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Not being able to leave the Catholic Church - Violation of Human Rights?

  • 12-01-2012 1:05am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,867 UglyBolloxFace


    Hello,

    This is my first time posting in this forum, and to be honestly it's my first time actually being on the Atheism and Agnosticism forum. It has been recommended to me to start this thread here.

    A while ago in After Hours (http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2056513606) I started a thread looking to raise awareness of the following: (note that the text in italics is taken directly from my OP in AH).

    According to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, humans are entitled to basic human rights, two of which are:

    Article 18: The Freedom of Religion

    "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

    and

    Article 20:

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
    (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

    As you can see from the above, by the catholic church denying me the right to leave their cult, they are violating Articles 18 and 20 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and are therefore violating my human rights.

    Like a lot of people in our little country, I was baptised as a child. And I also made communion and confirmation - I only did this for the money.

    Looking back on it, they are among the biggest mistakes of my life (although I didn't have any choice in the baptism). I no longer want to be a part of this disgusting organisation, and as such I want to leave.


    The reasons are plentiful - but the main ones are the abuse of children and it's cover-up by those in the Vatican, and also the fact that I do not believe in a God or any fairytales like that, and am quite offended by it. I must stress however that I fully respect the rights of people to believe in this if they so wish.

    Countmeout.ie, a website dedicated to helping people leave the church, was a great thing for people wishing to leave the church. But no, I am unable to leave because the church changed the 'Canon Law' which governs this stuff (because people were leaving in their droves), and this led to the countmeout website becoming defunct, in a sense. So technically, in their eyes, I am a catholic forever.

    Freedom of Religion is a a fundamental human right. But how am I supposed to exercise this right if I am being forced to remain a member of the catholic church against my will? What right do the church have to do this to me and countless others?


    I have looked into the possibility of taking this case to the European Court of Human Rights (EUCtHR), and several posters in the AH thread have put their support forward also. However, having looked at the EUCtHR website, it appears that because the Vatican is not party to the Convention on Human Rights, they cannot be taken to court.

    Also, before taking cases to EUCtHR, all avenues must be exhausted domestically first. So I may try to figure out what to do here with regard to the Courts, and will attempt to write to the bishops/parish etc to see what I can do.

    Basically my case is as follows:

    The catholic church is forcing me to remain a member of their sect and therefore infringing on and violating my human rights of freedom of religion and not being compelled to belong to an association.

    It is disgusting that the catholic church changed their canon law which stopped us being able to leave. As several posters have mentioned over in the AH thread, if the catholic church had nothing to fear and if people leaving the church was not a problem to them, then they wouldn't have removed the option to leave the church.

    Can anyone give me some advice here please? What do other atheists think of this approach?

    I look very much forward to hearing your thoughts.

    -UBF


«13

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,796 ✭✭✭ MrPudding


    Hello,

    This is my first time posting in this forum, and to be honestly it's my first time actually being on the Atheism and Agnosticism forum. It has been recommended to me to start this thread here.

    A while ago in After Hours (http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2056513606) I started a thread looking to raise awareness of the following: (note that the text in italics is taken directly from my OP in AH).

    According to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, humans are entitled to basic human rights, two of which are:

    Article 18: The Freedom of Religion

    "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

    and

    Article 20:

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
    (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

    As you can see from the above, by the catholic church denying me the right to leave their cult, they are violating Articles 18 and 20 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and are therefore violating my human rights.

    Like a lot of people in our little country, I was baptised as a child. And I also made communion and confirmation - I only did this for the money.

    Looking back on it, they are among the biggest mistakes of my life (although I didn't have any choice in the baptism). I no longer want to be a part of this disgusting organisation, and as such I want to leave.

    The reasons are plentiful - but the main ones are the abuse of children and it's cover-up by those in the Vatican, and also the fact that I do not believe in a God or any fairytales like that, and am quite offended by it. I must stress however that I fully respect the rights of people to believe in this if they so wish.

    Countmeout.ie, a website dedicated to helping people leave the church, was a great thing for people wishing to leave the church. But no, I am unable to leave because the church changed the 'Canon Law' which governs this stuff (because people were leaving in their droves), and this led to the countmeout website becoming defunct, in a sense. So technically, in their eyes, I am a catholic forever.

    Freedom of Religion is a a fundamental human right. But how am I supposed to exercise this right if I am being forced to remain a member of the catholic church against my will? What right do the church have to do this to me and countless others?

    I have looked into the possibility of taking this case to the European Court of Human Rights (EUCtHR), and several posters in the AH thread have put their support forward also. However, having looked at the EUCtHR website, it appears that because the Vatican is not party to the Convention on Human Rights, they cannot be taken to court.

    Also, before taking cases to EUCtHR, all avenues must be exhausted domestically first. So I may try to figure out what to do here with regard to the Courts, and will attempt to write to the bishops/parish etc to see what I can do.

    Basically my case is as follows:

    The catholic church is forcing me to remain a member of their sect and therefore infringing on and violating my human rights of freedom of religion and not being compelled to belong to an association.

    It is disgusting that the catholic church changed their canon law which stopped us being able to leave. As several posters have mentioned over in the AH thread, if the catholic church had nothing to fear and if people leaving the church was not a problem to them, then they wouldn't have removed the option to leave the church.

    Can anyone give me some advice here please? What do other atheists think of this approach?

    I look very much forward to hearing your thoughts.

    -UBF
    The issue is they will argue that they do not keep a membersip record, therefore there is nothing to be removed from.

    The baptisimal record is a record of historical fact. Whilst you did not agree to it, and whilst you may not want to be associated with it, the fact is you were baptised and the register is merely record of that.

    If the baptisimal record could be shown to be a membership list then there might be a chance for an action of this type to succeed, otherwise I don't think it is likely.

    MrP


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    If you're going to go anywhere with this, you'll need to produce evidence that "The catholic church is forcing me to remain a member of their sect".

