A couple in Britain have been told that their proposed marriage ceremony at the Scientology Centre in London, England cannot take place because the venue is not a religious place of worship. Section 2 of the Places of Worship Registration Act provides that a religious wedding ceremony must be held at a “registered” place of worship.
Louisa Hodkin and Alessandra Calcioli, both Scientologists, took the matter to court claiming the law was discriminatory as their “faith” was no different than Buddhism or any other religion.
The Court however, held that Scientology was not a religion, but a philosophy that focused on mankind, not religious worship. The Court also relied on a decision of the Court from 1970 that disallowed a religious marriage ceremony at a Scientology venue, despite arguments from Ms. Hodkins’ counsel that Scientology had evolved over the years and was not the same as it had been in 1970.
Government proponents of the law say that this case is not about marriage and Scientology, but about the organization’s attempt to attain “religious” status, so that it can pursue what it really wants, which is charitable, tax-exempt recognition.
They also say that followers of Scientology can have a civil service at their centres, which is evidence that marriage is not the real issue, but merely a vehicle to attempt to gain a status that has been denied them in the United Kingdom, as well as Canada, Germany, France, Greece, and Belgium.
Scientology has been accepted as a religion in the United States, after decades of litigation, and in Australia, Sweden, Spain, Taiwan, Croatia, and Hungary.
Scientologists claim their membership in the United States is 3.5 million although research from City University of New York found only 55,000 members.
Will their status change in the next decade? I wouldn’t bet against it, given the cadre of lawyers and experts available to them to change the minds of legislators in those countries who believe the so-called religion is a cult and not a legitimate religious body.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang