Religious organisations denounced some points “attack” the freedoms of worship and association, but the Council ruled the law is “in conformity with the Constitution”.
The French Constitutional Council has validated the constitutionality of the so-called ‘anti- separatism law’, which was challenged by several religious organisations on certain points deemed to be contrary to the freedoms of worship and association.
The French Protestant Federation (FPF), the United Protestant Church of France (EPUdF), the French Bishops' Conference and the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of France, forwarded a request to the Constitutional Council on 18 May, which denounced "serious attacks" on those rights, that “would betray the 1905 law of separation of Church and State”.
Their main concerns are that the law “obliges associations to declare their religious nature to benefit from the advantages intended for religious association”; and that religious activities “will be carried out under the supervision of the Prefect and within a framework that is even more restrictive than that of religious associations”.
But the Council recently ruled that the contested provisions of the ‘anti- separatism law’ do not disregard the right to collective expression of ideas and opinions, or any other right or freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, and are therefore declared to be in conformity with the Constitution”.
It also considered that the legislator "pursued the constitutional objective of safeguarding public order by reinforcing the transparency of the activity and financing of associations ensuring the public exercise of a religion".
The religious organisations “regret that the Constitutional Council did not go so far as to censure these provisions and that it retained, subject to these reservations of interpretation, the conformity of the articles in question with the rights and freedoms that the Constitution guarantees”.
Meanwhile, Romain Choisnet, communications director of the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF) said on twitter that “the publication of the separatism law revealed the ignorance and sometimes mistrust of religion that is spreading at the very heart of public institutions, confirmed by the regrettable abolition of the observatory of secularism”.
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