    There's a deeply-entrenched meme among some atheists and sceptics that the Catholic church "won't let people leave", and that it it has changed its canon law to "prevent people from leaving". But nobody has ever attempted to satisfy a court that this is true and that, I think, will be your first hurdle.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,165 ✭✭✭ Sonics2k


    MrPudding wrote: »
    The issue is they will argue that they do not keep a membersip record, therefore there is nothing to be removed from.

    The baptisimal record is a record of historical fact. Whilst you did not agree to it, and whilst you may not want to be associated with it, the fact is you were baptised and the register is merely record of that.

    If the baptisimal record could be shown to be a membership list then there might be a chance for an action of this type to succeed, otherwise I don't think it is likely.

    MrP

    By this logic, Ratzinger should still be a member of the Nazi Party.
    After all, he was forced to join a society and was able to leave, why should people not be able to do same with the RCC.

    Oh that's right, it's because it means they'll have to acknowledge the dwindling numbers they have in Europe and America, and the only places the cult is growing is in the places which are causing insane amounts of political issues world wide, eg Uganda.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    Sonics2k wrote: »
    By this logic, Ratzinger should still be a member of the Nazi Party.
    After all, he was forced to join a society and was able to leave, why should people not be able to do same with the RCC.

    Exactly. And just as Ratzinger isn’t a member of the Nazi party, so MrPudding isn’t a member of the Catholic church.

    Mr Pudding’s case, should be bring it, will revolve around his being forced to be a member of the Catholic church. To make that case, he will have to show that he is a member of the Catholic church. How is he going to do that?

    Sonics2k wrote: »
    Oh that's right, it's because it means they'll have to acknowledge the dwindling numbers they have in Europe and America, and the only places the cult is growing is in the places which are causing insane amounts of political issues world wide, eg Uganda.

    You mention Europe, American and Uganda in the same sentence and, of those three, you think Uganda is the one “causing insane amounts of political issues worldwide”?

    If you can believe that, you should have no trouble persuading yourself that MrPudding is a member of the Catholic church!



  • Registered Users Posts: 9,796 ✭✭✭ MrPudding


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Exactly. And just as Ratzinger isn’t a member of the Nazi party, so MrPudding isn’t a member of the Catholic church.

    Mr Pudding’s case, should be bring it, will revolve around his being forced to be a member of the Catholic church. To make that case, he will have to show that he is a member of the Catholic church. How is he going to do that?


    I never mentioned bringing a case. In fact, I specifically said it would be unlikely to succeed.

    MrP


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 12,395 ✭✭✭✭ mikemac1


    Don't people convert to other religions.
    Such as mixed marraiges and one may convert. So it's possible to leave the RCC and join another religion. Or leave another religion and join the RCC, works both ways

    So can you convert to nothing if you know what I mean
    I don't what you would call it but it's a workaround

    Just pulling this from the top of my head, probably nonsense :p


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    MrPudding wrote: »
    I never mentioned bringing a case. In fact, I specifically said it would be unlikely to succeed.
    My apologies, MrPudding. I have confused you with UglyBolloxFace.

    (Please don't take that the wrong way!)


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,950 ✭✭✭ TheChizler


    MrPudding wrote: »
    The issue is they will argue that they do not keep a membersip record, therefore there is nothing to be removed from.

    The baptisimal record is a record of historical fact. Whilst you did not agree to it, and whilst you may not want to be associated with it, the fact is you were baptised and the register is merely record of that.

    If the baptisimal record could be shown to be a membership list then there might be a chance for an action of this type to succeed, otherwise I don't think it is likely.

    MrP
    Exactly the point I made in AH but I was duly dismissed. I imagine another reason the ability to formally defect was that the process was too costly to administrate, especially as countmeout got popular. That and they know it makes no difference anyway. Sure Diarmaid Martin recently was encouraging lapsed Catholics to stop pretending. It wouldn't make sense to block the process just to keep numbers up if he was going to come out with that starement.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    TheChizler wrote: »
    . . . I imagine another reason the ability to formally defect was that the process was too costly to administrate, especially as countmeout got popular.
    Um. According to the countmeoutwebsite a total of 531 e-mails were sent to church authorities asking for acknowledgement of a “declaration of defection” over a five-year period. That's a little over a hundred a year. Divide that between the 26 dioceses of Ireland. The administratative burden of recording and acknowledging the e-mails doesn’t look huge to me. And if we think that that led to a change in the universal canon law of the Catholic church, then we have a rather grand conception of the importance of Ireland to the worldwide church.

    The straight dope on formal declarations of defection, as far as I can see, is as follows.

    What’s a Catholic?

    As far as the Catholic church is concerned, a Catholic is

    (a) a Christian, who

    (b) is in eucharistic communion with the bishop of Rome.

    The “eucharistic communion” bit means that you are part of a community - a community constituted by shared eucharistic worship - which is gathered round a bishop, and the bishop is in communion with the Bishop of Rome. In other words, we’re talking about you being in a relationship - a real relationship - with a bunch of other people. And, as all facebook users know, the question of whether someone is, or is not, in a relationship is not always a simple binary. It’s often complicated.

    I was baptised a Catholic in infancy. How does the Vatican know if I’m a Catholic now or not?

    They mostly don’t. You know more about the state of your relationship with the Catholic community than they do. (The truth is, they’ve probably never heard of you, and they know nothing at all about your relationships.)

    How does my bishop know if I’m a Catholic or not?

    Again, he mostly doesn’t. He knows, or can find out, whether you participate in the Catholic community - go to mass, participate in the sacraments, etc. But, again, you have better information on that than he does.

    So who can say if I’m a Catholic or not?

    You can.

    Is that the Catholic church’s view?

    Yep.

    Or, if we’re more accurate, yep, but with nuances. A relationship is a two-way thing, so they do have some perspective on the question. Church authorities will occasionally identify someone who claims they are Catholic as not being Catholic, on the basis that they have no relationship with or participation in the Catholic community. But note that (a) this is rare and (b) it usually involves a dispute which is precisely the opposite of the one that concerns most atheists; an individual insisting that he is a Catholic.

    So what’s all this about formal acts of defection?

