Terminological aspects of constitutional regulation of church-state relations in Ukraine
Almost 24 years have passed since the adoption of the Constitution of Ukraine, however, the term «church» remains unclear in the legislation of Ukraine. Simultaneous using the terms «church» and «religious organizations» in some provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine and using only the term «church» in other provisions create the basis for an ambiguous interpretation of the constitutional principle of church-state separation and church-school separation. Such legal uncertainty in practice leads to a violation of the rights of believers in the application of constitutional provisions, in particular in the process of registration of religious organizations as a legal entity.
The Constitutional Court of Ukraine decided that there were differences in the substance of the terms "church" and "religious organizations", which are primarily used in the legislation, but a clarification of these terms is the power of a legislative body, not the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. Nevertheless, the Parliament of Ukraine has not yet resolved the issue of interpretation of the term "church", which is used in the Constitution of Ukraine and is a legal ground to the whole sphere of legislative regulation of state-church relations.
In all the provisions of the Law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations", the term "religious organizations" is used, avoiding terminological ambiguity. The use of the term "religious organization" in the legislation of Ukraine is justified not only because of the universality caused by the lack of denominational affiliation but also because this term denotes the specific form of legal entities.
In the article, the author gives arguments justifying the actuality for correction of the terminological conception, which is used in article 35 (3) of the Constitution of Ukraine, with the aim of introducing a unified approach in the whole legislation of Ukraine. However, it is permissible to use the term "church" for research purposes, giving it broad meaning as a public institution that embodies the diversity of religions and denominations.