of 22nd June
LAW ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Under the terms of paragraph c) of the article 161 of the Constitution, the Assembly of the Republic hereby decrees the following general law of the Republic as valid:
The freedom of conscience, religion and worship is inviolable and guaranteed to all, in accordance with the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the applicable international law and the present law.
1. No one can be privileged, beneficed, aggrieved, persecuted, deprived of any right or exempt from any duty on account of his or her convictions or religious practice.
Churches and other religious communities are separate from the State and are free in their manner of organization and in the practice of their activities and worship.
The State will cooperate with the churches and religious communities established in Portugal, taking into consideration their representativeness, namely in view of the promotion of human rights, of the integral development of each person and the values of peace, freedom, solidarity and tolerance. 
1. Freedom of conscience, religion and worship only grants the necessary restrictions to safeguard constitutionally protected rights or interests.
The conflicts between freedom of conscience, religion and worship from one person to another, or others, shall be settled with tolerance, in order to respect each person’s liberty as much as possible.
Freedom of conscience, religion and worship include the right to:
a) Hold, not hold and to cease to hold a religion;
b) Freely choose, change or abandon one’s own religious beliefs;
c) Practice or not to practice the worship deeds, in private or in public, that belong to the professed religion;
d) Profess one’s own religious beliefs, to seek for new believers, express and freely reveal one’s thoughts on religious matters through the usage of words, images or by any other means;
e) Be informed and inform others about religion, to learn and teach religion;
f) Meet, manifest and associate oneself with others, in accordance with one’s own convictions on religious matters, bearing no other limits than those foreseen in the articles 45 and 46 of the Constitution;
g) Act or not to act in compliance with the norms of the professed religion, regarding the respect for human rights and the law;
h) Choose names for one’s children that belong to the religious onomasticon of the professed religion.
i) Produce scientific, literary and artistic works on the subject of religion.
1. No one can:
a) Be obliged to profess a religious creed, practice or attend acts of worship, receive ministerial assistance or propaganda on religious matter;
b) Be coerced into taking part, remaining or leaving a religious association, church or religious community, without prejudice of the respective norms on affiliation and the exclusion of members;
c) Be questioned by any authority whatsoever about one’s convictions or religious practice, except for the collection of statistical data, not individually identifiable, nor be discriminated if one refuses to respond;
d) Be obliged to take a religious oath.
2. Computing cannot be used to process data referring personal convictions or religious faith, except through one’s explicit consent or for the processing of statistical data, not individually identifiable.
In agreement with the respective religious ministers and according to the chosen church’s or religious community’s norms, freedom of religion and worship include the right to:
a) Join the chosen church or the religious community, participate in the internal life and the religious rites practiced in communion and receive the ministerial assistance that one requests;
b) Celebrate marriage and be interred according to the rites of one’s own religion;
c) Publicly commemorate the religious festivals of one’s own religion.
1. Freedom of conscience includes the right to object to the compliance of laws that contradict the imperative doctrines of one’s own conscience, within the limits of the rights and duties imposed by the Constitution and under the terms of the law that will possibly rule the exercise of the conscientious objection.
1. Being a member of the armed forces, security forces or the police, rendering military or civil service, being interned in hospitals, asylums, colleges, health, educational or welfare institutions or establishments, or similar, being in detention in prison or other places of detention does not prevent the exercise of religious freedom and, particularly, the right to ministerial assistance and the practice of acts of worship.
1. The employees and agents of the State and other public entities, as well as contract workers, have the right to, on request, suspend work on the day of the weekly rest, on the days of festivals and during hourly periods that are prescribed for them by the denomination that they profess, under the following conditions:
a) They shall work according to a flexible schedule;
b) They shall be members of a church or a registered religious community, that has sent a list of the aforementioned days and hourly periods for the current year, to the Minister of Justice during the previous year;
c) There shall be full compensation for the respective work period.
1. The ministers of religion are people who are considered as such according to the norms of the respective church or religious community.
2. The status of the minister of religion is certified by the competent bodies of the respective church or religious community, which also accredit the respective ministers for the practice of specific acts.
3. The authentication of certificates and credentials mentioned in the above point belongs to the registration office of religious corporate bodies.
1. The ministers of religion have the freedom to carry out their ministry.
2. Magistrates or other authorities cannot ask the Ministers of religion about the facts and matters that have come to their knowledge by reason of their ministry.
3. The exercise of the ministry is considered a professional activity of the minister of religion when it provides him with a means of support; as sufficient evidence of such, for the purposes of authorization of residence to foreign ministers of religion, is the guarantee heeded by the respective church or religious community.
