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Censorship Government

AU Senator Calls Scientology a "Criminal Organization" 511

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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  • Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:00AM (#30139856)


  • Makes me sick (Score:1, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:02AM (#30139874) Homepage Journal

    If you think a person has broken the law then call the cops. Don't just splash allegations around under parliamentary privilege. If people in the CoS have broken laws then that says nothing about other people who associate with that organization.

    In the absense of facts the senators statement in the summary could be applied to pretty much any set of people.

    I don't like Scientology either but I value my freedom to associate.

  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZDRuX ( 1010435 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:04AM (#30139886)
    To me, all religions are a scam. Some have been around longer than others and thus emanate a sense of legitimacy but they're mostly cults with a God that we offer our prayers and money to in return for a hope of a better life.

    Religions come and go, their Gods are offered gold, placed upon altars and have great building and churches erected in their names - and yet, people die of violence, starvation, and famine. Their Gods grow weak and frail, their subjects grow old and a new religion eventually emerges and takes its place as the new "true" religion. A sad cycle indeed.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:17AM (#30139988) Journal

    That's fairly rare among politicians. Congratuations, Austraila!


  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by keeperofdakeys ( 1596273 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:17AM (#30139996)

    Religions give followers a sense of belonging and an answer to questions like who made the universe and what happens when I die. They also give a group of people a sense of belonging.
    It's just a pity when religions get in the way of our society (abortion, contraceptives and gay rights are good things) and when people take them too far (terrorism). Also when they exist solely for monetary gain.

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:18AM (#30139998)

    I don't like Scientology either but I value my freedom to associate.

    Should all associations be given tax-free status? If not, then what conditions deserve tax-free status, and should that status be irrevocable once obtained?

  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:22AM (#30140026) Homepage

    Pretty OT here but with people making Xenu gags because of the name its worth point out that Xenophon's Conversations with Socrates [amazon.com] is one of the few sources for views of the great Greek philosopher and orator.

    CoS are of course a shill, its not even a very clever shill, their "e-meters" are almost as dumb as the bullet proof pants that the Mormons try and pedal.

    Why should any religion get tax status? They aren't a charity, the money is primarily there to support their own organisation. They are selling a product called "salvation" and people are paying money in the belief they are getting something back.

    Socrates wasn't the biggest fan of religion either... question everything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:26AM (#30140054)

    "Someone get me an e-meter, quick!"

    I'm afraid sir you'll have to buy your own. This is a religion not a charity.

  • Re:Makes me sick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Onetus ( 23797 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:27AM (#30140062) Homepage

    For those unfamiliar with the australian parliment - the definition of what "Parliamentary Privilege" is: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/pubs/briefs/brief11.htm#1 [aph.gov.au]

    I think you miss understand the purpose of "parliamentary privilege", my fellow australian. Our elected representitives can discuss such issues as the authenticity of Scientology, without fear of slander/libel suits or gag orders or general legal hoop-la to silence their criticisms. It is their role to raise issues of their consitutents in such as manner, so that members of the public can come forth/organise/e.t.c to provide the necessary PROOF that the laws are being broken. Then the appropriate law enforcement agency can be engaged.

    Sorry mate - I don't want to live in your world where if no-one talks about a problem it doesn't exist - that's just plain foolish.

    But regardless, by READING THE FIRETRUCKING ARTICLE, you would have encountered the first two paragraphs stating:
    "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."

    First sentence of your post: "If you think a person has broken the law then call the cops" ... Check - he's passed on the letters to the police.
    As for the rest - I can't believe you're trying to align criticism of Scientology with an attack on your freedom to associate ... Unless you're a scientologist too...

    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)

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:32AM (#30140094)

    If you think a person has broken the law then call the cops. Don't just splash allegations around under parliamentary privilege. If people in the Outlaws Motorcycle Club have broken laws then that says nothing about other people who associate with that organization.

    In the absense of facts the senators statement in the summary could be applied to pretty much any set of people.

    I don't like the Outlaws Motorcyle Club either but I value my freedom to associate.

