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Lawsuits filed against Scientology tossed out by judge


 church of scientology


 by Joseph Ernest August 6, 2010


Newscast Media --  A judge dismissed two lawsuits brought against The Church of Scientology that accused the church of labor law violations, human trafficking and forced abortions.


Former Scientology practitioners, Claire and Marc Headley who left the church in 2005 said they were controlled by the church with threats of harsh punishment and other tactics that hindered them from leaving the Sea Organization, Scientology's religious order.  However, U.S. District Judge Dale s. Fischer ruled that the Sea Org is protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion.


The judge wrote that continuing the case would require the court to "analyze the reasonableness of the methods" used to discipline Sea Org members and to prevent them from leaving.  Fischer also said that in regard to Claire Headley's allegation that she was forced to have two abortions, the court would review Scientology's doctrine prohibiting Sea Org members from raising children.

"Inquiry into these allegations would entangle the court in the religious doctrine of Scientology and the doctrinally motivated practices of the Sea Org," wrote Fischer, a judge in the Central District of California.

Church spokesman Tommy Davis called the Headleys apostates and "defrocked church ministers'' who brought "salacious allegations" against the church. He added: "Scientology wins.''   Story continues below...


The Headleys who lived and worked in California for fifteen years, said that the blanket dismissals surprised them, and they plan to appeal.

"It basically shows that if you've got enough high-powered attorneys and you've got enough money to throw at a problem that you can make it go away,'' Marc Headley said. "That's historically been the case with them. … In the end they do make the problem go away."

The case has been a rallying point for Scientology critics of all stripes — from those who decry everything about the church to estranged members who live by Scientology doctrine but say the church's management is corrupt.

"It's a big win for Scientology," said Stephen A. Kent, a University of Alberta sociologist who studies alternative religions and closely follows Scientology.

By invoking the "ministerial exception," Judge Fischer's ruling deals with a legal doctrine that has been debated for decades.

At issue is the conflict that arises when churches and other religious organizations are accused of violating federal workplace laws: How do the courts protect an accuser's individual rights without violating a church's right to freely practice religion?

Most of the 11 federal circuit courts have come down on the side of churches, holding that judicial inquiries into a religious group's inner workings could lead to excessive government intrusion into its doctrines and affairs.                                            Add Comments>>                   





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