Ill. Allowing Group to Put Up Display

Associated Press/December 10, 2003

Chicago -- Reversing an earlier ruling, the state is allowing a controversial exhibit to be erected at the Thompson Center by a group affiliated with the Church of Scientology.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights' exhibit blasts psychiatry as a wicked profession that "spawned the ideology which fired Hitler's mania ... and created the Holocaust."

Officials announced on Monday that they had decided to allow the exhibit to return to the downtown building after discussing the matter with state lawyers.

The group erected the photographic display in the state building on Dec. 1 but was ordered to dismantle it less than 24 hours later after people complained that the exhibit spread misinformation and violated the separation of church and state, officials said.

While the exhibit did refer to the group's Scientology ties, the state's lawyers have determined that it did not have religious overtones.

Marla Filidei, international vice president of the Citizens Commission, said the state's change of heart was a victory for 1st Amendment rights.

"We were prepared to go as far as need be to ensure that justice was done in this case," she said. "The state was very misguided in its initial decision. The exhibit is what it portrays itself to be and nothing more than that."

The exhibit is expected to return to the building for a week, beginning on Jan. 5, Central Management Services spokeswoman Pam Davies said.

The main focus of the museum-like display of photographs was alleged abuses of psychiatric patients.

The American Psychiatric Association has said the group's charges aren't based on science.

The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who contends that technology can expand the mind and solve problems.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.