    There fixed that for you. In America they should be tried under RICO just like the Outlaws were.

  • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:42AM (#30140166)

    It would be easy to test too. Religions that are not willing to publish their teachings on the web and give away free books are non profit, ones that sue people to take those teachings down are for profit and get to pay tax [wikipedia.org]. Actually religions that try to stop other people talking about them should at the very least lose their tax free status and should probably be sued too.

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:05AM (#30140314)

    Should all associations be given tax-free status? If not, then what conditions deserve tax-free status, and should that status be irrevocable once obtained?

    I don't think *any* organization, association, or person should ever have tax-free status period.

    The way taxes are done now is an invasive active system that is just abused as an information tool for intelligence agencies, and a barcode for every citizen to be forcible tattooed with at birth. Guilty before proven innocent and basically no real way to fight them even when they are wrong. Prove they are wrong and they don't even have to pay interest on your money that they stole due to an incompetent power mad government employee.

    I know it's a big argument but I wholly support a passive (as far as the citizen is concerned) tax system that is entirely based on consumption. Whether it is you or that non-profit that goes to buy the hammer is irrelevant. You pay taxes the moment you buy the hammer. The government gets its taxes but has no way of knowing who bought the hammer and why. Additionally, the government has NO EXCUSE to pry into people's private finances anymore. I would like to see it go back to a court order to get a single bank record instead of them just using the IRS as a tool to collect information. Information, that goes far beyond just income, but also to expenditures.

    Non-profits would pay taxes just like everyone else for their purchases and I don't see a reason for them to not pay taxes this way. Cost of doing business, plain and simple. They need more money, then people have to donate more money to them. I would think the administrative costs of just keeping the books for the government disappearing would mitigate that significantly.

    Tax exempt just bugs me. Especially when it is delivered to people who believe in some magic man in the sky. Form an organization of people around that idea, and you don't get to pay taxes?? really?

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:12AM (#30140362) Journal
    He said it wasn't government's job to determine which religious beliefs are worthy of recognition and which are not.

    Of course it is. The government is responsible for levying taxes. They are the ones who decide who gets taxed and who doesn't. It's certainly not the religion's job to determine if it should be recognized.
  • by Caity ( 140482 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:35AM (#30140480)

    If they make no money to speak of and give most of that to (tax deductable) charities then spend the rest on (tax deductable) running costs then I doubt that their tax bill is going to be very high. The admin for it would increase running costs though (tax deductably). If they have an accountant in their flock they should be able to get it gratis, surely :)

  • Re:tax shelter (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:38AM (#30140498)

    With the tax exemption, new members only have to pay x% of their salaries to the church instead of y%. Since x is still a positive number I wouldn't call it an incentive to join, just a reduced burden.

  • by BluBrick ( 1924 ) <blubrick AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:44AM (#30140530) Homepage
    So what's the problem with taxing all religions as if they were businesses? Tax them a certain proportion of their profits - no profits, no tax. I'd expect that the Cult of Scientology would be among the first to get wholly reamed via the new taxation regimen.
  • by Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @02:56AM (#30140592)
    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...
  • by PsyQ ( 87838 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:02AM (#30140626) Homepage

    You haven't really researched this a lot, otherwise you wouldn't say that. Check out Operation Clambake (http://www.xenu.net). Usually, religions aren't all about money and mind control. Scientology is:

    "The Church of Scientology is a vicious and dangerous cult that masquerades as a religion. Its purpose is to make money. It practices a variety of mind-control techniques on people lured into its midst to gain control over their money and their lives. Its aim is to take from them every penny that they have and can ever borrow and to also enslave them to further its wicked ends." (cited from xenu.net)

  • by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:03AM (#30140630)

    The problem with tax exemption of religion is that ultimately the government decides whether or not it's a religion. It's entirely within their power to revoke that status at their whims.

