Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Treasures on Planet Org

It hasn't been a good few days for the Church of Scientology.
1) In the last couple of days, a letter (which has proven genuine) became public. It was written by the Canadian-born director of the surprise winner at the Oscars ™ a couple of years back (Crash), Paul Haggis; who has quit Scientology over its support over Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage ballot measure in California. Haggis also notes that in most churches the relationship between a confessor and penitent is considered sacrosanct (and it is protected by the criminal statutes) while Scientology has seen no problem with "leaking" confessions made to auditors in order to assassinate the characters of ex-members.

The only surprise is that the fact the fight has gone public. It's good to hear someone has principles in this day and age, especially in Los Angeles.
2) Today, a court in Paris fined Scientology € 600,000 for fraud (USD 900,000). The court stopped short of banning the church all together from France (owing to a legal technicality) but it was seen as a victory for two women who say they were manipulated One of the complainants said she paid € 20,000 (about USD 28,000) for life-improvement courses and vitamins.

The church says they'll appeal that one, indicating that their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (as well as the French Declaration of Rights of 1789, still a part of the country's constitution) have been violated. But on a continent where most people (not just judges) understand the difference between a religion and a business, one has to wonder how far that will fly. I'm not saying the church will lose as a matter of course, but a much more sophisticated population usually has less tolerance for "flim-flam" than Americans do.
Maybe it's that castle in LA that annoys a lot of people, or the fact that there are centres that cater to celebrities in the first place ... but there's that line in the Bible that one should lay up treasures in Heaven, not on Earth.

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