Holland - Scientology payments not tax deductible

St. Irinaeus of Lyon Center for Religious Research, December 15, 2003

Het Parool newspaper of the Netherlands reported on December 11th that Scientology will no longer be considered as tax exempt in the Netherlands.

"The Scientology Church Amsterdam can not be considered to be 'an institute for the common good' as intended in the income tax law merely because the church claims to be such an institute. Therefore, the revenue service does not have to consider payments to the sect to be tax deductible, the more because Scientology uses 'more or less commercial tariffs.'

"Inspectors of the revenue service in Amsterdam refused to accept gifts as deductible, after the revenue service had researched the 'factual activities of the Scientology Church.' Even the height of the rates for courses demonstrates a commercial intent, the tax office said to Scientology: 'The rates vary from 125 guilders for a course for beginners, via rates of 6,500 guilders for advanced and finally to 9,800 guilders for courses for more advanced students. In addition, the way in which Scientology recruits students can also be considered as commercial.'

"Of main importance, however was the fact that the 'intent and content' of the courses is aimed mainly at taking away 'personal problems,' and therefore 'individual' and for 'personal benefit.' 'From factual research it therefore follows that Scientology is an institute not for the common good, but serving personal benefit.'

"The Scientologist involved and the Scientology church now have four weeks time to proof to the court in The Hague that the sect indeed serves the common good. Considering the reputation of the 'church' in this area, this will no doubt lead to truckloads of notarized and other official statements from Scientologists which should serve to proof that Scientology certainly is not interested in the money, but rather in the common good of all mankind.

"At the moment, Scientology Netherlands has problems on many fronts. In recent months, sixty of the estimated 150 active members of the sect, with offices at Amsterdam's Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, have turned their backs on the 'church.' They consider the sect to be too strict and far too expensive."

Het Parool also reported on December 9th that Scientology in the Netherlands has been placed under control of the international organization following a large number of members leaving recently.

"The international leadership of Scientology, based in Los Angeles and Copenhagen, has placed the Scientology Church Netherlands under guardianship. First victim of the intervention is the highest boss of 'the church' in the Netherlands, executive directory Maria Beekmans-Koster. She has been relieved of her position, effective immediately. The reason is the serious crisis in which the Dutch branch of Scientology has - through mismanagement - found itself. The 'believers' are leaving in droves, the church suffers big losses, and loses important legal procedures.

"The new director of Scientology Nederland for now is Italian Massimo Pozzi. He comes from the sect's notorious Sea Organization. In Scientology's jargon, Koster's replacement is called a bypass. Insiders say it is 'highly unusual' that director Maria Koster has been shoved aside and has been replaced by an bunch of elites from abroad. 'It has never happened before that Sea Orgs have been ordered to Amsterdam. That can mean only one thing: that Los Angeles and Copenhagen seriously consider the possibility that they, if things continue like this, can shut down the tent in the Netherlands.

"That under leadership of the Sea Orgs, a new broom is sweeping through Scientology Netherlands is immediately noticeable, sources within the church report: even on St. Nicholas-evening [Dec. 5] work had to be done in 'the Org,' the head office at the Nieuwezijds, and new members had to be recruited on the streets. 'In other words, from now on work will be done seven days a week.'"

Material from Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review Volume 8, Issue 25

Russia - Surviving second wave of totalitarian cults

November 6, 2003

The number of people who consider themselves to be Scientologists, Moonists, Yusmalians and others grow at a frightening rate. The RF does not keep official statistics on this, but according to information from the World Psychiatric Association, our country takes third place in the world for the number of pseudoreligious associations. Meanwhile, Russia does not have one state rehabilitation center for people, who fallen under the influence of a destructive cult and who have paid for it with their health.

This was the subject of an interview by "Novo Izvestiya" with Professor Yuriy Polishchuk. He is the director of the clinical department of the Moscow psychiatric institute, under the RF Health Ministry. Here, for example, is what he replied to the question about what happens with people who fall under the influence of cults, "This is collective hypnosis. People get a feeling that is similar to visual and auditory hallucination. A rhythmic movement of hands and body, chanting and crying out, music, a crowd walking in a circle plus suggestions from the preacher and his assistants, who use known techniques of mass hypnosis ... All this brings a person into a state of heightened suggestibility, to the loss of critical attitude to all that is happening."

"All attempts to pull people away from the fetters of cultists have been futile, even if some parents or friends bring them to another city. This evokes still greater embitterment and resistance. I have observed 12 cultists who have been admitted to the psychiatric hospital," recalls Yuriy Polishchuk. They were all sent notes of identical content. For example, "Do not take drugs. Asakhara says hello to you and warns that this will ruin your health. We are with you! As soon as you get out, come straight to us." The doctors render aid, the psychosis disappears, but within a day of release the person is in the cult again and his condition debilitates over a period of time."

"The problem in this in that as of this time not one rehabilitation center has been created in Moscow nor in St. Petersburg," the professor believes. Usually psychiatrists will not make an attempt to treat such people. To be sure, there are individual enthusiasts, like the psychologist Evgenie Volkov from Nizhny Novgorod, who gets involved with the practice of rehabilitation on an individual scale, but this is the exception. A similar attempt at rehabilitation is being made, if you will, only by Oleg Stenyayev, who works in the Moscow church named for the icon of the mother of God, "Joy of all Sorrows" on the Bolshoi Ordynka. He leads debates to which people in cults and the cult leaders themselves are invited. Father Oleg shows that the Orthodox dogma is more profound and just. After such conversations, sometimes cultists begin conversion to the Orthodox belief."

To the question about whether a church isn't the same as a cult, only much older, and therefore more popular and larger, Yuriy Polishchuk answered the following, "The Russian Orthodox Church condemns cults and combats them. But as far as the Moscow Patriarchy being a big cult, which is interested in the congregation, in their spiritual exploitation, have, probably, a portion of truth. When I look at the work of a cult organization on the inside, then look at services in the Orthodox church, the life of the monks, the literature for enlightenment of basic Christian mysticism, I see some common traits."

For 10 years, since 1994, much has changed in Russia, but the problem of people getting into cults has remained constant. "Many well-known and odious cults are prohibited, for instance, 'Aum Shinkriko.' You don't run into pictures of Marina Tsvingun anymore. Cults have not been able to openly preach and spread their products. But it would be a mistake to think that they have ceased to exist," Professor Yuriy Polishchuk is sure. "Cults are not vanishing anywhere, but continue to actively recruit young people. They're only a little bit more reserved."

Republic of Karelia - Victims of Scientology cult freed

November 26, 2003

As was reported to a correspondent of Regions.Ru in the Karelian Internal Affairs Ministry, as a result of a Karelian OMON operation in one of the districts of Petrozavodsk, two sisters, ages 9 and 11, were freed. They were held for two years in one of the rooms in the apartment by their own mother, a member of the Scientology cult. The girls did not go to school for two years and were fed waste from the nearest market. The girl's mother did not work anywhere. When they were found, the girls asked for their father, who has permanent residence in Finnland. It was there that his former wife joined the cult. After the divorce she first went to Saint Petersburg, then she returned to Petrozavodsk, where they settled and made arrangements with the welfare agencies.

Now the girls are in the hospital in poor condition. The Petrozavodsk court deprived the mother of parental rights.

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