Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Church of Scientology convicted of fraud in France

From The Mail online:

The self-styled ‘celebrity’ Church of Scientology was today found guilty of fraud in France and fined more than £500,000.

Prosecutors in Paris were told that the only reason the cult was not banned from the country completely was because it would carry on anyway ‘outside a legal framework’.

The conviction will come as a huge shock to the church’s millions of followers around the world, who include Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Examining judges sitting at the Paris Correctional Court found six leading Scientologists guilty of fraud, including Alain Rosenberg, the sect’s leader in France. Rosenberg was given a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined the equivalent of just under £30,000

The church’s so-called Celebrity Centre and Bookshop – both of which make up the HQ of Scientology in France - were ordered to pay the equivalent of £600,000. All were accused of extorting money from ‘vulnerable’ people who had become Scientology followers or employees.

The Paris case was launched following a complaint from two women, one of whom said she was tricked into handing over £20,000 towards dubious projects, including the development of an ‘electrometer’ to measure mental energy. The second woman said she was forced by the Scientologists to undergo embarrassing tests, and to enrol in courses about the sect in 1998. When she refused she was sacked.

Convicted: The Paris branch of the Scientology Church's Celebrity Centre and Bookshop was ordered to pay a £600,000 fine after being convicted of fraud

Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin, who spent years examining the cult’s activities, attacked the Scientologists' ‘obsession’ with financial gain and practices he said were aimed at plunging members into a ‘state of subjection’.

Prosecutors had originally asked for the Celebrity Centre and Bookshop to be shut down completely, and for a £2m fine to be paid. But last month the French courts were alerted to a little-noticed legal change voted in by parliament in May - the month the trial opened - which bars French courts from dissolving an organisation convicted of fraud. Although the change has since been dropped, this was not retrospective and thus Scientology was protected from an outright ban in the ongoing case, forcing the court to downgrade the sentence. Judge Sophie-Helene Chateau said: ‘A ban on its activities would have risked taking us outside the framework of the law.’

The Church of Scientology was founded in America in 1954 by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard. It is officially recognised as a religion by the US authorities, and claims a worldwide membership of 12 million. In 1995 it was officially classified as a cult in France, where it claims 45,000 followers.

The group’s French branch immediately announced it would appeal today’s Paris verdict. Defence lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve had claimed during the trial that neither the six leaders nor the church had gained financially from the group’s practices.

Monday, 26 October 2009

RadarOnline.com - Paul Haggis Resigns. Calls Tommy Davis A Liar.

"Oscar-Winner Paul Haggis' Stunning Departure From Scientology, Accuses Leader Tommy Davis Of 'Lying' To The Public

Haggis learned that in a CNN interview, Davis had laughed off the idea that Scientology has a policy of 'disconnection.' Haggis couldn't believe he was watching Davis 'lying.' His own family had suffered from disconnection when 18 months ago, his wife, actress-turned-producer Deborah Rennard was ordered to 'disconnect' from her parents because of something Scientology officials claimed occurred when they resigned from the church 25 year ago."

Full article: tinyurl.com/ykq8zut

Paul Haggis Cult Resignation Letter To Tommy Davis

I posted earlier about Paul Haggis resigning from the cult, and his letter to Tommy Davis. I thought I'd post it again with an easier to read link: tinyurl.com/yzn74s7

"These were not the claims made by outsiders looking to dig up dirt against us. These accusations were made by top international executives who had devoted most of their lives to the church. Say what you will about them now, these were staunch defenders of the church, including Mike Rinder, the churchs official spokesman for 20 years!

Tommy, if only a fraction of these accusations are true, we are talking about serious, indefensible human and civil rights violations. It is still hard for me to believe. But given how many former top-level executives have said these things are true, it is hard to believe it is all lies"

Scientology: The Cult Of Cheap!

Part of an email from CCHR NSW:

"CCHR NSW is re-locating to Marrickville right in the heart of the shopping strip and near the good coffee shops! The move is next weekend - Sat 31st Oct and Sun 1st Nov - AND WE NEED SOME COMPETENT HANDS, vans and cars to HELP WITH THE MOVE!

Also, this week PRIOR TO THE MOVE, we need an electrician, roof plumber and handymen to help with renos on WED 28 OCT. (No major works - but it needs a good clean up and some building repairs). We can't offer payment for your services, but COMMENDATIONS recognising and acknowledging your contribution (plus other awards to those who are able to substantially assist) will be given to those who are able to put in their time and expertise."

Cheap cult!

Paul Haggis Resigns from The Cult - Various News Articles

American Atheists: Scientology Spokesman Storms out of Nightline Interview - tinyurl.com/yjrtxko

Jonathan Turley: Scientology Spokesman Walks Out of Nightline Interview When Asked About His Beliefs - tinyurl.com/ylkznpc

Buzz Hollywood: Scientology spokesman storms out of Nightline - tinyurl.com/yfvqqsp

Ed Driscoll: Scientology Spokesman Storms Out of Nightline Interview - tinyurl.com/yzrumac

TVNewser: Scientology Spokesman Storms Out of Nightline Interview - tinyurl.com/yk5jprn