By Nicole Banks Barrantes - International Relations student
Religion has been an important element in the life of the human being throughout the history of humanity, since, in some way, it has served to find meaning in life, certain comfort, and the explanation to many natural phenomena. It has become so important in societies, thus it has become into a fundamental human right, as the right to exercise a religion. Due to this eagerness, some religions like the Catholic have positioned themselves to try to transmit that human need, and find the answers of life itself.
Even in 2020, Costa Rica remains to be the only denominational state in Latin America; according to the 75th article in the Political Constitution, “the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Religion is that of the State, who contributes to its maintenance”, where it establishes the dominance of the religion. A motion to remove an established religion in the country will look to modify the Constitution into portraying that the State will remain neutral in religious matters, and will guarantee freedom of conscience, and that of professing any religion within the framework of the law (Valverde, 2018).
Costa Rica characterizes itself as State of freedom, though it is contradictory because religious freedom brings with itself different social ties. A religious state does not guarantee equality or the value of expressions of personal belief; from laicity inclusive scopes grow, without discrimination towards other non-denominational or religious expressions. Laicism works as the current of thought, government policy or movement that defends the existence of an independently organized society, or in its case unfamiliar to religious confessions. Whoever supports a secular state considers the importance to guarantee freedom of conscience as well as the non-imposition of the particular moral norms of any religion. A secular state is crucial in Costa Rica in order to guarantee the rights of the people involving sexual freedom, and freedom of procreation which can be applied as civil rights or liberties.
The project to separate the Church from the State will not affect the efficiency of the country. With the motion, the State would lose its obligation to finance the church, thus by changing article 75, where it states that the State contributes to its maintenance (Cascante, 2016). A factor that makes people hesitate or disagree with the reform includes the stipulated holidays in relation to the Catholic religion, including Holy Week or August 2nd, as if they would be affected. Nevertheless, holidays are contemplated in the Labor Code and this reform only covers two articles of the Political Constitution; thus, they wouldn’t be affected with the secular system in the country. The reform doesn’t seek the installation of an atheist State for it will find hatred and disagreements between citizens. Secularism is the open door for different perspectives and freedom of expression.
From a secular state, the human rights of all people are protected without a religious bias, a position from which Catholicism imposes its social vision in today’s life, thus discriminating other minority religious freedoms that co-inhabit the Costa Rican society, and limiting the openness and breadth of greater cultural spaces for these freedoms (Alpizar, 2017). The motion concerning the separation of the clergy and the state seeks the elimination or constitutional change of the 75th article, which applies to not only the Catholic religion, but to every creed or religion per se. Political decisions must be based on rights, not on religious dogmas.
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Alpízar Jiménez, I. (2018). Estado confesional y derechos humanos en Costa Rica. Revista Latinoamericana De Derechos Humanos, 28(2), 139-154. https://doi.org/10.15359/rldh.28-2.6
Cascante, L. (2016). Seis puntos para entender el proyecto de Estado laico en Costa Rica. La República. Retrieved from https://www.larepublica.net/noticia/seis_puntos_para_entender_el_proyecto_de_estado_laico_en_costa_rica/amp
Valverde, R. (2018). ¿Por qué un estado laico en Costa Rica? Laicismo.org. Retrieved from https://laicismo.org/por-que-un-estado-laico-en-costa-rica/