Religion Wiki

Scientology status by country describes the status of Scientology and its recognition as a religion or otherwise in different countries. The Church of Scientology pursues an extensive public relations campaign for state recognition of Scientology as a religion and cites numerous scholarly sources supporting its position.[1] The level of recognition Scientology has been able to obtain varies significantly from country to country.

The Church of Scientology has been recognized as a religious denomination in its home country, the United States,[2][3] and has received full recognition in various other countries such as Italy,[4][5] South Africa,[6] Australia,[7] Sweden,[8] New Zealand,[9][10] Portugal[11] and Spain;[12] it thus enjoys and regularly cites the constitutional protection afforded in these nations to 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.[13]

Status by country

Country Status Further information
Australia Case law has ruled that Scientology is a religion. Scientology in Australia
Austria Tax-exempt status as a charitable religious organization.
Belgium In 2005 Scientology's applications for the status of a recognized religion have been refused. Scientology in Belgium
Brazil Recognized as a religion.[14]
Canada As of 2006 the Canadian government does not define Scientology as a religion. Scientology in Canada
Croatia Croatia recognizes Scientology as a religion.[15]
Denmark In Denmark, the Church of Scientology is not officially approved as a religion.[16] It first applied for approval in the early 1970s; two further unsuccessful applications followed in 1976 and 1982.[16] In mid-1997, the Church of Scientology filed a fourth application, which was suspended at their own request in 2000.[16] In suspending their application, the Church asked the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs to clarify the approval procedure, but was told that it must first submit an application before any feedback could be provided.[16] Despite Scientology's unofficial status, the Church of Scientology maintains its European headquarters in Copenhagen.[16]
Finland Scientology is not officially recognized as a religion. An application by the Church of Scientology to be registered as a religious body was denied by the Ministry of Education in 1998[17] on the grounds that "the known nature of the activities is not public worship in the sense meant by the law on freedom of religion". The denial was issued after the Church had failed to comply with a request for more information.
France Since 1995, France has classified the Scientology as a sect (or cult) as seen in the report of the National Assembly of France.[18] On this basis, a hostile stance is generally taken against the organization.[2][19] In 2009, Scientology was fined the equivalent of almost US$900,000 upon conviction for fraud. [20] Scientology in France
Germany Template:Depends Scientology in Germany
Greece In the case "Attiki Prefecture vs KEPHE," the practice of Scientology was ordered ended in Greece.[21] An appeal to the Athenian Court of Appeals ended with a reaffirmation of the verdict.[22] 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.[23] 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 Athens area, practice their faith through a registered non-profit civil-law organization.[24] 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.[25] There is no formal mechanism in Greece to gain recognition as a known religion.[25] 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.[25] 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.[25]

Indonesia 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.[26]
Ireland In Ireland, the Church of Scientology has not been successful in its attempts to achieve tax-free, charitable status in Ireland.[27] Scientology maintains a mission in Dublin.
Italy In terms of corporate status, the Italian Church of Scientology is merely one of Italy's non-profit and common-law associations; it has neither an intesa (recognition agreement with the Italian state), nor is it a recognized confessional community (ente di culto).[28]

Some courts, including those in Rome and Turin, have viewed Scientology as a religion, although the Appeals Court of Milan did not do so during the 20-year-long criminal trial of various Scientologists.[29] After it twice refused to recognize Scientology as a religion, its decisions were overturned by the Italian Supreme Court.[30] The Italian Supreme Court gave exact guidelines to the Appeals Court of Milan to follow.[31] Following these guidelines the Appeals Court of Milan concluded:

"This Judge – along with the Supreme Court – acknowledges the fact that the evidence collected does not lead to the exclusion of the denominational character of Scientology that is supported by its by-laws and public recognition.[31] A criminal association amongst the present defendant does not exist."[31]

With that, the Appeals Court of Milan exonerated the defendants of all charges.[31] 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."[2]

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.[32]

Kazakhstan According to the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Report, Scientologists are among many minority groups facing increasingly negative media coverage in Kazakhstan.[33] During an April 10, 2008 press conference, a spokesperson for the Kazakh government's Procurator General's Office claimed that there were approximately 1,870 religious organizations in the country that presented a threat to national security and were engaged in destructive operations, citing Scientologists as one of the examples (these statements were later removed from the press conference transcript posted on the PGO website).[33]

