Law 4128 to eliminate danger of people in military fatigues near churches
The procedure for changing by a religious community of its own jurisdiction can be determined by two clear mechanisms that are proposed in draft law 4128, which complements the basic law on religious affiliation. This was announced today in Kyiv, on November 21, by MP Viktor Yelenskiy, one of the authors of draft law 4128 during a press conference on the “Results and Challenges of State-Religious Policy in Ukraine.”
According to the head of the parliamentary subcommittee on spirituality, V. Yelensky, draft law 4128, which is supplemental to Article 8 of the Law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religion,” caused the outrage of Patriarch Kirill, of which the latter complained to Geneva.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church criticized draft law 4128 that it allegedly considers changing the jurisdiction of a religious community at a local referendum. However, as Viktor Yelenskiy has noted, this is not the case. The bill itself implies a change of jurisdiction at the general meeting of this community, and not at a local referendum. Affiliation with a religious community is determined by self-identification and participation in religious life (tithe, baptism, verbal forms - the state does not interfere with this), as well as the majority of votes.
The religious scholar pointed out two clarifications made to draft law 4128: first, the governing body of the community determines the authority of the assembly, which eliminates the danger of the arrival of people in camouflage gear, it also determines who can be a member of this community; the second - people who vote for the jurisdiction change, shall sign their decision with the indication of passport data.
“I had an opportunity to talk with the officials of the Moscow Patriarchate, but I did not hear the arguments that would apply to these supplements," explained the MP. “They do not want to talk about any changes at all. If the community wants to change their affiliation, then they supposedly must leave the church at all and create a separate unit, which is contrary to the Ukrainian law on freedom of conscience. This is one of the tools to discredit the Ukrainian state, as well as the intention to shift the focus of international monitoring of the flagrant violations of religious freedom that take place in the occupied territories and in the Russian Federation,” Viktor Yelenskiy notes.
According to him, during the work on amendments to the law, repeated consultations were held with various religious organizations. Certain questions were raised only by the Lutherans, which were further clarified in a meeting with the senior bishop of the Lutheran Church. Now, the Lutherans have no reservations either. As for subordination and jurisdiction changes involving the temples, according to Yelensky, at least on the right-bank Ukraine, the churches are mostly built by the faithful and it seems logical that people will change their jurisdiction taking along the property they built at their own expense.
At the moment, voting for draft law 4128 is on the agenda of the current parliamentary session, but every time certain circumstances postponed the vote. There is an opportunity to vote on a thematic day devoted to the humanitarian corps.
Reference: Draft Law No. 4128: The religious community decides for themselves
We will remind you of the main provisions of Draft Law No. 4128 by MPs Yelensky and Voitsekhovskaya (both from the "Popular Front"), Gerasimov and Kishkar (Petro Poroshenko Bloc), Taruta (extra-factional), Lozovoy (Radical Party), I. Podolyak (Samopomich), and the arguments of its critics.
This draft supplements the effective law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" on the simplification of the procedure for amending or re-registering the charters of religious communities. Thus, the authors propose that the fate of the parish be solved by the faithful of this community, and not by the diocesan or metropolitan leadership. Thus changes can be made with the consent of the majority of the community members at the parish meeting. There is a logical question, who is a member of the community, since most parishes do not have a fixed membership? The bill determines that affiliation with the community is determined by self-identification and participation in the religious life of the community.
The main critics of this bill, and this, in particular, the leadership of the UOC-MP, the Russian Orthodox Church and representatives of the Opposition Bloc, declare that, in accordance with this bill, any outsiders may come to the parish and, having voted in the parish meeting, change community jurisdiction. However, this cannot happen in principle, because in order to take part in the meeting, it is necessary, in accordance with the bill, to participate in the religious life of the community, that is to be a parishioner.
Moreover, to avoid disputes and in order that the vote was not fictitious, the Committee on Culture and Spirituality proposed an additional safeguard. The ultimate authority of the general meeting should be recognized by the governing body of the community (parish council, membership committee, etc.). Thus, any opportunity to bring in any "tourists" from outside is excluded, so that they vote and transfer the community to another jurisdiction.
The Main Scientific and Expert Department of the Parliament had some remarks to the bill. Lawyers of the Council referred to the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, arguing the need for the autonomy of religious communities.
Although this is what the author of the bill notes. “There are cases when the proximity of a person to a community and their participation in the charter-based activities of this community does not yet imply full membership. The state does not interfere in all this and leaves it at the discretion of the community,” stresses V. Yelensky, the author of the bill. The same applies to the legal uncertainty of the term “religious life”. The parish shall solve this issue on their own, and therefore the bill does not envisage clear criteria in order not to create an impression that the state imposes on the communities certain rules regarding their internal structure.
The main claim of the Main Scientific and Expert Department concerns the fact that the original text of the document provided for the adoption of amendments to the charters “at the meeting of citizens”, which could be interpreted as a general meeting of local residents. However,