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State churches easier tempted to manipulate rules

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

GENEVA - United Nations Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt recently argued that “official ‘State religions’ should never be used for purposes of national identity politics, as this may have detrimental effects for the situation of individuals from minority communities.” He also urged States to make sure that any privileges, financial or otherwise, granted to ‘official’ religions or beliefs should not amount to any kind of discrimination against members of other religions or beliefs. His report explores key issues from the meanings of ‘recognition’ regarding the right to freedom of religion or belief, to the limits that registration procedures can impose on certain religious or belief communities, and the need for States ensure that an official ‘State religion’ does not discriminate religious minorities. “Respect for freedom of religion or belief as a human right does not depend on administrative registration procedures, as it has the status of a human right, prior to and independent of any acts of State approval,” Bielefeld stressed. He called on States to offer appropriate options for religious or belief communities to achieve the status of legal personality.