- Scientology as a state-recognized religion
Church of Scientologypursues an extensive public relationscampaign for the recognition of Scientologyas a "bona fide" religion and cites numerous scholarly sources supporting its position. [cite web |url = http://www.bonafidescientology.org/bonafide-scientology.htm |title = The Bonafides of the Scientology Religion |accessdate = 2007-07-21 |publisher = Church of Scientology] The level of recognition it has been able to obtain varies significantly from country to country.
Church of Scientologyhas been recognized as a religion in its home country, the United States,cite conference
first =Derek H.
title =The Church of Scientology: In Pursuit of Legal Recognition
booktitle =Zeitdiagnosen: Religion and Conformity
publisher =Lit Verlag
location =Münster, Germany
accessdate =2008-05-10 |format=PDF] and has received full recognition in various other countries such as
Italy, Taiwan, South Africa,cite web |url = http://www.cesnur.org/testi/scient_SouthA.htm |title = Scientology Marriage Officers Approved in South Africa |date = 2000-04-11|accessdate = 2007-07-21 |publisher = CESNUR] Australia, Sweden[cite web |url = http://www.cesnur.org/testi/scient_sweden2000.htm |title = Decision of March 13, 2000 registering Scientology as a "religious community" in Sweden |date = 2000-03-13|accessdate = 2007-07-21 |publisher = CESNUR] , New Zealand,cite web |url = http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3048935 |title = Scientology gets tax-exempt status |accessdate = 2007-08-01 |date = 2002-12-27|work = New Zealand Herald|quote = the IRD said the church was a charitable organisation dedicated to the advancement of religion] Portugaland Spain; it thus enjoys and regularly cites the constitutional protection afforded in these nations to its religious practice. Some countries, mostly in Europe, have regarded Scientology as a potentially dangerous cult, or at least have not considered local branches of the Church of Scientology to meet the legal criteria for being considered religion-supporting organizations. [ [http://www.germany.info/relaunch/info/archives/background/scientology.html Scientology and Germany] . Understanding the German View of Scientology.]
In 1983, there was a ruling by the High Court of
Australia, in " Church of the New Faithv. Commissioner Of Pay-roll Tax". The court ruled that the government of Victoria could not deny the Church the right to operate in Victoria under the legal status of "religion" for purposes of payroll taxes. All three judges in the case found that the Church of the New Faith (Church of Scientology) was a religion. Justices Mason and Brennan said (referring to the Church of Scientologyas "the Corporation"):
And in conclusion:
Justice Murphy said:
Wilson and Deane said:
In 2002, the
Austrian tax office concluded that the work of the Church of Scientology in Viennawas for the public benefit rather than for anyone’s personal profit, and thus granted that church tax-exempt status as a charitable religious organization. [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27825.htm U.S. Department of State – 2003 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Austria] ]
However, Scientology does not have the status of a religious confessional community in Austria. A religious group that seeks to obtain this status is subject to a six-month waiting period from the time of application to the Ministry of Education and Culture. In May 2006, Scientology applied for this status, but later withdrew its application. [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2006/71367.htm U.S. Department of State – 2006 Report on International Religious Freedom: Austria] ] According to the U.S.
Department of State, the Church of Scientology has reported that individual Scientologists in Austria have experienced discrimination in hiring.
The state newspaper, Respublika, having previously described as "devilish" the role of
Pope John Paul IIin the downfall of communism, urged government authorities on December 12, 2006, to treat "new" religions with extreme caution since they might lead to tragedy and pose threats to society. The article alleged that new religions such as Scientology, Kabbalahand Buddhismwere syncretic and did not teach their followers "anything good." [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90165.htm U.S. Department of State – 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom: Belarus] ]
Belgium, only six religions are officially recognized by the Government: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Anglicanism, the Orthodox Church, Judaismand Islam. [ [http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/2404 Belgium Clamps Down on Scientology Church | The Brussels Journal ] ] Scientology's applications for the status of a recognized religion have been refused.cite journal | last = Planchar | first = Roland | title = Un impôt et deux religions de plus? | journal = La Libre Belgique | month= July | year= 2005| url = http://www.lalibre.be/article.phtml?id=10&subid=90&art_id=231058 | accessdate = 2006-07-23 Languageicon|fr|French]
On September 4, 2007, the European press reported that the Belgian State Prosecution Service had recommended bringing a case against 12 physical persons associated with Scientology and two legal entities – the Belgian Church of Scientology and Scientology's Office of Human Rights – on counts of extortion, fraud, organized crime, obstruction of medical practice, illegal medical practice, invasion of privacy, conspiracy and commercial infractions like abusive contractual clauses. [ [http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8REMTI02&show_article=1 Scientology Faces Criminal Charges ] ] cite web | first = Roland | last = Planchar | title = La Scientologie plus près de son procès | url = http://www.lalibre.be/article.phtml?id=10&subid=90&art_id=368037 | publisher = "La Libre Belgique" | date =
2007-09-04| accessdate = 2007-09-04 fr icon] It was reported that an administrative court would decide if charges would be pressed. It was expected that the court's decision would be announced within a few months.
