Religious oaths up for review

The Justice Ministry is reviewing the law that requires MPs, witnesses in trials, soldiers and various public officials to take religious oaths, as there is pressure from the European Union for it to be changed because it is deemed to infringe on people’s individual freedoms. Sources said that the government would now begin the process of drawing up a new law that will do away with the swearing-in ceremony in courts, Parliament and public services. Alternatives already exist in some cases. Trial witnesses, for example, can take a political oath rather than a religious one before giving evidence. MPs can also abstain from taking a religious oath at the start of each Parliament. However, even this is deemed to compromise their privacy rights, as it can mark people out as non-believers. The idea of scrapping swearing-in ceremonies has been discussed in the past but the Church of Greece has often voiced its opposition because it feels such a move would undermine the role of the Orthodox religion in the country’s proceedings. However, last year, Archbishop Ieronymos indicated that he was not averse to a change in the law, saying that it would not «create any problems for the Church.»