Xenophon ramps up anti-Scientology crusade
By Tim Leslie
Updated 2 hours 24 minutes ago
Senator Nick Xenophon says the Government and Opposition are hiding behind process in blocking an inquiry into The Church of Scientology. (ABC: Tim Leslie)
Map: Brisbane 4000 Related Story: Scientology insider's nightmare childhood Crusading Senator Nick Xenophon has continued to pressure the Government to crack down on The Church of Scientology, addressing an anti-cult conference in Brisbane today.
Speaking at the the Cult Information and Family Support Group Queensland Conference, Senator Xenophon slammed the Government and the Opposition for their cowardice in not supporting his motion to launch an inquiry into The Church of Scientology and its tax free status.
"As many of you know the two major parties joined forces to block this inquiry, that is despite the fact that so many Australian victims of Scientology have shared so many moving and disturbing stories with me," he said.
"I believe there is a certain cowardice in turning your back on people who ask for help and ask just to be heard - Kevin Rudd said he wants to wait for the Henry tax review, as excuses go that's pathetic.
"How dare they - and I include the Government and the Opposition in this - make this about reviews and processes and procedures.
"The shameful thing is that when you make it just about process, you ignore and damage real people."
The Senator's words were met with rapturous applause from the audience, many of whom have been personally involved in organisations such as Scientology.
Stories of pain
The conference also heard from former cult members, including Helen Pomery who has not seen her family in nine years, since leaving the Brisbane Christian Fellowship.
"I bear witness to the reality and the power of coercive persuasion and mind control, because I live with its impact every day of my life," she said.
Ms Pomery told how the elders in the Church had turned her husband and her family against her.
"It is clear that my children now believe that I deserve to be treated with repulsion because now I have left God's holy order order of headship," she said.
"They are fully committed to the elders, the men in turn praise them for being good humble obedient slaves to righteousness, because they have proved they will sacrifice their mother for the sake of the gospel."
Senator Xenophon applauded the courage of former members in coming forward.
"I know a lot of politicians want to pretend this isn't happening, but good people spoke out, they trusted me with their stories and I will not abandon them, even if it seems Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott want to," he said.
"The hardest thing for a victim to do is to speak out. The apathy of our politicians makes it even harder."
The coverage of the allegation levelled against the Church of Scientology has prompted a number of former members to come forward, including Keryn who detailed a childhood of abuse in Sea Org, an arm of Scientology.
Senator Xenophon said he was not put off by the lack of support for the bill, and planned to reintroduce an amended version next week.
He called on attendees to travel to Canberra and tell their stories the MPs in person, saying a number of his colleagues had approached him after the bill was voted down to express their concerns.
"I think if we can get a group of people out the front of Parliament House and actually eyeball the politicians and knock on their doors on Wednesday and Thursday it would be very powerful," he said.
Accepting the limitations of an investigation into Scientology's tax-free status, the South Australian Senator said there needed to be a wide-scale approach to limiting the damage such organisations can cause in Australia.
Senator Xenophon also said he would raise the idea of incorporating cult education into the new national curriculum, after several people attending the conference spoke of need to give people a better understanding of the methods used by cults to lure people in.
"We've got a debate about the national curriculum now, and I think it's a good debate," he said.
"[If we can] come up with a set of proposals ... the sorts of things that should be taught [so] that people are wary of that sort of behaviour, and what people can be roped into, I think that's a good thing and I will personally take that up to Julia Gillard."