Scientology And Me

October 1, 2009

Landmark Church of Scientology Decision Protecting Religious Freedom Against Russia in European Court of Human Rights

Today, the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously in favour of two Scientology religious groups in Russia,  finding they have the right to be registered as religious organizations under Russian law. The decision determined that these groups, the Church of Scientology of Surgut and the Church of Scientology of Niznekamsk, have the right to religious freedom and the right of freedom of association under articles 9 and 11 of the European Human Rights Convention.

In reaching this decision, the Court “established that the applicants were unable to obtain recognition and effective enjoyment of their rights to freedom of religion and association in any organizational form. The first applicant could not obtain registration of the Scientology group as a non-religious legal entity because it was considered to be a religious community by the Russian authorities. The applications for registration as a religious organisation submitted by the first and second applicants as founders of their respective groups and also on behalf of the third applicant were denied by reference to the insufficient period of the groups’ existence.  Finally, the restricted status of a religious group for which they qualified and in which the third applicant existed conveyed no practical or effective benefits to them as such a group was deprived of legal personality, property rights and the legal capacity to protect the interests of its members and was also severely hampered in the fundamental aspects of its religious functions.  Accordingly, the Court finds that there has been an interference with the applicants’ rights under Article 9 interpreted in the light of Article 11.”

Along with the 2007 decision of the Court in favor of the right of the Moscow Church of Scientology to be registered as a religious organization under the Religion law, these cases represent precedent-setting rulings that guarantee the freedom of religion and right of association for Scientologists and people of all faiths throughout the forty-seven nations that comprise the Council of Europe.

The Court concluded that “In the light of the foregoing considerations, the Court finds that the interference with the applicants’ rights to freedom of religion and association cannot be said to have been “necessary in a democratic society”. There has therefore been a violation of Article 9 of the Convention, interpreted in the light of Article 11″.

Nina de Kastro, spokesperson of the Church of Scientology of Russia, praised the Court’s ruling saying, “This decision not only confirms the rights of Churches of Scientology in Russia, but sets another important precedent to protect the rights of all other religious communities in Europe.”

The Russian Scientology Church in St. Petersburg also has cases pending in the European Court of Human Rights for similar discriminatory harassment concerning their registration.

The Scientology religion was founded by L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church was established in the United States in 1954.  It has grown to more than 8,000 Churches, Missions and groups and ten million members in 165 nations. The Russian Federation has more than 73 Scientology Churches and Missions from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok.

For more information about Scientology, see www.scientology-moscow.ru or www.scientology.org.

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