Scientology now a religion in the UK

December 13th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Scientology has been recognised officially as a “” in Britain after the country’s highest court swept aside 158 years of law to rule that worshipping a god is not essential to .

Five Supreme Court justices redefined religion in law in order to enable Scientologists to conduct weddings.

If anyone can set up a religion, it makes me wonder whether religions should have any special rights under the law. I’m all for having the right to believe or follow any religion you want to, but the state should not be recognising what is a religion, and granting religions certain rights.

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33 Responses to “Scientology now a religion in the UK”

  1. Ed Snack (1,540 comments) says:

    So until now Buddhism wasn’t recognized as a religion in the UK ?

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  2. Craig (17 comments) says:

    All religion is made up, not just Scientology

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  3. Nigel Kearney (747 comments) says:

    David’s view, and it is quite a popular one, seems to be that people should be treated the same regardless of religion, unless that religion is scientology in which case it is perfectly proper to ridicule and discriminate against them even to the point of proposing sweeping changes that will affect everyone just in order to make sure a scientologist doesn’t conduct a wedding between two other scientologists.

    You can’t defend rights effectively unless you defend them for everyone.

    [DPF: you lie about my views. I have no problems with scientologists conducting weddings. I think the state should allow anyone of good character to conduct weddings. I don't think religious organisation should get special tax treatment etc]

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  4. kowtow (6,734 comments) says:

    British judges are rubbish nowadays….. a bunch of pussy whipped human rights activists who betray the British people and traditions at practically ever twist and turn.

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  5. alloytoo (338 comments) says:

    @Nigel

    Why should religions have any rights above and beyond that of any association or club or charity?

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  6. peterwn (2,940 comments) says:

    kowtow – so is it not a good thing that there are no longer Privy Council appeals from NZ. The judges who hear Privy Council appeals are the same set of judges in the UK Supreme Court.

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  7. smttc (638 comments) says:

    I always understood that the essential feature of religion is the worship of a theist being. So quite a bit of judicial activism on the part of the UKSC.

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  8. labrator (1,691 comments) says:

    All religions were new at one point. Not sure that when they were new should have any correlation to whether they count as a religion or not.

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  9. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,684 comments) says:

    smttc

    Al Gore will be right on to this little lurk! The warmist Pope. He’ll make a fortune.

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  10. kowtow (6,734 comments) says:

    pererwn

    2 completly different issues.

    The dismissal of the appeal to the Privy Council by Labour was an undemocratic attack on our constitution.

    The fact that judges in the UK (and generally around the west) have become a bunch of human rights activists is a totally separate issue.

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  11. RRM (8,997 comments) says:

    “If anyone can set up a religion…”

    Someone must have “set up” Christianity once upon a time…?

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  12. SGA (551 comments) says:

    smttc at 1:26 pm

    I always understood that the essential feature of religion is the worship of a theist being.

    Buddhism doesn’t really – at least as I understand it.

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  13. Ashley Schaeffer (336 comments) says:

    From the Herald article:

    That decision stemmed from a 1970 court case which excluded Scientology because it did not fit within the terms of the 1855 Places of Worship Registration Act, which counts only groups which revere a “deity” as true religions.
    But even in the 1970 case Lord Denning observed that Buddhist temples were already treated as an “exception”.

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  14. Judith (5,660 comments) says:

    @ Nigel Kearney (599 comments) says:
    December 13th, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    …You can’t defend rights effectively unless you defend them for everyone.

    You can if its a special case, and let’s face it, most of scientologists are ‘special cases’.

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  15. King Kong (26 comments) says:

    So if I mentioned to a Scientologist in the UK that I think L Ron Hubbard is a cunt, I can be thrown in jail for religious hate speech. Or if I carried a sign saying “My wife screamed during childbirth. The Thetans are awake” I could be done for inciting religious hatred.

    For Mohammed’s sake, that’s ridiculous.

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  16. Jack5 (4,231 comments) says:

    Scientology isn’t reviled because it purports to be a religion rather than a science fiction reality game, which is what it is.

