Paris court to rule if Scientology should be shut down in France

June 16, 2009

scientologyHow far does the principle of religious freedom go? How much can be accepted in the name of respect for a faith? A Paris court is debating these questions in a fraud case against the Church of Scientology. If the public prosecutor wins the case, Scientology will be convicted of extorting hundreds of thousands of euros from followers on personality tests, vitamin cures, “auditing” sessions and counselling with an “e-metre.” It will be disbanded and could also face heavy fines. The French arm of the U.S.-based Scientology denies the charges and says the case violates its freedom of religion.

Scientology is registered as a religion with tax-exempt status in the United States, but enjoys no such position in France and has faced repeated accusations of being a money-making cult. It also does not have French celebrities defending its case, in contrast to the United States. where movie star members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta publicly defend it as a valid religion. “This is not the place to debate whether Scientology is truly a religion or not,”prosecutor Maud Coujard told the court when she summed up her case on Monday.  “The point is that … a religious motivation is no justification under criminal law.”

Scientology’s lawyer, Patrick Maisonneuve, will call for an acquittal when he makes his closing remarks to the court. “What the prosecutor has asked for is a death sentence for Scientology (in France),” he told reporters. The court is expected to issue its ruling later in the year.

Do you think the freedom of religion defence should cover Scientology? Or is it a money-making cult, as the French prosecutor has said?

(Photo: Plaque outside Scientology bookshop in Paris, 19 May 2009/Charles Platiau)

14 comments

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I fear for the safety of the judge.

Apparently, followers will do “anything” to prevent the failure of the Scientology movement. It is something of grave concern.

The fraudulent ‘stress’ tests should be banned.

People will still be free to practice Scientology, so their arguments about ‘religious freedom’ are invalid.

The seperation of religion and government in the United States has fostered a breeding ground for dangerous cults.Kudos to the European governments who protect their citizens from these organizations.
Fraud, blackmail and the parctice of medicine should not be tolerated under the cloak of religious freedom.
The Church of Scientology’s days are numbered, no matter what the outcome in the French courtroom.

May Kaja Ballo and Kyle Brennan rest in peace.

The Scienos have gotten pretty paranoid lately. A couple of weeks ago, one assaulted a well-known critic right in the Paris courthouse in front of a guard! Last week, the same critic took a picture of a couple of them selling books on the street without a permit, so one grabbed his camera and destroyed it.

The fact is that without the fako personality test, they can’t recruit. Without doing the dangerous quack “purification rundown,” people can’t practice Scientology beyond the elementary level. Breaking French law is dictated by Scientology scriptures. They can’t function any other way.

If Scientology is a religion, so is the mafia.

Posted by B | Report as abusive

“I think that the protections that we enjoy for freedom of worship exist so long as we don’t step over the line. When religious worship and belief cross over into things like fraud, victimization of others and the disruption of the political arena, that protection is no longer
appropriate.”
–Robert Goff
Professor Emeritus, UCSC

Posted by mcd | Report as abusive

A view from France: I truly hope Scientology will lose this case and be disbanded. It’s nothing else than a criminal organisation aimed at extorting money from weak persons.

Posted by Matthieu | Report as abusive

There is no “faith” nor “religion” here, only another -registered in the US- swindle and ponzi scheme. Let’s hope that the french will -once again, after having convicted of fraud Hubbard- do the right thing and dissolve this money-making and brainwashing cult from their soil.

Posted by Me | Report as abusive

@Raul

“The seperation of religion and government in the United States has fostered a breeding ground for dangerous cults.”

Hmm, sorry but this is a fallacious statement, actually the separation of religion and government in France may help to see another dangerous cult be dissolved.

Posted by Me | Report as abusive

I was a registrar in Scientology for many years. Money is God in Scientology. If you don’t give it, get it or demand it, there is hell to pay.

