[ LETTER ] - Taipei Times
Sun, Apr 08, 2018 - Page 6 News List

[ LETTER ]

Covering religious foundations

The Council of Grand Justices’ Constitutional Interpretation No. 573 holds that the “State is not barred from regulating, by means of law, the management or disposition of the property owned by a religious group. In doing so, however, the principles of proportionality and clarity of law under Article 23 of the Constitution should be complied with.”

After all, property rights are a secular matter rather than a foundation for religious belief. It is only natural that secular affairs be regulated by law and remain unrestricted “except such as may be necessary to prevent infringement upon the freedoms of other persons, to avert an imminent crisis, to maintain social order or to advance public welfare,” as Article 23 stipulates.

The Cabinet’s draft law on foundations differs from the previous version by excluding text stipulating that “the regulations of the act do not apply to religious groups.”

This means that it applies to religious foundations, which has led to a dispute over whether religious foundations should be subjected to an act that regulates secular foundations.

A draft religious organization act submitted to the legislature for committee review in 2015 still has not been considered.

If the foundation act passes in a version that does not apply to religious foundations before a religious organization act is adopted, there will be no law to regulate religious groups.

That Articles 15 to 18 in the draft religious organization act regulate “religious foundations” shows its intent to cover religious foundations, although it is far less detailed and comprehensive than the draft foundation act.

If religious foundations should be subject to special regulations, using the same regulations as for other foundations would be inappropriate, so necessary articles should be proposed in the legislative review.

After the minister of the interior suggested in public that the foundation act should not apply to religious organizations, the interior ministry submitted complementary legislation intended to address religious organizations. Then they withdrew it. How could this work?

Lee Chi-sheng

New Taipei City

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