The Anti-Cult Movement

The French Anti-Cult Law

Scientology Critics and the French Anti-Cult Law

Poopsy Charmicheal is a Scientology ex-member but opposes the French anti-cult law. He defends his position against other Scientology critics in the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup. Contrary to what they claim about "human rights" and "free speech", the majority of Scientology critics do indeed support oppressive and anti-democratic laws such as the French anti-cult one. The present debate constitutes a further proof of this as well as provides some of the main arguments used. For more information about Scientology critic, see the alt.religion.scientology page.
[Poopsy Charmichael:]

This is a suppressive law that allows the government to determine your
choice of religion.

I am against it and will fight against any such law if proposed in the US.

Signed,

Poopsy Charmicheal

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Phil Scott:

When criminals,engaged in mind control tactics come on the scene though some legislation seems to be necessary to prevent fruther damage.

 I hope you or someone else has a better solution.

[Poopsy Charmichael:]

Yes. Someone else came up with a better solution.

The solution is the Bill of Rights. The framers made the decision that it is better to err in the direction of the individual's own reasoning powers, limited as they can be from time to time, and his ultimate responsibility for the choices he makes in his own life, than to put the idiotic and easily corrupted powers of government to work saving him from any mistakes he may have made.

The deterioration of rights is always attended by the fear of too much freedom - in this case, the freedom of cults to proselytize.

We must preserve our right to think for ourselves, even if it means that we may allow others the ability to trick us into making mistakes that are devastating to our lives.

Nothing is as dangerous to all of our continued survival than to allow the government to limit our rights as to our choice of religion. This strikes at the very heart of the freedom of thought, and the freedom of speech.

Prosecute real crimes - yes. Ban certain ideas - NEVER!

This, right here, and right now - what we are doing on ARS - is THE ethical and morally legitimate way to deal with cults. We are exercising our rights to the freedom of thought and the freedom of speech. It is EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE. We must never lose sight of that.

I see that the LMT is promoting this law on their Web site with "Viva La France!". I am in total disagreement with them on this one.

The French law is very dangerous - more dangerous than all the cults combined.

This law must not be allowed to become a precedent in dealing with cults.

Poopsy

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John C. Randolph:

No, it doesn't [allow the government to determine your choice of religion]. Clams in france can still throw their lives away watching a needle on an e-meter, they just can't arm-twist anyone else into doing likewise.

[Poopsy Charmichael:]

John -

No one ever arm-twisted me into becoming a Scientologist. That would be illegal and a crime.

This law, the way it has been presented to me, would ban groups for having and *speaking* ideas that the government had labeled as coming from a sect.

You are mischaracterizing the freedom of speech as arm-twisting. Speaking is not twisting.

Come on, man, don't get caught up in the witch hunt.

Think!

Poopsy

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Tom Klemesrud:

I think you cult is on the way to dissolution in France. Viva la France!

[Klemesrud is wrong to assume Poopsy is a Scientologist. She is an ex-member and critic.]

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Roger Gonnet:

That's one viewpoint [that it's better to err in the direction of the individual's own reasoning powers, as the framers of the Bill of Rights decided] who leads to the next step of your stupid reasoning:

"fraud does not longer exist, and people extorting money under false pretenses should never be sued, since the victim is the one who did the "error of reasoning powers".

[Poopsy Charmichael:]

Fraud and extortion are already crimes. They are actions committed by individuals. Those actions should be prosecuted. But the books the criminals read should not be banned, along with everyone else who reads them!

Why? Because the book did not commit the crime, nor did the other readers.

Roger -

You seem to be for this law.

Prove to us that you are not an idiot for that.

Poopsy

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yduzitmatter:

Since the law covers illegal activities of an organization and not individual activities per se there is no threat to freedom of speech or religion. The fact that COS has a history of illegal activities (infiltrating government offices etc.) and that they have as Organizational Policies such things as fair game, dead agenting, harassment by law suits,manipulation of the legal system, and so on is enough for anyone with the history that France and Germany have to say no more. It is not a bad law and I for one am glad that it has passed. When Scientology and other coercive and destructive groups stop their abusive practices this law will become moot. No one wants to ban religious ideas - they only want to stop the abuse and the illegal, immoral, and unethical behaviours of Organizations. If someone commits a criminal act because of the policies of an organization then the organization is at fault as well as the individual. This is the connection that you are failing to see.