    Well maybe where you live. Here in Australia we have this funny custom we call "Law." The law gives ordinary citizens, along with extra-ordinary "religious" bodies, the right to appeal decisions made by administrative officers which affect them. In fact this association generally known as the Church of Scientology appealed the decision of the Federal Commisioner of Taxation in the leading case [austlii.edu.au] defining the legal basis for recognition as a religion for the purposes of taxation. Hint: it's not based on the government's "whim." (Unless you regard the legislature's enactment of legislation - which would seem the easiest way to overturn that decision -as mere "whim").

    People should be free to associate with no advantage given to any association through law.

    The problem with banning corporations is the very reason they were created by the legislature in the first place, namely "natural" (ie. joint-stock) companies, were simply unable to raise sufficient capital to undertake the large projects which we would regard as essential to modern life. Now unless you are proposing something like a socialist system, it will always be necessary to give legal advantage at least to incorporated companies. Having done so, it would not seem entirely fair to restrict legal advantages to this form of association alone.

    As concerns the tax-exempt status of religions, in a (representative) democracy such as Australia, I find no great objection in the to the idea that the people can decide to grant (or not to grant) tax exemption if they believe religious bodies are a valuable social institution which might not survive but for exemption. Or to Opera companies, scientists of note etc etc. Personally my decision would be not to grant it to religions, but that's just me.


    However, the situation we have in Australia, where business ventures owned by religious bodies are in turn tax exempt, constitutes, in my view, and intolerable injustice towards competitors. Take the above mentioned example of Sanitarium(tm) owned by the Seventh Day Adventists. How can it be considered fair to other companies in the food market, to compete with a company that pays not tax?

  • Re:Makes me GLAD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanguineV ( 1197225 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:08AM (#30140650) Homepage

    I am sure there are plenty. The difference is in Australia these politicians are occasionally voted into office.

  • by Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:09AM (#30140652)
    Religions aren't about money and mind control? Really? That's an incredibly naive statement.

    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...
  • Re:tax shelter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zontar The Mindless ( 9002 ) <plasticfish DOT info AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:28AM (#30140758) Homepage

    Perhaps you've never heard of the Socratic Method [wikipedia.org]?

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:43AM (#30140822) Journal

    The currently proposed FairTax taxes necessities, as defined based on the poverty line, at 0% via a rebate. It is the most poor-friendly tax ever. Bleeding hearts should be eating it up.

    "With the rebate taken into consideration, the FairTax would be [.. ] be regressive on income at higher income levels (as consumption falls as a percentage of income) [...] this would accordingly decrease the tax burden on high income earners and increase it on the middle class"

    After necessities, why should the poor pay a lower percentage of tax on the items they buy than anyone else?

    1) If you're poor, EVERYTHING you spend is on necessities.
    2) The poor can least afford it.

    Taxing those who earn 10K as much as we tax those who earn millions, puts the burden to pay for services (many of which they aren't benefiting from) on the poor. If you're rich, you have a workforce, and you're benefiting from all social programs, and disproportionately from many of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:51AM (#30140862)

    The sad thing about that? People want to be taken advantage of, they want to be cheated and they want to be abused. Scientology is merely another organisation focused on getting the best out of people, i.e. their money.

    "[insert government or bank of choice] 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."

    It's a pretty versatile quote.

  • by Architect_sasyr ( 938685 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @04:21AM (#30140982)
    As he should. I don't agree with the man on most of his points, but I can appreciate someone getting up and metaphorically saying "Are you fucking serious?!" to the rest of the parasites he has to work with.

    A government should be doing what is best for the country, not what is seen to be most politically correct - at least Nick is working on getting that to happen.

    Even if he is a filthy South Australian.
  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @04:52AM (#30141126)

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

    Thank the Hollywood stars who keep funding it.

  • Re:Makes me sick (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:22AM (#30141228) Journal

    If people in the CoS have broken laws then that says nothing about other people who associate with that organization.

    Interesting argument. Think it would work for the mob?

    The simple fact is, that CoS members acting on direct orders from their top leaders have repeatedly committed crimes. This is a matter of public record in about half a dozen countries. It would take you all of a minute with Google to find any number of examples.

