German High Court Shuts Down Discriminatory Law in Win for Religious Freedom

Munich Cannot Discriminate Against Scientologists, Federal Court Rules

According to a ruling this month by Germany’s Federal Administrative Court, the City of Munich can no longer discriminate against Scientologists by requiring signed statements from individuals attesting that they are not members of the Scientology religion nor will they use its founder’s teachings.

Administrative Court
The Federal Administrative Court of Germany (Photo by Frantic00/

The case began in 2018, when a German Scientologist refused to sign the notorious so-called “sect filter” as part of her application for a grant from the City of Munich to purchase an electric bike—a purchase the City subsidizes for environmental reasons.

When her application was rejected on the basis of her refusal to sign the anti-Scientology attestation, the Scientologist sued the city.

In a judgment handed down on August 28, 2019, the Administrative Court of Munich found in favor of the City, stating the City was “free to decide which group of persons is to be supported by voluntary financial contributions,” thus endorsing the City’s practice of picking and choosing which religions to discriminate against.

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” 

The Scientologist subsequently appealed, and on June 16, 2021, the Administrative Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision, stating that the addition of the blatantly discriminatory sect filter to the e-bike application “is unlawful and violates the plaintiff’s rights.” 

Germany’s Federal Administrative Court—the equivalent of the United States Supreme Court—affirmed the appeals court’s decision, ordering on April 6, 2022, that the City approve the Scientologist’s e-bike application.

Photo by MoreImages/

But the Federal Court went further, specifically citing the City’s use of a selective “filter” to exclude members of specific religious groups as a violation of German citizens’ freedom of religion and freedom of religious practice—rights guaranteed by the nation’s constitution.

The Federal Court’s decision is another victory in German Scientologists’ fight for equal rights: in some 50 decisions spanning three decades, the status of Scientology as a religion and German Scientologists’ right to practice their faith as set forth in Article 4 of the German constitution have been confirmed again and again.

Germany is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 of which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” 

STAND applauds the Federal Administrative Court of Germany for upholding religious freedom, justice and human rights.