US State Dept International Religious Freedom Report for 2016

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  1. mnql1

    mnql1 Patron Meritorious

    Listed below are passages that mention Scientology in the country sections of the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, released on August 15, 2017.

    For passages from the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report for 2015, see
    US State Dept International Religious Freedom Report for 2015

    Austria
    The Church of Scientology and a number of smaller religious groups, such as Sahaja Yoga or the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, are organized as associations.
    (...)
    The federal Office of Sect Issues continued to offer advice to persons with questions about groups it considered to be “sects” and “cults.” While the office was independent, it was government funded, and its head was appointed and supervised by the Minister for Family and Youth. Some Scientologists continued to state on social media the Office of Sect Issues and other government-associated entities fostered societal discrimination against religious groups not registered as religious societies or confessional communities.

    A counseling center in Vienna managed by the Society against Sect and Cult Dangers, an NGO working actively against groups it deemed to be “sects and cults,” such as Scientology, continued to distribute information to schools and the general public, and provided counseling for former members of such groups. The center received some funding from the provincial governments of Vienna and Lower Austria. Several other provinces funded counseling offices providing information on “sects and cults.”

    Belgium
    Concluding a judicial process lasting 18 years, in March the Brussels Court acquitted the Church of Scientology of the illegal practice of medicine, fraud, organized criminal activity, and the violation of privacy laws.
    (...)
    A 2011 report (based on 2009 data) by the King Baudouin Foundation estimates [that] (...) religious groups that together constitute less than 5 percent of the population include Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, and Scientologists.
    (...)
    On March 11, concluding a judicial process lasting 18 years, the Brussels Court acquitted the Church of Scientology of the illegal practice of medicine, fraud, organized criminal activity, and the violation of privacy laws. The Court said the prosecution had failed to prove its case, which the court said was based more on allegations than on facts.

    Canada
    Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Scientologists, Bahais, and adherents of Shintoism, Taoism, and aboriginal spirituality together constitute less than 4 percent of the population.

    Denmark
    Religious groups not recognized by either royal decree or by a government registration process, such as the Church of Scientology, are entitled to engage in religious practices without any kind of public registration, but members of those groups must marry in a civil ceremony in addition to any religious ceremony. Unrecognized religious groups are not granted fully tax-exempt status, but do have some tax benefits; for example, contributions by members are tax deductible.

    France
    Other religious groups estimate their numbers as follows: Jehovah’s Witnesses, 120,000; ... The Church of Scientology, 45,000; ...

    Germany
    The Basic Law (the constitution) prohibits religious discrimination and provides for freedom of faith and conscience and the practice of one’s religion. Some state governments continued not to recognize the Church of Scientology (COS) and other religious groups, which made these groups ineligible for tax benefits. The federal and some state offices for the protection of the constitution (OPC) continued to monitor the activities of some groups, including certain Muslim groups and the COS, which the offices said they suspected of furthering extremist goals.
    (...)
    The Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) continued to oppose the COS publicly and used “sect commissioners” to warn the public of what they characterized as dangers from some religious groups.
    (...)
    Groups that together constitute less than 1 percent of the population include Buddhists (270,000); ... COS (5,000-10,000); ...
    (...)
    The COS does not have PLC [public law corporation] or nonprofit status in any state.
    (...)
    State governments continued not to recognize the COS as a religious group, which made it ineligible for tax benefits. NRW did not recognize the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religious group. The government continued to investigate COS and Muslim groups for reported constitutional violations. COS continued to report instances of government criticism and discrimination, such as the use of “sect filters” to block them from public sector employment. Some senior government officials condemned anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment; other politicians used anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

    According to federal and state OPC reports and COS members, the federal and state OPCs in Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, NRW, and Thuringia monitored the activities of the COS, reportedly by evaluating Scientology publications and members’ public activities to determine whether they violated the Basic Law. At least four major political parties (the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union, Social Democratic Party, and Free Democratic Party) continued to exclude Scientologists from party membership.
    (...)
    COS continued to report instances of governmental discrimination. “Sect filters,” signed statements by potential employees to confirm they had no contact with COS, remained in use in the public and private sectors. Firms owned or operated by COS members reportedly also suffered discrimination. According to COS, some of its members who suffered discrimination refrained from taking legal action because they felt a trial would be time-consuming and because they feared stigma and loss of business contracts.
    (...)
    The Catholic Church and the EKD continued to oppose COS publicly. “Sect commissioners” of the EKD and the Catholic Church investigated “sects and cults” and publicized what they considered to be the dangers of these groups. EKD “sect commissioners” warned the public about what they said were the dangers posed by the COS, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Unification Church), Bhagwan-Osho, Transcendental Meditation, and Universal Life. “Sect commissioners” produced print and internet literature portraying these groups unfavorably.
    (...)
    In September the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom addressed the “2nd International Parliamentarians’ Conference – An Embattled Right: Protecting and Promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief,” hosted by the CDU/CSU parliamentary caucus. He also met with various political interlocutors and representatives of the COS and Yezidi communities to discuss challenges they faced in the country. The COS listed government monitoring and discrimination in the workplace as challenges.
    (...)
    Embassy and consulate general representatives met with members and leaders of numerous local and national religious and civil society groups about their issues of concern related to religious freedom, including the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches; ... the COS; ...

