PM worry on Scientology
November 19, 2009
KEVIN Rudd has voiced concerns about the Church of Scientology after it was branded a criminal organisation in Parliament.
The church of Tom Cruise and James Packer was accused of forced imprisonment, coerced abortions, embezzling, violence, intimidation and blackmail by SA senator Nick Xenophon.
Senator Xenophon called for an inquiry into the organisation, tabling letters from former Scientology members to support his claims.
In one letter, Aaron Saxton said that as a member of the organisation he'd participated in the "forced confinement and torture" of others.
Another former adherent, Paul David Schofield, said two of his daughters had died owing to their association with the church.
One fell down a flight of stairs while being babysat on church premises. The second died at home after ingesting potassium chloride - a substance he said was used widely in the organisation's "purification" programs.
Others told of being pressured to hand over large sums to the church, leaving them to live in poverty.
The Prime Minister said he'd consider Senator Xenophon's request.
"Many people in Australia have real concerns about Scientology," Mr Rudd said. "I share some of those concerns. Let us ... look carefully at the material he has provided before we make a decision.
"'We would like to proceed in a cautious and methodical way in examining those matters."
The church has promised to co-operate with police, but has denied all of the accusations.
The vice-president of the church in Australia, Cyrus Brooks, said he did not believe the accusations were true, but the organisation took all allegations seriously.
"We would co-operate with police in any of these matters," he told Sydney radio.
Scientology was founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard in 1952. It is legally recognised in Australia and has tax-free status.
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