Scientologists’ protest riles Sudbury

A group tied to the Church of Scientology was met with obscene gestures and outrage for staging a protest in Sudbury yesterday to highlight the dangers of anti-depressants, five days after a student at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School was stabbed to death, allegedly by a classmate who was on several prescription drugs.

Staged on the same day that 15-year-old James Alenson was laid to rest, the group’s protest was “bizarre” and bordering on cruel, said John Ritchie, Lincoln-Sudbury’s principal and superintendent.

“The message I’m trying to convey is we are busy taking care of much more important things than Tom Cruise and Scientology,” Ritchie said.

During the hour-long noon protest, several passing motorists simply shook their heads at the scene. Others expressed their disgust by flashing obscene gestures.

Several Scientologists held signs that mentioned by name John Odgren, the teen accused in the fatal stabbing. Signs included slogans such as “What psychiatric drugs was John Odgren prescribed?” and “Stop combining drugs to make walking time bombs.”

Odgren, 16, has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, and according to his attorney was taking several prescription medications at the time of the stabbing. Odgren lived in Princeton but attended a special education program at L-S.

Ambulance Chasing and Quackery

Scientology is known for, among other things, its hate- and harassment tactics, quackery, and ambulance chasing.

“Scientology is evil; its techniques are evil; its practice is a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill… (Scientology is) the world’s largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy.”
– Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, quoted at What judges have to say about Scientology

“There’s a lot of concern around the country when kids are becoming violent on psychiatric drugs,” said Kevin Hall, the Scientology group’s New England director.

The timing of the protest, which came on the same day as the funeral for Alenson, left some community members aghast.

“This is not a serious request by a serious group,” said School Committee Chairman Mark Collins on the demand that Odgren’s medical records be made public.

“Quite frankly, I think it . . . takes away from a very difficult day for the Alenson family.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday January 26, 2007.
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