Defending Faith from Fear

Jun 9, 2023 by

By Ludwig Graf von Bruhl, European Conservative.

I can still vividly remember how determined my 94-year-old grandma was to find a Sunday church service. She traveled across the city, climbed a seemingly endless flight of stairs, and arrived faint with exertion to a hidden chapel where a small congregation gathered to worship away from the prying eyes of the state.

Legally, the act of communal worship was in a gray area. This was back in 2021 when across Europe governments banned religious services. The state deemed ‘inessential’ what all believers consider most essential: the act of gathering together to worship God. For the first time in recent Western European history, governments did the unthinkable by banning religious gatherings and services, thereby violating a core aspect of the fundamental right to religious freedom.

Ján Figel’, former EU special envoy for freedom of religion and belief outside the EU, knows exactly what he’s talking about when he calls the ban “illiberal and undemocratic.” This respected politician has held various positions in the Slovak government and the EU-commission. He never imagined that his freedom-fighting efforts would end up pivoting toward the defense of the freedom of worship in the heart of Europe. But in 2021, it became clear that the erosion of fundamental rights in response to COVID was happening with alarming rapidity. The Slovak government extended its existing worship ban, only allowing weddings and funerals to take place with up to 6 people, including religious staff.

Figel’ decided to take a stand for freedom by challenging the ban in court. With Alliance Defending Freedom International as co-counsel, he sued the Slovak state at Europe’s top human-rights court.

Read here.

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