    Good question. Well, while you’re generally the person who can most authoritatively say whether you are a Catholic or not, there are times when someone hasn’t said anything one way or the other and, from a church order point of view, some position has to be taken. The question most often arises in the context of marriage; from a canon law perspective, different rules apply to the validity of marriages by Catholics and marriages by non-Catholics. So if the question of the validity of your marriage arises, it becomes important from a canon law perspective to establish whether you were a Catholic at the time of your marriage.

    They need to do this without reference to you, or what you say about it now, because (a) anything you say about it now might be influenced by self-interest - e.g. - you might be looking for an annulment now, and that gives you an interest in saying yes, I was a Catholic at the time of my first marriage - and (b) you might not be involved in the process at all - it might be that the question comes up because your former spouse is seeking an annulment. Or you could just be dead. Or whatever.

    So they need some canonical rules to determine, for canonical purposes, whether you will be treated as Catholic or not. (Note that this isn’t a determination that you are or are not a Catholic; just about whether you will be treated as one where the question becomes relevant in a canon law procedure.)

    Lawyers being a conservative bunch, the rule is basically a default one; if you were baptized a Catholic, or were received into the Catholic church, the assumption is that you remained a Catholic, unless there is evidence that you didn’t. Simply not coming to mass for a while - even a long while - is not enough evidence, because that could be simple laziness, and the phenomenon of people who don't go to mass but still regard themselves as Catholics is a well-known one.

    So how can I show, for canonical purposes, that I have ceased to be a Catholic?

    For a long time - like, for centuries - the rule was that the evidence required to show that you had ceased to be a Catholic was “notorious defection”. (“Notorious” here doesn’t mean evil or wicked or depraved; it just means “publicly known”.) If you had a public record of saying or doing things indicating that you were no longer a Catholic, then you were treated has not being a Catholic. So, e.g., if for many years past you attended public worship in the Presbyterian church, and not the Catholic church, then you weren’t a Catholic. Or if you had published and circulated a tract entitled “Why There Absolutely, Definitely, Positively Is No God, So I Can Lie In On Sunday Mornings”.

    This worked reasonably well in a society where most people were religious, and the principal way of leaving a particular religion or denomination was to participate in another. But once you have a significant number of people leaving the church for atheism or agnosticism or indifferentism then it doesn’t work so well. Only a small number of such people will helpfully write a pamphlet to evidence their loss of faith.

    The other point to note is that the requirement for “notorious defection” requires that whatever you have done is known, and is not private or secret or discreet. Most people who leave the church and do nothing to join another church do nothing public, so this rule resulted in most atheist/agnostic/indifferent ex-Catholics being treated as Catholics for canon law purposes.

    So did they change the “notorious defection” rule?”

    They added to it. In 1983, they introduced the “formal act of defection”. A new rule (Canon 1117, if we’re being precise) said that people were exempted from certain church laws relating to marriage (NB but only those laws) if they had “defected from the church by a formal act”. But there was no explicit definition of what a “formal act” might be. The significant change was that it had to be “formal” but not necessarily “notorious”, so something you had done privately rather than publicly would be enough, provided your intention was clear. But it was left up to local officials to decide what would be “formal”.

    But the “notorious defection” rule still applies?

    Yes. The “formal act of defection” is relevant only to the question of whether certain marriage rules apply to you. On the wider question of whether you are treated as a Catholic for other purposes, the “notorious” rule still applies.

    Of course, making a formal act of defection, if it becomes known, is also “notorious” once you tell your bishop about it, so the same act might often satisfy both the “formal act” and “notorious defection” requirements.

    What happened next?

    Matters bumbled along for a couple of decades until an issue arose in Germany. For historical reasons, they have a church tax in Germany; it’s collected along with income tax, and distributed to the church to which the taxpayer belongs. A taxpayer can avoid the church tax by declaring to the tax office that he is no longer, e.g., a Catholic. The tax office (a) stops collecting the church tax, and (b) sends the bishop a copy of the taxpayer’s declaration. (I have no idea why they do the latter, but apparently they do.)

    These declarations were treated by the German bishops as “formal acts”, and also as “notorious” (since both church and state knew about them) until it turned out that many people who had made such declarations were still coming to church to be married and have their children baptized, and to participate in other ways. They had made the declarations, it transpired, to save tax, and not because they wished to sever their relationship with the church.

    This showed that some of the “formal acts” were formal in the pejorative sense, i.e. they had no substantive content. The fact that someone had made a “formal act” did not, in fact, necessarily mean that they wished to leave the church, or had left the church.

    So did they change the rules again?

    They did. In 2006, the Vatican introduced new directives, dealing with the interpretation and application of the “formal act” requirement. Under these directives, a “formal act” must reflect a positive decision to leave the church. That decision must be actually implemented. The decision must also be evidenced by a written statement submitted to your parish priest or bishop (NB 2006 was the first time a written statement was mentioned) and accepted by them (and they should accept it if they are satisfied that you have decided to leave the church, and have implemented that decision). If you did all that, then you had satisfied Canon 1117 and you were exempt from certain of the Catholic church’s marriage rules.

    Where does countmeout.ie come in?

    Here. At around this time they set up a web page to facilitate people taking advantage of these new, very clear, rules. People were told exactly what they had to do to get their formal acts accepted, and the webpage guided them through the process. Of course, the new rules only meant that your declaration was accepted as a “formal act”, which would get you out of some of the marriage rules, but most bishops also treated it as “notorious”, and took the view - explicitly - that you were no longer a Catholic. This suited people who wanted an explicit acknowledgement of the fact. And, so far as the canon lawyers were concerned, it made for clarity about who was, and who was not, subject to the canon law marriage rules.

    That seems to satisfy everybody. So why did they stop in 2009? Too many people making formal declarations?

    No, the exact opposite problem. Too few.

    The great bulk of people who leave the church do not make a formal declaration, but they have - in the church’s view as well as their own - nevertheless left the church. Countmeout says that, while its service was operational (2006-2011) 531 people sent formal declarations using the service. Presumably some sent formal declaration independently of countmeout, but even if we assume that as many again did so, that still sums to less than 1,100 people sending declarations over the five-year period.

