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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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  • Anonymous (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:58AM (#30139840)

    Anonymous should now use Nick Xenophon masks for all of their events.

  • tax shelter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:01AM (#30139870) Journal

    I can't help but wonder if the COS would even exist without its tax exempt status. Sure the people up top would be doing well like any pyramid scheme but would there be such an incentive for new members to join without the tax exemption?

  • by columbiatch (853270) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:07AM (#30139906)
    Anyone else shocked that a failed entrepreneur discovers a religion that requires significant capital outlay from it's followers? Hm....me either. Just google "e-meter"
  • Re:Makes me sick (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:11AM (#30139928)

    Did you read what he said? Oh that's right, this is /.

    All he is saying is that we should question the tax free status of Scientology. He then gave some examples of what the cult does.

  • Related? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:17AM (#30139990)

    Nick Xenophon is the only independenr of the Australian Senate. I wonder if that is related, as he doesnt have to please his party?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:18AM (#30140000)

    We all know how Scientology works. If you don't, look it up.

    What method of assassination will Scientology take?

    1) Physical Assassination
    2) Assassination of Character and Reputation
    3) Assassination of Assets
    4) Assassination of Family Members
    5) Something Else
    6) All of the Above

    Really, don't expect this guy to be around much longer.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZDRuX (1010435) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:25AM (#30140042)
    I agree 100% with you. My mother is highly religious - but I wouldn't dare try and convince her of my views. My father recently died of cancer just a year ago, and she seems to find peace and some sort of comfort and hope when she goes to church and has a personal relationship with God - and if that makes her life easier to live in this tough time, I don't care if she prays to a rock.

    I understand the role that religion plays in some people's lives, and being agnostic or an atheist is not for everyone. It's just religion is usually imposed upon people at a young age where they don't have a choice or can't mount a logical defense against what they're being told so they take it as truth. I wish people were baptized at the age of 20 or so, and I bet we'd have a lot less followers.
  • Re:Interesting name. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:32AM (#30140104)

    Looks like somebody is definitely Fair Game [wikipedia.org] now!

  • by shentino (1139071) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:34AM (#30140112)

    My opinion is that tax or no tax should be determined for churches the same way it is for everything else.

    Profit? Tax it
    Non-profit? Don't tax it.

  • by electrons_are_brave (1344423) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:37AM (#30140138)
    It's opened up a good debate in Australia - should any religion be tax exempt? People here are mentioning other religions which are corrupt (Catholoic Priests and child abuse is never our of the media) or which operate commercial activities but get an unfair competitive advantage because they don't pay tax (Hill Song and the Seventh Day Adventists are being mentioned).

    Lionel Murphy (A High Court Judge) was responsible for campaigning to get Scientology recognised as a religion in Australia. He said it wasn't government's job to determine which religious beliefs are worthy of recognition and which are not.

    Overall, religions should have to pay their own way.

  • legal precedent? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:52AM (#30140240)

    Can we use this as a precedent to get rid of other religious organizations too? ;P

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:00AM (#30140280) Journal

    Most religions don't copyright their message and charge large sums to move up the hierarchy. Most religions attempt to spead their message to as many as possible. The COS has gone as far to copyright the message and sue those who infringe. The most famous case of this happened right here on Slashdot.

  • by ThePengwin (934031) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:21AM (#30140398) Homepage
    You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion. - L. Ron Hubbard, 1948
  • Makes me GLAD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MoeDumb (1108389) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:21AM (#30140400)
    ... glad for Austrailians. Personally I wish we had a stand up politician like him in America.
  • by leereyno (32197) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:30AM (#30140460) Homepage Journal

    .....and I can tell you from personal experience that it really is pure concentrated evil.

    Scientology has gotten away with innumerable crimes over the years in part because the average person is incapable of imagining that anything can be so completely malign in its goals. The organization is completely sociopathic.

    They kicked me out because I wouldn't drink the koolaide.

    If you want to know more, I recommend you check out operation clambake (www.xenu.net)

  • Mr X (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:49AM (#30140564)

    South Australia Premier Mike Rann hates Senator Nick Xenophon because he could upstage him in state politics with clever and cheeky media stunts and is more popular.

