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Censorship Government

AU Senator Calls Scientology a "Criminal Organization" 511

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-do-that-here-either dept.
An anonymous reader passes along news that an Australian senator, Nick Xenophon, has denounced the Church of Scientology as "a criminal organization" from the floor of Parliament. "Senator Xenophon used a speech in Parliament last night to raise allegations of widespread criminal conduct within the church, saying he had received letters from former followers detailing claims of abuse, false imprisonment, and forced abortion. He says he has passed on the letters to the police and is calling for a Senate inquiry into the religion and its tax-exempt status." It wasn't that long ago that the CoS was calling for Net censorship in Australia; a month later the organization was convicted of fraud in France.
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AU Senator Calls Scientology a "Criminal Organization"

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  • Re:Related? (Score:4, Informative)

    by keeperofdakeys (1596273) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:29AM (#30140074)

    He seems to support topics of this kind, like anti-gambling. Things that a lot of people in the community would want, but big guys - like corporations - wouldn't.

  • A word on Xenophon (Score:5, Informative)

    by RichPowers (998637) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:38AM (#30140146)

    Xenophon, for those unfamiliar, was an ancient Greek general best known for writing The Anabasis -- an account of the trials and adventures of The Ten Thousand, a group of Greek mercenaries hired by Cyrus the Younger. After he's killed in battle, the Greeks have to march back to Greece from deep within enemy territory. It's quite a thrilling tale with plenty of action and treachery. Surprised they haven't made a movie out of it a la 300.

    If I was Mr. Xenophon, I'd rather go up against the Persians than the Scientologists :D In any event, he has an awesome last name.

  • by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:43AM (#30140174)

    Following on from the informative comment [slashdot.org] from Onetus, The Age also has a full transcript [theage.com.au] of Xenophons speech to the Senate. He makes it clear that he is tabling letters in the Senate with names removed to protect informants and innocents and has left the names in the copies sent to the Australian Federal Police.

    The point of his speech is to open dialogue in the Senate with a view to holding an inquiry into the CoS tax exemption. The purpose of sending the letters to the police with original names is for the police to investigate any criminality. Kind of a pincer movement really, good on him.

    From the speech:

    These allegations are serious, and many names have been removed from the letters I have tabled in the Senate tonight, but those names have not been removed from copies I am providing to the police. This organisation must be investigated. These victims of Scientology have spoken out at considerable personal risk, and I commend them for that. And I would encourage other victims of Scientology to come forward, contact the police or contact my office -- but, most importantly, speak out.

  • Re:Cause and effect? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:48AM (#30140210)
    No, but if you eat kippers on Tuesday it will not rain.
  • by asamad (658115) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:51AM (#30140234)

    for example weet-bix, produce by sanitarium.

    Run by seventh day Adventist, given tax free status..... bet you didn't know that! How to other business compete with tax free status - it very hard.

  • Re:Interesting name. (Score:3, Informative)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:52AM (#30140242)

    Nah, it's cool. If he knows about Xenu without being properly audited his R6 implant is exploding his head at this very moment.

  • Re:tax shelter (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:55AM (#30140258)

    What part of what the parent said is untrue? The COS is a known tax shelter and exists for the purpose of enriching the few individuals at the top.
    L. Hubbard himself essentially said that religion was a great way to make money.

  • by palegray.net (1195047) <philip...paradis@@@palegray...net> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:56AM (#30140262) Homepage Journal

    Pretty OT here

    No, you've got it all wrong. This is OT [anti-scientologie.ch].

  • Re:Makes me sick (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:01AM (#30140286)

    Addendum: For those in America - Australia doesn't have a "Bill of Rights". We work on the principle you have a right to everything, unless prohibited by law. There's no explicit listing of rights that you guys have ... YFMV? (Your Freedom May Vary)

    Just a nitpick - the USA is the same way. The Bill of Rights goes one step further in some cases and stipulates that some rights cannot be prohibited by law unless the Constitution is modified first. "Congress shall establish no law..."

  • by dakameleon (1126377) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:03AM (#30140304)

    Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister, has said he's concerned too, and wants to see the material before calling a full inquiry. [smh.com.au]

    It's a sudden outbreak of common sense in the House in the Hill, that's for sure.

