CHAPTER I General Provisions
Art. 1 (1) The Romanian State observes and guarantees the fundamental right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion for any individual on Romanian territory, in conformity with the Romanian Constitution and international treaties to which Romania is a party. No one shall be prevented from or coerced into adopting an opinion or religious belief contrary to his/her persuasion, and no one shall be subjected to any discrimination, pursued, or placed in a position of inferiority on account of his/her religion or faith, his/her membership or non-membership in a religious group, association, or faith, or for the exercise, according to the law, of his/her religious freedom.
Art. 2 (1) Religious freedom includes the right of every individual to have or embrace a religion or faith, to manifest it individually or collectively, in public or in private, through practices and rituals specific to that religion, including through religious education, as well as the freedom to preserve or change one’s religious beliefs. The freedom to manifest one’s religion or faith cannot be subject to any restrictions other than those required by law, and which are necessary in a democratic society for the protection of public safety, public order, health or morals, or for the protection of fundamental human rights and liberties.
Art. 3 (1) Parents or guardians have the exclusive right to opt for the religious education of their under-age wards, in accordance with their own convictions. (2) The religion of a child who has turned 14 years of age cannot be changed without his/her consent; a child who has turned 16 years of age shall have the right to choose his/her own religion or faith.
Art. 4 Any person, religion, religious association, or religious group in Romania shall be free to establish and maintain ecumenical and brotherly relations with other individuals, religions, or religious groups, and with inter-Christian and inter-religious organizations, at both national and international levels.
Art. 5 (1) Any person shall have the right to manifest his/her religious beliefs collectively, in accordance with his/her own convictions and the provisions of this Law, both within religious structures with legal entity status and within religious structures without legal entity status. (2) The religious structures with a distinct legal entity status as regulated by this Law are religions and religious associations, and the religious structures without a distinct legal entity status are religious groups. (3) Religious communities shall be free to choose the associative structure within which they wish to manifest their religious beliefs: religion, religious association, or religious group, in observance of this Law. (4) In their activities, religions, religious associations, and religious groups are under an obligation to abide by the Romanian Constitution and laws, and to not be a threat to public safety, order, health, morals, and fundamental human rights and freedoms. (5) The processing of personal data concerning religious beliefs or membership in religions is hereby forbidden, except in the organization of a national census sanctioned by law, or in a situation where the concerned individual has given his/her explicit consent to this effect. It is forbidden to compel an individual to declare his/her religion in any relation with public authorities or private-law legal entities.
Art. 6 (1) A religious group is a form of association of individuals, with no legal entity status, who, without any preliminary procedure, freely adopt, share and practice the same religion. (2) A religious association is a private law legal entity, established according to this Law, and made up of individuals who adopt, share, and practice the same religious beliefs. (3) Under this Law, a religious association may become a recognized religion.
CHAPTER II Religions
Section I Relationship between the State and Religions
Art. 7 (1) The Romanian State recognizes the spiritual, educational, social-charitable, cultural and social partnership role of religions, as well as their status as factors of social peace. (2) The Romanian State recognizes the important role of the Romanian Orthodox Church and that of other churches and faiths in Romania’s national history and in the life of Romanian society.
Art. 8 (1) Recognized religions are public-utility legal entities. They shall be organized and shall operate autonomously, according to the Constitution and this Law, and based on their own by-laws or canonical codes. (2) Furthermore, components parts of recognized religions are legal entities, as mentioned in their own by-laws or canonical codes, provided they meet the conditions set forth therein. (3) Religions shall operate in accordance with the laws and their own by-laws and canonical codes, whose provisions are applicable to their own followers. (4) The name of a religion may not be identical to that of another recognized religion in Romania.
Art. 9 (1) There is no State religion in Romania; the State is neutral towards any religious persuasion or atheistic ideology. (2) Religions are equal before the law and public authorities. The State, through its authorities, shall neither promote nor support the granting of privileges or the institution of discrimination towards any religion. (3) Public authorities shall cooperate with religions in matters of common interest and shall support their activities. (4) The Romanian State, through its apposite public authorities, shall support spiritual-cultural and social activities carried out in other countries by religions recognized in Romania. (5) The central public authorities may conclude partnerships with recognized religions in areas of common interest, as well as agreements for regulating certain aspects specific to the tradition of religions, and which shall be subject to approval by law.
