Swedish tax money benefits Scientology

The Local, Sweden/October 1, 2008

Swedish taxpayers have been indirectly supporting the Church of Scientology though local government contracts given to front organizations with ties to the group.

According to a Sveriges Television (SVT) documentary set to air on Wednesday, 156 of Sweden's 290 local councils have contributed more than 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) to the Scientology movement.

Much of the money has been channeled through contracts with Narconon, a company which offers a controversial treatment method for drug addicts.

According to SVT, Narconon also serves as a front organization for the Church of Scientology and contributes 10 percent of its earnings to the main branch of the movement.

"I don't actually think that politics can dictate what they do with their profits," said Cecilia Lund, a Social Democratic council member from Eslöv in southern Sweden, to SVT.

Eslöv has paid Narconon more than 1.5 million kronor for its services in the last five years

The SVT report also details other organizations with ties to the Church of Scientology that have received contracts with various municipalities in Sweden.

One such organization is the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which attempts to discredit all forms of psychiatry and claims that psychiatry is to blame for the Holocaust and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

SVT has interviewed people who have abandoned Scientology who explain that the movement relies on front organizations to raise money and recruit members.

"If they [municipalities] give money to Scientology front-organizations, then the Scientologists will increase their control in Sweden in a very disingenuous way," said Los Angeles native and 24-year Scientology veteran Michael Pattinson to SVT.

Scientology is a body of beliefs and practices created by American author L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s. Many outsiders accuse the group of being a cult which brainwashes its members

The movement has several celebrities among its ranks, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

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