Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

UNITED KINGDOM: International Association of Scientologists’ 39th Anniversary

Saint Hill. Photo credit: CSI

UNITED KINGDOM: The International Association of Scientologists’ 39th Anniversary and a protest that failed

One week before the three-day event attended by about 7000 Scientologists, opponents and the media announced a mass anti-Scientology demonstration. Only 46 showed up.

by Willy Fautré


Bitter Winter (28.11.2023) In early November, the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) celebrated its 39th anniversary in Saint Hill, East Grinstead (West Sussex), about 20 km from Gatwick airport. Three days were devoted to this event, which after four years of interruption due to the COVID was attended by about 7000 people coming from all continents, including representatives of different other religions such as Orthodox Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims.

39th anniversary of the International Association of Scientologists. Photo credit CSI

On the first day, they presented their humanitarian projects and achievements as well as the results of their campaigns in the last four years. Three winners of the IAS freedom medals were honored for their humanitarian campaigns in three specific sectors:

-A Mexican couple, Salomón and Lucy Dabbah, carrying out drug prevention campaigns all over the country in schools, countries, associations, law enforcement and government agencies;

-Yuzuro Ogura from Japan for exposing human rights abuses in psychiatric hospitals while achieving national laws to protect whistleblowers of such abuses;

-And a final one, Giselle Lima from Panama, promoting with the police and the government a non-religious moral code as described in their brochure “The Way to Happiness.” Moreover, she helped sanitizing other religious places of worship during the pandemic, gaining religious recognition in the country and forming the Religious Freedom RoundTable in Panama.

The second day was devoted to the Patrons’ Ball Dinner. During the ceremony, it was announced that there were thousands of individual donors from all continents who over the years had made donations ranging from USD 50,000 to USD 1 million and more. These were people who were successful in their professional life. More than 500 were present and were called to the stage by groups to be publicly thanked for their generosity. More than 1500 people attended the dinner followed by a concert and a ball.

Patrons’ Ball. Photo credit: JH

On the third day, the IAS along with the Church of Scientology /UK hosted a Saint Hill Gala Charity Concert attended by about 2000 people meant to finance several local projects unrelated to the Church.

A cheque of £ 50,000 was shared between several local institutions whose representatives detailed the projects to be implemented. The charities selected this year were:

-the East Grinstead & District Lions Club,

-the AGE UK East Grinstead, focusing on assistance to elderly people,

-the Queen Victoria Hospital Charity for reconstructive surgery or burns,

-the Friends of the Crowborough Hospital, and

-Access2Adventure, an entity helping people “get out of their comfort zone to grow resilience, confidence and self-esteem.”

The mayor, a local member of the British Parliament, and other local authorities were present. Among the artists participating in the concert:

  • The Jive Aces, the UK’s No.1 Jive and Swing Band performing over 300 shows a year in over 40 countries;
  • Mark Isham, an electronic music innovator, jazz artist and prolific film composer;
  • Rodney Earl Clark, a celebrated baritone singer and West End star;
  • Alberto Plaza, who performed over 1500 concerts in Latin America, earned multiple gold and platinum records;
  • Chill E.B., a pro-survival rap artist, a jingle writer and screen actor;
  • Michele Anderson, an international vocalist and Goodwill Ambassador to her native island of Dominica.

Tom Cruise was discreetly present during the three-day events.

Photo credit: THIX – Rapper Chill E.B.

Photo credit: JHHIX – Rapper Chill E.B.

The International Association of Scientologists

The International Association of Scientologists (IAS), a fundraising and membership organization run by the Church of Scientology, is an unincorporated membership organization open to all Scientologists from all countries. It is headquartered in England at Saint Hill Manor (East Grinstead, Sussex).

The IAS was created in 1984 by a number of delegates from Scientology Churches world over assembled at Saint Hill Manor (L. Ron Hubbard’s home from 1959 to 1966).

To confirm their dedication toward the aims of Scientology, those first IAS delegates formulated and signed The Pledge to Mankind.

