The CRC provides that “State Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” (Article 14). In its General Comment No. 20, the CRC Committee stresses that it is the child who exercises the freedom of religion, not the parent. With the child’s evolving capacity, the parents’ role to provide direction diminishes and the child obtains an increasingly active role in making their own choices.
The right to freedom of religion, as covered in Article 10 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, includes the freedom to change religion. In the majority of Member States, there is no legislation regulating how the religion of a child can change.
- In most Member States, changing religion is not regulated by law.
- In Austria and Germany, children can change their religion without parental consent from the age of 14 years; in Estonia and Slovenia, from the age of 15 years; and in Cyprus, Portugal and Romania, from the age of 16 years. In Bulgaria, Denmark and Finland, the minimum age for changing religion without parental consent is 18 years.
- In Greece, a mandatory declaration of religion or belief is included in the birth registration document.