4. Ministers of religion of churches and other registered religious communities have the right to usufruct of the service of the general social security system under the terms of the law, their registry being compulsory by the church or religious community to which they belong, unless their religious activity is of a secondary nature and the exercise of the principal, non-religious activity requires a compulsory registration in a social security scheme.
5. For the purposes of the two previous points, the ministers of religion are equalized with the members of holy institutions and other persons who professionally exercise religious activities and who, as such, are certified by the church or by the religious community in which they belong.
1. The military obligations of students belonging to the training establishment for ministers of religion, members of the holy institutions, as well as ministers of religion of churches and other registered religious communities, are fulfilled through ministerial assistance, health services and social activities of the Armed Forces, unless they express a desire to join the effective service.
2. The attendance of training courses for ministers of religion of a church or registered religious community is considered grounds for release of the tests for classification and selection for military service, as well as a postponement of incorporation.
3. The right to conscientious objection to military service in general terms is safeguarded.
Ministers of religion, members of the holy institutions and other persons who professionally carry out religious activities of churches or other registered religious communities, can require an exemption from jury service.
Religious marriage ceremony
1. A religious marriage ceremony conducted by the minister of religion of a church or registered religious community settled in the country is recognized for civil purposes. The minister of religion must have a Portuguese nationality or, if he is a foreigner, must hold an authorization of temporary or permanent residence in Portugal.
a) The contracting parties, or of one of them and the proxy of the other;
b) The minister of religion, duly accredited.
c) Two witnesses.
Churches and religious communities are organized and enduring social communities, in which believers can fulfill all the religious purposes that are offered by the respective denomination
1. Irrespective of whether they are proposed as religious by the denomination, for the purposes of the determination under the legal system, the following shall be considered:
a) Religious objectives are those that exercise acts of worship or rites, religious assistance, training of ministers of religion, missionary work and dissemination of the professed denomination and religious education;
b) Amongst the objectives that dissimilar of the religious ones, there are those of relief and acts of charity, education and culture, in addition to objectives for commercial or lucrative gain.
2. Activities with non-religious objectives of churches and religious communities are subject to the legal system and, in particular, the tax system for this type of activity.
1. Churches and other religious communities are free to organize themselves, having the right to autonomously arrange:
a) The formation, composition, competence and functionality of their organs;
b) The selection, duties and powers of their representatives, ministers, missionaries and religious auxiliaries;
c) The religious rights and duties of the believers, without prejudice to their religious freedom;
d) The adherence or participation in the establishment of federations or inter-denominational associations, holding their head-offices in the Country or abroad.
2. Clauses to safeguard religious identity and the specific character of the professed denomination are allowed.
3. Churches and other registered religious communities can autonomously establish or recognize either churches or religious communities of local or regional scope, consecrated life institutes and other institutes with the character of associations or foundations, for the exercise or maintenance of their religious duties.
Churches and other religious communities are free to carry out their religious activities and to worship, namely being able to do so, without the interference of the State or third parties, to:
a) Carry out acts of worship, in private or public, without prejudice to the police and traffic requirements.
b) Establish places of worship or meetings for religious purposes;
c) Teach according to the format and through the persons authorized by the doctrine of the professed denomination;
d) Disseminate the professed denomination and seek for new believers;
e) Religiously assist its own members;
f) Communicate and publish documents on religious matters and on worship;
g) Connect and communicate with organizations belonging to the same denomination or to others in national territories or abroad;
h) Appoint and train their ministers;
i) Establish seminaries or any other training or religious education establishment.
Religious education in public schools
1. Churches and other religious communities or, on their behalf, representative organizations of believers, residing on national territories, can ask the Minister of Education to be allowed to minister religious education in primary and secondary public schools indicated by them, so long as they’re registered individually, or conjointly, professing to only one denomination or agree on a common program for the purpose.
2. Religious and moral education is optional and not an alternative to any curricular area or subject.
3. The functionality of these classes on religious education of a certain denomination depends on whether there are a minimum number of pupils who have either expressly and positively shown a desire to attend these classes, in this case, they should be above the age of 16, or their education commissioner has.
4. The teachers in charge of the ministration of the religious classes will not cumulatively teach the same students in other curricular subjects or provide training, except in situations duly recognized of a manifest difficulty when applying the principle, and thus, will be appointed or hired, transferred and excluded of teaching the subject by the State, in compliance with the representatives of the churches, communities or the representative organizations. In no such case will a person who is not considered suitable by the respective representatives minister the teaching.
