South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said he had been contacted by a number of former Scientologists, after he questioned the organisation’s tax exempt status in a recent television interview. The letters from former members that Xenophon introduced in Parliament on Tuesday night included allegations of torture and the horrible tale of one man who lost two children to what he claims are Scientology-related accidents.
The victims’ statements have been referred to police by Senator Xenophon, who argued it was now time for Federal Parliament to delve into the church and re-evaluate its tax-exemption status
In 1983 the Australian High court ruled that Scientology was religion, “…regardless of whether the members are gullible or misled or whether the practices of Scientology are harmful or objectionable.” It found that a religion didn’t cease to be a religion just because the leaders had ulterior motives like power or commerce. “Charlatanism,” it said, “is a necessary price of religious freedom.”
“Religious freedom did not mean the Catholic or Anglican churches were not held accountable for crimes and abuses committed by their priests, nuns and officials, albeit belatedly,” Xenophon told the Senate. “In Australia there are no limits on what you can believe but there are limits on how you can behave. It’s called the law, and no one is above it.”
Senator Xenophon’s chief of staff, Rohan Wenn, travelled to Sydney yesterday to brief a senior police officer in the organised crime division on allegations made by former church members and tabled in Parliament this week.
”They are taking the matter very seriously,” Mr Wenn said.
Mr Wenn has also offered to forward details of other former Scientologists to the police.
The church responded that the allegations are from “disgruntled former members who use hate speech”.
Margaret Thaler Singer is a clinical psychologist and during her career has interviewed more than 3,000 former members of cult organizations. In her book “Cults in our Midst” she quotes: “According to documents later recovered from Scientology files at New York headquarters, “Operation Freak-Out” was designed to “get P.C. [Paulette Cooper] incarcerated in a mental institution or jail or at least hit her so hard that she drops her attacks.” Among other plans for this campaign were bomb-threat calls to an Arab consulate in New York City by a member of Scientology who had a voice like Cooper’s and written bomb threats written on personal stationery stolen from her with her fingerprints on it. (p.225)
Sources: News.com.au, defamer.com.au, smh.com.au, abc.net.au, theaustralian.com.au,“Cults in our Midst”-Singer, Margaret Thaler ISBN 0-7879-6741-6