Ex-Scientologists slam movement
AN anti-scientology conference is due to take place in the capital over the weekend with speakers including acclaimed BBC journalist John Sweeney.
Kicking off tonight in Filmbase in Temple Bar, the two-day event will see a host of former members speak about their experiences, mostly negative, with the organisation.
The religion has attracted some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
It was founded by former sci-fi writer Ron L Hubard and is based on self-imrovement via 'auditing', a type of counselling.
One of the organisers of Scientology: Enough is Enough, Peter Griffiths, has been banned from protesting outside the offices of the Dublin Mission on Middle Abbey Street by court order.
John McGhee, who is also subject to the same injunction, was a member of the church from 2005 until 2008. He admitted that much of his final year was spent spying on the organisation.
The Dubliner (33) said that with time if staff members feel they have gained your trust, they begin to reveal the darker side of the religion.
"They believe that disabled children deserve to have a disability due to wrongdoings in a previous life," he alleged.
"It's very much money driven and they say nothing, [not even] your own children, should come before Scientology," Mr McGhee said.
"You're not allowed to look at the media, they will discourage you from looking at TV or the internet," he added.
Members, he claimed, are inclined to follow these rules because any negative feedback they give about the religion is 'corrected' by 'repair auditing'.
Some of the auditing can cost up to €198 per session, according to the disaffected member.
He also alleged that he was encouraged not to donate money or food to homeless people, but this claim was dismissed by Ger Ryan of the Dublin Mission.
In a statement about the Filmbase event, the Dublin branch of The Church of Scientology disputed the claims being made.
Mr Ryan dismissed most of his former comrade's claims to the Herald but added that what is alleged is "at odds with Church policy and tenets or is a misrepresentation of Scientology teachings".
In his three years involved with the religion, Mr McGhee estimates that he sank about €10,000 into activities related to his membership.
While a member, the dad-of-two claimed that he was instructed that leaving Scientology was likely to lead to suicide.
"Half of them [members] are decent people who have been truly hoodwinked," he pointed out.