Church bid to gag critics
September 17, 2009
THE celebrity-studded Church of Scientology in Australia wants negative media reports about the controversial religion outlawed.
Scientology, which boasts members including Tom Cruise, said it wanted a law "to prevent the dissemination of anti-religious propaganda in the media, which is based on unfounded hearsay and either known or reasonably known to be untruthful".
Churches and individuals who have been "defamed" should be able to sue for damages, the religious organisation said in a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Scientology has long been unhappy with reports of doctrines including that, 75 million years ago, Earth was visited by an alien space lord called Xenu who stacked souls around volcanoes and blew them up with nuclear weapons.
"The Church of Scientology has regularly been subject to relentless ridicule and misinformation by the media," Scientology said.
Scientology also said police should have the power to unmask internet activists who stage protests against the church and belong to a loose organisation known as "Anonymous".
It wants serious religious vilification made a crime "the subject of a fine, imprisonment or both".
Scientology's submission, filed in February, reveals the religion's concerns that its tax-free status, established in a landmark 1983 High Court judgment, would be threatened if the Federal Government imposed "unduly difficult taxation compliance measures" on religions.
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