Centrul de Drept Constituțional și Instituţii Politice (CDCIP)

Mihaela STĂNCIULESCU – The relationship between state and religion

European culture and civilization developed through time under the Christianity helped by the Church, which represents a factor of witnessing and modulation all throughout the history of social life in Western, as well as in the Eastern cultures. The beginning of the 21st century challenges the Church to face countless problems raised by a major changing in mentalities that need to be addressed in the new European framework marked by unity in diversity. The European countries approach towards freedom and autonomy of religious institutions has strong influences on the relationship between Church and state as well as on the role and place the state needs to recognize to the Church.

The right to the freedom of religious belief reunites two different dimensions: the freedom of religious belief construed as a fundamental individual right and the relationship between the state and religions/cults. With regard to the freedom of religious belief exercised individually, the state has the obligation of taking a neutral approach that consists in abstaining to act in order not to limit the individual right to freedom of thought and of religious belief. The institutionalization of faith generates the framework by which the religious cults find themselves in a different relationship with the state as opposed to the one that links the state to the citizen, construed as individual. The States have the duty to protect the citizens by a legal and an administrative system of promoting and guaranteeing their rights and freedoms. Freedom of religious belief finds itself in the center of attention between it represents a right which is exercised at the level of the community, though it is an individual right, the State being called that by its public institutions to assume its role and duties as a warrant.