The purpose of the IAS is: “To unite, advance, support and protect the Scientology religion and Scientologists in all parts of the world so as to achieve the Aims of Scientology as originated by L. Ron Hubbard.”

Lafayette Ron Hubbard (1911–1986) was an American prolific author of science fiction and fantasy novels in his early career. In 1950 he authored “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health,” “the Bible” or building cornerstone of his belief system and established organizations to promote and practice Dianetics techniques. During WW II, L. Ron Hubbard was an officer in the Navy where he briefly commanded two ships.

The IAS was formed in 1984 to protect the Church of Scientology and its members against intolerance, persecution and discrimination, as well as to guarantee religious freedom for all. However, in the last two decades it has been able to focus its resources on funding numerous humanitarian projects.

The Church of Scientology is a belief association which is active and legally practiced in more than 150 countries, being legally registered in over 100 of them. It is protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights as it is confirmed by the jurisprudence of the European Court.

Few academic papers and books fairly cover the Church of Scientology but a recent paper by Donald Westbrook can be recommended for those who want to know more about this movement and its scholarly study and need a reliable compass: Scientology Studies 2.0: Lessons learned and paths forward.

Press coverage of the event under the magnifying glass

On 25 October, a huge anti-Scientology demonstration to be held by former disgruntled members was announced in “The Guardian” as “the biggest one since 2008 organized by members of the internet-based group Anonymous outside the church’s London HQ, which attracted more than 300 people.” It was then allegedly one of the ten most-read articles on that day, according to the anti-Scientology protestors who stressed that the newspaper’s website reached 110 million unique readers per month.

On the same day, “Newsweek” and “The Express” joined and amplified the same anti-Scientology campaign, also announcing the same “mass gathering” against the movement and/or their leaders, which never materialized.

The organizers also announced that the road to Saint Hill would be closed from 2pm until 10pm for their demonstration on 3 November but this never happened.

Moreover, there was no such big gathering: “46 protestors marched from East Grinstead and gathered at Scientology’s headquarters, making this the largest anti-Scientology’s protest since the Anonymous movement, 15 years ago,” according to the organizers themselves. Only 46 against the alleged over 300 demonstrators in 2008, which is seven times less… and they announced it as the biggest one for 15 years.

No such demonstration was ever visible or audible on the road to Saint Hill or near the entrance during the three-day event as the police kept them at distance.

None of these media outlets has afterwards reported on the failed demonstration in which less than 50 protestors participated but, in the meantime, they accepted to be their resonance box before their action and decided to keep silent afterwards about their spectacular flop.

Final score of “the match,” 7000 against 46, but that is not the message that public opinion received from biased media. It is not surprising that unfounded and unjustified hostility against some religious, spiritual and belief minorities persists in Europe. A number of European states are not paragons of religious tolerance and are not in a moral position to teach lessons to other countries. They should first look at themselves for some introspection and self-criticism, and even look at some far away countries on other continents that have better practices in this regard.

Further reading about FORB in the United Kingdom on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

GERMANY: State-funded Lutheran Church’s “Sect Filters” for school teachers

GERMANY: State-funded Lutheran Church’s “Sect Filters” for school teachers

You should state you have not attended events of, or sympathize with, Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Moonies,” “Hare Krishna,” or Universal Life (other religions are not mentioned).

By Massimo Introvigne



Bitter Winter (11.10.2023) – “Bitter Winter” has denounced in the past the discriminatory practice of “sect filters”—now an expression in common use in English, although “cult filters” would be a more accurate translation—used by certain institutions in Germany. While Scientology is not banned in Germany, those who want to be hired for certain public and private jobs, or obtain state benefits, including subsidies to buy ecological electrical bikes, should declare that they are not Scientologists, have not taken Scientology courses, and do not support the ideas of Scientology. Courts of law in Germany have occasionally recognized the discriminatory nature of these “filters,” which should look obvious to anybody who reads them, but so far have not banned the practice altogether.

