The decision of parliament on February 6 to send the amendment to the Church Registration Act to second reading was a shock and a scandal. MPs ignored the Constitution in demanding that applicants for registry as a church have to provide not only the signatures of sympathizers but a list of at least 20,000 regular members together with individual sworn declarations of membership in the church.
Meanwhile, Article II, paragraph 24 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of thought, conscience, religious belief and faith. It also guarantees the freedom to express one's religion or faith. For the purposes of the amendment, the most significant is subsection 4: "The conditions for the exercise of these rights can only be restricted by law in cases necessary in a democratic society to protect public order, health and morals or the rights and freedoms of others".
And by what right do politicians demand that churches need 20,000 signatures to be registered, when political parties need only 10,000 signatures? Why do they want a detailed list of the names of believers when they don't require the same of political parties? And what if some churches abuse the advantages of registration and arise as entities with an ulterior motive? Aren't political parties created with an ulterior motive? How many hundreds of millions of crowns have political parties received in support from the state budget since 1990?
Regarding the claim of MP Podmanický that "some groups make a mockery of religion and make use of a loophole in the law", I suggest he look at the list of political parties that have been created since 1990 in Slovakia and consider how most of them ended up, as well as the fact that most of them made a mockery of our laws and the Ten Commandments.
If this law is eventually passed, we should also pass a new law on political parties with the same conditions and thereby get rid of all parties with ulterior motives; according to the information available, only one or two parties in the country have more than 20,000 registered members. Let's also hope that if the law is passed, the Attorney General, the Constitutional Court and the president will send it to legal hell.
12. Feb 2007 at 0:00