- freely available
Religions 2019, 10(5), 293; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050293
“(…) fear breeds repression; (…) repression breeds hate; (…) hate menaces stable government”; Justice Brandeis1
2. Evolving Trends in Religiosity in Poland
3. The Political Legitimation of Faith and the Role of the Catholic Church
4. Religious Pluralism in Poland and the Protection of Religious Freedom
In legal terms, and despite a relatively well-developed human rights compliance oversight, including on religious freedom, by the European Court of Human Rights, Poland similarly to other European countries has enjoyed relative autonomy on religious matters, which until the Kokkinakis v. Greece case in 1993, amounted to very wide discretion.50 This reluctance to exercise a more intense level of control over “neutral” laws has resulted in the denial of exemptions from the application of general laws, even outside the remit of criminal law.51“States do not need to pass discriminatory laws to contribute to a society’s discrimination. Even if the legislature does not discriminate against minority religions (…), the actual implementation of the law may be discriminatory, and there are numerous instances of a non-discriminatory law being grossly violated.”49
5. Religious Education in Poland
- Recognizing parental rights with regard to the religious education of their children, as well as the principles of tolerance, the State shall guarantee that public elementary and secondary schools, and also nursery schools, shall be managed by civil administrative organizations or independent bodies, shall arrange, in conformity with the desire of interested parties, the teaching of religion within the framework of an appropriate school or pre-school curriculum.
- The curriculum for teaching the Catholic religion, as well as the textbooks used, shall be determined by ecclesiastical authority and shall be made known to the relevant civil authorities.
- Teachers of religion must have authorization (missio canonica) from their diocesan bishop. Withdrawal of this authorization signifies the loss of the right to teach religion.”
Two further laws regulate religion in education matters: the Act of 7 September 1991,81 on the system of education and the Ordinance of the Minister of National Education of 14 April 1992,82 on the organization of religious instruction lessons in public pre-schools and schools. According to Article 12 of the Act, in public pre-schools, primary schools, and gymnasiums, religious instruction lessons are introduced in school timetable upon the parents’/guardians’ wish, which can be retracted at a later stage. Participation in such classes is therefore optional. The classes must be offered for two hours per week. The Church draws the content of such lessons, including the choice of textbooks. The relevant ordinance allows furthermore for the placing of a cross in the classroom as well as the conducting of prayers before and/or after classes. School supervision bodies can only control the methods of education but cannot exercise overview on the content of instruction.83 In financial terms, all aspects of religious education courses are covered by the state budget within public schools.84 Training and pedagogical preparation of religious teachers is laid out in the Concordat85: clergymen with a seminary diploma automatically qualify to teach these classes while lay teachers must have theological higher education qualifications to do so.“3. Parents shall have the right to ensure their children a moral and religious upbringing and teaching in accordance with their convictions (…).4. The religion of a church or other legally recognized religious organization may be taught in schools, but other peoples’ freedom of religion and conscience shall not be infringed thereby.”
6. Towards a Re-Definition of Religious Freedom and Religious Pluralism: The Polish Catholic Church at a Turning Point
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Whitney v. People of the State of California, 47 S.Ct 641, 648, 274 US 357, 376 (1926) Justice Brandeis Concurring.
According to the Pew Research Center findings (2018) on the significance of religion in Central and Eastern Europe, 96% of Poles were raised as Christian and 92% still identify as such. [http://www.pewforum.org/2018/10/29/eastern-and-western-europeans-differ-on-importance-of-religion-views-of-minorities-and-key-social-issues/].
In 2008, 93 per cent of Poles declared themselves to be Catholics and believers while 64 per cent declared that the Church is essential in defining their own values (Heinen and Portet 2009, p. 10).
Personified either as Matka Polka (The Polish Mother), Mater Polonia (The Mother of the Nation) or in the form of the Marian cult (the Cult of the Virgin) (Cf. Heinen and Portet 2009, p. 4).
For an example, see the discussion in this article on religious education in public schools and the limited availability of alternatives to Catholic religious classes.
This lack is aptly juxtposed with the equivalent sophistication in the area of foreign missionaries (e.g., American Evangelical Protestants). This imbalance is in part responsible for the resentment and resistance towards such groups in Central and Eastern Europe. (Cf. Barker 2002, p. 68).
