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Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe

A Dialogue Between Theological Paradigms and Socio-Legal Pragmatics

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Edited By ELISABETH-ALEXANDRA DIAMANTOPOULOU and Louis-Léon Christians

This collective book aims at examining in what terms, and to what extent, the "reception" of the Human Rights doctrine takes place in Eastern Orthodox countries, as well as in the Orthodox diaspora. A series of questions are raised regarding the resources and theological structures that are mobilized in the overall Human Rights’ debate and controversy, the theological "interpretation" of Human Rights within the Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition, and the similarities and/or divergences of this "interpretation", compared to the other Christian confessions. Special attention is given to the various Orthodox actors on the international arena, aside the national Orthodox churches, which participate in the Ecumenical dialogue, as well as the dialogue with the European and international institutions.

Religious freedom, as a fundamental Human right, guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), constitutes a key-issue that contributes to broadening the reflections on the overall Human Rights-related problematic between East and West, by shading light on the more complex issue pertaining to the conceptualization and implementation of Human Rights in countries belonging to the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

The present volume studies the diversity that characterizes the Orthodox theological traditions and interpretations regarding Human Rights, not only in terms of an "external", or a "strategical" approach of socio-political and ecclesial nature, but also through a reflexive analysis of theological discourses.

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Orthodox Christianity and Freedom of Religion in European Court of Human Rights Case Law (Elisabeth A. Diamantopoulou)

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Orthodox Christianity and Freedom of Religion in European Court of Human Rights Case Law1

Elisabeth A. DIAMANTOPOULOU

Translation from French by Lina Molokotos-Liederman

1.  Introduction

The first time when the European Court of Human Rights ECtHR was asked to rule on freedom of religion was for a case involving Greece, a predominantly Orthodox Christian country.2 Thanks to the well-known judgment of 25 May 1993 on Kokkinakis the European Court was able to establish a broad-based case law on the freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by Art. 9 of the Convention:

“This freedom represents one of the foundations of a “democratic society” within the meaning of the Convention; it is, in its religious dimension, one of the most vital elements of believers’ identity and their conception of life, but is also a precious asset for atheists, agnostics, sceptics or the unconcerned.”

Since the Kokkinakis decision twenty years ago, ECtHR case law on freedom of religion has grown significantly. Over the past ten years, the multiple aspects of freedom of religion (the freedom to manifest, practice and teach one’s religion, the freedom to change religion and to build and operate places of worship, etc.) concern mainly Islam and Muslim ← 71 | 72 → minorities, as well as sectarian movements, from which most applicants and claims originate. Without denying the difficulty, complexity and importance of these cases, paying attention to other religious areas can introduce a new critical...

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