Thursday, July 18, 2013

Is Scientology a Religion: Judges Debate

Most religion courses begin with a definition of religion. Names like Rudolf Otto, Ninian Smart, Mircea Eliade, and Emile Durkheim are often discussed. Must a religion have a god or higher being to be classified as a religion? Should it include worship?

These are some of the questions that Supreme Court justices in England are weighing as they try to decide if a couple can be married in a Scientology chapel. According to the Guardian online newspaper, the registrar general in London refused to grant the couple a license. The registrar says that the Scientology chapel does not constitute a legal place of worship as specified by one of their laws called the Places of Worship Registration Act of 1855. The couple sued and the case is now in the hands of England's supreme court.

The justices are struggling with conflicting opinions. One side argues that Scientology does not constitute a religion. They argue that Scientology "does not involve worship of a divine being. The central processes of Scientology are not about reverence or veneration. It's about constructing the self."

The other, the one fighting for the couple, argues that Scientology is a lot like Buddhism. "The Buddhist principle of nirvana is not venerated as a being or power that is supernatural or divine. In Scientology, L Rob Hubbard is not venerated."

This might be a great case to use during the first unit in a high school religion class.

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