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Government curb the growth of Scientology // Council call special meeting

Title: Government curb the growth of Scientology // Council call special meeting
Date: Thursday, 1 August 1968
Publisher: East Grinstead Observer
Main source: link (359 KiB)

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East Grinstead Urban Council were due to hold a special meeting last night (Wednesday) to discuss the statement made in the House of Commons by the Minister of Health, Mr. Kenneth Robinson, of government plans to curb the growth of Scientology, which has its world headquarters at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead.

In a written reply to Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith, East Grinstead's M.P., the Minister said the Government had become increasingly concerned at the spread of Scientology in the United Kingdom.

In a statement issued by the Scientologists they alleged that the Home Office had been supplied with 'manufactured evidence obtained by telephone tapping, secret observation and similar methods normally associated with a Police State, rather than a democracy.'

Scientology, said Mr. Robinson, was a 'pseudo-philosophical cult' introduced some years ago from the United States.

It had been described by its founder, Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, 'as the world's largest mental health organisation.'

'The Government are satisfied, having reviewed all the available evidence, that Scientology is socially harmful,' he said.

'It alienates members of families from each other and attributes squalid and disgraceful motives to all who oppose it.

'Its authoritarian principles and practice are a potential menace to the personality and its well-being of those so deluded as to become its followers.

'Above all, its methods can be a serious danger to the health of those who submit to them. There is evidence that children are now being indoctrinated.

'There is no power under existing law to prohibit the practice of Scientology, but the Government have concluded that it is so objectionable that it would be right to take all steps within their power to curb its growth.

It appeared that Scientology had drawn its inherents largely from overseas, though the organisation was now making intensive efforts to recruit residents of this country.

Foreign nationals come to Britain to study Scientology.

'The Government can prevent this under existing law (The Aliens Order) and have decided to do so,' he said.

'The following steps are being taken with immediate effect.

'(a) The Hubbard College of Scientology and all other Scientology establishments will no longer be accepted as educational establishments for the purposes of Home Office policy on the admission and subsequent control of foreign nationals

'(b) Foreign nationals arriving at United Kingdom ports intending to proceed to Scientology establisments will no loger be eligible for admission as students.

'(c) Foreign nationals who are already in the U.K. for example as visitors, will not be granted student status for the purpose of attending a Scientology establishment.

'(d) Foreign nationals who are already in the U.K. for study at a Scientology establishment will not be granted extensions of stay to continue these studies.

'(e) Work permits and employment vouchers will not be issued to foreign nationals (or Commonwealth citizens) for work at a Scientology establishment.

'(f) Work permits already issued to foreign nationals for work at a Scientology establishment will not be extended.'

Mr Robinson concluded: 'The Home Secretary and I have amassed a considerable body of evidence about the activities of the cult in this country, in particular its effect on the mental health of a number of its clients, and its treatment of those who attempt to leave the movement or who oppose it in any way.

'We shall continue to keep a close watch on the situation and are ready to consider other measures should they prove necessary.'

The following Press statement was issued by 'The office of The Guardian Church of Scientology' on Saturday:

'Statements have been made by the Minister of Health, under Parliamentary Privilege, on the Church of Scientology. In the strongest possible terms we wish to state that the charges made are entirely inaccurate and untenable. Furthermore, we have reason to believe that the methods by which the information was obtained ensured not only misunderstanding but deplorable inaccuracy.

'We affirm that Scientology is an applied religious philosophy solely designed to increase the individual's ability within his community regardless of race, class, colour or nationality.

'The proof of its acceptability is demonstrated in its rapid expansion. Thousands of people, having tried it, find it workable, and use it in their everyday life to become better people.

'Scientology is not a philosophy which accepts for training the insane, the physically or mentally sick, or the criminal.

'We already know that with the co-operation of a private association, the Home Office was supplied with manufactured evidence obtained by phone tapping, secret observation and similar methods normally associated with a Police State, rather than a democracy.

'It seems remarkable to say the least, that the whole matter was brought up in Parliament only the day before it recessed, and that therefore the consequent Press and television coverage appeared without the Church of Scientology being given any chance to answer the charges made.

'BETTER LIFE'

'In a society not ruled by criminals, there is no threat posed by a religious or philophic minority who in a quiet and orderly fashion enable individuals to live a better, freer life in the estimation of themselves and their fellows. There is no threat or menace to the honest man implied by the increasing growth of Scientology.'

Two American Scientology students were kept at Heathrow Airport for nearly five hours on Sunday. They were a man and his wife and two children, who were told it had been decided to return them to America.

It is understood these were the first Scientology students who were not allowed to enter the country following the Minister's statement in the House last Thursday.

Another American who described himself as an 'Independent Scientologist,' was later refused permission to enter the country and was escorted to a plane returning to New York.

A charter flight to bring 180 Scientology students from America to England was cancelled on Monday.

A statement issued by the 1 National Council for Civil Liberties said: 'The N.C.C.L. is gravely concerned at the implications of the statement by the Minister of Health on the Scientology cult. The use of administrative measures by the Government to obstruct the freedom of association is objectionable in principle and dangerous in practice.

'The Anderson Report of 1963 cannot take the place of a judicial inquiry in the U.K. The Report is, however, not without relevance and should be published here as quickly as possible.

'The N.C.C.L. shares the general concern for some of the cult's activities, but would also point out that it is not alone in expressing authoritarian principles, nor indoctrinating children.

'Similar allegations have been made against the M.R.A. Plymouth Brethren, Jehovah's Witnesses and other more widely held beliefs. If vague charges are the only basis for administrative action, then many other groups may feel that they are open to similar expressions of Governmental I displeasure.

'There is a strong case for a Government White Paper on what is known about Scientology in Britain. If the need to protect individuals against the activities of the cult can be demonstrated, legislation may be appropriate.

'However, it must be preceded by adequate public discussion and the provision of more information.

'Administrative measures against which there is no appeal, are no substitute for the normal processes of law.'

Mr. Johnson Smith spoke about Scientology on BBC television in '24 Hours' on Thursday evening. On Monday in the same programme two Scientologists from Saint Hill were interviewed.

Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith, M.P. for East Grinstead, told the 'Observer': 'I am pleased that the Minister has taken note of the representations that have been made to him. During the last three years since I became the Member for East Grinstead, I have received a great many letters from people whose families have been affected by the cult.

These letters have given a dreadful account. I have no doubt that many people in East Grinstead will think that the Minister has taken the correct action, and others will think that he has not gone far enough.'