The advertisements above do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog, its authors, or host.

‘Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.’

Ok Scientology fans, as if we haven’t heard enough about our favorite church this year…

On May tenth, Anonymous, a group that protests the Church Of Scientology, was conducting another protest in front of the Church’s costly headquarters in London. Among the hundreds in attendance, a 15 year old boy was holding a sign that read ‘Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.’ Very soon after he arrived with the sign a police officer told him that he was not allowed to use the word “cult” and that he was to remove the sign.  He ignored the police and soon after he was read section 5 of the Public Order Act  by a policewoman.

Part of the Act states:

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he: (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, or disorderly behavior, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,

In the same Act it is written that:

This offence has the following statutory defenses: (1) The defendant had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be alarmed of distressed by his action. (2) The defendant was in a dwelling and had no reason to believe that his behavior would be seen or heard by any person outside any dwelling. (3) The conduct was reasonable.

He told the officer that in 1984 a high court ruling from Mr. Justice Latey described the Church of Scientology as a “cult” which was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”.  You would figure this would explain and validate his usage of the word. After his discussion with the cop he was given a court summons and she removed his sign. Apparently he was not the only person to be asked to remove a sign by police. Talk about a distinct lack of free speech…why would the police be paying so much attention to a peaceful protest? 

To my knowledge, No violence or outrageous behavior was reported from this or any other protests organized by Anonymous.  What I do find very telling is the fact that more than 20 of London’s police were discovered to have taken gifts worth thousands of pounds from the Church of Scientology.  Not a bad take for stripping a few youthful protesters of their hurtful and mean signs.  From what I read, breaking this law can put you in the slammer for 6 months but I don’t think it’s likely the boy will see jail time.

So what we have here are possible signs of corruption in the London police force and free speech on the ropes.  Thanks L. Ron!  �

21 comments to ‘Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.’

  • thethyme

    This is insane, who do you call when you need to be protected from the police? Was the word cult the problem or dangerous, does it even matter? This is the craziest thing I have heard since girls wanting to put motorized butterflies on their wedding dresses!

  • Steve Page

    I’ve heard Tom Cruise described as a complete cult. At least, I think that’s what they said…

  • A person is guilty of an offence if he: (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words

    Threatening and abusive – ok, I understand.

    …But INSULTING??? that is poppycock, rubbish, and utter bullshit.

    I for one am insulted that this law exists…and its not even in my own country

  • John Powell

    To pick a nit – it is not limiting free speech per se – it is limiting WHERE you can use “threatening, abusive or insulting words”. Sorta like the shouting “Fire!” in a theater scenario, but broader.

    Is it inherently a bad law? I dunno – if we had such a law, you wouldn’t be seeing folks picketingfunerals with “God Hates Fags!” signs. So it protects some folks from some crazies, and also protects some crazies from some folks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church

  • John Powell

    BTW the police being on the take is a non-sequitur when it comes to whether or not the police acted properly in enforcing the law in arresting this person. Clearly according to to the law the arrest was proper – they were being generous in offering him a chance to willfully comply before arresting him.

    Police being on the take from the Scientologists would be apropos if we were talking about the Scientologists staging a protest where they used “threatening, abusive or insulting words”.

  • John Powell

    And not geting arrested.

  • Nigel

    Score one for the precious first amendment and James Madison.

  • nick_g1

    I am horrified that such a thing happened in my own country, and I hope that this teenager’s right to call scientology a cult will be upheld. As soon as I get back to London I will certainly begin protesting it as well.

  • DLC

    Actually, the youth was not arrested, merely given a summons. He has some amount of time to respond to the summons, or he can appear in person at the appointed date. The fact that a sitting judge has labeled Scientology a cult will probably get him a dismissal. That said, I would also like to note that the UK does not have a first amendment or first amendment-like law. Thus, the government can and does ban speech it deems improper. Enforcement of the law is however somewhat arbitrary. For example, recently several people were arrested for protesting against extremist muslims in Britain, while not far away, a “Radical Imam” was busily preaching hate from the steps of his mosque in London. The protesters were arrested and face a fine. The Imam was not arrested.
    This lack of a first amendment style protection is also why the government can issue what used to be called “a D notice” and quash any newspaper story they wish, or ban books right and left. I recall one notable case of the latter in the 1990s. Former MI 5 principle scientist Peter Wright wrote a book called “Spy Catcher” wherein he made the case that Sir Roger Hollis (his former boss) was the infamous “5th man” in the Cambridge 5 spy ring.
    The book was banned in Britain, and only published in the USA, Canada and Australia.
    (as an aside, Hollis was later cleared when the actual identity of the 5th man was revealed.)
    For John Powell : putting up with jerks like the Westboro Baptist Church is one extreme.
    Having expose’s like the one on Watergate by Woodward and Bernstein more than makes up for hate speech by jerks like Fred Phelps, IMO.

