The Church of Scientology International’s Proclamation on Religion, Human Rights and Society, issued to mark the Grand Opening of its new Brussels office, is a public declaration of the principles that guide our human rights programmes. The document sets out the Church’s official position on many of the critical issues of today: the role of religion in society; freedom of belief; freedom of expression; democracy; justice; church-and-state relations; freedom of information, multi-cultural societies; parents and children’s rights, and many others.
Religion today is subject to much discussion and critical consideration. Yet, at no time has its civilising influence been more important. The founder of the Scientology religion, L. Ron Hubbard, held that religion is the first sense of community. “Where religious influence is not influential in a society or has ceased to be, the state inherits the entire burden of public morality, crime and intolerance,” he wrote. “It then must use punishment and police. Yet this is unsuccessful as morality, integrity and self-respect not already inherent in the individual cannot be enforced with any great success. Only by a spiritual awareness and inculcation of the spiritual value of these attributes can they come about. There must be more reason and more emotional motivation to be moral, etc., than threat of human discipline.”
Thomas Aquinas held sacred doctrine to be a science proceeding from principles made known by the light of a higher science, the science of God, and that as both faith and reason discover truth, a conflict between them is impossible since they both originate in God. Thus, instead of being in opposition, religion and science should complement each other, with religion providing a guiding hand to harness the tremendous scientific discoveries of our era so that they serve peace, tolerance and human rights for the benefit of all.
We live in a world where many solutions advanced to cure the world’s pressing problems ignore the spiritual nature of humanity. The elevation of the soulless psychiatrist over the cleric has done nothing to solve these problems. On the contrary, the explosion of intolerance, the plague of drug abuse, the increasing ills of illiteracy, crime, and immorality, and the rapid rise in terrorism and international conflict demonstrate the futility of solving these problems through purely scientific solutions.
Religion and belief have a critical role to play in society, not only for the individual, but for society as a whole. The Church of Scientology holds that a reaffirmation of the primacy of the human spirit will bring about resurgence in our civilisation. With that foundation in mind, we believe that adherence to the following precepts will form the foundation for the advancement of religious freedom, justice and peace in the world, and the protection of human rights.
1. Every person, regardless of race, colour, sex or ethnicity, is a spiritual being, worthy of respect and deserving of dignity.
2. Every person has a responsibility, in the interest of the common good, to act to improve their family, their community and all of society. As L. Ron Hubbard wrote, “A being is only as valuable as he can serve others.”
3. Every person has the right to determine their own faith and creed. This right includes the freedom to voluntarily choose to change one’s religion or belief. Neither states nor religious groups possess the right to control, either directly or indirectly, a person’s religious convictions. Nor may states impede a person’s freedom to associate with or to leave religious groups.
4. Every person has a right to associate with others, to organize with them for religious purposes and to express, practice and publicly promulgate their religious beliefs. Freedom of religion or belief must include the right to possess the scriptures and texts of one’s chosen religion, to conduct religious services privately and publicly, and to bring up one’s children in one’s religious tradition, without interfering with their own right to freedom of religion or belief and their exercise of that right upon reaching maturity.
Responsibility to Protect and Advance Human Rights
5. States must effectively protect the right to religious freedom for all citizens, groups of citizens, parents and adolescent members of the community, ensuring that their policies toward religious minorities conform to the principles of equality and non-discrimination both in the public and private sector. States may not arrogate to themselves responsibility for the individual’s conscience by promoting, imposing or censuring a particular faith or belief or discriminating on the basis of religion or belief. States must foster a climate of tolerance towards minority faiths. If any differences arise between a state and a religion, the state should engage in good faith dialogue with the religion, employing national and international conflict prevention measures to resolve such disputes.
6. Any restrictions on the freedom to manifest religion or belief may only be permitted if they are (a) prescribed by law, (b) necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, and (c) employ the least restrictive means necessary to ensure they are applied in a manner that does not vitiate individual and collective rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. States must not abuse their law enforcement or regulatory powers to justify actions that directly or indirectly infringe on religious beliefs or practices. Attempts under the guise of law enforcement to prosecute individuals or groups for practicing their religion constitute heresy trials that violate fundamental freedoms.
7. Racism, xenophobia, sexism, ethnic and ideological inequality, and all forms of religious discrimination represent a scourge on society and must be condemned.
