Scientology tends to attract derision and mockery rather than investigation, which is unfortunate. Apart from anything else, its belief system involving evil aliens, volcanoes and DC-8s is no more bizarre than most monotheistic religions.

What Scientologists believe is irrelevant and not the business of the state or, really, anyone else.  It is what they do that is of concern — what they do to those who refuse to comply with the cult’s internal rules, and what they do to those who reveal the abuse that goes on within the cult.

There is widespread evidence — sworn evidence, by victims and perpetrators alike — of systemic abuses within the cult in the United States. Last November, Senator Nick Xenophon revealed evidence that similar abuses had occurred here in Australia.

As is apparently standard Scientology practice, the evidence was met with a blanket denial by the cult, and attacks on those who had shown the courage to speak out against it.

The Government Leader in the Senate, Chris Evans — who has yet to respond to Crikey’s request for information on what follow the Government has undertaken in response to Senator Xenophon’s material — has told advocates on a Senate inquiry into Scientology that the Government does not support one.

“The Rudd Government’s view is that a Senate inquiry into the Church of Scientology is not justified on the basis of our view of the Parliament’s function. It is inappropriate to conduct an inquiry into a private and, in this case, religious organisation.”

Putting aside that most days the Senate appears ready to order inquiries into the drop of a hat if it suits someone’s political purposes, Evans is completely wrong.

The cult receives generous assistance from Australian taxpayers, via its tax-free status as a religion. An inquiry into what our tax dollars are supporting is entirely consistent with Parliament’s function.

At the very least, the basis on which tax-free status is provided for religions must be urgently reviewed.  Taxpayer support for any “religion” that may systematically harm its adherents makes the state complicit in that harm.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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