Law and religion in Chile: Ecclesiastical Law in transition. Ana María Celis and Sebastián Zárate.
Chilean ecclesiastical law is in a stage of transformation. We do not have yet the historical perspective to argue that these changes are due to the changes in society or even the consolidation of democracy within the last 20 years. However, it is a matter of fact that ecclesiastical law as a discipline has become more relevant subject during the last decade.
Today we have more scholars and publications in the field than ever before. More importantly, judges and lawyers are more aware about the reality of this discipline. As a result, there is a considerable better understanding of religious freedom, and courts have started to work in a more serious doctrine, like the case law in areas such as education and labour law within different issues in law and religion.
The flourishing state of the Chilean ecclesiastical law can be also demonstrated by the offer of optional unit courses in law faculties at an undergraduate level4. In a country in which doctoral studies in law (PhD) have been running for only a decade, a small group of research students have started to work inspired by academics related to the discipline.
These developments are going to be considered in this article, along with the general overview of law and religion in Chile. The article is organised as follows. The first section will describe the legal and historical background, taking into consideration the more relevant constitutional changes of religious freedom, and the relationship between the state and religious organisations. The second section of the article will analyse the recognition and regulation of religious organisations under the Local Communities Act 1997, the Civil Code, the Religious Entities Act 1999 and the public entities that had previous recognition. In the third section we will consider three important issues within law and religion in the country: first, religion and society; secondly, ministers of religion; thirdly, labour law and religious freedom, and finally, faith schools.
Palabras claves (key words): Law and Religion, Ecclesiastical Law, Chilean ecclesiastical law
Documento (document): Law and Religion in Chile: Ecclesiastical Law in transition