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Législation concernant les activités religieuses et l’organisation des cultes

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Act 308/1991 on freedom of religious faith and on the position of churches and religious societies, as amended

308/1991 Sb.

The Federal Assembly of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic has resolved on the following Act :

PART ONE - General stipulations

Article 1

1. All persons have the right to freely express their religion or faith, by themselves or jointly with other persons, privately or publicly, by divine service, tuition, devotional acts or maintenance of rites.
All persons have the right to change their religion or faith or to remain undenominational.
2. All persons have the right to freely spread their religious faith or their conviction to remain undenominational.
3. No person may be coerced into profession of a religious faith or into being undenominational.
4. For the purposes of this Act each person professing a religious faith is a believer.

Article 2

1. Profession of a religious faith shall not be used to restrict the constitutional rights and liberties of citizens, particularly the right to education, the right to select and execute a vocation and the right of access to information.
2. Believers have the right to keep holidays and to celebrate religious service in accordance with requirements of their faiths and with generally binding legal regulations.

Article 3

1. Religious education of children until reaching their 15th year of age is decided upon by their legal representatives.

PART TWO Churches and religious societies

Article 4

(amended by Act 394/2000)

1. For purposes of this Act, a Church or Religious Society means a voluntary association of individuals of the same religious faith organized on the basis of their common adherence to that religious faith and according to the internal regulations of a particular church or religious society.
2. All churches and religious societies are equal before the law.
3. For purposes of this Act, churches and religious societies are legal entities. They may freely associate and establish communities, religious orders, alliances, and other organizations.
4. The State recognizes only those churches and religious societies that are registered.
5. The State may enter into cooperation agreements with churches and religious societies.

Article 5

1. Believers have the right to associate and to establish churches and religious societies, as well as to join up with churches and religious societies already established, and to participate in their existence.
In particular, they are entitled as follows :
a) To participate in devotional acts ;
b) To take part in divine service or other rites ;
c) To be educated in a religious spirit and - on fulfilment of conditions established by the internal rules of churches and religious societies as well as by generally binding legal regulations - to teach religion ;
d) To establish and maintain religious contacts, also internationally ;
e) To own religious literature in any language, and to spread it under conditions established by generally binding legal regulations ;
f) To opt for a clerical or monastic life and to decide to live in congregations, orders and similar associations.
2. Churches and religious societies manage their own affairs ; in particular, they establish their official bodies, appoint clerics and constitute orders and other institutions independently of the authorities of the state.

Article 6

1. Churches and religious societies may, while fulfilling their respective missions, act as follows in particular :
a) Freely determine their religious teachings and rites ;
b) Issue internal rules unless inconsistent with generally binding legal regulations ;
c) Provide spiritual and material services ;
d) Teach religion ;
e) Teach and educate their clerical and lay workers in their own schools and other establishments, including theological universities and theological faculties, in compliance with conditions set forth in generally binding legal regulations ;
f) Organise their gatherings without notification
g) Own tangible and intangible property and have other rights in property and incorporeal rights ;
h) Establish and operate specific purpose facilities ;
i) Operate press companies, publishing companies and printing houses ;
j) Establish and operate their own cultural institutions and facilities ;
k) Establish and operate their own health care and social care establishments, and participate in the provision of related services also at state establishments in accordance with generally binding legal regulations ;
l) Delegate their representatives for visits abroad and accept visits of representatives of churches and religious societies from abroad.
2. The execution of activities under par. 1 shall not be inconsistent with the Constitution and shall not endanger the safety of citizens, public order, health and morality, the rights and liberties of other persons, the independence and territorial integrity of the state.

Article 7

1. Persons carrying out clerical activities do so by appointment of churches and religious societies made in accordance with their internal rules and with generally binding legal regulations.
2. Churches and religious societies assess the qualification of persons to carry out clerical activities, and grant them the corresponding commissions accordingly.
3. Churches and religious societies appoint persons carrying out clerical activities and religion teachers to functions and/or specific territorial districts.

Article 8

The state recognises the confidentiality obligation of persons appointed to carry out clerical activities.

Article 9

1. Persons appointed to carry out clerical activities have the right to enter buildings of public social care and health care establishments and homes for children, as well as buildings designed to accommodate military units, to provide detention, or imprisonment, and places of mandatory curative treatment and protective education.
2. Churches and religious societies shall, in absence of rules applying to the entry of such buildings and/or places under generally binding regulations, negotiate such rules with the respective establishments and/or units.
3. All persons in such buildings and/or places have the right, particularly in cases endangering life and health, to spiritual service usually provided by a cleric of their own choice. In addition, they are entitled to keep spiritual and religious literature of their own choice.

PART THREE - Registration of churches and religious societies

Article 10

(amended by Act 394/2000 and by Act 201/2007)

1. Churches and religious societies are subject to registration by the authorized central bureau Ministry of Culture of the national government Slovak Republic (hereinafter referred to as “registering authority”).
2. The registration proposal shall be submitted by the preparatory body of the church or religious society consisting of at least three adult members. All members of the preparatory body shall sign the proposal, showing their full names, personal identification numbers and places of residence as well as specifying the member of the preparatory body authorised to act on their behalf.

Article 11

(amended by Act 394/2000 and by Act 201/2007)

A registration proposal of a church or religious society may be submitted by the preparatory body of the church or religious society mentioned in article 10 paragraph 2 when it has been proven that the number of its adult followers, who have residential address in the territory of the Slovak Republic and who are Slovak citizens, is at least 20 000 (twenty thousands).