Art. 10 (1) Expenditures for maintaining religions and their activities shall be financed primarily from their own incomes, as generated and managed according to their by-laws. (2) Religions may institute contributions from their members in order to support their activities. (3) The State shall promote citizen support for religions through tax exemptions, and shall encourage sponsorship of religions, under the law. (4) Upon request, the State shall support the salaries of clerical and non-clerical staff of recognized religions through contributions, based on the number of their members who are Romanian citizens and based on their real needs of subsistence and activity. The State shall grant higher contributions for the salaries of the clerical personnel of low-income religious units, under the rules established by law. (5) No one may be coerced, through administrative means or other, to contribute to the funding of a religion. (6) Upon request, recognized religions may receive material support from the State for expenditures relating to the operation of religious units, repairs, and new buildings, based on the number of members as per the latest census and based on their real needs. (7) The State shall also support the activity of recognized religions in their capacity as providers of social services. (8) Upon request, public authorities shall grant to any individual the right to receive counselling according to his/her religious beliefs, by facilitating their access to religious assistance.
Art. 11 State support also consists in tax exemptions, stipulated by law.
Art. 12 The use of funds received from the State or local budgets and the observance of the destination of assets received as property or in use from local or central public authorities shall be subject to State control.
Art. 13 (1) Relations between religions, as well as between religious associations and groups shall be based on mutual understanding and respect. (2) Any form, means, act or action of religious defamation and antagonism, as well as the public offense of religious symbols are forbidden in Romania. (3) Preventing or interfering with the freedom of exercise of a religious activity carried out in accordance to the law shall be punished under the rules of criminal law.
Art. 14 (1) Every religion must have a national governing or representative body. (2) Religious units, including subdivisions without legal entity status, shall be established and organized by religions according to their own by-laws, regulations and canonical codes. (3) For administrative purposes, the creation of a new religious unit must be reported to the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs. (4) By law, religious units recently established as legal entities may request and be granted financial support.
Art. 15 The seals and stamps used by a religion or by a local religious unit must include the official name by which the respective religion was recognized, or the acronym thereof.
Art. 16 (1) Recognized religions may use any language in the exercise of their activities. Financial and accounting records must be kept in the Romanian language. (2) In their official relations with the authorities of the State, religions shall use the Romanian language.
Section II Recognition of religion status
Art. 17 (1) State recognized religious status shall be awarded by government Decision, based on a proposal by the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, to religious associations that, by their activities and number of members, provide guarantees of sustainability, stability, and public interest. (2) Recognition of by-laws and canonical codes is granted provided these do not, by their contents, threaten public safety, order, health, morals, or fundamental human rights and liberties.
Art. 18 A religious association requesting recognized religion status may apply to the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, and will provide the following documents: – proof that it is legally established and has been operating uninterruptedly on Romanian territory as a religious association for at least 12 years; – the original membership lists containing a number of Romanian citizens resident in Romania equal to at least 0.1% of the population of Romania, according to the latest census; – its own declaration of faith and statutes for organization and operation, that will include the following: name of the faith, its central and local organizational structure, its forms of governance, administration, and control, its representative bodies, its manner of establishing and dismantling religious units, the status of its employees, as well as provisions specific to the respective faith.
Art. 19 (1) The Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs shall submit the recognition documentation to the government within 60 days of the date the application was filed, accompanied by its own consultative opinion based on the documentation on file. (2) If the documentation is incomplete or the by-laws contain provisions that are contrary to the law, such documentation shall be sent back to the applicant, accompanied by relevant explanations, in order that this documentation may be amended or supplemented, and the completion deadline shall be extended accordingly.
