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Registry of churches’ members : the law is the same for all

Freedom of conscience is recognised by all international human rights conventions. This freedom includes the right to change one’s religion or belief, or to have none at all. 

In several European countries, churches keep the personal details of their former members who have exercised their freedom of conscience by leaving the church.

The Fédération nationale de la libre-pensée (France) points out that ‘All associations and convictional groups, whether religious or not, must respect the same right with the same guarantees for citizens: they may not unduly retain the personal data of those who leave them. In practice, several denominations claim to continue to retain control over this data, for reasons they consider legitimate, but which simply relate to their internal operations. For example, several Christian denominations refuse to delete the data of their former members, often recorded in their early childhood without their personal consent’.

It appeals to ‘governments and international authorities’ to take the necessary measures to ensure that freedom of conscience is safeguarded, and that ‘all religious associations, whatever their legal status in the countries concerned, are subject to the law, i.e. the deletion of the data of a person who has left a denomination as a result of exercising his or her freedom of conscience’.

The European Secularist Network shares this fight for freedom of conscience and the protection of the personal data of people who leave a religion. Its member associations are calling for religious organisations simply to be subject to law, and to respect the laws on the protection of personal data.

Link to the Fédération nationale de la libre-pensée petition