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Federal

Feb 18, 2010

The Senate lends Scientology a helping hand

Last week, the Senate allowed Scientology to respond in Hansard to allegations made against them. As usual, the cult used it as an opportunity to attack its former members.

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Last week, the Senate Privileges Committee permitted the Church of Scientology to respond in Hansard to issues raised by Senator Nick Xenophon in November last year.  The Scientologists promptly issued a press release declaring they had responded to Xenophon “in Parliament”, as if they had some sort of elected status.

In allowing the Scientologist response into Hansard, the Privileges Committee has allowed itself to be made party to an attack on individuals who were brave enough to raise their treatment at the hands of Scientology.

It takes guts for ex-Scientologists to come out and reveal what they have suffered, particularly those — and this is a recurring theme among ex-Scientologists — who admit that they themselves harmed other members while within the cult. The mere act of leaving the cult earns them ostracism and often the severance of contact with loved ones. To reveal their suffering at the hands of the cult frequently leads to public attacks.

Such attacks occupy much of the cult’s response to Xenophon, which the committee, without giving reasons, decided merited entry into Hansard.

“The bulk of the Senator’s presentation relied on letters containing unsubstantiated allegations made by a few disgruntled apostates,” the Scientologists claim.

The apostasy line is key, because the Scientologists want to argue that any ex-members who reveal their treatment are simply “shifting responsibility”. To back it up, they quote a special Scientology-commissioned essay by late US cult-expert Lonnie D. Kliever, which suggests “even the accounts of voluntary defectors with no grudges to bear must be used with caution”.

The line is, basically: no criticism of Scientology by ex-members can ever be accepted as valid because these are people blaming the cult for their own problems.

Not satisfied with that, the Scientologists then effectively call their critics liars, noting that they have previously been on the public record as being positive about their experience with the cult. “Such positive statements are consistent with the experiences of millions of other parishioners of Scientology. That these people now hold a different view is entirely their own personal affair.”

One of the fascinating aspects of the remarkable investigation of the cult by Florida’s St Petersburg Times last year, which chronicles among other things widespread physical abuse, including by Scientologist leader David Miscavige, is the admission by former high-level Scientology executives such as Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder that they readily lied to the press and in sworn affidavits to cover up embarrassing or even criminal activity occurring within Scientology ranks.   Rinder was the Scientology spokesman at whom BBC reporter John Sweeney famously lost it in 2007.  He now says he engaged in a systematic practice of denial to protect the cult: “just deny it. Nope. Not true. Never happened.”

The cult directly accuses its victims of lying in its statement to the Senate Privileges Committee, smearing them in the process:

The allegations of Aaron Saxton and Carmel Underwood regarding forced abortions are untrue. The Church of Scientology does not counsel expectant mothers to have abortions and has never forced anyone to obtain one. Sworn statements have been obtained from numerous female Church staff members who served during the same time as Carmel Underwood, all of whom became pregnant while on staff, some as many as three times, and all of whom state that they were never encouraged, pressured or even suggested to have an abortion. They all state that they were well cared for and given time off as needed to care for their children, as was Carmel Underwood.

So let’s pull together the evidence about forced abortions in Scientology, which, remember, was just one of several serious issues raised by Senator Xenophon.

The requirement for pregnant women at the elite “Sea Org” level within Scientology to have abortions, has long been rumoured, but former members have repeatedly confirmed it through sworn evidence. Mary Tabayoyon, a former staffer to no less than L. Ron Hubbard, swore in 1994 that:

Beginning in 1986, members of the Sea Org were forbidden to have any more children if they were to stay on post and the Hubbard technology was applied to coercively persuade us to have abortions so that we could remain on post.

In 1998, Jesse Prince swore an affidavit that:

In late 1991, my wife Monika became pregnant and although we were elated, she was ordered to abort the child. The reason for the abortion order is that Sea Org members were not allowed to have children. The order devastated both my wife and me. Our dedication as Sea Org members clashed violently with our intentions as parents and we went through a personal nightmare with me opposing it, to no avail. She got the abortion and afterwards she was not the same.

In Laura DeCrescenzo’s suit against the cult in 2009, she stated in her statement of claim that she had been forced to have an abortion at the age of 17.  DeCrescenzo was one of six former Scientologists who spoke of the suffering they had endured within Scientology at a press conference in Los Angeles last Friday.  The group’s claims were as always dismissed as fabricated by Scientology.

Clarie Headley similarly filed a statement that she was ordered to have two abortions, one in 1994 and the other in 1996, the latter at her own expense, under threat of being ejected from Scientology.  Rathbun has spoken of how abortion had become an “institutional prerequisite” under Miscavige.

Two former female “Sea Orgs”, including Miscavige’s niece, told American ABC News of the abortion policy.  One, Astra Woodcraft, made a sworn statement that:

… a staff member from the Religious Technology Center (the Sea Org’s highest organisation) came up to me one day while I was in the process of routing out and asked me what I was doing. I told him that I was pregnant and leaving and he said to me “Oh, too late for an abortion?” I personally knew of three other girls who got pregnant and were convinced to get abortions. One was my sister-in-law who was 16 weeks pregnant when she was convinced to abort her child although she was strongly against it.

A former Scientology staff member (i.e. below the rank of Sea Org) Terra Hattaway told a Georgia court that she was subject to continual efforts to persuade her to have an abortion.

These are just some of numerous cases of former Scientologists reporting themselves manipulated, coerced or persuaded to have abortions. So far no evidence has emerged that the abortion requirement is imposed on ordinary Scientologist “parishioners”.

To use the Scientologists’ phrase in their statement to the Privileges Committee, “all of these matters are the subject of documented evidence and sworn witness statements.” There is clear evidence that there was a policy among US Scientology of coerced abortion among high-level “Sea Org” members, and in at least one case, at Scientology staff level, below that of Sea Org. This material would all have been available to the Privileges Committee had it bothered to conduct some basic research.

Instead, people prepared to speak out against Scientology have been attacked in Hansard.  The Privileges Committee, headed by Liberal George Brandis and Labor’s Jacinta Collins, should explain to the Senate why it was party to what, on the face of it, appears to be a misleading of the Senate.

The committee isn’t the only body that has been derelict in its basic research into Scientology. The Prime Minister responded to Senator Xenophon’s material in November by saying this:

Many people in Australia have real concerns about Scientology. I share some of those concerns. But let us proceed carefully, and look carefully at the material which he has provided, before we make a decision on further Parliamentary action. And we intend to provide appropriate examination of the material which he has put forward.

That was on November 18.  I asked the Prime Minister’s office two days ago what follow-up there had been to this statement.  The PMO said that the matter had been referred to Chris Evans, the leader of the Government in the Senate.  Despite the two days’ notice, Evans’ office had not responded by deadline.  In December, Evans’ office told correspondents that the Government did not support an inquiry into the issues raised by Senator Xenophon as it was “inappropriate to conduct an inquiry into a private and, in this case, religious organisation”.

Taxpayers continue to subsidise the Church of Scientology to the tune of at least tens of millions of dollars a year, courtesy of its tax-free status as a religion in Australia.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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120 thoughts on “The Senate lends Scientology a helping hand

  1. Scientology will never have its tax free status removed, or any of the other privileges it enjoys as a religion. No western government wants to get into the business of defining what is an isn’t a religion, and the chance of blowback affecting the ‘regular’ religions in some way through such a process is high.

    When Ireland went through its painful process of sorting out the systemic sexual abuse in the Catholic Church no one called for the church to cease being classed as a religion, only that it be made to be as transparent in these matters as any other organisation. The same has to be done for Scientology.

    When it gets down to it, the arguments about why Scientology isn’t really a religion (which Keane presumably agrees with given the scared quoted ‘parishioners’ in the above article) essentially apply just as aptly to the more established religions. The pollies know this, which is why they won’t touch this with a barge pole. You couldn’t specifically legislate against Scientology in Australia, so any legislation written in general terms but aimed against Scientology would put all religions at great risk of being affected in some way.

    If you want to talk about the legitimacy of any religion having tax free status I’m all ears, but clearly that is a debate that no politician in a major party would have a bar of.

  2. How any government could allow Scientology to retain its tax-free status is beyond me.

    Is this not becoming the most timid government we’ve ever had? Every ‘hard’ decision is avoided or deferred.

  3. In the 1960s Mr Justice Anderson, a good Catholic father of eight and Victorian Supreme Court Justice, sat as Royal Commissioner invetigating the Scientologists who, at that time, hadn’t even claimed the status of a religion to the best of my knowledge. He found there bizarre, fraudulent and unscientific psychological practices justified action against them and, as a result the Psychological Practices Act was passed which effectually meant that other forms of nonsense, like Arthur Janov’s Primal Screaming and various EST like cults were usually centred in Sydney.

    Religion proved the key to longevity and wealth with idiot stars like Tom Cruise and James Packer fronting for something that Seneca or Marcus Aurelius would have thought made early Christians look sensible.

