The West Australian, Thu 21 Dec 1978, p8

2 clerics back Scientology

Two clergymen told the Supreme Court yesterday that in their view scientology was a religion.

They said they had reached their conclusions after studying some documents on the doctrine of the Church of Scientology.

The priests, one Roman Catholic and the other Anglican, were giving evidence in a libel action taken against a journalist, Leslie Anderson, by the Church of Scientology Inc.

The church has claimed it was defamed by Mrs Anderson during a discussion programme that she was conducting on radio station 6IX.

The words objected to by the church were allegedly spoken by Mrs Anderson about 11.45am on June 17, 1976, in a conversation with the church's public relations official, Mrs Corinne Pursell.


It was claimed that the words implied that the church was dishonest and in breach of the law and was posing as a religion only to avoid tax and promote its own financial interests.

The church is claiming exemplary damages.

On the second day of the hearing yesterday, the Rev. Father William James Uren, the dean of St Thomas More College at the University of WA and a tutor in philosophy at the university, said that from his study of the sect he had formed the view that scientology was a religious organisation.

The Rev. Richard Graham Borthwick, a senior tutor in philosophy at the university, of Onslow Road, Shenton Park, said that scientology appeared to satisfy the basic elements of a religion.

Earlier, Mrs Pursell said she telephoned the studio to speak to Mrs Anderson on the talkback programme because she wanted to correct some points about the church's finances raised on the programme the previous day.

Mrs Pursell said she knew at the time of the telephone conversation that Mrs Anderson was antagonistic towards the Church of Scientology.

Mrs Jocelyn Helen Goss, of Shakespeare Street, Mt Hawthorn, said she was the senior administrative officer of the church in WA.

She said she recorded the conversation between Mrs Anderson and Mrs Pursell.

Mrs Goss said she made the decision to take legal action against Mrs Anderson.

Mr T. E. O'Connor, for Mrs Anderson, said that the words complained of were not about the Church of Scientology in WA.

If there was a defamation, it was of the people who were behind the setting up of the church in the United States.

Mrs Anderson had made comments based on her beliefs.

As a broadcaster she had an obligation to the public to give her views and not just let the scientologists give theirs.

The case will continue today.

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