Religious freedom is a domain of human life in society. It is something that is given to man by nature, and not by social agreement, at the discretion of the ruler or the majority. For this reason, the moral demands related to religious freedom are of natural law, and thus must be respected and protected by civil laws. The most important of these moral demands is protection from coercion in society so that every man can give due honor to God. But when the State divinizes itself, it begins to demand for itself the worship due to God, and it is then that the greatest danger to religious freedom arises; indeed, Leviathan recognizes no other god than itself.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a „plague” for health, but has had also profound social implications. It’s only logical, since a man lives in society and does not achieve certain goods, such as material or spiritual health. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the presence of the coronavirus exposes other latent moral pandemics in society, and those will not disappear once the sanitary regime ends. Thereby many, using the pretext of social restrictions, took the opportunity to badly undermine religious freedom. It was mostly done by the state, but also by schools, companies or even religious institutions.
Established in 2006, the Observatory of Religious Freedom and Conscience (OLRC, www.libertadreligiosa.es) every year publishes a report on attacks on religious freedom. The latest report identifies 240 cases in Spain, what’s an increase of 37% compared to 2019. The greatest number of attacks was the marginalization of religions in the public sphere (121 cases). In addition, 70 cases of mockery of religion, 34 attacks on places of worship, 13 acts of humiliation of believers and 2 incidents of violence were reported. 66% attacks of these cases were directed specifically against Christians. Catalonia is the autonomous community with the highest number of attacks, followed by Madrid and Andalusia regions. On the occasion of social restrictions caused by the pandemic, the availability of temples for the faithful was reduced with much more rigor than of shops or theaters; liturgical celebrations held in private places or in cathedrals with minimal human presence were interrupted; singing in churches was forbidden while concerts were allowed, etc.
President of the OLCR, María García, journalist, affirms that „PSOE with 43 cases is the one that most violates religious freedom, followed by Podemos, with 23, and Izquierda Unida with 17. As we see, the parties that govern the nation and that should respect the religious freedom of all citizens are those who most violate religious freedom.” (https://www.infocatolica.com/blog/caballeropilar.php).
On March 24, 2021, on the eve of Life Day, the law regulating euthanasia was approved in Spain. Apart from being a serious attack on the life of the elderly, the sick and the disabled, this law also violates freedom of belief and conscience. Thus, a doctor or nurse may refuse to participate in „post-mortem assistance”, but by declaring this in advance and in writing. How, however, will this affect their professional careers? In turn, hospitals and nursing homes, even if run by religious institutions, will not be able to decline euthanasia. Undoubtedly, the causes of preventing the worship due to God are much deeper than the COVID-19 pandemic. The most harmful virus is secularism, and the best vaccine against it is supernatural in nature.
Prof. Enrique Martínez
Abat Oliba CEU University