    While on the whole one would prefer fools to put their money into the hands of legal casino owners and bookmakers who will probably invest wisely the fleecing of the foolish is not as big a point that emerges from Mr Keane’s story as the failure of the Senate to protect the names and reputations of those attacked by the Scientologists. Presumably the right to reply given to the Scientologists has given them absolute privilege for any defamation contained in what is now in the Senate Hansard. If so, it is utterly shameful and a disgrace to the Senate that every Senator should take it upon him or herself to redress so it cannot happen again.

    So keep at it Bernard Keane. Perhaps you can inspire Senator Xenophon to take up that issue too. It is true that people can be defamed without redress by MPs and Senators but at least that is always known to be done under privilege and discounted accordingly. As you point out it is a big step further to allow outsiders to repeat, ad nauseam, “as was said in a document formally laid before the Senate XY is a violent criminal”.

  4. Our High court has already said that in regards to the law, Scientology is a religion. Do you really think putting the word “cult” 11 times in this article is going to change it?
    I’m not a scientologist, but I am for freedom of religion in this country (as it is one of the few rights explicitly mentioned in the constitution). The government should not be anywhere near this.

  5. I haven’t seen any obvious Scientologists around here, Meski. Just CEC loonies. I wonder if the CEC will defend Scientology out of a sense of solidarity between organisations that prey on the mentally ill.

  6. Oh, wait. I didn’t read Scott’s comment. Here’s a tip for future proseletysing, Scott: no-one believes Scientology is legitimate except Scientologists. You’re much better off being open about it and arguing from a position of candidness.

  7. Mr Keane, intentionally or otherwise, you have fallen into the same mistake made by Senator Xenophon. You have quoted a small bunch of former members, who obviously have some axe to grind, making very serious allegations about their former faith. But while you wholeheartedly support their right to make the claims (and I don’t necessarily disagree) you hypocritically seem to think the Church has no right to respond.

    That is exactly what Xenophon did. He REFUSED to meet with anyone from the Church to hear any other side of the story. And then after deliberately listening to only one side, he took all those statements, added his own conclusions, and made his presentation under parliamentary privilege. Apart from being simply unfair, that was disgustingly dishonest and the act of a coward. You may not like me getting personal, but again, that’s because you are two-faced. You seem to think it is okay for Xenophon to deliver personal insults while hiding behind parliamentary privilege, but it is not okay to respond? Sorry mate, I don’t like your rules.

    You then made the same “mistake” when you wrote this column: You quoted all the dung from the whiners, but did you ask anyone from the Church for the other side of the story? If you didn’t, and there is no evidence that you did, then you are in the same dishonest and cowardly school as Xenophon.

  8. What makes some other religion ‘legitimate’ in a way that Scientology isn’t? The only difference is longevity; we are used to the absurdities of the older religions so don’t see them as a problems. We assume that because ideas are tenacious they must be worthy (thanks Tim Minchin).

    If a Scientologist engages in a criminal activity then they have to be brought to justice in the old fashioned way, by the police on the specifics of the case, not because of the organisation that the victim and perpetrator were a part of. Of course, the fact that this is such a secretive organisation makes this very hard, just as happens (or at least happened) within the Catholic Church.

  9. I cannot fathom anyone getting involved with this organisation. It shows what a desperate place they are probably in; this to me is the saddest thing. How lost, lonely or ill are people to wind up there getting free personality tests. Surely it would cease to exist in a more caring society?
    Maybe it’s the spiritual pawnbroker of modern times. Couldn’t they rebuild it around a great Sci-fi writer like Iain M. Banks? I can never forgive Scientology for the film Battlefield Earth.

  10. Bingo – and there we have the post from the crazed Scientologist goon, pausing in his typing of a rebuttal only long enough to wipe the froth from his quivering lips….

    Its a cult. No questions about it.

    Time to move onto that corporation in Baulkham Hills that also professes itself to be a religion!

  11. While I don’t dispute that Scientology is a dangerous cult, at least it doesn’t have the money and power to impose its twisted ideology on the population at large via parliament, unlike other cults I can think of.

  12. Response to ex-member critics – “They have an axe to grind! They’re biased!”
    Response to non-member critics – “They’re not part of the organisation! They don’t know what they’re talking about!”

    Nice little system you have there.

  13. Lapsed into Xenuism, Scott?

    Fair cop, though. It’s not fair of me to make assumptions about your beliefs, but it’s odd that you’ve so widely missed the point of the article, which is that Scientology has been given an illegitimate status as a religion and the Senate is allowing itself to be used as an avenue for the abuse of reformed cultists.

    The right to believe in the powers of L. Ron Xenu is moot; the debate is about whether Scientology has the right to attain and abuse Australia’s religious designation.

    Maroubraman, have you noticed that “Xenophon” is very similar to “XEnuphon”? Perhaps he has returned to dump us all into a volcano again. We’ll never be Clears! Woe is us!

  14. “What makes some other religion ‘legitimate’ in a way that Scientology isn’t?”

    The difference is that Scientology is the only ‘religion’ that has trademarked and copyrighted its texts in order to charge its members money to find out what it is they actually believe. What a corrupt farce.

  15. Bogdanovist has hit the crucifixtion nail on the head. Scientology is no more nutty that catholicism or the great spaghetti monster. The real question is why they keep getting special treatment from governments.

  16. I should have taken bets on how long it would take.

    To the Scientologist: Did anyone (from your church) offer Nick advice without requiring an NDA? Second: why is the degree of secrecy necessary to Scientology? If you assert that it is not secret, perhaps you would care to disclose a link that discloses the complete nature of Scientology at every level?

  17. @SBH hear hear.

    I’m pretty sure things like Scientology are what happen when society decides that religious thought is so much more special than other kinds of thought that it and organisations that surround it should be afforded special privileges.

    Suddenly the issue is all terribly vexed because this nasty, mendacious and vampiric organisation takes advantage of these privileges. Everybody will wring their hands and gnash their teeth but nothing will get done about it because as Bogdanovist says, it’s too hard to find a legal definition that separates the endorsed fiction from the space alien wacky thieving nonsense.

  18. @Jeebus: I could think of bazillions of nuttier things that other religions do than apply copyright law; you’re going to have to do a little better than that if you want to continue to assert that Scientology is not ‘legitimate’ when compared with the rest.

  19. I refer to the High Court judgement in 1983 that said that Scientology was a religion (“Church of New Faith Vs Commissioner for Payroll Tax” for any one interested)

    From the case, the High court came up with a set of indicia (or indicators) that have to be present for an organisation to be classified as a religion

    1. A belief in the Supernatural
    2. Concerned with mans place in the universe and the relationship with the supernatural
    3. Adherents accept the tenets or laws of their organisation as relevant to determining their beliefs, their moral standards and their way of life.
    4. Adherents accept specific practices and participate in services and ceremonies which have extra-mundane significance
    5. Comprise an organized group and regard their organisation as a religion

    I thought the last few lines of the judgement sum it up pretty well

    “With all respect to those who have seen the matter differently, we do not consider the present case, when approached on that basis, to be a borderline one. Regardless of whether the members of the applicant are gullible or misled or whether the practices of Scientology are harmful or objectionable, the evidence, in our view, establishes that Scientology must, for relevant purposes, be accepted as “a religion” in Victoria.”

    Look, I don’t want to be a defender of Scientology (I am not a fan), but I am a defender of religious tolerance in Australia. If putting up with Scientology means that Islam, Catholicism, Buddism and the rest can be practiced freely without government interference, then that is a price I am willing to pay.

  20. Scientology is no better or worse than any other cult (for the want of a better word) where a self appointed priesthood preys on the psyche of the feeble minded, who for some unfathomable reason get their jollies by associating with feeble minds of a similar ilk.

    Somewhere in the human psyche there is a strong desire for uncritical association as the follower of a purportedly strong leader. This explains many things including organised religion, football clubs, self-sacrifice in warfare, and our uncritical acceptance of a two-party political system run by individuals with little or no principle, but exhibiting the trappings of leadership.

    There is little to differentiate between scientology as a cult, and the similarly misguided beliefs of followers of Marxism, Nazism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Collingwood football club to nominate a few examples. At least Scientologists do not believe in the virgin birth and the second coming, or the possibility of the Club ever winning another premiership.

    The purported pernicious aspects of Scientology pales into insignificance compared to the excesses of the several of the aforementioned organisations (excluding Collingwood of course) which collectively have been severally responsible for tens of millions of deaths at the point of the sword, bullet, bomb, gas oven, spear, rocket or more recently a rogue pillow in a Dubai hotel.

    It would be however nicer if followers of Scientology would actually answer their critics in public and not skulk off to the Parliament to answer their critics under parliamentary privilege. There is enough problems with the religious right now in politics without adding Scientology to the mix.

