jeudi 20 octobre 2016

Scientology statement re Religious Freedom supports blasphemy laws and liability

Scientology statement re Religious Freedom supports blasphemy laws and liability.

The Church of Scientology has created a new website, Scientology Religion:
The Church of Scientology has also created a new website and pamphlet, "What is Religious Freedom - Know Your Rights":
The pamphlet and website "What is Religious Freedom - Know Your Rights" are very well done and, quite frankly, very well argued. They rely largely (but not entirely) on Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Bill of Human Rights.

The website and pamphlet go on, however, to propose a very troubling "Charter on Journalistic Ethics in Relation to Respect for Religion or Belief." The Charter would support the imposition of blasphemy laws, and/or civil or perhaps even criminal liability for journalists and others who publish "denigrating references to religious beliefs and spiritual values."

Please note there is already strong support for such restrictions on freedom of speech and restrictions on "denigrating references to religious beliefs and spiritual values" in the United Nations, largely coming from Muslim nations but also conservatives Hindus, Buddhists, etc. Indeed, I suspect may Christians in the U.S. would not be opposed.

This is another example of the Church of Scientology playing the long game. This is important.

The troubling sections are excerpted below. First comes the set-up (indeed, the entire preceding document serves as set-up), and then the Charter.

* * * * * BEGIN EXCERPT * * * * *

Rising Social Hostility Against Religion in the Media

The Pew Research Center global study on the rising tide of restrictions on religions finds that approximately five billion people, 75 percent of the world’s population, live in countries with high government restrictions on religion or high social hostilities involving religion, which often target religious minorities. [41]

There is no question that the media — all forms of the press, including print, audiovisual and electronic media — constitute a major cause for this high social hostility targeting religious groups throughout the world. The instances where some religion is the target of propaganda, bias, stereotyping, misconception, misunderstanding and incitement to hatred in the press in countries across the globe have become legion.

The episode in 2005 regarding the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed and the subsequent violent reactions across the Islamic world raised the attention of the global community to the misunderstandings and lack of information within the media on matters relating to religion and belief. Yet bias and misinformation in the press continue to be a scourge, fostering religious discrimination and fueling hostility toward targeted faiths. [42]

No universal set of principles, rules or standards in this critical area regarding the depiction of religion or belief by the media currently exists. Without clear articulation of such principles and standards, there is no effective means to gauge whether news reports violate universal human rights standards while engendering discrimination or even violence targeting individuals due to their religious association.

The time has come to articulate a set of standards, based upon the human rights principles that make up the right to freedom of religion, to guide the media in the area of religion or belief. To address this pressing need, a proposed Charter on Journalistic Ethics in Relation to Respect for Religion or Belief (“Charter”) is contained in the next section as a tool to educate the media on the right to religious freedom and establishing proper standards for religious tolerance in reporting on religious matters.

This Charter was created by taking into account over forty national journalistic ethics codes, more than three hundred professional journalist codes, and the relevant documents articulating OSCE, Council of Europe and UN standards that are contained in this publication. The Charter takes into account the paramount principles of freedom of expression and freedom of religion and attempts to strike an appropriate balance that preserves both of these fundamental freedoms.

[41] “Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion,” September 2012, Pew Research Center.

[42] See, e.g., Copenhagen Danish Institute for International Studies, Rytkonen, Helle “Drawing the Line: The Cartoons Controversy in Denmark and the US,” 2007; Islamic Monthly, “America’s Latest Outsiders: The Struggle of Religious Minorities throughout History,” 13 March 2013; Bahá’í World News Service, “A Case Study in Religious Hatred,” 7 December 2013; Commentary, “The Guardian Acknowledges a Degree of Anti-Semitism,” 10 November 2011.

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Charter on Journalistic Ethics in Relation to Respect for Religion or Belief


Journalists are accountable for the social and political consequences of their actions and have a duty to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards.

Journalists shall scrupulously endeavor to report the truth; respect the right of the public to know the truth; ensure that any information they disseminate is fair and objective; promptly and prominently correct any material inaccuracies; and afford the right of reply in appropriate instances.

The media [43] is responsible for any material released through it.