  • by Capsaicin (412918) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:07AM (#30140326)

    Lionel Murphy (A High Court Judge) was responsible for campaigning to get Scientology recognised as a religion in Australia.

    Campaigning?! I'm calling bullshit on that one mate. (Though I'm open to change my mind if you can provide some evidence to back that claim up.) True he sat on the court that decided the "Scientology Case" [austlii.edu.au] but his wasn't even the leading judgment. I think a little quote from his Honour will serve to enlighten as to his attitude towards religion and towards its tax exempt status. Responding to the argument that the "commercial nature" of Scientology showed it wasn't "religious" in nature, he wrote:

    Most organized religions have been riddled with commercialism, this being an integral part of the drive by their leaders for social authority and power (in conformity with the "iron law of oligarchy"). The amassing of wealth by organized religions often means that the leaders live richly (sometimes in palaces) even though many of the believers live in poverty. Many religions have been notorious for corrupt trafficking in relics, other sacred objects, and religious offices, as well as for condoning "sin" even in advance, for money. The great organized religions are big business. They engage in large scale real estate investment, money-dealing and other commercial ventures. In country after country, religious tax exemption has led to enormous wealth for religious bodies, presenting severe social problems. ... Commercialism is so characteristic of organized religion that it is absurd to regard it as disqualifying.

    If anything Murphy J was "campaigning" to get rid of the tax exempt status for religions.

  • Re:Senator Xenophon? (Score:3, Informative)

    by sortius_nod (1080919) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:08AM (#30140334) Homepage

    nope, just an evangelical.

  • by daveime (1253762) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:09AM (#30140342)

    I'm amazed that this pyramid scheme has been allowed to continue unabated (and with tax-free status) for nigh on 40 years !

    It's no more a religion than Amway, Avon or Tupperware is ... although you'd need a firemans vice to separate my mother-in-law from her overpriced plastic boxes.

  • by Caity (140482) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:38AM (#30140492)

    Maybe you should have gone with "sounds alien" - might have clicked a few more gears into place for some.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:43AM (#30140524)
    From an outsiders perspective (atheist), scientology isn't any more corrupt or evil than any other organized religion in the world. It always amuses me when people of other faiths unload on scientology, while ignoring the crap their own religions promote.

    Give it a couple of thousand years, and they'll be able to join the club of Established Religion.

    Scary thought? Not really. It's no different than the bronze age fairy tales that millions of people believe in today...
  • Re:tax shelter (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:00AM (#30140618)
    Not just essentially, that's exactly what L. Ron Hubbard did say [youtube.com]
  • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:24AM (#30140730)
    Scientologists went after Slashdot with lawyers some time ago and forced the only deliberate comment removal from this site. That is why it is on topic here.
  • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Informative)

    by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:48AM (#30140850) Journal

    Most religions don't copyright their message and charge large sums to move up the hierarchy.

    The Mormon Church also requires large sums of money from it's members (a large percentage of your earnings) as well as mandated service.

    I think you'll have trouble enshrining any law which will target one and not the other. I'm sure the CoS will open up their texts if substantial money is on the line.

  • by vandy1 (568419) <vandy&aperfectpc,com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:03AM (#30141162)

    Stephen Fielding is the one you're talking about - Xenophon is anti-pokies, and seems to me to be relatively deliberative on other matters, and generally reasonable. Stephen Fielding is a climate change skeptic; Nick Xenophon is not.

    Cheers.

  • by Vintermann (400722) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:27AM (#30141252) Homepage

    No, FairTax is not the most poor-friendly tax ever. The problem with sales taxes
    is that they are regressive - poor people have to spend a far larger share of
    their income on consumption than rich people, often all they have. "Fixing"
    this regressiveness with a tax rebate is adding insult to injury to those people
    so poor they won't even get the whole benefit of the rebate.

    I propose a high, flat income tax with a sizable demogrant (like a tax
    rebate, but you can get back more than you put in) to make it progressive.
    There, now you've heard about a more fair proposal than FairTax.