  21. Bernard’s reference to BBC reporter John Sweeney ‘losing it’ led me to watch the Panorama episode ‘Scientology and me’ on YouTube. Although it appears Bernard is mistaken when he says Sweeney loses it with Mike Rinder. Sweeney actually loses it with Tommy Davis, a Scientology representative who blasts his way into Sweeney’s interviews with critics. In one incidence, Davis turns up at Sweeney’s interview with Scientology critic Shawn Lonsdale to inform Sweeney that Lonsdale was once a male prostitute, and as a convicted criminal cannot be relied upon. I could not consider an organisation that actively shames its critics as a religion, although on further thought it seems that shaming is essential to most religious practices. It is also evident to note that Sweeney ‘lost it’ shortly after he was told at a Scientology museum that ‘psychiatry is the ‘so called science’ behind the holocaust and euthanasia and the psychiatrists set up the whole euthanasia campaign inside the concentration camps,’ and that psychiatrists ‘decided who was going to be killed.’ Sweeney ‘lost it’ moments later when he was criticised for not undertaking an objective investigation. How can you be objective with lunatics like this?

  22. @Sancho

    Because as I mentioned- we can’t stop them from doing so! I actually think it’s great. More lunatic sci-fi writers should invent nutty religions because it celebrates the ridiculousness of the whole arrangement.

  23. BOGDANOVIST: I thought scientology was banned at one stage?

    EVERYONEELSE: Can anyone here imagine Kevin Rudd having the balls to deal with religious ratbaggery? Of course not. He too is a member of a religious cult.

    Fortunately my atheism is pretty well known because I’m about to utter a piece of heresy. People who’ve got out of these asinine religious systems are quick to shovel s/hit over the goons who had previously enslaved them. They are not so quick at blaming themselves for being intolerably, weak, vapid and stupid, and allowing themselves to be enslaved. They are as bad as the Germans of WWII who said they didn’t know about the concentration camps throughout Germany and Poland.

  24. Um, I’m treading carefully here Venise but Don’t you think comparing people who break out of the brainwashing they received as children with Nazi sympathisers is a bit steep? If your being mordant, It’s funny and I apologise for being thick.

  25. Scott seems remarkably over informed of the minutiae of Krapology’s various legal actions.
    I think South Park said it all as well as a nice number on the Mormons.
    It basically comes down to the fact the many people are unable to function as individuals entirely responsible for theirown actions, hence they aggregate into groups, as GregA listed, whether religion or football clubs.
    Too many, however, are so dysfunctional that they need to have their every move sanctioned by Authority, doesn’t matter what, just so long as it isn’t their own.
    The odd thing about humans is that they are so biddable – an Alpha monkey or baboon or wolf can coerce another to do things to a third individual but only by proximity. We’ve managed a systemwhereby A sez to B “do such & such to C and bring the proceeds BACK to me”. Weird innit? One could almost write a sci-fi story about it. Oh .. wait..

  26. Bogdanovist, while there are plenty of nutty things religions do, their message is free to all. A religion which defends its own teachings from the public via IP legal rights is extremely bizarre of itself. It defeats the very purpose of faith as the vast majority would comprehend this term, and this is the basis on which numerous governments have withdrawn Scientology’s status. If you want to defend a religion which does this that’s fine, but you need to understand how immoral you’re going to appear in the process.

  27. Although it was Tommy Davis who managed to success
    Panorama reporter John Sweeney into a shouting match,
    Mike Rinder was involved in handling Sweeney during that
    investigation. As I understand it, Davis reported to Rinder
    before Rinder himself quit the movement.

    The importance of Senator Xenophon’s speech is it gave
    former members a platform to speak out, and to speak out
    as a group. It is no doubt one reason why the US former
    members chose to speak out at last Friday’s Los Angeles
    press conference. The difference, of course, is they don’t
    have an elected official ready to stand up and speak for them.

    The Danish theologian Johannes Aagaard, for years, a vocal
    opponent of Scientology, used to refer to “First Amendment
    Neurosis”, the US tendency to steer away from anything that
    might be considered an attack on religion — to the extent that
    for years they have refused to act to stop the violence and
    abuse in Scientology. But there are signs that may be
    changing.

    The argument over whether Scientology is a religion rather misses
    the point. Even if it is a religion, and there is a case, this does not
    exclude the possibility that it is also guilty of criminal actions.
    We do not, after all, excuse the Catholic Church for having covered
    up child abuse by its priests simply because it is a religion.

    The cult/religion distinction is rather less clear than some people
    seem to realise: mainstream religions are perfectly capable of
    cult-like behaviour. But that is not invalidate the legitimate beliefs
    of either Catholics or Scientologists.

    Where Catholicism differs from Scientology however, is that no
    reasonable reading of Christianity’s core beliefs would allow the
    abuse that have gone on for so long inside its institutions. The same
    cannot be said of Scientology: the core writings of founder L Ron
    Hubbard included paranoid rants that sanctioned attacks on critics.
    He also expressed his contempt for “wog” (non-Scientology)
    laws and morality on more than one occasion.

    Jonny Jacobsen
    Infinite Complacency: Violence and Abuse in Scientology
    http://infinitecomplacency.blogspot.com/

  28. SBH: Don’t you ever read what people write before lobbing in an opinion?

    I didn’t compare cult members to Nazis. I compared them to the Germans who pretended not to know anything about the presence of concentration camps in Germany and Poland during WWII. The people who probably not Nazis at all.

    Hoick out a map of Germany during WWII. The camps were thick upon the ground. They couldn’t not have known. Just as members of cults pretend they didn’t know what the cult was really like. Or would be writers who sail into print by deliberately misquoting what someone else has said.

    Please, before rushing off to have another crack at me. Get the bloody words correct.
    TWICE in one bloody day. WTF is the matter with you?

  29. Scott quotes the high court ruling that specifies what is a “religion” and is thus eligible for tax-free status. A belief in the supernatural is rule number 1. And then you have to be somewhat organised and come up with a few hocus-pocus rituals.

    This is useful information. I wanted to be a Jedi for a while but somehow that’s not supernatural enough. I need to create some kind of cool pretendy belief that has official-looking costumes and regular expressions of devotion.

    I could create the Church of BDSM. Unusual, mysterious, full of dungeons and whips, just like Catholicism. But the classification board would probably never allow it.

  30. @ Andrew Newman Interestingly, Panorama editor Sandy Smith tells that, in a bid to counter the effect of the Panorama program:

    [i]”I’m now dealing with a situation in which the Church of Scientology has released a video to all MPs and peers accusing Panorama, of staging a demonstration outside one of their offices in London and making a death threat – or as they call it, a terrorist death threat – against Scientologists. The BBC, accused of terrorism.”[/i]

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2007/05/investigating_scientology_1.html

    Mike Rinder, who was actually in the background during Sweeney’s outburst, was spotted recently in London wearing a lapel mic. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sweeney were granted the first exclusive interview with Rinder, post-Scientology. http://markrathbun.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/imgp1072.jpg?w=500&h=752

  31. I have difficulty with any and all religions and their privileged tax free status. It is only a couple of years ago that the people of NSW were twice hit for World Youth Day with the visit of the Nope over from the Vatican. $20Mill from Federal taxes and another $20Million from state NSW taxes. Very offensive to me and thousands of others.

    So far as I can see, every religion starts as a down-trodden, woe-is-me cult. Some grow to be mainstream superstitious idiocy; most didn’t.

    I sincerely hope that Scientology is banned from countries as it used to be from South Australia (Xenophon’s state and mine for that matter). France has jailed (for fraud) members of the cult and fined them. I know France has been trying to get rid of Scientology since, at least, the late 1990s. Greece banned it. Belgium made a massive case against Scientology in 2007. Germany made a move to ban it in 2007 as well. So has Russia.

    The sooner the kybosh is put on this revolting, deceitful, asset-stripping and psychologically damaging load of rubbish that tries to call itself a ‘religion’ for preferential tax treatment the better. Surely we owe our citizens the right to live without harassment from religites of all and any kind and that includes total nonsense by RL Hubbard, who started this cult for a bet. Some bet.
    Look at the damage it has done to members trying to leave it. Look how it sucks in wealthy high fliers with s..t-for-brains like Cruise, Travolta and their ilk. I know – I should be able to really mean it when I say that I may not agree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it. I know I should. But, I am sorry, not with mentally damaging, financially bankrupting and emotionally despicable organisations like Scientology. I am only picking that cult out here because that’s the article’s focus.

    Remove preferential, privileged status from every so-called church. The RCs have money and assets to burn and the Brethren hides its sources of dosh. All these Eastern cults whip money out of their adherents’ hands. They all suck and believe in magical nothingness. Get rid of the lot. Let’s all grow up and stop believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden. Please.

  32. VERONICA GUY: You are completely correct. Also it is the catholic church which has set the bench mark from which every other cult marks it’s own behaviour, at an all time low.

    Most organisations which have out the begging plate don’t get government/our-taxes-at-work- financial help. But sling in a myth about a bunch of guys following another guy because-wait for it…..he was the son of god.

    Well our courageous leader has just backed down on the climate change issue. Making his strike rate for not doing what he promised up near the ninety percent mark.

