It’s a start.
Journalist Ben Schneiders has another excellent article addressing growing concerns in Australia over Scientology’s tax exempt status.
Scientology and Australia have long had a tense relationship with the cult being banned in much of the country until 1983.
In Victoria COS was banned from 1965 until 1973, in South Australia from 1968 to 1973 while in Western Australia from 1968 until 1972.
In typical L. Ron Hubbard style, Scientology’s reaction to the the bans in Western Australia and South Australia was deceit.
Changing its name to the Church of the New Faith, it settled in Adelaide in 1969 where it continued to operate.
Unfortunately while good on paper, these bans proved difficult, if not impossible to enforce. In October of 1983 the Australian High Court ruled that Scientology was a religion and thus entitled to the tax exempt privileges that such entities enjoy.
Ben Schneiders’ series of articles reveal mounting concern as to exactly how Scientology is both earning and spending their exempt income.
Schneiders’ April 1st column raised the question of the cult’s growing income verses it’s dwindling membership.
“The figures reveal a big increase in the church’s wealth in recent years, even though census data shows it now has fewer than 1700 adherents in Australia – down by one-third in a decade.”
With this article Scientology went on the attack, releasing multiple Stand League articles against Schneiders according to their Dead Agent policy.
Undaunted, Ben Schneiders has continued to cover the cult and the questions as to it’s charitable status. These issues are attracting growing attention within the Australian government and many of us here in the United States are watching closely.
Joining Australian Government members’ call for their charities regulator to open an investigation are two of the country’s most prestigious mental health professionals who are concerned about the harm Scientology can cause due to their hostility towards the psychiatric community.
Schneiders’ recent article includes the expected, defensive response from Scientology.
“…Church of Scientology Australia spokeswoman, Vicki Dunstan, said in a statement it was ‘proud’ of its ‘human rights advocacy work’ including that of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. She accused The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald of spreading ‘false propaganda’ and ‘a false narrative’ about its charitable and tax exempt status and said all its funds were used to ‘further our religious and humanitarian mission’.
“You are once again flat-out wrong in every aspect of your inquiry,” she wrote.
Dunstan claims the spread of “false propaganda” yet provides no specifics as to what such propaganda might be.
The CCHR’s website is peppered with false, misleading and potentially dangerous information.
In March of 2020 at the start of the pandemic Scientology’s front group released an article advising people against taking medications for serious mental health struggles. Warning that in fact, pharmaceutical companies were simply cashing in on a disaster.
“With the alarming news regarding the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and restrictions on our daily living, the mental health watchdog, Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR) is reminding people that CDC prevention guidelines are a safer option than anti-anxiety pills, antidepressants or other potentially mind-altering drugs. With 50 years’ experience, CCHR has tracked and documented the push for people to take psychotropic drugs when facing social tragedy and chaos. Sales of these, especially antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs often soar in times of major health or terrorism threats and long-term use can carry significant risks.”
CCHR’s discouragement of the use of therapy and/or psychiatric medications is a long established theme.
CCHR states that mental disorders are created by “Big Pharma” to sell useless medication.
“…there is categorically no evidence that diseases such drugs claim to treat even exist—which is to say, it’s all an elaborate and deadly hoax.”
Such public insistence by a seemingly legitimate “watchdog” organization is exceedingly dangerous and egregiously irresponsible. The millions of tax exempt dollars used to fund CCHR’s ability to spread this detrimental propaganda worldwide need to be examined and, if possible, stopped.
The CCHR is for many a minefield.
Persons desperately struggling with mental illness, seeking relief and stability are vulnerable and easily convinced. Anyone who stumbles upon CCHR’s website with their advisement to seek “alternative” but unproven, unfounded treatments is treading potentially deadly ground.
Scientology’s CCHR has no basis for credibility or expertise in the field they attack.
It’s Board of Directors includes Isadore Chait who is an art dealer, not a trained expert in psychiatry or mental illness.
Worse, Board President Jan Eastgate was arrested in 2011 and charged with coaching an 11 year old girl to lie about being sexually abused. (Charges were later dropped.)
Eastgate states, “Avoid psychiatry because it only tears apart and destroys. And it never works.”
Schneiders’ article cites the concerns of Professor Ian Hickie, “‘This is social harm,’ Professor Hickie said. ‘Over generations psychiatry has been the target of untruths … this has been a major problem, particularly in the child and youth areas of tackling childhood things like attention deficit disorder, neurodevelopmental disorders.’”
Childhood disorders that Scientology denies are real medical conditions.
“Any medical doctor who takes the time to conduct a thorough physical examination of a child or adult exhibiting signs of what a psychiatrist calls ADHD can find undiagnosed, untreated physical conditions.”
Scientology is not a religion or a charitable organization by any available definition. It is hoped that these concerns being raised in Australia are addressed in the name of public safety and well-being.
It is also hoped that a positive outcome in Australia may prompt similar actions here in the United States.