During the history of the Church, some individuals sought to make money from unfounded allegations, but the Church successfully defended against those claims. Litigation involving Churches of Scientology in America is virtually nonexistent today.
Litigation is not and never was a purpose of Scientology. The practice and expansion of the Scientology religion is the Church’s purpose. However, due to its phenomenal worldwide growth and as the only major religion to have emerged in the twentieth century, Scientology has had to fight to protect its religious freedom in certain countries by seeking to uphold the right to freedom of religion in court. Many of these victories are discussed in the reference work Scientology a World Religion: International Religious Recognitions of the Church of Scientology.
The more notable victories include a 1982 Australian High Court decision that not only recognized the Scientology religion but greatly expanded religious freedom throughout that country by establishing a definition of religion now in use throughout Australia and New Zealand.
On October 31, 2007, the National Court in Madrid, Spain, issued a unanimous landmark decision affirming the right to religious freedom in that nation by recognizing that the National Church of Scientology of Spain is a religious organization entitled to the full panoply of religious rights that flow from entry in the government’s Registry of Religious Entities. This recognition marked the end of an era in which Spanish Scientologists were forced to fight for their rights to religious freedom. It vindicated the Church of Scientology in Spain and signaled a new beginning for all Spanish Scientologists with the Church now officially recognized as a religion.
In Italy, the Church overcame intensive government repression, including government action shutting down all Churches of Scientology, based on false allegations about the religion. All of which ultimately resulted in another Supreme Court decision now standing as the foremost decision by a national high court on the subject of religion on the European Continent.
In Germany, the Church has used the courts to successfully fight discrimination targeting Scientologists and to obtain recognition as a religion entitled to religious freedom under the German Constitution. There are approximately 50 German judicial decisions recognizing that the Church of Scientology and its members are entitled to the protections of freedom of religion and belief granted in Article 4 of the German Constitution.
The Church has also been forced to seek redress in the courts in Russia to protect its right to register as a religious organization under Russian and international human rights law. On April 5, 2007, the European Court of Human Rights issued a unanimous landmark decision in favor of the Scientology religion, upholding the religious freedom of Scientologists and their religious associations throughout the 47 nations that have signed and ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), adopted by the Council of Europe in 1950.
In the United States, the Church’s use of the Freedom of Information Act, taking government agencies to court and holding them accountable to release vital documents to the public on a variety of subjects, has been heralded as a vital action to ensure honesty in government.