[Note: Of the several student papers involved in the 1997 Victorian Inter-Campus Edition, I understand that Rabelais was the only one to bother printing this reply article - although I welcome correction on this.]

Rabelais (La Trobe University student magazine), end 1997

The Church of Scientology responds

By Reverend Mary Anderson
Director of Public Affairs
Church of Scientology, Melbourne

I wish to correct some of the statements in the article on Scientology in the 1997 VICE. I understand that these were gleaned from library books. There is misinformation in some books, but fortunately the Victorian State Library and a number of suburban libraries have copies of the book: What is Scientology? which gives factual information and answers to commonly asked questions.

Science Fiction and religion are not the same thing. Mr Hubbard was a renowned writer in the SF genre, but his career defies categorization. He wrote over three times as many non-fiction books on life and the mind. Scientology is an applied religious philosophy. It addresses man as a spiritual being and seeks to better conditions in life for everyone. The aims of Scientology include a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war.

It is true that some celebrities are vocal about the benefits of Scientology to their lives and careers, but people from all walks of life attest to the help received. Nina Fairlie of the Melbourne congregation says that Scientology helped her to gain the stability and self confidence which now makes a calm environment for her three year old daughter. In the words of Cheryl Wickens, B of Ed.: "As a university student, I was getting more and more into the drug scene. But with the help of Scientology I got off drugs mid university and changed from a failing student to an honours student. Now I help others with the same drug rehabilitation and study technology that helped me."

The reference to Der Speigal needs to be viewed in context. Germany has featured for the past four years in the annual United Nations Human Rights Report for its religious discrimination and inhumane treatment of Scientologists, amongst other minorities.

As for Time magazine, its founder Henry Luce stated: "We believe we can be subsidised by the advertiser by giving him value for value received and without compromising more than a small fraction of our journalistic soul. That small fraction we are frankly willing to sell for a price." Time's willingness to sell part of its journalistic soul made it the perfect vehicle for a smear campaign against the Church of Scientology and destroyed its credibility as a news magazine.

Discrediting the dead seems to be a popular pastime, but documentation exists to set the record straight. LaFayette Ronald Hubbard's Notice of Separation from the US Naval Service (6 Dec 45) mentions Purple Heart and Victory medals among other honours. The allegations about L. Ron Hubbard in relation to Aleister Crowley of Ordo Templis Orentis were published by the London Sunday Times in 1969 and were withdrawn by that newspaper when it was proven that Mr Hubbard, in fact, on behalf of Naval Intelligence, broke up a black magic ring of personnel engaged in rocket science research.

The Victorian Inquiry into Scientology was more than thirty years ago. Its findings were overthrown and are banned from use as valid evidence. In 1963, Scientology, which had been a religion since its inception, was declared as such by the High Court of Australia.

The description of the Russell street premises seems odd as it is in reality a three storey church building. People like to do the personality tests and there is no question of "failing" them as there is no "passing" grade. It concerns me that some readers of VICE might imagine the version of Scientology basics to be factual, whereas it is so wide of the mark as to be laughable. The description of a thetan is certainly 'loopy,' but it doesn't remotely align to anything in the Church texts. The thetan is simply the person him or herself: the spiritual being. The Ethics Codes outline a series of states of existence or operation such as those cited. Exact formulas exist which a person follows to better conditions in life. This has nothing to do with the state of Clear and is not part of that process.

The amount quoted for auditing costs is nonsensical, but parishioners do make donations. The Church is a nonprofit corporation and donations keep the Church functioning and fund its widespread social reform programs such as drug rehabilitation and literacy.

It is not only Scientologists and government authorities who view Scientology as a religion, many religious scholars world wide have so concluded. Alan W. Black, Associate Professor in Sociology, University of New England, has stated in a recent publication: Is Scientology a Religion?:

... I consider that Scientology is a religion. As well as having the salient generic characteristics that typify recognised religion, Scientology has its own distinctive features - particular beliefs and practices that mark it out as a different religion rather than a non religion.

In regard to "fair game," I understand that there was a policy by that name in the early days, but that it was cancelled nearly thirty years ago. During many years as a Scientology Church member I have never once heard this referred to as a policy to be followed. Incidentally, if I read a false and derogatory article on Scientology about which no Church spokesman has been consulted, I consider that the Church is. being regarded as "fair game," and I would much prefer instead to see it being given an Australian "fair go." This includes the accusation of "tactics" mentioned. These are not used and would not be condoned by the Church as they are unethical. As well as being untrue, this statement is offensive to Scientologists.

Unfortunately, it is true that "vitriolic book publishing" on the subject of Scientology and its founder has occurred. Such books are written by apostates. They are a very small minority and every religion has them. Studies have shown that they are not credible witnesses due to a deplorable, if human, tendency to discredit and attack the group to which they have been unfaithful.

For those wishing factual information on Scientology, I recommend they find out for themselves and reach their own conclusions.

The book: What is Scientology? as above is a good start, and a free film: "Orientation," which gives an overview of the religious principles and practice, is shown at all Scientology Churches. Information is also available on our web-site at http://www.scientology.org.

Additionally, I can access a collection of documentation and literature on the Church and am willing at any time to assist any genuine students of religion to better understand what Scientology really is.

[Press articles on Scientology]