Centrul de Drept Constituțional și Instituţii Politice (CDCIP)

Csaba Ferenc ASZTALOS – Secularism and Cooperation in the Relation Between the State and the Cults

The analysis of the right to freedom of religious faith implies a vertical dimension, by reference of the individual (as religious being) to the state, and horizontal dimension, institutional, that covers the relation between state and religion, but whose effects have repercussions on the individual, even if the state must respect the obligation of non-intervention, by virtue of respecting the liberty of conscience. More than that, the state must be the defender and guarantor of the principle of tolerance within pluralist societies. Although, from historical point of view, obvious examples of neutrality within state-church relationship can be found, the effects of globalization are felt in the exercise of religious freedom of the individual in another state, as reflected in the jurisprudence of the European Court of the Human Rights. On the other hand, education is a sensitive area, where conflicts between maintaining the neutrality of the state and the tendency of the church to impose religion appear. In Romania such a case was reported in a petition lodged with the National Council for Combating Discrimination, which later turned into a public debate. This paper emphasizes the relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and of the European Convention on Human Rights, and presents the way of solving a particular case presented in front of the Constitutional Court of Romania. At the same time, it points out the danger political pressures may present if pressed against the delicate balance which has to be established between state and religion.