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Scientology On Trial In Belgium 540

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-fire-with-fire dept.
dgharmon sends this news from the Atlantic Wire: "After a years-long legal battle, federal prosecutors in Belgium now believe their investigation is complete enough to charge the Church of Scientology and its leaders as a criminal organization on charges of extortion, fraud, privacy breaches, and the illegal practice of medicine. ... Multiple reports and the group's legal history point to one key factor here: The Belgian government won't charge Scientology for being a cult — authorities are focusing on prosecuting it as a criminal organization. Which is a new twist, as most of the group's many court battles over the years have focused on establishing its legitimacy as a religion. ... The Church of Scientology houses its European headquarters in Brussels, so a ban in Belgium could be crippling to the group — and authorities there seem to know it."
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Scientology On Trial In Belgium

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  • it was (Score:5, Insightful)

    by etash (1907284) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:48PM (#42443135)
    about time this happened. It should be banned EU-wide.
  • This is good, but! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chthon (580889) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:52PM (#42443187) Homepage Journal

    I think that the Belgian authorities should also try to organise this in a European context (L'union fait la force!).

    Another idea I had: how should crowdsourcing be organised to damage scientology (I refuse them a capital)?

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Start pushing for extradition of the leaders of scientology for any local prosecutions. Just like any other organised criminal enterprise the focus should be on getting the leaders of the organisation and stripping it's assets. So upon successful prosecution follow up with class action law suits to recover the money, and pay for the damages for the psychological harm caused by the organisation. Even when corrupt US governments turn a blind eye because scientology is profitable and the play ground of US pse

  • by Press2ToContinue (2424598) * on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:55PM (#42443245)

    Operation Snow White was the Church of Scientology's name for a conspiracy during the 1970s to purge unfavorable records about Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard. This project included a series of infiltrations and thefts from 136 government agencies, foreign embassies and consulates, as well as private organizations critical of Scientology, carried out by Church members, in more than 30 countries;[1] the single largest infiltration of the United States government in history with up to 5,000 covert agents. This was also the operation that exposed 'Operation Freakout', because this was the case that initiated the US government investigation of the Church.

    Under this program, Scientology operatives committed infiltration, wiretapping, and theft of documents in government offices, most notably those of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Eleven highly-placed Church executives, including Mary Sue Hubbard (wife of founder L. Ron Hubbard and second-in-command of the organization), pleaded guilty or were convicted in federal court of obstructing justice, burglary of government offices, and theft of documents and government property. The case was United States v. Mary Sue Hubbard et al., 493 F.Supp. 209 (D.D.C. 1979).

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

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:57PM (#42443261) Journal

    Why(except perhaps for tax purposes) would a group being recognized as a religion or not so recognized be relevant? Both religious and secular organizations are capable of being criminal organizations, or not, and both are capable of using the sort of ethically problematic coercive tactics most commonly associated with cults.

    Certainly, being a well established and respected religion can be very convenient indeed(see also, decades-if-not-more of kiddie rape with near-total impunity); but if you have to fight for recognition as "Well, I guess you technically meet the standards of a 'religion', so we can't legally deny you." you don't automatically acquire the establishment and respect, which are what really count.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:16PM (#42443499) Homepage

      Because the key word "religion" has been a hot issue for so long that it's built into many laws. Employers discriminating against a religion is outlawed, but forbidding membership in a non-religious group may be fine (and the reverse as well... employers often can't only hire one religion, but can mandate union membership). Church property may be exempt from police searches under age-old sanctuary laws. Of course, those taxes you mentioned can also mean a difference of 20-50% in a church budget.

      Much of law is based on categorizing entities. Some categories are governed by this particular set of laws, other categories by a different set. Trying to work entities in to or out of any particular category is therefore a big part of a lawyer's job, and where lawyers get such a reputation for being dishonest.

  • by Kergan (780543) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:00PM (#42443299)

    France has already convicted several senior officials a few years back for crimes such as embezzlement, and contribution to suicide.

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

  • Matters of degree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scotts13 (1371443) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:11PM (#42443441)

    Not to offend anyone (or, sorry that I WILL) basically every organized religion is wacky. Since they're all based on things that have to be taken on faith, the only difference is how much disbelief the adherents are willing to suspend. Granted, to THIS observer, Scientology (and Mormonism, close behind) are at the far end of the spectrum, but it's a quantitative rather than qualitative difference. Now, practically, the Scientologists appear to present an ongoing danger to society; the Mormons no longer appear harmful.

    • Re:Matters of degree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @09:58PM (#42446859)

      Completely wrong. The Nigerian scams ask people to take things on faith, and they are not religions. Numerous phishing and other social hack type activities ask for faith.

      Scientology requires it. It you leave, you can't have contact with other members outside of the organization. If you show signs of wanting to leave, they do run-downs on you which are basically brainwashing. And if they can't brainwash you, they got cabinets full of dirt on you ready to share.

      There are places in the world where religion, society, and law are all the same thing. This exists in only two places for Scientology - the HQ in Clearwater, and the floating fortress Sea Org.

      Mormonism is nowhere near the Scientology end of the spectrum, because Scientology is not on the spectrum at all.

