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Censorship The Courts

French Branch of Scientology Is Convicted of Fraud 622

Posted by kdawson
from the still-getting-away-with-it dept.
The trial we discussed this spring has come to a verdict, and reader lugannerd was one of several to note a milestone in the fight against the Church of Scientology. "The French branch of the Church of Scientology was convicted of fraud and fined nearly $900,000 on Tuesday by a Paris court. But the judges did not ban the church entirely, as the prosecution had demanded, saying that a change in the law prevented such an action for fraud. The church said it would appeal. The verdict was among the most important in several years to involve the controversial group, which is registered as a religion in the United States but has no similar legal protection in France. It is considered a sect here, and says it has some 45,000 adherents, out of some 12 million worldwide. It was the first time here that the church itself had been tried and convicted, as opposed to individual members."
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French Branch of Scientology Is Convicted of Fraud

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  • Re:Fine? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @02:56PM (#29887279) Journal

    if something has hit slashdot, it wouldn't be all that surprising to hit bigger media

  • Re:Fine? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by countSudoku() (1047544) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @03:20PM (#29887615) Homepage

    Confirmed. An ex girlfriend on mine used to work at Wells Fargo Bank. The CO$ has literally dozens, if not hundreds, of individual accounts with more than several million deposited in each. I'll bet this is not their only back either. They have a shitload of cash for lawyering up.
            Must be nice to be able to lie to stupid people, in the name of an imagined deity, to confiscate their savings. I have a conscious and can't imagine the worthless people who can pull that off. All religions suck, especially the fake ones.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @03:30PM (#29887737)

    You have a point there actually. 2 things seem to be at the forefront of the news these days:

    (1) The rise of radical fundmentalist religious groups. Scientologists are the worst of the worst here (kinda - they're greedy rather than crazy in that I don't believe for a second that most people involved at top believe what they're saying), but the crazy fundamentalists of Christianity, Islam, and other off-shoot cults (Lord Our Righteousness Church anyone?) are equally scary. These people are on a dead-end path to nowhere. If they take control of the global mindset then technological progress will halt and we'll plunge back into another dark age.

    (2) Rise of China and it's power.

    #2 is a scary though, but truthfully, it has SOME comfort because thought a totalitarian regime is the anti-thesis of what I as an American believe in, I also know that regarding situation #1, China won't put up with that shit. If Scientology had started in China this problem would have been solved and over with DECADES ago.

    Basically I HOPE that our system works and prevails against this growing issue, but if we fail I'd prefer a secular Communist Dictatorship over an equally oppressive Theocracy.

  • by geekpowa (916089) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @03:32PM (#29887763)

    I am an atheist. I have many friends and family (including my wife) who subscribe to one of the many Christian variants. Also friends and colleagues who are Hindu, Sikh, Islam etc etc.

    Once upon a time I had lots of close friends who are now Scientologists. They actively, passionately, and publicly hate me and consider me to be a deeply immoral person. A SP in their own language.

    The gulf between your 'typical' Scientologist and how they view the world and other mainstream faiths is in my own very direct experience, is an extra-ordinary gulf.

    You can trot out the religious atrocities of the past, but your typical theist today is as likely as a non theist to be a decent, social, community minded person. Scientology followers, by virtue of their extremist and uncompromising doctrine, are very much an anti social vector, and the only community they respect is their own Scientology community. As for your uninformed comments about only 'retards' being attracted to Scientology - cults like Scientology are actually quite nuanced and sophisticated in their recruitment - and attracting educated white collar folk is their bread and butter. Read this book if you have the inclination. A piece of blue sky [cmu.edu]

  • Re:Fine? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @03:39PM (#29887877) Homepage Journal

    All religions suck, especially the fake ones.

    They're all fake.

  • Source for that ..? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gmaOPENBSDil.com minus bsd> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @03:48PM (#29887993) Journal

    I didn't read such a thing. The court merely declined to dissolve the cult altogether (what the prosecution requested), which would have been legally difficult considering that a scumbag lawmaker from scumbag Sarkozy's scumbag party passed an amendment that removed the penalty of dissolution for entities convicted of fraud a few months ago.

  • Currently in France (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eulernet (1132389) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @03:50PM (#29888031)

    You guys completely miss the point.

    In France, there has been an incredible 'mistake', where a law was about to be passed allowing to ban the Scientology.
    However, it appears that there have been an error, where all the text expressing the ban of dangerous cults disappeared !

    There is a huge debate in France because of this incredible mistake, and a lot of high public officials pretend that this is a computer error (eventually, it was the fact of a human editor).

    It has been widely published that the french president Sarkozy welcomed Tom Cruise as a president, and Sarkozy has his own personal guru, who sends him positive waves every day (yes, this has been published too !).
    Also, Sarkozy use the Scientology methods, especially in a current lawsuit, involving a previous Prime Minister: Dominique de Villepin.
    The idea is to never try to defend, but to concentrate on harassing.

