Evangelicals lose challenge to requirement to identify members


Fontanka, 19 July 2016


Religious organizations wishing to introduce changes into their charter must provide a list of members voting for this decision. This norm was confirmed by the Constitutional Court of Russia.


Today it became known that it turned down an appeal of the "Nazareth" Church of Evangelical Christians from Tatarstan that considers this rule unconstitutional. The plaintiff tried to prove that it forcibly compels believers to disclose their religious convictions and violates freedom of conscience and religious assemblies.


Supporters of "Nazareth," according to the materials of the Constitutional Court, conducted a meeting in 2014 in order to change its foundational documents. The regional division of the Ministry of Justice refused to confirm this decision. The bureaucrats declared that the evangelicals had not provided a protocol with a list of all participants in the meeting, as is required by article 181.2 of the Civil Code ("Adoption of decisions of a meeting"). Subsequently this position was also taken by courts.


It was the Civil Code that religious activists tried to challenge in the Constitutional Court. In dismissing the appeal the court explained that the law aims "for the best protection of the legal interests of all members of the legal civil community," and the absence of a list "does not imply an unconditional conclusion of the nullity" of the decision of the organization.


The judges also emphasized that the law "does not foresee" the possibility of disclosure of the personal information to third persons. "It only establishes the form of reporting this information."


As a result, the Civil Code remains in force and the "Nazareth" church is denied the possibility of further challenges in courts to the actions of the Ministry of Justice. (tr. by PDS, posted 15 August 2016)

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