Bulgaria: Christians Opposed Proposed Discriminatory Bill that Is "A Sad Reminder of a Bygone Communist Past"
New legislation pending in Bulgaria would significantly restrict religious freedom and impair the free exercise of Christians in the former communist nation, writes American Center for Law and Justice.
Bulgaria's three main political parties sponsored a parliamentarian bill amending the Religion Denominations Act of the country. The bill, passed on first reading in October, aims at "preventing interference of foreign countries, institutions and persons into religions and religious affairs." If its official target is the agents of radical Islam, the bill actually strongly violates the freedom of religion of Christians, especially of Catholics and Protestants.
In its current draft, the bill imposes heavy restrictions on foreigners to perform religious duties in the country and on donations from outside of Bulgaria. This would jeopardize the educational activities, cultural events, volunteer initiatives and medical centers of the non-Orthodox Christian communities. Indeed, the financial support from all over Europe and the USA is essential for the daily life of Churches, since it has been their only solution to recover from more than 40 years of communism.
Moreover, the bill under discussion violates some other rights and freedoms of the believers. These additional limitations have nothing to do with the funding of radical Islam. The most serious issue is that the right to open religious schools and to train denominational ministers would be given only to communities gathering more than 1% of the population. This provision would benefit the Orthodox (60%) and Muslim (8%) faiths; on the contrary, it would discriminate against the Catholic Church (0.7%), the Protestant denominations (0.9% all together) and the Jewish community (700...