Councillor faces suspension for calling Scientology ‘stupid’

The Telegraph has the story:

John Dixon, a Cardiff councillor, is being investigated for allegedly breaching the code of conduct for local authority members which demands they “show respect and consideration for others”.

A complaint was made to the Welsh ombudsman by a member of the Church of Scientology in December last year about comments Mr Dixon made on his Twitter page that June.

On a visit to London, to buy a wedding ring, the Liberal Democrat councillor tweeted: “I didn’t know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off.”

Following an investigation by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Mr Dixon was referred to Cardiff Council’s standards and ethics committee.

The committee will receive the ombudsman’s report next week and Mr Dixon could face sanctions of up to a six-month suspension after a hearing in the autumn.

However, although the ombudsman said it was “likely” he had breached the councillors’ code Mr Dixon appeared unfazed as his Twitter followers trebled.

He wrote on his personal account on Tuesday: “Am I going to get into more trouble for saying that, right now, I’m bigger than Xenu, do you think?”

According to Scientologists, Xenu was the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” who brought his people to earth in a spaceship more than 75 million years ago.

Mr Dixon said: “I don’t see why the Scientologists should have any greater protection from ridicule than I should have as a member of the Liberal Democrats. I can’t believe it has got this far.”

One Twitter supporter said: “Instead of a disciplinary hearing, they should canvas all the electorate to see if they agree with you. I think they just might.”

Another wrote: “We’re all behind you mate, if any disciplinary action goes ahead it will be because the stupid rubbed off on someone.”

However, in March last year the Crown Prosecution Service decided that anyone who attacks Scientology can be prosecuted under faith hate laws

None of this is really surprising. It is the logical result of a law, and in general, an approach to religion that privileges deist over other forms of belief. The CPS’s position on the issue is depressingly unsurprising. Given that the CPS regards dissing Scientology as a crime, it would be odd if the Ombudsman took a different approach.

Sure, we all know that Scientology was designed by L Ron Hubbard as a money making scam, which horrifically exploits its members. Here is the verdict of Mr Justice Latey in one of the many Scientology-related court cases:

“Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious. (…) In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has as its real objective money and power for Mr Hubbard his wife and those close to him at the top. It is sinister because it indulges in infamous practices both to its adherents who do not toe the line unquestioningly and to those outside who criticise or oppose it. It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.

The Church of Scientology is a hugely litigious institution, which uses Lawfare to harass its opponents. In particularly, it has launched law suits to protect  its so-called ‘intellectual property’ – the accounts of members who have left the cult, exposes of its ‘e-meter’ and so on – which indicates that it is, in essence, a business. Lord Goff has described the material which it sought to protect as “pernicious nonsense”.

However, it is clear that its adherents take it seriously. Indeed – just like a ‘genuine’ religion – there are already breakaway groups from the Church of Scientology, who teach that this institution is subverting the true pure message of L Ron:

Although Scientology is most often used as shorthand for the Church of Scientology, a number of groups practice Scientology and Dianetics outside of the official Church. These groups consist of both former members of the official Church of Scientology, as well as entirely new members. These groups are collectively known as the Free Zone. Capt. Bill Robertson, a former Sea Org member, was a primary instigator in the movement. The Church labels these groups as squirrels in Scientology jargon, and often subjects them to considerable legal and social pressure.

What to do?

The best solution to this mess is to repeal laws which privilege religion over other forms of belief in any way. Although Scientology should probably not be banned, resources should be put into investigating and policing abused carried out by the Church, including the coercion of inductees. This approach should be applied not simply to Scientology, but any organisation: religious or not.

As things stand, the police praise the Church of Scientology as a “force for good“, order protestors to take down their banners, and arrest anti-Scientology protestors who point out that it is a ‘dangerous cult‘.

This is an unsatisfactory situation.


His twitter account is here.