Can Scientology Chapel Be Used for Marriages?

Posted: 24th October 2012

The High Court is being asked to decide whether a Church of Scientology chapel should be recognised as a ‘place of worship’ at which marriages can be lawfully solemnised under the terms of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855.

Louisa Hodkin, who is engaged to a fellow scientologist, is challenging the refusal of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages to allow her to celebrate her marriage at the church's chapel in Queen Victoria Street, central London.

Church of Scientology marriages are recognised in a number of other common law jurisdictions, including Scotland, New Zealand, Canada, the United States of America and Australia, and Miss Hodkin’s lawyers argue that the registrar's refusal is discriminatory and in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

However, lawyers representing the registrar insist that Miss Hodkin's challenge is misconceived. They argue that the ‘essential ingredients’ of religious worship required by the act are absent from scientology meetings.

Recognising the importance and novelty of the issues raised by the case, Mr Justice Ouseley reserved his decision until a later date.