It seems that “sect filters” are now being extended to religious minorities other than Scientology. Every länder (state) in Germany offers religious instruction in public schools. Religious communities with Public Law Corporation status (or those without such status that have entered into agreement with the states) appoint religion teachers. The länder pays the teachers’ salaries and supervise them.

One such state-supported churches offering religious instruction in schools is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria. A “sect filter” statement by its Munich School Department now includes the usual questions about Scientology and the ideas of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, but also wants to know whether applicants have had anything to do with other “cults” singling out the “Hare Krishna” (i.e., the International Society for Krishna Consciousness), “Moon” (by which they mean the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, once known as Unification Church, and perhaps other groups based on the teachings of the late Reverend Sun Myung Moon), the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Universal Life (a German new religious movement founded by Gabriele Wittek).

A translation of the application reads as follows:

“On the occasion of my application for employment, I answer the following questions:


1) Do you have or have you had any relations with cults or other religious associations (e.g. Hare Krishna, Moon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Universal Life) in the last twelve months?
__Yes, namely (specify)

2) In the last three years, did you or do you participate in events, courses, trainings, seminars or the like with the above-mentioned groups?
__Yes, namely (specify)

3) Do you support the above mentioned groups ideally, financially or in any other way?

__Yes, namely (specify)


1) Do you have any business or other relationships (e.g., volunteer or employee, member of an association, holder of a contractual right to use the technology of the founder of the Scientology organization, L. Ron Hubbard) with an organization that, to your knowledge, uses or distributes the technology of L. Ron Hubbard or operates according to these methods? (The term ‘organization’ includes all organizations, groups and institutions of the Scientology organization, i.e. also, for example, those that are active in the social and economic field or in the educational field).
__Yes, namely (more detailed designation)

2) Are you subject to the directives of an organization that uses or distributes Hubbard’s technology?
__Yes, namely (specify)

3) In the last three years, have you attended or are you attending any events, courses, trainings, seminars, etc. with the above-mentioned groups that use or disseminate the technology of L. Ron Hubbard or work according to these methods, or have you registered for future events and similar?
__Yes, namely (specify)

4) Do you support the above mentioned groups ideally, financially, or in any other way?
__Yes, namely (specify)

5) Do you work according to the methods of L. Ron Hubbard or have you been trained according to these methods?
__Yes, namely (specify).”

In this strange document, even participating in an event without being a member of the targeted minority religion is ground to be refused employment. In fact, applicants should disclose their inner thoughts, where perhaps lies hidden an “ideal support” for a “bad” religion even if not accompanied by any participation in its events.

Obviously, it is part of the religious freedom of the Evangelical Lutheran Church to make sure that those who teach its religion on its behalf in public schools share its theology. It would be normal to interview them and make sure they adhere to Lutheran theology rather than, say, its Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, or Hindu counterparts, or any other different belief or religion.

The “sect filter,” however, is something different. It doesn’t ask whether the candidate teacher has attended a Catholic or Buddhist event but only singles out certain “cults.” As such, it introduces an unacceptable invasion of the candidates’ privacy and discrimination, one we may suspect is needed because the teachers are paid by the state and all state-supported activities and jobs in Bavaria should be performed only by those who have passed through the “sect filters.” Remember the electrical bikes.


Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNSectUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of some 70 books and more than 100 articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio.  From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the “Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). From 2012 to 2015 he served as chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty, instituted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.

Photo: The Evangelical Lutheran Deanery in Munich, which hosts the School Department. Source: Evangelical Lutheran Deanery, Munich.

 Further reading about FORB in Germany on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

GERMANY & EU in the dock at the OSCE on religious discrimination

GERMANY/EU: Germany and the EU in the dock at the OSCE on religious discrimination

OSCE (06.10.2023) – At the Warsaw Human Conference, Germany and the EU were jointly in the dock in a statement on religious discrimination made on 6 October by Ivan Arjona, President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights:


“Madam Chair,


We would like to start by praising the efforts of countries such as Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Portugal and the USA for their constant effort in improving the situation of freedom of religion or belief, and non-discrimination.