    So now, we are in a sad state in France, where the Scientology has been condamned to a symbolic fine, and with a lot of indices that Sarkozy is involved with Scientology.
    And the worst thing is that the opposition does not seem eager to attack Sarkozy on this subject.

    As usual, the political omerta will cover all these dirty schemes, and the large audience will remain unaware of the real stakes.

    BTW, in the last month, in France we had:
    1) an ex-prime minister attacked by Sarkozy in the Clearstream affair, but I'm pretty sure he is innocent because it was the president Chirac who tried to trap Sarkozy
    2) our minister of Culture who wrote in a book that he is a pedophile (and he just adopted a 18 years guy, as a way to provide inheritance in same sex couples). Funnily, he tried to protest against Polanski's arrest.
    3) Jean, the son of Sarkozy, was about to be elected as the director of the EPAD, which is the organism that decides where to install buildings in the new french eldorado (La Défense)

    I'm stopping here, I'm just too upset...

  • by Absolut187 (816431) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @04:15PM (#29888405) Homepage

    Once upon a time I had lots of close friends who are now Scientologists. They actively, passionately, and publicly hate me and consider me to be a deeply immoral person. A SP in their own language.

    Oh noes, they hate you??!?

    Let me know when they tie you up and light you on fire.

    You can trot out the religious atrocities of the past, but your typical theist today is as likely as a non theist to be a decent, social, community minded person.

    Of course. They've won.
    The natives are dead. They have the land. The have the money. They have the power.

    What is there to fight about?

    Take away the land, money, power, and security that comes from all those things and see how your "decent, social, community-minded" friends act toward their atheist buddy.

    Don't kid yourself. When people start dying, you better not be the wrong religion pal.

  • Re:Fine? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KriticKill (1502071) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @04:22PM (#29888489)
    As part of the penalties, the church was ordered to publish the results of the verdict in several national and international magazines to warn people, the judge said, about what Scientology offers and what was discovered at trial. -http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/10/27/france.scientology.fraud/index.html Scientology is no better than extremist Islam, or psychic nutjobs defrauding people over the internet. Its really just that their particular brand of evil is greed based, and instead of fanaticism based like most other religions. I mean seriously Operation Freakout? Operation Snow White? Its disturbing to think that a 'religious organization', and I use that phrase loosely in reference to Scientology, would undertake something of that nature.
  • Re:Fine? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuantumRiff (120817) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @04:43PM (#29888849)

    Its not the fine that interests me.. Its the "policy" of the church to go fanatically after its naysayers, and never admit guilt. This isn't some family suing in civil court. This would appear to be a fine levied by the government, which means they will have to fight the French Government (que the jokes....) but really, they have a history of never paying their fines, stalling, stalling, stalling, and going fanatically after their accusers.. this could get interesting..

  • by roscocoltran (1014187) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:06PM (#29889193)
    This is the most important part of the jugement. When you ask the parliament who wrote that little part of the text that saved scientology's butt 2 weeks before the jugement was made public, what is the answer of the parliament ? What is the answer of the party who proposed the law ? --> "they don't know". They don't know who wrote the lines who saved the scientlogy business. The representative admitted that they didn't understood the text they voted and it was only after an association fighting the scientology analyzed the text that they found out that the scientology couldn't be banned anymore. How lucky isn't it ? Note that Tom Cruise visited France and Sarkozy 3 years ago, when Sarkozy was the french minister of the cult. Friendship has some advantages.
  • Re:Fine? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by modecx (130548) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:25PM (#29889461)

    Scientology is not religion. It is a tax evasion scheme.

    If only that was all they are. Godwin forgive me, but that's sort of like saying Nazis were "quite the patriotic bunch"

  • by Calithulu (1487963) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @05:33PM (#29889597)

    In all honesty, I would LOVE to have a good, thorough talk with a fully-believing, intelligent scientologist. No flaming, no yelling, hell, I won't even insult him or his beliefs. I would just like to see if I can understand WHY he follows that religion as opposed to others.

    What are your crimes? Did you club a baby seal?

    Yeah, that sounds odd but there is a fairly well documented [tmz.com] instance where a celebrity Scientologist asked that of a critic whom, to be fair, was wearing a t-shirt that directly attacked their "religion". Most people would call him an idiot and move on, or just walk past, but they began insinuating that he was a criminal and had committed some truly heinous crimes.

    I'm not saying you can't have the conversation you wish, but if some idiotic t-shirt can cause that response I can't imagine that there is much hope. Though it isn't something I've seen advertised, it appears that there is a trained response to critics where the practitioners accuse the critic of committing crimes as evidenced by their criticism of Scientology.

  • by causality (777677) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @06:11PM (#29890185)

    It's not perfect, as pretty much nothing is. But insulting the mainstream just because it's the mainstream is what make you elitist. I'm sure any plan you could come up with wouldn't automatically make everyone happy, loving and peaceful. Reminds me of people who stop liking a band because its achieved commercial success or stop drinking a craft brew because it's starting to catch on with many people. Pointless, self-defeating, and yes elitist.

