No, Scientologists don’t believe people are descended from aliens, and if you’ve got any other questions, they’re here to help.

At least, that’s what an email sent to journos across Australia’s largest media organisations on Friday afternoon said. The Australian Church of Scientology,as it has in the past, emailed journos a “Media Guide to Scientology”, which outlines the church’s history, beliefs, and charitable work, while telling journos that the organisation “values dialogue”.

We also appreciate balance in any stories about Scientology, especially when purported rumours become ‘fact’ because of a missed opportunity to respond. We are available for comment at any time for fact checking and this can be either by phone or email — our contact details are listed below.

We are always very happy to answer questions and debunk the often ludicrous allegations that circulate but invariably, have no factual basis.”

Scientology has been the subject of intense media interest in recent years, partly due to the public claims of abuse and intense control made by some of its former adherents, as well as controversy over whether it is entitled to its not-for-profit religious status. Also earning the distaste of many parts of the media has been the Church of Scientology’s willingness to use the courts to sue for defamation.

The Scientology media guide doesn’t make direct rebuttals to much of this criticism. But it does refer to it, if obliquely. It’s last page has a section on “media controversy”, the guide states “Scientologists work to protect and maintain freedom of speech world over”.

That being said, the Church’s view of the press is in accord with that held by the general public, who, by survey, find press reportage inaccurate, biased and too often shaped by special interests.

Now and again, less than responsible journalists have wilfully misinformed the public about Scientology. As a new religion, there has been mystery, misunderstanding and a share of controversy that invariably accompanies the new and the different. This is not unique to Scientology. But to spin a sensational tale and so fuel religious bigotry is unconscionable”.

The church, the guide states, has met with the editors of major media organisations to discuss its concerns.

On aliens, in case you were curious, the guide says a belief in descent from aliens, the details of which critics of the church say are revealed only to very senior Scientologists, is “simply not true”.

Some of the information one finds on the internet regarding Scientology religious beliefs is a mixture of misstatements, distortions and outright lies designed to twist Scientology theology. These scurrilous statements, issued by the ‘internet fringe’, are not only patently untrue, they are intentionally designed to ridicule Scientologists and denigrate their actual religious beliefs.”

The guide also goes through the reasoning behind Scientology’s objection to psychology (because its tests are subjective and “often influenced by the pharmaceutical industry”) and the justifications for why the church “disconnects” from those deemed antagonistic or “suppressive” to Scientology (because a right to choose not to communicate with someone is “one of the most fundamental rights of every individual”).

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey