Hungary: Religious Suppression Under the Guise of Data Protection

STATEMENT OF THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY – Wednesday’s (Oct 18th) raids of the Church of Scientology in Hungary represent an outrageous and wholesale violation of the human rights of Scientologists throughout the country.

These are Communist-era scare tactics being used by the government to harass and discriminate against a peaceful religious group. While there has not been a single example of the Church violating the privacy rights of its parishioners, these government raids have now violated the privacy rights of all members of the Church of Scientology. The most protected information obtained through religious counseling, given on the belief that the Church, as in any other religion, would keep the information confidential, now has been breached by the Hungarian government. The Auditor’s Code of the Church, which predates the Data Protection Law, absolutely prohibits any minister of the Church from divulging any information obtained from a parishioner. The confession is sacrosanct: parishioners know this and the Church of Scientology guards the information given as sacrosanct.

We have repeatedly invited government officials to come inside our doors and see for themselves what goes on inside a Church of Scientology. Instead, they prefer to break down those unlocked doors, abusing and harassing peaceful Scientologists in the practice of their religion. These actions mirror the oppressive abuse of the Communist regime. Church parishioners and staff have been required to sign a document prohibiting them from talking about this outrageous government action for 20 years; this is nothing short of East German Stasi tactics!

The Church of Scientology building is one of the most magnificent buildings in Budapest and is in full compliance with all codes and regulations. The city was ordered to treat Scientology appropriately and instead of doing so has continued to discriminate against the Church the government and has now resorted to physical harassment.

Allegations of “other crimes” are invented. The Church’s books and finances are in order and there have been no incidents of any wrongdoing by Scientologists in Budapest. Indeed, Scientologists have been commended for helping to get people off drugs and for other community outreach programs.

Every new religion has had to fight against discrimination, ignorance and intolerance; Scientology is no exception. The false allegations accompanying today’s totalitarian actions fly in the face of decades of international judicial precedents disproving these very same charges and vindicating the Church. For example, the Church was recently exonerated in Belgium, where an 18-year oppressive investigation was dismissed and the officials who conducted the case were reprimanded.

Moreover, the Church of Scientology is recognized as a bona fide religion throughout the world: In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service recognizes all Churches of Scientology as religious organizations; in Australia, after years of discrimination the Australian High Court decision granting Scientology religious recognition is used by the Australian Charity Commission as the benchmark for the definition of religion; in Italy, the Italian Supreme Court found that the fundraising system used in Churches of Scientology is fairer than that of the Catholic Church; in Spain, after prevailing in one of the longest investigations in that country’s history, the Church was registered as a religious entity; and in the United Kingdom, the Supreme Court has fully recognized Scientology as a religion, overruling a nineteenth century decision to redefine religion in modern terms.

Those responsible for this illegal suppression of and discrimination against the peaceful practice of Scientology will be held legally responsible.

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