What is scientology all about? How does it happen that any intelligent, sane and literate person can identify himself with its proclamations and revere its organisation as a 'church'?
The question is of some importance because this is precisely what a number of intelligent, sane and literate persons, as well as a large number of others, have done and (it seems) are still doing. It might matter less if it were not that the scientologists also harass and abuse those who critically examine their doctrine and methods; and, even worse, that they are putting themselves forward as mental health practitioners. Their activities in this country in recent years have led to a number of lawsuits, in which they have both defended and attacked. There is a government ban on the immigration of scientology 'students'. And at the request of the Secretary of State for the Social Services there has been an enquiry into 'the practice and effects of scientology' by Sir John Foster, QC, MP, who has recommended:
Sir John also expressed the view, and I believe him to be right, that 'the mere fact that someone is a scientologist is no reason for excluding him from the United Kingdom, when there is nothing in our law to prevent those of his fellows who are citizens of this country from practising scientology here'. I myself would go so far as to deplore any suggestion that the practice of scientology should be prevented if its practitioners qualified themselves in the manner Sir John recommends.
- (a) that psychotherapy for payment (which is what the scientologists purport to practice) should be 'a restricted profession open only to those who undergo an appropriate training and are willing to adhere to a proper code of ethics'; and
- (b) that 'churches' should not enjoy taxation or rating concessions unless they 'have a substantial following and engage in genuine and overt acts of worship'.
I am much indebted to the National Association for Mental Health (which has no responsibility for this book) for access to its correspondence files and for the loan of court transcripts; to the Church of scientology, which is unlikely to approve of the book, for a nonetheless courteous reception at its British headquarters at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, and the supply of numerous reports and pamphlets; and to a number of lawyer friends for valuable criticisms, advice and encouragement.
C. H. ROLPH