    I should this will hand the next election to Tony Abbott and his fellow whingers. Precisely what Oz needs right now. The land of Oz being slaughtered on a catholic alter.

  33. Scott wrote: “I’m not a scientologist, but I am for freedom of religion in this country (as it is one of the few rights explicitly mentioned in the constitution). The government should not be anywhere near this.”

    So you are also for psychological, physical and verbal abuse? Should the government do nothing at all about those also?

  34. Scott, you are right, no one should tell you what to believe, but that does not make religions above the law.

    Why do our taxes pay for any religion? If the beliefs are so true, won’t their God provide??

  35. To imply that the Scientologists shouldn’t have a reply is ludicrous. Note scholar Dean Jaensch of Flinders University’s piece on “The power of parliamentary privilege” Nov 26, 2009, Adelaide Advertiser, where he writes:

    “the concept of privilege is powerful indeed. Is it justified?
    My answer is, unequivocally yes (but with a condition applied).

    The privilege of Parliament is the only remaining arena where matters of potential public concern can be raised without fear or favour, and without fear of litigation.

    But this is where the condition comes in. The Members of Parliament have very special rights. They need to be committed to using them with very special care. They have a power which no other citizen or institution has. It needs to be used (dare I say it in relation to modern politics) in a proper and moral way.

    Where it is not so used, there should be a commitment by the collective Parliament to deal with such misuse. There must be a means of redress for anyone wrongly accused.”

    I agree with him.

    Gosha

  36. Gosha,
    Sure Scientologists and all other weirdos can have a right to reply to criticism. But in Hansard????? That is the crux of it here.

    The fact that they have seduced privilege to the extent that their verbiage is in Hansard should be what you are focussing on. Don’t play with weasel words here – their reply has nothing to do with the parliamentary recording vehicle that is Hansard.

    Something is wrong here. Can’t you grasp that? I haven’t undertaken the exercise and am not about to, but I doubt that you would find anything like it in Hansard. Even before the demise of the DLP. For so-called religions to be able to worm their replies into Hansard is abuse (and someone needs to be smacked) of the system and aren’t they crowing. Ugh.

    The Brethren didn’t find their way into Hansard after Bob Brown had a go at them in Parliament, and neither should they.

    Should that hideous George Pell be allowed redress in Hansard because he doesn’t like the way the Catholic Church has been criticised for sexual and emotional abuse of hundreds, if not thousands of children in the care of his revolting church?

    What about the JWs when they allow their kiddies to die for want of mainstream medical care? Shouldn’t they be criticised? Should they be allowed access to Hansard in their right to reply?

    Jaensch wasn’t advocating parliamentary privilege and public recording in Hansard as ‘…the menas of redress…’. Nowhere does he intimate that Hansard should be vehicle.

    The Senate Privileges Committee took an unprecedented (well, now it has set a precedent, hasn’t it?) step in allowing the manipulative and dangerous Scientologists a reply to be recorded in Hansard.

    Hansard has a specific role in the public and political affairs of this country as it has in the UK. It does NOT involve giving religite windbag whiners a permanent record within the Parliamentary Library.

    Keep an eye peeled for rubbishy, ill-conceived, ill-thought out and it’s-not-fair whingeing trying to find its way into our permanent public parliamentary record. All nutty religite cults will be on the lookout for criticism so they can try it on now.

    That means there will be a diminution of parliamentary discussion about shonky religite behaviour by parliamentarians on behalf of members of their constituencies. The apologists get away with it again; giving public credence to a bunch of charlatans who prey on people’s vulnerablities. Disgusting to the nth degree.

    And this is what you want, is it Gosha?? Makes me sick to the stomach. Mind you it has given me a terrific forum to vent my loathing of parasitical religite organisations. Hahahaha. And good morning to you.

  37. You show your prejudice by continually using the term cult. All religions start out as cults, Scientology has been found by numerous courts including the full bench of Australia’s High Court in a unanimous judgement as a religion.

    Religious rights must be protected. Discussion can take place but should be moderate and as fair as possible. By use of the pejorative term cult, you show the same prejudice as Xenophon.

    You completely ignore the criminal internet group Anonymous which just last week again hacked Government websites. Numerous Anonymous members have been jailed for this activity in the USA. http://forum.religiousfreedomwatch.org/showthread.php?t=135

    With regard to abortions of Sea Org staff, this is our religious order. Sex is only permitted between married couples. A policy was introduced to require couples having children to be reposted to lower organisations due to the requirements for Sea Org members to travel and work on intensive projects at short notice. Aaron Saxton has said that he pressured staff to have abortions, that was his own crime which he now tries to blame on others. He has said he didn’t want them to leave as he would have had to train their replacements. If and when such abuses occurred they were not policy of the organisation.

    There is now a power struggle between several former executives of the Sea Org and Management. Many other religions have such divisions, eg the current Pope is the result of his predecessor stacking the Cardinals with conservatives. Personally I would like to see a change of Management but I can assure you that the staffs and organisations of Scientology have my full support and day in day out help people attain relief from the travails of life that would be categorised miracles anywhere else, and not only that but advance on the path to ultimate truth that has been the goal of religious leaders but so seldom broadly attained.

  38. It’s a cult buddy, like they all are. The best way to seek relief from the travails of life is to stop believing in some mystical entity that will save you IF you do what he (it’s almost always a he) tells you. Quite why any religion or cult gets state support in a secular pluralist society is beyond me.

    As for ultimate truth, here’s what it is. There’s no purpose to our existence. It just is. Get on and enjoy life.

  39. Interesting factoid about yesterday’s crazed pilot in the US who smashed his plane into a building housing the local tax office: the pilot had been refused a tax exemption on his house, which he claimed was a ‘church’. So he burnt down the house before his kamikaze flight…that’s logical, huh? (Too bad about the wife and daughter who lived there, eh?)

    Another cult, shot down in it’s prime, so to speak.

  40. drg8008 wrote: “Sex is only permitted between married couples.”

    from what i’ve read, majority of the forced abortions were on married couples, so your argument there is flawed.

    drg8008 wrote: “A policy was introduced to require couples having children to be reposted to lower organisations due to the requirements for Sea Org members to travel and work on intensive projects at short notice.”

    if it’s so short notice that child care cannot be arranged or be flexible enough for child guardians, then that’s a controlling, cult behaviour – it’s “putting people in their place” and exerting unreasonable demands on staff – no ‘normal’ employment would entail that sort of ridiculous regime…

    drg8008 wrote: “Aaron Saxton has said that he pressured staff to have abortions, that was his own crime which he now tries to blame on others. He has said he didn’t want them to leave as he would have had to train their replacements. If and when such abuses occurred they were not policy of the organisation.”

    i’ve been the victim of domestic abuse. this is eerily similar. it was by far the furthest thing from a pleasant experience i’ve ever had and no amount of calling it a “religion” is going to change the OBVIOUS abuses occuring there. i’ve read the statements given by those reporting forced abortions – they are all unique and individual cases, that is, it is clear that this is not a ‘class action’ or a ‘ganging up’ of past members against scientology – it’s real people telling THEIR real stories.

    there are many times when the perpetrator is not the one ‘pulling the trigger’ – it’s the whole mafia-type ‘big boss’ mentality – “you do the dirty work and i reap the [perceived] benefits”.

    it smacks of “cult” when represented as a ‘religion’. “cults” often like to be known as a religion, and be seen as a religion in the eyes of others.

    and yes, religions can also be “cults”. think of it as “four legs” not all animals (religions) are the same, but many of them have four legs (are cults).

    one last thing – why is it that scientology believes that all ex-members have left because of a ‘greviance’? surely that rings alarm bells to other people aside from me? why would an organisation think that there were soooooo many similar greviances to be had if in reality there weren’t? simple: there are. and they’re not merely ‘greviances’, they are criminal acts. psychological abuse at least, and it often brings me to tears how other human beings can treat others like rubbish to be toyed with and controlled.

    it’s just not on.

    stop it.

    please. 🙁

  41. i should also mention, that it’s not only abortions that are rubbing people the wrong way with scientology, it’s a miriad of things. while i understand abortions are the crux of the specific argument presented here, it’s NOT JUST abortions that scientology has gotten all wrong.

  42. gosha wrote: “To imply that the Scientologists shouldn’t have a reply is ludicrous.”

    what’s important here, is that after the TV broadcast, ex-scientology members contacted xenophon (not the other way around) and scientology DIDN’T.

    it’s not that they aren’t allowed to reply, it’s that they’re doing nothing at all about it (except, now, denying it) – surely they should have released a public statement pretty well within hours, if it really was untrue?

    anyone has any number of means to reply to anything – they can do it via newspapers, radio, TV… you name it, they can do it – the fact that scientology DIDN’T respond to the TV broadcast is what’s interesting (and scary) here, while many of it’s ex-members, who i am sure do not have the same billions of extorted funds and means as scientology does, managed to contact xenophon when the organisation didn’t.

    hmmmm…..

