Australian Senator Nick Xenophon, best known in Australia for being the country’s biggest anti-gambling zealot, has a new target that like Pokies (slot machines) also likes to suck users dry: Scientology.
In an address to the Australian Senate Tuesday night, Xenophon declared that the Church of Scientology was a “criminal organization that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs.
Xenophon went on to detail letters he had received from former Scientologists in Australia, which he said made “extensive allegations of crimes and abuses that are truly shocking – crimes against them and crimes they say they were coerced into committing.”
”These victims of Scientology claim it is an abusive, manipulative, violent and criminal organisation, and that criminality is condoned at the highest levels.”
Xenophone called for a full police and Senate investigation, and also queried whether the Church should be allowed to keep its tax-exempt status.
“The activities of this organization should be scrutinized by parliament because Australian taxpayers are, in effect, supporting Scientology through its tax-exempt status. I say to all Australians: as you fill in your tax return next July or August, ask yourself how you feel knowing that you are paying tax and yet this criminal organization is not. Do you want Australian tax exemptions to be supporting an organization that coerces its followers into having abortions? Do you want to be supporting an organization that defrauds, that blackmails, that falsely imprisons?— because, on the balance of evidence provided by victims of Scientology, you probably are” he told the Senate.
“Do we really want to be funding an organization that turns supporters into victims in its pursuit of power and wealth? That is why I am calling for a Senate inquiry into this organization and its tax-exempt status. In the past Scientology has claimed that those who question their organization are attacking the group’s religious freedom. It is twisted logic, to say the least. Religious freedom did not mean the Catholic or Anglican Churches were not held accountable for crimes and abuses committed by their priests, nuns and officials— albeit belatedly. Ultimately, this is not about religious freedom. In Australia there are no limits on what you can believe. But there are limits on how you can be- have. It is called the law, and no-one is above it.”
Under Australian parliamentary rules, speakers have “parliamentary privilege” which allows them to speak out on issues without being subject to defamation laws.