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Freedom of religion has limits that the state must set

Freedom of religion has limits that the state must set

On the parish afternoon in Degersheim, Martin Klöti, a government councilor, was invited to speak. He spoke on the subject: "How much religion does the state need?"

It was almost like returning to the place where he had previously worked: Martin Klöti began his professional career a good four decades ago in Hoffeld and also took up residence in Degersheim. "In the house on Steineggstrasse," recalled the primary school teacher at the time, right across from the Protestant Church, where he gave a lecture on "How much religion does the state need?" held.

It was no coincidence that this invitation to the traditional, annual parish afternoon came about: Nadine Zwingli, wife of the President of the Church Council, Urs Meier-Zwingli and moderator of the afternoon, was a student of Martin Klöti at the time.

From teacher to government councilor

Klöti's teaching career lasted a decade. Today - just a few months from now - he is a member of the St.Gallen government and as such has been asked to give a presentation on the subject. Klöti did this in the usual eloquent way with well-founded thoughts:

"When the state deals with religion, the fundamental question is why."

Because: "Isn't religion a private matter?" Yes and no, said Klöti: “The state must refer to its laws. When it comes to the relationship between individual rights and duties on the one hand and freedom of religion on the other, the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution must very often be consulted. "

Which means: If unanswered questions arise in religious communities, the state must apply its laws.

State should intervene against discrimination

The strongest growing religious community is the one without religious affiliation, Klöti pointed out. This does not lack an interreligious dialogue: "Only if there is a spirit of togetherness between the religious communities is there a precondition that radicalization does not get out of hand."

Klöti also said: "Shouldn't the state courts intervene in the question of the admission of women to the Catholic priesthood?" On the other hand, state intervention in the sphere of religion is necessary where women, men or children are disadvantaged against their will.

The speaker referred to the example of examining marriages concluded abroad with minors or forced marriages. "Certainly the state does not have an easy part in its positioning towards religious values ​​- it is a complicated dance step that has to be practiced."

Religions as suppliers of moral resources

Martin Klöti quoted the German constitutional lawyer Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde: "The liberal, secularized state lives conditions that it cannot guarantee itself." What is meant is that the state cannot dictate any moral resources to stabilize it.

"That is why he is always dependent on the supply of such raw materials," emphasized Klöti. Religion - along with philosophy, culture or sport - must therefore participate in the democratic-liberal state. "And this is where religion and state meet in a constructive sense: the state should strengthen the forces that support it and society," said the government council.

In conclusion, Klöti said: “Yes, the state is dependent on religions as suppliers of moral resources. At the same time, the state must also set limits where religious action violates the existing legal system. "