Irish politician calls Scientology a cult


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The Full Hot Press Interview with Mary Hanafin


As a Catholic you must think that Muslims, Jews, Scientologists, atheists and all the rest of them are just plain wrong?
No, I don’t. What we were growing up with was respecting everybody’s religion. I think everybody respects everybody’s religion. It’s the extremists we don’t like. And the people who are extreme in the name of a religion when that religion would never have been so violent and so – what’s the word I’m looking for? – lacking empathy and understanding.

You said that you respect all religions as equal. Does your religious tolerance extend to the likes of Scientology or Moonies or Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Oh, I don’t call them religions at all – they’re cults. And I think you have to distinguish between a religion and a cult. Scientology is a cult. And anything that is focusing on vulnerability and on money is not a religion. As I said to you, I’ve close Jewish friends. I’ve worked with Muslim women. As Minister for Education I worked a lot with Muslim schools, Church of Ireland schools, you know? It all has to be respected. But, I mean, the big difference is between a cult and a religion – and I’ve no time for cults. I’ve no time for cults, but I do have time for religions.

People were trying to run the Scientologists out of Jobstown. You wouldn’t say that was unfair or wrong?
No. They were also trying to do it in Meath, I think. No. They don’t deserve the respect of a religion. Because they’re only preying on vulnerability.
But just to be clear on this point: if all religions are the same and they’ve all got the same values…
They’re not all the same – but all religions are to be respected as being kind of equal. But, I mean, distinguishing between religions and cults.


Mary Kathleen Hanafin (born 1 June 1959) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport from 2010 to 2011, Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil from January 2011 to March 2011, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation from January 2011 to March 2011, Minister for Social and Family Affairs from 2008 to 2011, Minister for Education and Science from 2004 to 2008, Government Chief Whip from 2002 to 2004 and Minister of State for Children from 2000 to 2002. She served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire constituency from 1997 to 2011.[1]
She has sat as a Councillor on Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, representing the Blackrock ward since 2014.