[Poopsy Charmichael:]

I see the connection. But when it comes to enforcing a law like this, we will end up with governments having the power to inspect religious beliefs, and they will have the power to say "this religion is bad because it has this belief."

If government is only allowed to prosecute the actions of individuals, then we can have equal protection, due process, religious freedom and freedom of speech. If the government is allowed to inspect the religious beliefs of criminals, and then BAN those religions - none of those things can survive.

Prosecute crimes - never prosecute beliefs.

Poopsy

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Arnie Lerma:

Any mental manipulaion technique that creates a criminal mindset should itself be outlawed.

[Poopsy Charmichael:]

Arnie -

What would Thomas Jefferson say to what you just said?

You quote him on your site with "The Liberty Tree".

Prosecute crimes. Not mindsets.

Maybe you've been in the fray too long. Sit back - look at it.

Please.

Poopsy

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T. G. Yak:

The scientology business, chief purveyors of Scientology Brand Artificially Religion Flavored Quack Mental Health Cure Product (tm) is currently in a snit because France says merely claiming to be a religion doesn't allow you to commit fraud. Given the scientology business' record over the years, that's easy enough to understand, since lying to get other people's money is their chief 'religious practice'.

[That's not what the law says. Fraud is already punishable, whether an organization is religious or not.]

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Stacy Brooks:

The Lisa McPherson Trust is contacted daily by people not only from across the United States but also from around the world who have been victimized by Scientology. These are the very people the new French law seeks to protect.

We have many documented cases in which Scientology has committed exactly
the crimes that the French have named -- fraud, abuse of confidence, the illegalpractice of medicine, wrongful advertising and sexual abuse, as well as many others.

[Poopsy Charmichael:]

Each crime you listed already has a law that can be used to prosecute it, and which have been used successfully in the past. This new law adds the power to disband organizations to which the criminals belong. This expands the target of prosecution to far beyond the source of the crime, and will be used to do any manner of things completely unrelated to the prosecution of criminal acts.

This law will be used to smash any unpopular political groups, as well as any unpopular religions. That's why, up until this law, only criminal acts have remained the focus of prosecution.

This law, when applied, will be used to gut the rights of French people.

Victims of Scientology repeatedly tell us that they were pressured to do things that were against their best interest. The wording of the French law addresses precisely this pattern of conduct by making it illegal to "exercise heavy or repeated pressure on a vulnerable person, or use techniques likely to alter his judgment, to induce in him behaviour prejudicial to his interests."

Scientology has denounced the new law as anti-democratic and in breach of human rights laws, but in fact it is Scientology that has proven itself to be anti-democratic over and over again. The new law will protect democracy and the human rights of people who would otherwise fall prey to Scientology's cold-blooded fraud and abuse.

Please know that not only Scientologists are denouncing this law. I am certainly no longer a Scientologist, and I am denouncing this law. Many others on this NG, also not Scientologists, have denounced this law. The frikking Pope has denounced this law, as well as many non-Scientology related human rights groups.

Scientology hides its criminal conduct under a false cloak of religion and does so with impunity, because the laws are not equipped to deal with its insidious form of coercion and fraud. France is the first country to formulate a law that will specifically protect the human rights of its citizens from this unholy predator.

This law adds a clause that allows third parties, not the affected victim, to define what that victim's interests were, and how the cult made the victim act in ways prejudicial to his interests. That clause allows members of outside organizations - someone other than the victim himself - to speak and originate for the victim in court, with or without the victim's consent.

That means that an individual who belongs to *any targeted religion or organization* can be deemed mentally incapacitated by virtue of the "mental manipulation" of the organization, and have others, not assigned by him, speak for him in court.

Here's the article:


... "Art. 2-17. - Any association recognized as serving public interests regularly registered since at least five years at the date of the facts and proposing through its statutes to defend and help individuals or to defend individual and public rights and freedoms can, at the occasion of acts committed by any individual or legal entity, in the frame of a movement or organization which has as its purpose or effect to create, maintain or exploit a psychological or physical subjection, exercise the recognized civil party rights regarding the offences of intended or unintended prejudice to the life or the physical or psychological integrity of the person, endangerment of the person, prejudice to the person's freedoms, prejudice to the dignity of the person, prejudice to the personality, placing minors in danger, or prejudicing property provided ..."

