Derecho y Religion launches its latest scientific magazine

40th anniversary of the Organic Law on Religious Freedom

Delta Publicaciones, a well-known publishing house, has just launched in Spanish their latest “Law and Religion” magazine, the number XV, commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Spanish Religious Freedom Law.

The magazine, which contains articles by the top full professors of Religious Freedom has been coordinated by Prof. Miguel Rodríguez Blanco and Prof. Marcos González Sánchez, both awardees of the Spanish granted “Religious Freedom Awards” on 2018 and 2019 respectively. The Organic Law 7/1980 of July 5, 1980 on Religious Freedom has reached forty years of validity. This law has contributed to the recognition of the right to religious freedom by all citizens and the absence of serious conflicts or confrontations in this area.

The LOLR was a key element in the transition and consolidation of a democratic state in Spain. It introduced into our legal system a series of novelties that constitute the content in this field of the Constitution in force today: it guarantees and develops equally the rights of all denominations, within the framework of the recognition of the religious freedom of all citizens, of the non-denominational nature of the State, and of the cooperation of the public authorities with religious denominations. 40 years after the entry into force of the LOLR, it is appropriate to analyze its positive and negative aspects.

The analysis and defense of the LOLR is the best tribute we can make in this 40th anniversary of its approval. We thank the professors of the Ecclesiastical Law of the State who with their better availability and dedication have wanted to collaborate to its realization. The result is a very complete volume, which refers to almost all the questions raised by the articles of the LOLR.

Introduction by Prof. Rodríguez Blanco & Prof. González Sánchez

It was clear to the democratic people of Spain 40 years ago that they wanted to live together in peace and that is why the current Spanish Constitution of 1978 sealed “religious peace”. The new constitutional framework demanded a rapid change in the regulation of religious freedom established by the Franco regime, hence the change from a law that established a system of mere religious tolerance – Law 44/1967 of 28 June on Religious Freedom – to the current Organic Law 7/1980 of 5 July on Religious Freedom [LOLR], which has helped to make the religious transition in Spain. It is one of the first laws to be enacted in development of a fundamental right and was approved with great consensus. It consists of eight articles, two transitional provisions, one derogatory and one final. It is a very valid and effective text for the purposes of achieving the proposed goal, a reference for other European and American laws, and which continues to be as useful as it was four decades ago.

The LOLR provides a good service to coexistence, in accordance with the principle of the secularity of the State, by helping to guarantee the effective exercise of the right to religious freedom. This fundamental right is equally held by all individuals and all religious denominations. In general terms, the content of the Law can be summarized as follows: guarantees religious freedom and points out the reporting principles on the regulation of the religious social factor; sets the content of religious freedom and establishes the limits to its exercise and the aspects that fall outside its scope of protection; regulates the judicial protection of recognized rights; creates the Register of Religious Entities – a register that shows that religious entities are a phenomenon distinct from associations and constitutes their main meeting point; recognizes full autonomy for denominations and the capacity for them to establish their own rules of organization, internal rules and staff rules; the possibility for denominations to have access to the signing of cooperation agreements with the State – which create a special legal framework, a specific framework of rights adapted to their own characteristics – and creates the Advisory Commission on Religious Freedom.

The defence and guarantee of religious diversity only goes through the defence and guarantee of religious freedom. Diversity helps progress and societies without diversity are further behind. The LOLR offers solutions to such pressing problems as the very ordering of society, strengthens and develops the religious beliefs of individuals and denominations and, in short, prevents intransigent policies that have characterized authoritarian and anti-democratic regimes throughout history and that today are far from the scope of our freedoms. Freedom requires laws and the LOLR fulfils its objective.

The monographic XV of the Law and Religion Magazine is dedicated to the LOLR when turning 40 years of validity. When a norm lasts so long it is a sign that it is good and has overcome oblivion. In any case, given the time that has passed we consider that it is the opportune moment to make an evaluation of its application and to analyze those questions that possibly require a development, modification or incorporation to the text of the Law. For years there has been talk of its possible reform and it is clear that, like any legal text, it can be modified. However, if the change is not to make it better, it is preferable that it remains as it is. Perhaps, as most representatives of religious denominations claim, what should be done is to comply with its content and apply it fully. In any case, any reform or replacement of the LOLR should be very consensual as it is a norm that develops a particularly sensitive fundamental right in every society.

The analysis and defense of the LOLR is the best tribute we can make in this fortieth anniversary of its approval. We are grateful to the professors of Ecclesiastical Law of the State that with their better availability and dedication have wanted to collaborate to its realization. The result is a very complete volume, which refers to almost all the questions raised by the articles of the LOLR. Likewise, we would like to point out that the Department of Private Law of the University of the Balearic Islands has collaborated in this publication and has been financed by the Research Project “40th Anniversary of the Organic Law of Religious Freedom. Critical analysis” (L3-2019) of the Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence of the Ministry of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory. Translated with (free version)