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Scientology tour crumbles

Title: Scientology tour crumbles
Date: Thursday, 11 October 2007
Publisher: New Zealand Herald
Author: Christopher Sablan
Main source:

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What was intended as a goodwill tour by a visiting group for the Church of Scientology has run into a bit of controversy.

The Scientology visit tent in front of the Government building, endorsed by the Government, has remained largely empty since opening last Wednesday. However, a training course was held for a group of police officers and other support servicemen.

The visit hit a bad patch when claims were made that the tour received the blessings of the National Council of Churches (NCC). Reverend Oka Fauolo, NCC Chairman, publicly denied the claims, even turning down a request by Mathew Adams (head of the Scientology group) to give the opening prayer at the exhibitions launch as this might give the impression that he endorsed the organisation.

Furthermore, a protest march at last Wednesday's opening was held by pro-Christian supporters. They alleged the Church was attempting to make inroads into Samoa. Mr Adams said much of the criticism laid against the Church was gleaned from faulty information and general misunderstanding.

Reverend Oka Fauolo cautioned against forming quick opinions about the Church of Scientology but thought the organisation should, more appropriately, be associating with professional groups like doctors and lawyers and not the Council of Churches as the group had told him that they were in fact not a Church.

Minister of Police, Toleafoa Fa'afisi, gave the opening prayer and addressed the crowd of protesters. He assured the protestors that the Government empathised with them and that their presence demonstrated the strength of Christianity in Samoa.

A spokesman for the protestors called the Minister's words "sweet talk" and an angry exchange ensued. It ended abruptly when the Government representative threatened to call in the police.

This is the first of such protests, based on religious beliefs, to take place in Samoa.