Scientology practices 'putting people at risk'
November 20, 2009
DANGEROUS dismissal of psychiatry and mental health problems must be part of a Senate inquiry into the Church of Scientology, a Melbourne cult-counsellor said yesterday.
Cult Counselling Australia director Raphael Aron said Scientologists put vulnerable people at risk by taking them off psychiatric drugs and treatment, instead treating them with vitamins and E-meter readings.
Mr Aron supported Senator Nick Xenophon's call in Federal Parliament on Tuesday for a Senate inquiry into the Scientologists. The senator tabled letters citing forced abortions, forced labour, child abuse, extortion and intimidation.
Scientology was cited in the case of a Sydney woman who murdered her father and sister after her parents allegedly made her stop taking psychiatric drugs because of their Scientology beliefs.
Bankstown Court was told in July 2007 that the parents instead imported non-psychiatric treatment from the United States. A judge later found that Scientology did not influence the daughter's treatment in that case, but Scientologists make no secret of their disdain for psychiatry and psychology, believing that Scientology offers spiritual healing instead.
Former Canberra Scientology director Dean Detheridge told The Age that members who had suffered breakdowns were restrained, sometimes for months, on remote farms where no one could hear their screams.
Despite his rank, he was treated as slave labour, working 15-hour days for the organisation, then three hours on a cleaning job to feed his family.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he had concerns about Scientology, which was found to be a religion - and thus tax-exempt - by the High Court in 1983.
A spokeswoman for Senator Xenophon said yesterday the Senate would decide next week whether to launch an inquiry. She said his office had received more than 500 emails about Scientology, running at ''40 or 50 to one in favour'' of the Senator's stance. The letters tabled in Parliament included allegations of sexual abuse, lying about the death of children, suicide brought on by remorseless pressure to give money to the church, and penal camps for recalcitrant members.
A former member said she was forced to do ''hard labour'' - breaking and carting rocks to build a car park - to redeem herself for supposed ''crimes'' against the church that she committed so she could see her son.
She said she was not allowed to speak until spoken to, had to address staff as ''sir'' and had to seek permission to contact her family.
Another describes how she was pressured to have an abortion, became embroiled in a cover-up over child abuse and was subjected to an intimidation campaign after leaving.
A third person described how a staff member aborted herself with a coat-hanger to avoid being placed into ''the penal colony''.
A Church of Scientology spokeswoman said it would make a ''measured response'' today because the church was still gathering data on some allegations. But earlier, spokesman Cyrus Brooks said: ''It's an outrageous abuse of parliamentary privilege from a senator who would not even meet with us several months ago.''
A federal police spokeswoman said the allegations were matters for state police.
NSW police said they were examining documents.
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