Scientology targets Perth

The Sunday Times, Australia/June 18, 2011

The Church of Scientology, famous for celebrity followers such as Tom Cruise, is on a membership drive in Perth.

The church has been distributing a 200-question "personality test" in letterboxes.

Householders are being asked to include their name, address, email, phone numbers, occupation, age and sex on the form.

The information will be used for an "obligation free" personality analysis by "an expert evaluator", according to the church.

The survey asks residents whether they are "always getting into trouble" or if they have "spells of being sad and depressed for no apparent reason".

Another asks: "If we were invading another country, would you feel sympathetic towards conscientious objectors in this country?"

In a written statement in response to questions from The Sunday Times, the church said the recruiting drive was part of its normal activities.

"This is something we have done for many years, so it is not a new action by the church. We regularly hand out these questionnaires which are an invitation to a person to find out more about themselves," the statement said.

But Civil Liberties Australia director Tim Vines said people should be cautious about who was receiving their private information."In terms of unsolicited material, people should treat it like any sort of spam email or junk email they receive in their inbox," Mr Vines said.

"They should treat it with scepticism and think carefully about whether they should be providing this information."

Mr Vines said he had "significant concerns" about private information being sought, whether it was by a private group or government agency. He said people needed to consider whether their information would be kept on file or destroyed.

"I wouldn't fill out an unsolicited survey seeking personal information," Mr Vines said. "I'm sure in cases like this it is used to target follow-up information.

"Our general advice to people is to be cautious about handing over private and sensitive information and know who it is going to be used by."

Sceintology explained

  • The Church of Scientology follows the teachings of the late American science fiction author L Ron Hubbard who founded the first church in 1953.

  • It's teachings include that people are immortal spiritual beings who have forgotten their true nature.

  • Teachings are also said to also encompass extraterrestrial civilisations and alien interventions in earth affairs.

  • Practitioners undergo "auditing" as a method of spiritual rehabilitation.

What they asked

Sample questions from the Church of Scientology 200-question personality test being distributed in Perth letterboxes.

  • Do you intend two or less children in your family even though your health and income will permit more?

  • Are you "always getting into trouble"?

  • If we were invading another country, would you feel sympathetic towards conscientious objectors in this country?

  • Do you pay your debts and keep your promises when it is possible?

  • Do you prefer to take a passive role in any club or organisation to which you belong?

  • Are you opposed to the "probation system" for criminals?

  • Do you spent too freely in relation to your income?

  • Do you have spells of being sad and depressed for no apparent reason?

  • Do you often feel depressed?

  • Do some noises "set your teeth on edge"?

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