ACNC Urged to Investigate Church of Scientology
9 April 2015 at 12:30 pm
Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon has called on the national charity regulator to urgently investigate the operations of the Church of Scientology in Australia.
In a letter to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), Senator Xenophon asked that the registration of the Church of Scientology (and all entities related to Scientology) as a charity be reviewed as a matter of urgency.
The ACNC has the power to deregister charities registered in Australia and to remove their tax deductible status and other tax benefits.
“I understand the Church of Scientology is registered by the ACNC as a charity with the purpose of 'advancing religion'. The Church of Scientology operates in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia,” Senator Xenophon’s letter said.
“According to the ACNC's website there are 14 organisations that contain the word 'scientology' in their names that are, or have been, registered as charities. Of those 14 organisations, two have had their registration revoked and one has had its registration voluntarily revoked.”
Senator Xenophon’s letter comes after the airing of a controversial documentary in the United States, called Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which is believed to include new allegations in relation to the conduct of the Church of Scientology in North America.
“These allegations included that the Church of Scientology ('COS') tortures its members, that it has stolen US Government documents and requires current members to cut all ties with friends and family members who have left the COS,” Senator Xenophon said.
“The Church of Scientology is a global organisation with common rules that apply to all of its branches.
“I am deeply concerned about the potentially wide-reaching and harmful influence this organisation may have on its Australian branches. Based on Scientology's aims and objectives, how it operates and the treatment of its members.
“I therefore request that a review is conducted into the charitable status of the Church of Scientology and any associated entities in Australia as a matter of urgency,” Senator Xenophon said.
The ACNC has confirmed that it has received the letter.
“The ACNC has received the letter from Senator Xenophon and we will respond directly to the Senator,” Acting Commissioner, David Locke said.
In May 2014, the controversial leader of Scientology worldwide, David Miscavige, praised Australia for opening a new church, or Ideal Org, in Sydney.
“There’s a new sign in the southern night skies and it points to something never seen before—your Ideal Org of Sydney,” Miscavige said.
“That it opens directly in the wake of what is a whole new Scientology world lends it even more significance. Because for all the help you thus far extended to the millions, you now possess the means—in this, our Golden Age—to uplift this city and this nation with the unqualified freedom of Scientology.”