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Lecture discusses religious freedom

| Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jorge E. Traslosheros of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México gave a lecture titled “Constitutional Reform and Religious Liberty in Mexico” on Monday afternoon in the Biolchini Hall of Law.

The lecture was co-sponsored by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Mexico Working Group and the Notre Dame Law School.
Traslosheros discussed the history of religious persecution in Mexico and the ongoing struggle in Mexico to achieve religious liberty for all.

“We have gone from calling religion the people’s opiate, as Marxists did, to treating it as the people’s tobacco” Traslosheros said. “[We now] think it has to be eliminated, an evil that has to be fought against and preferably eradicated, at least from public spaces, because it is harmful to one’s health.”

After religious freedom was severely restricted by the Constitution of 1917, Mexico became a secular state, he said.

This transition from a Catholic government to a secular one helped contribute to 24 years of religious persecution from 1914 to 1938, which was then followed by cultural persecution that still continues to this day, he said.

“The constitutional reform of 1992 clarified the legal confines of the different churches in relation to the state, but left unattended the issue of religious freedom as a human right,” Traslosheros said. “Today, in the whole world as in Mexico, there is a huge debate on the relation between society, state and religious freedom.”

However, in 2011, after the issue of abortion was brought into the public arena, the protection of religious freedom as a human right was more seriously discussed, he said.

“The right to religious freedom stands to every human being, protecting equally unbelievers, agnostics and atheists,” he said. “It is the freedom of professing not-a-religion. It is a right to lead and express our own culture publicly or privately without having to suffer any violence or limitations.”

In 2012, Article 24 of the Constitution was amended to ensure religious freedom for all. However, certain things are still withheld from religious institutions, Traslosheros said.

“Religious organizations cannot own radio or television stations, and members of the clergy cannot hold office, advocate political views or support political candidates,” he said.

The reforms represented a solid first effort at amending the animosity between secularism and religion, he said.

“Many things are pending in Mexico … This is a very far-reaching reform,” he said. “We would be lying if we said that the issue of religious freedom has been solved. It constitutes a first step, a very important one, but also a long way to go.”

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