Chapter

The Church of Scientology

Susan J. Palmer

in The New Heretics of France

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199735211
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918577 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199735211.003.0003
The Church of Scientology

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The Church of Scientology (CoS) has played a major role in the French Sect Wars. Other religious minorities, notably Aumisme and the Témoins de Jéhovah, have vigorously defended their associations from discrimination in the courts, with some success. But the CoS goes beyond mere self-defense. It launches aggressive counterattacks, confronting its foes in head-on challenges. It has demanded the dissolution of anticult organizations such as UNADFI and FECRIS. It has called into question the professional qualifications of officials involved in the “war on sects” and requested they be dismissed from their posts. It has attacked the reputations of judges, UNADFI presidents, and the deputies working in the government cult-fighting interministerial missions—MILS and MIVILUDES. Thus, the CoS stands out in the French Sect Wars for its remarkable and ferocious litigiousness. By Scientology's battles we may learn a great deal about the history of the French Sect Wars. Scientology's case provides a useful tool for measuring the limits of religious freedom in France, for its legal battles are experimental forays that test the possible avenues for extending or limiting those freedoms.

Keywords: Church of Scientology; religious movements; religious minorities; French Sect Wars; religious freedom; anticult movement

Chapter.  9512 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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