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Editor's choice50 experts on religious minorities explore in Navarra the significant legislative discrimination...

50 experts on religious minorities explore in Navarra the significant legislative discrimination in Spain

During the week they studied and discussed the legal situation of religious minorities in Spain

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During the week they studied and discussed the legal situation of religious minorities in Spain

Fifty European specialists in religious minorities are meeting this week in Pamplona at an international conference organised by the Public University of Navarra (UPNA) and dedicated to the legal situation of religious denominations without a cooperation agreement with the State.

Religious minorities, Public Administration and Academia

Representatives both of these religious minorities and of the administration and researchers on freedom of conscience from universities in seven countries (Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Romania) analysed the situation from Wednesday 6 March, until Friday 8 March, in the former convent of Las Salesas (now the headquarters of the Pamplona Region) the main challenges of the inclusion of religious diversity in society, where “significant legislative discrimination” underlies, according to Alejandro Torres Gutiérrez, professor at the UPNA and organiser of this congress, and who is one of the awardees of the “Religious Freedom Awards” for 2020.

Think, for example, of the difficulties faced by many of the confessions without a cooperation agreement with the state when it comes to accessing the system of tax benefits and deductions for donations,” said Professor Alejandro Torres. “Until now, these issues have been reserved exclusively for religions with an agreement, although an ‘ad hoc’ reform of the legislation on patronage is still pending. And it is also worth noting how complicated it can be for them to obtain land on which to build their temples, or suitable places for burials, or to provide religious assistance to their faithful”.

In Spain, the State initially established agreements with the Holy See in favour of the Catholic Church, and subsequently signed the ones of 1992 with the then recognized religious minorities Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities, the Federation of Israeli Communities of Spain and the Islamic Commission of Spain. In contrast to these four religions that have signed an agreement with the state, there are those that have not. And within these, there are differences: some have obtained a declaration of “deeply rooted”(notorio arraigo), such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2003), Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses (2006), the Federation of Buddhist Entities of Spain (2007), the Orthodox Church (2010), and the Bahá’í Faith (2023), and others lack such additional administrative recognition, such as the Church of Scientology, the Ahmadiyya Community, Taoism, the Hindu Federation of Spain and the Sikh faith.

Congress participants

Congress on religious minorities and legislative discrimination

The international congress entitled “Legal status of religious minorities without a legal cooperation agreement” brought together in Pamplona, among other personalities, Mercedes Murillo Muñoz, Director General of Religious Freedom of the Ministry of the Presidency, Justice and Relations with Parliament, and Inés Mazarrasa Steinkuhler, Director of the Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation, among others. Also taking part were representatives of religious minorities without a cooperation agreement with the state in Spain: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Buddhist Federation of Spain, the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Bahá’í Community, Ivan Arjona from the Church of Scientology, Krishna Kripa Das as President the Spain’s Hindu Federation, and also present was the Taoist Union of Spain.

The conference was funded by the Vice-Rectorate for Research, the I-COMMUNITAS Institute with Professor Sergio García (both of the UPNA), the Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation and the Ministry of Science and Innovation, through the project Legal Status of Religious Denominations without Cooperation Agreement in Spain, whose principal researchers are the aforementioned Alejandro Torres, Professor of Constitutional Law, and Óscar Celador Angón, Professor of State Ecclesiastical Law at the Carlos III University (Madrid). In addition, this scientific meeting is part of the EUROPIA project, which has received financial support from the European Union and of which Spasimir Domaradzki, professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Warsaw (Poland), is the principal investigator.

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