The 2019 Montenegrin Religious Freedom Act and the separation of churches and state

In December 2019, the Montenegrin parliament adopted a new Religious Freedom Act, ending a three-decades-long politics of secularism maintaining a fragile social peace in the country with a divided majoritarian Orthodox Church. The Act is a result of politically-based deep distrust between the Montenegrin Government and the Serbian Orthodox Church as the most influential non-governmental social institution in the country. The lawmaker’s idea to nationalize all possessions of religious groups, including centuries-old temples previously belonging to the state, was immediately challenged by mass street demonstrations organized by the Serbian Orthodox Church. It is less known that the causes and intentions of the Montenegrin Law remarkably resemble the famous 1905 French Law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. Hence, reflecting on the French historical experience, the question is what direction might the Montenegrin controversy take and with what consequences?