The Church of Scientology has accused the prosecutor of "using the media, trying to damage the reputation of the Church of Scientology and not being able to put a case in court" for the last decade. It added that the prosecutor's recommendations suggested Scientology was guilty even before a court could hear the charges, making it "difficult for the Church of Scientology to recover and properly defend (itself) before the court." [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,295693,00.html FOXNews.com - Church of Scientology Faces Criminal Charges in Belgium - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News ] ]
The Prosecution Service has indicated an intent to have the Church of Scientology classified as a criminal organization as per Belgian law. [cite web | author = Reuters | title = Belgium charges Scientologists with extortion | url = http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/belgium-charges-scientologists-with-extortion/2007/09/05/1188783277713.html | work = | publisher =
Sydney Morning Herald| date = 2007-09-05| accessdate = 2007-11-12 ] The U.S. Department of State, commenting on the case, has stated that it would "oppose any effort to stigmatize an entire group based solely upon religious beliefs and would be concerned over infringement of any individual’s rights because of religious affiliation." [ [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/sep/91709.htm U.S. Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, September 4, 2007] ]
As of April 2008, the Church of Scientology was being investigated for forgery and swindling. In order to recruit new adepts it was said to have published false job offers. On 10 April 2008, Belgian police searched the Scientology headquarters in Brussels. [http://www.bakchich.info/article3419.html comprehensive article on Scientology (in French) by Serge Faubert, 18 april 2008] .]
Canada, the Church of Scientology is defined as a religious non-profit organization, and Scientologist public servants are allowed to take time off work for Scientologist holidays.Jade Colbert, [http://www.thevarsity.ca/article/1293 "'This is What Scientologists Actually Believe'"] , "The Varsity", November 27 2007] However, the Church has failed to win status as a federally registered charity for tax purposes. [Robin Rix: [http://torontoist.com/2008/02/was_that_a_hate.php "Was that a hate crime?"] , "The Torontoist"]
Denmark, the Church of Scientology is not officially approved as a religion. [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90172.htm U.S. Department of State – 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom: Denmark] ] It first applied for approval in the early 1970s; two further unsuccessful applications followed in 1976 and 1982. In mid-1997, the Church of Scientology filed a fourth application, which was suspended at their own request in 2000. In suspending their application, the Church asked the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs to clarify the approval procedure, but were told that they must first submit an application before any feedback could be provided. Despite Scientology's unofficial status, the Church of Scientology maintains its European headquarters in Copenhagen.
Franceunambiguously classifies the Church of Scientology as a sect and on that ground takes a hostile stance against it. After Patrice Vic deceased in 1997 because of the Church of Scientology's various criminal abuses, [http://www.prevensectes.com/lyon2.htm Appel du Jugement du Tribunal de Grande Instance de Lyon (Affaire : Patrick Vic)] (in French). Tribunal's decision. 28 July 1997.] a 1999 government inquiry committee reporting on the financial aspect of sects [http://www.info-sectes.ch/prevention-commission.html#Commission Commission d'enquête sur les sectes] (in French). June 29, 2006.] recommended dissolving the Church of Scientology because of swindling, complicity of swindling, abuse of trust, and other nefarious activities. The keeping of files containing personal information on all its members (and other practices), are seen to qualify the Church as a totalitarian sect, moreover "extremely dangerous".Citation
first =BBC News
title =France urged to ban Scientology
date =8 February 2000
accessdate =2008-05-10 .] The report rejected U.S. criticism of the French government's hostility towards Scientology, saying that Washington's protection of sects was "exorbitant".
