It is very important to make the issues widely known, an easy and efficacious way is..
-- The sorry state of the right of Religious Freedom in Greece is not iknown in general, as the Greek Government tries hard
to concile it. So it would be a great help to us if you assist in disseminating the truth about it! You can send to your MP
or Congresman or any other government or European Union representative, or to the government or EU or International bodies
concerned with human rights, or you can simply disseminate it to the public, the following information...
THE HUMAN RIGHT OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
The case of the adherents to the
Greek Religion of Dodecatheon.
Bearing in mind the seriousness of the following accusations, we categorically and regretably denounce Greece as a country
in which Human Rights are not well protected, at least freedom of religion is not for all of its citizens equally.
There are a number of Human Rights, that the citizens enjoy in Greece of course, such as the freedom of political affiliation.
It is another matter entirely when they wish to express freely their basic convictions in addressing fundamental rights questions,
such as the one about Man or Cosmos,
The right to religious freedom is, unfortunately, not equally afforded to all citizens of Greece, since -for all practical
reasons- one must be either Orthodox Christian or else not exist at all. Thus in reality, despite the attitudes and policies
towards other rights, it is of little or no value at all for the Greek citizens, because of the prevailing attitude towards
The above are not our own views, alone. It is a known fact that the European Human Rights Court is continuously handing
down convictions of Greece, concerning freedom of religion matters.
The Greek State by its laws divides its citizens into two categories as far as religion is concerned. To those who believe
in the three "Byzantine" religions (Judaism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Islam), who are afforded the right of religious
freedom; and those of other faiths, denominations or creeds to whom this right (Right of Religious Freedom) is denied. This
latter group is afforded the right to "holy worship" only, which is a even much less important concept, than Freedon
of Religion afforded the first group.
However, the Greek Government does not even enforce existing laws and illegally and arbitrarily and against the law and
the Constitution, and ignoring its own signature of approval on all Human Rights International Agreements, totally deprives
certain Greek citizens the Right of Religious Freedom, totally. It goes as far as to disallow even the right to "holy
worship", as well in certain cases!
1) The Greek Government follows a policy of religious oppression...
the result of which is that the Eastern Orthodox Church has essentially become a 'State-Enforced religion' and the other
faiths or denominations are barely 'if at all' tolerated. The following certainly point in that direction..
-- The obligatory, brainwashing quality catechesis in schools and the brainwashing of members of the armed forces, the
illegal association of public schools with catechetical schools of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
-- The special and favorable treatment of members of the armed forces who follow the 'predominant' faith of Orthodoxy.
Even the ability of the military to perform their duties and the loyalty of public employees is some how dependent or related
to their association with the Christian Orthodox Creed!!!
-- The illegal maintaining of extensive files with records of the religious preferences and beliefs of the citizens who
serve as public employees, of students in schools and generally, of the totality of citizens, by the security related agencies
of the state.
-- There is an infinite number of laws in favor of the Eastern Orthodox Church, including being exempted from taxation
and being government supported; the clergy, for example, the priests are paid by the government as they are considered employees
of the state. Naturally with funds obtained from our taxation in order to support a religion, that we do not espouse!!
-- There is the constant, indispensable and authoritative presence of the Eastern Orthodox Church officials, ie priests,
bishops etc, in every public or state activity ie the non-religious celebration of national holidays, the religious oath
of members of Parliament and of the ministers of the Government etc. This certainly re-enforces the idea of a 'tate Religion'.
-- Generally and for some strange reason the State attributes compliance with the law to having connection with the Eastern
Orthodox Church. It also makes it amply clear to every citizen that if one is not a Christian Orthodox, he is not in compliance
with the law and could be therefore subject to consequences!! An example of this is a letter sent by an Eastern Orthodox Church
bishop to Greek citizens who had left Orthodoxy and had espoused another denomination, whom he threatened with deportation,
all this in 1970, no less!!!
-- In addition, the Greek Government does not react to the various illegal and terrorizing acts of the Eastern Orthodox
Church against other religions.
2) Specifically about the right to Religious Freedom in Greece.
