Remus Cernea

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Remus Cernea
Remus Cernea.jpg
Remus Cernea (feb 2011)
Green Party candidate for
President of Romania
Opponent(s) Traian Băsescu, Crin Antonescu, Mircea Geoană and others
Incumbent Traian Băsescu
Personal details
Born (1974-06-25) June 25, 1974 (age 40)
Bucharest, Romania
Nationality Romanian
Political party Green Party
Residence Bucharest
Alma mater University of Bucharest
Religion none (Agnostic)
Website http://www.remuscernea.ro/

Remus Cernea (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈremus ˈt͡ʃerne̯a]; born June 25, 1974) is a Romanian activist against discrimination based on faith and religion, an advocate of the separation of church and state and the founder of the Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience Association. He is a currently serving as a member of the Chamber of Deputies and as the president of the Green Party.

He ran in the 2009 Romanian presidential election, and was a candidate for Green Party, gaining over 60,000 votes, or a share of 0.62% of the votes. In October 2010, he left the Green Party over ideological differences and created the Green Movement (Mișcarea Verzilor).

Biography[edit]

Born in Bucharest, he lived in Hunedoara for 14 years, where his father worked as a geologist, then moved back to Bucharest in 1988. In 1998, he founded the Noesis Cultural Society, an organization which edited the first Romanian e-books and multimedia encyclopedias dedicated to subjects of the Romanian culture: a CD-ROM containing 50 ebooks and encyclopedias about Ion Luca Caragiale and Constantin Brâncuși.[1][2] These projects earned the Noesis Society the prize for the best educational product (2002 edition) given by the Presidency of Romania.[2][3]

Cernea studied philosophy at the University of Bucharest. He graduated in 2002, but he refused to get his diploma, as he claims he studied at the university just out of his passion for philosophy.[4]

In 2003, he founded the Association "Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience", a secularist and humanist organization which militates for freedom of thought, separation of church and state and against discrimination based on faith and religion.[5]

Cernea published in 2007 a book of essays and articles named "Manifest împotriva becalizării României" (A Manifest Against the Becalization of Romania), in which he argues that the "Becalization" (derived from the name of Gigi Becali, a nationalist politician who stresses his allegiance to the Orthodox Church) is threatening the values of an open society.[6]

Views[edit]

Cernea argues that in Romania there is an "unacceptable collusion between the politicians and the Church",[7] and that although officially there is a separation of Church and state, practically, the Romanian Orthodox Church and the state are "intimately linked".[8] He considers himself a "freethinker", which he describes as being more encompassing than the term of "atheist", considering the term of atheist a bit too limited and wanting to retain an "area of speculation and openness".[9]

His 2009 electoral platform was based on 10 points which he details on his blog and include: supporting conciliation and dialog within the Romanian society, supporting human rights and fight against discrimination, closer ties with Romania's neighbours, supporting green technologies, sustainable development and green agriculture, increase in funding for education and research to 10% of the Romanian GDP, freer election system that is more fair to smaller parties, full separation of church and state and a national dialog on social issues such as legalization of prostitution, the problem of drugs and the recognition of heterosexual and homosexual civil unions.[10]

Political activity[edit]

In 1997, as a protest toward the nationalism found in Romanian politics, Cernea joined the ethnic Hungarian party, the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, despite being ethnically Romanian.[4]

Cernea announced his intention to run as a Green Party candidate in the January 17, 2010 by-election for the Romanian Chamber of Deputies seat (in the Sector 1 of Bucharest), vacated after the appointment of Bogdan Olteanu as deputy governor of the National Bank,[11] however, the Bucharest Central Municipal Bureau rejected his candidature, because he is not a member of a parliamentary party, as the law requires in case of a by-election.[12] The appeal of the decision and of the constitutionality of the law were rejected and Cernea announced he wants to dispute the law at the European Court of Human Rights.[13]

2009 Presidential election[edit]

In August 2009, Cernea announced his intention of running for presidency as a candidate of the Green Party.[14] He and the Green Party gathered the needed 200,000 signatures and submitted them to Electoral Bureau on the last day before the beginning of the electoral campaign, October 23, 2008.[15]