A number of court cases have been initiated. Among others, in July 2002 (August according to the U.S. government [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2003/24357.htm International Religious Freedom Report 2003] . Released by the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.] ) a
Parisjudge ruled that a 13-year-old case against the Church of Scientology, charged with fraudand illegal practice of medicine, could not go to trial, due to lack of progress in the investigation.cite web | title = French Scientology Case Barred | url = http://www2.jsonline.com/news/intl/ap/jul02/ap-france-scientol073002.asp | work = Associated Press| publisher = Journal Sentinel| date = 2002-07-30| accessdate = 2008-06-23 ] Citation
title =FRANCE Statute of limitations nixes case against Church of Scientology
The Salt Lake Tribune
date =31 July 2002
url =http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=SLTB&p_theme=sltb&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=100E45F960F3F599&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM .] This follows the disappearance of many court files, divulged by the investigating judge in 1998, after which the judge ruled that the
statute of limitationsand missing evidence both imposed dismissal of the case. The Church of Scientology was later charged with the theft of the files; the Grand Tribunal of Paris eventually dismissed the case for lack of evidence in May 2003. In the same month and in a separate case, a hearing was held in Paris about allegations that the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center had engaged in organized criminal fraud. A case filed by a parent whose child attended an "Applied Scholastics"-based school remained ongoing. The About-Picard law was passed by the French Senate in June 2001, specifically meant to confront abusive sects on the subject of human rights and fundamental freedoms. [http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000589924&dateTexte= government legislations site.] ]
In 2005 the city of Paris passed an official resolution so that unlike in
Marseille, Tom Cruisewould never be made an honorary citizen, specifically because of his affiliation with Scientology. [http://www.wwrn.org/article.php?idd=17817&sec=45&con=2"Paris city hall will not honour Scientologist Cruise".] WorldWide Religious News - (AFP, July 12, 2005).]
The 2006 riots in France came in the midst of a parliamentary commission in charge of examining the influence of sects, particularly on youth, which started its hearings on July 12 2006 and was scheduled to be completed in December that year. [http://www.info-sectes.ch/prevention-commission.html Reprise des travaux de la commission parlementaire] . Commission d'enquête sur les sectes.] The government sects watchdog (MIVILUDES) subsequently warned that sects were infiltrating the suburbs, increasingly offering aid as a cover for their activities, notably so in a Church of Scientology's communique that "appeared to be taking the credit for calming the situation in one of the riot-hit suburbs." [http://www.wwrn.org/article.php?idd=21310&sec=45&con=2 "French Body Warns of Sects Moving in After Suburban Riots."] WorldWide Religious News (AFP, April 26, 2006).]
In March 2008,
UMPdeputy Georges Fenechhas proposed another parliamentary inquiry ("commission d’enquête parlementaire") on the Church of Scientology, subsequently to Martine Boublil's kidnapping in inhuman conditions for several weeks until January 2008 by her brother Claude Boublil, a pioneer and figurehead of the Scientology movement in France. Martine Boublil had tried to distance herself from the sect. Claude Boublil was aided by at least three other Scientologists for the kidnapping, and is also among the twenty Scientologists having escaped an inquiry for swindling, extortion and illegal exercise of medicine, dating from 1983 and which was dismissed by a Paris judge in October 2007 (the plaintiffs are now appealing with the investigating court chamber ("chambre d'instruction"). [http://www.bakchich.info/article2875.html french news site] .] ).
This was followed by the suicide on March 26, 2008, of Kaja Bordevich Gunnar Ballo, a 20-year-old Norvegian student in
Nice, within hours of her having subjected herself to Scientology's classic free introductory "Personality Test" session at the Scientology office located 200 m away from where she lived. Kaja Bordevich Gunnar Ballo, who until meeeting with Scientology was said to have been in good humor, to have had many friends and to have enjoyed her French studies [http://lexidiem.buzznet.com/user/journal/ buzznet] ] and had last been seen as such on her way to some shopping, was the daughter of Olav Gunnar Ballo, Norvegian parliamentary member for the Socialist Left Party (SV), current Vice President of the Odelsting(lower house of the parliament) and member of the Standing Committee on Justice. [http://www.answers.com/topic/olav-gunnar-ballo Answers.com] ]
Against general public opinion and while he was Finance Minister, current president Sarkozy had received celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise in Paris in 2004. He is now preparing to change the 1905 law that defines status for the non-profit associations, still against the essential French concept of separation between state and church, which will allow sects to receive money from the state. [http://www.ccmm.asso.fr/spip.php?article1797 Sarkozy prépare une révision de la loi de 1905] (in French). Centre Roger Ikor, CCMM.]
