Church of Scientology banned from shopping centre

Birmingham MailNet, UK/July 16, 2008

The Church of Scientology has been banned from a Midland shopping centre after a string of complaints that they had been preaching to children.

Church leaders understood to be from Birmingham set up a stall at Wolverhampton’s Wulfrun Centre after making a booking under the name Dianetics, the church’s main theory.

Bosses ordered preachers to pack up and leave after angry parents said their children had been invited to take part in "stress tests" and then lectured about the religion.

"We had complaints that kids had been invited to take part in a stress test and were then being asked questions about religion," said operations manager Colin Quinton.

"We told them that we’d had complaints, and we wouldn’t be inviting them back. It didn’t seem like a religious set-up and we wouldn’t have allowed them in if we had realised who they were. We try and stay neutral on issues of politics and religion."

The event, on Saturday, June 28, was understood to be part of a huge recruitment drive by Scientologists across Birmingham and the Black Country.

The controversial church includes Hollywood actor Tom Cruise among its supporters. Growing numbers of followers in Birmingham have submitted plans unveiled to spend £4.25 million to turn Moseley’s Grade II-listed Pitmaston building into the Midlands HQ for the church.

Graeme Wilson, the church’s public affairs director, said: "The Wulfrun has adopted a policy of having no religious organisations at the centre.

"Apparently there was one complaint by one person, who didn’t identify himself, saying he had seen children approached and offered stress tests.

"I understand that he did not claim to be a parent of any such children, and no evidence has been presented.

"Our stress tests are not offered to children," Mr Wilson added.

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