We would like to also acknowledge the Germany court system for the circa 50 court decision at different levels for ruling and recognizing that members of the Church of Scientology deserve and are entitled to the protection under Article 4 of the Basic Law.


We would like to address specifically to the delegation of the European Union, and more specifically to the Delegation of Germany, with special appeal for effective dialogue.


Do you still ask people to declare their religious belief before accepting them for a job, a public position or any other tenders that count with public funding?


Well, as of October 6, in the European Union’s website for tenders by public bodies throughout the region, the EU is showing, without regret and without any corrective action, how Germany is asking in no less that 357 tenders in 2023, for bidders to declare that


  • they are not members of the Church of Scientology, and


  • that they will not hire Scientologists, based only in their religion, and this applies to clothes cleaners, kinder garden personnel, architects.



In addition to that this religious discrimination is backed by propaganda produced for example by the Bavarian state Ministry of Interior, depicting Scientologists as robots, dehumanizing us in a video aimed to be shown in high schools and publicly.


Would the European Union Delegation or even Germany be willing to start a dialogue to resolve this religious discrimination? Your answer to this will determine your position and level of respect of OSCE guidelines and international standards.


Our churches are open for you to carry out the needed dialogue. Thank you.”



  • Cancel the regulation in Germany that justifies the state- imposed obligation for citizens and companies to deny jobs and contracts to Scientologists, practice under the euphemist name of “protective declaration”.


Further reading about FORB in Germany and in the EU on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

RUSSIA: Head of Scientology in St. Petersburg sentenced to prison and released

RUSSIA: The head of the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg was sentenced to prison and released

The court imposed heavy fines on the rest of the defendants in the case

SOVA Center (24.08.2023) – On August 24, 2023, the Nevsky District Court of St. Petersburg issued a verdict in the case of members of the local Church of Scientology. The court found all the defendants guilty and imposed the following punishments:

  • Church leader Ivan Matsitsitsky – six and a half years of imprisonment with serving a sentence in a general regime colony, as well as a two-year ban on activities in public associations and religious organizations under paragraph “c” of Part 2 of Art. 282 (incitement to hatred or enmity by an organized group) and Part 1 of Art. 282.1 of the Criminal Code (creation of an extremist community), while the court took into account the period of Matsitsi’s stay in custody and house arrest and released him after serving his sentence;
  • Executive Director Galina Shurinova – a fine of 1.3 million rubles (under the same charges);
  • to the head of the own security service Anastasia Terentyeva – a fine of 1.2 million rubles (under the same articles);
  • Chief Accountant Sahib Aliyev – a fine of 1 million rubles on the same charges, as well as on p. “b” of Part 4 of Art. 174.1 (money laundering on a particularly large scale);
  • Constance Yesaulkova, who was Terentyeva’s deputy, – a fine of 600 thousand rubles under paragraph “c” of Part 2 of Art. 282 and Part 2 of Art. 282.1 of the Criminal Code (participation in an extremist community).

Matsitsky, Shurinova, Terentyeva and Aliyev were also found guilty of illegal entrepreneurship committed by an organized group and involving the extraction of income on a particularly large scale (paragraphs “a”, “b” of Part 2 of Art. 171), and Esaulkova – of aiding this crime (Part 5 of Art. 33, subparagraphs “a”, “b” of Part 2 of Art. 171). From punishment under Art. 171 of the Criminal Code, they were released due to the expiration of the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution.

In addition, the court confiscated 3,600 sheets of paper “externally similar to 100 U.S. dollar banknotes” that were found in the premises of the Church of St. Petersburg.

In the debate of the parties on August 16, 2023, the state Prosecutor asked to sentence Matsitsitsky to eight years in prison in a general regime colony, Shurinova and Terentyev to six years one month, Aliyev to six years three months, and Yesaulkova to three years one month. For everyone except Yesaulkova, the prosecutor also requested additional punishment in the form of deprivation of the right to engage in activities in public associations and religious organizations for a period of one year.

