Sunday

29th Jan 2023

Church and state connected in most European countries

Religion and politics are far from being so strictly separated in the European states as the political debate might lead one to believe, writes Danish paper Kristeligt Dagblad on presenting the findings of an extended research into the constitutions of 25 European countries.

The research shows that the state is entwined with the religious life in the vast majority of the 25 EU countries – the fifteen EU member states plus the ten acceding countries.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The constitutions of five countries (Ireland, Greece, Poland, Germany and Slovakia) point to Christianity as the foundation on which ideas and values are built, and the Christian cultural heritage is mentioned in the preambles.

Six other countries (Denmark, Finland, Spain, Austria, Portugal and Great Britain) have constitutions establishing a more or less formal marriage between state and church by giving one particular church a special position.

Great Britain, which has no constitution, has a set of laws prescribing that the country has two state churches: The Anglican Church of England and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

Malta is the only European country in whose constitution a state religion is established: Roman Catholicism.

In France, Luxembourg and The Netherlands, church and state are formally separated. In Sweden state and church were separated by law in 2000 - but the state still pays for the maintenance of the church buildings.

In both Hungary and Slovenia, a proper separation of church and state is written into their constitutions.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all have religious freedom written into their constitutions, but they favour certain churches and religious communities.

Opinion

Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Latest News

  1. Pressure mounts on EU to coordinate visas for Russian rights-defenders
  2. Dutch set to agree to US-led chip controls to China
  3. No record of Latvian MEP's 'official' Azerbaijan trip
  4. Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters
  5. Europe continues to finance Russia's war in Ukraine with lucrative fossil fuel trades
  6. Official: EU parliament's weak internal rule-making body leads to 'culture of impunity'
  7. Red tape border logjam for EU's 1.3m 'frontier workers'
  8. Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us