8. As detailed in the Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance issued by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the communications media have an obligation to refrain from disseminating information denigrating minorities, including minority religious practices and beliefs. Tolerance upholds human rights and pluralism by demanding respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s religions, races, ethnicities and cultures. It is not only a moral duty; it is also a legal requirement. States must remain strictly neutral on religious matters. State public information and education campaigns regarding minority groups must not be discriminatory or defamatory, or sullied by ideological or partisan indoctrination. Likewise, the media should play a constructive role and avoid encouraging xenophobia, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, exclusion, marginalisation, denigration and discrimination directed against religious and other minorities.
9. States must respect and promote pluralism and diversity, for without them justice is impossible. Individuals should be treated equally regardless of colour, race, religion, sex, ethnicity, or other distinguishing characteristics.
10. Serious incidents of intolerance and discrimination occur in many parts of the world to the detriment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. States and organisations in the private sector should apply the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the General Comment of the Human Rights Committee to Article 18 defining Religion or Belief and prohibiting discrimination against new and minority faiths, and all other international and regional human rights instruments to promote a culture of tolerance and protect the right to freedom of religion and belief for all.
11. The rights of every child must be ensured and protected without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parents’ or legal guardians’ race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
12. Educational institutions must actively and with sincerity promote a culture of minority and ideological tolerance in schools. They should ensure that religious, racial and ethnic minorities are portrayed in a favourable light in educational literature through the creation of materials and courses that celebrate pluralism and diversity.
Church and State Relations
13. Church and state should be separate. Yet, without imposing any belief system, religious institutions and the state should work together to resolve the core problems afflicting society. Religious organisations have a right and a responsibility to engage in good works that benefit and improve society.
14. In this age of intercontinental travel and instantaneous international communications, multicultural societies are our destiny. Different religious, racial and ethnic groups must learn to respect one another and live in peace and friendship. Where division occurs between different segments of the community, religious organisations should unite to help bridge the barriers and resolve the conflict.
Freedom of Speech and Open Government
15. Freedom of opinion and expression are at the heart of democracy. Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference and the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to discover, receive and disseminate information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally or through any media of his or her choice. No one may be subjected to any sort of restraint, disadvantage or sanction because of his or her expression, opinions or beliefs.
16. States should adhere to the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information. Public institutions should be easily accessible to the citizen. Open government is a curative for excessive secrecy and a bulwark against corruption. Considerations of national security must not be abused as an excuse to deny citizens the opportunity to access and scrutinize the actions of their government.
17. The rule of law, fairness and justice are undermined by false information and hate propaganda concerning minority groups and their members. States should endeavour to retain only accurate, neutral and necessary information on individuals and organisations. Every person should have reasonable access to information concerning them retained by governments. When that information is found to be false, every person should have a right to ensure that it is corrected.
Freedom from Inhumane Treatment
18. No person should be executed. States should abolish capital punishment. One innocent person wrongly executed is one too many.
19. No person should ever be forced to undergo electric shock treatment, psychosurgery, or the enforced administration of mind altering drugs. States should outlaw such abuses.
Democracy and Peace
20. Totalitarian regimes are unacceptable as they systematically deny human rights and seek to suppress fundamental freedoms. Intergovernmental organisations, democratic states, religious and human rights organisations should work with individuals and organisations in these countries to campaign to peacefully restore democratic principles and values in totalitarian states.
21. War is not the answer. In the nuclear age, we simply cannot afford armed conflict to resolve national or international disputes. Conflict resolution through duly constituted and recognised institutions, diplomacy and dialogue represent vastly superior means to resolve disputes short of war, and should be the primary tools used by the United Nations and the international community to avoid armed conflict. Religions must work together in harmony to promote dialogue, peace, and tolerance, thereby creating an environment of trust and understanding capable of resolving differences that historically have fostered war and hatred.
22. Democracy is the best form of government devised. It outlaws tyranny and relegates government to the service of the group rather than the group to the service of government. Citizens should be encouraged to participate in civic affairs and engage in the process of governance through voting and petitioning their government for reforms and redress of grievances. The true quality of a democracy is manifested by how a government affords full and equal rights to minorities.
Proclaimed and issued this day,
17 September 2003, in celebration of the Grand Opening of the Church of Scientology International European Office for Public Affairs and Human Rights, rue de la Loi, 91, Brussels.