Hindus have expressed dismay at Slovakia’s new law on religion, which they think is a setback to religious equality.
Approved by Slovakia Parliament, this new law on religion reportedly toughens conditions for minority religions with small number of congregants to function in Slovakia.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, called it a step in the wrong and backwards direction. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Slovak Republic President Andrej Kiska to disapprove it and asked for immediate intervention of European Commission and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks to restore religious equality and freedom in Slovakia. Slovakia is a member of European Union since 2004.
Rajan Zed also urged His Holiness Pope Francis, Slovakia Bishops’ Conference President Stanislav Zvolenský and other world religious leaders to speak against this new Slovakia law and back the minority religions/denominations of Slovakia. Religions/denominations with a major presence in Slovakia should also come to the rescue of religious minorities as “we were all co-travelers looking for the truth and headed in the same direction”, Zed said.
Zed indicated that new law would unnecessarily burden the Slovakia’s minority religions/denominations with small number of congregants and was discriminatory against them. Nations should not be in the business of regulating religion, Zed noted.
All major world religions should be officially recognised by Slovakia, despite the number of followers in the country, and accorded state help and allowed to run their schools, Rajan Zed added.
Zed stated that Slovakia seemed to have created its own narrow definition of religion which might not be compatible with European and international religious equality and freedom standards. This exclusionary approach sent a worrying signal, a cause for concern and was not consistent with European pluralistic values.
Rajan Zed further said that it could jeopardise smaller religions/denominations and these groups might find themselves without any legal stature and thus without voice. He stressed the need for more openness, equality and religious freedom in Slovakia.
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.