    Sure, there may be some lower-level clambots who have a clean rap sheet (so far), but the truth is that as soon as anyone starts moving up in the hierarchy, they are prevailed upon to participate in fraud to extract as much money as possible from the marks.


  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:41AM (#30141308) Homepage
    Dude. Relax. It's not a documentary. The movie was based on a freaking comic book. It was an awesome movie, the kind that you're supposed to watch with a bigscreen and bad-ass sound system. They didn't portray the helots either.
  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:53AM (#30141356)

    At the height of its power the easiest way to get someone into a position of power within the various Christian churches in Europe was to cough up cash and the higher you wanted to go the bigger the donation. Rich families often did just that for their non first-born male children. For centuries the bible was not allowed to translated from Latin to limit who had access to it and keep the interpretations in the hands of the priests. Virtually the same thing as Scientology.

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:58AM (#30141380)
    That would include the Zen masters that told people that the secret of the good life is to overcome your training, experience things for yourself and "just be natural"? Or the Hebrew prophets who told anyone who would listen that God was not interested in temples, altars and sacrifices, but wanted people to live ethically and at peace with their neighbours?

    The sad truth is that religions become centres of power, and centres of power attract criminals. It's interesting to see how even the green movement is being plagued with criminals selling people massively uneconomic wind and solar systems, because people's desire to do good often exceeds their ability to see through bullshit. But some religions - Zen, Quakers, Reform Judaism, the liberal wing of the Episcopalian Church - have proven very resistant to criminal infiltration. That's possibly because they attract mainly very educated people. To be blunt, one reason Scientology is so successful might be because it has targeted the rich and gullible.

  • by Angostura ( 703910 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:07AM (#30141422)

    From an outsider's perspective (atheist) it is a mistake to think that scientology isn't any more corrupt or evil than any other organized religion in the world. Not all religions have specific tenets requiring you to part with large amounts of money to simply read their 'scriptures'. Not all religions specifically attempt to stop members from contacting their families who are non-believers. Not all religions embark on well funded, well organised and effective smear campaigns against ex members. Not all religions have private internment camps for members who are being wayward.

    To think that Scientology is on a par with the average world religion is a relativist mistake.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:11AM (#30141448) Homepage Journal

    Yes, but you know that before you join.

    Anyone can find out exactly what the Mormon's believe, and they would be quite happy to explain it more fully if you are interested.

    The CoS wants you to pay first, before you decide whether what they believe is credible. Given what they belive there is a good reason for that....

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:46AM (#30141592)

    So what's the problem with taxing all religions as if they were businesses? Tax them a certain proportion of their profits - no profits, no tax. I'd expect that the Cult of Scientology would be among the first to get wholly reamed via the new taxation regimen.

    Because I'm absolutely certain that the CoS, with all the money it has accumulated over the years, would have a terrible time finding a suitably creative team of accountants to bring their tax bill right down.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @08:40AM (#30142148) Homepage

    Here's the fundamental difference between Scientology (and a lot of dangerous cults) and real religions (established or otherwise): Walk up to a member of the clergy or lay leader, and ask them the fundamental tenants of what they believe. Any real religion will rattle off a few tenants, point you to some literature and/or holy books, explain the nature of their rituals and public services, and so forth. The point is to spread the ideas as much as possible, and they'll welcome the opportunity to do so. This is true whether you're talking to a Christian minister, a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim imam, a Voudoun priest, a Wiccan priestess, or Ivan Stang of the Church of the SubGenius.

    With a cult, if you walk up to the clergy and lay leader, they'll change the discussion from an evaluation of their faith to an evaluation of you. For Scientologists, that's what the initial auditing process is about. Instead of giving you the information you need to decide whether the faith is worthy of your support, they collect information to decide whether you are worthy of the faith. And since people don't like to see themselves as failures (as a general rule), many folks will react to this by trying to prove themselves worthy. And in the often complex process of proving themselves worthy, they will commit themselves more and more fully to the cult, without really knowing what they're getting into.

  • by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @08:41AM (#30142150)

    Do not attempt to read between the lines and make up extra meaning that is not there.

