Jehovah’s Witnesses recognized as 14th Religious Community in Austria
With today’s notification, the Federal Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture has recognized the religious community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Austria.
|For Immediate Release
May 12, 2009
Jehovah’s Witnesses recognized as 14th Religious Community
STRASBOURG — With today’s notification, the Federal Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture has recognized the religious community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Austria. It is now the 14th religious community in Austria that enjoys the status of a public law corporation.
Prior to this decision, Jehovah’s Witnesses had worked to attain full recognition as a religious community for more than 30 years. Recently, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that such a prolonged period of time “violated their fundamental freedoms under the European Convention.”
Johann Renoldner, chairman of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Austria, comments on the ruling and the community’s further plans: “For almost a hundred years, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Austria have been promoting Christian values on the basis of the Biblical Gospel—a task that we can now fulfill more expeditiously as a recognized religion. Austria’s legal system provides that religious communities of our size are organized corporations of public law. Since our new status sets clear legal standards for us, administrative tasks in many areas will be getting easier.”
While churches and religious communities are entitled to levy contributions from their members, Jehovah’s Witnesses will not utilize this provision. Renoldner explains, “It’s widely known that our Bible educational work has always been financed exclusively by voluntary donations. This standard is adhered to by Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide and therefore we will continue to adhere to it.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses expect this recognition to have an impact beyond the borders of Austria. Said Renoldner, “We are confident that this recognition sends a positive signal for the protection of freedom of religion and the rights of minorities, which ultimately benefits society as a whole.”
Further information can be found online under www.jehovas-zeugen.at.
Contact in Austria: Johann Zimmermann
Telephone: 0043-1-804 53 45-39; E-Mail: email@example.com
United States: Gregory Allen, Associate General Counsel,
Telephone: + (1) 845 306 1000,