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Freedom of Religion or Belief - An International Law Commentary by Bielefeldt, Prof Heiner; Ghanea, Nazila, Dr; Wiener, Michael, Dr (21st January 2016)

Part 1 Freedom of Religion or Belief, 1.3.5 Appointing Clergy

Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

From: Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary

Prof Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

Subject(s):
Religion — Freedom of association — Freedom of expression — Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion — Minorities — Right to work

This chapter addresses the issues concerning State interference in the appointment of clergy in a religion. In practice, the existence of religious communities is maintained through the succession of new religious leaders, priests, and teachers. If a State systematically abducts, arrests, or imprisons religious leaders this may jeopardize the very survival of this community. Likewise, direct State interference in the appointment procedure of a religion may lead to divisions within communities and may weaken the relationship between different sub-groups. These interferences may include management measures for the recognition of ‘reincarnations’, which may result in disunity among religious members, with some believers following the State-appointed leader while others follow the leader who has not been officially recognized. Another issue of interpretation is whether the autonomy of religious communities in selecting and appointing their religious leaders can—or even must—be curtailed by the State in order to safeguard the equality between men and women.

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