In an interview for Evenimentul Zilei, Cernea said that he wants to offer an alternative to the mainstream politics and he tries to attract the 60-70% of the voters who are disappointed by the politicians and do not want to go to the polls.[16] Although Cernea tried to obtain a debate, no candidate from the top three parties accepted a debate involving him.[17]

Cernea's political campaign was especially visible on the Internet, having the most Facebook supporters of all the candidates.[18] He says that unlike the top candidates' campaigns, his campaign was exclusively based on the enthusiasm of some young volunteers who helped him purely through pro-bono work.[17]

Cernea was the 8th out of 12 candidates, gaining 60,539 votes, or a share of 0.62%.[19] The highest percentages were in the Bucharest sectors 3 (1.13%) and 6 (1.04%), Cluj County (0.9%) and among the voters abroad (1.0%).[20]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Cernea ran in the Romanian legislative election, 2012 on the center-left Social Liberal Union ticket in a constituency in Constanța County, being one of the three candidates of the Green Party in the elections. He won the district, having 20,565 votes (57.23%).[21]

Law proposals[edit]

Church financing reform[edit]

In April 2013, Cernea announced that he is preparing a law proposal that would cut the state financing of churches from the state budget and institute a church tax similar to the one in Germany.[22] Prime Minister Ponta announced that the USL coalition does not support his proposal[22] and his proposal was met with opposition. Mayor of Constanța, Radu Mazăre, called him "an idiot" and said that he'll "break his legs" if Cernea comes to Constanța.[23] Gigi Becali called him a "satanist" and argued that Cernea should be sent to an insane asylum or to prison.[24]

The Romanian Orthodox Church reacted to Cernea's proposal through a press release in which they argued that the state assumed an obligation in 1863 following the Secularization of monastery estates and that the proposal is "unrealistic and inadequate for today's Romania" and that it would create a "crisis in the relationship between the state and religious organizations".[25]

Same-sex civil unions[edit]

Also in April 2013, Cernea announced that he intends to propose the legalization of civil unions for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.[26]

This also led to a strong reaction from the Orthodox Church, through the Archbishop of Tomis, Teodosie Petrescu, who argued that Cernea was led into temptation by the Devil and that he requires the services of a psychologist and of a priest.[27]

Campaigns as activist[edit]

Church in the University courtyard[edit]

In 1998, the Philosophy and Law departments of the University of Bucharest shared a building and in its courtyard, it was decided to build a church. After the place was hallowed, Cernea, who was studying philosophy at the University, together with three other students, wrote a letter of protest, organized a conference about the subject and gathered 150 signatures against the building of the church. The Association of Christian Orthodox students gathered a list of 3000 signatures supporting the building of the church.[28]

As the scandal was booming, the rector decided to defuse it by banning any conference on the subject. The project of the building of the church was cancelled and the Orthodox icons in the University classrooms were removed.[28]

Icons in schools[edit]

According to Cernea, following the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu, in schools, his portraits were replaced with Romanian Orthodox icons.[8] In 2005, Emil Moise, a philosophy teacher from Buzău began a campaign against the display of religious items in schools.[29] Cernea's association supported his case for the removal of icons from schools, arguing that the religious symbols represent a discrimination against non-Orthodox children and an infringement against the neutrality of the state.[29] Additionally, as 90% of the schools held religious services, Cernea argued that this practice was also illegal, as the Romanian penal code bans forcing anyone to participate to any religious ceremony.[30]

The movement against icons in schools generated a large debate in the Romanian society and media. In CNCD Decision 323/2006, the National Council for Combating Discrimination ruled that the display of religious icons was discriminatory. However, the Ministry of Education argued that it cannot remove the icons because they were not the ones who put them there in the first place[8] and that local communities should decide whether to keep the icons or not.[31]

Romanian People Salvation Cathedral[edit]

The Romanian People Salvation Cathedral is a large-scale cathedral construction project envisioned by the Romanian Orthodox Church. The government of Romania originally wanted the cathedral to be built it in the place of Carol Park, but following protests, including those organized by the Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience Association,[32] it changed the plans.

