Scientologists convicted of fraud

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Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Plasma Man » Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:47 pm UTC

A French court has convicted the church of Scientology of fraud
Spoiler:
A French court has convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud, but stopped short of banning the group from operating in France.

Two branches of the group's operations and several of its leaders in France have been fined.

The case came after complaints from two women, one of whom said she was manipulated into paying more than 20,000 euros (£18,100) in the 1990s.

A Scientology spokesman told the BBC the verdict was "all bark and no bite".

France regards Scientology as a sect, not a religion.

Prosecutors had asked for the group's French operations to be dissolved and more heavily fined, but a legal loophole prevented any ban.

Instead, a Paris judge ordered the Church's Celebrity Centre and a bookshop to pay a 600,000-euro fine.

Alain Rosenberg, the group's head in France, was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined 30,000 euros.

Three other leading members of the group were also fined.

Ban 'still possible'

Unlike the US, France has always refused to recognise Scientology as a religion, arguing that it is a purely commercial operation designed to make as much money as it can at the expense of often vulnerable victims, the BBC's Emma Jane Kirby reports from Paris.

Over the past 10 years, France has taken several individual members of the group to court on charges of fraud and misleading publicity, but this is the first time the organisation itself has been charged, she says.

Tommy Davis, spokesman for the Church of Scientology International, told BBC News that the court had acted "in total violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and French constitutional guarantees on freedom".

The case "fell flat on its face", he said.

"The fines will get thrown out on appeal. We've had similar cases before and in other countries. If it has to go to the court of human rights we're confident we will win there."

Speaking by phone from the US, he said it was a "political gesture" against the organisation, but "Scientology will continue to grow in France".

The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by the late science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, and includes Hollywood stars such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

Manipulation claims

In the case leading up to Tuesday's ruling, a woman said she was sold expensive life-improvement courses, vitamins and other products after taking a personality test.

A second woman alleges she was fired by her Scientologist boss after refusing to undergo testing and sign up to courses.

The organisation denied that any mental manipulation took place.

The court was unable to impose a ban because of a legal amendment that was passed just before the trial began, preventing the banning of an organisation convicted of fraud.

However, that amendment has now been changed.

"It is very regrettable that the law quietly changed before the trial," Georges Fenech, the head of the Inter-ministerial Unit to Monitor and Fight Cults, told French TV.

"The system has now been put in place by parliament and it is certain that in the future, if new offences are committed, a ban could eventually be pronounced," he said.

A lawyer defending Scientology's operations in France said there would be an appeal.

Eric Roux, a spokesman for the Celebrity Centre, urged France to recognise Scientology's "legality".

"Religious freedom is in danger in this country," he said.

France has always refused to recognise Scientology as a religion, arguing that it is a purely commercial operation designed to make as much money as it can at the expense of often vulnerable victims.

Quoted for truth. It'll be interesting to see what happens at the appeal.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby tzvibish » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:12 pm UTC

I guess this would require a definition of religion. [locks self in fire-proof box to avoid the flame storm]

Let's see how long we can stay on topic for!
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby MikeBabaguh » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:52 pm UTC

One of the proudest moments in my life occurred when I was driving through Salt Lake City. As I drove past that massive gaudy building they call a church, I rolled down the window and screamed:

"SCIENTOLOGISTS EAT DONKEY SHIT"

Feeling an odd mix of satisfaction and exhilaration, I then fled for my life. The people grouped out front didn't appear to share my enthusiasm.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby kinigget » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:56 pm UTC

I'm not sure it does require a definition of religion, just a definition of fraud. Being classified as a religion doesn't give any group the freedom to break the law, just protection from persecution. It looks like there was evidence enough for the court to convict the group, and that is all that is needed.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:11 pm UTC

Can someone in the know chime in re: France having different laws pertaining to religion/business boundaries?

This is excellent news, and I've always wondered how Scientology continued to hide behind the law here in America.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Darkscull » Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:42 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Can someone in the know chime in re: France having different laws pertaining to religion/business boundaries?