    South Australia Deputy Premier and Treasurer Kevin Foley doesn't like him either, as evidenced by Nick calling him a fucking cunt. (Which he is.)

    Consequently, the Labor party hates Nick Xenophon.

    Don't always agree with Nick, but he definitely isn't afraid to call out bullshit when he sees it and you have to respect that. Apparently a huge number of fellow South Australians also think the same, which is why he polled enough primary votes to win 1 of 6 senate seats in the last federal election.

    The world would be a better place with more people like Nick Xenophon in parliament.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @04:03AM (#30140914)

    The problem is that churches own a large amount of extremely valuable property, which means huge property taxes. A lot of churches can't afford the property tax (dwindling congregation numbers, . Now before you say "Well if the church owns this valuable property, it SHOULD pay taxes!" - keep in mind that

    1. The churches rarely have plans to move - the market value of the property is of little consequence or benefit to them, and would only come up if the church closed down
    2. The reason the property is so valuable in the first place is largely to do with the churches (which meant subsequent congregations, which begot infrastructure, which meant value) - it's not that the churches snapped up valuable land*, it's that whatever land they touched turned to gold.

    Besides, if we tax religion, it's one step closer to some scumbag opens a charity for his own benefit (possibly the Scientologists could funnel their "profit" into a charity), and then we have to ask whether to tax charities (which often temporarily hold onto profits for investment/large charitable projects) as businesses.

    * Although the land many churches own is inherently valuable because it did things like claim the tops of hills and built in naturally nice areas, the nominal value of those features is only a tiny fraction of the value of the land - the development the churches inspired is the major component.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @04:17AM (#30140966) Homepage Journal

    Alan Grayson [wikipedia.org]

    Republicans attempt to cut off Rep Grayson's speech [youtube.com]

    His Youtube channel: RepAlanGrayson [youtube.com]

    Note, that he has balls and he is on a war against the republicans in congress, this means he is going against lobbyists and their underlying corporate masters, this is like going against 10000 CoSs at once.

  • Re:Now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by myowntrueself (607117) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @04:29AM (#30141028)

    we need to get rid of the rest of the religions and we might just save humanity.

    I'm not sure its religion, as such, thats the problem. I think its monotheism.

    Monotheism creates a kind of mono-mania in people where they can only perceive one very specific way of looking at the world as being 'correct'.

    Take Hinduism as a contrast. Hinduism contains within itself as much variation as you'd find between, say Christianity and Taoism.

    And then look at the behaviors of these entities that Christians, Jews and Moslems call 'God'.

    Judging these so-called 'Gods' by their behaviors as documented in their *own* 'holy' scriptures, I'd have to characterize Christianity, Islam and Judaism as devil-worship.

  • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @04:54AM (#30141132) Journal
    It should have been dissolved in France but what happened instead is really shameful. The judge was probably going to order the dissolution of the scientology, considered culprit of being a criminal organization of fraudulent aim (that means that money was considered their driving motivation). But two weeks before the verdict (a perfect synchronization). Our parliament made a "mistake". Inside a huge corpus of law modification (aimed at simplifying the laws regarding buisnesses and companies), someone "inadvertently" put a law removing the dissolution as a possible verdict for fraud. Nobody was able to point out the person who put this amendment (how comes !?) and everybody said it was a mistake and they would correct it with a new law. Unfortunately, the verdict was due two weeks later and instead of dissolution, the scientology got a record fine.

    They are loosing adepts, but they still have people in the higher spheres...
  • by name*censored* (884880) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @04:57AM (#30141142)

    I'm not GP, but this really bugs me:

    So you're argument is pretty much bunk. Rich people don't pay as much taxes as the poor or middle class right now, and my proposal is not to keep to the status qou. The opposite in fact.

