National Profiles > > Regions > Western Europe > Belgium
Search National Profiles:

Features of Constitution1

Is there a constitution? Yes
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion? Yes


Constitution Year 1831
Last Amended 2009
Source The House of Representatives of Belgium
Translation Source is an English translation
Current as of May 11, 2011

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)2

Article 19

Freedom of worship, its public practice and freedom to demonstrate one’s opinions on all matters are guaranteed, but offenses committed when this freedom is used may be punished.

Article 20

No one can be obliged to contribute in any way whatsoever to the acts and ceremonies of a religion or to observe its days of rest.

Article 21

The State does not have the right to intervene either in the appointment or in the installation of ministers of any religion whatsoever or to forbid these ministers from corresponding with their superiors, from publishing the acts of these superiors, but, in this latter cases, normal responsibilities as regards the press and publishing apply.
A civil wedding should always precede the blessing of the marriage, apart from the exceptions to be established by the law if needed.

Article 24

§ 1. Education is free; any preventative measure is forbidden; the punishment of offenses is regulated only by the law or federate law.
The community offers free choice to parents.
The community organizes non-denominational education. This implies in particular the respect of the philosophical, ideological or religious beliefs of parents and pupils.
Schools organized by the public authorities offer, until the end of compulsory education, the choice between the teaching of one of the recognized religions and non-denominational ethics teaching.
§ 2. If a community, in its capacity as an organizing authority, wishes to delegate powers to one or several autonomous bodies, it can only do so by federate law adopted by a two-third majority of the votes cast.
§ 3. Everyone has the right to education with the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms. Access to education is free until the end of compulsory education.
All pupils of school age have the right to moral or religious education at the community's expense.
§ 4. All pupils or students, parents, teaching staff or institutions are equal before the law or federate law. The law and federate law take into account objective differences, in particular the characteristics of each organizing authority that warrant appropriate treatment.
§ 5. The organization, the recognition and the subsidizing of education by the community are regulated by law or federate law.

Article 181

§ 1. The salaries and pensions of ministers of religion are paid for by the State; the amounts required are charged annually to the budget.
§ 2. The salaries and pensions of representatives of organizations recognized by the law as providing moral assistance according to a non-denominational philosophical concept are paid for by the State; the amounts required are charged annually to the budget.


1.  Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  The constitutional excerpts shown above are reproduced from the websites given in the "Source" field; the links to these websites were active as of May 2011. Where the constitutional text shown on these websites was provided in a language other than English, this text was translated to English by ARDA staff with assistance from web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish. Constitutional text was converted to American English where applicable. Constitutional clauses were judged to contain religious content based largely on the standards used in the construction of the Religion and State Constitutions Dataset collected by Jonathan Fox. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to highlight religious content in articles that also contain content that does not pertain to matters of religion. The data on this page were correct to the best of the knowledge of the ARDA as of the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

Bookmark and Share