On September 8, 2008 it was reported that Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin issued a ruling stating that Scientologists' Celebrity Center, bookstore, and seven Church leaders should be tried for fraud and "illegally practicing as pharmacists".cite web | title = Scientologists charged with fraud in France: source| url = http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL820153620080908?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=22&sp=true| work =
Reuters| publisher = Reuters| date = 2008-09-08| accessdate = 2008-009-09 ] The ruling is in regards to a complaint made in 1998 by a woman who said she was enrolled into the Church of Scientology by a group she met outside a metro station. The woman claims that she said she paid 140,000 francsfor "purification packs" and books which she believes are a fraud".cite web | title = Scientologists charged with fraud in France: source| url = http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL820153620080908?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=22&sp=true| work = Reuters| publisher = Reuters| date = 2008-09-08| accessdate = 2008-09-09 ]
The status of Scientology in
Germanyis unresolved. [http://www.bundestag.de/wissen/analysen/2007/rechtliche_fragen_zu_religions-_und_weltanschauungsgemeinschaften.pdf bundestag.de: Legal questions concerning religious and ideological communities] , prepared by the Scientific Services staff of the German Parliament Languageicon|de|German] Two points are contested: firstly, whether or not the teachings of Scientology qualify as a religious or ideological teaching, and secondly, whether or not these teachings are only used as a pretext for purely commercial activity; if the latter were the case, this would most likely imply that Scientology would not qualify for protection as a religious or ideological community under Article 4 of the German constitution.
In 1995, the
Federal Labor Court of Germanytook the view that the Church of Scientology does not represent a religious or ideological community entitled to protection under Article 4 of the German Constitution, but in 2003, in another decision, left this question open again.
Federal Court of Justice of Germanyhas not yet made an explicit decision on the matter, but implicitly assumed in 1980 that Scientology represents a religious or ideological community. The Upper Administrative Court in Hamburgexplicitly asserted in 1994 that Scientology should be viewed as an ideological community. The Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberglikewise does not endorse the view that the teachings of Scientology merely serve as a pretext for commercial activity. The Federal Administrative Court of Germanyin 2005 explicitly granted a Scientologist protection under Article 4.1 of the German Constitution, which declares the freedom of religion inviolate. [ [http://www.germanlawjournal.com/article.php?id=762 German Law Journal] ] [BVerwG [http://www.bverwg.de/media/archive/3478.pdf Az.: 7 C 20.04] , 15 December 2005 Languageicon|de|German]
The U.S. Department of State has repeatedly claimed that Germany's actions constitute government and societal discrimination against minority religious groups – within which it includes Scientology – [ [http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-704081.html Germany, Scientology and America] , "Washington Post", February 1, 1997] and regularly expresses its concerns over infringement of Scientologsts' individual rights. [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2005/51554.htm U.S. Department of State – International Religious Freedom Report 2005: Germany] ] [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2006/71382.htm U.S. Department of State – International Religious Freedom Report 2006: Germany] ] [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90177.htm U.S. Department of State – International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Germany] ] In June 2000, the U.S. House of Representatives held hearings concerning Germany's actions towards American Products based on religion and Scientology. [ [http://www.cesnur.org/testi/EUintolerance_03.htm Discrimination on the Basis of Religion and Belief in Western Europe] ] [cite web | first = Ron | last = Tank | coauthors = Reuters | title = U.S. report backs Scientologists in dispute with Germany | url = http://www.cnn.com/US/9701/30/scientologists/index.html | work = | publisher =
CNN| date = 1997-01-30| accessdate = 2007-11-12 ]
Germany's handling of Scientology has also been called into question before open hearings of the
United Nations Human Rights Committee. [ [http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/389a698dd0b48ecfc1256433004cd1d1?Opendocument Summary record of the first part (public) of the 1553rd meeting : Germany] . 23/01/97. CCPR/C/SR.1553. (Summary Record). Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva.] A United Nationsreport in April 1998 agreed that individuals were discriminated against because of their affiliation with Scientology. However, it rejected Scientology's comparison of the treatment of its members with that of Jews during the Naziera. [http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/International_Religious_Freedom_Report_1999_-_Germany U.S. Department of State – International Religious Freedom Report 1999: Germany] ]
Scientology is currently being monitored in some German states by the
Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz(Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution), which takes the view that the aims of Scientology run counter to Germany's free and democratic basic order. [ [http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/de/arbeitsfelder/af_scientology/ Scientology-Organisation] ] In the city of Hamburg, the Scientology Task Force for the Hamburg Interior Authorityalso monitors the group. In November 1999, a German official was arrested in Switzerland and given a 30-day suspended jail sentence for spying on Scientology. The German government apologized to Switzerland for the incident. [ [http://www.cesnur.org/testi/scient_dec01.htm Switzerland: Scientology Spying by a German Official Spurs Jail Term] ] In December 2001, the Administrative Court in Berlin ruled against the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution and ordered it to stop the recruitment and deployment of staff and members of the Church of Scientology Berlin as paid informants. The court ruled that the use of informants was disproportionate. [ [http://www.cesnur.org/2002/scient_gen01.htm Berlin Administrative Court Rules Against the Use of Undercover Agents Posing as Scientologists] ]
In March 2007, it was reported that Scientology had opened a new headquarters in Berlin, and that German authorities were responding by increasing their efforts to monitor Scientology. [cite web | first = Holger | last = Stark | coauthors = Rosenbach, Marcel | title = Scientology's New European Offensive: The March of the 'Orgs' | url = http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,473896,00.html | work = | publisher =
Der Spiegel| date = 2007-03-27| accessdate = 2007-11-12 ] On December 7, 2007, German federal and state interior ministers expressed the view that the Scientology organization continues to pursue anti-constitutional goals and asked Germany's domestic intelligence agencies to collect and evaluate the necessary information that would be required for a possible judicial inquiry aimed at banning the organization. [ [http://www.im.nrw.de/inn/doks/imk1207.pdf Sammlung der zur Veröffentlichung freigegebenen Beschlüsse der 185. Sitzung der Ständigen Konferenz der Innenminister und -senatoren der Länder am 7. Dezember 2007 in Berlin] Languageicon|de|German] However, the move was criticized by politicians from all parts of the political spectrum, with legal experts expressing concern that an attempt to ban the organization would most likely fail in the courts. [http://www.tagesspiegel.de/zeitung/Titelseite;art692,2435009 Scientology – Zweifel an Verbotsplänen] , article in Tagesspiegel, 2007-12-8 Languageicon|de|German] [ [http://www.welt.de/politik/article1439936/Innenminister_fordern_Verbot_von_Scientology.html Innenminister fordern Verbot von Scientology] , article in Die Welt, 2007-12-8 Languageicon|de|German] This view was echoed by the German intelligence agencies, who warned that a ban would be doomed to fail. [cite web | title = Lack of Evidence: Agencies Warn Scientology Ban Doomed to Fail | url = http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,522348,00.html | work = | publisher = Der Spiegel| date = 2007-12-10| accessdate = 2007-12-18 ]
In the case "Attiki Prefecture vs KEPHE," the practice of Scientology was ordered ended in
Greece. ["Attiki Prefecture vs KEPHE," Case Number 7380/1996, Athenian Court of First Instance] An appeal to the Athenian Court of Appeals ended with a reaffirmation of the verdict. [Appeal for "Attaki Prefecture vs KEPHE," Case Number 10493/1997, Athenian Court of Appeal] The verdict was originally issued on December 20, 1995, but was not immediately put into effect. In January 1998 a Greek appeals court ordered Scientology's assets liquidated.cite web | first = Lucy | last = Morgan | title = Abroad: Critics public and private keep pressure on Scientology | url = http://www.sptimes.com/News/32999/Worldandnation/Abroad__Critics_publi.html | work = | publisher = St. Petersburg Times| date = 1999-03-29| accessdate = 2007-11-27 ] The appeals process came to its conclusion in 2002, when KEPHE ended its appeals.
According to the U.S. Department of State, Scientologists, who are mostly located in the
Athensarea, practice their faith through a registered non-profit civil-law organization. [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2003/24411.htm U.S. Department of State – 2003 Report on International Religious Freedom: Greece] ] Two laws from the 1930s require recognized or "known" religious groups wanting to open houses of worship to obtain "house of prayer" permits from the Ministry of Education and Religion. [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35458.htm U.S. Department of State – 2004 Report on International Religious Freedom: Greece] ] There is no formal mechanism in Greece to gain recognition as a known religion. By law, the Ministry may base its decision to issue permits on the opinion of the local Orthodox bishop; documentation provided to the Department of State by Scientology representatives and the Greek Orthodox Church indicated the Ministry did indeed consult with local bishops in some cases. According to Ministry officials, applications for additional houses of prayer were numerous and approved routinely; however, Scientologists in Greece had not been able to register or build a house of prayer.
