During most of the history of the Church of Scientology, various European governments have tried to ban it. Scientology leaders have been arrested in various European countries. The länder, or states which make up the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) have waged war against the sect, especially the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Hamburg, a city-state which is one of the 16 states of Germany, has a special Scientology Task Force headed by Ursula Caberta. The German government is very much of the opinion that Scientology is a threat to the constitutional values of the German state. The tax emption that they have in the USA simply does not apply in many parts of Europe. Rather, they see it as a business and a rather sinister one at that.
The French, which have had their own troubles with Scientology over the years, have had an ongoing court battle which finally resolved today. In the court ruling, the judges found Scientology guilty of fraud and ordered them to pay some €600,000 (close to $900,000) in fines. They found them guilty of not just fraud, but organized fraud. The director of the Paris centre was given a suspended sentence. In France, Scientology is not considered a religion. The same holds true in much of Europe. As a sect, it is not entitled to any protections which the French constitution affords religion. The justices declined to ban it outright, as statutes had changed rendering such an action impossible. And, as the justices noted, they would much rather have it continue openly, as they would be much harder to monitor were they driven underground. You can read more about the court’s ruling here.
Scientology is a controversial group and for good reason. Judging from the experiences of ex-members, many lives have been ruined as a result of contact with the group. It is currently run by L. Ron Hubbard’s successor David Miscavige, a close friend and confidant of Hollywood star Tom Cruise. Miscavige, it turns out, has a habit of beating his staff and other abuse. You can read the St. Petersburg Times’ story on this. They interviewed some very prominent former Scientology executives including Mark Rathbun, a former member of the board of directors of the Religious Technology Center, the organization which holds all of the Scientology trademarks and which is chaired by David Miscavige. To understand how high up Rathbun, Mike Rinder, and others interviewed were, these were men and women at the highest levels of administration who served on boards chaired by Miscavige.