REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

 

 

                                LAW

 

 

 

                                ON

 

 

 

              RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES AND ASSOCIATIONS

 

 

 

                   OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

 

 

     

 

     

 

      Article 1.  Purpose of the Law

 

      This Law  shall   establish the legal relations of religious

 

 communities and  associations   and the  State of  Lithuania, and

 

 shall  implement     the  human  right  of  freedom  of  religion

 

 consolidated by  the Constitution  of the  Republic of Lithuania,

 

 other laws and international documents and agreements.

 

     

 

      Article 2. Right  of  Freedom of Religion

 

      Lithuania does not have a  state religion.

 

      Every individual within the Republic of Lithuania shall have

 

 the right   to  choose freely any  religion or faith, and to also

 

 change his  choice individually  or with  others, to  profess  it

 

 privately or  publicly, to  perform religious  rites, to practice

 

 his faith and to provide instruction thereof.

 

      No one  may force another person, nor  himself  be forced to

 

 choose or  to profess any  faith or religion.

 

      The human  freedom to profess or propagate religion or faith

 

 may not be limited by any other means, than by law alone and only

 

 when the   security of society, public order, people's health and

 

 morality, as well as  of  other  fundamental  rights and freedoms

 

 of individuals must be guaranteed.

 

      Parents and  guardians shall  not be restricted in providing

 

 for the  religious, and  moral upbringing   of their children and

 

 charges, in accordance with their own convictions.

 

      A crime  or failure  to implement laws may not be excused by

 

 the religion or

 

      faith practised by  an individual.

 

      Believers shall  have the  right to  freely  join  religious

 

 communities and  associations, and  also to  establish  religious

 

 organisations.

 

      Every  individual   may  on   the  basis  of  his  religious

 

 convictions choose  an alternative   (labour)  service in lieu of

 

 the obligatory military service.

 

     

 

      Article 3. Equality among People Regardless of their

 

                Religion

 

      All individuals,  regardless of  the religion  they profess,

 

 their religious  convictions or their relationship with religion,

 

 shall be   equal  before the law. It shall be prohibited to limit

 

 their rights   and freedoms directly or indirectly,  or  to apply

 

 privileges.

 

      An  individual's   religion    shall  not  be  indicated  in

 

 documents issued by state  institutions and organisations.

 

     

 

      Article 4. Religious Communities, Associations and

 

                Centres

 

      A  religious   community     is  comprised  of  a  group  of

 

 individuals seeking  to implement the aims of  the same religion.

 

 It may  be a  local   subdivision of  a  corresponding  religious

 

 association.

 

      Religious associations  are unions   of  church and  uniform

 

 religious organisations namely, communities striving to implement

 

 the aims of the same religion.  An association shall be comprised

 

 

 

 of no  fewer than  two religious  communities who  are subject to

 

 mutual leadership.

 

      Religious  centres  are  higher  governing  institutions  of

 

 religious associations.

 

     

 

      Article 5. Traditional Religious Communities and

 

                Associations of Lithuania

 

      The state  recognises nine traditional religious communities

 

 and associations  existing in Lithuania, which comprise a part of

 

 the historical,  spiritual  and  social  heritage  of  Lithuania:

 

 Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, Evangelical

 

 Reformed, Russian Orthodox, Old Believer, Judaistic, Sunni Muslim

 

 and Karaite.

 

     

 

      Article 6. Recognition of  other Religious Associations

 

      Other  (non   traditional)  religious  associations  may  be

 

 granted  state   recognition  as  being  a  part  of  Lithuania's

 

 historical, spiritual and social heritage, if they are  backed by

 

 society  and their instruction and rites are not contrary to laws

 

 and morality.   State  recognition denotes  state backing  of the

 

 spiritual,   cultural    and   social   heritage   of   religious

 

 associations.

 

      The Seimas  of the  Republic of Lithuania shall grant  state

 

 recognition.  Religious   associations   may      request   state

 

 recognition following  the elapse  of  a  period  of no less than

 

 25  years   from  the  date  of  their  initial  registration  in

 

 Lithuania.    If   request  is denied,  it  may  be  resubmitted,

 

 following the  elapse of  10 years,  from the  day request    was

 

 denied.

 

      The Seimas  shall deliberate the question upon receipt of  a

 

 conclusion from the Ministry of Justice.

 

      The initial  registration alluded  to in  part two  of  this

 

 Article has  taken place, provided that the religious association

 

 acted legally  (was registered)  in Lithuania  after February 16,

 

 1918.

 

     

 

      Article 7. Basic Principles of State and Religious

 

                Community and Association  Relations

 

      Religious communities  and  associations  shall  not  fulfil

 

 state functions,  while the  state shall not fulfil the functions

 

 of religious communities and associations.