      If you really learn about Scientology, and have a discussion with anyone educated in comparative religion, they will disagree that it qualifies as one.

      Some religions are wacky, but this is the wacky without the actual religion part. Now, you can believe it is a religion, and take that on faith, but that doesn't make a new religion out of believing that Scientology is a religion.

    • Not to offend anyone (or, sorry that I WILL) basically every organized religion is wacky

      True. Take a look at the Skeptics Annotated Bible, Qur'an and Book of Mormon to see the inconsistencies, inhumane oppression and barbarity highlighted in these man-made books. It is astounding that in the 21st Century that anyone follows these works of ancient superstitious crazy men - especially when our understanding of the world is so much better (in science, philosophy, human relations, national relations, marriage, psychology, economics, nutrition/diets, health and hygiene etc etc)
      http://skepticsanno [skepticsan...dbible.com]

  • by Press2ToContinue (2424598) * on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:11PM (#42443447)

    Steven Fishman attested in court that he was assigned by the Church of Scientology to to murder his psychologist, Dr. Uwe Geertz, and then commit suicide.

    The Fishman Affidavit is a set of court documents submitted Steven in 1993 in the federal case, Church of Scientology International v. Fishman and Geertz (Case No. CV 91-6426 (HLH (Tx) U.S. District Court for the Central District of California).

    The Affidavit contained criticisms of the Church of Scientology and substantial portions of the Operating Thetan course materials.

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

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:50PM (#42443835)

      I'm reading Steve Fishman's book "Lonesome Squirrel" for the second time. He is a perverted, schizophrenic nut job, but his writing is quite funny and sharp, and the story is entertaining, even though a lot of it probably is a product of his imaginative and messed-up mind. It contains lots of Scn jargon, so a dictionary is handy:
      http://www.xenu-directory.net/glossary/glossary_a.htm

      His book:
      http://fishman.home.xs4all.nl/ls/indexls.html

      Also recommended reading is "Blown for good", and "Barefaced Messiah".

      Steve Fishman interview. At least watch the beginning:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKTveC__FMs

      Q: What is the difference between Scientology and the Mafia?
      A: The Mafia don't kill people in church.

      Scientology going down is something good. They prey on the vulnerable and harass, if not attempt to kill, their critics.

    • by PowerBook2k (312576) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @10:09PM (#42446915)

      And by the way, the Fishman Affidavit was the cause of the first time Slashdot ever had to delete comments:

      http://slashdot.org/story/01/03/16/1256226/scientologists-force-comment-off-slashdot [slashdot.org]

    • by gemtech (645045)
      It's not what they do, it's how they do it. They are a former client of mine (designing and manufacturing a critical piece of their auditing electronics) and I've met a few of them and read more than I should have about them. What moneys they charge for their "services" is a problem, and the biggest problem is how they treat the minions that cannot afford the sessions: it turns out to be slave labor (in the least).
      I hope that they get what they deserve.
  • I'd just love see them bite the dust.
  • Headquarters (Score:4, Informative)

    by Svippy (876087) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:36PM (#42443711) Homepage

    Actually, the European headquarters of Scientology is in Copenhagen (according to this US report [state.gov]), while the Brussels office is merely a lobbying firm for Scientology to the EU.

  • by SilenceBE (1439827) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:53PM (#42444557)
    Scientology in Belgium is interesting to say the least

    * A lot of extreme right wing politicians has something to do with Scientology.
    - Johan Demol [youtube.com] - ex-member of a extreme right wing organisation "Front de la Jeunesse" , also ex-cop and ex-politician.
    - When there is something in the news about Scientology in most cases you will see Hugo coveliers [wikipedia.org] being interviewed as their laywer (who also have made some appearances in Scientology videos) spouting the same "religion prosecution" bullshit.

    * Scientology tries to infiltrate into our government and organisations
    - The secret service suddenly stopped working with the communication firm Nextel because of the fact that is has close ties with Scientology. What incident happened is a mystery.
    - In the Flemish parlement there was a partner company (Ideas) of Hewlett Packerd that provided certain services that was a Scientology company. There was a lot of uproar because it came out that Scientology companies provided services to the Ministry of Defense, Local affairs and Social Services. Those departments that have very sensitive data... . Also because there are documented cases where in the nineties they also tried to infiltrate the French and German government departments.

    * They over-flooded Belgian libraries with free (propaganda) material and books written by hubert.

    Scientology is an extremely dangerous organisation. If it was me I would already put out International Arrest Warrant for the leaders of this dangerous cult.
  • by briancox2 (2417470) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @07:27PM (#42445841) Homepage Journal
    I believe this approach to dealing with the organization is exactly appropriate. The practice of any religion can be run by an organization that turns out into a cult. The attacks that we see on "Scientology" should not really be directed at the subject of Scientology nor used to label the subject as a cult. It is the corrupt management by David Miscavige that really is to blame. And, yes, he IS criminal. He abuses staff, torments former members who try to practice outside his control, harasses members for donations relentlessly and, of course, he trashes freedom of speech to keep people from knowing of his crimes. Mark Rathbun is the former number 2 in charge of the Co$. He's out and posting on a blog on WordPress everything he knows. Check out his blog for a viewpoint you won't hear from anyone else.

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