    Does anybody seriously imagine that only 1,100 left the Catholic church in Ireland during that time? No. And experience in other countries was similar. Clearly, the new, tighter “formal act” rules were just not effective to capture most of the people who in fact leave the church. The great bulk of them never make a formal act, and yet they have undoubtedly left the church.

    There was a good deal of comment and even protest about the new rules from canon lawyers and the like - you can google for evidence of it on the web - and a good deal of quieter comments from bishops back to the Vatican. The new rules were producing an unreal picture, and this was having various adverse consequences in the operation of canon law. People who were not Catholics were required to be treated as if they were Catholics in the application of the marriage rules, and some seriously weird results flowed from this.

    That’s why they suspended the whole thing in 2009, not because make a formal declaration of defection was too easy, but because it was too difficult. Most people who leave the church are not motivated to make a formal act, and under the 2006-2009 rules they ended up still being treated as Catholics for canon law marriage rules purposes. It wasn’t working, so they suspended it.

    So they’ve suspended it. Does this mean I can’t leave the church?

    No. Of course you can leave the church.

    Can I get an acknowledgement from them that I have left the church?

    Generally not. They won’t make a judgment about this unless it becomes relevant to a real live canon law issue, in which case they’ll make a judgment for the purposes of that issue. Without a canonical issue to decide, they take the view that they don’t need to make a judgment, and you don’t need their acknowledgement to validate your decision.

    If it does become relevant to a canonical issue, how will they make a judgment, if the “formal act” process is suspended?

    The “notorious defection” rule still applies. They’ll look at whether you have publicly said or done things which are inconsistent with being a Catholic. Your posting record on the A&A forum might even become part of the evidence!


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,796 ✭✭✭ MrPudding


    TheChizler wrote: »
    Exactly the point I made in AH but I was duly dismissed. I imagine another reason the ability to formally defect was that the process was too costly to administrate, especially as countmeout got popular. That and they know it makes no difference anyway. Sure Diarmaid Martin recently was encouraging lapsed Catholics to stop pretending. It wouldn't make sense to block the process just to keep numbers up if he was going to come out with that starement.
    I have not looked at the AH thread, so I don’t know the reasons your point was dismissed, but I think it is wrong to dismiss it.

    The post that Peregrinus has made provides all the detail, I have not carried out any in depth research on this matter, but I reckon what he / she says is pretty much spot on.

    This has been discussed before, at length, and I don’t think there was a satisfactory conclusion. I think the whole thing pretty much hinges on whether or not there is a membership list, what that list is and how it is used. When this despicable organisation starts spouting figures about how many catholics it has we need to know where those figures come from. The church and some of its apologists on these boards will tell you the figures do not come from the baptismal register, that it is merely a record of a historical event. As I said, if this is the case then it would be hard to build a case.

    However, I think that if it could be shown that the church was using the baptismal record to come up with its figure in a “once in always in” kind of way then there may well be a case to answer. The problem is, and this is why it seems unlikely a case would be successful, it seems to be very difficult to establish where, exactly, the church gets its figures from and how it uses the register.

    It would seem that the story changes from diocese to diocese and from time to time, so it is really hard to pin them down. The government does not seem too bother about trying to work it out, so the church is not really under any pressure to clarify matters.

    As long as this is the case there seems little chance of a case being successful. Rather then trying to take a case to court that will, in all likelihood, result in nothing but expense for the person taking the case I would suggest people start emailing politicians to try to persuade them to pressure the church to disclose exactly where their figures come from and what, exactly, the baptismal record is used for.

    MrP



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  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 41,213 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    Article 18: The Freedom of Religion

    "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

    and

    Article 20:

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
    (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

    As you can see from the above, by the catholic church denying me the right to leave their cult, they are violating Articles 18 and 20 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and are therefore violating my human rights.
    you having been baptised does not affect your ability to practice another religion.
    you are not compelled to go to mass or pray.

    i see no issue; except that playing by the church's own rules, you're validating them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,165 ✭✭✭ Sonics2k


    you having been baptised does not affect your ability to practice another religion.
    you are not compelled to go to mass or pray.

    i see no issue; except that playing by the church's own rules, you're validating them.

    But it does technically break it. Mainly under
    Article 20:

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
    (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

    The RCC is now basically forcing people to remain members, and no longer allows them to leave it 'officially' which it should.

    Now frankly, I wasn't baptised, so this has no direct impact on me but I do have direct friends and family who do find this quite frustrating as they do not wish to be counted as a member of the RCC for a number of reasons, admittedly the main one being they really do not like them.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 41,213 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    no - you were baptised. this is a matter of historic record, and should not be destroyed.
    to claim a baptismal record is proof of continuing membership is stretching it. as i mentioned, you are not compelled to associate with them, they don't have your contact details, you do not pay dues - you are not a member of that association. there is no compulsion. to claim violation of human rights is hysterical.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 41,213 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    Sonics - i claim that you are a member of my 'Secret Forever Friends' club, but you don't want to be a member ever since i pulled mandy's pigtails. you say you want to leave, but i say no. however, this does not affect you in any way, as the membership is only in my head.

    should you have the legal right to force me to stop telling myself you're a member?


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,537 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Dades


    I think when you are dealing with supernatural claims, any book or registry is largely moot.

    If a church burns down all the people on a lost bastismal record aren't automatically not catholics.

    The church simply say "we can remove your name if you like, but you're still a catholic in our eyes because we believe that something supernatural happens at the ceremony which cannot be undone". The church can't be forced to say "you're not a catholic", because you'd simply be forcing them to perjure themselves.

    And this is why this "case" is doomed to fail, imo.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,796 ✭✭✭ MrPudding


    Dades wrote: »
    I think when you are dealing with supernatural claims, any book or registry is largely moot.

    If a church burns down all the people on a lost bastismal record aren't automatically not catholics.

