Church of Scientology brings its anti-psychiatry exhibit to Kansas Capitol

The Kansas City Star/January 24, 2008

Topeka - As Kansas' symbolic home, the Capitol sees its share of traveling displays and wandering weirdness.

Art from schoolchildren. A dinosaur egg given as a gift from China. Informational displays on wind farms. On Thursday, leaders from the town of Yates Center gave away slices of pie.

Now, a group linked to the Church of Scientology has erected a state-of-the-art audio-visual exhibit that takes on the entire field of psychiatry, linking it to attempts at mind control, the Holocaust and thousands of deaths every year.

The exhibit, which opens today and runs through Monday, is hardly subtle. Its title: "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death."

It's a traveling exhibit sponsored by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a group formed by members of the Church of Scientology. The exhibit was last on display in the Missouri Capitol and before that in St. Louis.

Any group can reserve space for displays or exhibits as long as it pays the application fee and its displays aren't obscene.

The display involves plasma-screen TVs and 15 glossy color-display panels. Among the claims: up to 25 percent of psychiatrists rape their patients; overmedication kills thousands and enslaves many more; and 10,000 people die from electroshock therapy every year.

"What we want to do is educate people about psychiatry and its role in the decline of society," said Melanie Wertin of Lawrence, a Scientologist who helped put up the display.

Psychiatrists shrug at the allegations, saying Scientology has a long history of bizarre claims about the profession.

"They aren't really able to support their position with any scientific data, which they tend to ignore," said Michael Burke, president of the Kansas Psychiatric Society. "The public seems to be able to look right past the Scientology hoopla."

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