Finally, in 2007, the state gave the Orthodox Church about 11 hectares of land in central Bucharest, next to the Palace of the Parliament and it promised it will pay partly the construction costs. Cernea argued that both the donation of the terrain and giving the additional funds represent a misuse of state funds and is illegal.[33]

The Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience Association also contested the name "Romanian People Salvation Cathedral", arguing that it has nationalistic overtones, by linking being Romanian to affiliation to the Orthodox Church.[33]

School curriculum[edit]

In 2007, Cernea's association announced that the new curriculum of Romania had quietly removed the requirement of teaching Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution from biology textbooks, as well as the debate on the existence of God (the study of Voltaire, Camus and Nietzsche), from philosophy textbooks.[34]

Cernea argues that the current curriculum lacks the scientific and philosophical points of view, but in the same time, in religion classes, the seven-day creationism is taught, distorting the children's understanding of how the world came into being.[35]

In February 2008, his association asked the Ministry of Education to re-introduce explicitly the theory of evolution in the biology curriculum, arguing that Romania is the only European country in which it is not studied in detail[36] and organized a protest in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Education for the reintroduction of evolution in the curriculum.[37]

In a 2009 interview for Dilema Veche, Cernea says that there are not only textbooks that do not describe evolution, but there are some approved textbooks that teach creationism. He argues that the school curriculum is particularly important, since it influences the high school students' choice of university study and that this is why in Romania there's a huge number of those studying theology, with a dwindling number of students studying sciences.[38]

Other initiatives[edit]

In 2006, the association organized a concert against the new law regulating religion in Romania, which banned "religious defamation". In the concert participated Luna Amara, Vama, Sarmalele Reci among others.[39] In May 2007, he organized a small-scale protest against president Traian Băsescu's racist and sexist affirmations,[40] and in August 2007, the association argued against the practice at the national radio station of beginning the programme with a reading of Lord's Prayer.[41]

In August 2009, he protested against a law project made by the Romanian Government, which would have increased the number of signatures needed for running in the presidential elections to 500,000 and also required a €300,000 sum to be paid as a bail, only to be returned if the candidate gets a certain percentage. Cernea argued that this breaks the free and fair election standards found in Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters of the Council of Europe and that it would monopolize the elections to those "rich and corrupt". Prime Minister Emil Boc, however, announced that the law project would be dropped.[42]

In May 2010, Remus Cernea is taking part, along with other high-ranking members from the Green Party at the GayFest, the annual gay pride festival of Bucharest.[43]