Indonesian government legislation recognizes the right of all religions to exist and function in society, and the Church of Scientology has experienced no difficulties in gaining registration.Citation
title =Freedom of Religion and Belief: A World Report
isbn =0415159776 .]
In Ireland, Scientology maintains a mission in Dublin. The Church has not been successful in its attempts to achieve tax-free, charitable status in Ireland. [Tom Lyons: [http://www.independent.ie/national-news/troubled-scientology-church-in-ireland-is-now-1m-in-red-95169.html Troubled Scientology Church in Ireland is now €1m in red] , "
The Irish Independent", 28 June 2006]
Although most Italian courts did give recognition to Scientology as a religion, including Rome and Turin, the court of Appeals Court of Milan did not do so during the 20-year-long criminal trial of various Scientologists. [http://www.cesnur.org/testi/scient_oct2000.htm Scientology Wins Mother of All Court Cases] The Appeals Court of Milan twice refused to recognize Scientology as a religion, but its decisions were overturned by the Italian Supreme Court. [ [http://www.cesnur.org/testi/SCIE.HTM The Italian Supreme Court Decision on Scientology] ] The Italian Supreme Court gave exact guidelines to the Appeals Court of Milan to follow. [http://www.cesnur.org/2001/scient_01_en.htm The Court of Appeals of Milan Decision] ] Following these guidelines the Appeals Court of Milan concluded:
With that, the Appeals Court of Milan exonerated the defendants of all charges. Responding to the charge that Scientology had an inordinate interest in making money, the Supreme Court noted that this charge "appears much less excessive if we consider how money was raised in the past by the
Roman Catholic Church."
In March 2000, the Italian Supreme Court upheld Scientology's religious status in Italy while reaffirming that Narconon is a non-tax-exempt for-profit business. [ [http://www.cesnur.org/testi/scie_march2000.htm Italian Supreme Court decision] ]
The U.S. Department of State's 2005 Report on International Religious Freedom announced that the Church of Scientology had been registered as a religious group by the
KyrgyzstanState Commission on Religious Affairs. [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2005/51562.htm U.S. Department of State – 2005 Report on International Religious Freedom: Kyrgyzstan] ]
The Portuguese government officially recognized Scientology as a religion in November 2007. [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100579.htm 2007 U.S. Department of State – 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Portugal] ]
The Church has been subjected to considerable pressure from the state in
Russia. [ [http://www.religionandpolicy.org/show.php?p=1.1.1246 Church of Scientology International Presentation on Religious Freedom in Russia] ] In April 2007, the European Court of Human Rightsruled against Russia for repeatedly refusing to consider the Moscow Church of Scientology's application for the status of a legally valid religious association. The court found that the reasons given to deny re-registration of the church by the justice department and endorsed by the Moscow courts had no legal basis. [ [http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=815108&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649 ECHR, Church of Scientology Moscow v. Russia, application no. 18147/02, 5 April 2007] ] [ [http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?from=rss_World&set_id=1&click_id=3&art_id=nw20070405161359229C589107 IOL, April 5, 2007] ] In July 2007, the St. Petersburg City Court ordered that the city's Scientology center be closed for violating its charter by engaging in unlicensed health care services. [cite news | author = Associated Press| title = Russian court shuts down Scientology center in St. Petersburg: prosecutors | url = http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/07/12/europe/EU-GEN-Russia-Scientology.php | publisher = International Herald Tribune| date = 2007-07-12| accessdate = 2007-07-16]
In 1975, Scientology was recognized as a non-profit organization in
South Africa, despite the 1972 report of a formal government Commission of Inquiry that recommended otherwise. [ [http://www.emanationinc.com/Chidestr/pagei.htm Scientology: A Religion in South Africa by David Chidester, University of Cape Town, South Africa] ] In April 2000, Scientology ministers were granted the right to perform marriages, thus recognizing Scientology as a religion. In December 2007, South Africa granted a certificate to the Church recognizing it as as a "Public Benefit Organisation". [ [http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=594&art_id=nw20071204183608671C621249 SA Church of Scientology gets tax exemption] ]
On 31 October 2007 the National Court in Madrid issued a decision recognizing that the National Church of Scientology of
Spainshould be entered in the Registry of Religious Entities.web cite|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5h-V0Ui506lPl-r8ImubpdUjFbuYA
title=Spanish court rules Scientology can be listed as a religion
