Types of religious associations. Religious organization
Russian law grants freedom of conscience and religion, including the right to confess, individually or together with others, any religion or none at all, to freely chose and change, have and promote any religious or non-religious convictions, and act according to them. Legal relationships in the area of human and citizen rights to freedom of conscience and religion and also legal standing of religious associations are regulated by Federal law № 125-FL of 26.09.1997 "On Freedom of conscience and religious associations”. According to clause 2, article 6 of Federal law № 125-FL of 26.09.1997 “On freedom of conscience and religious associations”, religious associations can be established in the form of religious groups and religious organizations. This material covers the notion, characteristics, and registration procedure of the religious organization. Establishing a local religious organization.
- 1. Notion and legal capacity of a local religious organization
- 2. Legal requirements to the charter of religious organization
- 3. State registration of religious organizations
- 4. Rejection of state registration of religious organization
1. Notion and legal capacity of a local religious organization
Religious organizations activity in the Russian Federation and their civil legal state is regulated by Civic Code of the Russian Federation “Civic Code of the Russian Federation (part one)” N 51-FL of 30.11.1994 (henceforth, CC RF) and Federal law N 125-FL of 26.09.1997 “On freedom of conscience and religious associations” (henceforth, Law on freedom of conscience). However, CC RF provisions are applicable to religious organizations, unless otherwise provided for by the Law on freedom of conscience and other laws (p.2 p.123.26 CC RF).
According to the article 123.26 CC RF, a religious organization is a voluntary association of Russian citizens or other persons, constantly and legally residing within the territory of the Russian Federation, established by them with the purpose of joint confession and promotion of their faith, registered as a legal entity in order established by law (local religious organization); association of these organizations (centralized religious organization), and also an organization and (or) governing or coordinating body, established by the indicated association with the purpose of joint confession and promotion of their faith in accordance with the Law on freedom of conscience and religious associations.
According to article 8 of the Law on freedom of conscience, local religious organization is a religious organization, consisting of no more than ten members, who has reached the age of eighteen and constantly live in the same place, or in the same municipal or village settlement.
Religious organizations act according to their legit charters and internal regulations.
Establishment procedure of religious organizations bodies and their competences, order of decision making by those bodies and also relationships between the religious organization and persons being members of its bodies are defined according to the Law on freedom of conscience and religious associations, the charter and internal regulations of religious organization. Matters of founders’ or other legal or physical entities’ participation in religious organization’s activity is defined by the charter and (or) internal regulations of religious organizations. The founder (founders) of religious organization can fulfill the functions of religious organization body or members of religious organization collegial organ in a manner established by the charter and internal regulations of religious organization (p.2 art.123.26 CC RF and p.1 art.8 of the Law on freedom of conscience).
Name of religious organization must include information on its religious confession. Religious organization is obliged to state its full name when carrying out its activity (p.8 art.8 of the Law on freedom of conscience).
2. Legal requirements to the charter of religious organization
Religious organization acts on the basis of the charter, which is approved by its founders or centralized religious organization and must meet the requirements of the Russian Federation civil legislation.
Requirements to the charter of religious organization are established in article 123.27 CC RF and article 10 of the Law on freedom of conscience. The charter of religious organization must contain:
- name, location, type of religious organization, confession, and also the name of existing centralized religious organization, in case of belonging to such;
- object, purposes, tasks and main activity forms;
- order of formation and termination of activity;
- organizational structure, its governing organs, order of their formation, their competence and order of decision making;
- finances and other property generation sources of the organization, direction for their use and order of division of property, which remains after its liquidation;
- order of amending and addition to the charter;
- order of assets administration in case of activity termination;
- other information related to activity specifics of this religious organization.
3. State registration of religious organizations
Religious organizations are subject to state registration according to the Federal law “On state registration of legal entities and self-employed entrepreneurs” with respect to special order of state registration of religious organizations, established in the Law on freedom of conscience. Decision about state registration of religious organization is made by federal organ of state registration (the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation) or its territorial organ. Registration of information on establishment, reorganization and liquidation of religious organizations in Unified State Register of Legal Entities, and also other information, envisaged by federal laws, is carried out by authorized registration body (Federal Tax Service) on the basis of decision to give a corresponding state registration made by the federal organ of state registration or its territorial organ. (Art.11 of the Law on freedom of conscience).
The decision making standard and order of state registration service provided by central office of the Russian Ministry of Justice and its territorial organs to religious organization at the moment of its establishment are defined by Administrative procedure of state service provision to make a decision on state registration of non-commercial organization, confirmed by the Order of the Russian Ministry of Justice N 455 of 30.12.2011.
To receive state registration, the founders must provide the corresponding territorial organ of federal organ of state registration with the following:
- registration application;
- list of persons, establishing the religious organization containing their citizenship, place of residence, and date of birth;
- the charter of religious organization;
- record of the founding meeting;
- document confirming local religious organization’s accession into the structure of centralized religious organization of the same confession, issued by the governing body (center) of centralized religious organization in case, if local religious organization does access the structure of a centralized religious organization;
- information on confession principles and corresponding religious practices, including the history of origin of this religion and association, forms and methods of its activities, its stand on family and marriage, education, specifics of its position on health of the followers of this religion, restrictions for the members and ministers of the organization related to their civil rights and obligations;
- information on address (location) of permanent governing body of an established religious organization, which is used for communication with religious organization;
- document confirming payment of state duty.
