Freedom of Conscience and Religion in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland from 1997 in the Individual and Institutional Dimension
Author: Grzegorz Świst
All human beings possess the right to freedom of conscience and religion. This right, which is included in the natural law, derives from the dignity of each human being and it is protected by every democratic state by constitutions as well as international agreements. The article refers to the issues of freedom of conscience and religion, which are guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 1997. The legal guarantees of this freedom are determined by two articles of this Constitution, which is designed to protect, as John Paul II expressed it, „the heart of human rights”. The enjoyment of freedom of conscience and religion is guaranteed in the Constitution in two dimensions: individual and institutional. In the individual dimension, the Constitution grants everyone the freedom to manifest their beliefs in both public and private life (the so-called „freedom to…”). Every form of freedom has its negative aspect (the so-called „freedom from…”). Freedom of conscience and religion in this aspect means a ban on a compulsion to profess any religion, and an individual’s right not to disclose his or her beliefs. In the institutional dimension, freedom of religion is based on established principles that govern relations between the state and churches and other religious organizations. These principles include equality of all religious associations, respect for the autonomy and independence of each religious association, and impartiality of public authorities towards religious beliefs. Summarizing, the violation of religious freedom can be socially harmful and lead to tension between adherents of different religions. This is the reason why freedom of conscience and religion is legally guaranteed by the system of national and international law.
freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, limits of freedom of conscience and religion in the individual dimension, limits of freedom of religion in the institutional dimension, human dignity