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On August 13, 1996, the Supreme Court of Austria ruled that Scientologists are protected by the nondiscrimination clause of the European Convention and cannot be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.

In France, the Court of Appeal in Lyon ruled on July 28, 1997, that “the Church of Scientology is entitled to call itself a religion and is entirely free to develop its activities, under the existing law, including its missionary activities or even its activities of proselytism.”

On the heels of this decision, on October 8, 1997, the Supreme Court of Italy issued a landmark decision for the Church of Scientology overruling a lower court decision which had very narrowly defined the concept of a bona fide religion by applying only Judeo-Christian principles. The Supreme Court noted that this view of religion was “based on philosophical and historical/social assumptions that are incorrect; and it is vitiated by manifest illogic in the reasoning supporting it.”

In a precedent-setting decision in Germany on November 6, 1997, the Federal Administrative Court recognized that “auditing, per the statutes, is a form of ‘spiritual counseling’ and seminars and courses ‘for the attainment of a higher level of being’ are based on the commonly held convictions of members.”

In many countries in which the Church of Scientology has been more recently established, governments have come to the same conclusion. For example, in 1991 the court of the capital city of Budapest officially recognized the Church of Scientology of Hungary. Then recognition came in Albania, and in December 1996, Kazakhstan acknowledged the religiosity of the Church there.


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