In France Scientology is a Fraud - in the U.S., it's a Tax-Exempt Paragon of Religious Freedom
Scientology's diminutive leader, David Miscavige.
Oh look, a court in France has called Scientology a fraud.
What does this mean? To Scientology, probably very little. The ruling doesn't prevent L. Ron Hubbard's cash cabal from continuing to charge newbies thousands of dollars to find out that ancient space alien souls are trapped in their bodies, causing all of their problems (and only Elron can help you get rid of them, Pierre, for the low cost of hundreds of dollars an hour! Sacre bleu!).
No, the more obvious effect is that this kind of official decision by a court of law has, predictably, allowed newspapers that normally keep far away from Scientology stories to provide anemic descriptions of the 55-year-old scam.
Such stories will explain to readers that in Europe governments don't automatically consider something a church just because its members call it that. For years, Scientology has had a tough time of it in places like France and Germany as governments refuse to give it the status of a religion.
Reading the AP's story in the New York Times this morning, it's hard not to take away the feeling that here in America, we're simply more tolerant of new religions than they are in a place like France.
What such stories rarely ever mention, however, is that court judgments in the United States have been just as harsh, and have made it plain, time and time again, that Scientology is a harmful fraud.
"The church's conduct was manifestly outrageous," the California court of appeals wrote, when it found, for example, that a man named Larry Wollersheim had been coerced to remain in the organization through financial threats, intimidation known as "fair game," and by making public information Wollersheim had told his Scientology spiritual handlers in strictest confidence.
That decision was written in 1989 -- twenty years ago.
If you're still wondering how the French courts could do something so crass as to call a religion a fraud, please, read some of the following, and learn what Scientology does right here in the United States of America.
The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It