The Church of Scientology has recommended Internet censorship as a method of defending itself against what it claims to be a constant campaign of abuse by the group Anonymous, and misinformation and misrepresentation in the media.
In its submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st century project, the organisation recommended that “Websites created with the primary purpose of inciting religious vilification shall be removed or their access to the Australian public restricted” and that restrictions be placed on “Religious Misinformation and Misrepresentation known or reasonably known to be untruthful, in the Media”.
It also advocates that the creators of Web sites whose primary purpose is the incitement of religious vilification shall be prevented from concealing their identity.
Explaining its recommendation to restrict or block access to such Web sites, the organisation claimed that the group Anonymous, currently uses the Web site www.whyweprotest.net and others to “orchestrate… raids and other anarchist activities against the Church.”
For its part, Anonymous says that the “Church of Scientology, while claiming to be a religion and functioning as such, behaves strikingly like a business and cult”, its site says. “The ‘fair game’ policy, for example, is responsible for the harassment of numerous scientology critics over the years.”
In its submission, the Church argues that these Web sites are not legitimate forums, but rather “have as their central purpose to act as a forum for Anonymous members whose sole goal is to ‘destroy’ our Church for what they consider to be the ‘good of mankind’ and for their ‘own enjoyment.’”
“We have identified that such websites play a major role in the ongoing hate campaign against our Church and their removal or a restriction of access and of content would play a major role in preventing further religious vilification against us,” the submission reads.
While the Church recognises the importance of freedom of speech in a democratic society, it does not believe that a “constant campaign of misinformation and misrepresentation of our beliefs in the media should be tolerated”.
“It is recommended that a law be enacted to prevent the dissemination of antireligious propaganda in the media, which is based on unfounded hearsay and either known or reasonably known to be untruthful,” the submission reads. “Such dissemination shall be the subject of a civil penalty provision in favour of the defamed Church, and/or its individual parishioners if they are individually named or otherwise identified.”