Britain Supreme Court Holds Scientology Chapel Is Place Of Religious Worship Where Marriages May Be Solemnized
"In R (on the application of Hodkin and another).v Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages", (UK Sup. Ct,, Dec. 11, 2013), Britain's Supreme Court overruled a 1970 Court of Appeal case and held that a chapel of the Church of Scientology qualifies under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 as "a place of meeting for religious worship." Therefore the Registrar General should have recorded it as a place at which marriages may be solemnized under the Marriage Act 1949. In so holding, Lord Toulson wrote:

... [R]eligion should not be confined to religions which recognise a supreme deity. First and foremost, to do so would be a form of religious discrimination unacceptable in today's society. It would exclude Buddhism, along with other faiths such as Jainism, Taoism, Theosophy and part of Hinduism.... For the purposes of PWRA, I would describe religion in summary as a spiritual or non-secular belief system, held by a group of adherents, which claims to explain mankind's place in the universe and relationship with the infinite, and to teach its adherents how they are to live their lives in conformity with the spiritual understanding associated with the belief system. By spiritual or non-secular I mean a belief system which goes beyond that which can be perceived by the senses or ascertained by the application of science.... Such a belief system may or may not involve belief in a supreme being, but it does involve a belief that there is more to be understood about mankind's nature and relationship to the universe than can be gained from the senses or from science. I emphasise that this is intended to be a description and not a definitive formula.The court went on to hold that the Scientology chapel is a place of meeting for religious "worship," concluding that it is sufficient that the location is one where members perform religious rites, whether or not the rites involve adoration of a deity:

fine theological or liturgical niceties as to how precisely they see and express their relationship with the infinite... are more fitting for theologians than for the Registrar General or the courts. Lord Wilson wrote a separate concurring opinion, joined by 3 other justices holding that the Registrar General's role in registering houses of worship is more than ministerial. The court also issued a press summary of the decision. Time reports that the decision may have broad ramifications. (See prior related posting.)