Article 35(1) and (2) of the 1997 Polish Constitution, https://www.sejm.gov.pl/prawo/konst/angienski/kon1.htm (in English).
In post-Lautsi Europe, this is a point that is growing in importance. (Cf. Fokas 2015, p. 69).
Article 53 of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of Poland stipulates that the freedom “shall include the freedom to profess or to accept a religion by personal choice as well as to manifest such religion, either individually or collectively, publicly or privately, by worshipping, praying, participating in ceremonies, performing rites or teaching. Freedom of religion shall also include possesssion of sanctuaries and other places of worship for the satisfaction of the needs of believers as well as the right of individuals, wherever they may be, to benefit from religious services.”
Article 30 of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of Poland.
See European Court of Human Rights, Kokkinakis v. Greece Appl. N. 14307/88 (1993) where the first violation of Article 9 ECHR was found by the Court in Strasbourg. De facto, scrutiny has intensified since although the margin of appreciation remains widely used. For an opposite interpretation of legal doctrine arguing that minority rights leave no space for the application of the margin of appreciation because it operates at their detriment see, Eyal Benvenisti, Margin of Appreciation, Consensus and Universal Standards, 31 N.Y.U.J. Int’l L. & Pol. 843 (1999).
See European Court of Human Rights, Efstratiou v. Greece, Appl. No. 24095/94, 18 December 1996; Valsamis v. Greece, No. 21787/93 18 December 1996.
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 25). These attempts took the form of periodic cultural and educational events (e.g., festivals) as well as press and media outlets aiming to stress their presence in the wider Polish cultural landscape.
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 25).
See indicatively the contents of the website http://meczet-ochota.pl where a large part of the public debate took place.
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 28).
At present, Muslim Tatar communities have presence within Poland in Warszawa, Białystok, Bohoniki, Kruszyniany, Gdańsk, Poznań, and Bydgoszcz. (Cf. Dziekan 2011, p. 29).
Katarzyna Górak Sosnowska (2011, p. 15). The case of the autochthonous Tatars distinguishes itself insofar as these communities due to their long historical presence in Poland have been affected by local culture in terms of an intercultural type of integration. They are currently perceived as a religious group with ethnographic elements in Poland. (Cf. Dziekan 2011, pp. 35, 37).
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 9).
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 10).
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 17). The Report mentions that according to the International Migration Report 2006 of the UN Population Division foreigners are estimated to 703,000 (2005) or 1.8% of the total population.
In some instances, this can happen also through private denominational education, depending on the context of each country.
According to the repealed Act of 7 September 1991, on the educational system, public schools are not religiously neutral because Christian values and teaching are included and taken into account in the educational process. The currently applicable Act on Education 2016 stipulates in its preamble that education and upbringing should respect the Christian value system (Cf. http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20170000059/T/D20170059L.pdf).
Until 2000, private denominational schools were entitled to 50% of the public funds per pupil spent by local governments on a public school. Since 2000, they are entitled to 100%, even in cases where they are not fulfilling a public educational duty. (Cf. Rakar 2009, p. 324).
See also Article 14 of the Concordat that stipulates that the state/local community must support Church schools according to the relevant laws.
See articles 21 and 22 of the Law on the Guarantees of Freedom of Conscience and Religion, Journal of Laws, 1989, No. 29, item 155.
A clearcut example are neo-protestant movements in Central and Eastern Europe (Gog 2011).
In non-public schools, corresponding to approximately 10 per cent of the total number of school in Poland, state funding is between 20–40% of school needs and the rest is provided by parents’ and sponsors’ donations. One third of such schools are run by religious associations. (Cf. Zielinska and Zwierżdżyński 2013). These schools are governed by the Minister of National Education Ordinance on the Conditions and Methods of Organizing Religious Education in Public Schools and Kindergartens.
Concordat between the Holy See and the Republic of Poland, signed on 28 July 1993 and ratified on 23 February 1998.
Article 25 (2) and (3) of the Constitution declare:
J.L. of 1991 No 95, item 425 as amended.
J.L. of 1992 No.36, item 155 as amended.
Article 12 item 4 of the Concordat (1998).
Article 12 item 5 of the Concordat (1998).