A criminal case against members of the Church of St. Petersburg was initiated in the summer of 2017. The detainees were then taken into custody, with the exception of Yesaulkova, whom the court placed under house arrest. Subsequently, Shurinova and Terentyeva were also released under house arrest, later Shurinova was released on recognizance. Matsitsky was sentenced to a ban on certain actions, then arrested again, and then placed under house arrest. Aliyev was placed under house arrest, arrested and placed under house arrest again.


During the court hearings on the election of preventive measures, the FSB investigator stated, in particular, that Scientologists had created an extremist community to humiliate the dignity of some followers of the doctrine, united in the social group “sources of trouble” (obviously, this is the category of “potential sources of trouble” used by Scientologists). In relation to them, Matsitsky issued “ethical orders” under his signature. One of them forbade guilty adherents to participate in auditing (spiritual practice of communicating with a Scientology consultant), the other, according to the media, forbade studying certain sections of philosophy. In addition, it was said in court that the defendants distributed extremist literature and promoted the exclusivity of their religion.

However, according to lawyers, in the final version of the accusations, the emphasis was shifted from specific actions “to criticism of the Scientology doctrine, general goals and methods of the Scientology community.”

We tend to consider it inappropriate to prosecute Scientologists for extremism. The assertion of one’s own exclusivity is inherent in any religion, and the persecution of Scientologists and the prohibition of their literature on this basis are untenable. The separation by the investigation of part of the adherents of Scientologists subjected to psychological pressure into a social group protected by anti-extremist legislation seems doubtful to us. In fact, according to Ron Hubbard’s concept, which he outlined in the book “Introduction to Scientology Ethics”, for the well-being of most adherents, Scientologists should not be allowed to audit (special Scientology practice) and train people with attitudes of certain types, do not bring them closer to themselves; it is preferable to ignore them. But most religions impose certain restrictions on admission to church life and rituals, and the advice of anyone cannot be ignored as a call aimed at inciting hatred or humiliation of dignity.



Photo: L. Ron Hubbard founder of Scientology – www.lronhubbard.org

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

TAIWAN: No anti-cult activity, no religious intolerance: the example of Taiwan

Visit of the headquarters of a minority religion in Taiwan, Jehovah’s Witnesses (Credit: HRWF)

TAIWAN: No anti-cult activity, no religious intolerance: the example of Taiwan

Are European states in a position to teach lessons to other countries about religious inclusion and religious tolerance? Taiwan might be.

By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (21.08.2023) – Taiwan is home to a wide range of religious or belief communities, either theistic or non-theistic, and no societal or state intolerance is reported in this country, including towards so-called new religious movements, while this is not the case in Europe. Why?


During two trips to Taiwan this year, I took a close look at this culture of tolerance and inclusiveness and I wondered why in Europe a number of states with a dominant Christian religion in their history had developed a culture of intolerance, suspicion and stigmatization about new religious movements. Some short reflections on this issue.


Religious intolerance in Europe


One of the factors fueling religious intolerance on the European continent is the activity of former members of non-traditional religious or belief communities who have left them in the midst of a conflict and who are driven by a spirit of revenge. Groups of apostates have thus formed out of common hostility to various movements, which they have designated as dangerous and harmful cults, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hare Krishna, Mormons, the Unification Church, Scientology and others.


The dynamics of the apostates’ groups in Europe especially developed at the time of massacres and collective suicides perpetrated within some marginal religious groups in the 1990s on the American and European continents. They found allies in the media, who were looking for “juicy” stories, and they quite often fed them with unfounded accusations, distorted information and fabricated cases, creating hereby a climate of social anxiety and hostility. The word “cult”, systematically attributed to new religious or belief movements, became a signal of distrust, threat and danger. Many European governments surfed on this media wave of stigmatization, demonization and hostility. Intolerance and discrimination followed and continue to this day, in particular through their so-called “cult observatories” in some countries.


