Mexican bishops demand respect for religious freedom, secular state in Nativity scene case

Given the possibility that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) may prohibit Nativity scenes on public property, the Mexican Bishops’ Conference (CEM) issued a statement calling for the free exercise of religious liberty whether individually or collectively.

Mexican bishops demand respect for religious freedom, secular state in Nativity scene case

In 2020, the Yucatán civil association Kanan Human Rights sought to prohibit the placement of Nativity scenes in public squares in the municipalities of Mérida, Chocholá, and Mocochá in Yucatán state, alleging that this “violates the secular state.” The organization filed constitutional protection lawsuits that have made their way to the SCJN.

On June 28, the SCJN justices will debate the case of one of the lawsuits filed against the municipality of Mérida.

“Religious freedom is not limited to worship but rather goes far beyond it, embracing freedom of thought, conscience, expression; taking shape in artistic and educational expressions, [and] in popular traditions, among others. The above has been recognized in our political constitution and international treaties,” the bishops wrote, according to a Catholic News Agency report.

In their statement, the CEM noted that modern democratic states are configured at the service of “every human person, of every community, promoting the full exercise of their freedoms and not restricting them as authoritarian states do.”

The Mexican bishops stressed the importance of understanding the secular state in an open and collaborative manner, “which promotes the exercise of human rights and configures a type of integral, solidary, and sustainable human development without denying any possibility of social and community expression of religious beliefs.”

Especially in the case of the discussion that will take place in the Supreme Court on Nativity scenes, the bishops called on “the justices to ensure religious freedom, the secular state, plurality, and freedom of options.”

“They should resolve this according to this modern and inclusive vision and not an ideology of a secular state that impedes the human right to religious freedom,” the prelates urged.

The statement also recalled that the Mexican state “is at the service of each citizen, promoting their freedoms and social justice, in plurality and respect for all cultural expressions.”

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