  • Now I’ve got the Star Spangled Banner stuck in my head…

  • Jared Cerbin

    At the start of my reading Jay’s piece, I felt the officer’s action was justified, as John Powell did, but then I read the defenses to section 5 of the Public Order Act. The protester, and the sign, were protected because “(3) The conduct was reasonable.” Unless the boy was screaming “CULT” at the top of his lungs or running naked through the street, this third clause seems like a pretty good defense.

  • Yep L Ron was a total douche.

    Scientology is a dangerous cult.

  • “BTW the police being on the take is a non-sequitur when it comes to whether or not the police acted properly in enforcing the law in arresting this person”

    Are you saying it doesn’t go towards motive?

  • peter117

    This is strange. I attended the February protests, and saw many people holding signs proclaiming Scientology to be a cult. We (as in, the crowd) also repeatedly started chants of “This is a [object], this is a cult”, pointing to the object in question and then the Scientology headquarters in turn. None of the policemen present (at either site) had any problems with this; speaking to one of them, he said that most of the policemen found the chants to be quite amusing and there was a general sense of support for us protesters there.

    Still, Scientology ‘gifts’ to the policeforce does not bode well for future protests…

  • Good post. Youch; I actually feel quite ashamed! I’m not used to stuff this ridiculous from the UK, though it does go on all the time.

    We have a fairness problem in the UK similar to the “creationism should be taught with evolution; it’s only fair” stuff that’s going on in the US. Freedom of speech only goes so far — when you allow it to go in favour of the one’s we should be able to protest against, that ain’t freedom of speech!

  • dcardani

    Jay, can you post a link to this alleged bribery. I don’t doubt it probably happened, but would like to read the details of it.

  • Slarty

    dcardani – Here is a link to a story in the Guardian in Nov 2006:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/nov/22/freedomofinformation.religion

    As a UK citizen it does worry me that we have an unnerving habit of bringing in knee-jerk laws to problems that are often better covered by existing long standing laws. It comes from not having a fixed constitution I suppose.

  • Steve Page

    Slarty, cheers for the link. I found this part of the article interesting.

    Mark Salter, psychiatrist: “They are a cult who are trying to maximise their influence by putting feelers out and using spin to make contacts and network in quite dangerous ways.”

    More evidence for the defence, perhaps?

  • John Powell

    By Mjhavok on May 22, 2008 | Reply
    “’BTW the police being on the take is a non-sequitur when it comes to whether or not the police acted properly in enforcing the law in arresting this person’”

    “Are you saying it doesn’t go towards motive?”

    As I understood it (although DLC & Jared brought up something I hadn’t considered) the cops were just doing their jobs, and would have no need to defend their motives for doing so. But if a case was leveled against the cops for their actions, then I could see how uneven enforcement plus being on the take would be relevant.

  • John Powell

    By DLC on May 22, 2008 | Reply
    “For John Powell : putting up with jerks like the Westboro Baptist Church is one extreme.
    Having expose’s like the one on Watergate by Woodward and Bernstein more than makes up for hate speech by jerks like Fred Phelps, IMO.”

    And I completely agree. However even in the US we do not have completely unfettered speech. Given that, it is only natural for folks to have differing opinions on where to draw lines, which I think was the point I was trying to make.

    Personally I think what we have in the US works fine when enforcement is even-handed, as much as I dislike douches like Phelps.

    Good conversation!

  • Steve Page

    Vive la résistance!

    No charges brought, and future demonstrations against the Cult of Scinetology are free to continue. :)

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/23/religion?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront

Leave a Reply