In March 2021, the court acquitted three activists who had been charged with offending religious feelings under Article 196 of the Penal Code for hanging posters in the streets with an image of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa with a rainbow halo. The court referred to a number of religious arguments in its oral reasoning, which – as some commentators have noted – makes the secular verdict similar to a religious sermon and could pose a threat to freedom of expression in the future. However, it seems difficult to blame the courts for this situation. The current axiological assumptions of the Polish legal system and the nature of specific regulations, such as Article 196 of the Criminal Code, force the courts to mix the legal-secular and religious orders. In order to change this, it would be necessary for the legislature to intervene both at the level of ordinary laws and the Basic Law.
Keywords: offending religious feelings, democracy, Rainbow Madonna, separation of Church and state