The founders of local religious organization can be no less than ten citizens of the Russian Federation, who reached the age of eighteen and constantly residing in the same place or in the same municipal or village settlement. (art.9 of the Law on freedom of conscience).
Persons, who cannot be a founder (participant, member) of local religious organization:
- foreign citizen or stateless person, in relation to whom a decision was made in accordance with the procedure specified in the Russian Federation legislation, that their stay (residence) in the Russian Federation is undesirable;
- persons included in the list according to clause 2 article 6 of Federal law N 115-FL of 7 August 2001 “On counter-acting Legalization of Proceeds from Crime, and Terrorist Financing” (henceforth, Federal law "On counter-acting Legalization of Proceeds from Crime, and Terrorist Financing");
- persons who were found guilty with action containing signs of extremist activity, established by the enforced court ruling;
- physical entity in relation to which a decision was made by intergovernmental coordination body, exercising functions on counteracting terrorism financing, that their financial assets and other property must be impounded (blocked) in accordance with article 7.4 of Federal law "On counter-acting Legalization of Proceeds from Crime, and Terrorist Financing", until such decision is canceled.
Application for state registration of religious organization, established by religious organization or based on confirmation, issued by centralized religious organization, is processed within a period of one month from the day of presentation of all documents, stated by the corresponding article. In other cases, the organ responsible for making decision on state registration of the religious organization has a right to prolongate the period of documents’ processing up to six months to conduct state theological expertise. The procedure of state theological expertise is established by authorized federal executive authority.
During the state service provision, it is prohibited:
- to demand from the applicant to present documents, not considered in legislative acts, regulating relationships arising in relation to providing of this state service;
- to demand from the applicant to present documents in possession of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and its territorial organs, and also in possession of other governmental bodies, municipal organs and organizations.
All documents, except for electronic documents and founding documents of religious organization, are presented for state registration in duplicate, one of which is supposed to be original.
Founding documents of religious organization are presented in three original copies, except for electronic documents.
Two copies of founding documents, presented for state registration, must be bound and attested by the applicant or certifying officer’s signature.
Pages of all copies of founding documents, presented for state registration, must be numbered. Documents containing more than one page must be bound, numbered and attested by applicant’s signature on the back side of the end sheet in the place of binding.
A record (abstract of record) of founding congress (conference), general meeting or proceeding of the highest managing body (highest governing body) of the organization, containing the decision on establishing religious organization, approval of its founding documents and on election (appointment) of its bodies (on forming managing bodies) must include:
- date, time and place of founding congress (conference), general meeting or proceeding;
- list of founders-members of founding congress (conference), general meeting or proceeding;
- information on number and identity of personnel (full name) of working bodies (general committee, secretariat and others);
- content of decisions made and voting records regarding them;
- information (full names) on elected (appointed) members of managing and internal control bodies;
- surname, initials and personal signature of the chairperson and secretary of the congress (conference), general meeting or proceeding, responsible for vote count and drawing up a protocol.
Original payment order or some other document, confirming payment of state duty into a corresponding account for state registration of religious organization, is to be presented.
Information on address (location) of permanent acting body of religious organization, which is used for communication with religious organization, must be stated in the application signed by a designated person. Applicant’s confirmation of provided information by other documents is not required.
Total period of provision of state service of religious organization state registration by central office of the Russian Ministry of Justice and its territorial organs, without reference to time of execution of these functions by the registering body, must not take more than one month and three days or six months and three days (in case of conducting state theological expertise).
Document application to registering body (Federal Tax Service) must be exercised withing working hours of the day, following the day of final decision on state registration of religious organization.
Based on the decision made by the central office of the Russian Ministry of Justice and its territorial organ to give state registration to religious organization, and presenting all necessary information and documents within the five days’ period since the day all necessary information and documents were received, the registering body (Federal Tax Service) is to add corresponding record into Uniform State Register of Legal Entities, and to inform the central office of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation or its territorial organ within working hours of the day following the day of above mentioned record.
Information record in the department register must be done withing the working hours of the day, following the day of documents reception from the registering body (Federal Tax Service).
Document issue to the applicant is to be done in the day of application, but not later than three working days since the day the documents were received from the registering body.
4. Rejection of state registration of religious organization
Religious organization may receive rejection of state registration in the following cases (art. 12 of the Law on freedom of conscience):
- religious organization purposes and activity contradict the Constitution and legislation of the Russian Federation, with references to certain law articles;
- established organization is not deemed as religious;
- charter and other presented documents don’t meet the requirements of the Russian Federation legislation, or information they contain is false;
- Unified State Registry of Legal Entities already has a registration record of an organization having the same name;
- Founder (founders) is ineligible.
In case of rejection of state registration of religious organization, the applicant is to be informed of decisions made in written form, stating the grounds for rejection. Rejection on the grounds of inexpedience of religious organization establishment is prohibited.
Rejection of state registration of religious organization, and also its avoidance of such registration can be appealed to court.