“Other People’s Faiths”: The Scientology Litigation and the Justiciability of Religious Fraud

Church St and State StThe Church of Scientology and many of its front groups are currently the subject of many distinct legal actions. Many  of these include allegations of fraud .

The church of Scientology typically defends itself in court by claiming that they are a religious organisation and, as such, their actions are protected by the 1st amendment to the US Constitution which  prohibits “[…] the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion” or “impeding the free exercise of religion”.

This paper considers the Justiciability of  religious fraud – that is, it describes the circumstances in which an accusation of fraud levelled against a religious organisation can (or cannot) be dealt with by a court of law in the United States.

For anyone (like me) who lives in a country whose legal system does not have any equivalent to the first amendment provisions regarding religion, this paper helps explain how Scientology often exploits ‘religious cloaking’ in the US to escape the consequences of behaviour which critics argue is plainly fraudulent.

1981 – 1982 | “Other People’s Faiths”: The Scientology Litigation and the Justiciability of Religious Fraud | Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly| Marjorie Heins | Vol 9:153

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