    **hhhhhhhhmmmmmm…..**

    – oh, and did you notice that the reply by scientology via hansard didn’t mention anything about their beliefs about homosexuals? they responded negatively to every other allegation, but said nothing about the way they were represented on the topic of homosexuality. that’s just confirming their teachings reflect exactly what the statement was… what was is… ah, here it is: “her sister was gay and therefore, according to Scientology, dangerous, perverted and evil.”

    everything else is a deny deny deny deny – oh sure, everything is a paradise eh? “the one who boasts the most is the by far the most incompetent of them all”.

  43. What is a religion doing in our Hansard!?!?
    Can’t help but wonder if, like certain .25Billion dollar kickbacks, this might be a favour to a certain interested party or two in return for who-knows-what-but-it-can-hardly-be-good.

    People should be free to have their beliefs.

    Any individual or organisation found to have broken laws should be prosecuted on a case by case basis.

    Parts of the catholic church for instance should have been prosecuted for accessory to child abuse and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

    If there is credible evidence that the Hubbardites have broken Australian law – Jail time.

    If there are facets of a religious doctrine (or a cult, whatever) that are unlawful (Aztec Sun-God worship, anyone??) the dropping of these elements needs to be a CONDITION for being allowed to practice in this country. If they will not – then they can enjoy the status of a criminal organisation, not a tax-exempt one!

    In a way it is a good thing that the Hubbardites have been acting so underhandedly – the discussion about what we allow the religious to get away with in this country is long overdue.

    Example could be the value systems and behaviours espoused in the core sacred texts of most popular religions (eye for an eye, dhimmitude, fair-game). The unabridged texts need to be retained as historical documents, but actively teaching this ancient crap as a way to lead one’s life is completely out of place in our supposedly progressive modern society.

    If psychological abuse and financial enslavement are not illegal, maybe they should be?

    “Your rights end where someone elses rights begin”

    PS: I don’t agree with tax breaks for any religion. I try hard to be Good – but I have to pay. All the people who would whine about all that “public good” that we would miss out on without these tax-breaks – I suggest you hold the government accountable for delivering (or not) the social safety nets that these organisations provide. I am certainly grateful for the hard work put in by, for example, the Salvation Army – but really it is being done by them because our actual leaders (as opposed to spiritual leaders) have failed miserably in their responsibility to our fellow humans. If religious groups are actually better placed to provide such charitable services to the public, well pay them for it directly (like the jobsearch providers).

  44. SBH: I am delighted to admit, and apologise when I’m wrong. As many people reading this will testify to.

    However, I refuse to apologise to someone who has so little to fill their time that they rush around proof-reading everyone’s spelling mistakes.

    I’ve re-read my comments about the Germans who appeared to pretend they knew nothing about the concentration camps, in Germany and Poland (WWII) and am convinced I expressed my thoughts accurately.

    You appear to have trouble separating Germans and Nazis. I don’t have that problem. Once again, I stand by what I said.

    You seem to think I’ve misbehaved. “I thought you were better than that”; (1.49pm Friday 19th Feb) regrettably, I was under no such illusion about you.

  45. Hello Venise. Maroubraman the Scientologist here. Personally, I tend to agree with you to some degree — concerning people who criticize their former religion. Here is a related message I posted under Crikey’s Friday entry. I’d be interested in your view:

    Are the people complaining to Xenophon all just blatantly lying? I have heard people say they can’t ALL be lying. And we have all heard that “where there is smoke, there is fire.” Well here is another thing to consider: How much fire does it take to make a lot of smoke? Find one little cinder, throw on a bunch of green leaves and all sit in a circle and blow and you can get a lot of smoke going.

    But when you blow away all the smoke, what have you got? One person says she was told to get an abortion. And she refused and went off and had her baby! (Even IF you believe what she claims she was told, she doesn’t seem to have had much trouble saying, no thank you.) Then the loudest complainer says he was told not to have sex before marriage! Okay, now we are getting serious. Sorry mate. I see your point. And then there is the guy who tragically lost two daughters. An indisputable tragedy. To maintain some respect, I will not go into the details, but they are publicly available. Yes, two tragedies. But review the FACTS and then ask yourself who is to blame.

    And on it goes. A lot of smoke from a small bunch of people who, for one reason or another, abandoned their faith. And I don’t mean to dis them. They obviously have some reason for being bitter. But don’t go asking the government to cause a lot of hassle to everyone else who is happy with their church just because you changed your mind. THAT is not the business of government. If you have “widespread evidence,” turn it in to the police. If not, get on with your life and good luck to you.

  46. … great work Greg (Angelo)… some fine arguments & points you set out.

    … but, umm… good luck explaining to Jesus … that he wasn’t born of a virgin 😉

  47. @Greg Angelo: As the token Scientologist in the discussion, I appreciated your rational comments, but I must admit, I was a bit perplexed by your disapproval of the way the Church responded. Xenophon took advantage of parliamentary privilege to vomit some truly foul allegations. To me it seems appropriate to respond in the same venue. Hardly what I could call “skulking off.”

    As far as answering allegations in public is concerned, I may be wrong but I get the idea you have not personally experience prejudice and discrimination. And I have no idea how much experience you have in dealing with the media.

    Here is my perspective (and I am plagiarizing from another poster on another blog, who, I assume, was also a Scientologist): One of the allegations being tossed around by Xenophon’s sources concerns “forced abortions.” So, question 1: Do I think that ANY Scientologist, at ANY time, has EVER had an abortion? I hate to say it, but I know for certain the answer is yes.

    Question 2: Has any Scientologist, ever recommended, suggested, or advised that another Scientologist consider having an abortion? Although I have far less certainty than on question 1, I believe the answer is still more than likely, yes, it has probably happened — just as you could probably find at least some examples of atheists, Protestants, and even Catholics, recommending the same thing.

    Question 3: Is this an official policy of the Church of Scientology? Absolutely, resoundingly, unequivocally, no.

    Question 4: Despite the answer to Q3, is this an “unofficial” practice within the Church? Absolutely, resoundingly, unequivocally, no.

    Question 5: Whether it is officially sanctioned or not, is this actually a problem that exists in the Church that needs to be confronted, so that any abuses can be dealt with? Absolutely, resoundingly, unequivocally, no.

    But here’s the problem: Do you believe me? It is pretty hard to prove a negative.

    If I say I KNOW that you are a CIA agent. And someone else writes a sworn affidavit saying you TOLD him that you are a CIA agent. AND, heaven forbid, someone else has a photograph of you in a trench coat, wearing dark glasses! Then a Senator accuses you in parliament. Then newspapers start repeating each other. And someone says, “Wow! Did you know he was an exchange student and spent his last year of high school in Washington DC!” Then your neighbors start shunning you.

    Hey! No need to skulk around and seek to correct the parliamentary record, just come out in public and deny everything! People are rational and intelligent. They’ll listen to reason, won’t they?

    Don’t get me wrong. I AGREE that sooner or later you have to respond in public. I guess my only point is, it may not be as easy as you imply.

    As far as the abortion question is concerned, granting the possibility that someone somewhere MAY have advised some other person to have an abortion, the truth is easy to find out. Go visit any Scientology function and talk to some of the people there. You will find lots of kids, and lots of doting parents. And, if I may dare to be a bit risque — anyone who wants to indulge without increasing their family, well, you know, these days there are some pretty readily available forms of contraception. It is just a little bit too hard to believe that the Church would be experiencing some sort of unwanted baby boom without having come up with a simpler solution (if children were not wanted, but, then again, that is not the case, so it is sort of a Catch-22, prove a double negative sort of situation.)

  48. @Maroubraman: Hansard is there for MPs, not religions that feel they have been slighted by said MPs.

    @DRG8008: You say:

    “With regard to abortions of Sea Org staff, this is our religious order. Sex is only permitted between married couples. A policy was introduced to require couples having children to be reposted to lower organisations due to the requirements for Sea Org members to travel and work on intensive projects at short notice. Aaron Saxton has said that he pressured staff to have abortions, that was his own crime which he now tries to blame on others. He has said he didn’t want them to leave as he would have had to train their replacements. If and when such abuses occurred they were not policy of the organisation.”

    Religious orders are not allowed to have rules that contravene a countries laws. Also, blaming an employee for bullying other employees, well the employer is responsible for providing a safe workplace. SeaOrg appears to be closer to a workplace than a place of worship.

  49. And a very dangerous workplace, at that.

    I wonder what chance the damaged ex-employees have in relation to NSW’s OH&S Reg 2001 and similar interstate and federally.

  50. @MESKI: 1) This may come as a surprise to you, but you are wrong.

    “Hansard is there for MPs,” you say. Really? Well, after you get over the shock of being wrong, try a little google. You will come up with gems like this:

    “Prior to the right of reply, individuals or organisations who believed that their reputation had been harmed in this manner were not only unable to take legal action, but could not defend themselves in the forum in which the original comments were made.

