Illinois Orders Exhibit's Removal

Associated Press/December 4, 2003

Chicago -- The state of Illinois ordered a group that's an offshoot of the Church of Scientology to remove a display condemning psychiatry from a state office building.

The exhibit at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago by the Citizens Commission of Human Rights attacked psychiatry as a profession that "spawned the ideology which fired Hitler's mania ... and created the Holocaust." It also accused psychiatrists of "hooking our children on drugs."

The group erected the display Monday with state permission, but was asked to dismantle it Tuesday after people complained that it spread misinformation and violated the separation between church and state, officials said.

"It appears they did not adequately represent themselves," said Michael Rumman, the state official who manages the building. "The Illinois administrative code says that exhibits may not promote religious philosophies, and this clearly does."

The focus of the museum-like display of photographs was alleged abuse of psychiatric patients, but the exhibit also referred to the group's Scientology roots.

"There's nothing religious about this display," Citizens Commission chapter leader Lynn Ward said before she packed up materials in the building's atrium.

"But because we have not disavowed any link to the Church of Scientology, they are asking us to leave. I think that's wrong."

Ward acknowledged that her group was founded by the Church of Scientology but said it was not run by the church.

The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who taught that technology can expand the mind and solve problems. It claims nearly 9 million members worldwide.

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