The Australian, Thu 06 Mar 1997, p10

Letters to the Editor

Unfair attack on a new religion

Prejudice is defined as "a judgment or opinion held in disregard of facts that contradict it; unreasonable bias" and also "a judgment or opinion formed before the facts are known". Phillip Adams did not even bother to ascertain the facts regarding discrimination against Scientologists in Germany before writing his column on Saturday (Weird Science, The Weekend Australian Review, 1-2/3). Since those facts, and others concerning Scientology, contradict his opinions his piece simply amounts to misrepresentation and bigotry.

The point he misses is that in Germany in the early 1930s, a massive propaganda campaign was mounted against the Jewish people. Their rights were systematically taken away from them. They were stripped of citizenship, barred from the professions, banned from performing art and ostracised from German society.

Today, Scientologists are not allowed to join any of Germany's major political parties. Many Scientologists are denied bank accounts. Children have been refused admittance to kindergarten because their parents are Scientologists. Businesses owned by Scientologists are boycotted. Scientologists have been assaulted.

Every year since 1993, the United States State Department's Annual Human Rights Report has criticised German government discrimination against Scientologists. The United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed similar concerns in a 1996 report, as have other civil rights watchdogs.

Adams appears unaware, in mentioning a 1960s inquiry into Scientology, that in 1976 the deputy premier of Western Australia extended his personal apology to the church for the oppressive legislation that flowed from that "inquiry" in Victoria, condemning its passage as the "blackest day in the political history of Western Australia". Adams also ignored a unanimous decision by all five judges of the High Court, who in 1983 pronounced Scientology a bona-fide religion fully entitled to tax exemption.

Mentioning the church's history in the US, Adams omits again the most recent and salient fact: that in 1993, the US government granted the mother church of Scientology and more than 150 affiliated churches and social-reform organisations full tax exemption.

While this may seem routine, for the Church of Scientology, it was not. The recognition did not come easily or swiftly. The Internal Revenue Service, the largest and most powerful tax agency in the world, granted exemption only after an examination of a scope unprecedented in the history of the IRS. Its officers asked thousands of detailed questions. They investigated every major allegation made against the church throughout its history. In the end, the IRS concluded that Scientology was a religion operating "exclusively for religious and charitable purposes".

Adams's characterisation of the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, is marred by ancient false reports long since abandoned by writers with a concern for accuracy. To those now enjoying happy marriages, reunited families and true spiritual fulfilment through the works of Mr Hubbard, Adams's diatribe is simply meaningless. But for others, not yet acquainted with Mr Hubbard's contributions - his solutions to crime, marital problems, moral decay and despair - let this piece clear the record.

Mr Hubbard spent his final years on a California ranch. Those last years were as productive and useful as were the decades preceding them. In the summer of 1980, he produced Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000. Even more memorable was his next work of fiction, the 10-volume Mission Earth Series.

Underlying Adams's prejudices appears to be ignorance of what Scientology really is, and an unwillingness to accept that there are new ideas in this world and that Scientology has emerged as the only real 20th-century religion. Scientology is a religion in the most profound sense of the word, for it is concerned with the full rehabilitation of man's spiritual self - his capabilities, his awareness and his immortal being.

Mr Hubbard also wrote on the subjects of education, drug rehabilitation, morals, art and many other areas. The drug-rehabilitation program he developed has freed more than 100,000 people from the scourge of drugs and his educational breakthroughs are used today in 31 countries, ranging from China to the black townships of South Africa, the inner cities of the US and the native people of New Zealand and Australia. More than 3 million people around the world have attained literacy through this program.

Public Affairs Director,
Church of Scientology Australia, New Zealand and Oceania

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