US State Dept International Religious Freedom Report for 2012


Patron Meritorious
Listed below are passages that mention Scientology in certain country sections of the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report for 2012, released on May 20, 2013.

The Church of Scientology, the Unification Church, and a number of smaller religious groups are organized as associations.
Embassy staff met regularly with members of Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim groups, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Scientology, the Unification Church, and other religious groups.

The government continued to fund the Center for Information and Advice on Harmful Sectarian Organizations, which collected publicly available information on a wide range of religious and philosophical groups, and provided information on religious groups. Some groups, particularly the Church of Scientology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, argued that the mere existence of the center carried a stigma for the groups on which it provided information. However, these groups did not file complaints of discrimination.
On December 28, the federal prosecutor announced plans to sue the Belgian subsidiary of the Church of Scientology as a criminal organization, based on allegations of extortion, fraud, illegally practicing medicine, and invasion of privacy. The next day, a Scientology spokesperson stated that “it is not the first time that media publish accusations on us before we have been notified. This goes against the presumption of innocence and the Declaration of Human Rights that Belgium signed.” The group filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in response.

Groups constituting 1 percent or less of the population include Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Scientologists, Bahais, and adherents of Shintoism and Taoism.

Religious groups not recognized by either royal decree or registered by the Ecclesiastic Ministry, such as the Church of Scientology, are entitled to engage in religious practices, but members of non-recognized religious groups must marry in a civil ceremony in addition to any religious ceremony. Unrecognized religious groups are not granted tax-exempt status

The Church of Scientology estimates 50,000 members.
On February 2, the Paris appeals court upheld fraud charges from a 2009 case against the Church of Scientology, which the church had appealed. Under a statute targeting organized crime, the appeals court said the church pressured members to pay tens of thousands of euros for personality tests, vitamin cures, sauna sessions and “purification packs.” Five church leaders were each fined from 10,000 to 30,000 euros ($13,056 to $39,169) and four received suspended jail sentences of up to two years. The group announced it would appeal the decision to the Court of Cassation and bring a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). At year’s end, no date had been set for the appeal.
Members of some minority religious groups such as Scientologists expressed concern that government policies contributed to public mistrust of minority religious groups and acts of discrimination. Following a February appellate court decision upholding the fraud conviction of the two main Scientology bodies in the country, a Scientologist press release called the ruling biased and unfair. Dozens of Scientologists protested what they considered discrimination in front of the courthouse, and the organization filed an appeal to the country’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation.

There were, however, reports of discrimination at the federal and state level against some religious minorities, notably Scientologists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Muslims.
The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches continued to use “sect commissioners” to warn the public of alleged dangers from some religious groups such as the Unification Church, the Church of Scientology (COS), Universal Life, and Transcendental Meditation practitioners. Some employers used written agreements known as “sect filters,” asking potential new employees to confirm they had no contact with Scientology, had not participated in its training courses, and rejected its doctrines.
The government does not consider Scientology a religion, and the COS does not have PLC [public law corporation] status.
The status of the Church of Scientology remains in limbo. The Constitutional Court and various courts at the state level have not explicitly ruled that Scientology is a religion. Government agencies at the federal and state level have rules and procedures that discriminate against Scientology as a group and against its members. Four of the major political parties (the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union, Social Democratic Party, and Free Democratic Party) ban Scientologists from party membership.
Scientologists reported instances of governmental discrimination. Although courts at the state and federal level condemned the improper use of so-called “sect filters” to blacklist and boycott Scientologists, they remained in use in the public sector. “Sect filters” typically asked potential new employees to confirm in writing that they had no contact with Scientology, did not participate in its training courses, and rejected its doctrines.

In January the city of Hamburg announced a property for sale, but stipulated that potential buyers must sign a “sect filter” agreement declaring that neither they nor their employees were Scientologists, and that any company operating on the property would not conduct business with any Scientologists, domestic or foreign. In July the Bavarian Ministry for Environment and Health solicited bids for a facility cleaning contract with a similar sect filter.

The federal and state Offices for the Protection of the Constitution (OPCs) in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, NRW, and Thuringia monitored the activities of the COS, mainly focusing on evaluating Scientology publications and public activities to determine whether they violated the constitution. The COS reported that OPC representatives regularly contacted Scientologists to question them about the organization. The COS also reported the OPC collected names of members from church publications and archived the information to use in citizenship and employment proceedings.
Catholic and Protestant churches continued to oppose Scientology publically, although press reporting and public reactions to Scientology decreased. Several private organizations issued warnings about after-school study programs run by Scientologists.

“Sect commissioners,” primarily Protestant and Catholic Church officials, investigated “sects, cults, and psycho groups” and publicized what they considered to be the dangers of these groups. Protestant “sect commissioners” were especially active in efforts to warn the public about alleged dangers posed by the Unification Church, Scientology, Bhagwan-Osho, Transcendental Meditation, and Universal Life. Print and Internet literature produced by “sect commissioners” portrayed these groups unfavorably.
The embassy and consulates met with members of the Bahai, Alevite, Coptic, and Sufi communities; the Konrad Adenauer Foundation; the Central Council of Muslims; the Central Council of Jews; the Church of Scientology; human rights NGOs; and parliamentary staffers to discuss religious freedom.