Please consider the civil implications of this clause.

This law provides a way to incapacitate an individual's right to speak for himself on his choice of religion, or to any organization he belongs. It destroys the very foundation of human rights - the recognition of the individual's right to decide for himself - even if that decision is a mistake.

For instance, if this were in the US, you Stacy Brooks, would be given the power to originate a claim for a person who had not requested that you represent them. Think about that. Would you exercise it?

In a free society where citizens are allowed to choose their fate, do you believe that you deserve this power over another individual?

Do you think you have the right to legally affect someone else's choice of religion or membership in an organization?

I don't. And I hope that you don't either.

Did you consider this?

We applaud the French assembly for having the courage to oppose this flagrant threat to democracy. We invite anyone who is interested in learning about specific instances in which Scientology is guilty of fraud, abuse of confidence, the illegal practice of medicine, wrongful advertising, sexual abuse, and other crimes to visit our website at www.lisatrust.net or email us at info@lisatrust.net.

Stacy Brooks,
President

The LMT has been an immense help to me, but tonight, I am sorry to say, I do not applaud the LMT.

----

[This post was preceded by the following comments by Poopsy:]

I'm afraid that, in its rush to stop a Scientology-created Orwellian world, the LMT is now applauding the actions necessary to create one.

Stacy -

I wish to comment on your endorsement, for the LMT, of the French law that will have the power to disband religions in France.

My position has nothing to do with Scientology (which I am sure you will think is short-sighted) and everything to do with the precedent this law sets for the rights of all French people.

My position concerns the defense of the freedom of thought itself.

I can only assume that you considered your statement fully after what you felt to be a full review of the French Law. I must also assume that the other individuals in the LMT are behind your statement as you title this "Lisa McPherson Trust applauds French law controlling Scientology".

This law has nothing to do with Scientology.

Right now, everyone in France is afraid of cults. These legislators have capitalized on that fear and created a political tool that can be used to smash any enemy - political, religious, or ideological.

This law is a political tool, and it will most definitely be used as such by politicians.

Please read my comments.

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Chemehuev:

That's because you cannot think for yourself. READ THE FUCKING LAW! You "oppose" a figment of your imagination.

The right to religious expression does not include the "right" to violate another's human and civil rights: the French law merely confirms this precept. If a religion (or fake "religion" such as Scientology) is not injuring people or violating people's human rights, it has nothing to worry about this law.

[Poopsy Charmichael:]

Read my response to Stacy Brooks in her "LMT APPLAUDS FRENCH LAW" post.

You're the one who hasn't read it, and can't see the extensions of the law and how it will be applied.

It is a law that has NOTHING to do with Scientology.

Poopsy

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Perry Scott:

Only if the religious group exercises undue influence and abuses their position of trust. While I see room for the usual legal mischief, the fact remains that if a religious group allows complete freedom for its members, then it need not worry. Sure, religious groups are going to have to think carefully about their practices to ensure that they are not unduly influential against the member's self-interest, but legitimate religious groups did that years ago.

[Poopsy Charmichael:]

If you see room for legal mischief, then why would you want this law? The writing of a law is one of the most *intentional* things in society. Every word, every comma is fought over. A law that keeps a door open for legal mischief is a law *written* for that exact mischief.

In the 1980's, the RICO amendment was passed "solely" to go after organized crime. The fact is that it was the "organized crime button" that legislators could push at the time to loosen the constraints to their power that the constitution placed upon them.

The DEA has used the RICO act in the widest possible sense in order to get funding that Congress would not approve. Even local police departments have used parts of its asset forfeiture clauses to fund themselves. Right now, you could have everything you owned seized by the government FIRST, and then you get your trial, under RICO. Where did due process go? It was all just part of the "legal mischief" WRITTEN INTO the RICO amendment.

The asset forfeiture precedents established from the RICO amendment have turned DEA agents, IRS agents and even local police into revenue generators, looking to bust the most wealthy in order to fund their departments. In the mean time, citizens' powers extended by the constitution to place checks and balances on government have been bypassed by the RICO amendment. They don't need to rely on the legislature to approve their funding as much anymore - they just need to bust some wealthy citizens and seize their assets now.

