A response to the article Religious Freedom Letter to The Superior Court of California.
The International Multi-Faith Coalition has, as it’s mission: “To Restore Sacrosanctity to all Houses of Worship – We Are Family – Respect the Religious Beliefs of Others.”
Numbering amongst its members is the Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray who may best be remembered for becoming embroiled in Scientology’s plagiarism and copyright infringement debacle of 2018. The details can be found on the Scientology Money Project blog here.
In short, Scientology stole discontinued letterhead owned by the University of Southern California then wrote a scathing letter pretending to have been written by Dr. Murray to Disney CEO Bob Iger concerning the A&E docuseries Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
Another illustrious member of I.M.F.C is Reverend N.J “Skip” L’Heureux who also wrote in support of Scientology against Leah Remini and Mike Rinder, has been photographed attending Scientology functions and recently appeared at the courthouse in Los Angeles in order to assure COS’ religious rights were being protected. In spite of all this, when asked L’Heureux denied any affiliation with Scientology.
May 6, 2023 this confused and misguided organization produced a letter reeking of Scientology authorship directed at The Honorable Ricardo R. Ocampo, Supervising Judge of the Superior Court of California.
Completely crossing the line of separation of Church and State, the author has decided that a rape trial violates religious rights.
Despite Los Angeles District Attorney’s office concluding there was ample evidence for a trial against Danny Masterson the I.M.F.C. is unconcerned with the rights of due process for multiple traumatized women.
Instead, in blatantly obvious Scientology form, this letter is an attack against all those who have spoken up for these women as witnesses, experts who could capably speak for their mindset and beliefs during their attacks and anyone who wanted to show their compassion and support.
“We reject the constitutional violations shown in Judge Olmedo’s ruling of March 28, 2023. The Judge’s decision to allow an excommunicated member to testify as an ‘expert’ regarding her former religion and the Judge’s outrageous equating of a religion with a criminal gang are a miscarriage of justice…”
Interesting that as an “excommunicated” member Scientology decries Claire Headley’s inclusion in the proceedings while at the same time demanding other “excommunicated” members be forced to participate in Scientology’s kangaroo court, the Committee of Evidence.
As for the writer’s disingenuous claim Judge Olmedo equated Scientology to a gang, she did no such thing. Olmedo cited the use of former gang members as expert witnesses because of their experiences as precedent for allowing Headley to testify for the Prosecution. In this case, as in a case including gang members, Headley’s personal training and experiences provide the inside information not otherwise available to those outside such groups.
Normal, intelligent people would not have come away from Olmedo’s ruling thinking she was equating Scientology to a criminal gang.
“What’s more, the judge ruled that an excommunicated former member of the Church of Scientology one who never held a position that qualifies her to expound upon or interpret the Church’s scripture can be used as an ‘expert’ witness on its beliefs and practices. Secular courts are prohibited by the Constitution from interpreting religious doctrine. In this case, the court will force the jury to determine the correct interpretation of doctrine.”
This is exactly why Judge Olmedo ruled that Claire Headley was permitted to be an expert witness; she did hold a position qualifying her to fill this role. Headley was a Sea Org executive and was in Scientology for 40 years. Conversely, Scientology’s counter expert was Claire’s own stepfather, Hugh Martin Whitt.
While COS refers to him as a “high level” Scientologist, this refers to the fact that he reached OT VIII, frankly as far as experience goes they were evenly matched. Claire however has the benefit of clarity of thought where Whitt is undoubtedly biased towards protecting Scientology.
The claim that the court is forcing an interpretation of any doctrine is clearly false.
Judge Olmedo has been clear on what would be allowed during this trial as far as Scientology’s belief system.
What is being included are the rules and policies of Scientology that inform the members’ mindset and govern their obedience to the organization. Just as within the Catholic Church we are raised to hold our Priests and Bishops in the highest respect and trust, to see them as Christ’s representatives on Earth. This belief informs how we interact with our superiors and thus would definitely determine the mindset of the children molested by these men. It is a single part of the whole, but it is an important one.
Scientology absolutely teaches their members that going to law enforcement is a Suppressive Act and a High Crime. It does not take an expert in anything to understand this. Hubbard was clear in his writings that a Suppressive Person, having committed high crimes, places themselves outside the “protections” of Scientology.
Some things do not need expert forensics to interpret.
Denying members their right to seek justice in a court of law is not a religious privilege. It is oppression.
Telling a victim of rape that she must apologize for her own attack, must make amends to her attacker and that ultimately she is responsible for being left violated and bruised both physically and psychologically has absolutely nothing to do with religious rights.
This is an egregious violation of basic human rights and no religion with even a remotely spiritual leaning would protect or defend such error.
Quite frankly the I.M.F.C should mind it’s own business and stay out of this trial.
“If every member of a religion who is on trial in Los Angeles County for homicides, assaults, domestic violence and more were asked what their faith is, and that religion was then put on trial, what dangerous precedent would we be setting?”
Oh the misplaced drama.
When someone is abused within the context of any religion then the appropriate elements of that religion will be exposed and examined for the influence they may play on the events.