Article 12

(amended by Act 201/2007)

The registration proposal shall specify the following :
a) Designation and site of the church or religious society ;
b) Full names, residential addresses, signatures and personal identification numbers of the members of the preparatory body ;
c) Essential characteristics of the church or religious society, of its teachings and mission, and its intended territory of activities ;
d) Declaration of oath of at least 20 000 (twenty thousands) adults persons, who have residential address in the territory of the Slovak Republic and who are Slovak citizens, professing the church or religious society, that they support the registration proposal, that they are the members of the church or religious society, that they know the fundamentals articles of their religion and its doctrine and they are aware of their rights and responsibilities as the members of the church andor religious society, showing their full names, residential addresses and personal identification numbers ;
e) Statement declaring that the church or religious society shall fully respect the laws and generally binding legal regulations and that it shall tolerate other churches and religious societies, as well as persons without a denomination.

Article 13

(amended by Act 394/2000 and by Act 201/2007)

1. The registration proposal shall be accompanied by the fundamental document of the church or religious society (statute, code, by-laws, etc.), specifying the following :
a) Designation and central site of the church or religious society ;
b) Bodies and formations, method of their establishment and their powers ;
c) Method of appointment and dismissal of persons carrying out clerical activities ;
d) Essential articles of faith ;
e) Principles of economic management, including the method of appointment of a receiver for settlement of the property of the church or religious society in case of its extinction ;
f) Method of approval of the fundamental document and of its amendments ;
g) Units having legal autonomy, including the range of the latter and names of persons authorised to act on their behalf ;
h) Rights and responsibilities of the members professing the church or religious society.
2. The designation of the church or religious society shall differ from the designation of any legal person already carrying out activities in the territory of the Slovak Republic.

Article 14

1. In cases of registration proposals lacking all preconditions specified in Articles 12-13 of the Act the registering authority shall determine a deadline for supplements to be made, such a deadline being at least one month from the date of delivery of the respective invitation of the registering authority.
2. The invitation shall be delivered to the person authorised by the preparatory body.
3. In case of failure of the proponent to supplement data within the specified deadline the registering authority shall halt the proceedings.

Article 15

The registering authority shall examine, whether or not the establishment and activities of the church or religious society is inconsistent with this Act and with other laws, with the protection of safety of citizens and public order, health and morality, with the principles of humanity and tolerance, or whether or not the rights of other legal persons or citizens are endangered.

Article 16

1. When the conditions pursuant to article 15 of the Act are fulfilled, the registering authority shall decide on registration of the church or religious society.
2. In absence of fulfilment of the conditions the registering authority shall deny registration.
3. The decision on registration or denial of registration shall be delivered to the person authorised by the preparatory body.

Article 17

In case of a denial of registration the preparatory body may, within 60 days from the date of delivery of the decision, submit a proposal for its examination to the Supreme Court of the respective Republic.

Article 18

1. Registration is also required of amendments of the data specified in articles 12 and 13 of the Act. The competent body of the church or religious society shall submit to the registering authority the registration proposal of such amendments within 30 days from their approval by the official body of the church or religious society.
2. The stipulations of articles 14 through 17 apply similarly to the registration of amendments.

Article 19

(amended by Act 394/2000 and by Act 201/2007)

1. The registering authority keeps records of all legal persons under this Act, including those, whose legal autonomy is derived from churches and religious societies, except for those, which are subject to different recording or registration, and establishes the conditions of keeping such records.
2. The registering authority shall notify the statistical bureau of the Slovak Republic on the establishment and dissolution of a church or religious society within ten days of the decision taking legal effect on the registration or cancellation of the registration of the church or religious society.

Article 20

1. The registering authority shall, by cancellation proceedings, cancel registration of the church or religious society acting in violation of this Act or with the conditions of registration.
2. The church or religious society may apply to the Supreme Court of the respective Republic for examination of the decision to cancel the registration.

Article 21

The proceedings under this Act are governed by the general rules on administrative proceedings, unless this Act stipulates special regulations.

PART FOUR - Concluding stipulations

Article 22

1. Churches and religious societies which on the date of effect of this Act carried out their activities on a statutory basis or with state consent shall be deemed registered in accordance with this Act ; their list is shown in the Annex, forming a part of this Act.
2. Such churches and religious societies shall, within six months from the date of effect of this Act, submit to the registering authority the data specified in Article13 of the Act.

Article 23

(abrogated by the Act 201/2007)

Article 24

The following legislation is abrogated :
1. Act No. 217:1949 (Digest), establishing the State Office for Church Affairs ;
2. No. 228:1949 governmental Decree on the jurisdiction and organisation of the State Office for Church Affairs, as amended by later legislation ;
3. Act No. 192/1992 (Digest), registration of the churches and religious societies

Article 25

This Act shall assume effect on 1 September 1991.

Annex to the Act No. 308/1991 (as amended)

List of churches and religious societies carrying out activities in the territory of the Slovak Republic on statutory basis or with state consent (Article 22) :
1. The Apostolic Church of Slovakia
2. The Bahá’í Society in the Slovak Republic
3. The Fraternal Union of Baptists in Slovakia
4. The Church of the Seventh-day Adventists, Slovak Group
5. The Brotherhood Church in Slovakia
6. The Czechoslovak Hussite Church in Slovakia
7. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Slovakia
8. The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia
9. The Evangelical Methodist Church, Slovak Region
10. The Greek Catholic Church in Slovakia
11. The Christian Congregations of Slovakia
12. The Religious Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Slovakia
13. The New Apostolic Church in Slovakia
14. The Orthodox Church in Slovakia
15. The Reformed Christian Church in Slovakia
16. The Roman Catholic Church in Slovakia
17. The Ancient Catholic Church in Slovakia
18. The Central Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia.

(Translation : Ministry of culture of the Slovak Republic. Update : PRISME – SDRE)