    Well, you've already decided that you know enough about me to make judgments about my character. You've also decided to make this into a personal matter rather than telling me why you think my statements are incorrect. There's nothing arrogant about those two, right? I won't hold my breath waiting for you to discover for yourself that ad-hominem attacks are the mark of a weak position, nor will I hold my breath waiting for you to admit that you are judging someone you don't know the first thing about rather than discussing what was said. So I seriously doubt you'll listen to any explanation. But again, what the hell.

    I was referring to the results of those beliefs, as evidenced by the society that they produce when they are put into practice. If those beliefs could only be found in a small village at a remote location, then I would have said the exact same thing, only I would not have called them mainstream because in that case they would not represent the majority of people in this society. So we have beliefs and political opinions which have been put into practice with little resistence and mostly token dissent, and those beliefs have given us a far-less-than-ideal world that is substantially worse than what would otherwise be achievable or has been achieved in the past. Yet despite their many flaws, they are commonly-held beliefs. If this isn't a definition of "lowest common denominator" then I am not sure what is.

    To assume that my problem with them is just that they are common, when in fact I have specifically told you that the results of those beliefs are why I don't like them, is frankly rather asinine. If the mainstream beliefs led to an enlightened society where people loved freedom and had true agape love for one another, I would have no problem with it at all. You seem to honestly think that I'd actually want to change that scenario. It's like you're eager to make judgments about somebody and were just waiting for an excuse to do so. If so, you have much company, for that too is a common path.

    I don't see any injustice here, however, because there is no way that anyone who is that trigger-happy or needs to feel "right" that badly is a very happy and fulfilled individual. Even the ones who think they are happy can become upset and angry with just a few words, a few insults, or a few rude gestures and that's because they don't have the strength that patience and compassion require. If they did, they wouldn't be so eager to judge others or to make everything into a personal matter. So you see, water seeks its own level one way or another.

  • it's like comparing volunteering to clean up the highway median of garbage, and being forced to clean it up, and your income from the job goes to your crew boss

    yes, there is plenty of monotheistic religions you should skewer and condemn

    but to not recognize that for all the crimes of judaism, christianity, islam, etc., that scientology outdoes those religions and adds a few more crimes, is to not understand the subject matter you are injecting yourself into

    i dislike organized religion. but i dislike slavery even more. and that's what scientology is

    you really should read up on how especially vicious this nasty cult is

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_snow_white [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Come on. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ForMeToPoopOn (584061) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @07:16PM (#29891029) Journal

    Don't be silly now.

    Inquisitions, crusades, witch burnings, pogroms, blood libel, financial parasitism, subjugation of women, repression of science, burning of scientists at the stake, abandonment of adherents, general pillage, jihads, flying aircraft into buildings, suicide bombers...All these things have more to do with violence, ignorance and control than religion.

    Do you really think that if you took religion away, we humans would become "better" and stop being violent and ignorant?

    Now, I agree with you that religion sometimes does not help in making people free... But I believe that a bigger issue is ignorance and violence

  • by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @07:30PM (#29891193) Homepage Journal

    The best quote I've heard about that:

    "Atheism is a religion the same way *not* collecting stamps is a hobby."

    -b

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @08:25PM (#29891731)

    Steve Hassan, a fascinating author, describes the difference between cult and religion rather well. His work discusses the focus on a charismatic leader, the isolation from family and community, the deceptions about beliefs, the hypnotic techniques often used, and various layers used to surround the central leader and dogma and encourage each member to enter each layer by discarding more and more of their free will, their sense of self, and usually their money as they enter further.

    It's fascinating material: the Wikipedia entry for him at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Hassan [wikipedia.org] contains links to his work.

  • Re:Come on. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fished (574624) <amphigory@ g m ail.com> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:59PM (#29892811)

    Don't really have time to waste arguing this, as I move myself and my four children as a single father on Friday, but let it be said that Bruno was executed for his theological heresies, not his scientific opinions--such as denying the virginity of Mary, teaching the transmigration of souls, teaching the Christ was not the son of God, but a magician, and the list could go on. My apologies, I should have said, "scientist qua scientist" or something along those lines. At the very least, if Bruno is your only example, you're guilty of some serious misrepresentation.

    In the words of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    Pope Clement VII (r. 1523-1534) had reacted favorably to a talk about Copernicus's theories, rewarding the speaker with a rare manuscript. There is no indication of how Pope Paul III, to whom On the Revolutions was dedicated reacted; however, a trusted advisor, Bartolomeo Spina of Pisa (1474-1546) intended to condemn it but fell ill and died before his plan was carried out. Thus, in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology.

    So... let's see... you've got one example, who was burned for religious heresy, not for scientific opinions? Pardon me if I'm unimpressed.

    And it sort of underlines my larger point that the church didn't do their own dirty work, they turned him over to the state for execution, don't you think?

    Beyond that, I never said that Atheism caused Stalin to engage in pogroms. Only that it's unfair to blame Christianity for pogroms when pogroms demonstrably occur in its absence. You've beaten a strawman.

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