    The church simply say "we can remove your name if you like, but you're still a catholic in our eyes because we believe that something supernatural happens at the ceremony which cannot be undone". The church can't be forced to say "you're not a catholic", because you'd simply be forcing them to perjure themselves.

    And this is why this "case" is doomed to fail, imo.


    And of course the court would not, quite rightly, be interested in any supernatural claim. Where they would be interested is if there was a list and that list was used for anything. That then becomes something tangible which would be capable of infringing on a convention right.

    That “thing” could be the baptismal record. Whilst it is a historical record if it was used to come up with the number of catholic figure it should be possible to get a note added to it, as the formal defection process apparently did, to indicate you no longer wish to be associated with this particular cult. I think that kind of thing could and should be possible.

    The church needs to clarify how it counts it members. If the baptismal records are used then it should be forced to have a process in place to ensure that those that do not want do be counted can have their recorded amended to reflect this.

    Given that we are atheist I don’t think anyone has an issue with the catholic church saying “we believe that in a makey uppy meta-physical way we did something magical to you when you were baptised and therefore you are a catholic forever and there is nothing you can do about it”; they have an issue with the church claiming people are still catholics when it comes to lobbying the government. In that case the makey uppy number is not good enough. The number that they should be using in that particular situation must be an accurate and not magical figure. This is where people have the problem, and quite rightly, IMHO.

    I don’t care if the church think they own my soul, or whatever bollox it is supposed to be, but I do care if I am part of the number of adherents they claim when they are trying to justify their almost absolute monopoly of primary education or their privileged position with the UN or the EU.

    MrP


  • Registered Users Posts: 30,747 Galvasean


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Your posting record on the A&A forum might even become part of the evidence!

    Yus!!!!

    (I totally read your entire post too!)


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    MrPudding wrote: »
    It would seem that the story changes from diocese to diocese and from time to time, so it is really hard to pin them down. The government does not seem too bother about trying to work it out, so the church is not really under any pressure to clarify matters.
    Governments generally aren’t bothered about this because - in Ireland, at any rate, and in Northern Ireland, and in many other countries - they counduct their own count, through the census and simlar mechanisms.

    The “total number of Catholics in Ireland” figures that get bandied about in public discourse, in my experience, invariably come from the census - even the figures quoted by bishops. There are lots of good reasons why somebody who has ceased to be a Catholic might want the fact recorded or acknowledged by the church, but “I’m being counted as a Catholic!” is not, so far as I can see, one of them.
    MrPudding wrote: »
    However, I think that if it could be shown that the church was using the baptismal record to come up with its figure in a “once in always in” kind of way then there may well be a case to answer. The problem is, and this is why it seems unlikely a case would be successful, it seems to be very difficult to establish where, exactly, the church gets its figures from and how it uses the register.

    The church does conduct its own diocese-by-diocese count, and the results get reported to Rome. This isn’t a simple tot of all the names in the baptismal register; it can’t be, since the baptismal register doesn’t record when people move to another diocese, emigrate or die. Nor, of course, does it record Catholics baptized in other countries who immigrate to Ireland, and nowadays they are quite a significant part of the Irish church.

    The methods used by the dioceses to make their counts are, I suspect, diverse. I doubt very much, though, that they involve identifying individual Catholics, so it would be wrong of anyone to say that he is (or that he is not) counted as a Catholic in the church totals. Somewhat to my surprise, the church estimates seem to tally reasonably closely with the census figures, which suggests that, diverse as they are, the church methods are reasonably statistically robust.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,876 Spread


    This is a silly statement. Just walk. They don't own you and the fact that a priest spilled some water over your head doesn't infer or confer anything. But, seeing as you ask the question, you may be harbouring some guilt. Analyse and wise up. :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    MrPudding wrote: »
    And of course the court would not, quite rightly, be interested in any supernatural claim. Where they would be interested is if there was a list and that list was used for anything. That then becomes something tangible which would be capable of infringing on a convention right.

    That “thing” could be the baptismal record. Whilst it is a historical record if it was used to come up with the number of catholic figure it should be possible to get a note added to it, as the formal defection process apparently did, to indicate you no longer wish to be associated with this particular cult. I think that kind of thing could and should be possible.
    Well, the German experience is useful here.

    Germany has, as has been mentioned a church tax. If you’re a member of a recognized church - and most churches are recognized - then a slice of your income tax is paid to that church.

    For this to work, of course, the state has to know whether you are a member of a church and, if so, which church.

    Right. So let’s say you were baptized as a Catholic and registered in the tax office as a Catholic, and you decide you’re fed up with the whole business; you want to disassociate yourself from the church, and you don’t want any of your tax euros going to them.

    What you do is make a written declaration saying more or less this, and you register it with the civil authorities.

    The civil authorities (a) stop sending a slice of your tax payment to the church, and (b) send a copy of your declaration to the relevant church official.

    Now, what used to happen at this point until 2006 was that the church made a note on your baptismal record.

    In 2006 they stopped doing that, but they would still make such a note if you made a declaration of non-Catholicism and sent it to the bishop yourself, with a request for an acknowledgement.

    In 2009, they stopped doing even that. There is currently nothing you can do which will lead to them adding a note to your baptismal record. Even if you get yourself excommunicated for assassinating the pope - don’t try this at home, kids - there will be no note added to your baptismal record.

    But, from a civil point of view nothing has changed. For civil purposes, the declaration is still completely effective to get you out of the church tax, which is all it was ever designed to do. The state does not require that, for your defection to be effective, the church must note it or accept it.

    So, would a court be interested in the fact that the church refused to add a note to your baptismal record? No, for a number of reasons:

    - Your baptismal record is correct. You were baptized. The church is free to record this, and is under no obligation to record other events, such as your defection. You want a record of your defection? The state has a record. If that’s not enough for you, create your own record. How can you impose a record-keeping obligation on a church of which you are not even a member?

    - As noted, from a civil point of view you are not adversely affected in any way by the record the church keeps. For civil purposes you are treated exactly like someone who was never baptized - you avoid the church tax. So the failure of the church to record your defection doesn’t impact you adversely in any way that a court would take notice of.

