Church Of Scientology Defeats Attempt To Stop Religious Freedom In France

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28th October 2009, 04:13pm - Views: 451






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C

HURCH OF

S

CIENTOLOGY

I

NTERNATIONAL

_______________________________________________________

6331 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90028 USA

Telephone: (323) 960-3500

? Fax: (323) 960

-3508/9



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE





October 27, 2009

Contact: Karin Pouw

Church of Scientology International

(323) 960-3500


For Australian Church of Scientology contact:

Vicki Dunstan

(03) 9638 5200


CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY DEFEATS ATTEMPT TO CURTAIL FREEDOM

TO PRACTICE THE RELIGION IN FRANCE



The Paris Correctional Court today rejected the recommendations of

prosecutors in a case against a Paris Scientology Church, a Scientology bookstore

and six

individual Church members.  The Court cited the absence of any

complainants coming forward despite the intense media surrounding the trial

and that the defendants had acted out of sincere religious conviction as reasons

for refusing the draconian sanctions sought by the government.  The Court

imposed no restrictions on the Church’s activities.


Throughout the month-long trial held in May and June 2009, the Church

decried the case as a heresy trial and an example of the discriminatory treatment

to which new religious movements are treated in France—treatment that has

been condemned by international human rights bodies.  In its annual

International Religious Freedom Report issued on October 26, 2009 the United

States State Department said that “discriminatory treatment” of Scientologists in

France “remained a concern.”


The case arose out of the five-month participation in Scientology religious

practices in 1998 by the main civil party.  This included studying Scientology

Scriptures and receiving spiritual counseling. The donations made by the

plaintiffs were returned to them in full well before any case was heard.  In 2006,

the prosecutor recommended the case be dismissed because there was no

evidence of any wrongdoing

and because all donations had been returned. 

Instead, the court succumbed to pressure from anti-religious extremists in

government

and turned it

into a heresy trial in violation of the rights of the

Scientologists under French law and under the European Convention on Human

Rights. 


This is in marked contrast to the treatment of Scientology in other

countries where Scientology is formally recognized as a religion. The

European

Court of Human Rights has on two recent occasions found that Churches of

Scientology in Russia are entitled to the protection of religious freedom

guaranteed by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  


Today’s decision means that Scientologists remain free to practice their

religion in France, despite the best efforts to the contrary by anti-religious

extremists.  While the fines and suspended sentences issued by the Court will be

appealed, they will have no effect on Church activities and the rapid expansion

the Church is experiencing will continue. 


The Church of Scientology has grown from one Church in 1954 to more

than 8,000 Churches, Missions and groups in 165 countries

today.  The Church

sponsors an international human rights education initiative as well as the world’s

largest non-governmental drug education program.  Four new Churches have

opened in 2009, most recently the Church of Scientology of Rome on October 24,

with a new Church opening in Washington, DC, on October 31. In April, three

new Churches were dedicated: in Malmo, Sweden; Dallas, Texas; and Nashville,

Tennessee. The Scientology religion has expanded more in the past year than in

the past five years combined and more in the past five years than in the past five

decades combined. 


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