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The Motley Moose: Scientology: Beyond the Battle of the Gods
By Peter Jukes - Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:26:02 AM EST
Hope the Moose don't mind if I share the English language version of an article for the Polish weekly magazine Krytyka Polityczyna about Scientology. The story of my father is the subject of my next book for Unbound, which should go live in the next two weeks. This is a more impersonal take the religious claims of Scientology which will also form the basis for a talk I have to give in May. Comments therefore very much welcome, both for that and the forthcoming book.
First two paragraphs:
Though it claims to be one of the world's fasting growing religions, and now holds over $1 billion in liquid assets, last year wasn't great for the Church of Scientology. The news that its most famous public adherent and advocate, Tom Cruise, was divorcing fellow actor Katie Holmes brought with it a rash of renewed criticisms of the futuristic religion, including a tweet from the media mogul Rupert Murdoch that it was "creepy - maybe evil'. This year started out even worse with the publication of a major expose into the practices of the religion. Lawrence Wright, who won the Pulitzer prize in 2007 for his analysis of Al Qaeda, The Looming Towers, has just released his next big opus: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. The book isn't available in the UK thanks to our draconian libel laws, but Wright's damaging allegations about bullying, mismanagement and intimidation have been widely reviewed and publicised. Rarely, in its 60 year history, has Scientology's reputation in its American heartland and homeland been at such a low.
Nonetheless, a greater threat to the new age church may not lie in US free speech but in European legislation. A month ago, after five years of investigation, Belgian prosecutors announced they were charging the church as a 'criminal organisation' on the basic it practiced extortion, "pseudo-medicine" and the keeping of records that contravene privacy laws. Though there are only a five hundred Scientologist s in Belgium, Brussels houses the church's European HQ, and the legal case could be crippling to the group in Europe.
I still shudder to think how my mentally unbalanced father would have responded to these apparent manipulative abuses of psychiatry, but he disappeared in 1996, and we discovered only recently he was buried in 2008 near the British sociology HQ in East Grinstead. However, evidence of allegations of privacy breach, extortion and potential blackmail will be tested in the Belgian courts, rather than unprovable claims about past lives, and Scientology will finally have to publicly account for its behaviour.
Peter Jukes is a journalist, author and screenwriter. His book on the hacking scandal Fall of the House of Murdoch was published last year. His next book Son of Scientology: Dad, L Ron and Me will be published later this year. He lives in London.