Belgium Troubles

Scientologist Fabio Amicarelli, director of European public affairs, based in Brussels.

I was sent an update on Scientology’s status in Belgium. If you’re like me, my complete knowledge of Belgium is that it’s the home country of famed detective Hecule Poirot.   Here’s what the writer had to say:

Belgium is a very small country between France and Germany with merely 11,000,000 inhabitants but plays a very important role in the European Union, as its capital is the “capital of Europe”, the most important European institutions and lobbyists are gathered in Brussels. Most of European laws and directives are made in Brussels. It’s the Washington D.C. of Europe so to speak.

Last month the Belgian investigators and magistrates labeled Scientology as a “criminal organisation”, which is a juridical (law) term in Belgium. The investigation into Scientology has been going on since 1997 but due to Scientology’s constant and insatiable appeals, time wasting maneouvres and demands for “further investigative procedures” it is still an ongoing process.

The Executive Magistrate of the Kingdom of Belgium is targetting 14 people (12 of them the highest ranking Scientologists in Belgium) and 2 organisations (Scientology Belgium and the European Office for Public Affairs and Human Rights) for:

  • swindling
  • extortion
  • performing medicine without a license
  • forming a criminal organisation

The Executive Magistrate is now executing the very last appeals by Scientology and will then most likelybring the case to court. If brought to correctional court, as is is happening in France at the moment and found guilty of the accusations the organisation will most likely be banned from operating in Belgium, also prison sentencing is not unlikely.

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17 Comments on “Belgium Troubles”

  1. Ann O'Nymous Says:

    Banning is not the best option, IMHO. It would give scientology such a nice card to play. I favor the German attitude: considering it as a commercial activity, vetting the access to sensible public positions and surveillance by police / intelligence agencies.

    It would be nice if the organization was heavily fined and its leaders sentenced in court.

  2. Wolfie Says:

    This is insane, i mean in a good way.
    It seems countries in Europe are banning Scientology left and right,

    Dare we dream of the day Scientology disappears for good in Europe, then the world.

  3. dr.fang Says:

    I think banning would be a GREAT option. It would break the “religious cloaking” angle and serve as an example of what it is and what it isn’t.

    As a business, I don’t have a problem with a lot of Scientology practices. But as a Medical Practice or a religion, it’s pure quackery.

  4. IAmNoone Says:

    Banning for sure the best way. How can a “Church” be involved in racketeering, like the Mafia?

  5. wannabeclear Says:

    Really? You wouldn’t have a problem with its practices if it were labeled as a business? You might want to rethink that statement. How would you feel about any other business that engaged in the the practices that Scientology is notorious for? What if another “business” didn’t pay the majority of its employees a living wage, let alone overtime? Not provide them with sufficient time off, health insurance, workman’s comp, even time off for a lunch break. How about a business that employs minors, requires them to work 70+ hours a week and keeps them from going to school? How about a business that makes it a practice to curse and yell and intimidate employees who don’t meet their goals? What about a business that send its employees to a prison-like boot camp for infractions like not reaching sales quotas? How about a business that hires private investigators to follow its former employees simply because they no longer wish to work for the company? How about a business that sends memos to a former employee’s neighbors calling them a criminal or a pedophile or a murderer, simply because said former employee left the company and decided to blow the whistle, telling people about the abuses in which the company engaged.

    I agree that Scientology should not be able to hide under banner of “religion.” They should also lose their 501(c)3 nonprofit status. The nonprofit status means they are tax-exempt, which is bad enough. However, the religion label means they don’t even have to file a 990 (nonprofit tax return) with the IRS.

    Removal of their label as a religion and a nonprofit would be a great start. It would be much more difficult for them to get away with their other “practices” if they didn’t have that shelter under which to hide. As soon as they had to live up to the laws and regulations required of other “businesses”, they’d have the the Department of Labor and the EEOC all over them for abuses of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Child Labor laws, Health and Safety regulations, etc.

    I can’t think of a single reputable business that operates the way Scientology does. The fact that they do so by using freedom of religion as a shield, just makes them that much more despicable!

  6. belganymous Says:

    As a Belgian citizen I just want to clear something up;

    In this particular case it’s of course not up to the Belgian govt but to the court to decide to ban it.

    This can only happen if the accusation of “forming a criminial organisation” is proven. In that case, disbanding the CoS Belgium is amongst the likely possibilities.

    We’re following the court case in France closely and we hope that an official announcement about a possible trial will follow in the coming month or 2.

