London hosts Britain's first Scientology wedding

London hosts Britain's first Scientology wedding

Britain's first wedding to be held in a Scientology chapel took place in London today, the result of the newlyweds' triumphing in the Supreme Court last year.

Dressed in a traditional white wedding dress, bride Louisa Hodkin tied the knot with Alessandro Calcioli, both aged 25, in a Church of Scientology chapel in central London, despite earlier being told the venue was not legally listed as a place of religious worship.

A High Court judge had ruled in 1970 that Scientology services did not count as acts of worship because they involved no "veneration of God or of a supreme being". But the ruling was overturned in December.

Five judges at the country's highest court said Hodkin and Calcioli should be able to marry in the Scientology chapel, and that religion should not be confined to faiths involving a "supreme deity".

Scientology, which counts actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its supporters, is recognised as a religion in the US but is treated as a cult in many other countries. It claims a worldwide membership of 12 million people.

Asked how he felt after the wedding, Calcioli told Sky News: "Just ecstatic. A little bit speechless, just so happy that this day has finally come."

He left the chapel arm-in-arm with his new bride as guests applauded and threw confetti.

Hodkin has compared Scientology to Buddhism and Jainism -- neither of which feature a deity -- and argued that the 1970 ruling should not be binding because Scientologist beliefs and services had evolved over the past four decades.

Britons can marry in a wide range of religious and non-religious venues, but the location must have official approval.

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