 

      Religious communities  and associations shall have the right

 

 to freely  organise  in  accordance  with  their  hierarchic  and

 

 institutional structure, and manage their inner life according to

 

 its canons and statutes, as well as other norms.

 

      All religious communities and associations possessing  legal

 

 person rights may obtain state support for culture, education and

 

 charity, in accordance with the procedure established by laws.

 

     

 

      Article 8. Freedom  to Perform Religious Rites

 

      Religious  rites   and  cult   ceremonies  shall  be  freely

 

 performed within  cult   premises and  in their vicinity, in  the

 

 homes and  flats  of  citizens,  funeral  homes,  cemeteries  and

 

 crematoriums.

 

      Pursuant to  request by  believers religious  rites shall be

 

 performed in  hospitals, social  care facilities  and  places  of

 

 detention.   The time   for  performing religious  rites and cult

 

 ceremonies, and  other  conditions  shall  be  co-ordinated  with

 

 authorities of   the aforementioned institutions. The authorities

 

 of these institutions shall provide opportunities for performance

 

 of religious rites.

 

      The  authorities   of  military   units,  upon   request  by

 

 believers,  shall  provide  opportunities  for    performance  of

 

 religious rites  in accordance with the procedure established  by

 

 statutes.

 

 

 

      Upon  request  by  students  who  are  believers  and  their

 

 parents, the  rites of  traditional and  other  state  recognised

 

 religious communities  and associations,  which are not  contrary

 

 to   the secular  school  concept,  may  be  performed  in  state

 

 education and training institutions; participation shall be based

 

 upon free choice.

 

      Religious rites  may be performed in other public locations,

 

 as well,  if those  rites are  not in violation of  public order,

 

 people's health,  morals or  the rights  and  freedoms  of  other

 

 individuals.

 

      Religious communities and associations having  the rights of

 

 legal persons may,  according to the procedure established by the

 

 local government,  have their  own denominational  cemeteries  or

 

 their own  territory  within common cemeteries. The procedure for

 

 burial in   denominational   cemeteries  or within    a  cemetery

 

 territory,  allotted   to  a  religious  denomination,  shall  be

 

 established by the corresponding community or association.

 

      A complaint  regarding  refusal to grant permission for,  or

 

 interference with  the performance  of  religious  rites  may  be

 

 registered with a higher governing institution or the court.

 

     

 

      Article  9. Religious Instruction

 

      Religious instruction  may be provided  in houses of prayer,

 

 state and  other educational and training institutions as well as

 

 other premises and locations.

 

      Religion  of     traditional    and  other  state-recognised

 

 religious communities   and  associations may  be taught in state

 

 education institutions  upon request by parents (guardians, care-

 

 takers).

 

      The  state   shall  recognise   religious   instruction   by

 

 traditional and  other state-recognised religious communities and

 

 associations in  denominational  educational institutions (Sunday

 

 schools of those denominations or other instruction groups), upon

 

 registration of  religious education programmes with the Ministry

 

 of Education and Science and presentation therewith, of documents

 

 attesting to  teacher qualification,  as well  as   a request  by

 

 the   spiritual authorities of appropriate religious community or

 

 association.

 

      Students   who are    wards  of  the  state    are  provided

 

 religious instruction  according to  the  religion  professed  by

 

 their family or relatives.

 

      The procedure of religious instruction in state institutions

 

 of  education and training is regulated by laws on education.

 

     

 

      Article 10.  Legalisation of  Legal Person Rights of

 

                Traditional Religious Communities and

 

                Associations

 

      Traditional religious  communities and  associations, having

 

 the rights  of a  legal person,  shall  inform  the  Ministry  of

 

 Justice thereof.

 

      Newly-established  (re-established)   traditional  religious

 

 communities and associations shall acquire  the rights of a legal

 

 person,   pursuant    to  a  report    in  writing    of    their

 

 establishment (re-establishment),  to the  Ministry of Justice by

 

 their authorities, and the continuity of  a specific community or

 

 association is  established by  taking into  account its  canons,

 

 statutes and also, other norms.

 

     

 

      Article 11. Granting of Legal Person Rights  to Other

 

                Religious Communities and Associations

 

      Other religious  communities and  associations shall acquire

 

 the rights of a legal person upon registration of their  statutes

 

 or  the documents   corresponding to them.

 

      Religious communities may be registered, provided they unite

 

 no fewer  than 15  members namely, adult citizens of the Republic

 

 of Lithuania.

 

      Religious associations  may   be registered,  provided  they

 

 unite no  fewer  than  two  religious  communities.    Registered

 

 religious communities    which  are  part  of  the  structure  of

 

 registered religious   associations,  and centres  shall  acquire

 

 rights of   a  legal person, pursuant to their recognition by the

 

 authorities of   the  association and   the  Ministry of  Justice

 

 being informed thereof, in writing.