    - Separate of church and state cuts both ways. Courts in western democracies are extremely reluctant ever to order churches to do things, or not to do things, particular with respect to their own affairs and their own ordering. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of religious practice benefit the church and the defector alike. If the church maintains that baptism has a continuing supernatural significance, then (a) the civil court is absolutely not going to rule on that one way or the other, and (b) the claimed supernatural justification, and the lack of any civil consequences for the maintenance of the record put this squarely in the field of religious practice, which in most countries is constitutionally guaranteed.

    In Ireland, the case would be even clearer, since denominational affiliation, or having been baptized, doesn’t have even the civil consequence of being subject to the church tax. It would be difficult or impossible to show that the maintenance of your baptismal record, with no note of your defection, impacted you adversely in any way that would interest a court or give you any grounds for a legal remedy.

    You could, of course, argue that your freedom of religion is infringed by the Catholic church claiming you as a member. But you’d have two problems here.

    First, you’d need to show that, by refusing to record your defection and simply maintaining a record of your baptism, the Catholic church was claiming you as a member. You’d have a problem here since, in Catholic theology, simply having been baptized in the past - which is all that the record shows - is not enough to establish that you are a Catholic today.

    Secondly, you’d need to show that, by claiming you as a member, the Catholic church was somehow infringing your freedom of religion. Again, I think you’d have a problem. Which of your practices or beliefs are impeded by the Catholic church’s claim? And if your practice and belief is not impeded by the church’s claim, how is your freedom being infringed? You may be annoyed at the church’s claim, but “annoyed” is not the same as “not free”.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,796 ✭✭✭ MrPudding


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    So, would a court be interested in the fact that the church refused to add a note to your baptismal record? No, for a number of reasons:

    - Your baptismal record is correct. You were baptized. The church is free to record this, and is under no obligation to record other events, such as your defection. You want a record of your defection? The state has a record. If that’s not enough for you, create your own record. How can you impose a record-keeping obligation on a church of which you are not even a member?
    So this is pretty much what I said, if you read my posts. If the baptismal record is merely a record of a historic event then there is little that can be done. If, however, this record is also used as a membership list, then that changes matters somewhat. Now, I know you are saying that the list is not used in this way, but I am pretty sure that on another thread discussing this very matter someone was told by one of the diocese that they did use it in this way.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    - As noted, from a civil point of view you are not adversely affected in any way by the record the church keeps. For civil purposes you are treated exactly like someone who was never baptized - you avoid the church tax. So the failure of the church to record your defection doesn’t impact you adversely in any way that a court would take notice of.
    Again, this is what I pretty much said, and assuming the list is not a membership list then it holds true. Again, as soon as the list is used for anything other than the recording of a historical event then it has the capability of infringing a convention right.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    - Separate of church and state cuts both ways. Courts in western democracies are extremely reluctant ever to order churches to do things, or not to do things, particular with respect to their own affairs and their own ordering.
    This is something that is a bit of an embarrassment to society as far as I am concerned, and something which I sincerely wish would change.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Constitutional guarantees of freedom of religious practice benefit the church and the defector alike. If the church maintains that baptism has a continuing supernatural significance, then (a) the civil court is absolutely not going to rule on that one way or the other, and (b) the claimed supernatural justification, and the lack of any civil consequences for the maintenance of the record put this squarely in the field of religious practice, which in most countries is constitutionally guaranteed.
    The court is not interested because it is not provable. If you look at some of the recent cases, like the counsellor that went to court to try to protect his god given right to discriminate against people, the judge said, and I am paraphrasing here, you have a legally protected right to be religious, but the contents of that religious belief are not protected.

    So again, of course the courts aren't interested in makey uppy mumbo jumbo.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    In Ireland, the case would be even clearer, since denominational affiliation, or having been baptized, doesn’t have even the civil consequence of being subject to the church tax. It would be difficult or impossible to show that the maintenance of your baptismal record, with no note of your defection, impacted you adversely in any way that would interest a court or give you any grounds for a legal remedy.
    I don't think you would even have to show adverse impact. Again, as I have said repeatedly in this and other posts, this is all predicated on the baptismal record being used for something other than a historical record, and there is some evidence that this is the case. If that is true then it could be a violation of a convention right, and therefore actionable per se, with no requirement to prove an adverse effect.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    You could, of course, argue that your freedom of religion is infringed by the Catholic church claiming you as a member. But you’d have two problems here.

    First, you’d need to show that, by refusing to record your defection and simply maintaining a record of your baptism, the Catholic church was claiming you as a member. You’d have a problem here since, in Catholic theology, simply having been baptized in the past - which is all that the record shows - is not enough to establish that you are a Catholic today.

    Secondly, you’d need to show that, by claiming you as a member, the Catholic church was somehow infringing your freedom of religion. Again, I think you’d have a problem. Which of your practices or beliefs are impeded by the Catholic church’s claim? And if your practice and belief is not impeded by the church’s claim, how is your freedom being infringed? You may be annoyed at the church’s claim, but “annoyed” is not the same as “not free”.
    It would be infringing, again subject to the list be used for something other than a historical record, you right to be associated, or not, with a particular religion or organisation.

    I understand that it does not impact a person desire to be or not be a particular religion. I understand that even if a catholic decides to change religion he is free to do so, the issue here would be with the catholic church maintaining a record of a persons membership and refusing to remove them from that list.

    MrP


  • Moderators Posts: 51,049 ✭✭✭✭ Delirium


    MrPudding wrote: »
    So this is pretty much what I said, if you read my posts. If the baptismal record is merely a record of a historic event then there is little that can be done. If, however, this record is also used as a membership list, then that changes matters somewhat. Now, I know you are saying that the list is not used in this way, but I am pretty sure that on another thread discussing this very matter someone was told by one of the diocese that they did use it in this way.


    Thread I started on that subject. And which to date still has had only 1 diocese respond to my enquires.