5. It is of the incumbency of the churches and other religious communities to train teachers, draw-up programs and approve the didactic material, in consonance with the general guidelines of the educational system.
Times of religious broadcasts
1. Television and radio public services guarantee a period of broadcasting time for churches and other registered religious communities, per se, through the respective representative organization, or conjointly when they prefer to participate as a single denomination, for them to pursue their religious objectives.
2. The attribution and distribution of the broadcasting time mentioned in the previous point, takes into account the representativeness of the respective denominations and the principle of tolerance, by means of agreements between the Religious Denomination Broadcast Time Committee and the incumbent companies of the public television and radio services.
3. The Religious Denomination Broadcast Time Committee is constituted by representatives of the Catholic Church and of the Churches and other religious communities settled in the Country or the federations in which they are integrated, appointed for three years by joint dispatch of the members of the Government responsible for the areas of Justice and the social communication, after a hearing from the Committee of Religious Freedom.
The religious slaughter of animals must comply with the applicable legal provisions concerning the protection of animals.
Non-religious activities of churches and other religious communities
Churches and other religious communities may also carry out non-religious activities, which are instrumental, consequential or complementary to their religious activities, namely:
a) To create special schools and cooperatives;
b) To do charitable work for believers, or any other persons;
c) To promote their own cultural expressions or education and culture in general;
d) To use the appropriate means of social communication in the pursuit of their activities;
Right to be heard regarding town planning
1. Churches and other registered religious communities have the right to be heard, regarding their decisions in relation to the affectation of space for religious purposes in the town planning of those areas in which they have an organized social presence.
2. The municipal territory regulations and other instruments for the regulation of the territory should foresee the granting of spaces for religious purposes.
Use for religious purposes of property intended for other purposes
1. Once having an agreement with the landlord, or the majority of joint owners, in the case of a building in a horizontal property, the usage of the building or a parcel of the land for religious purposes, when such is not intended, cannot be the basis of an objection, nor for an application of penalties, by the administrative or autonomous authorities, if a suitable alternative to this situation and objectives does not exist.
2. The statement made in paragraph 1 does not impair the rights of the joint owners to appeal in the general terms.
1. Places of worship, buildings, annexes or worship objects cannot be demolished or used for any other purpose, except with the prior agreement of the respective church or religious community, by expropriation for public use or by requisition, in case of urgent public need, with the exception of the case when a demolition becomes necessary due to the buildings being in danger of a collapse or place danger to public health.
2. In the cases of expropriation, requisition and demolition referred in the previous paragraph, whenever possible, the respective church or religious community is always heard-out. The latter is equally entitled to a previous hearing in the determination of the execution of the works necessary to correct bad health conditions, solidity or security against the risk of fire and in the classification of religious assets such as cultural value.
3. In any case, appropriation or non-religious usage shall not be practiced, unless the assets have been deprived of their religious nature by the respective church or religious community.
a) Receive contributions from believers for the exercise of worship and rites, as well as donations for the fulfillment of their religious purposes, with a regular or casual nature;
b) Make public collections, specifically within or at the door of the places of worship, as well as in the buildings or places that belong to them;
c) Distribute free of charge publications with declarations, notices or instructions on religious matters and display them in places of worship.
1. Registered religious corporate bodies are exempt of any tax or general, regional or local contribution on the following:
a) Places of worship or other property or parts of properties directly intended for the realization of religious objectives;
b) Installations of direct and exclusive support for activities with religious purposes;
c) Seminaries or any establishments effectively destined for the training of ministers of religion or religious education;
d) Outbuildings or annexes of the properties described in sub-paragraphs a) to d) for the usage of special social welfare institutions;
e) Gardens and parks of the property described in sub-paragraphs a) to e) provided they are not intended for profit purposes
a) Purchase of goods for religious purposes;
b) Deeds of incorporation of foundations, once registered as religious corporate bodies
Statute of churches and religious communities
The following can acquire legal personality through registration in the register of religious corporate bodies which is created in the competent government department:
a) Churches and other religious communities of national scope or, on the behalf, representative organizations of believers residing on national territory;
b) Churches and other religious communities of regional or local scope;
c) Consecrated life institutions and other institutions with the character of associations or foundations, established or recognized by the corporate bodies mentioned in sub-paragraphs a) and b) in the pursuit of their religious purposes;
d) Federations or associations of corporate bodies mentioned in the previous paragraphs;
The application for registration is addressed to the competent government department and prepared with the statutes and other documents that are allowed to be register:
a) The name, which must be distinguishable from any other religious corporate body existing in Portugal;
b) The constitution, institution or establishment in Portugal of the organization corresponding to the church or religious community or the deed of the constitution of association or establishment and eventually, also the recognition of the religious corporate body;
c) The registered head-office in Portugal;
d) The religious purposes;
e) The goods or services that complete or shall complete the estate;
f) The formation, composition, competence and operation rules of their organs;
g) The provisions on the dissolution of the corporate body;
h) The method of appointment and the powers of their representatives;
i) The identification of the incumbents of the bodies in affectivity with their functions and of the representatives, and specifications of the competence of the latter.