date=November 1, 2007] The administrative tribunal of Madrid's High Court ruled that a 2005 justice ministry decision to scrap the church from the register was "against the law." Responding to a petition filed by the church, the ruling said that no documents had been presented in court to demonstrate it was anything other than a religious entity.web cite|url=http://www.elpais.com/articulo/sociedad/Audiencia/Nacional/reconoce/Cienciologia/iglesia/elpepusoc/20071101elpepisoc_8/Tes
title=La Audiencia Nacional reconoce a la Cienciología como iglesia
date=November 1, 2007 Languageicon|es|Spanish]
Authorities had earlier declared that the government would not interfere in any way with the activities of the Church of Scientology. [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2006/71409.htm U.S. Department of State – International Religious Freedom Report 2006: Spain] ]
In November 1999, the government of
Swedendeclared that the Church of Scientology is a charitable, non-profit organization with a religious purpose. A year later, the Church's ministers were granted the right to perform marriages, completing official recognition as a church in Sweden.
In several cases between 1995 and 2000, the
SwitzerlandSupreme Court consistently ruled that the Church of Scientology is primarily a commercial, rather than religious, organization. [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35487.htm U.S. Department of State – 2004 Report on International Religious Freedom: Switzerland] ]
In March 2003, the National Ministry of the Interior for
Taiwanrecognized the Church of Scientology of Taiwan as a charitable religious institution, officially adding it to the rolls of the country's recognized religions.
The UK government does not classify the Church of Scientology as a religious institution. [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90206.htm U.S. Department of State – 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom: United Kingdom] ] The Church's application for charity status in
Englandand Waleswas rejected in 1999,cite web | url = http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/Library/registration/pdfs/cosfulldoc.pdf|title = Decision of the Charity Commissoners for England and Wales |date = 1999-11-17|publisher = Charity Commission| accessdate = 2006-07-06 |format=PDF (PDF)] and the Church has not exercised its right of appeal. However, in 2000, the Church of Scientology was exempted from UK value added taxon the basis that it is a not-for-profit body. [Harry Wallop: [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2006/08/11/cntax11.xml Scientology tax victory could cost Revenue millions] , Daily Telegraph, 11 Aug. 2006] The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that Scientology is "an officially recognised religion in the Royal Navy". The UK Prison Servicedoes not recognize Scientology as a religion, but prisoners who are registered as Scientologists may practice their religion and are given access to a representative of the Church of Scientology if they wish to receive its ministry.
The UK government has heavily criticized the Church in the past, as documented in 1971 in the
Foster Report, but places no restrictions upon its activities.
United States of America
After being recognized as a tax-exempt religious organization in 1957, Scientology's tax-exempt status was lost in a 1967
IRSaudit. As part of the effort to regain tax exemption during the late 1970s, Scientologists repeatedly infiltrated the IRS, copying large numbers of documents and at one point placing an electronic bugging device in an IRS conference room. These actions took place within a program code-named " Operation Snow White". Eleven high-ranking Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife Mary Sue Hubbard, were sentenced to time in prison for acts surrounding this operation. Hubbard himself was named as an unindicted co-conspirator as investigators could not link him to the crimes.
The Church then embarked on an aggressive, but more legal course, the church's hundreds of affiliated entities filing a steady stream of lawsuits against the IRS in an attempt to have their tax-exempt status approved. In addition, members of the Church started filing thousands of lawsuits against the IRS, claiming that they were entitled to tax deductions for auditing and training expenses.
Since then, the U.S. Department of State has formally criticized several European countries, including Germany and France, for religious discrimination against Scientologists.cite web | first = Douglas | last = Frantz | title = Scientology's Puzzling Journey From Tax Rebel to Tax Exempt | url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B05E7DE1639F93AA35750C0A961958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all | work = | publisher =
New York Times| date = 1997-03-09| accessdate = 2007-11-12 ] In March 1997, the " New York Times" published an article chronicling "Scientology's puzzling journey from tax rebel to tax exempt" in the United States.
Scientology and other religions
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