Everyone should have a religion

Fundamental rights in relation to the practice of religion

The Religious freedom is legally protected in Austria. A general distinction is made between individual rights, which relate to natural persons, and corporate rights, which churches and religious societies protect.

In the area of ‚Äč‚Äčindividual rights, the term includes religious freedom Freedom of belief, Religious exercise, Freedom of belief as Freedom of conscience. Everyone over the age of 14 has the freedom to choose their religion according to their own convictions and, if necessary, must be protected in this choice by the authorities. He may freely choose his affiliation to a church or religious society, change it or belong to none at all.  

In Austria everyone has the right to practice their religion individually or in community with others, publicly or privately, through worship, teaching, prayer and observance of religious customs.

In addition, all citizens enjoy the same civil and political rights regardless of their religion.

Every existing church and religious society in Austria enjoys special protection: the degradation of religious teachings and the disruption of religious practice are considered criminal offenses and church premises that are dedicated to worship and sacred objects enjoy increased protection under criminal law. The religious freedom that churches and religious societies enjoy (corporate rights) can be summarized with the following principles:

  • Principle of religious neutrality: The Austrian legal system is religiously neutral and does not identify with any particular church or religious society.
  • Principle of Secularity: The Austrian state has exclusively worldly and earthly tasks and goals.
  • Principle of parity: For legally recognized churches and religious societies, the general principle of equality applies and thus a requirement of equal treatment and a ban on discrimination.
  • Exclusive right As a principle of the Austrian state church law: Every legally recognized church or religious society is guaranteed the exclusive right to their name and religious doctrine as well as the exclusive care of their own members.

In Austria, the state and the church are on an equal footing and recognize their respective independence and autonomy.

Detailed information on the legally recognized churches and religious communities can also be found at oesterreich.gv.at

Last updated: March 25, 2021

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