Scientology Controversies - The Legitimacy of Scientology As A Religion

The Legitimacy of Scientology As A Religion

The nature of Scientology is hotly debated in many countries. The Church of Scientology pursues an extensive public relations campaign arguing that Scientology is a bona fide religion. The organization cites a number of studies and experts who support their position. Critics point out that most cited studies were commissioned by Scientology to produce the desired results.

Many countries (including Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom), while not prohibiting or limiting the activities of the Church of Scientology, have rejected its applications for tax-exempt, charitable status or recognition as a religious organization; it has been variously judged to be a commercial enterprise or a dangerous cult.

Scientology is legally accepted as a religion in the United States and Australia, and enjoys the constitutional protections afforded to religious practice in each country. In October 1993, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service recognized the Church as an "organization operated exclusively for religious and charitable purposes." The Church offers the tax exemption as proof that it is a religion. (This subject is examined in the article on the Church of Scientology).

In 1982, the High Court of Australia ruled that the State Government of Victoria lacked the right to declare that the Church of Scientology was not a religion. The Court found the issue of belief to be the central feature of religion, regardless of the presence of charlatanism: Charlatanism is a necessary price of religious freedom, and if a self-proclaimed teacher persuades others to believe in a religion which he propounds, lack of sincerity or integrity on his part is not incompatible with the religious character of the beliefs, practices and observances accepted by his followers."

Other countries to have recognized Scientology as a religion include Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, and New Zealand.

Read more about this topic:  Scientology Controversies

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