Scientology really is an IQ test: Smart people recognize Scientology as a scam and a fraud, normal people fall for the scam from time to time and learn from the experience, stupid people go on and on, handing over their money knowing that it's not working but crazy enough to not be able to stop.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Scientology Fraud in France
Reporter: Bryan Seymour
Broadcast Date: May 29, 2009
The church of Scientology is fighting one of the biggest battles in its 50-year history.
Forget Xenu the alien overlord and Tom Cruise's bizarre outbursts, this time they're in court facing serious fraud charges.
A woman in France alleges she was manipulated into handing over her life savings.
Bryan Seymour reports the case has ignited questions here about how Scientology minds its own business.
Scientology is under siege.
"Well in Germany Scientology isn't recognised as a religion and in France it's leaders are facing fraud charges," said Nick Xenophon, the Independent Federal Senator from South Australia.
In Paris a court will decide if Scientology fraudulently manipulated a woman into handing over $36,000.
"The only purpose of Scientology is to take money from people," said the French prosecutor in the case. He is seeking to have Scientology's leaders found guilty and fined over ten million dollars and to have the group banned from France altogether.
The French spokeswoman for Scientology was blunt in her assessment of the case: "=C3=A2=EF=BF=BD=C2=A6it's nothing really, it's bullshit really."
She added that the judge may have been influenced "by the media and the climate" to allow the trial to proceed, which is a serious and unfounded allegation.
Originally four people were accusing Scientology of fraud but two of them came to a financial settlement with the organisation.
The woman at the centre of the trial says she was walking past Scientology headquarters in Paris in 1998. She was approached in the street and offered a free personality test.
"She was humiliated and defrauded for a long time, she bought cases full of expensive books and cassettes all cloaked in this goal of self-improvement to become this incredible person," said the French Prosecutor trying the case
Not surprisingly, the test revealed she had shortfalls. She says she was told Scientology had the cure and was then scammed into buying books, courses, vitamins and even an electrometer, which is supposedly able to measure mental energy.
Scientology says the case is one of religious discrimination rather than the alleged fraud leading to members handing over their life savings.
"There's no witch-hunt, France respects freedom but even with religious freedom France can't ignore people breaking the law, if you have religious freedom if you can't do things that are above the law," said a French Government official.
After a nine year inquiry into the group, a French judge declared Scientology "...is first and foremost a commercial business."
Prosecutors allege the director of Scientology in France, Alain Rosenberg, and six other top officials preyed on vulnerable would-be followers "...with the goal of seizing their fortune by exerting a psychological hold."
Today Tonight were contacted by a woman who claimed she had been recruited into Scientology as a child and manipulated into handing over a vast sum of money. When Today Tonight approached Scientology to respond to her claims, they said the woman had signed a confidentiality contract with them and they sent their lawyers scurrying to court seeking an injunction on the story.
But that's not why Today Tonight decided not to show the interview. Her family asked that the the interview not be aired - and Today Tonight agree... her best interests should come first.
Federal senator Nick Xenophon says it's time to re-examine Scientology's claims as a religion and to change the laws to force the group to start paying tax.
"We need to have a close look at those laws because I think there's a lot of community concern that an organisation such as Scientology gets the huge benefits of having the tax exempt status as a religion," Senator Xenophon said.
Historically Scientology brands anyone who questions their organisation a religious bigot.
"This is not about religious bigotry, this is about accountability and I think it's pretty cowardly of an organisation to start accusing those that just want to question the way they operate, to make sure what they do is transparent, accountable and fair," Senator Xenophon said.
As always, the church of Scientology declined a request to be interviewed.
No doubt they'll be closely watching what happens in France.
"I think there is a role for regulators, for governments to have a very close look at these tactics because if they don't we'll continue to see more and more of these cases emerging where people's lives are being destroyed because they've handed over their life savings, they've handed over their inheritances to Scientology," Senator Xenophon said.
The cult information and family support network has branded Scientology a cult, not a religion and say ex-members can contact them for help and advice.