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Religious Communities and Civil Organizations Take a Firm Stand Against Amendments in the Religious Affairs Act

October 13, 2009

Sofia, October 13, 2009 The propositions of a bill for a new Religious Affairs Act made by the Ataka Parliamentary Group and Ms. Tzveta Georgieva as an initiator are in direct contradiction to the Bulgarian Constitution. On that occasion 27 registered religious communities and civil organizations sent this morning a Declaration to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Chairwoman of the Parliament, the related Minister of Religious Affairs, the Chairmen of the Parliamentary Represented Political Parties, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights and Religious Affairs and the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria.

In the Declaration the organizations express their concern regarding the restrictions for the registration of the religious communities and faiths and the pre-registration of the already existing ones, proposed by the member of the Parliament from Varna city, namely: the introduction of a minimal number of 5,000 followers; the condition for possession of its own temple; the location of the building to be at a distance of at least 50 m from all the schools; and lack of denial for registration in any other country of the world.

According to the religious communities and organizations the introduction of similar provisions in the present Religious Affairs Act will be in direct contradiction not only to the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria (art. 6, art. 12, art. 13, art. 26, art. 37 and art. 43) but also to a number of international treaties, that have been ratified by Republic of Bulgaria such as the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter referred to as the Convention), the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the Treaty for Joining of Bulgaria to the European Union as well as other treaties signed by Republic of Bulgaria. .

The voting of similar amendments would lead to restriction of human rights and religious freedom in Bulgarian and violation of European treaties, normative acts and agreements ratified and accepted by Bulgaria, is also said in the Declaration.

By the Declaration the 27 religious communities and organizations express their firm position against the allowance of discriminative, anti-constitutional and non-democratic texts in the Religious Affairs Act.

The Declaration is on behalf of registered evangelical religious communities, The Christian Universal and Apostolic Church uniting Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant faiths and 8 civil organizations: Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Association for Protection of the Religious Freedom, Center for Legal Help Voice in Bulgaria, Society and Values Association, Tolerance Foundation, Justice Civil Initiative, Freedom for Everyone Civil Initiative at Transformation Foundation.

Source: Apostolic Reformed Church, Sofia, Bulgaria

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