France Scientology fraud was the verdict leveled against the Church of Scientology by France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation. Though recognized as a formal religion in the United States and elsewhere, the practice of Scientology has just been branded as a scam and a racket in France, despite cries of religious discrimination, reports the AFP via Yahoo! News on Oct. 16.
There are approximately 45,000 Scientologists in France. The obtuse religion, founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, came under fire in the European country when five former members charged the organization with coercing them into spending thousands of dollars on “required” reading material, questionable services and Church merchandise.
The Church was initially found guilty of “commercial harassment,” and on appeal the charge has stood. Church officials are not happy that their easily misunderstood religion has been declared fraudulent.
“Scientology is a worldwide religious movement practiced in 184 nations. Its bona fide rights of its members to practice their faith unimpeded by government interference have been acknowledged by the high courts of many nations, including unanimous decisions by the European Court of Human Rights,” a statement from the French Church of Scientology after the verdict reads.
The conviction carried a fine of 600,000 Euros ($820,000 dollars), in addition to the Church losing any foothold as it attempts to become a recognized religion in France.
George Fenech, member of the French Parliament, applauded the court’s verdict and referred to the Church of Scientology as an “American organization.”
“Far from being a violation of freedom of religion, as this American organization contends, this decision lifts the veil on the illegal and highly detrimental practices,” said Fenech.
The Church is now expected to appeal to international tribunals.