Religious groups that have never received house-of-prayer permits, including Scientologists, Hare Krishnas, and polytheistic Hellenic groups, face legal and administrative burdens because they cannot function as religious legal entities. Scientologists and polytheistic Hellenic religious groups function as registered nonprofit civil law organizations. Without the recognition afforded by house-of-prayer permits, the government does not legally recognize weddings conducted by religious leaders of those groups.

Other religious groups present in small numbers include Episcopalians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Methodists, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Muslims, Scientologists, and practitioners of Vodou (Voodoo).

The government implemented a 2011 law applying stringent mandatory registration requirements on missionaries and religious groups. The law gives the government broad grounds to deny religious groups legal status. While most religious groups managed to obtain legal registration, some were denied registration because they lacked the requisite number of members, and a few groups, such as Scientologists, the Unification Church, and Ahmadi Muslims, were denied registration based on their religious beliefs.
Other groups constituting less than 5 percent of the population include Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Mennonites, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jews, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, Bahais, Christian Scientists, Scientologists, and members of Grace Church, New Life Church, and the Unification Church.
The government enforced existing restrictions on unregistered groups and minority religious groups. Local officials attempted to limit, often through raids, the activities of some minority religious groups, including evangelical Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, and Muslims not affiliated with the SAMK [Spiritual Administration of Muslims in Kazakhstan].
Several government-controlled media outlets and government-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continued to publish or broadcast stories critical of minority religious groups including evangelical Protestant Christian groups such as the New Life Church and Grace Church, and Scientologists, depicting them as dangerous “sects” harmful to society.
During the year, the Protestant groups New Life Church, Grace Church, and the Baptist Council, along with several congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists, reported that the authorities had raided their groups, including registered groups.
During the year, authorities denied registration to at least three religious groups based on their theological views. The RAA “expert analysis” determined that the Church of Scientology was a group primarily engaged in commercial activity, and subsequently denied registration to its two congregations. On December 6, a court in Almaty ordered the closure of the Almaty Church of Scientology, and on December 7, an Almaty court ordered the closure of the Medeo Church of Scientology. Both cases were under appeal. Authorities also denied registration to the Unification Church of Almaty on the grounds that the RAA “expert analysis” determined that it did not meet the definition of a religion. On November 27, an Almaty court ordered the church closed at the request of the Ministry of Justice. The Unification Church appealed the ruling and a hearing was pending at year’s end. While most religious groups received registration by year’s end, authorities denied registration to a few individual protestant churches, as well as the Unification Church and the Church of Scientology.
Scientologists reported that local businesses in Almaty frequently refused to rent them space to hold gatherings

The authorities continued to search and seize the property of members of minority religious groups such as Scientologists and Falun Gong. The MOJ’s [Ministry of Justice] list of “extremist” materials grew to 1,589 titles. The authorities continued to restrict the rights of minority religious groups to meet publicly and continued to limit the ability of religious organizations to register.
Authorities seized Scientology literature in Kalingrad, Vladivostok, and Novosibirsk, and searched the Scientology premises in Yekaterinburg.

The MOJ’s current list of “extremist” materials includes certain Islamic religious items, 68 Jehovah’s Witnesses items, four Falun Gong items, seven Scientology items, a series of neo-pagan materials deemed intolerant of other religious groups (Christianity in particular), and other media that are explicitly racist or anti-Semitic. Established in 2007, the list increased from 1,066 titles in 2011 to 1,589 at year’s end.
Although 29 Church of Scientology publications were removed from the federal list of “extremist” materials in 2011, seven Scientology publications were added to the list during the year.
The government continued to refuse to register fully the Church of Scientology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow. Although the Church of Scientology was registered with the federal tax office, the MOJ continued to refuse to reregister its charter.
Embassy representatives as well as representatives from the consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok met with rabbis and leaders of the Jewish community, muftis and other Islamic leaders, Protestant pastors, Catholic priests, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, Falun Gong adherents, and Buddhists.

South Africa
The Church of Scientology has a small following.

Other religious groups include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Buddhists, Orthodox Christians, Bahais, Scientologists, Hindus, Christian Scientists and other Christian groups.

Smaller religious communities are concentrated in larger cities and include Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Hare Krishnas, and members of the Church of Scientology, Word of Faith, and Unification Church.

Groups that constitute less than 5 percent of the population include ... the Church of Scientology, ...

United Kingdom
On December 18, the High Court ruled that the Church of Scientology could not legally hold marriage ceremonies because it was not “a place of meeting for religious worship.” Citing a 1970 Court of Appeal ruling that Scientology services “did not involve acts of worship,” the High Court judge stated he was bound by that decision, dismissing a Scientologist’s case alleging religious discrimination. The judge also stated that the Supreme Court--the highest court in the country--should consider the question of whether Scientologists worshipped and decide whether it wanted to rule separately on the issue.


Formerly Fooled - Finally Free
Oh how the Church of Scientology moans when it does not get it's way, when it is called to the carpet for it' s schemes..... Yet their front groups, like WISE push their members to force employees to take Scientology courses, or, in the case of Narconon, send some their staff to the local orgs or Arrowhead for auditing and or security checks, as a condition of continued employment. What hypocrites.

I do not believe in discrimination against groups of good will, religious or not; but I applaud these countries that fight to keep this cult away from the minds and wallets of their citizens.