Friday, August 29, 2014

Bolivian Evangelical Group Sues To Challenge New Rules Imposed On Religious Groups

In Bolivia last month, the National Association of Evangelicals of Bolivia filed a Petition of Unconsitutionality with the country's Constitutional Tribunal challenging new provisions regulating churches. The Protestant group is challenging Law 351 ("Granting of Juridical Personality to Churches and Religious Groups") passed in March 2013 and Supreme Decree 1987 implementing the law. The petition argues that various provisions of the law violate Art. 4 of the country's constitution protecting religious liberty. As reported by Morning Star News:
Decree 1987 imposes a list of burdensome preconditions upon religious organizations that contradict the language of Article 4. For example, denominations must file a “notarized listing” of the names, ID numbers, tax certificates and police files of national leaders, as well as notarized lists of names and ID numbers of their entire membership....
Decree 1987 also requires churches, synagogues and mosques to file copies of their bylaws with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To gain official approval, these documents must include procedures for “the admission and exclusion of members, the rights and obligations of members, an internal disciplinary regimen which includes infractions, sanctions and procedures,” and other such provisions.
NAEB argues that Decree 1987 requires churches "to operate under a model of administration contrary to our own faith doctrines."