Art. 20 (1) The government shall return a justified decision for the granting or denial of the application within 60 days of receiving the consultative opinion. (2) That government decision shall be published in the Official Gazette, Part I, and the law provides that this may be challenged in court. (3) In cases where the application is denied, a religious association may repeat the process for recognition of its status of recognized religion only if it is able to produce evidence that the grounds for denial have ceased to exist. (4) The rights and duties pertaining to fully recognized religion status may be exercised as of the date the government decision to grant recognition goes into effect.
Art. 21 Based on a proposal by the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, the government may withdraw the recognized religion status when that religion’s activities seriously threaten public safety, order, health, morals, or fundamental human rights and liberties.
Art. 22 (1) For the purpose of obtaining full recognition, amendments and supplements to the statutes on the organization and operation or to canonical codes shall be reported to the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs. (2) By law, administrative documents issued on the basis of this Section, as well as failure to issue such documents by their legal deadline, may be challenged in court.
Section III Personnel of recognized religions
Art. 23 (1) Religions elect, appoint, hire, or terminate personnel according to their own by-laws, canonical codes, or regulations. (2) The personnel of religions may be disciplined for violating the religion’s doctrinal or moral principles, based on that religion’s bylaws, canonical codes, or regulations. (3) Clerical and assimilated personnel of recognized religions may not be compelled to reveal facts entrusted to their knowledge or learned during the exercise of their functions. (4) The exercise of a priestly function or any other function that may be presumed to include the exercise of a priestly office, without the explicit authorization or agreement from the religious structures, whether these be legal entities or not, is punishable under the provisions of criminal law.
Art. 24 (1) Employees and the insured personnel of recognized religions, whose pension trusts are part of the public social security system, shall be subject to the relevant public social security law. (2) Employees and the insured personnel of recognized religions, who have their own private pension trusts or pension funds shall be subject to regulations adopted by the leadership of their religions, according to their by-laws and in agreement with the general principles of relevant public social security law.
Art. 25 Clerical and assimilated personnel of recognized religions, as well as monastic personnel belonging to recognized religions shall be exempt from military service.
Art. 26 (1) Recognized religions may have their own religious courts for internal disciplinary matters, according to their by-laws and internal regulations. (2) Internal disciplinary matters are subject exclusively to bylaws and canonical regulations. (3) The existence of such internal jurisdictional organs does not preclude the applicability of Romanian law on infractions and criminal violations.
Section IV Assets of recognized religions
Art. 27 (1) Recognized religions and their units may own and acquire, as property or in administration, movable assets and real estate, of which they may dispose according to their own by-laws. (2) Sacred assets, namely those devoted directly and exclusively to religious rites, as established through a religion’s own by-laws based on its traditions and practices, may neither be seized nor are they subject to a statute of limitations, and may be disposed of only in accordance to by-laws specific to that religion. (3) The provisions in paragraph (2) do not affect the recovery of sacred assets having been wrongfully expropriated and forfeited by the State in the years 1940-1989, or of those taken over by the State without any title.
Art. 28 (1) Local religious units may have and maintain, on their own or in association with other religions, denominational cemeteries for their members. Denominational cemeteries shall be managed according to the regulations of the religion that owns these. The denominational identity of historic cemeteries is protected by law. (2) In localities that do not have a local public cemetery and where certain religions do not have their own cemetery, deceased members of those religions may be buried according to that religion’s rites in the existing functional cemeteries. (3) The stipulations in paragraph (2) do not apply to cemeteries belonging to the Jewish and Muslim Faiths. Local public administration authorities are under obligation to establish local public cemeteries in every village and town. Village or town cemeteries shall be organized in such manner as to include appropriate sections for every recognized religion, if so requested by the religions that operate in the respective village or town.
Art. 29 (1) By law, religions have the exclusive right to produce and sell objects and goods needed for their religious activity. (2) The use of musical works in the activity of recognized religions shall be exempt from the dues normally owed to the copyright authorities.
Art. 30 Churches or similar assets located in other countries and owned by the Romanian State or religions may be the object of bilateral agreements signed by the Romanian State, at the request of interested parties.
