Friday, November 03, 2006

Full Charitable Status Recognition for Scientology in the UK

Each country around the world seems to have it's own special requirements for recognizing a religion. In the UK it requires the Charity Commission to make a determination. On the 16th of October they issued their decision recognizing the Church of Scientology as a registered charity. I'm not sure of all the ramifications or if I've described this correctly (it seems much simpler in the US) but anyway, it's a great win for the Church in the UK!

1 comment:

Grahame said...

I've had some comments claiming that this article is inaccurate.

At the time I wrote it I got some data about religious recognition of Scientology in the UK. (Unfortunately I can't remember where I got the data from.) I posted this article in a hurry and didn't check carefully so that it turns out it is indeed inaccurate.

What happened in October 2006 was that a new law was passed that meant the Charity Commission's earlier rejection of Scientology because: "it [the Commission] required worship of an anthropomorphic god and a supreme being," was now invalid. (If the worship of an anthropomorphic god were the only criteria for a religion then many Buddhist and Hindu groups would not be recognized.)

Here is an article on the subject: Change in legal definition of Religion in the UK.

A couple of quotes from the article: "The commissions [Charity Commission] said a consultation would begin this autumn to clarify the meaning of religion under the new law."

"Scientology has already won a string of victories against British officialdom to gain tax-free or low-tax status. In 2000 it persuaded Revenue & Customs that it should be exempt from VAT on payments received because its services were educational and nonprofitable. In a test case before the VAT Tribunal, the Scientologists’ lawyers forced the taxman to return £8 million overpaid VAT."

"Last November, [2006] when the faith opened a church near St Paul’s Cathedral, it was granted mandatory rate relief by the Corporation of London because it was for 'charitable purposes'. "

So despite the error in the article, it is accurate to say that Scientology is recognized as a religion in the UK.