    From the linked post:
    from the diocese of Cork and Ross

    Different Dioceses use different forms of collating the information. We write to each Parish annually asking them for such details as the number who received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and those that were given the Funeral Rites of the Church. We also keep a record of those who have indicated to us that they no longer wish to be regarded as practicing Catholics.

    If you can read this, you're too close!



  • Registered Users Posts: 9,796 ✭✭✭ MrPudding


    koth wrote: »

    So that would indicate that the register is being used as more than a mere record of historical events and therefore a possible convention breach.

    MrP


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,419 ✭✭✭ Cool Mo D


    The Catholic church believes that everyone who has ever been baptised is a member of the church, and that baptism can never be undone.

    So what if the church consider you a member? As soon as you stop believing you are a member you are no longer a member. It doesn't matter what the church says. The church is free to claim that God created the Universe, that a little wafer of bread is really the flesh and blood of some guy, and that we all go to hell forever if we don't swallow this hook line and sinker. They can claim that once you're baptised, you are eternally part of the church if they want; but as soon as you leave the church, you leave their beliefs behind, and it is irrelevant if they think you are still a Catholic.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,796 ✭✭✭ MrPudding


    Does anyone actually read the posts? We know they can't stop us from. It believing, we know it is all makey uppy rubbish. The point is we don't want the church using the fact that we were baptised as justification for their standing in society. We don't want to be counted as a member of this despicable organisation when they are telling the government or the eu or the un how many members they have.

    I could not give a flying fcuk at a rolling doughnut if they think I will metaphysically a member for eternity ecause some idiot in a frock carried out a retarded fantasy ritual when I was too you to object.

    MrP

    MrP


  • Registered Users Posts: 29,650 ✭✭✭✭ Penn


    MrPudding wrote: »
    Does anyone actually read the posts? We know they can't stop us from. It believing, we know it is all makey uppy rubbish. The point is we don't want the church using the fact that we were baptised as justification for their standing in society. We don't want to be counted as a member of this despicable organisation when they are telling the government or the eu or the un how many members they have.

    I could not give a flying fcuk at a rolling doughnut if they think I will metaphysically a member for eternity ecause some idiot in a frock carried out a retarded fantasy ritual when I was too you to object.

    MrP

    MrP

    He signed it twice, folks. That means he's doubly serious.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 41,213 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    MrPudding wrote: »
    We don't want to be counted as a member of this despicable organisation when they are telling the government or the eu or the un how many members they have.
    relations between the irish government and the cc are at an historic low. and as mentioned, it's census figures used, not the church's own figures.

    speaking of which, why don't the church count the faithful departed as members? they're still alive, in the church's eyes...


  • Moderators Posts: 51,049 ✭✭✭✭ Delirium


    because they'd have even less chance of being taken seriously if their membership number is a hundred times the global population.

    If you can read this, you're too close!



  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    MrPudding wrote: »
    So this is pretty much what I said, if you read my posts . . .
    Sure. I was agreeing with you here, not correcting you. I’m sorry if this came across wrongly.
    MrPudding wrote: »
    If the baptismal record is merely a record of a historic event then there is little that can be done. If, however, this record is also used as a membership list, then that changes matters somewhat. Now, I know you are saying that the list is not used in this way, but I am pretty sure that on another thread discussing this very matter someone was told by one of the diocese that they did use it in this way.
    In the other thread (if we’re thinking of the same one) someone reported that a diocese (Cork, I think) had told him that they used the baptismal records in compiling their estimate of Catholics in the diocese. But that’s not the same as “assuming everyone on the register is still a Catholic”; they couldn’t possibly use it that way and get a meaningful result, for the reasons already pointed out. And yet the results they get do seem to be at least plausibly meaningful.
    MrPudding wrote: »
    This [separation of church and state] is something that is a bit of an embarrassment to society as far as I am concerned, and something which I sincerely wish would change.
    Good luck with that! It’s a fairly fundamental feature of most western democratic constitutions and of liberal political thinking generally, and the atheist/sceptical community is generall quite supportive of the notion. They see it as protecting the state from church influence. So you have your work cut out.
    MrPudding wrote: »
    The court is not interested because it is not provable. If you look at some of the recent cases, like the counsellor that went to court to try to protect his god given right to discriminate against people, the judge said, and I am paraphrasing here, you have a legally protected right to be religious, but the contents of that religious belief are not protected.
    No, it’s more than that. Courts are often interested in things that aren’t provable, at least in the sense that scientific propositions are provable. The state of someone’s mind, for example, is often an issue in a court case, or a question like whether a particular instance of discrimination is “invidious” or meets some other test that depends on the application of ethical values rather than on anything measurable and quantifiable.

    And, in Germany, the courts are interested in whether you are a church member, because it has tax consequences. So it is provable, at least in that context.

    The courts in Ireland aren’t interested in whether the Catholic church claims you as a member, or whether it is right to claim you as a member, because, even if it wrongly claims you as a member, that doesn’t injure you any way that gives rise to a legal remedy. If a finding that you were wrongly claimed as a member gave you no right to any legal remedy, then the court has no reason to make the finding, one way or the other – even if, in fact the finding might be quite easy to make.
    MrPudding wrote: »
    I don't think you would even have to show adverse impact. Again, as I have said repeatedly in this and other posts, this is all predicated on the baptismal record being used for something other than a historical record, and there is some evidence that this is the case. If that is true then it could be a violation of a convention right, and therefore actionable per se, with no requirement to prove an adverse effect . . .
    I disagree. “It could be a violation of a convention right” is not the same as “it is a violation of a convention right”. If they are using the record to claim anything other than that you were baptised on a certain date, that is not enough to show that your rights are being violated. Even you could show that the claim was untrue or unwarranted, hat still wouldn’t be enough. You need that the way in which they use the record amounts to an actual violation of your convention rights. “He says I’m a Catholic, and I’m not!” doesn’t seem to me to be quite enough. The right of free association is your right to enter into the associations that you want and not the one’s you don’t want, but I don’t think it extends to not having people claim an association with you that doesn’t exist.

