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Freedom of Conscience and Religion

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Chapter Summary

Many different relationships exist between religion and the State in Europe, and they are the result of each individual State's historical, social and political development. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the inviolability of the forum internum are absolute. They are protected in the Convention without qualification. Every individual is free to believe or not to believe, and to change his religion. States may not interfere with the forum internum. The freedom to manifest one's religion or belief can be exercised alone or in community with others, in public and within the circle of those who share the same faith. In the general human rights context, one cannot ignore the fact that the concept of individual rights and freedoms emerged from the secular thinking brought about by the ideals of the Enlightenment era.

Keywords: Europe; forum internum; freedom of conscience; freedom of religion; human rights



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