    It’s reviled because it is a cult, with exploitation of recruits, weird brain washing techniques, and it is notorious for trying to suppress criticism with law suits and for harassing those who escape from the cult.

    In NZ, we had a break-off movement, the ZAP’ers of Christchurch (Zenith Applied Philosophy) which had a very patchy record. It preached business immorality that probably contributed to the serial bankruptcies of at least one prominent South Island property developer.

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  17. cha (3,542 comments) says:

    Obligatory.

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  18. SHG (321 comments) says:

    Again, I can’t take credit for this (“you will, Oscar, you will”) but it’s bang on:

    In a cult there’s one person at the top who knows it’s a scam.

    In a religion that person is dead.

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  19. thor42 (780 comments) says:

    @kowtow – “British judges are rubbish nowadays.”

    Yes they are. Not just the judges but the *whole* of the UK political, legal and education (sorry – “indoctrination”) systems, and the media as well.

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  20. Rich Prick (1,324 comments) says:

    ” … the country’s highest court swept aside 158 years of law to rule that worshipping a god is not essential to religion.”

    Hmmm, perhaps now is a good time for declaratory judgment vis-a-vis, cliamte change.

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  21. iMP (2,154 comments) says:

    LOGIC 101.

    1. Change “religion” to mean “doesn’t worship god”

    2. Change “marriage” to mean “one man and one man” or “two lesbians”

    3. Change “homosexual” to mean “one man and one woman.”

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  22. PaulL (5,776 comments) says:

    I think I’ll start a religion. It’ll be called Mammon. My worshippers will be obliged to tithe their time to me. My religion cares about it’s worshippers, I’ll give them all money (note, this is not a salary, it’s charity). I’ll run some businesses, not unlike Sanitarium, using the time of my worshippers. My businesses will sell stuff, they might make money. That money will of course be tax free. In fact, I expect all this to be tax free, including the charitable support I provide to my worshippers.

    Anything here that wouldn’t meet this new definition?

    I agree with DPF. Anyone can be a religion. But you can’t get any special privileges. Governments can recognise a binding contractual union between two people, you can get your marriages whereever you like.

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  23. kowtow (6,734 comments) says:

    Rich prick

    There would be a huge danger in asking today’s judges to rule on global warming…..

    The push for human rights legislation in the 70′s and 80′s came from the left as they saw the judiciary as a bastion of the establishment that had to be controlled via legislation.They got their bills here and in the UK.
    Today the judiciary itself has changed and is as I’ve said activist (for the most part).

    The left have won on both fronts.They have the legislation and the Bench.

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  24. Harriet (4,010 comments) says:

    “…..I’m all for having the right to believe or follow any religion you want to, but the state should not be recognising what is a religion, and granting religions certain rights….”

    LOL DPF:

    So if the state should not be recognising what is a religion – then it is o.k for the Catholic Church to become a political party[whatever that is] to contest seats at the next election? :cool:

    Afterall Labour worships it’s long dead leaders, has an idealogy, and followers. The Catholic Church is then valid also.

    So why don’t you say what your logical conclusion could possably be – that the Church and State could be re-joined in a democracy?

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  25. PaulL (5,776 comments) says:

    @Harriet: no reason the catholic church shouldn’t have a political party. If elected then they’d be able to introduce the policies they’d promised (and a few they didn’t) just like any other party. If, for example, they stood on a policy of no abortions and no extra or pre-marital sex, then they got elected, then they’d be entitled to implement that. NZ has no written constitution, so really there are no rights that cannot be curtailed through due electoral process.

    As for my assessment of the likelihood of them being elected on that platform…..not good.

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  26. wikiriwhis business (3,302 comments) says:

    ‘Why should religions have any rights above and beyond that of any association or club or charity?’

    I’m an active spiritual believing Christian and I fully endorse this concept.

    The most powerfullest churches are the persecuted ones.

    The middle class Euro comfortable churches are always the weakest and most compromised.