Books[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Remus Cernea - repere biografice at tualegi.eu
  2. ^ a b "Cartile pe CD-Rom sunt mai ieftine", Adevărul, March 24, 2003
  3. ^ "IT&C prizes of Romania, 2002 edition"
  4. ^ a b "Anonimi la poarta Cotroceniului", Evenimentul Zilei, October 27, 2009
  5. ^ Statement of Principles, at humanism.ro, March 7, 2004
  6. ^ ""Manifest împotriva becalizării României", lansat la Gaudeamus", Mediafax, November 19, 2007
  7. ^ (French) "Les projets pharaoniques de l'Église orthodoxe à Bucarest", in Le Figaro, February 1, 2008
  8. ^ a b c (French)"En Roumanie, l’Eglise reste en l’Etat", Libération, September 12, 2007
  9. ^ A reply to Mr. Andrei Pleşu: Remus Cernea - Why I consider myself a freethinker, humanism.ro, January 29, 2008
  10. ^ "10 angajamente ale lui Remus Cernea ca Preşedinte al României", remuscernea.ro, October 5, 2009
  11. ^ "Remus Cernea candidează pentru postul de deputat lăsat liber de Bogdan Olteanu", Mediafax, November 28, 2009
  12. ^ "Remus Cernea, blocat în cursa pentru Camera Deputaţilor", Evenimentul Zilei, December 29, 2009
  13. ^ "CCR a respins excepţia invocată de Remus Cernea privind alegerile din Colegiul 1", Cotidianul, January 14, 2010
  14. ^ "Remus Cernea şi-a lansat candidatura la Preşedinţie", Mediafax, August 28, 2009
  15. ^ "Candidatul "Verzilor", Remus Cernea, si-a depus candidatura la prezidentiale la BEC", hotnews.ro, October 23, 2009
  16. ^ "Candidatul 13 la Cotroceni: "Dacă am mediatizare, intru în turul doi"", Evenimentul Zilei, October 25, 2009
  17. ^ a b "Remus Cernea: Candidatura mea a lasat o urma", România Liberă, November 22, 2009
  18. ^ "Le elezioni romene si «giocano» online", Corriere delle sere, November 6, 2009
  19. ^ Biroul Electoral Central: 2009 presidential elections
  20. ^ "Procese verbale privind centralizarea voturilor pentru alegerea Preşedintelui României", BEC
  21. ^ "Cine sunt cei mai votaţi politicieni", România Liberă, December 12, 2012
  22. ^ a b Dadacus, Liviu (April 8, 2013). "Remus Cernea cere tăierea finanţării bisericilor. Ponta: Propunerea nu are susţinerea USL". Mediafax. Retrieved April 8, 2013. 
  23. ^ Sinziana Ionescu (April 9, 2013). "Radu Mazăre: "E un tâmpit, îi rup picioarele". Remus Cernea: "Reacţia este exagerată"". Adevărul. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Gigi Becali, despre "ateul" Remus Cernea: "E satanist şi dobitoc, să se ducă la balamuc"". Gândul. April 9, 2013. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Sprijinul de la bugetul de stat pentru culte este consecinţa confiscării proprietăţilor bisericeşti". basilica.ro. April 8, 2013. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  26. ^ Sinziana Ionescu (April 12, 2013). "Remus Cernea va propune legalizarea uniunilor indiferent de sexul partenerilor". Adevărul. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  27. ^ Carmen Vintilă (April 12, 2013). "Remus Cernea vrea parteneriat civil pentru homosexuali. Mazăre despre colegul său: "E tâmpită rău!"". Evenimentul Zilei. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Cristian Ghinea, Ateii iconoclaşti cu care aş muri de gît, Dilema Veche, February 16, 2007
  29. ^ a b "Câteva ONG-uri cer retragerea icoanelor şi crucilor din şcoli", BBC, November 14, 2006
  30. ^ ÎPS Bartolomeu îi afuriseşte pe duşmanii orelor de religie, Adevărul, October 24, 2006
  31. ^ "Eliminarea simbolurilor religioase din şcoli", BBC, December 13, 2006
  32. ^ "Utilajele Aedificia Carpati au intrat in Monumentul Eroilor Comunisti din Parcul Carol" in Adevărul, April 15, 2004
  33. ^ a b "Punerea pietrei de temelie a Catedralei Neamului", BBC, November 28, 2007
  34. ^ "Darwin, exclus din manualele de biologie ?", BBC, October 9, 2007
  35. ^ "Romania removes theory of evolution from school curriculum", The Diplomat, December 2007
  36. ^ "Ce invatam la scoala? Doar ca ne-a facut Dumnezeu sau si ca ne tragem din maimuta?", hotnews.ro, February 26, 2008
  37. ^ "Protest pentru reintroducerea evoluţionismului în şcoală", BBC, March 21, 2008
  38. ^ "Învăţămîntul românesc şi evoluţia – interviu cu Remus CERNEA, preşedintele Asociaţiei Umaniste Române", Dilema Veche, March 12, 2009
  39. ^ "Vrem cultura, nu vrem dictatura!", in Gândul, October 30, 2006
  40. ^ "Protest de mică amploare la Cotroceni, faţă de afirmaţiile rasiste şi sexiste ale lui Băsescu", in Gândul, May 30, 2007
  41. ^ "O asociaţie cere SRR să nu mai difuzeze "Tatăl nostru" la începutul şi finalul programelor" in Gândul, August 8, 2007
  42. ^ "Cum se naşte un candidat la preşedinţie", Evenimentul Zilei, August 17, 2009
  43. ^ Partidul Verde din România va participa la Marşul Diversităţii din cadrul GayFest

External links[edit]