IIRC from my time in anti-scientology activism, the laws regarding religions are pretty much the same in most countries, but there are no set rules for deciding what is a religion and what isn't.
So some countries say scientology is a religion, and others don't.
In the UK it has a weird status because it's not officially a religion but it's allowed to operate as a charity because it's recognised in Australia, and Australian charities can operate here.

Edit to clarify: So it's up to whichever body decides these things in each country rather than any political/legislative decisions most of the time.

This is excellent news, and I've always wondered how Scientology continued to hide behind the law here in America.


Money, same as everything. Also possibly blackmail.
They managed to make a very dodgy deal with the IRS where they are exempt from most things, including review of said exemption. The terms of the deal are secret, even to the point where an IRS agent essentially told a judge to shut up when they were asking for a copy.

Actually, scientology has some benefits that other religions don't, like money spent on religious education being taxfree.
Well, education deemed 'necessary' is exempt for all religions, but in scientology all their courses are deemed necessary by the IRS (or whoever decides such things).
There's a rather high-profile (in certain circles anyway) courtcase ongoing with some orthodox Jewish parents arguing that their child's extracurricular religion classes are necessary for their religion and using scientology as an example.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:37 pm UTC

I don't suppose you could link those two cases, for my curiosity? I'm not being deliberately lazy here, just hoping to nip at the bud the barrage of information that will likely crop up if I google "scientology court case"
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Darkscull » Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:24 pm UTC

I really couldn't I'm afraid, I just vaguely remember this stuff from reading forums about a year ago.
I'm not even sure where information is kept/people go any more.

whyweprotest (the successor to enturbulation.org) appears to still be going strong. The search should help if you decide to dive in, there is a lot of stuff there.
Look for any threads that appear to be dumping information, I recall they were quite useful to avoid the constant bickering :P
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Babam » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:18 pm UTC

Religion is free, Scientology is neither.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Darkscull » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

Babam wrote:Religion is free, Scientology is neither.


Yup, that's my favourite.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby cleverdan » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:22 am UTC

MikeBabaguh wrote:One of the proudest moments in my life occurred when I was driving through Salt Lake City. As I drove past that massive gaudy building they call a church, I rolled down the window and screamed:

"SCIENTOLOGISTS EAT DONKEY SHIT"

Feeling an odd mix of satisfaction and exhilaration, I then fled for my life. The people grouped out front didn't appear to share my enthusiasm.


Classy stuff there.

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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby SlyReaper » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:11 pm UTC

MikeBabaguh wrote:One of the proudest moments in my life occurred when I was driving through Salt Lake City. As I drove past that massive gaudy building they call a church, I rolled down the window and screamed:

"SCIENTOLOGISTS EAT DONKEY SHIT"

Feeling an odd mix of satisfaction and exhilaration, I then fled for my life. The people grouped out front didn't appear to share my enthusiasm.


Somewhat redundant. You seem to be confusing the Church Of Latter Day Saints (the dominant church in Salt Lake City) with the Church Of Scientology (I have never heard of scientology being particularly associated with SLC). Do I have permission to say "FAIL"? :lol:
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Lord Aurora » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:20 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
MikeBabaguh wrote:One of the proudest moments in my life occurred when I was driving through Salt Lake City. As I drove past that massive gaudy building they call a church, I rolled down the window and screamed:

"SCIENTOLOGISTS EAT DONKEY SHIT"

Feeling an odd mix of satisfaction and exhilaration, I then fled for my life. The people grouped out front didn't appear to share my enthusiasm.


Somewhat redundant. You seem to be confusing the Church Of Latter Day Saints (the dominant church in Salt Lake City) with the Church Of Scientology (I have never heard of scientology being particularly associated with SLC). Do I have permission to say "FAIL"? :lol:
I was thinking the same thing. If the people grouped out front didn't share your enthusiasm, it was probably because they were Mormons, and as such disapprove of people acting like fuckwits.

