Scientology Recognized in Portugal

Portuguese Scientologists have a very special reason to celebrate this holiday season: the Church has now been officially recognized as a religion in their country.

The spokesperson of the Church of Scientology of Portugal,
Betty Damasco, expressed the excitement of the Scientology community
when she said “We are thrilled with this decision. It will allow us to
disseminate our beliefs and the works of our founder, L. Ron Hubbard
much more broadly.” She went on to say, “Our members are busy preparing
to move to much larger quarters, where we will be able to fill the
increasing demand for our community services and work with local
officials to help our country flourish and prosper.”

It is only in the past few decades that Portugal has adopted a policy of pluralism. Like neighboring Spain, religious tolerance came late to this country. Just as Spain expelled all Jews and Moors who refused to convert to the Roman Catholic faith in 1492, in 1497 Portugal followed suit. Portugal also officially carried out its own Inquisition for nearly three centuries, from 1536 until 1821. And although separation of church and state was mandated in the first half of the 20th Century it was not until 1976, when a new constitution was implemented, that religious freedom was actually put into practice.

Despite this constitutional protection, and state recognition of the Scientology religion in 1988, in 2001 Portugal enacted a new religion law, requiring certain religions, including Scientology, to re-apply for official registration as religious communities.

The turning point for the Church occurred in April of this year with a unanimous decision by the European Court of Human Rights in favor of the Church of Scientology of Moscow. And Spain also officially recognized the Scientology religion in November.

Scientologists throughout Europe are optimistic about what they see as a trend that will ultimately not only protect their own rights, but the rights of all men and women in Europe to practice freedom of conscience and religion, particularly as the European Court has jurisdiction over all 47 member-states of the Council of Europe.

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1 comment so far

  1. Paul Sondergaard on

    Congratulations! From South Africa where Scientology also got tax exemption on 3 December.

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