religion that any individual or community would have a right under the Constitution to cooperation by the State in order to achieve community goals. The State shall not differentiate between different religious beliefs on the basis of their supernatural content, but at the same time it takes into account the attitude of the religious community to secular law and to constitutional values with regard to the legal institutions where cooperation between the State and a religious community takes place. Consequently, the constitutional protection of religious communities is equal, regardless of the legal evaluation of the religious community, the number of its members or its participation in community activities. The State shall not apply different standards to the exercise of religious freedom for any community. State support for religious activity, although related to the exercise of the freedom of religion, is not a right that would compellingly follow from the Fundamental Law, therefore a constitutional claim to support religious activity cannot be formed by reference to the individual fundamental right of the freedom of religion. On the basis of all this, the Constitutional Court did not find any of the statutory provisions contained in the petitioners’ constitutional complaint to be in conflict with the Fundamental Law, therefore it rejected the petition.