In any ordinary year, the Church of Scientology Nashville holds a special service to observe International Religious Freedom Day, open to members of all faiths or none. But this is no ordinary year. “This year, COVID-19 has changed so much for all of us,” says Rev. Brian Fesler, pastor of the Church.
“Without freedom of religion, or freedom of thought, freedom itself cannot exist,” says Rev. Fesler on the importance of International Religious Freedom Day and what it means not only to Americans but to people the world over.
“Probably the most critical point of attack on a culture is its religious experience.”—Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard
International Religious Freedom Day October 27 marks the passage of the Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which established the office of the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and highlighted America’s responsibility to the world in guaranteeing Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 18: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
In his prescient 1973 essay, “Religious Influence in Society,” L. Ron Hubbard wrote:
“Probably the most critical point of attack on a culture is its religious experience. Where one can destroy or undermine religious institutions then the entire fabric of the society can be quickly subverted or brought to ruin.
“Religion is the first sense of community. Your sense of community occurs by reason of mutual experience with others. Where the religious sense of community and with it real trust and integrity can be destroyed, then that society is like a sandcastle unable to defend itself against the inexorable sea.
“For the last hundred years or so religion has been beset with a relentless attack. You have been told it’s the ‘opiate of the masses,’ that it’s unscientific, that it is primitive; in short, that it is a delusion.
“But beneath all these attacks on organized religion there was a more fundamental target: the spirituality of Man, your own basic spiritual nature, self-respect and peace of mind.”
Mr. Hubbard also recognized the role of the artist in asserting the ideals of a society. “A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists,” he wrote. And nowhere is that more evident than in cultural centers like Nashville.
In keeping with these words, in April 2009 when Mr. David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, dedicated the new Church of Scientology and Celebrity Centre of Nashville, he called on Nashville Scientologists to help the city fulfill her destiny and “write a song that will uplift every Man.”
“The new Ideal Org and Celebrity Centre signals great things for tomorrow,” he said. “And when you couple that with our ability to recover to individuals their inherent creativity, our ability to reawaken dreams and restore the power to achieve those dreams, yes, we can now make good on what L. Ron Hubbard tells us regarding the artist as creating the beauty and glory on which cultures depend.”
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.