A historic decision by the State Administrative Court of Appeal of Bavaria overturned a first instance judgment by the Administrative Court of Munich of August 2019 and held that requiring the signing of a controversial “sect filter” “is unlawful and violates the plaintiff’s rights.” The city’s actions also violate the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and the constitutional principle of equality before the law, which requires that citizens should not be subject to disadvantages by reason of one’s race, origin, language, belief or religious or philosophical conviction.
In August 2018, the plaintiff, a freelance classical musician, applied to receive a subsidy toward purchase of an electric bicycle. The grant was offered by the City of Munich to promote environmental sustainability.
To qualify for the grant, she was required to sign a statement that she was not a Scientologist. She refused to do so and for failing to do so, her application was denied in December 2019.
The ruling issued by the Bavarian State Administrative Court of Appeal (File No. 4 B 20.3008) found the practice of imposing what has come to be known as a “sect filter” before granting electromobility funding violates the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and the constitutional principle of equality before the law. The judges noted that the city had admitted that, apart from the “sect filter” issue, the musician’s application met the legal requirements and would have been granted. “The fact that the plaintiff did not sign such a declaration and even expressly declared her membership in the Church of Scientology of Bavaria” was not a valid ground to exclude her from the subsidy, the judges said.
Not only did they find that the use of this filter was outside Munich’s municipal sphere of action, it constituted an “unjustified encroachment on the fundamental rights of the group of persons concerned.”
This ruling is the latest of many such decisions affirming that the Church and its members enjoy the protection of freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 4 of the Basic Law (Constitution) of Germany.
The spokesman for the Church of Scientology of Germany commented on the ruling with satisfaction:
“With this ruling, for the first time, a German court has called things by their name. We are happy that this discriminatory citizen practice against Scientologists has finally been ‘censured’, as it has long deserved. This is a victory of religious freedom for all people who are subject to discrimination in Germany because of their religious beliefs.”
The Church of Scientology publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.