See for example Act of 4 July 1991, on the relationship between the State and the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church (J.L. of 1991 No. 66) or Act of 13 May 2014, on the relationship between the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Republic of Poland (J.L. of 1994 No. 73). Today, 14 historical religions have such separate acts. The status of other religious organizations is regulated by registration with the Register of Churches and Other Denominations on the basis of the Law Guaranteeing Freedom of Conscience and Belief, passed on 1989 but amended in 1998 (Cf. J.L. 1989, No. 29, item 154).
Paragraph 2 No. 1–2 of the Ordinance of the Minister of National Education (1992). The Ordinance distinguishes between two sets of situations: where there are not enough learners in a group but at least seven in one school (para. 1), and when there are fewer than seven learners in the whole school (para. 2).
These are knowledge, competence, activity, diligence, conscientiousness, and reliability (Cf. General Directory of the Polish Episcopate for Cathechesis in Poland, 20 June 2001).
Paragraph 20 item 4a of the Ordinance of the Minister of National Education of 13 June 2007, J.L. of 2007 No. 130, item 906.
Under Article 12(2) of the Education Act, the government cannot make any changes to religious education absent the agreement of religious organizations.
Judgment of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal of 2 December 2009, U10/07, LEX No.562823.
Joanna Podgórska, “Nietyczna Szkoła” (“Unethical School”), Polityka, 24 September 2007. Data from 2014 indicate that ethics classes are provided in 12.5% of public schools of different types in Poland (Zwierżdżyński 2017, p. 145).
Krzysztof Lubczyński, “Nauka religii obowiazkowa?” [“Mandatory Religious Education”], Trybuna, 14 January 2009.
European Court of Human Rights, Grzelak v. Poland, Appl. N. 7710/02, decision of 15 June 2010.
See Summary of the Report on the Activity of the Ombudsman in Poland 2015, available at https://www.rpo.gov.pl/sites/default/files/Summary%202015.pdf at 73.
Summary of the Report on the Activity of the Ombudsman in Poland 2017, https://www.rpo.gov.pl/sites/default/files/SUMMARY%20of%20the%20Report%20on%20the%20Acivity%20of%20the%20Ombudsman%20in%20Poland%20in%202017.pdf at 36.
See European Court for Human Rights Grzelak v. Poland Appl. N. 7710/02, decision of 15 June 2010. The case concerned a Polish learner that refused to attend religious education classes in primary school, with the full approval of his parents. As no ethics class was available in his school, the place for marks for religion/ethics was left blank in his school certificate and a straight line was inserted allowing the revelation of his confession to whoever read it. The court found a violation of Article 9 ECHR but no violation was found by virtue of the margin of appreciation against Poland for the unavailability of ethics classes.
Rafał Boguszewski, Moralność Polaków po dwudziestu latach przemian (Warszawa, CBOS, 2009) at pages 7–9. Seventy-five per cent of young people (18–24) who declare participation in Church at least once per week accept pre-marital sex and 50% divorce as non-negative.
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 35).
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 36).
In 1991, the Constitutional Court dismissed the Ombudsman’s complaint on the incompatibility of the regulations introducing religious classes with the Constitution. In 1992, her successor again challenged the Minister of Education’s regulation on the conditions and manner of teaching religion in public schools on the basis of the secular character of the state. That challenge was also dismissed by the Constitutional Court. The provisions on religious education in schools were authorized by the Polish Constitution of 2 April 1997 (Dziennik Ustaw, 16 July 1997, No. 78 pos. 483].)
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 54).
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 54.)
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 59).
ACCEPT Report (Buchowski and Chlewińska 2012, p. 62).
See for example the article by Father Ludwik Wisniewski in Poland’s weekly magazine Tygodnik Powszechny entitled “Oskarzam” [“I accuse”].
It is interesting to observe that far-right supporters in Europe according to polls are disproportionately a-religious despite intense use of religious themes (Cf. Cremer 2018).
The division was again felt on the occasion of the Law and Justice party backed law criminalizing claims about Polish complicity in the Holocaust in January 2018 (Cf. Luxmoore 2018).
The typical example cited is the activitiy of “Radio Maryja” in Toruń and the work of Father Tadeusz Rydzyk (Cf. Wierzbicki 2018).
No Syrian refugees have been accepted in Polish territory. See (Kuziemski 2016).
The connection of the Catholic Church with nationalist groups such as the ONR (National Radical Camp) or the All Polish Youth are cause of much debate. See (Ojewska 2018).
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