EDIT: Though there do appear to be two brick and mortar Church of Scientologies in SLC.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Oct 28, 2009 4:03 pm UTC

Lord Aurora wrote:Though there do appear to be two brick and mortar Church of Scientologies in SLC.

Churches of Scientology, probably.

But yeah, even so, I doubt the aforementioned 'big gaudy thing' was one of them.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:15 pm UTC

I say "if you going to have opinion based belief systems about stuff you made up" I don't see how Scientology is worse than other religions.

I also don't think some embezzaling by a group of people can be used to condemn an entire 'religion'.

There are plenty of Christian organizations that take people's life savings every day. Jerry Falwell, and the 700 club, liberty university... are all dedicated to having poor people send them money.

Why differentiate between scientology and christianity, they appear exactly the same, with Christianity providing the added bonus of being a motivation for torture and murder.


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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby The Reaper » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:18 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:P.S. My made up beliefs are better than your made up beliefs.

I dunno, my made up beliefs are so abstract they barely make sense at all.

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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby LE4dGOLEM » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:23 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Lord Aurora wrote:Though there do appear to be two brick and mortar Church of Scientologies in SLC.

Churches of Scientology, probably.

But yeah, even so, I doubt the aforementioned 'big gaudy thing' was one of them.

they do actually have a big, pretty gaudy building in SLC, so it could have been.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Spacemilk » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:25 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:I say "if you going to have opinion based belief systems about stuff you made up" I don't see how Scientology is worse than other religions.

...Yeah, ok, it wouldn't be...if it stopped there. But it doesn't.
Ixtellor wrote:I also don't think some embezzaling by a group of people can be used to condemn an entire 'religion'.

You mean, you don't see a problem with a tax-free organization stealing money from its members through lies, deceit, manipulation, and requirements, and then using that money for questionable purposes? Huh. Well, I guess everyone has their own point of view.
Ixtellor wrote:There are plenty of Christian organizations that take people's life savings every day. Jerry Falwell, and the 700 club, liberty university... are all dedicated to having poor people send them money.

...Except Christianity does not require that you donate to these third-party organizations in order to be a member. Christianity doesn't even require you to donate directly to the church (much less these ridiculous barely-affiliated entities you list) in order to be a member - it only asks nicely.

Scientology, on the other hand, will require you to pay some amount to advance in their religion, and on top of that will use manipulation, coercion, and all manner of underhanded tricks to get as much money as possible in addition to what's "required".

On top of that, Scientology makes claims about its "products", such as promising measurable changes in your mental and physical well-being. (well, you know, as long as you jog and take vitamins and do all this other stuff - why, in fact, it's almost exactly like those miracle diet pills that say "take these and see results in a month!!! (*cough* as long as you stop eating and run 20 miles every day *cough*)") So it's just a slight fraud.
Ixtellor wrote:Why differentiate between scientology and christianity, they appear exactly the same, with Christianity providing the added bonus of being a motivation for torture and murder.

...What the fuck are you talking about.
Ixtellor wrote:P.S. My made up beliefs are better than your made up beliefs.

The maturity and respect for others in this thread is staggering. You're lucky the "donkey shit" guy made a showing, or you might be the worst one in here!
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:25 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:
Ixtellor wrote:P.S. My made up beliefs are better than your made up beliefs.

I dunno, my made up beliefs are so abstract they barely make sense at all.


Hence, mine are better. Mine involve unicorns, black holes, sniper rifles, String theory, me as supreme ruler, and oddly... Indian food.


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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Darkscull » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:27 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:I also don't think some embezzaling by a group of people can be used to condemn an entire 'religion'.


Unlike most other religions, Scientology is very centralised, with a rigid organisation.
The structure of it is actually quite ingenious, in an evil sort of way.

It's built like a pyramid scheme: all the money is funnelled up to the top, and there's a lot of it.

And it's not only money they screw people out of, but everything. Scientology ruins people's lives on a daily basis, by design, and that applies to everyone except the dwarf at the top himself, and he's probably not very happy either.

