Scientology critic adds volume to inquiry call
Sydney Morning Herald
January 23, 2010
A LEADING critic of Scientology is to travel to Australia to support Senator Nick Xenophon's campaign for an inquiry into the tax-exempt status of the church.
Gerry Armstrong was an ardent believer in the church and its founder, the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, until he began researching an authorised biography of his hero in 1980.
"There was all this material about him that had been discovered and I thought getting a biography published would be a a way of taking care of all the black propaganda, rumours and lies that had been published about him," Mr Armstrong said.
"Of course I discovered that the lies that I was trying to debunk were actually the truth and that Hubbard had lied to me and to all of us Scientologists and to the whole world.
"His whole history was a lie. His education, his military record, the antecedence of Scientology, his inveiglement in the occult prior to his creation of Scientology, his family, his daughter, his wife, his expeditions.
"He claimed to be a nuclear physicist - that had a lot of significance to me. The truth was that he flunked the one course in molecular phenomena. He never made it out of second year university. He was not a physicist, he was not a civil engineer, he was not a doctor, and he claimed to be all these things."
Mr Armstrong says that when he sought to have the record corrected the church turned on him, eventually suing him for theft of the documents that Hubbard had turned over to him.
The church lost the first round, the judge in part finding: "In addition to violating and abusing its own members' civil rights, the organisation over the years with its 'fair game' doctrine has harassed and abused those persons not in the church whom it perceives as enemies.
"The organisation clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder. The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements.
"The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile."
In a settlement over a subsequent legal battle, Mr Armstrong agreed not to discuss the church, an agreement he broke, he says, after the church maintained attacks on him. As a result, a warrant exists for his arrest for contempt of court in California and he has fled to Canada.
He has since given evidence against Scientology in about 20 cases.
Senator Xenophon, an independent, made a savage attack on the church in Parliament last year, accusing it of being a criminal organisation "hiding behind so-called religious beliefs".
Neither of the two main parties plans to support his call for an inquiry, and he intends to use Mr Armstrong's profile to increase the pressure on them.
Police have not contacted any of the authors of the letters Senator Xenophon tabled, which detailed alleged crimes and abuses by the church.
Tommy Davis, the chief spokesman for the church in the United States, said Senator Xenophon was grandstanding and conducting a witch-hunt. A church spokeswoman called Mr Armstrong a disgruntled apostate.
Mr Armstrong said Senator Xenophon's motion was being closely watched around the world.
"It has had a huge impact. I was in Germany in November and December and it was tremendous news and people were following it online very closely. The same thing has been going on here in Canada and I think around the world.
"If Australia goes first with a parliamentary or governmental inquiry, hallelujah."
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