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The Church of Scientology International's Proclamation on Religion, Human Rights and Society, issued to mark the Grand Opening of its new Brussels office, is a public declaration of the principles that guide our human rights programmes. The document sets out the Church's official position on many of the critical issues of today: the role of religion in society; freedom of belief; freedom of expression; democracy; justice; church-and-state relations; freedom of information, multi-cultural societies; parents and children's rights, and many others.
Religion today is subject to much discussion and critical consideration. Yet, at no time has its civilising influence been more important. The founder of the Scientology religion, L. Ron Hubbard, held that religion is the first sense of community. "Where religious influence is not influential in a society or has ceased to be, the state inherits the entire burden of public morality, crime and intolerance," he wrote. "It then must use punishment and police. Yet this is unsuccessful as morality, integrity and self-respect not already inherent in the individual cannot be enforced with any great success. Only by a spiritual awareness and inculcation of the spiritual value of these attributes can they come about. There must be more reason and more emotional motivation to be moral, etc., than threat of human discipline."
Thomas Aquinas held sacred doctrine to be a science proceeding from principles made known by the light of a higher science, the science of God, and that as both faith and reason discover truth, a conflict between them is impossible since they both originate in God. Thus, instead of being in opposition, religion and science should complement each other, with religion providing a guiding hand to harness the tremendous scientific discoveries of our era so that they serve peace, tolerance and human rights for the benefit of all.
We live in a world where many solutions advanced to cure the world's pressing problems ignore the spiritual nature of humanity. The elevation of the soulless psychiatrist over the cleric has done nothing to solve these problems. On the contrary, the explosion of intolerance, the plague of drug abuse, the increasing ills of illiteracy, crime, and immorality, and the rapid rise in terrorism and international conflict demonstrate the futility of solving these problems through purely scientific solutions.
Religion and belief have a critical role to play in society, not only for the individual, but for society as a whole. The Church of Scientology holds that a reaffirmation of the primacy of the human spirit will bring about resurgence in our civilisation. With that foundation in mind, we believe that adherence to the following precepts will form the foundation for the advancement of religious freedom, justice and peace in the world, and the protection of human rights.
1. Every person, regardless of race, colour, sex or ethnicity, is a spiritual being, worthy of respect and deserving of dignity.
2. Every person has a responsibility, in the interest of the common good, to act to improve their family, their community and all of society. As L. Ron Hubbard wrote, "A being is only as valuable as he can serve others."
3. Every person has the right to determine their own faith and creed. This right includes the freedom to voluntarily choose to change one's religion or belief. Neither states nor religious groups possess the right to control, either directly or indirectly, a person's religious convictions. Nor may states impede a person's freedom to associate with or to leave religious groups.
4. Every person has a right to associate with others, to organize with them for religious purposes and to express, practice and publicly promulgate their religious beliefs. Freedom of religion or belief must include the right to possess the scriptures and texts of one's chosen religion, to conduct religious services privately and publicly, and to bring up one's children in one's religious tradition, without interfering with their own right to freedom of religion or belief and their exercise of that right upon reaching maturity.
5. States must effectively protect the right to religious freedom for all citizens, groups of citizens, parents and adolescent members of the community, ensuring that their policies toward religious minorities conform to the principles of equality and non-discrimination both in the public and private sector. States may not arrogate to themselves responsibility for the individual's conscience by promoting, imposing or censuring a particular faith or belief or discriminating on the basis of religion or belief. States must foster a climate of tolerance towards minority faiths. If any differences arise between a state and a religion, the state should engage in good faith dialogue with the religion, employing national and international conflict prevention measures to resolve such disputes.
6. Any restrictions on the freedom to manifest religion or belief may only be permitted if they are (a) prescribed by law, (b) necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, and (c) employ the least restrictive means necessary to ensure they are applied in a manner that does not vitiate individual and collective rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. States must not abuse their law enforcement or regulatory powers to justify actions that directly or indirectly infringe on religious beliefs or practices. Attempts under the guise of law enforcement to prosecute individuals or groups for practicing their religion constitute heresy trials that violate fundamental freedoms.
7. Racism, xenophobia, sexism, ethnic and ideological inequality, and all forms of religious discrimination represent a scourge on society and must be condemned.
8. As detailed in the Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance issued by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the communications media have an obligation to refrain from disseminating information denigrating minorities, including minority religious practices and beliefs. Tolerance upholds human rights and pluralism by demanding respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's religions, races, ethnicities and cultures. It is not only a moral duty; it is also a legal requirement. States must remain strictly neutral on religious matters. State public information and education campaigns regarding minority groups must not be discriminatory or defamatory, or sullied by ideological or partisan indoctrination. Likewise, the media should play a constructive role and avoid encouraging xenophobia, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, exclusion, marginalisation, denigration and discrimination directed against religious and other minorities.
9. States must respect and promote pluralism and diversity, for without them justice is impossible. Individuals should be treated equally regardless of colour, race, religion, sex, ethnicity, or other distinguishing characteristics.
10. Serious incidents of intolerance and discrimination occur in many parts of the world to the detriment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. States and organisations in the private sector should apply the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the General Comment of the Human Rights Committee to Article 18 defining Religion or Belief and prohibiting discrimination against new and minority faiths, and all other international and regional human rights instruments to promote a culture of tolerance and protect the right to freedom of religion and belief for all.
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