Do you think that the legislators who passed this law, the lobbyists who paid for it, and the branches of government who have exploited it ever since, never really intended to do this?

You have to remember, the constitution is a RESTRICTIVE document. It's a real pain in the ass to a government employee who needs to get some additional power to "do his job".

The RICO amendment is a real life example of what happens when a law written with loopholes for "legal mischief" gets passed.

And I ask you, how easy has it been to repeal the RICO amendment, with all it's constitutional abuses, since the 1980's?

Bottom line - if you can look at the law and see chances for "legal mischief" - it's a bad law, and should have never been allowed to pass.

The problem is that the group could hide behind individual leader's crimes and abuse, and get away with continuing to sponsor crimes and abuse. This gives the individual a defense against a coercive group.

Do you think a religious group should have more rights than an individual? Religious groups cannot be put in jail.

OK. A crime is an act committed by an individual, or a group of individuals in collusion, that is against the law. It must be proven in a court with sufficient evidence to convince a judge or jury that the accused is/are guilty.

This principle is entirely sufficient to stop the criminal acts being committed by the individuals in the Church of Scientology who are committing them. You say that "The problem is that the group could hide behind individual leader's crimes and abuse, and get away with continuing to sponsor crimes and abuse."

Give me an example of that! Heber is looking at 56 years in prison in Spain. Mary Sue went to jail for several years with other members of the GO. How did this "hiding behind individual leader's crime and abuse" work in these cases?

My point is that the powers extended to government by this law to disband the organization that the criminal belongs to will lead to this law being used as a political tool to disband any organization that is unpopular with those in power. Again, my point isn't that this law won't be effective in destroying Scientology - it's that this law will be used as a political tool in cases having nothing to do with Scientology and will end up wrecking the
rights of French people in France, as the RICO amendment has done with Americans in the US.

Later I'll show further how this law will wreck the rights of French people.

So read on, Bro!

Examples, please.

Let's go back to the days when you were a Scientologist. If your mother stood up in court and said, "Perry's rights have been violated by Scientology. He was interested in becoming a doctor before, and now all he wants to do is stare at people until his eyes glaze over, your honor."

You had earlier made a decision to become a Scientologist. Whether you were tricked into it or not, or whether you regret it now, it was YOUR OWN decision.

This French law will now allow someone else to make a statement for you in court. That means that, legally, it is recognized that you can not speak for your self. You are considered as a person suffering from Alzheimer's, or who has been declared insane, or who is mentally retarded and under the care of a legal guardian.

Do you see the damage this does to your legal rights? By your membership in this group, you are no longer considered competent to make your own decisions if someone else can speak for you legally and you have not assigned them to do so. You become a few brain cells shy of a legal unit, in the eyes of the law.

What's that? It's all because you decided to join a religion where some other people were criminals. You didn't know they were criminals - you would not have joined if you did. But what happens to your rights now?

This gets into the fundamental right to think and decide as YOU wish - whether it is a mistake, whether it is unpopular, or whether you end up killing yourself. The whole concept of "rights" rests upon the foundation that an individual is capable of reason, and thus possesses free will. This 3rd party representative clause decimates that foundation for anyone who belongs to a religion with some criminals in it. How many religions have no criminals in them?

And then look at "terrorist" organizations and their members, marginal groups that are annoying like the Green party and Greenpeace, and other active, noisy, effective (and extremely annoying) groups. If the political wind should blow a certain way - they're fucked, too.

The cult is going to have to VERY, VERY CAREFUL that it doesn't even go near "undue influence". Explain how this is a bad thing.

Anyone can look at another's actions, and disagree with them thoroughly. It can easily be argued that the person was under undue influence when he made that decision to do that disagreeable action - especially if third parties are testifying for him!!!

Example: Belief in Jesus Christ, for Christians, is the way to never die. Under this law, an atheist can easily prove that the death that the Christian was avoiding by joining up, was the one they hung over his head when he threatened to leave. That is undue influence. And since we're in religion, we're into beliefs. And proving undue influence with religious belief in immortality will be A PIECE OF CAKE.

