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Church of Scientology

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden of 20 April 2009, Official Report, column 428W, on Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund, whether the Church of Scientology is deemed to be a faith organisation under her Department's definition of a religious or belief community. (277109)

The Government do not maintain a list of recognised faiths. The Equality Act 2006 and the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 define religion and belief as “any religion or any religious or philosophical belief or any lack of such religion or belief”. This broad definition is in line with that in article 9 of the European convention on human rights, which also stipulates that a religion must have a clear structure and belief system. This is consistent with the guidance notes for applications to the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund. If there is any question of doubt as to whether or not something constitutes a religion or belief within that definition then it would ultimately be a matter for the courts to determine.