I don't have any citations to hand, but you can find them if you have enough patience.

edit: ninja'd slightly
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby headprogrammingczar » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:28 pm UTC

I'm sure those Mormons weren't happy about being conflated with a joke religion invented by a sci-fi author either.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Lord Aurora » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

headprogrammingczar wrote:I'm sure those Mormons weren't happy about being conflated with a joke religion invented by a sci-fi author either.
lol'd HARD
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby LE4dGOLEM » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:36 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:I say "if you going to have opinion based belief systems about stuff you made up" I don't see how Scientology is worse than other religions.

http://www.scientology-lies.com/crimesindex.html
Trials Pending:
Spoiler:
Trial pending: USA: Lisa McPherson - Wrongful Death, Practicing Medicine Without a License, Torture, more
The state of Florida has decided not to prosecute the two felony charges of unauthorized practice of medicine and abuse and/or neglect of a disabled adult in the case of Lisa McPherson, who died in Scientology's custody on December 5, 1995. However, a civil suit has been filed by her estate, alleging wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, fraud, battery, negligence, and practicing medicine without a license.

Other people have also reported fraud, the unauthorized practice of medicine, and false imprisonment.

Trial pending: Ireland: Brainwashing
Mary Johnston is suing Scientology, saying she underwent a personality change and her health suffered while she was undergoing Scientology processing. She recently won the right to see her auditing folder (notes kept on her from Scientology processing sessions).

Trial pending: USA: Fraud, false imprisonment, assault, extortion, kidnapping, defamation, invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress, and racketeering
Michael Pattinson is suing Scientology for several counts of fraud and a variety of other extremely serious charges. The suit garnered some national press (including stories in the Guide and Fab! and at MSNBC ) because it names John Travolta, alleging that Scientology claimed they could "cure" Pattinson's homosexuality and used Travolta as an example of a homosexual whose orientation they had changed.

Trial pending: Spain: Scientology leaders charged
Scientology officials face up to 30 years in prison on charges ranging from tax evasion to establishing an illegal organization. Narconon is also charged with criminal acts.

Trial pending: Undue influence and deceit
David Cresswell is suing Scientology for a refund of money he paid under "undue influence," relying on "deceit and misrepresentations."

Trial pending: USA: Fraud
A trust established by L. Ron Hubbard is one of several parties sued by attorneys seeking to recover funds; several of the suits allege fraud.

Ongoing investigation: Russia: Secret service investigating Scientology
"The Russian secret service has recently stepped up its surveillance of the Church of Scientology amid suspicions that it is violating basic rights of members, using violence if need be, and engaging in illicit financial business." Russian police raided Scientology's offices in February 1999.

Criminal convictions:
Spoiler:
1999: Greece: Scientologists found guilty
15 Scientologists were accused of systematically keeping files on politicians, journalists, judges, clergymen and other Greek leading personalities. The Scientologists were found guilty, but they were not sentenced, due to procedural errors. (In other words, they got off on a technicality.)
In 1998, a judge ordered the Scientology organization in Athens to stop operating, since the organization was established under false pretenses. According to the ruling, the organization was not operating as a non-profit, and was putting people's mental and physical health at risk.

1997: Italy: Scientologists jailed
29 Scientologists were sentenced to jail for criminal association.

1996: France: Scientology executive found guilty of involuntary homicide
"A former Church of Scientology leader was convicted Friday of involuntary homicide and sentenced to 18 months in prison in the 1988 suicide of a church member. Twelve other defendants facing lesser charges - theft, complicity or abuse of confidence - were given suspended sentences of eight to 15 months each. Charges were dropped against 10 others." The Scientologists were charged in the death of Patrice Vic.

1996: France: Scientologists guilty of interfering with a witness
Three Scientologists were given suspended prison sentences for interfering with an expert witness in a Lyon trial. Charges of theft were proven.

1995: Canada: Scientology pays the largest libel award in Canadian history
Scientology was found guilty of libelling Casey Hill, the prosecutor responsible for bringing Scientology to justice for its egregious illegal acts in Canada.

