Scientologist loses battle for church wedding

19 December 2012 - 17:21 By Reuters
Church of Scientology London
Church of Scientology London

A member of the Church of Scientology in Britain has lost a High Court fight to marry a fellow Scientologist in the church's London chapel.

But the judge presiding over the case said the issue should be considered by the Supreme Court, the country's highest court.

Scientology volunteer Louisa Hodkin had challenged a refusal by the Registrar General of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales to allow the chapel to be used for marriage ceremonies on the grounds that it was not "a place of meeting for religious worship."

The registrar cited a 1970 ruling that another Scientology chapel was not a meeting place for religious worship because its services included "instructions in the tenets of a philosophy concerned with man" and were not concerned with religious worship.

In a 2011 national census, 2,418 people in England and Wales identified themselves as belonging to the controversial church, which lists Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its followers.

Hodkin and her fiance wanted to be married in a legally recognised Scientology ceremony at the church's chapel on the ground floor of its central London base, the Press Association reported.

Hodkin's brother, David, was married in a religious ceremony at a Church of Scientology in Edinburgh in 2007, her lawyers said, arguing that she was the victim of religious discrimination.

Scientologists have previously unsuccessfully applied for certification at other premises in England they have claimed are for religious worship.

Judge Duncan Ouseley said he felt constrained by the 1970 Court of Appeal ruling. He added, however, that the issue should be analysed by the Supreme Court.

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