Registration of churches or religious communities of national scope, or regional or local scope when they have not been created or recognized by the above, is also prepared with documentary evidence of:
a) The general principles of the doctrine and description of religious practices and acts of worship, particularly the rights and duties of the believers related to the church or religious community, in addition, a summary of the aforementioned elements should be presented;
b) Its existence in Portugal, with particular emphasis on the facts which bear witness to the organized social presence, religious practice and length of time in Portugal.
1. Churches and religious communities of supranational scope can set up a representative organisation of the resident believers in the national territory, which shall require its own registration in the register, instead of registration on the part of the church or religious community existing on national territory.
1. Churches and religious communities registered with a guarantee of duration are considered as settled in the country, being the qualification witnessed by the Minister of Justice, in view of the number of believers and the history of its existence in Portugal, after a hearing of the Committee of Religious Freedom.
2. The certificate cannot be requested before 30 years of organised social presence in the country, unless it is a case of a church or religious community established abroad more than 60 years ago. The certificate is entered in the register.
3. The application for the certificate shall be prepared with the evidence of the facts on which it is based, in harmony with the provision in Article 38.
1. If the applications for registration or the certificate are inadequately prepared, the applicant shall be invited to make up for the deficiencies within sixty days.
Rejection of registration
Registration can only be rejected through:
a) Lack of legal requirements;
b) Falsification of documents;
c) Violation of the constitutional limits of religious freedom.
1. Registration becomes mandatory after a year has passed since the delivery of the application for registration, if in the meantime a notification letter of rejection of the registration has not sent to the applicant.
The elements modifications of the entry of the religious corporate body, or the circumstances on which it is based, should be communicated to the register.
1. Religious corporate bodies are dissolved:
a) By deliberation of their representative organs;
b) By elapsed time limit, if they have been set up temporarily;
c) By the verification of some other extinguished cause laid down in the deed of constitution or in their internal regulations;
d) By judicial decision, for the causes of judicial dissolution of civic associations.
2. The dissolution of a religious corporate body involves the cancellation of the entry in the respective register.
The capacity of religious corporate bodies embraces all the rights and obligations necessary or suitable to the pursuit of their purposes.
Associations and foundations with religious objectives can also acquire a legal personality under the terms foreseen on the Civil Code for private corporate bodies, thus being liable to the respective regulations, except with regard to their activity with religious objectives.
Agreements between churches or religious communities and the State
Churches or religious communities settled in the country or federations in which these are integrated can propose the conclusion of agreements with the State on matters of common interest.
a) Justifiably refuse to negotiate the agreement;
b) Appoint a negotiating committee, composed by representatives of the Ministries concerned and an equal number of Portuguese citizens nominated by the church or religious community, with the task of drawing up a draft agreement or a report on the reasons of its impracticability. The Minister appoints the Chairman of the Committee.
The following are bases for refusal to negotiate the agreement:
a) The lack of assurance regarding the internal rules or the religious practice of the church or religious community comply with the regulations of the Portuguese legal system;
b) Five years have not passed since the refusal of a previous proposal;
c) The approval of a new law in order to meet the practical objectives of the proposal is not necessary;
d) The basic content of the proposal does not merit approval.
1. Once approved by the Council of Ministers, the agreement is signed by the Prime Minister and by the competent Ministers on account of the subject matter, on behalf of the Government, and by the representatives of the church or religious community or the federation.
The agreement is submitted to the Assembly of the Republic with a law proposal, which approves it.
Up to the moment of deliberation of the Assembly of the Republic, which ratifies the agreement, this can be amended by agreement of both parties, having any amendment immediately communicated to the Assembly of the Republic.
Religious corporate bodies can conclude other agreements with the State, the autonomous districts and counties for the achievement of their purposes, which do not involve the approval of a law.
The Committee of Religious Freedom is created, an independent advisory body of the Parliament and the Government.
1. The Committee has functions covering examinations, information, opinions and proposals on all matters related to the application of the Law on Religious Freedom, with the development, improvement and any revision of this Law and, in general, with the law concerning religions rights in Portugal.