Art. 31 (1) The assets that a religion acquires in any manner – by contributions, donations, inheritance – as well as any other assets that become the legal property of a religion ,may not be subject to any subsequent claims. (2) Individuals who leave a recognized religion may not lay claims to the assets of that religion. (3) Asset-related disputes between recognized religions shall be settled amicably and, failing that, shall be subject to common law litigation. (4) In the event that a religion is stripped of its recognized status, by this Law or following its dissolution, the destination of its assets shall be stipulated in its by-laws. Section V Education organized by recognized religions
Art. 32 (1) The teaching of religion in the public and private education system is guaranteed by law for recognized religions. (2) By law, the personnel teaching religion in public schools shall be appointed in agreement with the religion they represent. (3) In the event that a teacher commits serious violations of his religion’s doctrine or morals, that religion may withdraw its agreement that he/she teach religion, which will lead to the termination of that person’s working contract. (4) Upon request, in a situation where the school cannot provide teachers of religion who are members of the religion of which the students are members, such students may produce evidence of studies in their respective religion provided by the religion of which they are members.
Art. 33 (1) By law, religions have the right to establish and manage educational facilities for the training of their religious staff, of religion teachers, as well as of other specialists needed in their religious activity. (2) By law, every religion is free to establish the form, levels, numbers and curriculum for their own educational plans.
Art. 34 (1) Religions develop their own educational plans and curricula for undergraduate theological studies and the curricula for the teaching of religion. Such plans and curricula shall be submitted to the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs for review, and to the Ministry of Education and Research for approval. (2) For higher education, educational plans and curricula shall be developed by the educational institutions, based on agreement with the respective religions, and shall be subject to approval by the University Senates.
Art. 35 (1) By law, the teaching personnel of theological education facilities integrated in the public education system shall be recognized by the Ministry of Education and Research, based on a preliminary agreement from the relevant bodies of the respective religions. (2) The teaching personnel of theological education facilities not integrated in the public education system shall be appointed by the relevant bodies of the religions concerned, according to their by-laws. The personnel teaching religion in schools must meet the requirements of Law no. 128/1997 on the Status of Teaching Personnel, with its subsequent amendments and changes.
Art. 36 (1) In children’s institutions operated by public agencies, or by private entities or religions, religious education shall be provided to the children according to the religion to which they belong. (2) In children’s institutions, irrespective of their financing entity, religious education for children whose religion is not known shall only be provided based on agreement of persons in whose charge they are, according to applicable law.
Art. 37 The salaries of teaching and administrative personnel in theological educational facilities that are not part of the public education system shall be provided by the religions. Upon the request of religions, the State, through the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, may contribute to their salary, proportionally to the number of that religion’s members.
Art. 38 Diplomas and certificates of theological studies obtained in other countries shall be recognized according to applicable legal provisions.
Art. 39 (1) By law, recognized religions have the right to establish and manage religious education facilities at all levels, and for all disciplines and specializations. (2) Diplomas for the graduates of private educational facilities of a religion shall be issued according to applicable legal provisions. (3) By law, the State shall provide financial support for denominational education. (4) Denominational educational facilities shall have organizational and operational autonomy, according to their standards and canons, and in observance of legal provisions applicable to the national education system. (5) Pupils or students may enrol in denominational education, irrespective of their religion or persuasion, and they are guaranteed freedom of religious education according to their own religion of persuasion.
CHAPTER III Religious associations
Art. 40 (1) Religious freedom may also be exercised in religious associations, which are legal entities comprised of at least 300 members, citizens of Romania or residents in Romania, who associate in order to manifest a religious belief. (2) A religious association receives legal entity status by being registered in the Religious Association Registry, which will exist in the Clerk’s Office of every Trial Court in whose jurisdiction the association’s head office is located.
Art. 41 (1) Any one of the members, based on a power of attorney provided by the other members, may apply for the registration of that association in the Religious Association Registry. (2) The registration application shall be accompanied by the following documents: – notarized articles of incorporation, which shall include the name of the religious association – which cannot be identical or similar to that of a recognized religion or religious association – identification and signature of the members, head office, starting assets worth the equivalent of at least two national gross monthly salaries, contributed in currency or in kind by the members, as well as the first governing structures; – declaration of faith and statutes of the religious association, which must include: its central and local organizational structure for government, administration and supervision, manner of establishing and dismantling of local units, rights and obligations of members, main activities the association intends to undertake in order to attain its spiritual goals; other stipulations specific to that particular religious association; – evidence of existence of a head office and starting assets; – consultative opinion from the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs; – evidence from the Ministry of Justice that the chosen name is available.