    (Besides, if the association that the Catholic church claims is “he was baptised by us X years ago, and that gets him in”, that association does exist. Whatever rights/advantages/participation you get in the Catholic church from having been baptised as a Catholic, you have, and it is not untrue of the Catholic church to say this. To show that they were wrongly claiming an association, you’d have to show more than that they claimed the connection of your having been baptised.)

    This isn’t a uniquely Catholic problem. Jews consider you to be Jewish (and subject to the moral claims that that implies) if you are born of a Jewish mother, regardless of your beliefs, self-identification or practise (and regardless, equally, of the beliefs, etc, of your mother). And some will say that you are not a “good Jew” (because you do not observe the Law which, as a Jew, you should). Understandably, some people are annoyed by this, but I have never heard it seriously suggested that they have any legal remedy, either under the European Convention or under analogous instruments in other parts of the world.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,796 ✭✭✭ MrPudding


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Sure. I was agreeing with you here, not correcting you. I’m sorry if this came across wrongly.
    Sorry!

    Peregrinus wrote: »
    In the other thread (if we’re thinking of the same one) someone reported that a diocese (Cork, I think) had told him that they used the baptismal records in compiling their estimate of Catholics in the diocese. But that’s not the same as “assuming everyone on the register is still a Catholic”; they couldn’t possibly use it that way and get a meaningful result, for the reasons already pointed out. And yet the results they get do seem to be at least plausibly meaningful.
    So more information is required as to how exactly they use the information. How do they get a meaningful result from it? To me it seems like a very poor tool to use.

    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Good luck with that! It’s a fairly fundamental feature of most western democratic constitutions and of liberal political thinking generally, and the atheist/sceptical community is generall quite supportive of the notion. They see it as protecting the state from church influence. So you have your work cut out.
    I think you have misunderstood me. I am all for separation of church and state, in fact, I can't get enough of it. What I meant when I said it was an embarrassment and hoped it would would change was the deference shown to the church. I am embarrassed that governments won't tell the churches what to do. They tell other organisations what to do , why not the church...?

    Peregrinus wrote: »
    No, it’s more than that. Courts are often interested in things that aren’t provable, at least in the sense that scientific propositions are provable. The state of someone’s mind, for example, is often an issue in a court case, or a question like whether a particular instance of discrimination is “invidious” or meets some other test that depends on the application of ethical values rather than on anything measurable and quantifiable.
    This is just plain wrong. As far as the courts are concerned things like a persons state of mind can be proven. Every time someone is found guilty of murder the prosecution have "proven beyond a reasonable doubt" that the newly labelled murderer intended to cause death or really serious harm. If someone of found not guilty by reason of insanity or is able to rely on the partial defences of diminished responsibility or loss of control the courts are deciding what that persons state of mind was at the time of the crime. They do this by looking at all the evidence. I have bolded the important word, that is the thing religion does not have, and that is why the courts are not interested in the actual nuts and bolts of a person's belief.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    And, in Germany, the courts are interested in whether you are a church member, because it has tax consequences. So it is provable, at least in that context.
    So how does one satisfy the german tax authorities that they are not a member of a church?
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    The courts in Ireland aren’t interested in whether the Catholic church claims you as a member, or whether it is right to claim you as a member, because, even if it wrongly claims you as a member, that doesn’t injure you any way that gives rise to a legal remedy. If a finding that you were wrongly claimed as a member gave you no right to any legal remedy, then the court has no reason to make the finding, one way or the other – even if, in fact the finding might be quite easy to make.
    I think that there is an arguable breach of Art 11 here. The freedom of association could very well extend to a negative right.

    Peregrinus wrote: »
    I disagree. “It could be a violation of a convention right” is not the same as “it is a violation of a convention right”.
    I am saying it could be a violation in the sense that I am not aware of any case law when someone has tried to enforce the negative right that could flow form Art 11. I can't say it is a violation because it is not specifically mention in the article and it would require interpretation by the courts.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    If they are using the record to claim anything other than that you were baptised on a certain date, that is not enough to show that your rights are being violated. Even you could show that the claim was untrue or unwarranted, hat still wouldn’t be enough. You need that the way in which they use the record amounts to an actual violation of your convention rights. “He says I’m a Catholic, and I’m not!” doesn’t seem to me to be quite enough. The right of free association is your right to enter into the associations that you want and not the one’s you don’t want, but I don’t think it extends to not having people claim an association with you that doesn’t exist.
    Unless you are the personal embodiment of the European court I don't think you are qualified to make this statement. It is not unreasonable to suppose that art 11, in addition to giving a person the right to be associated with a particular organisation will also give the right not to be associated with a particular organisation.

    As I said, until someone tries it we won't know.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    (Besides, if the association that the Catholic church claims is “he was baptised by us X years ago, and that gets him in”, that association does exist. Whatever rights/advantages/participation you get in the Catholic church from having been baptised as a Catholic, you have, and it is not untrue of the Catholic church to say this. To show that they were wrongly claiming an association, you’d have to show more than that they claimed the connection of your having been baptised.)
    Again, neither I nor the courts care for some ridiculous metaphysical mumbo jumbo claim. The issue is using me as a +1 to their membership list for secular purposes.
    Peregrinus wrote: »
    This isn’t a uniquely Catholic problem. Jews consider you to be Jewish (and subject to the moral claims that that implies) if you are born of a Jewish mother, regardless of your beliefs, self-identification or practise (and regardless, equally, of the beliefs, etc, of your mother). And some will say that you are not a “good Jew” (because you do not observe the Law which, as a Jew, you should). Understandably, some people are annoyed by this, but I have never heard it seriously suggested that they have any legal remedy, either under the European Convention or under analogous instruments in other parts of the world.
    I don't think I have seriously suggested anything. I have suggested that there is a very small chance that hen the planets line up and with a good tail wind, it might be possible to argue that there might be a breach of a (theoretical as far as I know) negative right under art 11 of the ECoHR. I would expect that this would hold for Jews, Catholics or anyone of any religion, so long as they could prove that the church was saying they were a member.

    MrP


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