1994: USA: Scientology fined for filing a frivolous lawsuit
Helena Kobrin, representing RTC (a Scientology corporation), was fined $17,775 for filing a frivolous lawsuit. (Using the law to harass critics is Scientology policy.)

1992: Canada: Scientology found guilty of breach of the public trust
Scientology itself and three Scientology executives were found guilty of breach of public trust in a case involving the theft of information from government offices.

1989: USA: Scientology Found Guilty of Inflicting Emotional Distress
In 1986, former Scientologist Larry Wollersheim sued Scientology for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury awarded him $35,000,000, which was reduced on appeal to $2,500,000. Scientology refuses to pay, and now owes Larry more than twice that (with interest accruing).
The appeals court agreed that Larry had been badly hurt by Scientology: it found that Scientology "coerced Wollersheim into continued participation," "seized Wollersheim and held him captive," and that "the Church's conduct was manifestly outrageous." In October 1997, the court found that the Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center are liable for the debt.

1984: USA: Clearwater Police Investigator Recommends RICO Charges
Lt. Ray Emmons investigated Scientology as part of his duties. He found clear evidence of fraud and other crimes and recommended that federal and state authorities prosecute Scientology under anti-racketeering laws.

1980: USA: Top-ranking Scientologists guilty of burglary, forgery, infiltration, and obstruction of justice
Eleven Scientology executives, including L. Ron Hubbard's wife, pled guilty to a number of serious crimes. The stipulation of evidence included the following statement: "At all times material to the indictment, L. Ron Hubbard was, by virtue of his role as the founder and leader or Scientology, overall supervisor of the Guardian's Office."

1979: USA: Julie Christofferson Titchbourne sues Scientology for fraud
Julie Christofferson Titchbourne sued Scientology for fraud and outrageous conduct. She won her original trial and the first appeal; Scientology appealed a second time but settled with Julie before that appeal was heard.

1978: France: Fraud
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was convicted of fraud in a trial held in absentia.

and if "some people" embezzling isn't bad enough for you, how about the founder embezzling his own organisation?
EDIT: you could check out the Sea Org as well if you want, for Bad Treatment Of People, you could look up the Fair Game Policy for condoning/encouraging of attacking, harassing and killing critics of the organisation
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Darkscull » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:48 pm UTC

LE4dGOLEM wrote:and if "some people" embezzling isn't bad enough for you, how about the founder embezzling his own organisation?
EDIT: you could check out the Sea Org as well if you want, for Bad Treatment Of People, you could look up the Fair Game Policy for condoning/encouraging of attacking, harassing and killing critics of the organisation


Not to mention making leaving the organisation very very hard through the policy of 'disconnecting' with former members after having made sure over the years that their entire social lives revolve around the 'church'.
And that's assuming they still have jobs outside the organisation (always a plus, bringing money in). If they're working for the 'church' itself trying to recruit more people or mopping floors or something then they're in even a worse situation if they try to leave.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:51 pm UTC

@Spacemilk: But plenty of fraud has been committed in the name of Christianity. The point is that, taking the presence of deception as criteria, Scientology is not "worse" than Christianity. Since both religions - all religions, in fact - have their share of manipulative hucksters operating in their names, and their share of sincere believers being manipulated by said hucksters.

It's like, from my jaded atheist eyes, they're all the same: being filled with more glee because someone proves Scientology commits fraud than when someone proves Christianity commits fraud is nonsensical, because it's all just people seizing on other people's beliefs to gain money and power. It doesn't matter what shape the beliefs take.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Aetius » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:58 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:@Spacemilk: But plenty of fraud has been committed in the name of Christianity. The point is that, taking the presence of deception as criteria, Scientology is not "worse" than Christianity. Since both religions - all religions, in fact - have their share of manipulative hucksters operating in their names, and their share of sincere believers being manipulated by said hucksters.

