Peter Beaumont in London, Toni O’Loughlin in Sydney, and Paul Harris in New York report for the Guardian:
The security at the red-brick and glass-walled horseshoe of the John Joseph Moakley courthouse on Boston’s waterfront was unusually tight. Anybody who was not a member of the city’s bar association was swept with a search wand. Photo IDs were checked. Mobile phones were taken from guests, who included the Hollywood star Tom Cruise.
The occasion was a memorial service for Scientology’s top legal adviser for a quarter of a century, Earle Cooley. The controversial head of Scientology worldwide, David Miscavige, delivered the eulogy, thanking his late friend for his contribution to the neo-religion during his career, much of which was spent pursuing journalists and former members who spoke out against it.
Miscavige may since have wondered privately what Cooley would have made of the events of last week. Scientology, founded in 1953 by the late science fiction pulp novelist, serial fantasist and inveterate self-publicist L Ron Hubbard, is under fire again across the globe, following years of struggle to be recognised – with some success – as a legitimate church.
The church has just been denounced in the strongest possible terms in the Australian parliament. Prime minister Kevin Rudd has expressed his concern over allegations of “a worldwide pattern of abuse and criminality” and is contemplating a parliamentary inquiry. The organisation is under police investigation and yesterday angry ex-Scientologists, spurred on by the claims, converged on its Australian headquarters calling for its tax-exempt status to be revoked.
And it is not only in Australia that Scientology is facing problems. A new book in America – Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of the Church of Scientology – by Marc Headley, an employee of the church’s Los Angeles headquarters for 15 years, details – as others have – allegations of systematic abuse and bizarre episodes, such as the three weeks Headley claims he spent under instruction from Cruise in how to move bottles and other objects by concentrating on them…
[continues in the Guardian]