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CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY IS SUSPECTED A CRIMINAL ORGANISATION ?


SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd voiced "concerns" about the Church of Scientology Wednesday after a senator detailed explosive allegations including torture, imprisonment and coerced abortions.
  • Rudd said the accusations, made by independent Senator Nick Xenophon in parliament but strenuously denied by the organisation, were "grave" and needed further consideration.
  • "Many people in Australia have real concerns about Scientology. I share some of those concerns," the prime minister said.
  • "I don't want to rush into any judgement on this, other than to say (Xenophon) raised concerns and made some serious allegations," he added.
  • "Let us proceed carefully and look carefully at the material he has provided before we make a decision on further parliamentary action."
  • Xenophon on Tuesday branded the secretive group, whose high-profile adherents include Tom Cruise and John Travolta, a "criminal organisation" and called for a review of its tax-exempt status as a religion.
  • He tabled letters from former members claiming embezzlement, forced confinement, torture and blackmail, as well as the "ordering" of abortions and virtual house arrest of followers.
  • "Scientology is not a religious organisation, it is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs," Xenophon told parliament.
  • "The letters received by me which were written by former followers in Australia contain extensive allegations of crimes and abuses that are truly shocking," he added.
  • "These victims of Scientology claim it is an abusive, manipulative and violent organisation."
  • The Church said Xenophon's claims were "fascistic" and an "outrageous abuse of parliamentary privilege", referring to his protection from libel laws.
  • "Senator Xenophon is obviously being pressured by disgruntled former members who use hate speech and distorted accounts of their experiences in the Church," it said in a statement.
  • "They are about as reliable as former spouses are when talking about their ex-partner."
  • According to an excerpt of one of the letters, published in The Australian newspaper, Church staff who fell pregnant were "put under duress" and members lived in fear of expulsion and being "severed" from their families.
  • "We had one staff member who used a coathanger and self-aborted her child. All her files were destroyed," wrote former staff member Aaron Saxton.
  • Politicians in some European countries including France, Germany, Greece and Russia have accused the movement, which claims global membership of 12 million, of exploiting its followers financially.
  • Last month, French judges fined the group almost one million dollars for defrauding vulnerable followers.
  • Founded in the United States in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the Church of Scientology is officially recognised as a religion in Australia for tax purposes.
Source: AFP
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