Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Tue 09 May 2000, p55


- SBS, 8.30PM

John Travolta is a staunch supporter. So are many other Hollywood celebrities and it is from them that The Church of Scientology gets its best publicity.

Yet while the promotion comes through association with high-profile names, there is rarely a lot actually discussed about the church.

That is set to change with this French documentary (narrated in English and featuring subtitles) that examines the relationship between the Church of Scientology and the law in France, Germany and the United States.

Incorporating comments from the church, former church members, lawyers and politicians, the documentary debates the question of whether the church is manipulating legal systems.

At the end of the day, with the information presented in this film, things aren't looking good for the church. Viewers have to decide who they believe in the case and whether they have been given access to all of the facts.

While the program looks at Scientology's fight for tax exemptions in the US and France, it is a couple of pivotal trials in France that draw the most coverage.

In one, Lafayette Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, was convicted in absentia to four years in prison and a 35,000-franc fine for fraud. He never served his time.

In another, a woman sued the church after her husband committed suicide. She believed he was pressured by the church to run up debts to pay for a purification ritual.

It's an interesting documentary that throws up lots of questions but doesn't really provide many answers.


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