Scientology in Court:
A Comparative Analysis

DePaul University Libraries
Fall 1997 – DePaul Law Review

There is little question that new religious movements, whatever their common characteristics, have been a flashpoint of social concern and hostility in the United States and abroad. As such, these “‘religions of the perimeter,’ by challenging us to treat “generously and without religious chauvinism” those faiths that least resemble mainstream faiths and most threaten prevailing social norms, serve as the ultimate test of our commitment to religious liberty.

With these background concerns in mind, this Article examines the legal treatment of one new religious movement: the Church of Scientology (“Church”), a self-described “applied religious philosophy” founded by the writer L. Ron Hubbard as an outgrowth of his earlier, more secular applied philosophy, Dianetics. Few emerging faiths have faced as much hostility at the hands of legislators and courts as this group, both in the United States and around the world. At the same time, its history and conduct have raised serious questions about the legitimacy of its origins as a religion and about whether its conduct ought to effectively strip it of any rights or privileges that it may claim as a religion.

Scientology thus serves as a particularly useful “hard case” to illuminate a number of recurring issues in the law of freedom of religion. Because of the international scope of Scientology and the profound suspicion and hostility that this and other new religious movements have engendered in various countries, it also serves as a useful basis for comparative analysis of how different legal systems have grappled with some of the same basic issues concerning law and religion.

Download below:

Scientology in Court A Comparative Analysis