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About the Church of Scientology

News from the media 2009-OCT to DEC

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Media news:

bullet 2009-OCT-23: Australia: Soldier committed suicide after finishing Scientology course: Edward Alexander McBride was found electrocuted and hanged in an electrical substation in Brisbane on 2007-FEB-07. He had been taking Scientology courses almost full time for a month, and committed suicide two days after finishing the last course. He had paid the Church AUS$25,000. He was considered a "loner" by his fellow soldiers and had been bullied.

The coroner and police unsuccessfully requested copies of McBride's audit and ethics files from the local Church. The files had been moved to the U.S. Church, out of reach of Australian police and coroner's office.

The coroner ruled that the suicide was not "reasonably foreseeable" by his family, the Australian Defence Force or members of the Church of Scientology. 1
bullet 2009-OCT-24: USA: Scientology spokesperson Tommy Davis walks out of TV interview: Nightline, a program on ABC, was interrupted when the Tommy Davis -- spokesperson for the Church of Scientology -- stood up, removed his microphone and walked off the set. Martin Bashir had asked him a series of questions about the church's theology, beginning with:

"Do you believe that a galactic emperor called Xenu brought his people to earth 75 million years ago and buried them in volcanoes?"

Davis responded:

"Ok ... Martin, I am not going to discuss the disgusting perversions of Scientology beliefs that can be found commonly on the Internet and be put in the position of talking about things that are so fundamentally offensive to Scientologists to discuss."

When Bashir pressed the question, Davis left. 2

bullet 2009-OCT-25: Canada: Long-term member of Scientology resigns: Paul Haggis, 56, is a Canadian screenwriter and director who has won two Oscars for his worn on the movie "Crash." He had long promoted the Church of Scientology. However, he was distressed at the support that the church's San Diego, CA office gave to Proposition 8 which terminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state. He wrote a 1,500 word letter of resignation to Scientology spokesperson Tommy Davis. Haggis mentioned that he had asked Davis several times since 2008-NOV to publicly denounce the actions of that office.

Haggis wrote:

"I reached a point several weeks ago where I no longer knew what to think. You had allowed our name to be allied with the worst elements of the Christian Right. ... You told me you were horrified, that you would get to the bottom of it and 'heads would roll.' You promised action. Ten months passed. No action was forthcoming. ... The church's refusal to denounce the actions of these bigots, hypocrites and homophobes is cowardly. I can think of no other word. Silence is consent, Tommy." 3

Haggis also referred to an interview that Davis had on CNN in which he denied that Scientology members must shun anyone who leaves the Church. Haggis wrote that his wife has, at "terrible personal pain," broken ties with her own parents after they left Scientology."

bullet 2009-OCT-28: France: The Church of Scientology was convicted of fraud in France: The Paris Correctional Court found six leading Scientologists guilty of fraud. They were found guilty of extorting money from what the court called "vulnerable" people who were followers or employees of the Church. lain Rosenberg, the Scientology leader in France, and five others were given a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined up to € 30,000.

Complaints were filed in the late 1990s by two former church members who said that they had been cheated out of money. She said that she had given € 21,000 to the group and asked that it be returned after she left the group. Scientology allegedly refused. A second women, an employee of Scientology, said that she was fired after refusing to take classes given by the church.

The Celebrity Center and Bookshop -- Scientology's headquarters -- was fined US $890,000. Prosecutors had asked that the be shut down completely. However, this was found to be beyond the court's authority. The French branch announced it would appeal the ruling.

This is the first time that the Church of Scientology's fund raising methods have been condemned by a court anywhere in the world. 4,5
bullet 2009-NOV-08: UK: Family of Winston Churchill asked Church to stop using images: The family of Winston Churchill asked the Church of Scientology to stop using promotional material which includes photographs of Churchill and quotes from some of his speeches. They have allegedly used such material to recruit staff, promote speaking engagements by its members and to raise money to build more facilities.

Churchill's grandson, Nicholas Soames, wrote Scientology. He said: "I expect them to desist from using my grandfather's image immediately. I don't know if anything else can be done, but I have written to them and we will see what happens."

