Why is Scientology still in the UK?
In the United Kingdom, religious wedding ceremonies for religious groups other than the Church of England, Jews and Quakers may only be held in a building that has been registered under the Religious Registration Act of 1855.
When a parishioner of the Church of Scientology failed to convince the Chief Registrar to register the chapel of the Church of Scientology in London so that she could be married there, she filed a motion to appeal this decision to the courts.
Ultimately, in recognizing Scientology as a religion, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Church of Scientology Chapel "is a place of worship for the purpose of worship under Section 2 of the Worship Registration Act". The Supreme Court therefore ordered the chief registrar to register the chapel as a place of worship and as a place for formal marriage ceremonies. Scientology thus gained recognition as a religious community in this country.
In its ruling, the Court reconsidered the definition of religion as used in the 1855 Registration of Places of Religion Act.
In paragraph 57 of the Supreme Court judgment, religion is defined as follows:
“A spiritual or non-worldly belief system, which is represented by a group of followers and which claims to explain man's position in the universe and his relationship to the infinite, and which teaches his followers how to live their lives in harmony with have to lead the spiritual understanding of this belief system. "
Based on this definition, the UK Supreme Court ruled:
"In my approach to the meaning of religion, there is ample evidence to demonstrate that Scientology falls within that definition."
The court interpreted (in paragraph 62) Practice of religion as an activity encompassing any form of "devotion" and determined (in paragraph 65) that the Church of Scientology Chapel is "a place of worship for the purpose of worship under Section 2 of the Worship Registration Act" . The Supreme Court therefore ordered the chapel to be registered as a place of worship and as a place for the formal performance of marriages.
Scientology's religious authenticity has been officially recognized by a number of offices and government agencies in the United Kingdom:
- HM Customs and Excise, which classifies the Church as a religious group.
- The tax authority that ruled that church staff members serve the Church for their religious commitment, not for financial compensation.
- The Office of National Statistics, which classifies Scientology as a religion.
- The Independent Television Commission which stated the Church is acceptable as a religious advertiser on UK television.
- The radio agency which also stated that the Church is acceptable as a religious advertiser on UK radio.
- The Department of Defense, which officially recognized the Scientology religion in the Royal Navy.
- The University of Derby's Center for Religious Writings and Research, which describes Scientology as a religion under United Kingdom Human Rights Act.
- The City of Westminster Treasury, which certifies that the Church of Scientology meets charity criteria, "pursues objectives for the good of the community."
- The Ministry of Economic Affairs, which published explanatory notes for the regulations of equality in the workplace (religion or belief), in which Scientology is described as a religion recognized by the European Court of Human Rights.
- The City of London, which granted the Church of Scientology of London exemption from property tax in 2006 on the grounds that the Church of Scientology is "an institution or other organization established solely for charitable purposes" and becomes "all or principal of its property for charity ”.
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