The Advertiser (Adelaide), Thu 17 Oct 1985, p12

Scientologists rally against Council report

A coffin bearing the words "death of religious freedom" was carried from Victoria Square to Parliament House yesterday.

The 145 "mourners" were members and supporters of the Church of Scientology - some of them from interstate, the US, Canada and the UK.

At 12.30pm, the procession slow-marched to the beat of a single drummer down King William Street. They marched two by two giving maximum impact by spreading the group the length of a city block.

Australian Scientology leader the Rev. Mark Hanna, of Sydney, led the march carrying petitions which he and the international leader, the Rev. Heber Jentzsch, delivered to the President of the Legislative Council, Mr Whyte.

With more than 2000 signatures from Adelaide and an expected 3000 more to come from interstate, the petitions called for the rescinding of a Legislative Council Select Committee report on the Church of Scientology tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

The report recommends written contracts, wherever a fee or reward is paid for a service, between organisations like the Scientologists and their clients.

The report also recommends a cooling-off period in such contracts.

The select committee saw the result of the 10-month study as question of consumer and employee rights, but to Mr Hanna the implications went much deeper.

"The reason we are attacked is simply this. We are very much active in attacking the abuses of psychiatry. We are diametrically opposed to their methods, consequently we get attacked by those, including Members of Parliament, who support the practices," he said.

"The report is a farce. The real issue is whether psychiatry and psychology can exert an influence and control religion.

"The report is the first step in the attack of all religions.

"Most politicians support us, only three in Parliament House don't. Most people think we're fine."

The pallbearers of the coffin wore hats with the name tags "Burdett," "Ritson," "DeGaris" - the Liberal MLCs said by the Scientologists to be against them.

(In 1969, Mr DeGaris, then Health Minister, followed the recommendations of the Anderson Report into Scientologists and banned them from SA. Mr Burdett and Dr Ritson were two of the six-member Select Committee.)

Mr Burdett said yesterday the issue was not religious or philosophical.

"It is an issue of whether or not people who signed up for courses and paid their money did so voluntarily and with the knowledge of what they were undertaking. And whether people who paid for a course in advance were able to recover their money if they decided not to embark on these courses," he said.

[photos] ABOVE: Mr Whyte being given a petition from the Rev. Herber Jentzsch. RIGHT: Pallbearers carry a coffin across North Terrace.

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