Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Is it really possible that in all this time, I've only ever even touched on the glorious disaster that is the cult of Scientology, but once? Yes, it appears that is the case. And even when I did, it was really more about Russia's banning of Hubbard's books, than it was the church itself. Time to fix that. Because as the so-called "church" has been spreading out over the years, it's hit a few... let's call them snags, along the way. In the last few years in particular, along with Russia's efforts to ban Hubbard's writings, countries like France and Belgium have attempted to eject the group, by labeling them a criminal organization, primarily based on charges of fraud. And there are rumblings abound, that similar actions are soon to follow in various other places where scientology has only just begun to spread . All of which, is well and truly deserved, in my opinion.
The newest set of fraud charges the organization is currently facing here in America, are being alleged in a lawsuit filed by a couple in Tampa Florida. Luis and Rocio Garcia claim they were mislead into donating $420,000 into the church for charity and relief efforts, as well as for the construction of the groups "Super Power building". A building which the Pinellas county Property Appraiser's Office has valued at $80 million, but lists as fully tax exempt, and which has sat unfinished in downtown Clearwater FL, since 2003.
From the Tampa Bay Times (which wrote a surprisingly thorough article on this):
"Plaintiffs Luis and Rocio Garcia of Irvine, Calif., name five Scientology corporations as defendants, including the church's main entity in Clearwater. The former church members say they gave Scientology more than $420,000 for the massive "Super Power" building in Clearwater that has never opened, church services they never received and humanitarian projects that never materialized.
The deception went as far as producing phony videos of church earthquake relief efforts to induce parishioners to give, said the Garcias' attorney, Theodore Babbitt of West Palm Beach.
The lawsuit focuses on Scientology leader David Miscavige, saying he exerts control over an "interdependent network of entities" that extracts as much money as it can from parishioners and denies promised refunds. It alleges the church improperly uses donations to finance Miscavige's "lavish lifestyle" and to stifle critics with private investigators and lawyers.
"We believe that these lawsuits will put an end to these practices," Babbitt said.
Clearwater church spokeswoman Pat Harney said: "The church has not been served and has no comment. However, we understand from media inquiries this has something to do with fundraising, and we can unequivocally state all funds solicited are used for the charitable and religious purposes for which they were donated." "
According to the article, the couple also claims they've spoken to dozens of other former members, and similar lawsuits are coming.
Unfortunately, even if the Garcia's allegations against the church are true, and there are plenty of reasons to believe they are, how much success they'll have fighting an organization as well funded as scientology, remains to be seen. After all, we're talking about an organization whose ranks likely only number somewhere in the tens, maybe, hundreds of thousands* -despite their assertions of Tom Cruise having reached over a billion people with scientolgy's message- who still manage to find the capital and resources to defend themselves against entire foreign governments. But with the growing number of similar suits, potential suits in waiting, and the onslaught of bad publicity, criminal charges, and all of the just plain embarrassing allegations that continue to be waged against the organization, there is some hope. And while I doubt we'll ever see an absolute end to scientology as an entity, it seems to be ever more likely that we are at least seeing the beginnings of the end of what little legitimacy it's managed to create for itself in the eyes of the general public.
Now if we could just get people to apply the same critical eye to "transubstantiation" or the vatican's banking practices.
Baby stepping towards apostasy...
Ba-by steps.... (1,000,000,000 bonus points to you if you get this reference, BTW.)
*The actual number of "practicing" scientologist, is debatable, and ultimately unconfirmable, as the "church" goes to great links to keep said figures as vague and confusing as possible.
Finally, because I simply cannot resist any opportunity to share it, THIS mangled train wreck of crazy. Which you may have forgotten existed. But I didn't, Oh no my friend. I remember it well.
Posted by YouTube user: Aleteuk