It's like, from my jaded atheist eyes, they're all the same: being filled with more glee because someone proves Scientology commits fraud than when someone proves Christianity commits fraud is nonsensical, because it's all just people seizing on other people's beliefs to gain money and power. It doesn't matter what shape the beliefs take.


I too have jaded atheist eyes, but it only takes about twenty minutes of research to determine that Scientology is worse than established religions. Battlefield Earth alone is a greater crime against humanity than the Crusades.

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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby LE4dGOLEM » Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:36 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:@Spacemilk: But plenty of fraud has been committed in the name of Christianity. The point is that, taking the presence of deception as criteria, Scientology is not "worse" than Christianity. Since both religions - all religions, in fact - have their share of manipulative hucksters operating in their names, and their share of sincere believers being manipulated by said hucksters.

It's like, from my jaded atheist eyes, they're all the same: being filled with more glee because someone proves Scientology commits fraud than when someone proves Christianity commits fraud is nonsensical, because it's all just people seizing on other people's beliefs to gain money and power. It doesn't matter what shape the beliefs take.

but with christianity, the deliberate monetary fraud is not always, without exception, an integral part of the organisation.
"oh they are both religions, this is all i care about wrt them, therefore they are both equally bad" as a viewpoint, is ignorant.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:59 pm UTC

Aetius wrote:Battlefield Earth alone is a greater crime against humanity than the Crusades.


I presume you haven't actually read the book then? It is quite entertaining as far as space opera's go.

Comparing Scientology to Religion is like comparing Hannibal Lector to a pot head (snicker). Both maybe 'criminals', but one is far more sinister in it's deliberations. Do a bit of reading. They are not comparable. I'm not even a fan of religion as a whole, but the two are not comparable.

Side note, if you get pamphlets from Scientologists about 'free psychology surveys', do NOT fill them out. You obviously won't get any sort of response (unless you're particularly susceptible to brainwashing, or wealthy), but you will be contributing towards their data amassing of profiling your general area.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Cynical Idealist » Wed Oct 28, 2009 7:13 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:@Spacemilk: But plenty of fraud has been committed in the name of Christianity. The point is that, taking the presence of deception as criteria, Scientology is not "worse" than Christianity. Since both religions - all religions, in fact - have their share of manipulative hucksters operating in their names, and their share of sincere believers being manipulated by said hucksters.

It isn't the presence of deception, its that, for Scientology, deception and fraud is a key part of the entire religion. For other religions, the manipulative hucksters are a byproduct. For Scientology, the manipulative hucksters designed and run the whole church.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Spacemilk » Wed Oct 28, 2009 7:17 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:@Spacemilk: But plenty of fraud has been committed in the name of Christianity. The point is that, taking the presence of deception as criteria, Scientology is not "worse" than Christianity. Since both religions - all religions, in fact - have their share of manipulative hucksters operating in their names, and their share of sincere believers being manipulated by said hucksters.

It's like, from my jaded atheist eyes, they're all the same: being filled with more glee because someone proves Scientology commits fraud than when someone proves Christianity commits fraud is nonsensical, because it's all just people seizing on other people's beliefs to gain money and power. It doesn't matter what shape the beliefs take.

LE4DGOLEM made some excellent points, and to expand on his:
The extortion of money is not a tenet of Christianity. Embezzlement is not a tenet. The organization as a whole does not support these practices. Occasionally, a single member of Christianity may begin to do these things, but then, in general, s/he is condemned and ousted/excommunicated/excluded/etc.

But in Scientology, you are ousted/excommunicated/excluded if you don't engage in those practices. The difference is monumental.

Hucksters will be hucksters no matter what you do. Anything that people feel strongly about will have its share of hucksters; there will always be people trying to make money off the emotions, beliefs, or feelings of others. Parasites are unavoidable; but when the entire point of an organization is to be a parasite, rather than the entire point being to accomplish something in spite of parasites, then we have a problem. [this point was excellently ninja'd by Cynical Idealist]
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Phen » Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:22 pm UTC

I feel that this thread went off the rails rather quickly.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:50 pm UTC

How so? Are we not still talking about scientology and fraud? After so many posts, I'd say that's pretty good for an N&A thread...
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Phen » Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:54 pm UTC

Just the whole zomg christianity/fraud stuff, but yeah. I don't have a useful suggestion to what else it should've been. Guess I was just hoping for some relaxing scientology-bashing. Been a while since I've gotten worked up over them.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Grop » Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:07 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Can someone in the know chime in re: France having different laws pertaining to religion/business boundaries?