Art. 42 (1) Within 3 days of applying for registration and filing the documents required under Art. 41 (2), a judge, appointed by the court’s Chief Justice, shall verify their legal compliance and shall return a decision to list the association in the Religious Association Registry. (2) Once the registration is complete, the judicial decision to that effect shall be automatically announced to the local fiscal authority that has jurisdiction in the area of the association’s head office, for tax registration, and will include the registration number assigned in the Religious Association Registry.
Art. 43 Religious associations may establish subsidiaries that have legal entity status, according to their by-laws, under the procedure stipulated in Art. 41 and 42. Art. 44 (1) Religious associations shall receive tax exemptions related to their religious activity, under Law no. 571/2003 on the Tax Code, with its subsequent amendments and changes. (2) Religious associations shall also be subject to relevant provisions of Article 10 (2), Art. 15, Art. 16 and Art. 28 of this Law.
Art. 45 A jurisdictional court of law shall rule to dissolve a religious association when that association, through its activities, poses a serious threat to public safety, order, health, morals, and the fundamental human rights and liberties, or when that religious association pursues a goal different from the one for which it was established.
Art. 46 The provisions in this Article shall be in effect in conjunction with those in Government Ordinance no. 26/2000 on Associations and Foundations, as approved with amendments and changes through Law no. 246/2005.
Art. 47 (1) Existing associations, established in accordance with the laws on associations and foundations, whose main objectives are the exercise of a religious belief, who desire to obtain the status of religious association, must apply to their local 180 Trial Court for a transformation of said association, to be stricken from the Registry of Associations and Foundations, and for its registration in the Registry of Religious Associations at the Clerk’s Office of the same Trial Court, accompanied by the relevant documentation stipulated in Art. 41. (2) The application must bear the signatures of the legal governing structures of the association, and must explicitly request the transformation of the original association into a religious association. The delegate-judge shall rule both on the transformation of the association and on its registration, and shall establish for how long the association has had the exercise of a religious faith as its objective. The duration of operation determined by the court shall be taken into consideration and added to the overall period of existence of the religious association with a view to the latter’s acquiring recognized religion status.
Art. 48 (1) In all manner of motions and judicial action concerning the acquisition or loss of religious association status each session shall be conducted in the presence of a Prosecutor and a representative summoned from the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs. (2) Decisions or rulings returned by a court of law in cases concerning religious associations may be legally appealed within 15 days of pronouncement in court.
CHAPTER IV Transitory and final stipulations
Art. 49 (1) As of the date this Law was enacted, there are 18 fully recognized religions in Romania, as indicated in the Appendix that constitutes an integral part of this Law. (2) Within 12 months of the enactment of this Law, the recognized religions existing in Romania and included in the Appendix to this Law, shall submit their by-laws and canonical 181 codes to the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, in order to obtain full recognition. (3) Recognition shall be granted through the government decision mechanism, based on a proposal from the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, and shall be published in the Official Gazette of Romania, Part I. The provisions of Art. 17 (2) shall apply accordingly. ——————————- *)
Law no. 489/2006 went into effect 3 days from the date of 8 January 2007, date of its publication in Romania’s official gazette Monitorul Oficial, Part I
Art. 50 (1) Any amendment or change to this Law shall be made following preliminary consultation with recognized religions, and in observance of the legal regulations on decision making transparency. (2) The representatives of religions have the right to take part, as guests, in debates in Parliament and in those of its Committees discussing draft legislation pertaining to religious life, religious activities, denominational education, social assistance, and national heritage issues that involve religions.
Art. 51 As of the date this Law is enacted, Decree no. 177/1948 on the General Status of Religions, published in the Official Gazette of Romania, issue #178 of 4 August 1948, as subsequently amended and changed, as well as any other provisions contrary to this Law, are herewith repealed.