Greens say tax payer money going to Church of Scientology

New Zealand Herald/May 10, 2012

Green's drugs spokesman Kevin Hague has alleged in Parliament that the Church of Scientology is using tax-payer money to promote an anti-psychiatry agenda and messages against medication used to treat mental illness through charities disguised as social service organisations.

Mr Hague said he had watched members of the church on Auckland's Queen Street target vulnerable people.

Using parliamentary privilege, Mr Hague said groups affiliated to the church had been able to receive community grants.

"There's a bunch of smiling young people with clipboards who approach people who are going past and invite them to do a personality test," he said in Parliament.

"Those that take the personality test invariably find that the solution to the problem to their personality lies some how with the Church of Scientology."

Mr Hague claimed 30,000 children had received the leaflets from the group.

He said the church was against the use of medicines used to treat mental illness and psychiatry and targeted vulnerable members in the community.

"It is evil to try to dissuade people with mental illness to avoid proper health professional services that they need."

"I don't object to churches providing social services, provided the church is transparent and that the service is not a front for recruiting into the church, but the Church of Scientology fails of both of those fronts."

Mr Hague said that among the groups acting as a front for the Church of Scientology were Drug-Free World, Drug-Free Ambassadors, Commission for Human Rights, Rehabilitate New Zealand and World Literacy Crusade.

He called for the Minister of Internal Affairs to follow through with an investigation promised by the department in February.

Church of Scientology secretary Mark Ferris confirmed Drug-Free Ambassadors and Drug-free Aotearoa were registered charities and had received a $6500 community grant to fund fliers promoting a drug-free life.

Mr Ferris said the groups listed in Parliament by Mr Hague were well-known affiliates of the church.

He said the leaflets were distributed widely and had not targeted children and did not address psychiatric drugs.

He said Mr Hague's comments were not accurate.

"They are stupid, because we are doing something in terms of drug education that no other group is," he said.

Mr Ferris said the church was against the over-use of medication in psychiatry but not against medication overall.

"They are saying that a drug-free life is better than taking drugs," he said.

"We use medical doctors like anyone else. In fact, we have members of in the church who are doctors," he said.

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