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Scientology Convicted of Fraud in France

A Paris court has convicted the “Church” of Scientology of fraud and has fined it over half a million Euros, though the court didn’t go so far as to shut it down and ban it from operating in France. The case has been under investigation for more than a decade, it seems.

Unlike the United States, France doesn’t recognize Scientology as a religion, but classifies it as a “sect.” Some other European countries classify it as a cult, which is probably more appropriate. Interestingly, according to this MSNBC article

Belgium, Germany and other European countries have been criticized by the U.S. State Department for labeling Scientology as a cult or sect and enacting laws to restrict its operations.

Score negative one for the U.S. State Department.

Though the Paris court couldn’t ban the Church of Scientology from practicing in the country due to a legal amendment that had been enacted shortly before the trial began, there is still hope for a ban because the amendment in question has been changed. This trial is complete, but any further charges brought against Scientology could possibly result in a ban.

Of course, Eric Roux, the Scientology legal representative (from the French Celebrity Center), says the “church” will appeal the decision and stated, “Religious freedom is in danger in this country.” However, I don’t think Mr. Roux understands one of the basic tenants of religious freedom.

You have to be a religion.

Church of Scientology banned from editing Wikipedia

Scientology SymbolI’m a big proponent of free speech, so this may seem contradictory, but I’m delighted that the Wikipedia “surpreme court” has decided to ban Wikipedia contributions by any IP address owned or operated by the Church of Scientology.

The “Church” of Scientology is well known for its efforts to remove any Scientology-related materials and criticisms from the internet for years, using tactics ranging from legal threats to “fair gaming” the providers of the criticism. What makes this more insidious than mainstream religions is that Scientology attempts to censor its critics rather than responding to the criticisms.

So rather than let Scientologists continue to edit Wikipedia with bias and censorship, the Wikipedia honchos decided that it would be best just to ban them altogether.

From the article…

Officially, Wikipedia frowns on those who edit “in order to promote their own interests.” The site sees itself as an encyclopedia with a “neutral point of view” – whatever that is. “Use of the encyclopedia to advance personal agendas – such as advocacy or propaganda and philosophical, ideological or religious dispute – or to publish or promote original research is prohibited,” say the Wikipowersthatbe.

They were going to just ban then from Scientology-related articles, but because of the tactics employed by the Scientologists to edit from multiple IP addresses, changing their addresses for different edits. The article calls this “sockpuppeting” and it’s not allowed, according to Wikipedia’s rules.

So… banned. I delight in the irony of an organization known for its censorship getting banned from peddling its tripe.

As the article mentioned, this happens at the same time that a “real” trial is opening in France against the Church of Scientology, charging them with “organized fraud and illegal pharmaceutical activity.” Here’s hoping that the overwhelming financial resources of the Church of Scientology aren’t too much for the French government.

I have high hopes.