Excerpt:The Department for Education has told The Kernel unequivocally: Scientologists will not be able to take advantage of the cult’s new status as a ‘religion’ to open faith schools in the UK.Thursday, 12 December 2013UK Government tells The Kernel: ‘no Scientology schools’Unclear how Michael Gove will stop the cult opening faith schoolsOne Scientology-controlled school already open in UKThis week the highest court in the land ruled that Scientology is a religion and couples can now marry in its churches. But while it was believed that becoming an official religion would allow the science fiction cult to run faith schools, the Department of Education says it won’t let them, according to calls placed by The Kernel yesterday.But given this week’s Supreme Court ruling, which effectively redefined religion in the UK, it’s unclear how the Government could stop a Scientology application without finding itself in a long and expensive court case with a wealthy cult whose members include Tom Cruise and John Travolta.While all free school applications have to be approved by the Department of Education, Scientologists would appear to have a case for religious discrimination should an application be rejected on the basis of the group’s faith.We got in touch with the New Schools Network, which helps organisations with free school applications, on the premise of opening a publicly-funded Scientology school. The organisation was enthusiastic about The Kernel’s chances of setting up a school based on the teachings of L Ron Hubbard.
While free school applications must adhere to very strict criteria, some other spiritual groups of questionable reputation have managed to wing it with Michael Gove’s department.In fact, the Government’s statement that it “will not allow Scientology schools” was untrue the moment it was spoken, because Scientologists already run a school in the UK. At the private Greenfields school in East Sussex, 80 per cent of students come from a Scientology background and 90 per cent of its teachers are members of the sect.Classrooms at Greenfields are decorated with posters of L Ron Hubbard and his ideas. While it follows the national curriculum, Greenfields is deeply embedded in Scientology lingo, with the moral code drawing on Hubbard’s book The Way To Happiness and the teaching methods from Study Technology, an educational approach developed by Hubbard.
We got in touch with the New Schools Network, which helps organisations with free school applications, on the premise of opening a publicly-funded Scientology school. The organisation was enthusiastic about The Kernel’s chances of setting up a school based on the teachings of L Ron Hubbard.
During debates in 2006 Michael Gove, now the Education Secretary, used parliamentary privilege to describe scientology as an “evil cult”.Brandon Lewis, the local government minister, said: “I am very concerned about this ruling, and its implications for business rates.”
Hard-pressed taxpayers will wonder why Scientology premises should now be given tax cuts when local firms have to pay their fair share,” he said. “We will review the Court’s verdict and discuss this with our legal advisers before deciding the next steps.”Secular campaigners said the case showed the strength of their argument that the state should not support or discriminate against any kind of religion. Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said Scientology had a “terrible reputation and rightly so and yet here we are making it official”.“It’s just not a church in the sense that you usually regard a church as being – at least in intent – benign and caring,” he said. “It’s just sort of there to make money … through exploitation and threatening people and all kinds of nefarious practices they get up to.”The Church of England declined to comment on the case, but it has come into conflict with Scientology before. In 2004, a spokesman for the Anglican Diocese of Birmingham said the movement was “as much a religion as a dog is a vegetable”, while criticising a council decision to allow Scientologists to use the city’s Centenary Square.