In an article on Bitter Winter online magazine, editor Massimo Introvigne describes the recent decision of Germany’s Federal Administrative Court affirming the freedom of religion or belief and the freedom of religious practice of German Scientologists.
The suit concerned the City of Munich’s subsidizing of electrical bikes, called “pedelecs,” as part of the city’s program to promote environmental protection.
“A musician who happens to be a Scientologist applied to receive a grant for purchasing a pedelec on August 6, 2018,” wrote Introvigne. “As part of her application, she was required to sign a ‘sect filter’ declaring that ‘she will not apply, teach, or otherwise disseminate any of the contents or methods or technology of L. Ron Hubbard and that she will not attend any courses or seminars based on this technology.’ She refused, and on December 12, 2018, the City of Munich rejected her application.”
The article describes how the musician appealed this decision and the State Administrative Court of Appeal decided the city violated the plaintiff’s rights by imposing a “sect filter” as a prerequisite for awarding her the grant. The court found this filter violated the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and the constitutional principle of equality before the law. The law requires that race, origin, language, belief or religious or philosophical conviction may not be used as a criterion subjecting citizens to disadvantages. The judges noted that the city had admitted that, apart from the “sect filter” issue, the musician’s application met the legal requirements and would have been granted were it not for the filter. Thus, the application of a “sect filter” amounted to unconstitutional religious discrimination.
“This outcome certainly encourages Scientologists and all citizens jealous of their human rights to refuse to sign these obnoxious documents,” wrote Introvigne. “...the decision is a victory for religious liberty, and should persuade Germany that there is no room for ‘sect filters’ in a democratic country that is based on human rights.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.