Council of Europe reaffirms separation of church and state

In a report to Council Ministers, Lluis de Puig, the special rapporteur on culture, science and education at the Council of Europe urges that all countries of Europe embrace a separation of state from religion. He says that although religious bodies have a role to play in a democratic society, it must not be special or privileged role. When intervening in political or social debates, religions must take their place as members of civil society along with all the other interest groups. There is no longer any justification for giving religion special rights. He reports that:

“Mrs Pegna, Vice-President of the European Humanist Federation…welcomed the Resolution of OSCE inviting member states, inter alia, to “ensure the effective equality between believers and non-believers” and to “foster a climate of mutual tolerance and respect between believers of different communities as well as between believers and non-believers”.

This danger of a drift beyond the perfectly proper interest of faith-communities as citizens in the activities of their governments, in accordance with democratic principles, towards religious interference in what should be purely secular matters is a danger that should be resisted. However, we should not ignore the historical contributions of religions to the evolution of human thought and to progress. Religions have contributed as much to the creation of a humanist morality as to a religious one; and, in Europe, secular codes of social conduct and secular moral attitudes owe much to the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

Hat tip: NSS

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