Sydney MP blasts school grant over Scientology link

True Local News, Australia/December 9, 2009

A Newtown School which teaches Scientology beliefs has received $1.4 million in government funding for less than 50 students.

Greens MP John Kaye blasted State and Federal governments for providing the Athena School with $751,519 in ongoing funding until 2012, $135,287 for a new library, $114,713 for classroom refits and $50,000 for other works.

According to the school's website it teaches from The Way to Happiness, written by Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Mr Kaye said responses to questions on notice brought before parliament revealed there were less than 50 students at the school.

Mr Kaye said public money should not go to schools teaching Scientology beliefs.

"Public money is now being used to support a school that admits to using the discredited Scientology-based teaching methodology," he said.

"It's time for both the State and Federal education ministers to take this seriously," he said.

In a statement provided to Central the Athena School said it received appropriate government funding.

"The Athena School is registered by the NSW Board of Studies, follows the NSW Board of Studies Curriculum and complies with all state and federal education regulations and standards," the statement read. The statement said a wide variety of educational and religious ideas were welcomed at the school.

"We are an independent parent-run school and we educate students from a wide variety of religions and cultural backgrounds. Last month Central reported on allegations made by Senator Nick Xenophon in Federal Parliament under parliamentary privilege against the Church of Scientology.

Mr Xenophon labelled the church a "criminal organisation" and called for an inquiry into its practices and tax-exempt status as a religious organisation. Mr Kaye said it was time for governments to act on Scientology.

"The whistle has been blown on Scientology by Senator Xenophon. It's time for the State and Federal governments to act to make sure that their money is not being used to promote Scientology."

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