    Don't you presume to tell me how to read a case, especially one you've apparently never set eyes on. You are clearly out of your depth if you think the jurisprudence of Lionel Murphy can be approached without "reading between the lines."

    In the event I'm not actually asking you to read between the lines, I'm simply asking you to read them. Since you are too lazy to look the case up and read it [austlii.edu.au], I'll quote you a few lines.

    First of all in fairness to OP, the idea he was paraphrasing in Murphy's own words:

    Religious freedom is a fundamental theme of our society. That freedom has been asserted by men and women throughout history by resisting the attempts of government, through its legislative, executive or judicial branches, to define or impose beliefs or practices of religion. Whenever the legislature prescribes what religion is, or permits or requires the executive or the judiciary to determine what religion is, this poses a threat to religious freedom. Religious discrimination by officials or by courts is unacceptable in a free society. The truth or falsity of religions is not the business of officials or the courts. If each purported religion had to show that its doctrines were true, then all might fail. ... In the eyes of the law, religions are equal. (at para 7)

    Now if you really find anything in that statement "perverted" (and remember Murphy J has yet to hold the Scientology is a religion, this is merely setting up the legal context), then I suggest moving to China, where they hold ideas of relgious freedom more in concordance with your own. But let's go on to examine some of the reasons Murphy J went on to find the Scientology was indeed a religion (actually if you read his judgment he merely demolishes the objections of Vic Sup Crt).

    In the older religions propagation occurred in various ways ... Indoctrination or "brainwashing' [sic] is typical of many religions. Often this takes place during an intense period of initiation. Adherence and conversion are also achieved in most religions by regular meetings, ceremonies and rituals. ... Scientology appears to conform to this general pattern of propagation. (at 37)

    And then just to show what a great fan of religion he is, a little later,

    Hundreds of millions of people have been slaughtered in the name of god, love and peace. (at 43)

    Are you seeing a pattern emerging yet? No? Well here is the paragraph I already quoted where he deals with the SupCrt's contention that Scientology isn't a religion because of it's commercial nature.

    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. (at 45)

    Now I know you have a diminished capacity to "read between the lines," so that may have flashed past you without you noticing it. So here it is again. [R]eligious tax exemption has led to ...

  • by Loosifur ( 954968 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:17AM (#30142376)

    Whenever there's something about CoS it seems like there's a crowd of people who chime in with, "But ALL religions are corrupt, criminal, and commercial." Which inevitably leads to the conclusion that, if you happen to not have a problem with religion in general, you must accept anything which calls itself a religion, or become an atheist.

    Here's the problem. We'll put aside my Pollyanna-esque belief that most of the time religions really are about a genuine and sincere effort to understand the metaphysical aspects of existence. Yes, the Catholic church is responsible for suppression of science and learning, set up the "indulgence" system, and a host of other sins. Keep in mind, however, that the Catholic church was the last vestige of Roman-style socio-political organization after the fall of the empire. While the West dissolved, the Catholic church was the closest thing to a stable government that was able to provide legitimacy to regional and local rulers, preserve some measure of learning, and mitigate internal conflict. Not until the Treaty of Westphalia does the modern concept of the state enter into Western thinking, and that was well after the Inquisition's height. So, yes, the Catholic church has done some nasty things, but compare it to any other nation-state if you want an appropriate ethical comparison.

    CoS, on the other hand, actively seeks to defraud individuals through a deliberate pyramid-scheme. It is felonious by any legal standards, and does no charitable work to speak of. Churches, synagogues, and mosques routinely collect money from followers as a sign of devotion and as a means of maintaining themselves (literally, as in a "building fund").