    Income taxes, especially flat ones, are easier to administrate than sales taxes.
    Sales taxes need to be (and are) refundable for businesses that buy things to
    produce other things. Otherwise, productivity really suffers, especially for
    businesses far down the value-adding chain. But when sales taxes are refundable,
    small business owners will buy blu-ray players and take them home as "necessary
    business expenditures", and it will be horribly difficult and expensive to catch
    them at it. That's sales tax fraud, one of the big headaches of countries with a
    high sales tax.

    Sales tax does have some advantages. It discourages unnecessary consumption, and
    thus has environmental benefits, but since consumption varies so widely in its
    environmental impact, this is a very crude tool to reduce our footprint. For the
    environment, it's better to slap a tax on pollution directly, and ideally plow
    it back in the demogrant. That way above-average polluters compensate
    below-average polluters for their impact, and that's as it should be.

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:47AM (#30141330)

    You should have linked to that particular revision:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nick_Xenophon&oldid=326486984#As_federal_senator [wikipedia.org]

    That way the rest of us can enjoy the joke as well :)

  • by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @07:02AM (#30141692) Journal

    Fielding is the Christian conservative rabid about censorship. Xenophon did initially support the net censorship proposal as a way to ban gambling sites, but switched views and opposes it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @07:30AM (#30141820)

    the house arrest of Galileo, the crusades, 9/11, Salem Witch Trials, etc, etc, etc, etc. The list is pretty long...

    Galileo: arrested because he insulted the then-Pope by basing the "idiot" in his dialogues on him - political, not religious reasons - at the time, the Church was on the verge of accepting the heliocentric view of the universe. It was Galileo's jibes (and the Pope's unreasonable overreaction) that prevented this, not any religious dogma.

    Crusades: Bang to rights. Of course, they were relatively normal for wars of the period in terms of atrocities committed. And in fact, on some occasions, the religious justification for them was used to temper the worst excesses.

    9/11: The acts of a very few madmen, atypical and unrepresentative of their religion, or of religion as a whole.

    Salem Witch Trials: Like most witch trials, conducted by a secular authority at the behest of people beset by local concerns looking for scapegoats. A dozen local ministers published a plea for "spectral" (ie, imagined) evidence NOT to be allowed.

    I am not religious myself. But I am sick and tired of seeing the same lazy, thought-free accusations being thrown out at "religion", as if it were some monolithic entity. Religion was until recently, virtually universal in humanity, so it should be no real surprise that you can find examples of people at their worst, with religion being offered as some vague rationale.

    Most religions have high ideals and aspirations at their core. A universal or long-lived religion means that it is inevitable that there will be periods where those ideals are taken more or less seriously by its practitioners. Does that say something about religion, or about human nature?

    By all means, say that religious thinking can be irrational and demonstrate why, but don't become irrational yourself and lump all religion into one.

  • Re:Senator Xenophon? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:00AM (#30142262) Journal

    Nope, that's the other independant senator Steve Fielding from the Family First evangelicals.

    Nick Xenophon is from the 'No Pokies' party, and doesn't interfere his religion with his politics.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:53AM (#30142658)

    You are not required to give the LDS church any money, time or effort to be a member. You can attend church service for years without even being a member of the church.

    I think using the term mandated service is pretty inaccurate as well. As a member of the church, you will be asked to serve but you have no obligation to accept and can simply turn it down. Most of the time this is something along the lines of leading a Boy Scout troop or teaching Sunday school.

    Mormons give a lot to our church, for us its a lifestyle. I can understand why people on the outside would see similarities for that reason. But I can promise you that they are only superficial. But don't take my word for it, attend a Sunday service and see for yourself.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:28AM (#30143060) Journal

    Scientology is a criminal organization with a history of stalking and harassment, as well allegations of burglary, intimidation, kidnapping, bribery, attacks on the U.S. government (specifically the FBI), and murder both direct and through neglect.

    Scientology's own documents show they believe in terrorizing and murdering anyone who opposed them.

    It should be perfectly legal to use Scientology's own "auditing process R2-45" on every single member.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:37AM (#30143178)

    If they're really operating as a non-profit, then their year-over-year balance shouldn't really be increasing that much.

