FORMER members of the Church of Scientology will hold a conference in Dublin next month to highlight the impact the movement has on followers.
The organiser is Pete Griffiths, a former director of an English Scientology mission, who says he has informed police at Dublin airport Scientologists may stage protests there against speakers arriving for the event.
Mike Rinder, a former chief spokesman for Scientology, claims when he came to Ireland in October he was confronted at the airport by seven Scientologists shouting “You are not welcome in Ireland”.
The movement’s followers also protested at TV3′s studios, where Rinder was giving an interview, in which he claimed the Church of Scientology took money from followers by getting them to sign up to “life improvement” courses, mentally abused them, and controlled their emotions and behaviour. Rinder, who left in 2007, has admitted he intimidated and sought to discredit critics of the movement when he was in the church.
Griffiths now takes part in regular protests by Anonymous outside the church’s Dublin’s mission and credits the online activists for enabling defectors to join forces online. He had a “penny-drop-ping moment” when he checked out Scientology online in 2008 and now offers support to others who renounce the movement.
“We’re hoping that by raising public awareness, some people who have been in Scientology for a long time will start to question what they are doing,” Griffiths said. “It is brainwashing. The people who join are so keen and enthusiastic and well-meaning, but they control your emotions and rip you off by getting you to work for nothing and devote all of your time to it.”
Gerard Ryan, director of Scientology’s Dublin mission, said; “Our members do their best to ignore them, but their presence is intimidating. This little band has made clear it is their intention to harass and upset our members.
“Anonymous ‘hactivists’ are well publicised for their criminal activities the world over, including several arrests here in Ireland for hacking into the police, Fine Gael and others. Hardly a reputable source of information on the Church of Scientology”.
Speakers at the conference will include Tory Christman, a former ordained minister in Scientology, who worked at one of its celebrity centres. He once complained to MTV about A South Park parody that satirised actor John Travolta, a prominent church member. Tom Cruise and Peaches Geldof are among its other devotees.
Ryan dismissed the conference as “a handful of ex-members who have not been around for years”.
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