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Spanish Court Condemns Local Closure of Churches During the Pandemic by Bridget Ryder

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Spanish Court Condemns Local Closure of Churches During the Pandemic

In Spain, the regional high court of Andalusia (TSJA) has ruled the regional government of Melilla trampled the fundamental rights of its citizens by closing places of worship for five weeks at the beginning of 2021 as part of COVID-19 restrictions.

Under two ordinances, the sites of different religious confessions were forced to remain closed precisely during the times that worshipers normally gathered—mosques on Fridays, synagogues on Saturdays, and churches on Sundays, in all three cases from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The measure was contested by the advocacy group Christian Lawyers. The court condemned the part of two ordinances issued by the Ministry of Economy and Social Policies on 26 January 2021 and 16 February 2021, respectively, that restricted worship. It ruled that the measure lacked justification and proportionality, and did not have the ratification required to adopt it. 

The court also reasoned that the measure affected the fundamental rights of an undetermined number of people, specifically their right to religious freedom and worship, and the right of assembly. 

In a press release, the president of Christian Lawyers, Poland Castellanos, reaffirmed that “it was a disproportionate measure that violates the fundamental right to religious freedom.”

Castellanos believes that these convictions “will serve to force radical secular politicians to respect a fundamental right such as religious freedom,” also pointing out that “a governor of an autonomous city does not have the power to restrict a fundamental right.”

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.

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