    “A right of reply was introduced by the Australian Senate in February 1988. This established a procedure giving individuals or organisations who believed that they had been adversely affected by the words of a Senator the opportunity to formally respond and to have that response incorporated in the parliamentary record.”

    Your real problem, I am sure, is that in your own mind you are a powerful advocate of freedom of speech, when in actual fact, you only believe in freedom for yourself and your own opinions. Personally, I have no problem with your freedom to post the silly and ignorant comments you make here. But I object to your dishonest efforts to deny the right of reply enacted by the Australian Senate.

    2) Concerning your comments to DRG8008: I don’t particularly disagree with you. But if illegal actions are alleged to have happened, there are standard procedures that allow for both prosecution and defense.

  51. MESKI, there is indeed a right of reply to allow citizens and organisation who believe the Senate has been a forum for adverse references to them.

    Much of the reply by Vicki Dunstan is not a defence of scientology but an attack on ‘apostates’. A term which is used in a deliberate and pergorative manner in her statement. Central to the hubbardites attack are statements made by Lonnie D. Kliever who appears to be an ardent supporter of b-grade science fiction based religions.

    Kliever makes a series of dogmatic unscientific assertions about the characteristics of ‘apostates’ which can only be seen to be an attack on them not a defence of scientology. It’s always difficult to see someone purport to be both a scientist and a believer in some religion as the two are fundamentally, definitionally incompatible but Kliever appears to adopt a much more partisan view in the quotes used by Dunstan.

    I can’t think of another occasions where a religion has been so stung by criticism by non-believers that they have sought to use the Senate to attack those non-believers.

    Lastly to me, (IMHO as the kids say) the bleating by a large and powerful international organisation with billions of dollars and millions of followers at its disposal when it is criticised by a tiny number ex-members and one independant senator in Australia reek of guilt and paranoia.

  52. Sorry Meski, I’m not your researcher. Learn to google and find your own link like I did in 1 minute. If instead you want to sulk and believe “it didn’t happen” because I didn’t jump at your petulant command, feel free to think that way. I am sure there are already lots of other things that “didn’t happen” because you refused to look.

    And @SBH: [Edited: keep the personal insults out — moderator] You say that Vicki Dunstan’s response in Hansard was “not a defense of Scientology but an attack on apostates.” Then, instead of commenting on what she actually said, you launched into an attack on her and her church. [Edited: see above] You make up a bunch of rules that you use to berate others, but it would never cross you mind that you should follow your own advice.

    Ms. Dunstan’s response was NOT what you describe. Just so you don’t have an opportunity to say it “didn’t happen,” like your friend Meski, here’s the link:
    http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/priv_ctte/report_143/report.pdf

    As you can see, Ms. Dunstan gave specific responses to specific allegations, and then noted: “All of these matters are the subject of documented evidence and sworn witness statements that the Church was prepared to provide to Senator Xenophon had he asked for them. Yet, Senator Xenophon never responded to the Church’s request for a meeting with him prior to his parliamentary speech on 17 November 2009.”

    If you read Ms. Dunstan’s response, I think it becomes blatantly obvious why Senator Xenophon declined to meet, and why he made his statements under the protection of parliamentary privilege: like Meski, he apparently believes if he closes his eyes to the facts, “it didn’t happen.”

  53. @Maroubraman: You aren’t a credible enough source for your assertions to stand as fact, hence my asking you for a citation. I’m not sulking about it, just learn to cite.

    Looks like you like ad hominem attacks, too, if the editing by the moderator is any indication.

    re the pdf file, I find it telling that the committee saw fit to draw attention to para 5(6) (reading between the lines, it says they don’t believe a word of it)

    1.6 The committee draws attention to paragraph 5(6) of the resolution which
    requires that, in considering a submission under this resolution and reporting to the
    Senate, the committee shall not consider or judge the truth of any statements made in
    the Senate or of the submission.

  54. MAROUBRAMAN: Please accept my warmest congratulations! Every line you write confirms the shoddiest opinions that people appear to have of the cult of scientology.

    BTW: You, on the one hand, claim to be a scientologist, and, on the other hand, you refer to yourself as a token scientologist.

    I think you should make up your mind, one way or the other, before belabouring everyone else with your opinions.

    All religions play on the worst element of the human condition, fear, and those who manipulate this fear are beyond redemption. That you expect the Australian taxpayer to fund your activities is arrogance beyond belief. That you resent a duly elected Australian Senator for criticising you and your shoddy cult is astonishing. And that your cult exists because a Sci-Fi writer dreamt up the whole scenario is
    laughable. That people believe you is tragic. Finally, that people like you abuse the Australian Constitution-wherein there is freedom to choose, or not to choose, one’s religion, is evil.

    I hope you rot in hell.

  55. Thanks Venise, I love you too, I’ll save you from being seen as a bitch by taking that bullet and having the last word. But seriously we should move on as our views are closer than our emnity would suggest.

    Maroubra Man, your fury is simply astonishing. I did no such thing. I certainly characterised your church but other than to refer to your own submission I didn’t attack you her or it. I seem to have hit a nerve.

    Thanks MESKI, I had held back from that quote but I think it is important.

  56. Hello Meski. Still sulking? Oh well, I liked your suggestion to read between the lines. In terms of scientific debate, that’s about as successful as the other ostrich method proposed in your earlier post: if you close your eyes it didn’t happen.

    From my perspective, your comment further proves my earlier post about separating the facts from the smoke. Paragraph 5(6) says that in considering a submission such as that presented by Ms. Dunstan, the Senate committee “SHALL NOT consider or judge the truth of any statements made in the Senate or of the submission.” [emphasis added]. You say this proves that the committee “don’t believe a word of it.”

    Wow! With that kind of “reading between the lines” it hardly matters what is in the lines, you can just make things up as you go along.

  57. Hello Venise, On Sunday, you requested that I refrain from writing to you. (You “disconnected” me?). Now here you are writing to me, albeit with what your friend Meski calls an “ad hominem” attack. I presume that means you are a bit frustrated that a Scientologist is actually being allowed to respond. Welcome to the world of freedom of speech — where both sides get to talk!

    Venise, here is what I find curious about your point of view. You scream about how terrible Scientology is. You are SURE it is based upon false beliefs. So here is an easy solution for you — don’t believe it. Nobody is asking you to. I, on the other hand, along with some other people, choose to believe. Furthermore, I am happy in doing so. I have NO problem with you being an atheist. Why do you have to try to inflict your beliefs on me?

    If your only argument is that “the Australian taxpayer” funds the Church’s activities, that is an emotional argument, not a factual or true one. I could say I object to my own tax dollars paying for your unemployment benefits so you have time to sit at home and attack my religion. How does that go down?

  58. Hello moderator. Sorry for my personal insults yesterday. I agree it is inappropriate. But thank you for posting my comments anyway. I am enjoying this. Seems like a relatively productive discussion.

  59. Why hasn’t anyone pointed out the Church of Scientology is a non-profit organisation. and it collects funds from parishioners who have already paid their taxes before they give money to the Church.? Other Churches- esp some of the bigger Churches have commercial businesses that are tax-free. The Church of Scientology doesn’t. It relies on parishioners. All the volunteer minister programs [ right now it is Haiti ], drug education, literacy programs etc are funded by parishioners.

  60. *i* wonder if the perceived ‘good-doing’ by an organisation excuses it of any of its wrong-doings… seems to me Scientology thinks it can do whatever it wants because it can hide behind the fascade of doing ‘good’. pfffft.

  61. MAROUBRAMAN: Yes I am guilty of going back on my request to you.

    You didn’t answer my question. Are you a scientologist; or a token scientologist? I must be expressing myself badly. I am against all religions because they corrupt the human spirit. They manipulate the basest of all human emotions: fear.

    I really don’t care what people wish to believe in because it is none of my business. Where it becomes my business is when a religion seeks to dictate to our governments.

  62. If only Scientology had based their religion on good science fiction, rather than Hubbard’s crap. There are so many good writers of it out there, I’d encourage Maroubraman to explore some alternatives.

  63. I agree Wonder, none of them deserve tax dollars. The work they do is either proselytizing or generated out of a desire to follow the church’s teaching. People who feel the need to undertake these activities surely don’t need to encouragement of state dollars as compared to the inestimable benefits to their spiritual life.

  64. For the benefit of SBH, who apparently preferred me when I was trying to appear reasonable, let’s contemplate the following:

    What IS Scientology?

    When someone like AGA says, “Scientology thinks it can do whatever it wants,” there are clearly some basic misunderstandings here.

    People may argue about definitions, and express an opinion about whether or not something is or is not a religion. But one thing is for sure, Scientology is a SUBJECT. To say, “Scientology thinks…” is like saying, “Geography thinks it can put mountains wherever it wants.”

    And, as when discussing any subject, talk about Scientology can involve several things. It can involve what Scientology IS, how it is practiced, what are the “results” of its study and application, and many other things. And, one can also discuss people’s opinions about Scientology, what they say and what they believe.

