Posted at: 2010-02-09 10:31:00.0Author: John Coleman, S.J.The last several years have been exceedingly unkind to Scientology. In 2007 the Belgian State Prosecution Office announced that it thought the organization should be prosecuted for crime. In late October, 2009, a French court found Scientology, France guilty of severe fraud in “cheating” vulnerable members of their meager life savings. The Court fined Scientology 600,000 euros and placed Alan Rosenberg, the head of Scientology, France on a two-year suspended sentence. Scientology claims religious persecution in the case and pledged to appeal, if necessary to the European Court of Human Rights. Scientology, following its doctrine of “fair game” has been notoriously litigious over the years. “Fair game” got so defined, in the words of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology: “Those who seek to damage the church may be deprived of property or impaired by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”Recent allegations about Scientology rely less on the organization’s belief system, which represents a strange amalgam of pseudo-psychology; a Gnostic claim to reach a stage above the possibility of human sin or frailty; reliance on a pseudo-scientific machine that is supposed to detect human lies or negative blockages and, a long process of auditing to remove blockages toward achieving the desired stage of being “clear.” The process can cost anywhere from $25,000 to the neighborhood of $1 million. The recent attacks on Scientology focus mainly on its behaviors, many of which are distasteful but may be legal; some of which are, arguably, criminal.... More ... What to make of all of these allegations? Scientology tends to defend against its detractors (especially defectors) by reminding the public of the sour grapes of disgruntled former employees and devotees. There is some truth to that rejoinder but simply too many allegations, from a multiple number of former Scientology members (many of whom held high posts in the organization), recounting similar stories of forced abortions for female Sea Org members, doctoring or destroying of internal documents etc. Clarity should be maintained between genuine religious freedom to believe what one wants and allegations of criminal or legally unacceptable behaviors. For me, religious liberty implies complete freedom of exit from religion. Scientology makes it difficult for disgruntled former members to leave, except on its own long-drawn out terms involving confessions that the member is harmful to the church and promises not to sue Scientology. Just leaving on one’s own is punished by being hounded by private investigators. I suspect with so much smoke, somewhere there must be a real fire. While the organization hates the term, it is a totalitarian “cult.” It just may also be criminal.John Coleman, S.J.
This might interest both our Catholic and non-Catholic friends. Some more Catholic POV from Catholic Online:http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=35719