    So, you've basically said

    1. We are in System A, which has problem X
    2. I propose System B
    3. System B is not the same as System A, therefore System B does not have problem X

    Really, this kind of black-and-white "not A therefore B" extremism (which is really a large family of bad arguments) is perhaps the biggest generator of problems in our democratic/capitalistic (ie, the masses decide) society. To wit:

    I don't see why we need to punish the successful.

    Tax is not a "punishment". (In theory) tax should be "We (the government) need money for services that are (arguably) untenable in or unsuited to private enterprise, how are we going to get it?". It's not "Hey, I don't like that guy, let's rob him! *cackle maniacally*". You are again making the "NOT A THEREFORE B" mistake by conflating "tax" with "punishment", because they both fit into the broader category "authorised arbitrated unpleasantness based on behaviour". But just as a motorbike is not an automobile (despite their many similarities), TAX IS NOT A PUNISHMENT, IT IS AN UNFORTUNATE NECESSITY.

    I don't see why we need to punish the successful. Especially, those who worked damned hard to get it.

    Some people are poor because they deserve to be.

    Not every poor person is a lazy bum, and not every rich person is a hard worker. Now whilst I have no specific moral objections to tax in and of itself (I don't like it, but don't find it immoral), you regard it as a "punishment", and therefore imagine that you're "punishing" people simply for being poor - and conversely, rewarding people for being rich. Which would be fine if everyone who was poor deserved it - but for the third time, NOTHING IS THAT BLACK AND WHITE (even you admit there's not 100% correlation). Is it that you have no ethical quarrel with "punishing" people for probably being lazy (in which case, you are a frighteningly heartless person), or do you simply ignore corner cases (ie, another incarnation of the black-and-white mistake)?

    As for the actual point you were trying to make about tax reform, I'm not going to enter into that. I'm merely going to point out that

    • Reducing the tax rate on luxury items to the same rate as non-luxury non-essentials
    • Removing the tax on non-essentials
    • removing the tax on income
    • Removing the tax on property
    • Removing the tax on possessions

    means a MUCH smaller tax revenue (unless you plan to simply make the figures your tax proposal extremely high, which will probably create a black market and public outcry). Although many here might support reducing tax and reducing services (and this is an argument I *DEFINITELY* don't want to enter into), no government would never agree to it, in the same way that no employee would ever agree to take a massive pay cut just to make a moral stand (especially when morals are highly subjective - an argument I don't want to enter into because anyone who argues for universal morality is a damned moron, and I have better things to do than argue with morons).

  • by Loki_666 (824073) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:10AM (#30141190)

    Oh dear.... you do know with the way our economies and politics are setup there is now way everyone can be rich? There always has to be the poor in our societies, otherwise the economy as it is setup wouldn't work. The peons must exist to do the grunt jobs... and at the end of the day, not everyone has the right qualities to be a manager/CEO/Lawyer/etc... but they can be hard working determined individuals.

    It will take a paradigm shift in our culture before we get to the stage where we can propose a workable solution (eg: not communism) which enables a vast majority of the population to be at least relatively well off.

    This is a long way off i feel. I don't have a solution (do you?), but i feel the only possible solution is technology, whereby it reaches the point where technology makes the need for workers redundant and therefore no need for companies to pay salaries (maintenance costs and engineer salaries of course still needed etc).

    I would love to see articles such as:
    Unenployment reaches 80%
    Today the government was praised for its work that saw unemployment reach 80%. Now more people than ever have been freed from the need to labour. As usual, we offer our heartfelt thanks to those who must remain employed and hope the added benefits of being a working class person at least make your 10 year term of employment bearable until you can join the unemployed.

    Perhaps the books that really spring to mind are the Dancers at the end of Time by Michael Moorcock. A truly decadent society (and not one i would like to see occur) whose technology was so advanced it was like magic. They never had to work, they just followed their fashions and desires.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:40AM (#30141302)

    Whoever heard of a religion that didn't make money?

    Those that feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, provide shelter for the homeless (cf. Matt. 25:35) and that sell their posessions to give to the poor (cf. Luke 18:22). They tend to be the ones you've not heard of unless you're in their neighbourhood and in need.

  • by DangerFace (1315417) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:55AM (#30141366) Journal

    Here in the UK there is a fascinating point of law - religions only get tax-exempt status if they are monotheistic. Richard Dawkins has a big thing about trying to persuade a Hindu temple to go to court for charity status, since they are legally a polytheistic, and thus heathen, religion, but actually all the gods are avatars of the one God, or something. Anyway, profit should be taxed, whether you dance around chicken innards or sell chocolate.

  • by srussia (884021) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:15AM (#30141464)

    Overall, religions should have to pay their own way.

    You have the wrong way around. Governments should pay their own way. Religions get voluntary contributions, while governments resort to force for their income.

  • by the_womble (580291) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:17AM (#30141476) Homepage Journal

    May be they can apply that to internet censorship and treating refugees as criminals as well!

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

    by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:58AM (#30141666) Journal

    Nice Godwin, but get this, Scientology is a criminal organization. When a senator acts to protect his constituents from being harmed by a criminal organization it is a good thing. His speaking out about this is the exact opposite of your intended slur. If he had stayed silent about these crimes then you could accuse him, but instead he bravely spoke out.

    First the Scientologists came for the critics, but I was not a critic so I said nothing...

  • by MoralHazard (447833) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @08:00AM (#30141962)

    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.

    Any hits? Just curious--I'm always happy to see somebody leave the CoS. it's a terrible, hurtful thing, and I've seen it ruin peoples' lives while making them feel it's their own fault.

    Also, out of curiosity, have you ever been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, or at least seen the symptoms in yourself?

    Personally, I think there's substantial co-morbidity between substance abuse problems and scientology for a very specific reason: Undiagnosed (or untreated) ADHD, mostly the "inattentive" kind (which is pretty substantially under-diagnosed, since the kids aren't unruly or acting out). It tends to breed feelings of worthlessness in afflicted adults, and opens up a lot of psychological vulnerabilities. Many suffers either self-medicate (hence the substance abuse issues), and/or get attracted to cults that promise direction, motivation, and self-improvement. Scientology, in particular, has substance-abuse outreach and treatment programs, which makes a handy recruiting strategy for the larger cult.

    Of all the scientologists I've met (~2 dozen), almost all of them seem like classic ADHD cases. That is partly based on observing behavior, and partly on what people have said about their life histories, and partly on what they say about their relatives (ADHD is highly inheritable). I've also met a lot (~100s) of 12-steppers (mostly AA)--the proportion of them showing ADHD symptoms or personal/family histories isn't quite as high, but it's still enormous, far more than the normal population.

    (Interesting side-note: According to my psychiatrist uncle (who performed a lot of criminal insanity consultations, and is borderline ADHD, himself), American prison populations also show substantial ADD/ADHD over-representation, possibly as high as 70-80% of all prison inmates. As an adult with ADHD, I have to suppress a chuckle at that little trifecta: Prison, addiction, or scientology--take your pick, kids, so many ways to ruin your life.)

    For the general Slashdot audience: If you or your family have symptoms of ADHD or inattentive (no-H) ADHD, I'd recommend reading Nancy and John Ratey's books, and then going to see a psychiatrist, in that order. Even if you decide not to try the drugs (which can be helpful, but aren't a magic cure by themselves), there is a LOT you can do to improve your life. It's cheaper than a cult, too.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:45AM (#30142604)

    I see Operation Clambake and raise you the house arrest of Galileo, the crusades, 9/11, Salem Witch Trials, etc, etc, etc, etc. The list is pretty long...

    house arrest of Galileo... Maybe, but it had less to do with the Religion of Christianity, and more to do with personal insults to the Pope.
    the crusades... No. The crusades had nothing to do with religion. Entirely political on both sides. After they were under way, they were retconned into a "religious" movement to garner support.
    9/11... Which religion says "Kill people indiscriminately, whether believers or not" (there had to have been Muslims working in the towers)? I think you're mistaking criminally insane with religious. Given your bias, that's understandable, but unfortunate.
    Salem Witch Trials... Again, Christianity doesn't say "burn witches and sorcerers" In the Bible only example of sorcerers that the apostles meet are either accepted into the Way (and their books/scrolls burned), or denounced and otherwise left alone. 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.
    etc, etc, etc, etc... Hmm, you may have something there. etc did have the people of etc doing etc for the religion of etc. I suppose etc may have to be lumped in with Scifientology.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zx75 (304335) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:20AM (#30142984) Homepage

    There are religions that don't accept members (through baptism) until they reach adulthood. They are called Anabaptists (many sects began during the Reformation because they believed that Martin Luther didn't address all their grievances with the Catholic Church).

