Scientology claim upsets Church man

Birmingham Post (UK)/August 17, 2001

The Birmingham Diocese last night attacked an advertising campaign by Scientologists for being irresponsible, dishonest and harmful to the public interest.

The diocese has objected to a series of billboard advertisements and leaflets issued across Birmingham claiming 250,000 people have been saved from drugs by Scientology.

The Church of England has lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), alleging the drugs claims are 'untruthful, dishonest and unsubstantiated'.

Last night, the Archdeacon of Birmingham, the Ven Hayward Osborne, said: 'We are concerned about the claims being made by the Scientology movement, with little or no evidence to support them.

'This naturally places question marks over other statements they make. 'Scientology is rightly not recognised as a religion by national governments, the Charity Commissioners or by ourselves.'

The adverts coincided with an exhibition by Scientologists held for ten days at the International Convention Centre earlier this month. The controversial movement boasts eight million members worldwide including Hollywood stars Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and John Travolta.

Church of Scientology spokesman Graeme Wilson said the disputed drug claims were based on rehabilitation programmes in the United States and South America. There was 'no shortage' of people willing to testify to their validity.

'Our rehabilitation success is 85 per cent.' He said rehabilitation worked by natural detoxification and intensive efforts to find out why a person was taking drugs.

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