[Note: yes, they misspelled the headline.]

The Sydney Morning Herald, 09 Nov 1973, p17

Scientoligists aim to change act


A citizens' commission on human rights is about to be established in Sydney with the avowed aim of reforming the Mental Health Act in NSW.

The Church of Scientology, the controversial movement banned until recently in several Australian States, will sponsor the commission.

In an interview in Sydney, Mr P. Ginever, international editor of the organisation's newspaper "Freedom," who is now visiting Australia, freely admitted the link between the commission and scientology.

The connection may displease those who feel the Mental Health Act needs reforming but that scientologists are not the ones to do it.

The organisation's interest in psychiatry - rather than the religious beliefs of its adherents - was the main reason for its unpopularity.

Mr Ginever does not see it this way. He told me that he felt the aims of the campaign would be widely supported.

He said the commission would be particularly concerned with "psychiatric violations" concerning the admission of men and women into mental institutions without their consent.

Scientologists believe that forcing people into hospital should be abolished, even for criminals declared by the courts to be guilty but insane.

Mr Ginever believes the criminally insane should serve a prison sentence in the normal way. In his view to declare that a person may be likely to repeat the offence - and therefore not to release him - is "punishment in advance."

Scientology - also known as Church of the New Faith - claims to have about 20,000 followers in Australia. Mr Ginever told me: "There is nothing like a ban to help a movement grow. Now that there are no restrictions against us we have become rather dull."

His visit to Sydney coincides with the news, announced in the "Herald" last week, that scientology ministers are seeking permission to officiate at weddings of their members in NSW.

Mr Ginever is a former journalist on the London "Financial Times." His father is a chaplain to Salisbury Cathedral in England.

Like many other scientologists he claims the movement is not incompatible with Christianity, and says his father is the anonymous clergyman whose tribute to the movement appears in the cult's latest publishing venture, a 125-page book entitled "Scientiology - a twentieth-century religion."

In an article in this column on January 20, 1973, I examined the beliefs of scientologists.

In recent months there has been less emphasis on pseudo-scientific aspects of the movement and greater attention to those aspects likely to be acceptable to outsiders.

Scientologists call their movement a church but have given the word many shades of meaning which makes the organisation itself difficult to define.

The movement's worship and ceremonial has a striking, if highly unconventional, resemblance to that of the mainstream Christian churches from which it was clearly borrowed.

Many orthodox churchmen consider the attempts to ban scientology were both unnecessary and counter-productive. A bishop told me he would have preferred a ban on Jehovah's Witnesses, an organisation he considered far more "heretical."

A key factor in the campaign against scientology has been the belief that it is commercially motivated.

A 25-hour course in "dianetic processing" was recently advertised to members in NSW at a cost of $375. The branch newsletter also offered at $55 a set of four tape recordings by the movement's founder, Mr L. Ron Hubbard, a former science fiction writer.

Several Australians have recently attended courses at the movement's international training centre in East Grinstead, Sussex. Among these are two of the three ministers who are now seeking the right to conduct weddings in NSW.

The NSW State Guardian, Mrs Audrey Devlin, is also at present attached to the headquarters staff. Sexual discrimination is one charge which cannot be laid against scientology!

[photo] Mr Ginever ... "We are becoming rather dull."