Prime Minister raised concerns and senator demanded Senate Inquiry
Kevin Rudd raised concerns about the Church of Scientology yesterday, as NSW police began investigating complaints from seven former Scientologists.
The Prime Minister said he intended to examine allegations against the church before deciding whether to back independent senator Nick Xenophon’s demand for a Senate inquiry.
Senator Xenophon told parliament on Tuesday that Scientology was a “criminal organisation” hiding behind religion.
In response to that statement, Mr Rudd said the senator was making “grave allegations”.
“Many people in Australia have real concerns about Scientology,” he told reporters in Bungendore yesterday. “I share some of those concerns. But let us proceed carefully, and look carefully at the material which he has provided, before we make a decision on further parliamentary action.”
The State Crime Command of NSW Police yesterday confirmed that Senator Xenophon had handed over the ex-Scientologists’ complaints for investigation.
The letters – tabled in the Senate – allege abuses including coerced abortions, assault, imprisonment, the covering up of sexual abuse, the embezzlement of church funds and blackmail.
Scientology spokesman Cyrus Brooks yesterday said Senator Xenophon’s claims were unfounded.
Senator Xenophon called for an inquiry into the organisation, tabling letters from former Scientology members to support his claims.
In one letter, Aaron Saxton said that as a member of the organisation he’d participated in the “forced confinement and torture” of others.
Another former adherent, Paul David Schofield, said two of his daughters had died owing to their association with the church.
One fell down a flight of stairs while being babysat on church premises. The second died at home after ingesting potassium chloride – a substance he said was used widely in the organisation’s “purification” programs.
Others told of being pressured to hand over large sums to the church, leaving them to live in poverty.
The church has promised to co-operate with police, but has denied all of the accusations.
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