Regno Unito. La Corte suprema di giustizia definisce Scientology una religione, ma al Governo i ministri esprimono forte preoccupazione


Scientology is a religion, rules Supreme Court

A woman who wants to marry in a Church of Scientology chapel has won a battle in the UK’s highest court

By John Bingham

Scientology has been recognised officially as a “religion” after Britain’s highest court swept aside 158 years of law to rule that worshipping a god is not essential to religion.

In a landmark judgment, five Supreme Court Justices redefined religion in law in order to enable the group to conduct weddings.

It follows a five-year legal battle by Louisa Hodkin, a 25-year-old scientologist, who was seeking the right to get married at the Church of Scientology chapel in central London, which she attends.

Miss Hodkin and her fiancé Alessandro Calcioli, who were at court to hear the judgment handed down, hailed the decision as a victory for freedom of worship.

But ministers voiced alarm that it could open the way for the group to claim lucrative tax breaks worth hundreds of thousands of pounds a year and other legal privileges.

The Government is now taking legal advice amid fears that the judgment could open the way for organisations branded as “cults” to receive tax breaks.

It is understood they are examining the possibility of a change to the law.

Tory ministers immediately rounded on Labour, branding the Equality Act – steered through Parliament by Harriet Harman when in power – as “flawed”, arguing the decision will leave “hard-pressed taxpayers” funding exemptions from local rates for scientologist churches.

Miss Hodkin launched a legal challenge after the Registrar General of births, deaths and marriages refused to register the chapel to conduct marriages because it was not recognised as a place of “religious worship”.

That decision stemmed from a 1970 court case which excluded scientology because it did not fit within the terms of the 1855 Places of Worship Registration Act which counts only groups which revere a “deity” as true religions.

But even in the 1970 case Lord Denning observed that Buddhist temples are already treated as an “exception”.

Miss Hodkin’s legal challenge was initially turned down by Mr Justice Ouseley at the High Court last year on the basis of the legal definition but he immediately passed the case to the Supreme Court to reassess the law.

The five justices, including Lord Neuberger, the President f the Supreme Court, ruled that it amounted to discrimination to exclude groups which do not formally worship a god or gods.

The court heard that although scientologists use the word “God” in services, the term is understood to mean “inifinity” and not a specific being.

“Unless there is some compelling contextual reason for holding otherwise, religion should not be confined to religions which recognise a supreme deity,” said Lord Toulson, delivering the lead judgment.

“First and foremost, to do so would be a form of religious discrimination unacceptable in today’s society.”

In the judgment he charted the development of religious toleration in England since the Reformation and even delved into disputes within Christian theology over the nature of God.

He concluded that religion could be defined more accurately as a “spiritual or non-secular belief system” which “claims to explain mankind’s place in the universe and relationship with the infinite” and give people guidance on life.

“Such a belief system may or may not involve belief in a supreme being, but it does involve a belief that there is more to be understood about mankind’s nature and relationship to the universe than can be gained from the senses or from science,” he said.

Speaking afterwards Mr Calcioli said: “I think the court’s definition of religion is excellent – I think it’s what most people today would understand ‘religion’ to be.”

Miss Hodkin added: “My fiancé and I have always believed in the fairness of the British legal process.”

But ministers voiced alarm at the decision. During debates in 2006 Michael Gove, now the education secretary, used Parliamentary privilege to describe scientology as an “evil cult”.

Brandon Lewis, the local government minister, said: “I am very concerned about this ruling, and its implications for business rates.

“In the face of concerns raised by Conservatives in Opposition, Labour Ministers told Parliament during the passage of the Equalities Bill that Scientology would continue to fall outside the religious exemption for business rates.

“But we now discover Scientology may be eligible for rate relief and that the taxpayer will have to pick up the bill, all thanks to Harriet Harman and Labour’s flawed laws.”

“Hard-pressed taxpayers will wonder why Scientology premises should now be given tax cuts when local firms have to pay their fair share.”

Paul Hewitt, a partner at Withers, who represented Miss Hodkin dismissed the use of the word cult. He said: “Five Judges of the Supreme Court have just given a comprehensive judgment that Scientology is a religion.”

Fonte: The Telegraph


NOTA: Leggi anche articolo pubblicato da The’Independent, qui


Vince battaglia legale,si sposerà in chiesa Scientology a Londra

Rovesciata sentenza 1970,ora luoghi organizzazione sono religiosi

Londra, 11 dic. Una donna britannica ha vinto la sua battaglia legale e si potrà sposare in un tempio di Scientology a Londra, dopo che la Corte suprema del Regno Unito ha dichiarato che l’edificio dove si praticano gli insegnamenti di Ron Hubbard nel centro della capitale del Regno Unito è un vero luogo di culto. La signora Louisa Hodkin si era infatti vista rifiutare il permesso di sposare il fidanzato Alessandro Calcioli nella cappella, situata nel centro di Londra, perchè non catalogata come luogo religioso. Un giudice della High court nel 1970 aveva sentenziato che i servizi della controversa organizzazione americana, di cui sono seguaci attori famosi come Tom Cruise o John Travolta, non erano “atti religiosi”, perché non riguardavano “l’adorazione di Dio o di un essere superiore”. Oggi, cinque giudici della Corte suprema britannica hanno deciso che Hodkin e Calcioli potranno sposarsi nella cappella di Scientology e che una religione non deve essere limitata alle fedi che adorano una “divinità superiore”. La donna ha annunciato di volersi sposare entro i prossimi due mesi: “Sono felicissima e veramente contenta per il fatto che finalmente siamo trattati allo stesso modo e che possiamo sposarci nella nostra chiesa”, ha affermato Hodkin.

Fonte: Il Mondo

Scientology è una religione, sì ai matrimoni tra fedeli


Londra – Dopo le tante critiche accumulate negli anni e una condanna per truffa in Francia a ottobre,Scientology ha oggi riportato una vittoria senza precedenti nel Regno Unito. La Corte suprema di Londra ha riconosciuto alla “setta” lo status di religione a tutti gli effetti. In questo modo due suoi “fedeli”, Louisa Hodkin Alessandro Calcioli, 25enni di East Grinstead, West Sussex, potranno sposarsi in una cappella della Church of Scientology nella capitale del Regno…



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