Imagine the scene in the Church of Scientology’s PR department at the moment. Apoplectic managers and scared juniors, admin staff desperately scrambling for the ‘When A-Listers Go Rogue’ risk management documents. An albino Thetan grimly tapping the Holmes/Cruise file.
They’re going to need auditing right through the next few reincarnations to get over the trauma. “Remind me again why Valium is bad?” they might be asking.
Katie Holmes’ split from Tom Cruise is just the latest scandal to hit the church/cult/franchise. The brightness of the Hollywood lights ensure all shadows are cast long.
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It’s all too easy in Australia – set up a religion, get tax-free status, a bunch of followers willing to donate, and you’re set. Maybe predict the end of the world to get things moving along with a sense of urgency.
Senator Nick Xenophon suggests that Australia needs a “cult-busting agency”, similar to those already operating overseas.
Mr Xenophon – who has previously tackled Scientology and questioned its tax-exempt status - says he wants a dedicated government agency to “monitor and control the activities of cults in Australia”. The issue’s come to the fore again with the arrest in Fiji of Rocco “Brother Rock” Leo for breaching his visa. Leo is the leader of the Agape Ministries of God group. Agape has previously run into trouble over fraud, illegal weapons, assaults and tax debts.
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Believe it or not, Senate Inquiries can generate all sorts of humorous exchanges.
A hearing earlier this week into the Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill generated so much laughter at one point, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ instead.
It went something like this. When discussing the impact of the introduction of a Charities Commission in New Zealand, the Church of Scientology’s New Zealand Secretary, Michael Ferriss, explained that the organisation’s income of $2.623 million in 2007 fell to $374,000 the following year because of, “from memory, the exchange rate drop”.
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