Posted by Jim Corbett | Report as abusive

has anyone seen the new commercial for scientology, supposedly its airing on CNN! anyways it just made me remember that south park episode lol check it out i got it posted at http://www.yovia.com/blogs/timlara

Scientology has developed a positive track record — invisible to critics, who only look at negative examples. Here, two individuals complain of events ten years past. This is why Scientology advances, it goes forward and expands, in ways that critics cannot observe. While critics, seeped in conspiracy, observe but a single aspect of its popularity.

Posted by Terryeo | Report as abusive

I am surprised by the lack of actual intelligent observation that is going on by some people with this subject. I see complaints on this page about Scientology from people who have obviously never read a Scientology book, nor watched a Scientology video, or had a friend who was gotten off drugs with the help of Scientology or who have not read any of the material on education by Mr. Hubbard. I was new to Scientology 20 years ago and read some of Mr. Hubbard’s books which I found very intersting, helpful, humanitarian, and definitely religious. I am sorry if it is upsetting to think that there is a new religion around and it may seem pleasing to call it an insult like cult because it is a relatively new field, but it is not intelligent to say such a hateful, judgementful thing until you have actually read some of Mr. Hubbard’s books. His books have taught me to understand things first, then make a decision, they teach nothing but to trust your judgement, keep your integrity, be true to your own goals, keep your word once given, don’t do drugs, make sure you understand the words used in what you are reading, take care of your environment, stand up and make a better world, don’t be afraid to communicate, be industrious, and speak out against wrongs done to others in this world. I understand and appreciate all other religions more because of what I learned in Scientology. There is no more ethical organization on this planet. The Scientologists have the guts to help others become stronger. Of course they are fought by criminals, drug dealers, corrupt individuals and those who do not want to see a freer world. With all the harm going on in this world with wars, torture, drugs, police states, facism, genocide and so on, everyone (including you reading this note) should be looking for solutions to what is making planet worse. Scinetology has those solutions. Please don’t listen to wild accusations from the uninformed. Read a book or two by L. Ron Hubbard and make up your own mind, Remember, Christianity itself was a minority and considered a dangerous cult for hundreds of years until a certain Roman Emporer decided to choose it as the religion of choice. (I did not learn that from Scientology. I learned it in a library.) Anyway, I like Christianity very much because it brought civilization to barbarians so many years ago and it brought a message of peace and love. Peace and love will always be the right choices. Please educate yourself first by reading a Scientology book, then you will know for yourself what it’s about.

Posted by Tim Ayda | Report as abusive

Funny isn’t it – looking at the comments posted here, the more ‘bad’ things people have to say about Scientology, the less words they tend to use… The posting by Tim Ayda should be applauded for expressing less generalisation and apparently having more to say. Just my opinion, but the accusation of ‘Scientology extorting money from weak persons’ seems a little hollow – it seems to me that it’s the way of the world to make suckers out of ‘weak persons’ – so isn’t ‘blaming’ that on Scientology or anything else a little ‘unhinged’ ? Hey, peace and love, whatever your religion, applied philosophy or personal belief…

Posted by Guy | Report as abusive

Since the Church of Scientology is considered by the U.S. Government through the IRS to be a Church, France is attacking a U.S. Church by levying almost a $1 million fine against it’s French branch. Other churches should beware, as an attack against one is an attack against all as you can see in posts on this article attacking some or all religions.

Illegal and legal drugs particularly are bigger business and more prevalent in France now than even in the United States. The Church of Scientology has done more to get people off drugs once they have started or discourage people from taking dangerous drugs than any other Church and their efforts are more effective than any other Church. France is trying to control or actually control is code word for destroy the Church of Scientology on behalf of legal and illegal drug interests, which are not unknown to have friends in high places.

I can think of nothing creepier than that it’s okay to try and then be hooked on psych drugs or it’s okay to try and then be hooked on illegal drugs. This is the unsubtle message communicated to our kids.

How dare any entity effectively establish programs worldwide to increase literacy, rehabilitate criminals or get people off drugs or let people know their basic human rights.

How dare any entity actually try and actually help keep even parts of a failing world from going down the drain.

Posted by Larry B. | Report as abusive