The public’s right to information is a fundamental right and cornerstone of a free and democratic society. Thus the media exercises an essential role in the society that requires a great sense of responsibility to the public. Freedom of speech, freedom of information and freedom of the press represent the heart of democracy. A free, independent media is critical to ensure transparency and an open and robust democratic society; it is instrumental to the development and strengthening of effective democratic systems.

A responsible media recognizes the vital necessity of the free flow of information and the impact it has on shaping public perception. It is mindful of its ethical responsibility to the public and its need to respect and defend human rights.

A responsible media has the right and the duty to report and to comment on all matters of public interest with respect to the rights and freedoms of individuals and institutions. It advances understanding and participation in the democratic process for all.

A responsible media freely expresses personal or group opinions within the limits of the pluralistic contest of ideas. It accepts that freedom of expression may be subject to restrictions and limitations when other fundamental rights are endangered. It takes special care to not violate other fundamental human rights and takes individuals’ rights to privacy, honor and dignity into account while fostering the free flow of information.

A responsible media respects prevailing ethical and moral standards and avoids pandering to the lurid or profane.

A responsible media fosters the public’s right to know and right to freedom of expression. It aims at promoting the free flow of information and transparency, and adheres to the principles promoting and upholding respect for human dignity and religious beliefs as reflected in the United Nations Resolution Combating Defamation of Religions.

A responsible media strives for peace, democracy, social progress and respect for human rights. It recognizes, respects and defends diversity of opinion. It opposes discrimination based on any grounds.

A responsible media makes earnest efforts to reduce ignorance, promote greater understanding, alleviate cultural and religious insensitivity among peoples, and facilitate dialogue among nations.

A responsible media ensures that the display and dissemination of images complies with the same requirements and the highest ethical standards as for written or oral presentations.


A responsible media serves as a watchdog to safeguard fundamental rights. It does not, therefore, fuel or engender discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, cultural traditions or similar grounds. It recognizes and respects diversity and minority rights.

A responsible media avoids discriminatory or denigrating references to religious beliefs and spiritual values.
A responsible media does not refer to religions or religious institutions in a prejudicial, biased or pejorative context; when religious references are essential to the reported matter or facilitate understanding, they are made accurately, fairly, impartially and respectfully.

A responsible media refrains from reinterpreting, misinterpreting, analyzing, assessing or examining religious beliefs or the expression of these beliefs. Instead, it maintains a strict duty of neutrality and objectivity—accepting what the religion puts forward as its true beliefs without disapproval, contempt, condescension, bias or ridicule.

A responsible media does not intrude on sacred matters relating to creed, religious rites and religious institutions. It refrains from encouraging or instigating discrimination, derision, scorn or hatred based on religion or belief.

A responsible media provides a fair and prompt opportunity for reply to inaccuracies and stereotypes regarding religious organizations or affected members when reasonably called for.

A responsible media avoids religious stereotyping and does not associate any religion or belief with human rights violations or terrorism.

A responsible media balances fundamental human rights, including the right to be free from discrimination based on religion or belief, with the right to freedom of expression and the public’s right to know. It shows special sensitivity when dealing with religious issues to avoid any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on religion or belief that has as its purpose the nullification or impairment of human rights.


A responsible media never promotes religious hatred. It scrupulously avoids engendering hostility toward religions and their members likely to lead to imminent violence or systematic deprivation of human rights.

A responsible media refrains from provoking aggression, hatred, discrimination and any form of violence directed at individuals and organizations because of their religious beliefs and association. It remains alert to the grave danger associated with condoning or encouraging violence, discrimination, hatred and intolerance on religious grounds.

A responsible media eschews inciting foreseeable violence, inflaming hatred, stigmatizing religions and their followers, and engendering inequality on grounds of religion or belief. It is sensitive to avoid affronting religious beliefs and contributing to conflicts between religions and their members due to religious differences.

[43] Media refers to all forms of the press, through print, audiovisual or electronic media, or any other means and all journalists who impart information through the press.

* * * * * END EXCERPT * * * * *

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Scientology statement re Religious Freedom supports blasphemy laws and liability

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