TABLE OF CONTENTS: 1. The coronavirus crisis: a tragedy and an opportunity - 2. Demanding governments’ accountability - 3. The conditions for legitimate restrictions on freedom of religion or belief - 4. The significance of equality and State’s neutrality for the protection of religious freedom - 5. Advantages of dialogue and cooperation between State and religion - 6. Support and doubts in the reaction of religious communities to governmental measures - 7. Final remarks.
ABASTRACT: This article explores peculiarities of the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison to other health crisis experienced in the past. Each character is thoroughly examined in the article. The article focuses on four thematic areas: the legal regulation of the fight against coronavirus; the equality of treatment of religious freedom in relation to other fundamental rights; the cooperation between the State and religious communities; and the reactions of religious communities to governmental measures. The article argues that rather than raising new questions, COVD-19 has forced us to deal with familiar questions under unprecedented circumstances. In this frame, time has played a central role as a factor to be taken into account to scrutinize the legitimacy of measures introducing severe limitations to fundamental rights and freedoms. Finally, the article claims that from a legal perspective, the experience of the past months reveals that, especially in times of crisis, we need a scrupulous respect for the requirements of the rule of law, including a strict accountability and transparency from governments, and putting especial emphasis on the protection of fundamental rights, among which is freedom of religion or belief.
Full Professor of Law and Religion at Complutense University of Madrid, Department of Derecho Internacional, Eclesiástico y Filosofía del derecho.
This article has been written in the context of the Project HUDISOC (PID2019-106005GB-I00, Spanish Ministry of Science); the Research Group REDESOC at Complutense University; and as a result of the research stay as FCFP Marie Skłodowska-Curie Senior External Fellow in FRIAS (Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies) in the academic year 2020-2021.