Was L Ron Hubbard a fraud

Scientology: "Organized Fraudsters"

The main institutions of the controversial sect in France have to pay a fine of 600,000 euros for organized fraud. The final judgment is an international novelty.

Scientology fought against it for four years, now it is fixed: The two largest institutions of the sect on French soil have been legally convicted of organized fraud. They have to pay a fine of 600,000 euros.

The case goes back a long way and started with a complaint from a woman. She stated that Scientology had elicited 140,000 euros from her for illegally prescribed medication, books and a so-called "E-Meter" (which, according to Scientology, can be used to infer mental states).


Deceived with worthless tests

In 2009 a court found Scientology guilty; the victims were fooled with worthless personality tests in order to sell services and products. Scientology appealed against it unsuccessfully, most recently applied for the revision of the judgment before the Court of Cassation in Paris - in vain, as it became known on Wednesday.

Scientology has ample experience of litigation, but this ruling is a novelty. We were used to the fact that individual, including high-ranking Scientology members were brought to trial; in such cases the organization then gladly distanced itself from the convicted "black sheep" and continued as before.

This time, however, the verdict not only hits individuals (above all the head of Scientology France, Alain Rosenberg), but also two institutions, and not just any: The “Celebrity Center” and the “SEL” bookshop are the heart of French Scientology. No wonder that the verdict in France is celebrated by many as “historic” and “the worst blow to Scientology to date”.

France and Scientology, of course, that was war from the beginning. In countries like the USA and Austria, Scientology is classified much more benevolently, it is considered a non-profit organization and pays no taxes. The US even recognizes it as a religious community.

In Germany there is greater distrust, the legal status is still controversial, and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has been observing Scientology for over 15 years on suspicion of "efforts against the free democratic basic order".


L. Ron Hubbard already condemned

In France, finally, the matter was and is clear: Scientology is officially a dangerous sect. In 1978, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was sentenced in absentia to a fine and four years in prison for fraud. Since then, the fight against Scientology has had a political tradition - with certain exceptions: For example, ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy ostentatiously received Scientology icon Tom Cruise; there were even rumors that the bustling president would legally allow Scientology to receive government funding.

With the verdict, the Scientology opponents have a tailwind again; in recent years they have even cherished the hope of being able to ban Scientology as a whole in France with the help of this case. However, that turned out to be impossible for the time being.


Hit Scientology as a whole

The French verdict is the harshest in Scientology history because the judges have in a sense condemned Scientology as a whole. And they have also made sure that the verdict is carried out into the world: The convicts, it is said, have to pay for the publication of the verdict in major French and English-language newspapers such as "Time Magazine" and "Herald Tribune".

This is not a good advertisement. However, the fine should give Scientology less headache: Mark Rathbun, once the right-hand man of Scientology boss Hubbard, put Scientology's fortune at three billion dollars in 2012.

("Die Presse", print edition, October 18, 2013)