I understand there is no clear law to make the difference between a religion and a sect. The law applied here is named About-Picard, it is clearly aimed at sects but its wording makes the difference irrelevant.

Wikipedia wrote:The French understand "freedom of religion" primarily as the freedom of the individual to believe or not to believe what any religion teaches. [...] the French state sees its duty less in protecting religion from state interference than in protecting the individual from interference by religion.


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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby The Reaper » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:40 am UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
The Reaper wrote:
Ixtellor wrote:P.S. My made up beliefs are better than your made up beliefs.

I dunno, my made up beliefs are so abstract they barely make sense at all.


Hence, mine are better. Mine involve unicorns, black holes, sniper rifles, String theory, me as supreme ruler, and oddly... Indian food.


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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Ixtellor » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:18 pm UTC

1) Prove that Scientology's sole purpose is fraud. Many of the largest christian mega churches in the USA are based entirely on "Give money to earn gods love", with the people at the top being millionaires many times over. Oral Roberts, John Hagee, Joel Olstein, Jerry Falwell, and on and on and on and on.

2) Add up all the money Scientologists steal from their followers, then add up all the money that Christians take from their followers. Hell the Catholic church does tithing still...
But leaving those "oh so generous 'charitable' gifts" aside, look only at the prosperity gospel preachers and the amount of money they swindle from their followers. Its in the billions.

I would be surprised to learn that scientologists have swindled as much as the 700 club.

3) You could argue that the entire Christian faith is based on power. Its about making up stories to compel people to submit to your authority. So again, I don't see any difference at all. So scientologists are more about stealing dumb peoples money and less about convincing them to kill muslims and hate gay people... sounds better actually.

So in conclusion:
Scientology = made up stories in an effort to get your money.
Christianity = made up stories in an effort to have you commit atrocities and hate people your told to hate. (and steal your money)


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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Darkscull » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:40 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:stuff...


Ok, I'm assuming you've never actually read anything about scientology ever outside of news reports like this.

Scientology as a 'religion' is very much different from most other religions.

Christians express their faith mostly by going to church services once (or however many times) a week, yes?
They may pay tithes or do other things based on the denomination, but that's the basic gist.

Scientology doesn't work that way.
When you first get into it, it isn't really a religion as such, it's a self-help course. They offer you courses to improve your communication skills, or self-esteem, or various other things. These cost money, of course.
When you're doing these they'll talk about the 'science' behind how they can improve these things, and how it's all about 'engrams' or whatever. They emphasise the 'science' at this point, rather than the religion, and offer more courses that go further in depth into the 'science of mental health', and let you take control of your life, etc. These cost more money, of course.
These courses add up to various qualifications, and you can reach different levels, and each level opens up a whole new range of courses you can take, assuming they don't insist you retake some (paying all the while, of course. This is a service they're providing, after all).

As well as taking courses, there are sessions you go to to measure various pseudoscientific things about your mental state (connected to the dead alien souls that you find out about later, but at this point they're 'engrams', that is, bad memories/impressions), where they tell you how bad a person you are and how you need more sessions, more courses. These all cost, of course, but you can get credit, or work for them.

I'm going to stop now, but I've lost the thread of what I was saying. That always happens, there's just so much to say and it all comes out at once.
To say any less is to do a disservice to humanity because it implies they're not as evil as they really are, even if everything you do say shows up the evilness. I'm doing such a disservice now because there's so much I've left out that should be said.

edit:
to summarise:
It's a cult (in the sense that they're properly trap you in, so no one say "every religion's a cult"), it's a pyramid scheme.
Heck, it's even organised crime.

