From: ronsmuerto@hotmail.com
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Is Scientology a Religion in Austria?
Date: Wed, 20 May 1998 20:55:04 GMT
Organization: Deja News - The Leader in Internet Discussion
Lines: 281
Message-ID: <6jvfvm$i5k$1@nnrp1.dejanews.com>

Is Scientology a recognized religion in Austria?

Translated from http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/Strasse/5400/scientology-anerkennung.html

This page refutes the assertion that Scientology is recognized as a religion in Austria. More to follow.

Scientology itself claims to be recognized in Austria, and calls on the "Unabhšngigen Verwaltungssenat" (UVS) [Independent Senate] of the city of Vienna, which is conspicuous for its peculiar decisions. In 1995, the UVS had determined that Scientology is a religious community and not a taxable, commercial enterprise. They focused their attention on just one thing: must taxes be paid on auditing and the sale of Scientology literature? Not according to the UVS's decision, because they determined that they were dealing with a religious community.

The UVS, however, does not have the least ability to recognize whether something is a religious community or not. The only one responsible for that is the federal government, not the community, nor Vienna, but the Culture Department of the Ministry of Education. They have never recognized Scientology.

There are twelve religious communities in Austria. These have extensive rights available to them. They are:

If a religion is officially recognized, it is a corporation of public rights, and may, among other things, conduct its religious education in public schools at state expense (the religious instructors are provided by the religious community itself), is exempt from taxes, does not have to participate in collective agreements, etc. In 1997 the application of the Jehovah's Witnesses was turned down. The basis of this decision was that they were not pro-government, because they refuse to take part in elections. They describe this attitude as being "politically neutral." In 1997 a federal law was passed that re-vamped the rules for recognition as a religious community. The fact that it placed new, built-in hurdles for those wishing to be recognized as a church became evident when it was found that at least five of the previously recognized churches did not have enough members to qualify for an application. Besides this it became clear, after reading the fine print, that a few of the passages in this law referred to Scientology. Scientology is not only not recognized in Austria, but it does not stand a chance of being recognized.

The UVS decision has also been criticized in high places

The Ministry of Education Speaks about Scientology Publications

Another official opinion on Scientology (and other like groups) is contained in a sect brochure which is distributed by the Ministry of Families.

Politicians on Scientology

Representative Fritz Neugebauer, SP÷: ÷VP Press Release: Letter to the Editor by Karl ÷llinger, National Council Representative for the Green Party:

References

Federal law of the legal character of religiously acknowledged communities

Sect brochure of the Ministry of Families

Press release from Scientology about the alleged recognition by Austria

Dr. Ernst Kollmer's testimony about Scientology allegedly being a genuine religion.

Notes

  1. In Austria religious groups are not permitted to organize into associations. For this reason, an association of the Unification Church (Moony sect) was dissolved in the 1970's. Since then, this regulation has not been stringently enforced.
  2. ÷GB: ÷sterreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund [Austrian Labor Union]
  3. According to Bruck, a theologian from Munich, all religious groups must be treated identically in a democracy. Discussions should be held in its own public institutions (round tables). ÷lliger's letter was the report about the "Dialogue of Religions", which appeared in Salzburg in May '96.
German Scientology News http://cisar.org/trnmenu.htm