 

      In order  to  effect  registration  of  the  statutes  or  a

 

 corresponding document  of a  religious community/association,  a

 

 written  application   shall  be   submitted  of   the  religious

 

 community/association's  initiative   meeting   protocol      and

 

 membership list.

 

      The    religious     community/association    statutes    or

 

 corresponding documents which shall be submitted must indicate:

 

      1)name and main office of religious  community/association;

 

      2) principles,  activity directions  and aims  of  professed

 

 religious instruction;

 

      3) organisational  structure and  authorities  of  religious

 

 community/association;

 

      4) procedure  of   management,  use  and  sale  of  property

 

 belonging to religious community/association;

 

      5) procedure for closing  of religious community/association

 

 and distribution of property  remaining following liquidation.

 

      The Ministry  of Justice  shall register  the statutes  or a

 

 corresponding document of religious communities/ associations  no

 

 later than  within a  six-month period  from the  time  of  their

 

 submittal.

 

      Should the  submitted statutes or corresponding documents of

 

 the religious  community/association fail  to include  all of the

 

 indicated  data,   the  Ministry  of  Justice  shall  return  the

 

 aforementioned document   within  15 days  of its receipt, to the

 

 community/association   and indicate  what shortcomings should be

 

 rectified. The  period for  registering   corrected  statutes  or

 

 corresponding document shall be reckoned anew.

 

     

 

      Article 12. Refusal to Register Statutes or

 

                Corresponding Document of Religious

 

                Community/Association

 

      Religious community/association  statutes  or  corresponding

 

 document shall not be registered if:

 

      1)   data indicated  in Article  11 of  this Law    are  not

 

 included therein;

 

      2)   activity of  religious  community/association  violates

 

 human rights and freedoms or public order;

 

      3)     statutes  or   corresponding  document  of  religious

 

 community/association  of   the  same  name,  have  already  been

 

 registered.

 

      Upon refusal  to  register  religious  community/association

 

 statutes or  corresponding  document,  the  applicants  shall  be

 

 informed about  this in  writing, no  later than  within  5  days

 

 following adoption  of the  decision, and  given specific reasons

 

 for refusal.

 

      Refusal to  register the  statutes or corresponding document

 

 of  religious community/association, may be appealed in court.

 

     

 

      Article 13. Property Rights of Religious Communities,

 

                Associations and Centres

 

      Religious communities,  associations  and centres shall have

 

 the right  of ownership  to houses  of prayer, residential houses

 

 and other  buildings and edifices, production, social and charity

 

 objects as  well as  other types  of property,  required for  the

 

 activities of religious communities and associations.

 

      Religious   communities/associations   and   centres   shall

 

 administer, use  and sell  their property  in accordance with the

 

 laws of  the Republic of Lithuania.

 

     

 

      Article 14. Education, Charity and Mercy - Related

 

                Activities of Religious Communities,

 

                Associations and Centres

 

      Religious communities,  associations and centres  shall have

 

 the right to establish and have general education schools as well

 

 as other  institutions of  instruction, education and culture and

 

 also, institutions of instruction and  training   for preparation

 

 of clergy  and  religion  instructors,  in  accordance  with  the

 

 procedure established by laws and other normative acts.

 

      Educational institutions  of traditional and other religious

 

 communities, associations  and centres  having the  rights  of  a

 

 legal person,  and   schools  of  such    religious  communities,

 

 associations   and centres, that provide the education prescribed

 

 by the  state, shall  receive financial  and other  support  from

 

 state and  local government  budgets,    according  to  procedure

 

 established by laws and other normative acts.

 

      All religious  communities, associations  and centres    may

 

 engage in  charity, participate  in mercy-related  activity   and

 

 establish medical institutions as well as charitable institutions

 

 and organisations.

 

      Article 15. Publishing and Economic Activity of

 

                Religious Communities, Associations and

 

                Centres

 

      Religious communities,  associations and  centres shall have

 

 the right   to  engage in  publishing,  production  and  economic

 

 activity,     establishing  public   information  media,  charity

 

 foundations and  other organisations,  in accordance  with    the

 

 procedure established by laws.

 

     

 

      Article 16. Taxation of Religious Communities,

 

                Associations and Centres and of  Their

 

                Employees

 

      The income  namely, contributions, income resulting from the

 

 sale of  property  acquired  through  charitable  means,  of  all

 

 religious  communities,   associations  and   centres     (higher

 

 governing institutions),  shall not be taxable, provided they are

 

 intended for  construction, repair  or restoration  of a house of

 

 prayer, charity, culture and education.

