This is an initiative of the Italian Evangelical Alliance. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Leonardo De Chirico
IEA vice chairman
Religious freedom is the mother of all liberties. Freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, freedom to profess one’s own faith, etc. are all entailed in it. Religious freedom is not a concern for minorities only, but is a paradigm for civilization as a whole.
Religious freedom is the background for tolerance which does not hide differences, and is the backbone for integration, dialogue between cultures, the common good and democratic participation.
We are fully persuaded that religious freedom needs to be promoted, defended and applied. The Italian Evangelical Alliance has already organised rallies for religious freedom in 1999, 2007 and 2009. In 2010 too we are united to encourage the following requests:
1. The final abrogration of bits of legislation on minorities that were introduced by the fascist regime. Still today, Italian legislation about religions retains the language of “admitted religions”, i.e. non Roman Catholic ones. In a democratic nation, there are no “admitted religions” as if the state can discriminate between them.
2. The introduction of a law on religious liberty that is fair to the confessional pluralism of the country and according to the principles of justice and equality.
3. The implementation of the agreements between religious confessions and the state according to article 8 of the Constitution.
4. The active commitment of the Italian government in denouncing the violations of religious freedom of minorities in many countries of the world.
5. The change in the national broadcasting service (RAI) as far as the coverage of religious pluralism is concerned. Religious minorities, their stories, convictions, communities and contributions to national life are simply ignored whereas all attention is given to the Roman Catholic church.
We invite all religious associations, cultural bodies, political movements and single citiziens to take part. The March will welcome all those who are concerned for religious freedom and respect for pluralism in the media.
ITALY: A RESUME’ ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND PLURALISM
Our Constitution deals with religious groups according to a ladder:art. 7 deals with the Catholic Church (represented by the Vatican, a sovereign state) art. 8 deals with other religious groups which sign an agreement with the state. There are seven groups at the moment (including the Waldensians, Lutherans, Baptist Union and Assemblies of God). Other evangelical denominations are asking for that but the state is slow in proceeding further. Muslims are asking to sign the agreement but for political reasons the governement does not want to proceed.Other evangelical churches do not want to sign any agreement with the state because of their ecclesiological convictions.
Parliament is discussing the religious liberty law, something that we have been waiting for 40 years. There are bits of fascist legislation which discriminate against minorities. They are no longer applied but, technically, they are there always ready. We ask for a RL law that would erase that legislation and introduce a fair framework for all religious groups.
A worrying trend of Catholic confessionalism has been increasing over the last few years. In public schools, catholic teachers are the only allowed to teach religion (by the way Roman Catholic catechism). They are chosen by bishops and payed by tax-payers! Public policies are more often inclined to confirm and allow privileges toward the Catholic Church in many areas (tax-system, funding of church building and initiatives, etc.). The national media broadcaster (RAI)has a Vatican department daily providing the nation with all kinds of information about the pope and the RC church. Nearly nothing is done to inform about religious pluralism.
There is a huge issue of laicité. Though secular, the Italian state is always looking for RC church support in its policies and the RC church is always trying to influence Italian politics. The RC church is conservative of her privileges, does not support RL issues, has a defensive mood in trying to keep the huge privileges it has in terms of public funding and political support.
The National Broadcasting service (RAI – Radiotelevisione Italiana) is binded by law to represent the ideological, cultural, political, social, and religious pluralism in the country. As far as religious coverage is concerned, RAI has a division totally dedicated to the Vatican (RAI Vaticano) which daily follows the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, but it does not have a religious correspondent. 99% of the religious news deals with the RC church.