Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How many times can we say "Inquisition"?

The Correctional Court in Paris, France has convicted the church of Scientology of fraud.  It fined 6 members of the church a total of 600,000 euros (over $900,000 US), and gave up to 2 year prison sentences, although they were suspended.  The church was also ordered to publish the verdict in several magazines to warn people about what Scientology offers, and what was discovered at trial.  The court did not, however, ban the church from France.

The plantiffs in the case focused on the use of the electropsychometer, or E-Meter, described on the Scientology website.  After use, members were encouraged to buy vitamins and books, which according to the verdict amounted to fraud.

The E-meter is obviously complete nonsense, and their beliefs are generally bat-shit crazy,  but if this amounts to fraud, then what about other churches that encourage giving money?  According to some reports, Scientology is considered a cult, and not a religion, in France.  Others use the less derogatory term "sect."  Either way, the reports seem to imply that it is fine for religions to trick their followers into giving money, but less popular nonsense has to play by the rules.  I'm not familiar with French law, so I can only speculate from what was presented it the articles.  While I'm glad the court decided in this case that taking advantage of vulnerable people is not OK, perhaps they should come down on some other, more accepted, organizations fleecing they congregations as well.

While I'm not so sure about the ruling, the ridiculous comments made by Senior Paris Scientologist Eric Roux are what's most annoying:

"We think that this is really a modern Inquisition and that this is really dangerous for the freedom of religion in our country, and for sure we do not agree with that and we will go to appeal,"
"It's an empty case," Roux said. "It's run like an Inquisition, (as) if some people did not wake up from the Inquisition time."

Mr. Roux, the Inquisition involved coercion by torture to accept the views of the church.  It has nothing to do with your ability to peddle useless machines and vitamin pills to susceptible people.  Comparing this ruling to the Inquisition makes you sound ridiculous.  Then again, it's no surprise that a Scientologist would have trouble identifying ridiculous statements.

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