French Convict the Church of Scientology of Fraud, Almost Ban It

The haughty, stubbornly secular, French have convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud. Just for pressuring two women to pay tens of thousands of dollars for spurious Scientological products and services! Victimization of religion says this oily spokesman.

Except that France, in its liberal, socialist, cheese-eating wisdom does not classify Scientology as a religion. It classifies it as a sect. In fact only an arcane recent change in the law prevented prosecutors banning it, and thus most of Hollywood, outright. Instead they had to be content with fining the Church's Celebrity Center and Bookshop in Paris $900,000. They slapped a one-year suspended jail sentence and a $45,000 fine on the Church's leader in France, Alain Rosenberg, for good measure.

One of the women had been approached to take a 'personality test' in the street and then pressured into buying a bunch of crap, including an electrometer to measure mental energy. The other was forced to undergo testing and undertake expensive courses by her Scientologist employer, then fired when she eventually refused. "Religious freedom is in danger in this country," responded Church spokesman Eric Roux, pictured above, in an interview with Agence France Presse after the verdict.

French lawmakers say they've now figured out the legal wranglings required to ban the church, and if they offend again they're in real danger of being made illegal. It's not been a good week to believe in Xenu.