I believe in religion. I understand that there are some on this ng, and in the world, who do not believe in religion. And I will be fucking godamned if they are going to dictate their beliefs onto me through the power of the government. This law gives them that power to dictate beliefs. All they need is for me to be in an unpopular enough religion, and have the political back up, and they can do it now with this law.

Before this law, they had no loophole. Now they have it.

That's why I say it's the Middle Ages again.

Viva La France!!!

BZZZT! This is completely wrong. Now I see that your objection is based on a M/U.

You have identified the follower of a religion as the same as the religion itself. Disbanding an abusive organization that uses a religion is not the same as disbanding other organizations that practice that religion.

Under this law, I'm afraid it is. Read it.

"...The overt or disguised maintaining or re-forming of a legal entity disbanded in application of the clauses of the present Section is an offence provided for by the second paragraph of Section 434-43 of the Criminal Code.'

"The Court of First Instance may pronounce in the course of the same procedure the dissolution of several different legal entities mentioned in the first paragraph, when these legal entities pursue the same purpose and are united by a community of interests and when at least one final criminal sentence for one of the offences mentioned in 1 to 3 has been pronounced against each of them or their legitimate or de facto leaders. These different legal entities must be parties to the procedure..."

Now. In the case of Scientology, this will mean that an individual will have to hold course in someone's living room, and audit in their bedrooms and offices. If they charge for it, they will be taxed. And if they are taxed, they will have to form a legal entity - right?

This law DISBANDS COMPLETELY the targeted religion.

Further - individuals are completely forbidden from speaking or disseminating their religion.

Again, read the law.

...""Anyone taking part in the overt or disguised maintenance or revival ofa legal entity whose dissolution was ordered pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (1) of Section 131-39 shall be punished by three years of imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 francs.'

"Where dissolution has been ordered for a second time offence or for the offence provided in the preceding paragraph, the penalty shall be increased to five years of imprisonment and a fine of 500,000 francs."

...

"The fact of distributing, by whatever means, messages intended for youth and promoting a legal entity, whatever its legal form or object, which is pursuing activities with the purpose or effect to create, maintain or exploit the psychological or physical subjection of persons taking part in these activities, when final criminal sentences have been pronounced several times, against the legal entity itself or its legitimate or de facto leaders, for one or the other of the offences mentioned hereafter, is sentenced to a 50,000 Francs fine..."

Free Zoners are fucked. So are individual Church Scientologists. So are Moonies, so are Catholics and so are Communists (if they want to) and so areARSers, if they are allowed to go too far.

This law opens the door to untold abuse of the right to peaceably assemble - no matter what the group.

By analogy, this is like the wife who is beaten by her husband. The woman may not be in a position to oppose the batterer. The guy needs to be locked up to stop the abuse. The fact that the friends of the abuser are deprived of their association is NOT part of the equation.

The problems that law enforcement have in these cases are BECAUSE the law restricts them from acting on behalf of someone else: People who have not been harmed can not charge someone else with a crime!

Justice exists for the people who seek it to redress wrongs that have been committed against them. If I have my house ripped off, I am free to *not* call the police if *I* don't want to.

***I am the one who decides if I've been wronged or not. ***

I fully recognize that *I* accepted the shackles of Scientology into my mind. I did it willingly. But *I* recognized them for what they were and *I* threw them off again.

I don't want anyone else deciding this for me. I am the final decision maker over my life and my property. This is a tradition that, politically, is sacred to me, and I will fight and die for it for myself and for all Americans.

Why else believe in freedom?

Prosecuting spouse abuse is sometimes a problem. Yes. Solving that problem with government endangers us all. That's why it's best to counsel the abused spouse, provide them safe haven, and then see if they would like to prosecute. If they don't want to YOU CAN'T MAKE THEM.

And this is good.

Again, please explain how this law is bad for the abused member's civil rights? The other (presumably non-abused) cult members can still practice their religion away from the abusive organization.

Look, I am no constitutional lawyer. I don't have to be to be an American and understand the principles that we are all supposed to share in common, as Americans, and as citizens of countries that recognize the rights of individuals and their freedom to think for themselves and to peaceably assemble. I might have a few holes in my arguments above, and I would invite anyone to show them to me.

But god dammit - let's not start gettin' medieval here - aw-ight?

Have I answered all your questions?

Poopsy

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