    Greece
    Other religious groups that together are estimated to constitute less than 5 percent of the population include Old Calendarist Orthodox, atheists and agnostics, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, members of polytheistic Hellenic religions, Scientologists, Bahais, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Sikhs, Seventh-day Adventists, and the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKON).
    (...)
    Religious groups that did not have religious entity status and had never received house of prayer permits, including Scientologists, ISKON, and polytheistic Hellenic groups, were only able to function as registered nonprofit civil law organizations. The government did not legally recognize weddings conducted by those religious groups.

    Haiti
    Groups present in small numbers include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Rastafarians, Scientologists, and atheists.

    Israel and the Occupied Territories
    Recognized religious communities are exempt from taxation of places of worship and may have separate courts to apply their religion’s personal status law. Some nonrecognized religions, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, receive a property tax exemption on their houses of worship, although others, such as Buddhism and Scientology, do not. While members of recognized religious communities only require approval for visas from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visas for members of nonrecognized religious communities also require Ministry of Interior (MOI) approval for stays longer than five years. Members of nonrecognized religious groups may practice their beliefs.

    Kazakhstan
    Other religious groups representing less than 3 percent of the population in total include Jews, Buddhists, members of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, Bahais, and Scientologists.
    (...)
    The Church of Scientology continued to function and be registered as a public association, rather than as a religious organization.

    Russia
    Religious groups constituting less than 5 percent of the population each include Buddhists, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Bahais, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), pagans, Tengrists, Scientologists, and Falun Gong adherents.
    (...)
    In June the Supreme Court denied the appeal of the Church of Scientology of Moscow against a decision by a Moscow city court banning the group’s activities in the city on the grounds the group did not qualify as a religious organization according to the law because the term Scientology was a registered trademark in the United States. The use of the registered trademark, according to the court, meant the Church of Scientology of Moscow was acting in the city as a commercial partnership rather than a religious organization. According to media accounts, in June police raided several Scientology Church facilities in Moscow and St. Petersburg on suspicion of involvement in money laundering. In March the media reported police raided Scientology facilities in Tatarstan on suspicion of violating provisions of the law related to the privacy of personal information.

    South Africa
    The Church of Scientology estimates it has approximately 100,000 members.
    (...)
    The Church of Scientology reported a cooperative partnership with the government in the Church’s nationwide anti-drug use campaign.
    (...)
    U.S. embassy representatives met with religious leaders and NGOs, including individuals from the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), Islamic Council of South Africa (ICSA), the Church of Scientology, and the SAJBD to discuss the environment for religious freedom and concern over cases of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment.

    Spain
    Other religious groups include Christian Scientists, other Christian groups, Bahais, Scientologists (11,000 members), and Hindus.
    (...)
    In October Scientologists conducted their third annual Religious Freedom Award Ceremony. The year’s award recipients were a professor of Ecclesiastical Law at Carlos III University of Madrid, the Foundation, and a legal expert in international affairs, immigration, and religious freedom, who was also Professor of Ecclesiastical Law at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Scientologist President Ivan Arjona explained the growing importance of the awards ceremony as it drew important religious, public, and academic figures together to discuss problems of religious freedom in the country. Arjona credited the dialogue at the awards ceremony with helping to change views so that, beginning in 2015, the government began to elicit Scientologist input on policy decisions. He stated the government consulted the Church prior to issuing the decree that defined clear parameters for a religion to obtain notorio arraigo status and that Madrid also consulted the Church in working on its Human Rights Plan for 2016-2020. According to Arjona, “It really made a difference in having better acceptance from local governments that our view matters.”
    (...)
    Embassy officials met and held phone conversations with leaders of the CIE, FEREDE, FCJE, Federation of Buddhist Communities, Scientologists, Jehovah’s Witness, and other community members, ...

    Sweden
    Smaller religious communities include Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, and members of the Church of Scientology, Word of Faith, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Unification Church), and Mandaeism.

    Taiwan
    Religious groups that total less than 5 percent of the population include ... the Church of Scientology, ...
     
  2. mnql1

    mnql1 Patron Meritorious

    The South Africa reports for 2015, 2014, and earlier years said: "There are small numbers of Scientologists."

    According to the 2016 report: "The Church of Scientology estimates it has approximately 100,000 members."