Dangerous dismissal of psychiatry and mental health problems must be part of a Senate inquiry into the Church of Scientology, a Melbourne cult-counsellor said yesterday.
Cult Counselling Australia director Raphael Aron said Scientologists put vulnerable people at risk by taking them off psychiatric drugs and treatment, instead treating them with vitamins and E-meter readings.
Mr Aron supported Senator Nick Xenophon’s call in Federal Parliament on Tuesday for a Senate inquiry into the Scientologists. The senator tabled letters citing forced abortions, forced labour, child abuse, extortion and intimidation.
Former Canberra Scientology director Dean Detheridge told The Age that members who had suffered breakdowns were restrained, sometimes for months, on remote farms where no one could hear their screams.
Despite his rank, he was treated as slave labour, working 15-hour days for the organisation, then three hours on a cleaning job to feed his family.
A spokeswoman for Senator Xenophon said yesterday the Senate would decide next week whether to launch an inquiry. She said his office had received more than 500 emails about Scientology, running at ”40 or 50 to one in favour” of the Senator’s stance. The letters tabled in Parliament included allegations of sexual abuse, lying about the death of children, suicide brought on by remorseless pressure to give money to the church, and penal camps for recalcitrant members.
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A Church of Scientology spokeswoman said it would make a ”measured response” today because the church was still gathering data on some allegations.