The article in Crikey 18 January 2006 about Scientology and its founder by Alex Mitchell was of interest to me and my colleagues. So much that I rang Alex at Fairfax for a chat and he returned my call.

Alex Mitchell is interesting as he surfaces out of a Scientology era of 30 years ago. This was a time when government agencies were harassing our newly born religion, and mainstream media was doing their hackwork. Scientology survived it, moved on and has grown perhaps fifty times bigger and is still expanding. We grew up and like to think that the media has also and there is much more understanding.

Finding Alex Mitchell in Sydney is, for a Scientologist, like an archaeologist finding a set of old dinosaur bones in Hyde Park. The first thing you want to do is marvel at their existence and find what information they will unearth.

He returned my call and so I asked him. Unfortunately, Alex Mitchell has not moved on, which can happen to people of retiring age. I asked him why he wrote the Crikey article about us, and wanted to know what other interesting stories he had about his time 30 years ago. But I only got from him that we must be recording his call and he would not talk. Recording phone calls? I am not paranoid so why bother? But like the archaeologist, I was interested in the find and persisted with my question. Yet Alex would not be drawn into telling me what it was like back then, instead claiming he must be being tape-recorded and would not talk (why did he call me then?). I believe Alex Mitchell must have had an interesting role back then in helping to shape our future. But someone please tell him the Berlin Wall came down in the 1990’s and the cold-war has been over for years and it is time to move forward.

As for the article he wrote, that can be put down to the antics of someone who hasn’t caught up with the new guard and the new way of doing things. We have changed, as everyone does, and maybe there is hope yet for this journalist to see the present view.

To answer his question of how obsessive gambling is seen in Scientology (please note the emphasis on “obsessive”, meaning uncontrollable – like the gamblers who leave their kids locked up in over-heated cars while they play in casinos, or pour their families’ savings and futures into the pokies), Mr Hubbard wrote the following: “An obsessive gambler is a psychotic just like a drug addict or an alcoholic.” An obsessive gambler is not the same as one who has the odd punt of course, just like someone who has a drink on Saturday is not an alcoholic.

As to Scientology, it has had as its stated aims since the 1960’s to create a world without war, without criminality and without insanity and is achieving those aims every day, and growing at a rapid rate. And whatever the likes of Alex Mitchell can dream up and print will not prevent us from achieving those aims, which we are doing daily. Case in point is the 2.5 million volunteer hours by Scientologists the last year alone helping solve drug addiction, criminality, illiteracy, family relationships and much more. An interesting point for the media is that every critical piece written actually results in someone walking in the door to find out for themselves what Scientology is. They cannot believe what they read any more and rely on personal inspection. The new generation expects to find out for themselves, rather than relying on a coloured media to tell them how to think. And they are pleasantly surprised to find the real scene quite different.

Peter Fray

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