    Some Slashdotters appear to be confused as to the concept of nonprofit. A nonprofit organization is allowed to raise money through sales and donations in order to pay it's employees and maintain itself; it only has to show that, at the end of the day, it doesn't have any money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:48AM (#30142630)

    I attend a church that regularly meets with other churches (of different beliefs, islamic, jewish, etc) to discuss how to best focus thier efforts to improve the community around them. They offer aid to needy families, the just released the parish budget last week showing how our money was used to give over 154,000 dollars to the local community in money alone. I would hazard that over 50,000 hours of time are devoted each year to the local community by our parish alone, not including the mosques and temples whose members also donate their own time. Friends of the night people, GoodWill, Catholic Charities, Shalom House, The Family Development Center. They have open discussions on the ideas of women priests and gay rights. The church is "in charge" if you believe it in, in keep you safe, in advising you in all aspects of your life. They don't want to discriminate, but they also don't want to simply give the "go ahead" over traditional beliefs. It's a slow changing organization, and that is their biggest failing, but it is not the ignorant body of mindless followers you describe.

    You seem to be stuck on the idea that if a religion has ever done anything wrong, than it can never be right. You are equating the minds and education of people in the 1000 AD with people in 2000 AD. These people believed that gassy food from your stomach would rise through your body and cause blindness (John Milton). They thought that the body consisted of four humors and there was no proper education to aid them.

    The fact that you equate a time when most of the church was uneducated and fearful to today is simply ignorant of our own history. If scientology existed in 1000 AD and was pulling this stuff, then fine. I agree, while I don't believe their view, they are no different. But it is not 10 AD, it's not even 1500, 1700, or 1800. The Catholic church supports evolution, the big bang, and has officially adopted all the most modern scientific positions. They have dedicated and inspired millions of people to work harder at a better world. If the church starts a new crusade you can bet I'll be out in a heartbeat, but they won't. They have grown smarter as our people have, and we will continue to work on making sure we are not adhering to meaningless tradition while putting real help into the world.

    I cannot defend the actions of religious leaders over 1000 years ago, and I shouldn't have to. If the church of Scientology stops suing people and starts helping I'll gladly back off of them. Likewise if the bible ever become a "for pay" book, I'll be banging on my church door for change.

    The Catholic Church, and many other churches, do a myriad of good in the world today. Whatever their individual beliefs, they help atheists and non-believers a like because it is their duty. They may be wrong sometimes, in fact there are things in the church I don't agree with (gay rights is one of them) but the true churches are not hunting down "the gays" they welcome them to talk, to understand, and to try and figure out who needs to change.

    The moment I see a group of atheists give this kind of consideration to their fellow man, the day they offer over millions of dollars and man hours to the welfare of man kind, the moment they come together and actually practice the "humanity without religion" they so often preach, the moment they a start viewing mankind as a being with dignity and not a lump of flesh to be abused, well sir, then I will eat my hat.

  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:51AM (#30142650) Journal

    they make no money to speak of (enough to give to charities and cover liability costs on public worship - and perhaps support a minister).

    So because someone's job is to teach people about a being of questionable existence, he should be exempt from taxes? If they want to be a charity, register as a charity. If you want to be a religion, you should get taxed. Teaching people about beings of questionable existence (you say only god X exists? Man down the road says only god Y exists. Clearly there is question to which one, if either, exists) isn't something society should be forced to burden.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:53AM (#30142668)

    And what is a profit? If you and I and our friends throw $50 each in the hat to hold a party, have we just made a "profit"? That's what a non-profit organisation is.

    Look at the growth of the ledgers as time progresses. You may have turned a profit on that particular party, but you're likely to either redistribute the left-over among the contributors or hang on to the money so it can be applied to the next party, either of which would make it a non-profit venture.

    If they're really operating as a non-profit, then their year-over-year balance shouldn't really be increasing that much. Look at the other churches in the world... the Vatican is actually quite cash poor. So is the Church of England. Most Muslim mosques don't have millions of dollars sitting in the bank. Most Buddhist monasteries and temples are quite poor. Why? Because anything that these organizations take in that goes beyond their budget to maintain operations usually gets disbursed out among the community as charity.

    So if you want to establish if the CoS is actually a non-profit venture, or if they're operating at a profit, take a look at the ledgers. Confirm that the leadership is being paid a salary that's commensurate with what other people of similar position in other churches are being paid, and if the year-over-year numbers show a significant profit, then it's not a non-profit organization. Seems pretty simple to me.

