Scientologist granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court in wedding venue clash

Family Law|News|May 24th 2013

UK Supreme CourtA Scientologist who lost a High Court bid to marry in the organisation’s London venue has been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Louisa Hodkin had planned  to marry fiancé Alessandro Calcioli in the Church of Scientology’s building on Queen Victoria Street. But the planned wedding could not go ahead because the Registrar General for Births Deaths and Marriages refused to recognise the venue as a place where legally valid religious marriages could take place, saying it was not “a place of meeting for religious worship”.

Hodkin and her team appealed the ruling, claiming it amounted to religious discrimination but the appeal, heard last December, was unsuccessful. In a similar case from 1970, R. v Registrar General ex parte Segerdaljudges ruled that another Church of Scientology building was not a valid venue for religious marriages because the organisation taught “the tenets of a philosophy concerned with man”.

Louisa Hodkin’s case will now be heard by the Supreme Court on July 18.

Paul Hewitt is a partner at law firm Withers LLP who are representing Louisa Hodkin and the Scientology London Congregation. He said:

Mr Justice Ouseley’s judgment in the High Court indicated that he saw considerable merit in the case.  While his decision was constrained by relatively old case law we were encouraged by the concluding words in his judgment that forty years on the Court “may find the route at least to reconsider its decision in Segerdal with the fuller material now available”.  We hope that the Supreme Court reviews the facts in the context of the modern, multi-cultural world we live in, which recognises the right for everyone to be treated equally.”

Photo of the UK Supreme Court building by Rwendland via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

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Comments(13)

  1. Dean Fox says:

    I hope the Supreme Court refuses them too. The case isn’t necessary given one can marry in most venues these days. It’s just a cynical attempt to get recognised as a religion when they’re clearly a self help philosophy and a dodgy one at that.

  2. Tad - (ScientologyParent) says:

    Scientology has been officially recognized as a religion in the USA for the last 20 years, so it still baffles me that some countries take sides on what’s a proper “place of worship” and what’s not. Scientology has been the religion of my parents and I’ve chosen it for myself, and countless friends of mine have been married in the US in Scientology churches.

    While the ceremony of marriage is a public affair, celebrated by all ones’ friends, the actual act of marriage is an intensely personal affair – a binding commitment that you’re making with your spouse, that you want overseen by a minister of your own chosen faith – the only other thing aside from one’s spouse that is as intensely personal and dear. So, whatever one’s personal philosophy or religion, one should be able to choose a venue and minister that matches your own personal beliefs to perform such an important personal ceremony as marriage.

  3. Joan says:

    Scientology is a cult, and not a church. There is no worship, and there is no God. In fact, they believe that ALL religions are an “implant” from 75 million years ago, carried out by Xenu.
    Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenu
    Transcript: http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Scientology_Rons_Journal_Wall_of_Fire_transcript

  4. Jackson says:

    Whether something is a religion or cult is purely a matter of opinion. According to the discriminatory UK definition of religion, Buddhism is not a religion since there is “no worship and there is no God.” In particular, Theravada Buddhism is an atheistical religion which does not accept the existence of any supreme beings or deities. There is no worship in Theravada Buddhism. There is likewise no “worship” in the Judeo-Christian sense the Mahayana Buddhist traditions (Zen and Soka Gakkai, for example.)

    What Joan claims about “Xenu” is not true. The OT III and Class VIII course materials, which are the sole sources of the “Xenu” character, do not say anything about Xenu implanting “ALL religions.” Totally false. According to Hubbard in certain other lectures having nothing to do with OT III or Xenu, SOME religious beliefs and ideas are the result of implants. He mentions this specifically in relation to Christianity and Islam. He doesn’t say that “ALL” religions are the result of implants. And what he says about Christianity and Islam being the result of implants is arguable and open to interpretation, at best. Regardless it does not invalidate Scientology’s status as a religion.

    What is clear and obvious is that the UK and other European countries cling to an outdated and obsolete definition of religion that continues to be dictated by discriminatory Judeo-Christian limitations. That is offensive, racist, and certainly not in line with democratic values.