In 2008, parliament was discussing new draft legislation which would severely restrict religious freedom.[33] In February 2009, Interfax reported that Kazakh prosecutors were seeking liquidation of the Scientology Church in Karaganda.[34] In a statement on its website, the Kazakh Prosecutor General's Office cited concerns over national security, as Scientologists' activity was aimed at undermining the "Kazakh nation's health through inflicting harm on people's psychic and physical health", and added that Scientologists were practising medicine outside medical institutions, and without the requisite education.[34]

Kyrgyzstan 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 Kyrgyzstan State Commission on Religious Affairs.[35]
New Zealand The Inland Revenue Department of the government of New Zealand issued an official decision in December 2002 which accepted that the Church of Scientology of New Zealand met the requirements of the definition of Charitable Purpose in s OB 1 of the Income Tax Act 1994.[2] The Inland Revenue Department made no ruling about whether Scientology was a religion or not. In June, 2008 the New Zealand Charities Commission accept the registration of the Church of Scientology as a charity under the category of religious activities. It made no ruling as to whether Scientology was a religion. The New Zealand Charities Commission is currently considering requests for the Church of Scientology to be deregistered as a charity..[9] Scientology in New Zealand
Norway Norway does not recognize the official Church of Scientology as a religious community, but it is registered as a non-profit. [36]
Portugal The Portuguese government officially recognized Scientology as a religion in November 2007.[11]
Russia The Church has been subjected to considerable pressure from the state in Russia.[37] In April 2007, the European Court of Human Rights ruled 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.[38][39]

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.[40] A court in Samara came to a similar decision in November 2008, closing down the activities of the local center for practicing without a license.[41]

In September 2009, the European Court of Human Rights issued a binding ruling in favor of two Scientology branches in Surgut and Nizhnekamsk, which had been denied registration as "religious organizations."[42] The two organizations were awarded 20,000 € in costs and damages.[42] The ruling, which cannot be appealed, said that Russia could not ban the Church of Scientology simply because it did not have a long history in the country.[42]

Scientology in Russia
Slovenia According to a 2008 Le Monde report, Slovenia is recognizes Scientology as a religion.[15]
South Africa 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.[43] In April 2000, Scientology ministers were granted the right to perform marriages.[6] In December 2007, South Africa granted a certificate to the Church recognizing it as a "Public Benefit Organisation".[44]
Spain On 31 October 2007 the National Court in Madrid issued a decision recognizing that the National Church of Scientology of Spain should be entered in the Registry of Religious Entities.[45]

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."[45] 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.[12]

Authorities had earlier declared that the government would not interfere in any way with the activities of the Church of Scientology.[46]

Sweden On March 13, 2000 Scientology was registered as a "religious community".[47]
Switzerland In several cases between 1995 and 2000, the Switzerland Supreme Court consistently ruled that the Church of Scientology is primarily a commercial, rather than religious, organization.[48] There is also a law in Basel which makes it illegal to "dishonestly" accost people on the street, a law which was adopted to help combat proselytizing by Scientologists.[49]
Taiwan In 2003, the National Ministry of the Interior for Taiwan recognized the Church of Scientology of Taiwan as a charitable religious institution, officially adding it to the rolls of the country's recognized religions.[2]
United Kingdom The UK government does not classify the Church of Scientology as a religious institution.[50] The Church's application for charity status in England and Wales was rejected in 1999,[51] and the Church has not exercised its right of appeal.[50] However, in 2000, the Church of Scientology was exempted from UK value added tax on the basis that it is a not-for-profit body.[52] The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that Scientology is "an officially recognised religion in the Royal Navy".[51] The UK Prison Service does 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.[50]

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.

Scientology in the United Kingdom
United States of America Since 1993, the Internal Revenue Service in the United States have formally recognized Scientology as a religion.[2] Scientology in the United States
Venezuela Recognized as a religion.[53]

See also


Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Scientology status by country. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