The only reason the word religion has ever come up due to scientology is because they didn't want to pay tax.
In the early days it didn't claim to be a religion at all, it was trying to be psychology.
Of course, psychologists pointed out it was nonsense, hence the ongoing anti-psychology mania of scientology.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Spacemilk » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:46 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:1) Prove that Scientology's sole purpose is fraud. Many of the largest christian mega churches in the USA are based entirely on "Give money to earn gods love", with the people at the top being millionaires many times over. Oral Roberts, John Hagee, Joel Olstein, Jerry Falwell, and on and on and on and on.

You're comparing televangelists, who have the power of words and nothing more, to actual members of the Church of Scientology, whose teachings and practices have amounted to physical, emotional, and psychological abuse of their fellow members. If you are seriously seeing a parallel, then I can't help you.
Ixtellor wrote:2) Add up all the money Scientologists steal from their followers, then add up all the money that Christians take from their followers. Hell the Catholic church does tithing still...

Repeat after me: TITHING IS NOT REQUIRED. TITHING IS NOT NECESSARY IN ORDER TO ADVANCE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, OR ANY CHURCH. IF YOU DO NOT TITHE, NO ONE IS REALLY GOING TO NOTICE. On top of that, the Catholic Church explicitly says that it would like it if its members donated 10% to charity - not necessarily to the Church, at all, just any charity in general - and if they can't do that, well, service is good stuff too so they encourage their members to go volunteer. But you don't have to. If you're going to be making statements about this sort of thing, at least take two minutes to educate yourself properly on it.

In contrast, Scientology is the place where people have conversations like this: "Oh Bill, I noticed you haven't quite made up the $3000 required for the next course in Scientology. Don't you want to advance and become a better person?" Or, "Hey Bill, I heard you got a raise... why don't you apply ALL THAT MONEY to your next course?" That shit is in an entirely different league than tithing.
Ixtellor wrote:But leaving those "oh so generous 'charitable' gifts" aside, look only at the prosperity gospel preachers and the amount of money they swindle from their followers. Its in the billions.

You mean, the same prosperity gospel teachers who are merely the huckster offshoots of their churches? This has been stated time and time again, but there is a huge difference between hucksters who attach themselves to churches and feed off of their prosperity (which happens to most churches in the States, it's an unfortunate unavoidable side-effect), and an entire church of hucksters (Scientology).
Ixtellor wrote:I would be surprised to learn that scientologists have swindled as much as the 700 club.

I lol'd! Go look up some stats on how much it takes to advance each level in Scientology, and then do a quick rough calc on the approximate per capita amount swindled by Scientology... this is easy stuff to find out, so you really shouldn't be making statements like this, at all.
Ixtellor wrote:3) You could argue that the entire Christian faith is based on power. Its about making up stories to compel people to submit to your authority. So again, I don't see any difference at all. So scientologists are more about stealing dumb peoples money and less about convincing them to kill muslims and hate gay people... sounds better actually.

Once again, you are making ridiculously accusatory statements with no backing whatsoever. "Making up stories to compel people to submit to your authority"? Christianity makes "an effort to have you commit atrocities"? Shiiiit boy you could be a televangelist with the way you spin a tale without any common sense, logic, or evidence whatsoever.

edit: Darkscull made an excellent post. Note that there is so much information out there on this subject, you should really be much more educated on it than you are, if you're going to be posting about. Go read some of that stuff, then come back so we can have an intelligent conversation about this.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Phen » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:54 pm UTC

I doubt you can help. This is some epic trollin' indeed, if only because of how rotten that Church of Scientology is compared to anybody else.
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Re: Scientologists convicted of fraud

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:03 pm UTC

@Ixtellor: It's really telling that on a fora that is fairly agnostic, or at least harbors many anti-organized religion sentiments, how quick to defend religion at large we are when the topic of Scientology comes up. The two are not even remotely comparable (Religion and Scientology that is).
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