Someone who randomly attacks a stranger on the street would be tried in court based on the evidence. If a gang attacks someone on the street then the gang’s influence will naturally become part of the trial.
When former Cardinal McCarrick abused his victims Catholic doctrine was part of the case. It had to be.
McCarrick molested at least one of his victims in the Confessional during one of our most sacred Sacraments.
Combining sexual abuse with a Sacrament of the Church adds an additional layer of trauma to the already terrible ordeal. One of McCarrick’s victims is quoted as saying this clearly; “‘People are vulnerable in the confessional. Very vulnerable,’ he said. ‘If you manipulate that, and try to sexualize that, it’s extremely emotionally damaging.’”
That the members of the I.M.F.C seem incapable of understanding that the First Amendment does not provide a safety net for crime is concerning. No religion is exempt from becoming part of a criminal or civil case when it has actively helped provide an atmosphere of comfort and protection for a member to commit a crime.
Further, that these people who claim to be fighting for religious freedom for all are protecting a cult with such abusive, toxic and socially unacceptable teachings flies in the face of everything a religion should be embracing.
Religious freedom is the right to believe or not believe in a particular spiritual ideology. Separation of Church and State is that the government may not create a religion, nor can it show favoritism toward any one over the other. Nowhere does religious freedom include a get out of jail free card when crimes are committed.
This is why Warren Jeffs is currently serving the rest of his life in prison. It is why Alabama pastor Mack Charles Andrews was sentenced to prison. It is why Baptist Pastor John Ward was sentenced to 40 years.
Where was the I.M.F.C. during all these religious trials?
Nor was this misguided group in appearance during Thomas McCarrick’s trial even though there are several Catholic priests on the board. Where were they? No one wrote to the courts decrying the inclusion of Catholicism or the Sacraments during that case.
Rape is not a religious right.
It seems that the International Multi-Faith Coalition is made up of a group of misogynists who are more worried about protecting someone’s right to rape than showing compassion for victims.
Scientology has apparently succeeded in foisting it’s toxic, damaging beliefs upon those who should know better. Those who should be fighting this kind of evil rather than embracing it.
It is obvious that whoever wrote this ridiculous, offensive letter is a Scientologist. It echoes the many past Stand League letters that are regularly sent out by the cult.
I.M.F.C. has become just another Safepoint for Scientology. One more policy driven group lending credibility to a dangerous, abusive conglomerate pretending to be a religion.
This letter is ignorant and intentionally disingenuous, blatantly misleading and it is an insult to both the Court as well as the plaintiffs crying out for justice.
Were the I.M.F.C. to be believed it would set the most deadly and irresponsible precedent imaginable: that religions have the right to deny members their inalienable rights.
Like Pandora’s box, this would open the door to chaos.
5 thoughts on “The International Multi-Faith Coalition: Defending Rape as a Religious Right”
IMFC: Intentionally Malicious Fools Convention
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Perusing their web site, they feature news of the day such as “Registered Sex Offender Continued to Minister to Chi Alpha Students” and “Church of England ‘truly sorry’ for alleged abuse following review finding clergy failed to act.”
Now I am going out on a limb here and interpret this to mean that they found these items newsworthy because these are presumably bad things. Things that should not be tolerated in the context of a religious organization. As you pointed out they also remained silent during many other prosecutions of perverts in religious contexts. So I assume they are opposed to this sort of thing, and hence, found it unnecessary to weigh in and hyperventilate about these trials infringing on religious liberties.
So why make an exception for CoS? The letter refers euphemistically to “a trial involving a member of the CoS.” This trial does not merely “involve” masterson. He is the defendant. Without him, there would be no need for this trial. And still, they continue to proudly credit him as a current “member” of the CoS, expecting that this fact should somehow exempt him from prosecution!
So if keeping recognized sex offenders in ministry is wrong and a church is rightfully ‘truly sorry’ for their failure to act when discovering a pervert in a position of power, how is it acceptable (and calls for a letter of defense even) that CoS covered up for masterson, dissuaded his victims from coming forward, even employed the “church” in forcing non-disclosure agreements on them? How is it OK that they didn’t even bring their own system of “justice” and “ethics” to bear to discipline or “reform” a violent serial rapist in their midst? That they enabled him to continue racking up additional victims? And kept him in a position of respect and prominence as a celebrity showpiece for their outfit?
As this letter demonstrates, there has been no change of heart: They continue to defend and enable their member. While this is par for the course with this cult, it raises the question whether the other signatories have no shame and feel no sense of obligation to their own clerical positions and churches.
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All very good points and all very good questions.
It’s remarkable that they question Claire’s bona fides (which, incidentally, were established in court) as an expert. This is coming from a “religion” which orders teenagers to interrogate adults about their masturbation habits or whether they have ever had sex with a member of a different race or their own sex–and “all details, please.” This is coming from a “religion” that has a “clergy” (Sea Org) which is largely uninitiated into their own secret “doctrine.” Typical Sea Org members are providing expensive “religious services” while they’re typically not even “clear” themselves. (But not to worry, neither is anyone else, as there is no such thing!)
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