  1. "The Bonafides of the Scientology Religion". Church of Scientology. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Davis, Derek H. (2004). "The Church of Scientology: In Pursuit of Legal Recognition" (PDF). Zeitdiagnosen: Religionsfreiheit und Konformismus. Über Minderheiten und die Macht der Mehrheit. Münster, Germany: Lit Verlag. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  3. Finkelman, Paul (2006). Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties, CRC Press, ISBN 0415943426, p. 287: "Despite its legal setbacks, Scientology has achieved full legal recognition as a religious denomination in the United States."
  4. Italian Supreme Court decision
  5. Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael (2006). Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America, ISBN 0275987124, p. 185
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Scientology Marriage Officers Approved in South Africa". CESNUR. 2000-04-11. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  7. High Court of Australia CHURCH OF THE NEW FAITH v. COMMISSIONER OF PAY-ROLL TAX (VICT.) 1983 154 CLR 120
  8. "Decision of March 13, 2000 registering Scientology as a "religious community" in Sweden". CESNUR. 2000-03-13. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Scientology gets tax-exempt status". New Zealand Herald. 2002-12-27. Retrieved 2007-08-01. "the IRD said the church met the criteria of a charitable organisation in the category of the advancement of religion" 
  10. {{cite web |url = |title = Opinion of the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department on the Charitable Status of Scientology |Date = 2002-12-04
  11. 11.0 11.1 2007 U.S. Department of State – 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Portugal
  12. 12.0 12.1 "La Audiencia Nacional reconoce a la Cienciología como iglesia". November 1, 2007.  (Spanish)
  13. Scientology and Germany. Understanding the German View of Scientology.
  14. "Cientologista do Brasil se diz contra 'idolatria' a Tom Cruise". Rede Globo. February 1, 2009.,,MUL979537-5603,00.html. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 La justice espagnole accorde à la Scientologie le statut de religion, Le Monde, 2008-01-09
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 U.S. Department of State – 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom: Denmark
  18. National Assembly of France report No. 2468
  19. Appel du Jugement du Tribunal de Grande Instance de Lyon (Affaire : Patrick Vic) (in French). Tribunal's decision. 28 July 1997.
  20. Time magazine 9 November 2009 p. 10
  21. "Attiki Prefecture vs KEPHE," Case Number 7380/1996, Athenian Court of First Instance
  22. Appeal for "Attaki Prefecture vs KEPHE," Case Number 10493/1997, Athenian Court of Appeal
  23. Morgan, Lucy (1999-03-29). "Abroad: Critics public and private keep pressure on Scientology". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  24. U.S. Department of State – 2003 Report on International Religious Freedom: Greece
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 U.S. Department of State – 2004 Report on International Religious Freedom: Greece
  26. Boyle, Kevin; Sheen, Juliet (1997), Freedom of Religion and Belief: A World Report, Routledge, ISBN 0415159776,,M1 .
  27. Tom Lyons: Troubled Scientology Church in Ireland is now €1m in red, The Irish Independent, 28 June 2006
  28. Categorizsation of Religions in Italy
  29. Scientology Wins Mother of All Court Cases
  30. The Italian Supreme Court Decision on Scientology
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 The Court of Appeals of Milan Decision
  32. Italian Supreme Court decision
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 U.S. Department of State – 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom: Kazakhstan
  34. 34.0 34.1 Staff (2009-02-04). Kazakh prosecutors seeking liquidation of so-called Scientology Church in Karaganda, Interfax
  35. U.S. Department of State – 2005 Report on International Religious Freedom: Kyrgyzstan
  36. Frank Ertesvåg and Alf Bjarne Johnsen (2008-04-17). "Nektes kirkestatus". Verdens Gang. 
  37. Church of Scientology International Presentation on Religious Freedom in Russia
  38. ECHR, Church of Scientology Moscow v. Russia, application no. 18147/02, 5 April 2007
  39. IOL, April 5, 2007
  40. Associated Press (2007-07-12). "Russian court shuts down Scientology center in St. Petersburg: prosecutors". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2007-07-16. 
  41. Staff (November 20, 2008). "Hubbard Center closed up in Samara". Interfax ( Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 "Scientologists win rights case against Russia". Associated Press. 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  43. Scientology: A Religion in South Africa by David Chidester, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  44. SA Church of Scientology gets tax exemption
  45. 45.0 45.1 "Spanish court rules Scientology can be listed as a religion". November 1, 2007. 
  46. U.S. Department of State – International Religious Freedom Report 2006: Spain
  47. "Decision of March 13, 2000 registering Scientology as a "religious community" in Sweden". CESNUR. 2000-03-13. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  48. U.S. Department of State – 2004 Report on International Religious Freedom: Switzerland
  49. Hendon, David W.; Dwight D. Allman and Donald E. Greco (Autumn 1999). "Notes on Church-State Affairs:Switzerland". Journal of Church & State 41 (4): 860. 
  50. 50.0 50.1 50.2 U.S. Department of State – 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom: United Kingdom
  51. 51.0 51.1 "Decision of the Charity Commissoners for England and Wales" (PDF). Charity Commission. 1999-11-17. Retrieved 2006-07-06.  (PDF)
  52. Harry Wallop: Scientology tax victory could cost Revenue millions, Daily Telegraph, 11 Aug. 2006