A video and the text of a paper by lawyer Dr. Patricia Duval titled “Anti-sect movements and State neutrality: FECRIS and its member associations in France” was presented at an international convention of held in Florence—Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe, an arduous journey.
The text of the paper and a video of Dr. Duval’s presentation have been published on the website of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB).
Dr. Duval points out that over 90 percent of the budget of FECRIS (European Federation of Centers of Research and Information on Sectarianism) and its three member associations in France comes to them from public funds. FECRIS itself has been financed nearly entirely by the French State. Since 2001 over 92 percent of its support has come from public funding with the balance from private memberships.
“These issues raise serious concerns regarding freedom of conscience and the State’s duty of neutrality in matters of religion or belief, both under the French Constitution and the principle of laïcité (separation of Church and State and respect for all creeds), and the European Convention on Human Rights,” she states.
She quotes Jehovah’s Witnesses of Moscow v. Russia, the landmark decision of 10 June 2010, by the European Court of Human Rights:
“The Court further reiterates that the State’s duty of neutrality and impartiality prohibits it from assessing the legitimacy of religious beliefs or the ways in which those beliefs are expressed or manifested …. Accordingly, the State has a narrow margin of appreciation and must advance serious and compelling reasons for an interference with the choices that people may make in pursuance of the religious standard of behavior within the sphere of their personal autonomy.”
The paper provides a thorough analysis of vital religious freedom issues playing out in today’s headlines.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.