Home > State support > France > 1992-10-09 - Council of State, Association Siva Soupramanien de St-Louis, (...)

1992-10-09 - Council of State, Association Siva Soupramanien de St-Louis, n. 94455

State support · France · Faith-Based Organisation · Subsidies

No subsidies from a city council for an association partly carrying out religious activities

Key facts of the case - The City of Saint-Louis de la Réunion had granted some subsidies to an association named “Société Siva Soupramanien de Saint-Louis”. In a judgment of December 26th, 1986, the administrative court of Saint-Denis de La Réunion annulled the City’s decision by which those subsidies had been granted. The City of Saint-Louis lodged an appeal with the Council of State.

Main reasoning of the court - The Council of State upholds the administrative court judgment. Its reasoning mainly relies on article 2 of the December 9th, 1905 Act on separation between Church and State, which provides that « the Republic neither recognizes nor salaries or subsidizes to any religion ». Indeed, it results that no subsidies can be granted to associations carrying out religious activities. In the case at hand, the Council of State notices that the association “Société Siva Soupramanien de Saint-Louis” aims at gathering its members in order to practice and to study the Hindu religion and to purchase or rent buildings to host religious practices. But this association is also dedicated to social and cultural activities, which prevent it from benefiting of the rules only applicable for the associations having an exclusively religious purpose (“associations cultuelles”). Furthermore, because of the association “Société Siva Soupramanien de Saint-Louis” having nevertheless religious activities, article 2 of the 1905 Act is enforceable.
Accordingly, the Council of State rejects the claim of the City of Saint-Louis de La Réunion.

Comment - This case illustrates the paradoxical – and negative – situation of associations mixing religious and non-religious purposes in French law, with regard to their funding. On the one hand, if they are not associations with strictly religious purpose (“associations cultuelles” status) they cannot benefit of the advantageous tax situation of those associations. On the other hand, since they partly carry out religious activities, they cannot receive public subsidies.