    Speaking as a certified accountant, non-profit status has NOTHING inherently to do with the amount of cash they hold. A non-profit organization simply does not distribute its surplus assets to owners or shareholders and instead uses them to further the goals of the organization. If holding a lot of cash would further the goals of the organization they can do that. The IRS might review their status if they are holding a lot of cash for no obvious purpose but by itself it means nothing. Foundations typically have large amounts of cash and moderately liquid investments. Non-profit organization can have a significant rise in assets and that is fine. Many hospitals and hospital systems are non-profit but they have large amounts of cash and other assets and frequently grow significantly.

    Personally I question the idea that being non-profit should mean tax exempt (especially for religions with vast assets) unless it is an organization with a clear charitable charter but I didn't write the rules.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by Temujin_12 (832986) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:01AM (#30143612)

    The Mormon Church also requires large sums of money from it's members (a large percentage of your earnings) as well as mandated service.

    Can you read the Book of Mormon and/or information about it without joining the church.? AFAIK you can.

    Yes you can [lds.org].

    It's also important to note that the Mormon Church has no paid clergy. So member donations go to the organization/religion itself rather than to its leaders.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:32AM (#30144098)

    The Salem Witch trials came about because stupid people - who happened to be extremely religious and thus invoked God in everything including criminal trials - were afraid of their own neighbors.

    There is a certain amount of evidence that the Witch Trials were largely about acquiring some valuable land without going through the conventional process of paying for it. So including it as a "religious" issue is perhaps unwarranted.

  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:33PM (#30145050) Journal

    How did you get involved, originally? My first guess (having known a few scientologists) is that your parents were/are members and you were raised in it. Second guess: One of the substance abuse programs. Third guess: One of their entrepreneurial outreach programs.

    My girlfriend recently graduated from college with degrees in communications and marketing. She was almost immediately contacted with a job offer, from a company that said they were public relations consultants. She went into the interview and there were ten other people there, also waiting. The person running the interview sat everyone down and gave them a form to fill out and sign before they started the interview process. One of the items on the form was a non-disclosure clause for everything in the interview, and another was a statement that L. Ron Hubbard's words were infallible. To which she had to agree in writing before she could get an interview. At which point she realized that she was being recruited to be a Scientologist recruiter. She walked out. But just so you know, that's one way Scientology gets new members: they hire people with degrees being convincing to go get more people.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by Digz (90264) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:06PM (#30145552)

    The Latin Vulgate is named such because it was translated into the vulgar (aka common) language spoken at the time. Churches had copies of the Vulgate available to the public. And yes, they may have been chained to a pedestal - but this was due to their value, not to limit access. Before the printing press it took a scribe a year to make a copy of the Bible.

    Literacy was also abysmally low in the common people during this time, and did not see an uptake until around the 12th century. When literacy began rebounding there came to be more glosses and translations available in the common tongue. This happened in Old English, Middle English and more modern versions. In fact, the Douay-Rheims translation was published BEFORE the Authorized King James Version of 1611.

    What were condemned were heretical translations that purposefully worded the Bible to make it seem to absolutely refute beliefs. This has not gone by the wayside. In fact, you can still see its prevalence in modern translations such as the NIV, which translate 'paradosis' as 'tradition' when it's something that is spoken against but 'teaching' when it's regarding something to be affirmed.

  • Re:Interesting name. (Score:2, Informative)

    by flyneye (84093) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @04:25PM (#30148132) Homepage

    I'm sorry but political correctness is a code of behavior, while well meaning on the surface, that hobbles any practitioner to never offending anyone. If no one ever offends themselves, then one might say all is fair. If all is fair, nothing will ever get done, everyone will starve and world population will soar out of control because the only thing left to do is f**k.
              This also implies a non existent right to never be offended, which fuels morning radio talk show gags and covers laziness on the part of politicians who use this to explain non actions and no-positions on controversial subjects.
    Political correctness is an invention of the U.S. Democratic party to cover wrongdoing while masquerading as goody-two-shoes. Perfected by Hillary Clinton during her Listening Tours to cover the fact that she had absolutely nothing of value to say, else it would've been a speaking tour and she would've trashed her career early on.

    One might find the business adage " If you're not pissing anyone off, you're not getting anything accomplished" useful.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!

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