THE Crown Prosecution Service in the UK has decided that anyone who attacks Scientology can be prosecuted under religious hate laws.
According to this report, the move will – for the first time – provide the barmy Church of Scientology the same protection as other mainstream religions.
Critics of the cult, whose members include Tom Cruise and John Travolta, attacked the decision at the weekend, saying it would encourage Scientologists to push for official recognition in Britain.
It is thought that the CPS passed down the guidance after it received legal advice from the Treasury Counsel to regard the group as a religion alongside Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
It means that any alleged offenders who “abuse” or “threaten” the Church can be charged under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006.
It is understood the decision was made this month after the Police Diversity Directorate asked the CPS to clarify its position on the organisation.
It follows the arrest last summer of a 15-year-old boy for calling Scientology a “dangerous cult” during a demonstration outside the Church’s Â£23million headquarters in London. The youth was never charged with any offence.
Scientology, which was founded by the sci-fi author L Ron Hubbard in the fifties and teaches that humans are immortal spiritual beings known as Thetans, has long been accused of using dubious methods to recruit members.
As far back as July 1968, it was described in Parliament by a Government Minister as an organisation that has “authoritarian principles and practices” that are a “potential menace to the personality and well-being of those so deluded as to become its followers”.
That definition, of course, makes it perfectly logical that Scientology should be afforded the same protection as the Roman Catholic Church and Islam in particular.
Ian Harris, founder of the Cult Information Centre, said:
Scientology has always wanted to be recognised as a religion but it doesn’t even have a God. This decision is news to me and it is frankly quite upsetting and shocking. The Church of Scientology will be delighted and will want to use this to give themselves more credibility.
A CPS spokesman said:
It is ultimately for the courts to decide how to interpret legislation.
Graeme Wilson, public affairs director for The Church of Scientology in the UK, said:
Scientology is the chosen religion of millions of people around the world, a point which has been recognised by numerous governmental bodies.