    In the comments above, many opinions have been expressed. It does not matter too much whether they are accurate or inaccurate, true or false, hostile or friendly. They are all opinions. They do not change what Scientology IS.

    But here is an interesting point about opinions: people form opinions in many different ways: through personal experience, observation, information relayed by parents, friends, school, the internets and other media, etc.

    Some people are more concerned than others about whether or not their opinions are “true.” They consider it important to be able to distinguish facts from falsehoods. And of course philosophers and others get into all sorts of discussions about the nature of reality, the knowable and the unknowable, etc., etc., etc.

    “Prejudice” comes from the Latin, prae-judicium, from the notion of “pre-judging” or a “preconceived opinion.” When a person operates on the basis of prejudice, he does not see circumstances wholly as they appear before him and, based on those real factors, make a rational and analytical conclusion or “judgement.” Rather, his capacity to think freely and judge what he is observing is hampered by a “fixed” conclusion.

    It is one thing to learn from experience. If you are out on the wonderful Maroubra Bay and see a fin coming toward you, you don’t have to ask yourself, “Is THIS specific shark dangerous?” It would be pretty fair to form a fixed opinion, based on education and everything else, that most sharks are at least potentially dangerous, so it is wise to give them a wide berth.

    Although some people would undoubtedly say that is a prejudice against sharks based upon false data and misunderstandings, it is not the sort of “preconceived opinion” people usually mean when they talk about prejudice.

    Prejudice is apparent in statements like the one made to me by Venise Alstergren: “I hope you rot in hell. Or whatever you and your fellow mushroom eaters call it.”

    What inspired her comment? As evidenced above, I wrote to her politely and said I tended to agree with some of the things she said in an earlier post.

    Could she possibly have a “preconceived opinion” about me?

    Here is why I think it would be a good idea for people generally to give all this a little thought. In my humble opinion, there is a lot of unjustified and unnecessary hate in the world. Yes, there are wrongs that need to be righted. And, note, I have never said the Church of Scientology is perfect, or that Scientologists never do anything wrong.

    But I know a LOT of Scientologists who are hard working, honest, creative, contributing members of society. I know a lot who are devoted parents and a lot who are good kids who want to take their share of responsibility for the world they are inheriting. And, unlike the crazy alien stories presented on the net as the “beliefs” of Scientology, I know a lot of Scientology principles that I have seen help people to become happier, more successful and more fulfilled in whatever terms that means to different individuals.

    Are the stories of Senator Xenophon’s “sources” all lies? Who knows? I do know some of the people involved and have no hesitation in saying, at the risk of understatement, there are a few exaggerations being thrown around here and there.

    But this is my view: If wrongs were done, they should be addressed and anyone responsible (including the Church as a whole if that were the case) should do whatever is appropriate to make good. But there is NO justification for the sort of lynch-mob hysteria Senator Xenophon has attempted to incite. He is a lawyer. If he had credible evidence, he knows what should be done with it.

    What he SHOULD have done, is accept the invitations he received to meet with someone from the Church to present his claims, and allow the Church to respond, so that if and when he decided to make a public announcement, it would have been a balanced presentation of facts. Not a case of prae-judicium.

  65. Hello Venise. I am a Scientologist. I referred to myself as a “token” Scientologist on this website in the sense of “a member of a group [as a minority] that is included within a larger group through tokenism” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).

    Concerning your sweeping opposition to all religions, I already gathered that from your earlier posts. I am sure nothing I have said above about fixed ideas and prejudice will mean anything to you. I’m curious: do you believe all women are vain? How about, all men are only interested in one thing? How about, gays are promiscuous? Or, Liberals are all nerds? Greeks, Chinks, wops? Got any other broad segments of society that you condemn by broad label?

    Venise, I know this will probably pee you off, but I feel sorry for you if your concept of religion is something designed solely to manipulate people through fear. History obviously provides plenty of examples where religion has been so used. But that has nothing to do with my interest in religion, and particularly my interest in Scientology.

    For me, for as long as I can remember, I have had a relentless yearning — sometimes strong and sometimes barely remembered — to learn, discover, adventure, find and resolve mysteries, and just generally understand who I am and what life is all about. Science does, and always has, provided many answers for me. But there are some things science does not, yet at least, answer. Scientology does not provide those answers, but, for me at least, it provides a way to look and come up with conclusions that I may revise from time to time, but which at least partially satisfy my thirst for understanding.

    You may see this as delusion. No sweat.

    As for your concern about religions dictating to our governments. I don’t think you need to worry too much about Scientology in that regard. Try to relax a little.

  66. Hi Meski. If there was a way for us to enter into a wager, I would be happy to bet that I had read more science fiction before you were born than you have read in your entire life. How can I make such a statement, knowing nothing about you? Because I can.

  67. i don’t care if Scientology is a religion, a cult, or a rabbit. That was not the reason for this argument.

    The issue most people have is how “The Church of Scientology” (Scientology) regards/treats its ‘members’. I don’t care what people believe in or whom they follow. But once basic human rights are revoked, that’s when i get tetchy. it hits a nerve with me because i have had the unpleasant experience of being on the receiving end of a violent, abusive (now ex) partner. What i have heard about Scientology makes the hairs on the back of my neck stick up – not because i believe there are ‘aliens’ ppfffft. but because of the stark, unapologising, and unethical way Scientology treats its members.

    DRG8008, as a member of Scientology stated that:

    “A policy was introduced to require couples having children to be reposted to lower organisations due to the requirements for Sea Org members to travel and work on intensive projects at short notice.”

    Which, *even if* coerced abortions are *not* considered or a part of this ‘policy’, is still an abusive, controlling, demeaning policy.

    Let me be plainer. In my workplace, here is the normal progression of events if a woman becomes pregnant:

    * there is excitement amongst peers

    * there is a party that is given in honour of the mother-to-be before she enters PAID MATERNITY LEAVE of about 6-12 months (depending on how long the mother-to-be wants to go)

    * during her absence, a new person is employed in what is called a “maternity position” – they know it will only be a maximum of 12 months in the job.

    * the other person takes on the position previously engaged by the mother.

    * the other person can go on international trips as required by the position.

    * when the mother returns, she, too, can go on overseas trips.

    THIS IS HOW A NORMAL PLACE OF WORK OPERATES. it allows flexibility and family planning, it allows a person to return to her job (i’ve witnessed this countless times in my place of work – motherhood by NO MEANS diminishes a woman’s ability to do her job!), it allows another person to gain skills, it allows for a comfortable work environment. people feel safe and looked after.

    a “demotion” (being reposted lower in the org) is NOT being looked after. it’s a PUNISHMENT eagerly swollowed by unfortunates who have been sucked in – like DRG8008.

    Have you even considered the irony in the statement you have yourself provided as what people are to believe is a reasonable argument? The policy states, on one hand, that only that: “only that person can possibly be called on to do the tasks of that job”.

    yet on the other, it swifty demotes that person and a new person comes in to take over.

    shouldn’t that twig you into recognising that, hey, someone else is capable of doing that job? so, perhaps while the first person is away giving birth to other little branwashed people, perhaps someone else can do that controlling, cult-like (or rabbit-like, whatever) demand of jumping on a plane with a few seconds notice!

    wouldn’t it be more humane to arrange a temporary replacement as described above, just like most of the larger companies in the world?

  68. And Maroubraman, i know there are lots of good people out there doing lots of good work. Undoubtedly some will be Scientologists. That’s not the point of the argument.

    If you just helped an old lady walk across the road with her heavy shopping bag, it doesn’t excuse you from killing her on the other side of the street.

    Now, that’s an extreme example, but i did that deliberately so that you could see my point: Just because someone does good, does not excuse them of their evils.

    As for “Anonymous” – it’s unfortunate for anyone to be a victim of crime (i haven’t read the link, i’m just saying it flatly, as it’s true). However, it, again, does NOT excuse the victim from being a perpetrator themselves.

  69. MAROUBRAMAN: There you are. Bingo! You make the astonishing assumption that only the religious are filled with awe, questions about the miracles of life, evolution in all it’s magical simplicity. Compared to the goons who believe god did it five thousand years ago.

    I have been very fortunate having had the greatest adventure of all. Life. I don’t see your beliefs as a delusion. I see them hiding behind the cant and hypocrisy of religious fervour. If you really believed in the wonder which is life you wouldn’t be wasting your time trying to coerce others into believing in a mythical mental-crutch, called god, the great great hole in the wall/sky, and why the earth is flat, etc. You would be too busy enjoying it for yourself.

    After all, what is religion and piety for the über manipulators if not an excuse for thinking yourself to be superior to other people?

    At least I had a bloody good laugh with your disingenuous query about my statement that religion is brought into being by fear and manipulation. Most people who set the agenda for religious groups are in it to take advantage of the less intelligent members of a flock.