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  27. Ed Snack (1,540 comments) says:

    SHG, well, L Ron IS dead (in this world anyway…)

    There’s probably no simple test to sort out a genuine religion, Scientology does claim to be a church, even if the reason for that is widely believed to be for the tax advantages being a religion grants (In this case, in the USA where Scientology was founded). This case was about the right to conduct marriages, *shrug*, marriage ain’t (as they say) what it used to be…

    I haven’t had a lot of exposure to Scientology as a cult (I obviously missed being given the old “IQ Test” line by their recruiters), but doesn’t it use certain psychologically reasonably well defined techniques similar to those espoused (non-religiously) by some groups like the Werner Erhard Foundation, and The Philosophy Course group who used to run courses in Grafton in Auckland, and others ? I have some greater exposure to those and used appropriately they can be extremely useful to some people. Scientology, by repute anyway, is less savory but is it useful to some ?

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  28. PaulL (5,776 comments) says:

    @Ed, I think all religions are useful to some.

    I’m not one who is big on religion, particularly the religions that tell people how to live their lives (and really, what’s the point of a religion if it doesn’t do that). But one of my relatives was always the kind of guy who would fall in with a bad crowd, they’d do something bad, and when the police turned up he’d always be the one that didn’t notice and run away fast enough. Not a bad guy, just not all that smart and no direction.

    He fell in with a girl (when he was share milking I think), she was Mormon or one of those. They’re married now, the church got him a job, got him a house. He goes to church every week, they fill all his spare time with good works. They’re fully keeping him on the straight and narrow, and he’s now an upstanding member of society.

    So yes, I think that religion can be a great thing for some people, even for many people. But that’s a bit different than some cults who appear to be doing it to amass wealth for the privileged few, rather than doing genuine community works. And it’s hard to know where to draw that line. I’m pretty sure that Scientology’s on the wrong side of it though.

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  29. Fentex (664 comments) says:

    If anyone can set up a religion, it makes me wonder whether religions should have any special rights under the law.

    It takes that to make you wonder? How about a more sound philosophical basis of equal treatment of all people before the law regardless of their personal beliefs and practices?

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  30. ChardonnayGuy (1,024 comments) says:

    If we’re going to provide religious groups with special legal privileges, what about secular organisations that provide comparable social and medical services? Why should they be disadvantaged merely because they follow a secular ethical framework?

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  31. SPC (4,679 comments) says:

    The religion is a Science Fiction writers take off of the Catholic Church (readings being a modern “scientific” version of confession) and Mormons (pre existing spirits hosted in human flesh) awaiting a new life on another planet as a new Adam with an Eve – after being married forever in a second marriage in their Utah Temple. And it of a religious tradition. Clearly Islam was a result of Mohammed making a similar decision to borrow from Jews and Christian to establish his own.

    Expecting the UK to end recognition of religion is to forget that their throne has to be separated from a church first.

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  32. ChardonnayGuy (1,024 comments) says:

    Hurriut:
    Which surely *is* what happened in Australia from the fifties until the seventies, when militant conservative Catholic sectarians within the National Civic Council set up their puppet “Democratic Labor Party” to attack the ALP, trade union movement and civil liberties in Australia. (Imbecile Queensland bovine…) ;)

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  33. Reinhard Rieder (1 comment) says:

    Scientology’s bona fides have been officially recognized by a number of governmental agencies and public authorities in the United Kingdom. These include:

    The Ministry of Defence, which has officially recognized the Scientology religion in the Royal Navy (1996).

    HM Customs and Excise, which classifies the Church as a religious organization (2001). Inland Revenue, which ruled that Church staff serve out of a religious commitment rather than financial award (2001). http://bit.ly/18Agw0Z

    The City of Westminster Finance Department, which holds that the Church of Scientology qualifies as a charity “with purposes beneficial to the community.” The City of London Head of Revenues has recognized the Church as “an organization established for charitable purposes only” and entitled to property tax exemption.

    The General Register Office in Scotland has authorized a Scientology minister to solemnize marriages as a minister of religion. http://goo.gl/WRG1fE

    In 2009 The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that anyone who attacks Scientology can be prosecuted under faith hate laws. It means that any alleged offenders who ‘abuse’ or ‘threaten’ the Church of Scientology can be charged under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. http://dailym.ai/1fH0FOa

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