Former members of the Church of Scientology have told a Senate committee of the ”ruthlessness” of the church and its judicial system, and argued it should not be eligible for tax-free status.
”Australian taxpayers should not be funding systematic, organised abuse,” said Janette Vonthehoff, who said her passport was taken from her and she was forcibly prevented from returning to Australia from the US when eight weeks’ pregnant because the organisation ordered she must finish ”training”.
Ms Vonthehoff said she resigned from the organisation in 2007 because of bullying, two coerced abortions and Scientology justice proceedings which included its own court hearings.
Another former member, James Anderson, said he and his wife had paid up to $1.2 million in Scientology training fees.
Senator Xenophon said Scientology ”auditing” sessions were regarded by some as a cross between personal counselling and Maoist self-criticism, and had been a factor in the British Charity Commission deciding against granting it tax-free status there.
The Church of Scientology social reform director, Virginia Stewart, said the sessions made members ”a better person”, and the fee charged formed the basis of donations to the organisation.
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