The right to Religious Freedom has two aspects.. The social right and that of the individual.
a) The Social Right to Religious Freedom does not exist...
that is a certain religion or creed does not have the self-evident right to exist as a legal entity within the State's
legal order of things. As far as the Greek State is concerned religions are non-existent and unsubstantial, with the exception
of the three "Byzantine" religions (Judaism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Islam). The State has granted those religions,
special rights and privileges, such as the right to be a «legal person of Public Law», through specific laws.
The European courts have ruled, however, that such special treatment of certain religions has to be 'sufficiently justified'.
The Greek State has never provided such justification, thus far.
b) As far as the right of the individual to religious freedom is concerned...
The right of the individual to religious freedom has many aspects and only members of the three aforementioned religions
enjoy all of them fully.
As far as the other religions or denominations are concerned, the Greek State arbitrarily and by special legislation,
grants to certain of them some but not all aspects of the many that are part of the right of Religious Freedom of the individual.
For example, the Greek State recognizes and arbitrarily directs the official recording in the National bureau of Public
Records of weddings, baptisms, funerals and naming ceremonies of certain religions or denominations, only.
For all the other religions or denominations that are not favored by special legislature, the law of the Greek State recognizes
the individual right of Freedom of Worship, only.
We cannot understand the State's justification for granting certain religions rights and priviledges denied to others.
The Greek Govermnment categorizes religions without proper justification!!!
c) As far as the Individual Right of Freedom of Worship is concerned...
it is, the ONLY part of the total number of rights which constitute the Human Right to Religious Freedom that the Greek
State permits to be exercised by adherrents of '3d category' religions and consists of establishing a Place of Worship (this
has a weaker legal status - it is not a legal person, than a Church or Temple that is a legal person and can posses property.
According to law only the Eastern Orthodox Church has the right to have Churches or Temples). This right is based on two Compulsory
Laws passed in 1938-1939, a turbulent period of dictatorship, and another law passed in 1942, during the German occupation
of Greece. The purpose of these laws was to hinder the granting of even the minimal of human rights. These laws are unconstitutional
from many aspects, and certain of their provisions insult the citizens' dignity since they humiliate them by permitting the
Orthodox Church to interfere with their right of Freedom of Worship.
d) The case of the Committee for the Greek Religion of Dodecatheon.. Its petition for permission for a Place of Worship.
They are the adherents to the Greek Religion of Dodecatheon, the traditional-patrimonial religion of the Greeks since
ancient times (more information about them in their website.. www.dodecatheon.com). They managed to survive through the centuries,
despite the well known persecutions against them based on the Justinian Code, which directed that they be put to death by
torture, using metallic objects; and the unquenchable hatred of the Eastern Orthodox Church for them.
Despite of all the above, the Committee for the Greek Religion of Dodecatheon DID apply for permission to establish a
Place of Worship according to the aforementioned laws, on June 28, 2001. The petition was accompanied by a list of significant
number of signatures.
After the petition was received by the proper department of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, civil employees
there informed them that their file was complete, ie they had supplied all the documents necessary and it was a FIRST, for
a file to be so complete and to be accompanied by many more signatures than were required by law. They also related to them
that since, there were so many convictions of Greece by the European Human Rights Court, exactly, for stalling to issue permissions
for a Place of Worship, this time such a permission would have been promptly issued.
Despite of such assurances, the petition of the Committee for the Greek Religion of Dodecatheon has not been approved,
even though three years have passed!!!
In this case, the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs violates the constitution and laws of the Greek State. It
strengthens the obstacles set in our way by the aforementioned laws and reckons that these laws are indeed very liberal and
it would probably be a good idea, if Greece was to return to the Justinian Code which as mentioned above demanded that every
citizen either be Christian Orthodox or not exist at all!!
The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs conceals the truth, in this case, from international organizations. According
to the official position of the authorized director of the ministry, who stated during the Conference for the Religious Freedom
on March 8, 2002, that «Now, there is a speedy approval of all requests for Places of Worship and that there is none pending
for approval»! Similar assurances and explanations were also given to the European Council.
If you are interested in helping, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us to discuss what you can do: