Scientology View on Religious Freedom
The Church of Scientology and Scientologists have long fought for religious freedom for ourselves as well as others. It could be said that the fight for religious freedom and other human rights is native to Scientologists. It’s part of the legacy and one of the basic guidelines established by the Founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, who was a freedom fighter himself. He wrote: “The nation is fortunate indeed that it has men with the genius to recognize approaching doom and the courage to speak out.”
Rights and freedoms, throughout human history, have been subject to infringement and have always been fought for by those who had courage to speak out. Even Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, when they were leading their fight for freedom, were fighting for the rights that had already been agreed upon long ago, but they still had to fight.
In Scientology, nobody is forced to be at the frontiers of the fight for religious freedom. But many of us consider it to be our duty, a point of no compromise with personal values and integrity.
The Creed of the Church of Scientology written by L. Ron Hubbard in 1954 states:
We of the Church believe:
“That all men have inalienable rights to their own religious practices and their performance;
That all men have inalienable rights to conceive, choose, assist or support their own organizations, churches and governments.”
Enshrining the defense of religious liberty as part of the Creed, Mr. Hubbard made it a religious commitment in Scientology, not just a good idea.
One way that this is brought forward into action is through participation in the International Religious Freedom Roundtable where pressing religious freedom issues around the globe are routinely discussed and their protection sought. The Church has signed onto dozens of letters urging public policy review to protect the rights of Christians in China, Catholic religious workers from being required to have for abortion coverage, as well as letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on religious oppression and abuses in Russia and Kazakhstan.
To help ensure that people around the world understand what human rights are (which, of course includes freedom of religion), a ten minute documentary defining one of the world’s most misunderstood subject, “The Story of Human Rights” was created. The video is widely used by teachers, community leaders, human rights activists and others and has aired throughout the world, reaching millions of viewers what their rights are and the history of human rights. The Church of Scientology sponsorship has made it possible for thousands of educators around the world to avail themselves of these materials which are available at no cost for educators. A large website with the videos and materials is also constantly updated to keep people informed in 17 languages about human rights. In this way Scientologists put their Creed into real world practice.
Another defining statement from Mr. Hubbard on this topic came out in 1981 in a book entitled, “The Way to Happiness”. This was a non-religious moral code which L. Ron Hubbard himself defined as a “common sense guide to better living”. The book contains precepts for better living which are the most basic and which are absolutely vital for happy living but are often being ignored or forgotten. One of them is “Respect the religious beliefs of others,” and a separate chapter in the book is devoted to this point.
Mr. Hubbard says the following words in that chapter:
“Tolerance is a good cornerstone on which to build human relationships. When one views the slaughter and suffering caused by religious intolerance down all the history of Man and into modern times, one can see that intolerance is a very non-survival activity. Religious tolerance does not mean one cannot express his own beliefs. It does mean that seeking to undermine or attack the religious faith and beliefs of another has always been a short road to trouble.”
“‘Faith’ and ‘belief’ do not necessarily surrender to logic; they cannot even be declared to be illogical. They can be things quite apart.
Any advice one might give another on this subject is safest when it simply asserts the right to believe as one chooses. One is at liberty to hold up his own beliefs for acceptance. One is at risk when he seeks to assault the beliefs of others, much more so when he attacks and seeks to harm them because of their religious convictions.”
“The way to happiness can become contentious when one fails to respect the religious beliefs of others.”
~ L. Ron Hubbard
I personally find the paragraph that says, “One is at liberty to hold up his own beliefs for acceptance” terribly important. A person of any creed is free to disseminate and share his reality about his or her spiritual life or views on faith and religion. I have had some very interesting and heated religious debates where everyone respected each other but nevertheless had a very different viewpoint on the meaning of God, religion, spirituality, and other issues. Yet having this debate in a positive, respectful environment was always very enlightening, helping all participants to understand something better for themselves and to find points of mutual agreement, as well as differences – for there is nothing bad about being different. Again, I stress the importance of a respectful discussion and debate, of open and honest communication where a true exchange of ideas can occur. I believe such debates create the atmosphere of peace and sanity, and, themselves, promote religious freedom.
Another major code that Scientologists follow was issued in 1954. It is titled, “The Code of a Scientologist”. Two points on that code are relevant to this topic: “To embrace the policy of equal justice for all” and “To support the freedom of religion.” I believe that the same applies not only to Scientologists but to anyone else who doesn’t underestimate the importance of religious freedom and other human rights.
Equal justice for all would include equal justice for members of minority religions as well as anyone else. It’s important to remember that absolutely every religion of the world, without any exception, is a minority someplace. Therefore, religious freedom is equally vital for everyone, everywhere.
L. Ron Hubbard further emphasized that spiritual freedom and enlightenment were all but unattainable goals to individuals denied their most fundamental human rights. He called on all members of the religion to dedicate themselves “to support true humanitarian endeavors in the fields of human rights.” In doing so, he laid the groundwork for what has become a global movement of advocates for the human rights of all people, regardless of their social condition, ethnicity or religious affiliation.
Scientologists treat these obligations seriously and are engaged around the world in collaborative efforts with government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to bring about broad-scale awareness and implementation of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world’s premier human rights document. This includes the production and distribution of video public service messages promoting the Universal Declaration and the participation educational forums, roundtables and fact-finding missions to help ensure the right to freedom of religion and belief is protected for people of all faiths.