    If religion is all it is cranked up to be, how do think all the rancid, bitter, racist, hate-ridden stuff up which mankind has inflicted on itself hasn’t brought about a certain serenity within people? People are fearful and people like you come along to soak the innocent in manufactured crap, and the innocent, quite frankly, aren’t the full quid when it comes to reason.

    I’m sure when you look through your comic books and you attempt to ponder the mysteries of the universe, you will eventually learn that religion is an anachronism inflicted upon the fearful, the people lacking in confidence and the people who are prepared to be led. Religion is like marriage. Both concepts were design by men to control women.

    Now run away little man, I have more to do in life than answer your vacuous comments.

  70. Maroubraman says go to a Scientology function and you’ll see lots of kids. I say, none of those kids will be the children of Sea Org members (unless the parent joined the SO after having children – and only then if the kids are above a certain age).

    Public Scientologists are not coerced to abort. Sea Org staff are, and some ordinary staff have been also.

    Check out just a few of the witnesses: wiki.whyprotest(dot)net/Evidence_of_coerced_abortions

    Maroubraman, you can hide your head in the sand only so long. You’re on notice. By continuing to support the Church of Scientology, you are supporting the implementation of this practice.

    Most of the technical experts in Scientology who trained under L Ron Hubbard are now outside the Church. Leaving the organisations doesn’t mean leaving scientology.

  71. “Religion is like marriage. Both concepts were design by men to control women.”

    while i agree wholeheartedly at the basic fact of this statement, it must be understood that both have come a long way since their inception – for example: two women in an intimate relationship being wed together – there’s no man to subvert that relationship. another example: actually, i can’t come up with one for religions… hm.

    however, i argee that the concept of “marriage” itself was, and in many cases still is, used to control the population by religion and even governments (i wonder whatever happend to the idea of separating state and church!)

    e.g., “no sex before marriage”, e.g., concept of “bastard” child (one born out of wed-lock). it’s to control people – “if you don’t wed, your child will suffer their whole lives because you weren’t wed.”

    (‘civil union’ is what a secular wedding would be, and heterosexual couples have full access and rights to have a secular union if they prefer.)

    let’s explore that term “wed-lock”. sounds like ball n chains, doesn’t it 😉 you are locked into a ‘contract’.

    …so much for trust and love.

  72. Before 1961, Maroubraman? Really? You wouldn’t want to see how many books (mostly SF) I own – the last time I did a check on cost was 15 or so years ago, and was around 20k… So, now you know more about me, put up or shut up.

    PS, I also own > 1700 ebooks, that’s in addition to the above. Still think you’d win that bet? Working out how many library books I’ve read is a tougher thing to work out.

  73. Ok, Maroubraman, you’re providing citations at last, but did anyone tell you that cites provided by your own organisation might be viewed as biased?

    prweb.com

    CONTACT INFORMATION
    Karin Pouw
    Church of Scientology International

  74. Maroubraman wrote: “Anybody here over the age of 10?”

    if you’ve got nothing constructive to say, don’t say it at all. If you want to join in the discussion, you’re welcome to.

  75. AGA
    Posted Tuesday, 23 February 2010 at 5:31 pm

    “DRG8008, as a member of Scientology stated that:

    “A policy was introduced to require couples having children to be reposted to lower organisations due to the requirements for Sea Org members to travel and work on intensive projects at short notice.”
    ……
    a “demotion” (being reposted lower in the org) is NOT being looked after. it’s a PUNISHMENT eagerly swollowed by unfortunates who have been sucked in – like DRG8008.
    ….
    wouldn’t it be more humane to arrange a temporary replacement as described above, just like most of the larger companies in the world?”

    The Sea Org is a religious order. Any role in Scientology is important and can be expanded by a staff member as a part of achieving our aims. We are not talking about a secular workplace. I know of a Sea Org member who came down to my local Church to have children, she has built it up to one of the best Scientology organisations on the planet.

    Lets look around at a few other organisations, one religious another secular. The Catholic Church has a no marriage no sex policy, many people would like this to change but no change will occur with the current conservative Pope. Did you know priests practiced self flagellation to suppress their sexual urges?

    “On a typical morning before class, says former Boston College student Tammy DiNicola, she would wake to a loud knock, kiss the floor and silently say “Serviam,” Latin for “I will serve.”

    Then, she says, she would: take a cold shower while praying; whip her buttocks privately while reciting a prayer (once a week); attend a Mass in Latin; wear a spiked chain, called a cilice, around her thighs for two hours; vacuum two rooms in her residence; and perhaps meet with her spiritual director.

    DiNicola was once a member of Opus Dei, where lay members strive for holiness in everyday life through strict adherence to the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings, at work and at home.”

    http://www.rickross.com/reference/opus/opus2.html

    Pope John Paul II self flagellated and Mother Theresa wore a band around her thigh with inward turned spikes.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/februaryweb-only/16-11.0.html

    I’m for the Catholic Church but I would like to see a liberal Pope who could allow married Priests, and abolish Papal infallibility.

    The next example to give you some perspective:

    “Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo III, who oversees the area that includes Kirkuk, Tikrit, Mosul and Samarra, set a policy in place last month that makes pregnancy a punishable offense. The rule applies to anyone who becomes pregnant or impregnates another service member, even if they are married.”

    http://www.sphere.com/nation/article…rshal/19288447

    One aspect of prejudice is to seek out negatives, believe them without question, and set standards which are quite inconsistent with other things they accept as “normal”.

    In summary, I think the policies of the Church of Scientolgy are more than reasonable. And in closing I quote from our Creed: “..all men have inalienable rights to the creation of their own kind.”

  76. @DRG8008: oh, i see – you are hiding behind the “others kill, so can we!” rhetoric.

    i’m not saying the catholic church is any better (as i implied in a previous post), i’m saying that to be demoted is for wanting/having children is wrong.

    just because Scientology is not secular, doesn’t mean it can horrible policies that are condescending to women/families.

  77. “I know of a Sea Org member who came down to my local Church to have children, she has built it up to one of the best Scientology organisations on the planet.”

    good for them for making the best of being dealt a shit hand.

    just because some people can get back up after being beat down, doesn’t mean it’s ok to beat people down in the first place.

    “The Catholic Church has a no marriage no sex policy.”

    We are discussing the inequalities and violation of human rights within Scientology. To discuss the flaws in each and every religion is beyond the scope of this argument. It is widely understood that many, if not all, religions (and organisations claiming to be religions) have evils in their system – that’s not what the original comments (by the above article and persuing comments) were.

    …and by no means does one religon’s wrong-doings justify the wrong-doings within your own belief systems. ergo, each organisation can be critiqued on the merits of their actions on a case-by-case basis – there’s no benefit of saying “but..! but…! but… that person did evil, why can’t we do it tooooooooooooo?”.

    we are trying to discuss why you can’t do evils, whomever you are. but in particular, we are discussing this within the recent context of Scientology brought about by the comments made in parliament by xenophon (or should i say, “brought about by the actions and attitudes of Scientology, exposed byxXenophon in parliament”).

  78. I am in a family of mixed practices. I can’t claim exclusive devotion to any one religion but having some 30 years acquaintance with Scientology, note its many benefits. But for the swift application of a Scientology process that can slow profuse bleeding, I probably would have been hospitalized last April. By contrast, my friend in Canberra used to get uncontrolled uterine bleeding and was in hospital up to 10 days each time, getting transfusions. The City of New York funded firefighters from 9/11 to do the Scientology detoxification program, The Purification Rundown, as nothing else was potent enough for their situation.

    Scientology is an easy target. The broad media would rather print scandal (about almost any cause but especially Scientology as its stance against psychiatric drugs upsets its major paymasters, the multi billion dollar drug companies). I assume no groups is fault free but this factor of inbuilt prejudice has to be weighed into the mix or debate is very naive.

    This inbuilt prejudice goes at least some way to explaining why there is little media publicity about Scientology’s virtues, and the 7 complaints Senator Xenophon collected, were not handed over to police until after his attack in parliament, why they were in affidavit form, and have not resulted in charges being laid against anyone (a rerun of the persecution in Victoria in the 1960’s and 1970″s, which did not result in a single charge or allegation sticking against Scientology).

    My mother was at Chelmsford Private Hospital, where at least 48 people died directly due to a barbarism called Deep Sleep Treatment. If it wasn’t for the Citizens’ Commission On Human Rights (CCHR) stepping in, many more would have died.

    The Church now has major enemies due to its stance against drugging of children for “ADHD”. In September 2005, The United Nations wrote a report condemning excessive levels of drugging for ADHD “despite growing evidence of the harm”. The rate of drugging has since soared, not dropped. So, Scientologists and CCHR have lobbied for change. Children are suffering (even dying) from strokes, heart attacks and suicidal ideation or psychosis prompted by some of these drugs.

    Few of Scientology’s toughest critics realize that some of them may be pawns in a larger game.

  79. Theres a much easier solution. Don’t give tax free status to ANY of them. Why should a religion be tax free. The Catholic Church owns half the town i live in. Its disgusting.