A church spokesperson defended its policy, saying: "The use of iconic images, including those available in the public domain, to add color is of course done very commonly." 6
bullet 2009-NOV-11: NV: Allegations of potential domestic terrorism: Las Vegas SWAT officers and counterterrorism detectives arrested Colby Schoolcraft in the middle of the night on OCT-15. They seized a cache of weapons and ammunition including an AK-47 assault rifle. Authorities have said that they believed an act of violence was about to be committed against the local Church of Scientology. Schoolcraft is allegedly a member of Anonymous -- an Internet based group that organizes protests against the church.

It is alleged that Schoolcraft posted threats of potential violence to an Anonymous website. His lawyer said that his client was not planning an violent acts and was merely exercising his freedom to speak out against the Church. 7
bullet 2009-NOV-20: Australia: Church of Scientology criticized by head of government inquiry: Kevin Anderson, QC, who had led a two-year government inquiry into the Church of Scientology in the 1960s, renewed his criticism of the Church. He said:

"Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially; and its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill."

Senator Nick Xenophon has called for a new inquiry. He supports this with letters from former Scientologists. There is speculation that the government might pass a law to terminate the Church's tax exempt status that was granted in 1983. An alternate path is suggested by John Emerson, a charity taxation specialist at the law firm Freehills. He said that:

"... if an investigation shows that the church's activities are not consistent with those exhibited by religious institutions, and if those activities can be shown to have changed since 1983, then it's open for a tax commissioner to run a case against the organization saying it should no longer be recognized as a church.'' 8

bullet 2009-NOV-19: USA: New Jersey man sentenced to prison for DDOS attack: Dmitriy Guzner of Verona, NJ was given a $37,500 fine, a year and a day sentence in federal prison, and two years probation following prison. He was convicted of a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks on the Church of Scientology's web site starting on 2008-JAN-19 and extending over 112 days. It hit the website with bursts of high traffic designed to knock the web site offline. It was successful; the Church's website was out of service for several days. A second individual, Brian Mettenbrink was indicted in Los Angeles in October on charges connected with the 2008-JAN attack. 9
bullet 2009-NOV-22: Australia: Prime Minister concerned about CoS and is considering a parliamentary inquiry: Prime minister Kevin Rudd expressed concern about allegations against the Church of Scientology of "... a worldwide pattern of abuse and criminality" He contemplating the launch of a parliamentary inquiry. The Church is under police investigation in Australia. On NOV-21, some former Scientologists conducted a protest at the Church's Australian headquarters calling for the revoking of its tax-exempt status.

Member of Parliament Nick Xenophon gave an impassioned speech in Parliament during the previous week. He claimed that the Church "... abuses its followers [and] viciously targets its critics..." A spokesperson for the Church, Cyrus Brooks, said that the allegations were "... unquestionably false. ... This was not free speech. It was abuse and slander protected by the forms of our parliament."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Sarah Elks, "Church of Scientology defied coroner on suicide," The Australian, 2009-OCT-23, at:
  2. Zeke Turner, "Scientology Spokesman Storms Out on Nightline, Refuses to Answer Questions about Emperor Xenu," Mediaite, 2009-OCT-24, at:

  3. Stuart Laidlaw, "Same-sex marriage at root of Haggis Scientology row," The Star, 2009-OCT-27, at:
  4. Peter Allen, "Church of Scientology convicted of fraud in France," Mail Online world news, 2009-OCT-28, at:
  5. Max Colchester, "Paris Scientology Center Is Found Guilty of Fraud ," Wall Street Journal, 2009-OCT-28, at:
  6. Stuart MacDonald, "Church of Scientology told to drop Churchill images," Times Online, 2009-NOV-08, at:
  7. "Scientology foe's arrest raises issue of rights," Religion News Blog, 2009-NOV-11, at:
  8. "Struggle between a church and the state," Sydney Morning Herald, 2009-NOV-21, at:
  9. "Attack on Scientology Website Sends New Jersey Man to Jail on Felony Charges," PR Newswire, 2009-NOV-19, at:
  10. Peter Beaumont, et al., "Celebrities lead charge against Scientology," The Observer, London, 2009-NOV-22, at:

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Copyright 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-OCT
Latest update: 2009-NOV-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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