 

      The income  received by the clergy of religious communities,

 

 associations and  centres, assistants  at religious  rites    and

 

 service  staff  (  except  individuals  performing  construction,

 

 repair and  restoration work),   from  the funds indicated in the

 

 first part  of this  Article, shall  not be  subject to tax  of a

 

 natural person.

 

      Religious necessities  and literature  brought   across  the

 

 border into  the Republic of Lithuania, through the authorisation

 

 of religious  communities, associations  and centres  having  the

 

 rights of a legal person, shall not be subject to customs tax.

 

      Enterprises     (organisations)  established   by  religious

 

 communities, associations  and  centres    shall  be  subject  to

 

 taxation in accordance with the laws.

 

     

 

      Article 17. Legal  Regulation of  Work of Individuals

 

                Employed by Religious  Communities,

 

                Associations  and Centres

 

      Religious communities,  associations and  centres shall have

 

 the right   to  employ individuals, with whom  work contracts are

 

 drawn up  in accordance  with  the procedure established by  laws

 

 of the Republic of Lithuania.

 

      Members of  clergy  may  be  supported  from  the  religious

 

 community or  association funds, in accordance with the procedure

 

 established by  such, or  may receive their support directly from

 

 believers in return for religious services rendered.

 

     

 

      Article 18. Social Security  and Social Insurance of

 

                Religious Communities, Associations and

 

                Centres

 

      Rights to  social insurance and other rights and guarantees,

 

 established by  laws of the Republic of Lithuania, shall apply to

 

 individuals,  employed   according  to   labour  contract,   with

 

 religious   communities,    associations   or    centres,   their

 

 institutions, enterprises and organisations.

 

      For these  purposes, religious communities, associations and

 

 centres shall  contribute to the State Social Insurance Fund from

 

 their  income,   the  same     amounts   as  state   enterprises,

 

 institutions and organisations.

 

      Members of the clergy and other individuals employed without

 

 labour  contracts  by  religious  communities,  associations  and

 

 centres, may  make their  own private  contributions to the State

 

 Social Insurance  Fund according  to   procedure  established  by

 

 laws.

 

 

 

      Article 19. International Co-operation among  Religious

 

                Communities and Associations

 

      Religious communities  and associations shall have the right

 

 to establish  and maintain international  relations and contacts,

 

 participate  in   international  organisations   as  well  as  in

 

 activities of  their governing  bodies,  exchange    information,

 

 receive religious  necessities,  literature  and  charity    from

 

 international organisations and private individuals.

 

      Religious communities and associations shall be able to send

 

 their members  to other  states for training, organise clergy and

 

 pilgrim journeys  abroad and  to cooperage  in  other  ways  with

 

 religious organisations located abroad.

 

     

 

      Article 20. Suspension or Cessation of  Activity of

 

                Religious Communities, Associations and

 

                Centres

 

      Should a religious community, association or centre  fail to

 

 act according  to  the  registered  statutes  or    corresponding

 

 documents thereof  or should    their  activity      violate  the

 

 Constitution or  this Law,  the Ministry  of Justice shall inform

 

 the religious  community,  association  or  centre  which  is  in

 

 violation of  laws and  indicates the  term of  time during which

 

 violations  must   be  rectified.     Failure   to  rectify  said

 

 violations, shall  result in  a court  appeal by  the Ministry of

 

 Justice, for  suspension of  activity of the religious community,

 

 association or centre.

 

      Activity of a religious community, association or centre man

 

 be suspended  for a term not to exceed 6 months. Should violation

 

 cited by  the court, fail to be rectified during this term, their

 

 activity may be ceased per court decision.

 

      Activity of a religious community, association or centre may

 

 also be  terminated per  own decision.  Activity of  a  religious

 

 community or  association may  be terminated  per decision of its

 

 higher governing institution.

 

      Following the  termination of   activity    of  a  religious

 

 community, association or centre, the remaining property shall be

 

 transferred to  the  successor  in  interest,  specified  in  its

 

 statutes or  another corresponding document.  If the successor in

 

 interest is  not specified  or does not exist, the property shall

 

 be taken over by the state.

 

     

 

      Article 21. Implementation of the Law

 

      This  Law  shall  be  implemented  in  accordance  with  the

 

 Republic of Lithuania Law on the Procedure for the Implementation

 

 of the  Law on  Religious Communities  and  Associations  of  the

 

 Republic of Lithuania."

 

     

 

      I promulgate  this Law  passed by the Seimas of the Republic

 

 of Lithuania.

 

     

 

 Algirdas Brazauskas

 

 President of the Republic

 

 

 

 Vilnius

 

 October 4, 1995

 

 No. I - 1057