  • Why Scientology? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:38AM (#30143200)

    And not Islam? Islam is more criminal an organization that all other "religions" in the history of the world combined. Scientology may have killed a few people, but Islam kills people wherever they can find them. It's like cancer for any government.

    Scientology isn't going to start shooting it's own servicemen or dropping grenades into their own people's bunker. They are scam artists and brain washers, sure. But they don't rise to the level of muslim scum.

  • by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:23AM (#30143944) Homepage Journal

    >"Someone get me an e-meter, quick!"

    >I'm afraid sir you'll have to buy your own. This is a business not a religion.

    Fixed that for ya.

  • Re:Now (Score:3, Insightful)

    by molo ( 94384 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:20PM (#30144848) Journal

    You make it sound like hindu fundamentalism doesn't exist. They make up a large bloq in Indian politics and social structure.


  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:31PM (#30145016)

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

    So Christianity isn't tax-exempt in the UK?

    I mean, ok, you could argue about the three-gods-in-one thing not necessarily making them polytheistic, but when they've got thousands of Saints who are really the equivalent of the lower Greek Gods it kinda kills the idea of Christianity being a monotheistic religion.

  • by okmijnuhb ( 575581 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:07PM (#30145558)
  • by socceroos ( 1374367 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:29PM (#30149698)
    The following is a summary of my theory, I'd like to think its mostly based on logic and fact given both party's past history (CoS in particular):

    Hmm, I just read the article. It definitely looks like the CoS contacted ABC to have this article published as their first counter movement. You'll notice the first steps they take are to point out that they're shocked by the allegations and that they've already tried to 'talk' to Senator Xenophon regarding an earlier assault on public television. They attempt to position themselves as a startled innocent party in this whole thing - alleging that they have pro-actively sought resolution with Senator Xenophon to explain their innocence. What where they going to explain? Re-read the article - particularly, the following quote sums it up:

    she is shocked to hear Senator Xenophon's claims, as no-one within the church seems disgruntled.

    Where is their denial of all the claims? They weren't going to meet with the senator to prove them wrong - that's for sure. They were going to meet with the senator to corner him. This guy's got a good brain on his shoulders. By not allowing them to disguise their blackmail in a 'friendly' meeting, he has forced them to switch play. They certainly cant start bullying him now - because he's gone public he's protected himself from that. At least, he's slowing their movements down.

    I think CoS has a number of options here, and I think their plan would be to employ more than one of these options at once to fortify themselves. Firstly, they're going to acquire the specifics of the accusations in question - they want names. From here they can formulate a plan, unique to each individual, that allows them to either bribe or scare them into silence - or even to publicly support the church. This will most definitely involve money and baseball bats - so to speak.

    Secondly, another front of assault is the senator himself. Their assassination tactics on public enemies are well documented to say the least, but is this the approach they'll take? We've noticed CoS go 'quiet' lately, at least on the surface. I'm convinced this is due to a wall of lawyers instructing them on the smartest move. But, having said that, if the senator can corner them enough (this will require getting to the victims first) then he can force them to resort to their 'fair game' tactics. This would be beneficial to the senator. Don't be surprised if we receive a nice visit from a big-wig soon - I'm thinking someone like Tom Cruise, but possibly not so publicly famous. If not a visit then definitely some choice phone calls to the senator and other people in power. Nothing that proves their guilt, but just a little "hey, I'm here, I'm powerful, don't get me wrong - I like you, but...." kind of stuff.

    Its up to the senator to hold his ground. He needs to cash in on his chips before its too late. This involves the victims and his friends in power - he's got to build his own fort, and jolly quick too. I certainly hope his 'evidence' holds up. But I'm not going to be surprised if the 'police' find that all the witnesses are 'found to be unreliable'.

  • by simplexion ( 1142447 ) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @07:11AM (#30154538)
    Xenophon isn't generally reasonable. He is brilliant. Stephen Fielding is an idiot

Forty two.