    One of the more widespread of the Anabaptist sects are the Mennonites (of which I am one). I was baptized at the age of 26, because prior to then I didn't have a reason or desire to attend church. But, things happen, and I found a reason and a need in my life to be part of the church. It hasn't changed my belief structure (I still am agnostic/athiest) but that does not preclude the need for the belonging and philosophy of church. I may not believe there is a god, but a small hope that it might be true can give strength in trying times.

  • by Eskarel (565631) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:27AM (#30143044)

    It's true that not everyone can be rich.

    It's also true that not everyone is equal.

    That said, money begets money so if you have a lot of it's a hell of a lot easier to get more. Education is expensive for your kids, social connections make getting a job a lot easier, and if you've got a hundred grand you can afford to lose it's a lot easier to make a killing on the stock market or get in on the ground floor of some major new product.

    Not everyone who is rich deserves to be, and a lot of the people who are poor are there because despite hard work, they never had the opportunities a lot of the wealthy had. Yes there are always people who manage to pull themselves up by their bootstraps from extreme poverty to extreme wealth, but they are few and far between. I would suggest that nearly everyone on slashdot is not capable of doing so, including myself. I do pretty well for myself, but while I wasn't rich by any means I had a lot of opportunities. I never had to try focus on my education in a school rife with violence or find a part time job in an area where the only real economic activity is drug distribution and crime. I got to grow up lower middle class, go to a good school, get a university education and never get shot at.

    While not everyone has to be rich, we don't need to have people who do not earn enough to survive. We do not have to have people living in slums. We do not have to have kids who have no access to adequate health care, food, or education. None of those things are necessary for even our current economic model to work.

    The vast majority of the population doesn't necessarily have to be relatively well off, they just need to have access to the basic necessities of life, food, shelter, clothing, education, health care, safe streets, all the things most of us took for granted growing up and still do. Even guaranteeing those things to children who can't control who their parents are would be a start. Anyone who can argue that some 6 year old shouldn't be allowed adequate nutrition because their parents are losers is an asshole and should go die in a fire.

    Some rich people work hard and contribute to society. Some of them build companies which provide jobs or improve the standards of living of everyone. Some of them just run companies into the ground or siphon off funds to make themselves rich. You could argue that perhaps the one deserves some relief from taxes since they provide so much other value to society, but far far far too much of that richest 1% are in the other category, and most of the good ones end up in the upper middle classes working hard at a small business.

  • by Blue Stone (582566) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:30AM (#30144066) Homepage Journal

    >Here in the UK there is a fascinating point of law - religions only get tax-exempt status if they are monotheistic.

    Not true. I know of a school of Buddhism (a 'sect' - not an actual school) here in the UK which has charitable status. Definitely not mono- or anything-else-theistic.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:36AM (#30144152)

    Arranged marriages in Islam.

    If a woman doesn't marry someone deemed suitable for her (heaven forbid it's a non-muslim), her whole family can turn against her. They don't do a "well funded smear campaign". They kill her and her partner, often torturing beforehand.

    This is not specific to Islam, sorry. It was typical of the culture that existed pre-Islam in the parts of the world where Islam began.

    Note, by the way, that "arranged marriages" were the norm throughout most of history. It's only in recent centuries that we've become wealthy enough to allow ourselves the luxury of marrying whomever we will.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:48AM (#30144348)

    Yes, the Catholic church is responsible for suppression of science and learning,

    Oddly enough, the Catholic Church funded most of the scientists of the day. Including Copernicus and Kepler....

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