2. The Committee has also the function of scientific investigation of churches, communities and religious movements in Portugal.
1. In the exercise of its functions it falls namely to the Committee:
a) To issue an opinion on the draft agreements between churches or religious communities and the State;
b) To issue an opinion on the settle in the country of churches or religious communities;
c) To issue an opinion on the composition of the Religious Confessions Broadcast Time Committee;
d) To issue opinions on the registration of churches or religious communities requested by the registry department of religious corporate bodies;
e) Examine the development of religious movements in Portugal and, in particular, collect and update information on new religious movements, provide the necessary scientific and statistical information to the departments, institutions and persons interested and publish an annual report on the matter;
f) Elaborate studies, information, opinions and proposals that have been entrusted by law, by the Assembly of the Republic, by the Government or on its own initiative.
2. The Committee draws its own internal regulations.
In the exercise of its functions, the Committee has the right to the cooperation of departments and other public bodies.
a) The Chairman, two members appointed by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference and three members appointed by the member of the Government responsible for the area of Justice amongst the people indicated by churches or non-Catholic religious communities settled in Portugal and by the federations in which they are integrated, taking into consideration the representation of each one and the principle of tolerance;
b) Five persons of recognized scientific competence in the areas relating to the functions of the Committee appointed by the member of the Government responsible for the area of Justice, in order to ensure the plurality and neutrality of the State regarding religious issues.
Chairman and operation
The Concordata between the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic dated May 7th, 1940, the Additional Protocol to the same of February 15th, 1975, are kept, as well as the legislation applicable to the Catholic Church, not being applicable to same the provisions of this Law relating to Churches or religious communities registered or settle in the country, without prejudice of acceptance by agreement between the State and the Catholic Church of any arrangements.
Article 1615 of the Civil Code will now be read as follows:
Publicity and format
“The celebration of marriage is public and is subject, according to the will of the betrothed:
a) To the format laid down in this code and in the laws of the civil register;
b) To a religious format, under the terms of special legislation.”
Sub-paragraph b) of Article 1654 of the Civil Code shall be read as follows:
“ b) The entries of urgent civil marriages or according to a religious format celebrated in Portugal;”
Sub-paragraph 2 of article 1670 of the Civil Code shall be read as follows:
“2. However, the rights of a third party which are compatible with the rights and duties of a personal character of married couples and children, remain intact, unless, this being a matter of registration through transcription, this has been done within the seven days subsequent to the celebration.”
Law no. 4/71 dated August 21 and Decree 216/72 of June 27 are expressly revoked.
1. Religious denominations and non-catholic religious associations registered in the corresponding government department maintain their legal personality and capacity, being subject to this law with respect to their religious activities under the terms of article 44.
2. These denominations and associations can request their conversion to a religious corporate body under the terms of Articles 34 to 40 by way of compliance with the respective requirements, within the time limit of three years from the entry into force of this law.
3. If they have not done this, they shall only be registered in the National Register of Corporate Bodies, where the files and documents, which serve as the basis for the respective registers, shall be dispatch.
4. Once the time limit mentioned in sub-paragraph 2 expires, the current register of religious denominations and non-Catholic religious associations of the Ministry of Justice is abolished.
For ministers who benefit from the social security system set up by Regulatory Decree 5/83 dated January the 31st and belong to religious denominations or associations referred to in the previous article, and have not been converted into religious corporate bodies, the respective scheme continues to be applicable.
1. The churches and religious communities settled in the country, as well as the institutes of consecrated life and other institutes, with a character of association or foundation, founded or recognized by the former, as well as the federations and associations to which they belong, may choose the system foreseen in article 1 of Decree-Law 20/90, dated January 13th, while it is in force, not being applicable in those cases numbers 3 and 4 of article 32 of the current law.
Articles 32 and 65 come into force on the date of the beginning of the following fiscal year of the entry into force of this law.
The necessary time of organized social presence in the country for the registered churches and religious communities to request their certificate confirming their presence in the country to which the rule of the first part of number 2 of article 37 refers is 26 years in 2001, 27 years, in 2002, 28 years in 2003 and 29 years in 2004.
Fiscal and Legal Codes
The Government is authorized to introduce in the respective fiscal and legal codes the fiscal system arising from the present law.
The Government should take all the required measures to ensure the fulfillment of the present law and publish, within a term of sixty days, the legislation on the registration of religious collective entities and the Committee on Religious Freedom.
The Chairman of Parliament
(António de Almeida Santos)
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