The reports about Andrew Brunson’s release are just another example of how little the media know about evangelical churches.
This is a historical sentence, because for the first time in Spain, it recognised the right of an evangelical pastor’s widow to receive a pension.
The Labour and Social Security Court of Barcelona has recognised the right of an evangelical pastor’s widow to receive a retirement pension. This is a historical sentence, because it is recognition of a claim that many Evangelicals in Spain have made during years, to solve the defencelessness that tens of pastors and his families are suffering.
Additionally, the judge considered that the freedom of religion and the right to non-discrimination have not been respected (specially compared to Catholic priests, who are able to pay contributions since 1977), although both of them are fundamental rights, protected by the Spanish Constitution.
In this case, the pastor had exercised his pastoral labour for more than 30 years, receiving his salary from the Spanish Evangelical Church (IEE in Spanish), but he was never allowed to pay contributions to the Social Security system. In 1990, he finished his job, but he did not have access to a retirement pension, because he had not contributed to it.
In 2011 he died, and in 2013 his widow claimed the widow pension that the judge has given her now.
A LEGITIMATE RIGHT
The sentence follows a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which in 2012 declared that Spain had violated the right of evangelical pastors, who were not allowed to contribute during Franco’s dictatorship.
In that sentence, the European Court in Strasbourg stated that “the Spanish legislation has been late in including the evangelical pastors in the Social Security system, and they have the right to receive the same welfare payment that Catholic priests receive”.
The Court also pointed out that “the difference in treatment between religious leaders was based solely on grounds of religious denomination.”
COMPENSATION FOR DAMAGES
Despite the sentence of the European Court of Human Rights, and because of Spain’s total lack of authority to solve the discrimination the pastors have suffered, the only possible solution approved by the Spanish Constitution, was to apply the same rule that is used for the secularised Catholic priests, but they have to pay for the new pension they receive, so that it would penalise the evangelical pastors again.
To avoid that, the Labour and Social Security Court of Barcelona, has determined that the widow will not have to pay for the new pension, as a compensation for damages she and her husband have suffered during all the years when their rights have been violated.