    Denying the right of Scientologists to marry in their own institutions is discrimination, pure and simple. What’s next? Not allowing Buddhists to get married because Buddhist temples are not “houses of worship” in the Judeo-Christian sense? Preventing any new religious movement from being established unless it involves “worship”? That is ridiculous. Favouring one religion or one type of religion above all others is as absurd as arguing whether Scientology is a cult or a religion.

    If you want to get technical about it, then all religions are cults. All religions involve irrational, subjective beliefs and practices. Religion is subjective. Accept it, deal with it, and get over it.

    Also, those who oppose Scientology and insist on commenting upon articles dealing with Scientology would do well to first educate themselves on Scientology beliefs and practices to begin with, rather than parroting the same inaccurate and often totally false claims.

    It is one thing to criticise Scientology using the facts. It is quite another to make them up and to mock and attack Scientologists for their beliefs.

    All human beings have the right to believe whatever they want. The government of the UK should not have the right to disallow Scientologists from practicing their religion nor preventing them from marrying in their own institutions.

  5. Randomx says:

    Scientologists are forbidden from looking at anything negative about it or it`s leadership. If they don`t disconnect from anyone expressing negative views about it they are forced to disconnect from them. No matter whether it be your parent, spouse, child, or psychiatrist.

  6. Martin Padfield says:

    “Tad” with respect you need to wise up a little. Dean is exactly right when he says this is a cynical ploy to get some kind of religious recognition by the back door. I have attended dozens of weddings at the st hill chapel – there is nothing preventing Louisa getting married there and solemnising it at the local registry office as has been done for decades now.

  7. Nigel says:

    I am a Scientologist from New Zealand and here in New Zealand we are permitted to marry on Church of Scientology premises. There are always going to be those that criticize another’s religion by saying “it is not a religion” as a form of intolerance. Even Christians were treated this way by Romans, but with persistence people eventually recognized Christianity. Yet still today it is criticized. An earlier post here made the point that one can always marry in a Registry Office. That is a good point; for a Regsitry Office in not a place of worship yet marriages can be performed there.
    Those of you who value your religion should respect other religions and Scientology in particular which has fought many a battle to protect religions around the globe. There are those in United Nations who work to destroy religion by creating a One World Government where our beliefs would be dictated to us. This is known as “Agenda 21”. Research it for yourself if you are not familiar with that of which I speak. Divide and conquer is a very old tactic. In all religions there is a fundamental belief to love one’s fellow man. Surely we should extend this to respect of the belief’s of others?

  8. Bart says:

    If there was anything wrong with Scientology it would of been wiped out years ago. It has been scrutinized like no other Religion in history and it is still around, growing and is the fastest growing religious movement on Earth today.
    Why?
    Could it be that it works?

  9. choocho says:

    @Jackson

    Why are you referring to Scientologists in the third person?

  10. Markus says:

    Marriages by Scientology Ministers are recognized in Sweden, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand among others. Interestingly Canada and New Zealand are Commonwealth states. I am very confident that the british surpreme court will come to an appropriate decision.

  11. Deana Holmes says:

    Scientology doesn’t work–the organization (nay, cult) shrinks year after year after year, as its leader, David Miscavige continues to shake down the membership for monies to open opulent (and empty) “Ideal Orgs.”

    I agree this is a back door attempt to get recognition as a religion in England. The authorities should look more closely at Scientology’s actual beliefs and see there’s nothing community-oriented about it, it’s all about me, me, me and my eternity.

  12. Scientia says:

    The right for everyone to be treated equally is not recognised by the “church” of Scientology. At the top you have the royalty: celebrities, high-rollers, “wog” VIPs. Then you have Sea Org members, org staff, public members and the general public. Finally, you have the dregs of humanity such as gays, “squirrels”, “Suppressive Persons” and psychiatrists. No, there is no equality in Miscavigeland.

  13. Annia says:

    The Germans have the correct attitude to this cult, methinks.

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