US State Dept International Religious Freedom Report for 2014


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 2014, released on October 14, 2015.

For passages from the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report for 2013, see
US State Dept International Religious Freedom Report for 2013

The Church of Scientology, the Unification Church, and a number of smaller religious groups are organized as associations.

Other religious groups that together constitute less than 5 percent of the population include Hindus, Sikhs, Hare Krishnas, and Scientologists.

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

Religious groups not recognized by either royal decree or registered by the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs, 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 it has 45,000 members.
On January 13, the Paris appellate court formally charged three branches and three leaders of the Church of Scientology with fraud, deceptive commercial practices, and abuse of public funds, following accusations that a private school based in Vincennes taught Scientology precepts to approximately 50 children without the knowledge of their parents in 1998. No trial date had been set at year’s end.

In July the Versailles prosecutor office opened a preliminary investigation of the Church of Scientology following reports of harassment of 12 employees of a company whose owner had joined the church. Plaintiffs said they were forced to undergo a training routine which amounted to psychological harassment. The investigation continued at year’s end.

Federal and state Offices for the Protection of the Constitution (OPCs) monitored the activities of some groups, including the Church of Scientology (COS) and some Muslim groups suspected of furthering what the offices considered extremist goals.
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, Universal Life, and Transcendental Meditation practitioners. Some employers continued to use written agreements known as “sect filters,” asking potential new employees to confirm they had no contact with Scientology.
The COS does not have PLC [public law corporation] status in any state.
Some state governments and federal agencies continued to decline to recognize certain belief systems as religions, in particular Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists, making them ineligible for tax benefits. Some Muslim religious groups gained PLC status. The government continued to investigate Scientologists and Muslim groups for reported constitutional violations. The headscarf ban prevalent in many states was upheld in court. Scientologists continued to report instances of alleged governmental discrimination, such as the use of “sect filters” to block them from public sector employment.
The status of the COS remained unresolved. No court at the state or federal level issued any ruling determining whether Scientology was a religion.

The federal and state OPCs in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, NRW, and Thuringia monitored the activities of the COS, reportedly focusing on evaluating Scientology publications and public activities to determine whether they violated the constitution. The COS reported 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.
Scientologists continued to report instances of alleged governmental discrimination. “Sect filters” asking potential employees to confirm they had no contact with Scientologists and rejected its doctrines remained in use in the public and private sectors, although courts at the state and federal level had said it was improper to use them to blacklist Scientologists.

On March 12, the city of Stuttgart required a tree expert hired to train park employees on tree care to sign a “sect filter.” The expert agreed he would not utilize Scientology methods, but crossed out the language stating that he rejected such methods and had not been trained in them. After he would not sign the full agreement, the city cancelled its contract with the expert, who then filed a lawsuit against the city for damages to recover his loss of income. The case was pending before the Stuttgart Superior Court at the end of the year.
Catholic and Protestant churches continued to oppose Scientology publicly and the COS said private companies continued to use “sect filters” against its members.
Catholic and Protestant churches continued to oppose Scientology publicly, although press reporting and public reactions to Scientology decreased. “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.
“Sect filters” continued to be used in private sector employment and contracts. The COS alleged a number of companies, including some of the most prominent in the country, placed restrictions on hiring and contracting members of the COS.
The embassy and consulates met with members of the Bahai, Alevi, Coptic, and Sufi communities; the Konrad Adenauer Foundation; the Central Council of Muslims; the Central Council of Jews; the COS; and human rights NGOs to discuss religious freedom.

Other groups that together constitute less than 5 percent of the population include Old Calendarist Orthodox, atheists, 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 Hare Krishnas.
A religious group that had obtained at least one valid permit was considered a “known religion” and acquired protection under the law; this protection was reiterated by the October 1 religious entities law. Religious groups that had never received house of prayer permits and did not receive legal status under the October 1 law, including Scientologists, Hare Krishnas, and polytheistic Hellenic groups, could not function as religious legal entities, and some religious groups functioned as registered nonprofit civil law organizations. The government did not legally recognize weddings conducted by those religious groups.

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

Other groups constituting less than 5 percent of the population include Jews, Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Mennonites, Pentecostals, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Christian Scientists, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, Bahais, Scientologists, and members of the Unification Church.
The Church of Scientology is reported to be registered as a public association, rather than a religious organization, and continues to function.
In September Nurlan Bizhanov, an official from the Procurator General’s Office of East Kazakhstan Region, complained to the regional governor of the “destructive religious activity” of Jehovah’s Witness, New Life and Grace Churches, evangelical Christian Baptists, and Scientologists, warning these “nontraditional religious movements” often came into conflict with “traditional religions.”

Religious groups constituting less than 5 percent of the population each include Buddhists, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Bahais, Hare Krishnas, pagans, Tengrists, Scientologists, and Falun Gong adherents.
Authorities acted to dissolve some minority religious groups or revoke their status, refused to register other religious organizations, and imposed a number of restrictions that infringed on the religious practices of minority religious groups, in particular Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, and Scientologists, including limiting their ability to obtain land, build places of worship, and obtain restitution of property seized during the Soviet era.
On October 2, the ECHR ruled the 2006 refusal to register the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg violated Articles 9 and 11 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The St. Petersburg district court had refused the registration, stating the group had not been in existence for the required 15 years.

On October 22, the Moscow city court suspended hearings on the dissolution of the Church of Scientology of Moscow. Among other issues, the MOJ [Ministry of Justice] had required the church to reregister its 1994 religious charter, while at the same time stating the government did not recognize the religious nature of the organization’s activities. The church said it had already attempted to reregister 11 times and had been denied every time.
As of November 1, the MOJ’s list of extremist materials had grown to 2,500 titles, including 69 Jehovah’s Witnesses items, four Falun Gong items, and seven Scientology items.
On September 25, representatives from the St. Petersburg police anti-corruption unit and counter-extremism center searched the local offices of the Church of Scientology as part of a fraud investigation of St. Petersburg’s Olimp Construction Company, which reportedly had financial ties to the Scientologists. The criminal investigation against Olimp began in early September.
Throughout the year, 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, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, Falun Gong adherents, Hare Krishnas, and Buddhists. These discussions covered developments related to religion and religious freedom, including legislation, government practices, and specific religious freedom cases.

South Africa
There are small numbers of Scientologists.

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.

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

United Kingdom
Following a ruling in 2013 that “Scientology comes within the meaning of a religion,” the first ever wedding in a Scientology chapel took place in February.