  7. celegar Says:

    im really suprised that ol tommy d or tommy n havnt jumped on this one, claiming that this is the cause of the “antiscientology racket”.

  8. Xenumania Says:

    Ann O’Nymous,

    I don’t know what type of card you are referring to.

    Perhaps you might have been a little hasty in making your comment. I am sorry, but I need to disagree with you. If anything, banning the cult would only embolden other governments to do the same thing. Having multiple criminal convictions in several countries would pave the way for others.

    I absolutely would not want ANY business conducting themselves in the way that the $cientology cult does. Forget making it a business and wasting resources baby sitting them. Besides, the cult has demonstrated since the 1950′s that people can be bought. It would be so much easier and cheaper in the long-run to outright ban them and force them to disband.

    Anyways, that just my 2 cents ;-)

  9. mikethemarcabian Says:

    To ban or not to ban?

    Thats a tough question and I’m divided on the issue. The only conclusion that I can come to is the idea of banning $cientology (corporate scientology) but leaving the practise of scientology (eg Freezone etc) to continue and hopefully die a natural death.

  10. CrazyDelaney Says:

    Tom Newton has been remarkably quiet ever since all the stuff in France.

  11. Xenumania Says:

    mikethemarcabian:

    That is a good point. Actually, I do not have an issue with the “Freezone” folks because they can come and go as they choose and they are not any abuses that I know of.

    Anyone should be able to believe what they wish as long as people’s rights are not violated, people are not abused, and no crimes are being committed.

  12. Anon Says:

    Wannabeclear: IF they were a business, legally they would need to be in conformity with laws concerning businesses, including paying regular minimum wage (at least) to employees, health insurance, regular time off, etc, etc, etc

    That in turn would lead to the obvious.

  13. dr.fang Says:

    Wannabeclear,

    not that I disagree with anything you said in particular, but you’ll please note that I said “most”.

    I don’t have a problem with Scientology providing “self improvement” courses. Let those compete with any other self improvement course. (I’m going to be that the wacky stuff will be a bit of a detriment to their popularity, though.)

    As to the rest, Anon has the right of it: if they operated as a business rather than a cult, a lot of the abuses would be taken care of.

  14. dr.fang Says:

    Crazy Delaney,

    It’s been my observation that Tom Newton has been awfully quiet since I told him that after he blew, a lot of people in Anonymous would be there for him to try to put his life back together.

    I’m hoping that he’s considering it. But I’m also a little afraid that he might be getting some heavy Ethics handling right now (condition of Doubt, etc.) due to his exposure to all of us “SPs”.

  15. Xchidna Says:

    Ah the banning question. I want the cult banned, for sure, just as much as I want banned any illegal organization which only aims to hurt others for its own gain. But I distinguish between the weird-ass beliefs like Xenu and the cult that sells the shit. Just because I’d like for televangelist assholes who are all about the cash to be banned, doesn’t mean I have any real quarrel with people who consider themselves Christian and follow the teachings of the guy to be good people. I take some inspiration from some of his acts, anyway, no matter what I consider him, he was a good guy.

    And likewise, Hubbard did write some goodish ideas. I suppose. When he wasn’t jacking them from elsewhere. But who cares about that, talking about your problems with someone you trust is gonna make you feel better, hands down.

    Back to the televangelists… I wonder if that’s the precise reason that the US is reluctant to fight Scientology… since supreme right-wing nutjob Christianity does the same “BUY MY STUFF” and “HATE EVERYONE ELSE FOR THEY ARE THE DEVIL’S WORKERS” as the cult does… though they don’t have any labor camps that I know of.

  16. dr.fang Says:

    Xchidna,

    Nice comparison to the televangelists. I think it’s rather spot-on.

    What makes the CoS a cult is the teaching that “LRH spoke only truth”, or that he is “Source”.

    It’s a “gospel” that contradicts itself time and again. They took a bunch of good ideas and a decent self-help series of courses that could have stood or fallen on their own merits and turned the whole thing into a farce with the religion angle.

    “What’s true for you” doesn’t really hold true if you disagree with what LRH has said, as it turns out. :-/

  17. Martin Says:

    Surely this will never happen in the US, Europe on the whole has a different approach to religion within society. In France religion is treated as something that should be kept away from the state. Therefore bring criminal action against it is easier because it can be more easily treated as an organisation.
    In the US religion is entrenched in the constituion and therefore once reconized as such will always have that card to play.
    Explained badly but I think you get the point.


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