REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA
Promulgated State Gazette, No. 48 from 1 March 1949. With Decision No.5 from 1992 the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional Art. 10, 12, 18, 20, 21, 22 and 23
All people in Bulgaria are given the opportunity of freedom of religion and conscience.
Religious communities are separated from the state.
They are allowed to participate in all kinds of sermons and rituals, as long as the latter do not contradict the Constitution.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is the traditional religious denomination in Bulgaria, deeply connected with the history of the country. As such, it could be people's democratic church in form, content and spirit.
Nobody should be persecuted and restricted in his civil or political rights, as well as nobody should be freed from duties, imposed by the laws of the country, just because of his affiliation to a certain religion or to no religion at all. This rule has the same power on all different clergymen as well.
All denominations are free to choose their own interrelations, to carry out their sermons, to live according to their canons and rules, as long as all these do not contradict the laws, the public order and the good morals.
A denomination becomes a body corporate from the moment of the approval of its statute by the Council of Ministers or by an authorised Vice-Chairman of the Cabinet. From this moment onwards all local branches of the denomination receive the same status.
The Council of Ministers or an authorised Vice-Chairman of the Cabinet reasonably withdraw the already given recognition as soon as a denomination breaks the laws, the public order or the good morals.
The religious denominations are allowed to build and open places for carrying out their public sermons and rituals.
These sermons and the processions, which are carried in the open should follow the ordinary laws and administrative decrees.
All religious denominations are free to organise national or regional meetings, conferences or gatherings, provided that they are carried out according to the basic laws and administrative decisions.
The leaders of every religious denomination have certain responsibilities before the Government.
The administrative and the executive bodies of each denomination, as well as the way of their election should be mentioned in their statutes.
Their clergymen who maintain canonical relationships with foreign countries are not allowed to take office, before being approved by the Directorate for Religious Affairs.
Clergymen of every religious denomination may be people who are honest and trustworthy Bulgarian citizens and who have not been sentenced for crime.
All religious denominations are free to organise discipline courts for their clergymen and other religious officers, in accordance to their canons and dogmas. The rules of their procedure should be mentioned in their statutes.
The punishments which contradict the laws, the public order and the good morals are invalid.
Religious officers who break the laws, the public safety and the good morals or work against the democratic order of the country may be fired after a proposition from the Director of Religious Affairs no matter what other responsibilities they might have. This act should be executed by the leaders of the denomination as soon as the above mentioned proposition is received. If the governing body refuses to fire a religious officer, this is done in administrative way.
The religious denominations have revenues and expenses according to budgets, which are formed in accordance to their statutes. In case of need the Government may subsidise their expenses.
The above mentioned organisations should send their budgets to the Directorate for Religious Affairs.
All financial activities of the denominations are controlled by the financial authorities of the country, just like the other citizen's organisations.
Every denomination is free to open secondary or higher shoals for religious education, after the approval of the Council of Ministers or an authorised Vice-Chairman of the Cabinet.
The structure and the curriculum of these schools are arranged by a special regulation act of the above mentioned authorised bodies.
Sending of young people abroad to study in theological schools is to be done with the permission of the same authorities.
All governing bodies of religious denominations are obliged to send in due time the messages, the local or other documents, published by them, plus the publications of public interest, to the Directorate for Religious Affairs for notification.
The head of this Directorate has the authority to stop the circulation and execution of those messages, local or other, that contradict the laws, the public order and the good morals.
The central bodies of the denominations should be registered with the Directorate for Religious Affairs and the local offices bodies - with the local municipal councils, with the names of each person from the governing body mentioned.
In the relationships between the denominations and the Government, as well as in the documentation of the religious organisations, the official language to be used should be Bulgarian. In their relationships with their followers, during their sermons and rituals, they may use any other language.
The mentioning of the Supreme Power and its organs by the religious denominations during the sermons, rituals and celebrations may be done only by expressions previously approved by the Directorate for Religious Affairs.
The religious denominations should inform the Directorate for Religious Affairs about their names, symbolic signs and the seals they use.
The establishments of all kinds of religious and moral organisations, as well as the publication of religious books should abide the basic laws and administrative decisions.
The upbringing and the education of children and youngsters is supervised by the Government and none of the religious denominations is allowed to do that.
Article 21 was abrogated.
The religious denominations are allowed to maintain relationships with religious denominations, institutions, organisations and officials that have their seats or domicile outside the boundaries of the country, only with a permission previously given by the Head of the Directorate for Religious Affairs.
The religious organisations and their departments (bodies, congregations, missions, etc.) that have their seats abroad are not allowed to open their own departments: missions, orders, charity organisations or other establishments; those that exist are to be closed one month after this law enters into force.
The entire property of the organisations whose activities are cancelled in accordance to the previous paragraph is transferred to the Government while the organisations themselves receive a compensation, the amount of which is decided according to Art.21.
The religious denominations may receive material aid and gifts from abroad only with the permission of the Head of the Directorate for Religious Affairs.
The denominations which have property abroad are represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when deals are done. The same Ministry is the responsible one for the protection of the religious rights of Bulgarians abroad.
Articles 26-28 were abrogated.
Those who violate the provisions of this act are sanctioned, despite of any other responsibilities they might face. The Director for Religious Affairs could impose a fine of 40 levs by a decree. This decree could be appealed according to the provisions of the Act for the Administrative Violations and Punishments.
All the problems, connected with the material self-support, with the inter relations and management of the denominations which are not arranged by this Act should be arranged by special statutes. The latter should be adopted by the leaders of the religious organisations, in accordance to the laws of the country and should be presented for the approval of the Council of Ministers or an authorised Vice-Chairman of the Cabinet. This should be done within three months from the day of the entering into force of the present Act.
If some of the clauses in these statutes contradict the laws of the country, the public order or the good morals, the Council of Ministers has the right to ask for their withdrawal. In case of objection on the part of the denomination for this to be done, the Cabinet or the authorised by it Vice-Chairman may refuse to accept the statutes.
The central governing bodies of the religious denominations should present to the Directorate for Religious Affairs lists with the names of their religious representatives and officers within one month from the day of the entering into force of this Act; the above mentioned representatives may keep their positions just after the approval of the Director for Religious Affairs.
The religious officers who do not fulfil the conditions of this Act may not receive approval by the Director for Religious Affairs.
The present Act repeals all other acts, laws, statutes and rules which contradict it.
Source: Unofficial translation