Russia's Scientology ban found to be illegal


Get ready to whip out your e-meters and get audited, Russians. The European Court of Human Rights said in a binding ruling that Russia's ban on Scientology is illegal.

Two Scientology groups brought their case to the court because they wanted to be listed as religious organizations, but Russian authorities denied their request because to be on that list a group must exist for at least 15 years. The court sided with the Scientologists.

This development comes not long after Germany's battle with the religious group. When Scientology's Berlin church opened, many Germans complained they were being harassed to join the group, and were worried about cult-like practices. For this reason, some German politicians called for the church to be banned. Germany's domestic intelligence has been gathering information on the group and its potential threat to "Democratic order."

The church claims that after all of the surveillance, no wrongdoing has been discovered and that they are merely a church committed to understanding the human spirit.

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What's so Christian about Germany's Christian Democrats?

After German voters sent the Christian Democrats -- led by Chancellor Angela Merkel -- back to power with 13 more seats, it seemed appropriate to ask: In a secular country, what exactly makes it "Christian?" 

The Christian Democratic Union says its "policies are based on theChristian view of Man and his responsibilities before God." HoweverGermans shy away from being connected with other versions of politicalChristianity.

Christianity Today recently interviewed Merke's minister of state on this issue. "Germans don't want to be called evangelical because theyare labeled by an image dominated by American evangelicals," Grohe said. He does want to see more German Christians discussing their faith in public, mixing personal with civil life, citing the United Kingdom as an example where religion and politics mix well.

Fighting abortion rights is an important issue for German Christians, but Grohe said fighting poverty and climate change are also imperative.

Talking about the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification, Grohe said, "We are still struggling to put together two very different societies." This is especially evident looking at the electoral map from the recent election. (Sorry it is in French, scroll on the semi-circle to see how each party did in each region)

The former East Germany had the strongest support for The Left and the least support for the Christian Democrats. This is paralleled in East Berlin and West Berlin. The difference is more for political reasons than for religious reasons, but anti-religious feelings in Eastern Germany are prevalent.

"In East Germany, there's still a strong non-religious presence. Religion is for your grandma," Grohe said. "People say they forgot they forgot God."

Grohe said the pacifist aspects of the religion don't play much of a role in German politics, most people who want out of Afghanistan want out because they think it is unwinnable, not because of any feeling of religious necessity. However, a dislike for Islam is present in some German Christians.

"I'm very shocked when I see Christians talking hatefully about Muslims," he said. "When I talk about the need for freedom to build Islamic mosques, I receive shameful letters from Christians filled with hate." 

Update: The link to the Christianity Today interview is down, but should be working again soon. 

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