[Note: typos preserved.]

The Canberra Times, Sat 19 Aug 1978, p13

Scientologists to have first ACT service


The Church of Scientology, the invention of science fiction writer Ron Hubbard which has caused an unholy uproar around the world in the past, will hold a Canberra inaugural service at Red Hill tomorrow.

The Church, established in 1953 by Mr Hubbard after his book 'Dienetics', published in 1950, attracted world-wide interest in the principles of Scientology.

More than five million people in 54 countries are understood to have gone through the Scientology processing, a full course of which can cost an individual several hundred dollars in donations to the cause.

After years of fierce opposition by some State Governments in Australia, particularly over the church's use of an electronic device called the E-metre in its counselling, the Whitlam Government declared it a religious denomination in 1973.

Court judgments also had caused bans on the church to be lifted in Melbourne and Adelaide by this time.

The E-metre is supposed to measure a person's resistance to electric current and is used in therapy to assist a devotee to gain self-awareness.

The therapy has been available to people in Canberra for some time, according to organisers in the Church.

In seeking its goal of a world without insanity or criminality populated by those who are spiritually aware, the Church continues to clash with health bodies and the law.

Although Mr Hubbard stepped down as director of the Church in 1966, a French court sentenced him to four years' jail this year and fined him the equivalent of $A6,160 for fraudulently obtaining funds in the way of donations.

The court hearing was carried out in his absence and the Church says that Mr Hubbard was not made aware of the court action and had never been to France.

A warrant for Mr Hubbard's arrest was issued, but was never served and is unlikely to be, according to Church organisers.

The Church maintains that the court action was set up to discredit the Church after members alleged that a Nazi held a position in the international police organisation, Interpol, which is based in Paris.

After the court's decisions were widely publicised the Church moved to counter the propaganda by producing a book titled 'L' Inquisition Francaise' which gave its side of the case.

The action against the Church followed similar allegations by the American Interanl Revenue Service that it had avoided great lumps of tax through accepting millions of dollars in donations.

One per cent of the American population, including many celebrities, belong to the Church.

One of the faith's prime targets are reforms in mental-health laws, as it sees modern psychiatry as one of the worst crimes inflicted on mankid.

The presence of Scientology in Canberra became apparent after the controversy aroused by the original draft of the ACT Mental Health Ordinance.

An issue of the Church's newspaper Freedom this year said the draft had some good points but was obviously designed to aggrandise the status of the Director of Mental Health Services.

It was happy to report the ordinance had been sent away for redrafting and members of the Church in Canberra now anxiously await the final draft to be made public.

An indication why the Church is opposed to many practices of modern psychiatry are given in an article in Freedom which concludes, "The fact that every mass murderer in recent years has been through the hands of psychiatry is well documented. Perhaps the fact that the greatest mass murderer of them all, Adolf Hitler, was a psychiatric product, should not be too surprising."

[Press articles on Scientology]