This climate of intolerance was clearly denounced by USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) in its recent report (24 July 2023) titled “Religious Freedom Concerns about Religious Freedom in the European Union” in which a section was devoted to the anti-cult issue and was stressing that “Several governments in the EU have supported or facilitated the propagation of harmful information about certain religious groups.”


The context of Taiwan’s religious tolerance


Taiwan does not a have dominant religion, unlike most European countries, as a survey by the Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology released in 2021 shows.

27.9 percent of the population exclusively practices traditional folk religions, 19.8 percent Buddhism, and 18.7 percent Taoism, with 23.9 percent identifying as nonbelievers.  The rest of the population consists mainly of Protestants (5.5 percent), I-Kuan Tao (2.2 percent), Catholics (1.4 percent).

Members of other religious groups include Jews, Sunni Muslims, the Baha’i Faith, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mahikari, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Church of Scientology and the Unification Church.

Some studies find that as many as 80 percent of religious practitioners combine multiple faith traditions. The concept of heresy or normative religious orthodoxy is therefore not prevalent.

As of the end of 2019, there were more than 15,000 registered religious groups representing over 20 religions.


Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons or Scientologists, just to name a few, are “unloved” religious movements in Europe where they are the targets of derogatory statements, defamatory campaigns, distorted news and false information. In the late 1990s, France and Belgium had respectively investigated 172 and 187 religious or belief movements suspected of being dangerous or harmful cults. Both countries still have a very active state cult observatory allegedly monitoring their activities and publishing controversial reports that have been successfully challenged in courts.


In Taiwan, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Mahikari followers, Unification Church members or Scientologists for example are treated on an equal footing with other religious groups and without any prejudice or suspicion. They have been welcome after 40 years of a dictatorial regime in the second half of last century.


Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 21st century democratic Taiwan

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Taiwan have never experienced any difficulty with their usual religious activities as a group in the 21st century.

Proselytizing in the public space has never been a source of serious complaint and has never involved police intervention.

They have seldom faced any opposition by the local authorities or the local population when applying for permission to build or rent a place for worship.

As in any other country Jehovah’s Witnesses do not participate in elections, which is their way of remaining politically neutral while respecting their government.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are conscientious objectors to military service. In 2000, Taiwan introduced an alternative military service and was hereby the first country in Asia to take such an initiative. Out of 699 candidates opting for this status at that time, 634 were Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Concerning their refusal of blood transfusion, they proceed as in other countries. In Taiwan, they have set up five Hospital Liaison Committees (HLC) which are now functioning. After discussions, they always find doctors and hospitals willing to treat them without blood transfusions. There are more and more cooperative doctors, they say, and there were only very few cases to be dealt with in conformity with their beliefs at it can be seen from the few examples hereafter.

In 2019 a 19-year-old Jehovah’s Witness was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The surgeon respected the will of the family about blood transfusion and the patient successfully performed his chemotherapy. Four years later he continues to be in remission. This was the first time in Taiwan that a patient with ALL was treated without blood transfusion. The attending physician published a report regarding this landmark case and regularly lectures at international medical seminars about how to treat patients with ALL without blood transfusions.


A seven-year-old girl was involved in a vehicle accident which resulted in severe head trauma and cranial bleeding. The father who is a Jehovah’s Witness requested the assistance of a representative of the local Hospital Liaison Committee of Jehovah’s Witnesses (HLC) to consult with the physician about treatment options that could be used instead of a blood transfusion. The doctor successfully operated on the patient.


In another case, a young female Jehovah’s Witness was diagnosed with a large spinal tumor (Ewing’s Sarcoma). She accepted the proposed surgery and chemotherapy, but without blood transfusion. The surgeon performed the operation without the usual blood transfusion and with hardly half of the usual blood loss.


No anti-cult activity has targeted Jehovah’s Witnesses in Taiwan and religious tolerance fares all the better.

Taipei Taiwan Mormon Temple opened in 1984 (Credit: HRWF)

Opening event of the Church of Scientology in Kaohsiung in 2013 (Taiwan)


Further reading about FORB in Taiwan on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1395

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1395

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1396

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1396

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1397