Church of Scientology 'Coercive'

Source: Irish Times
Date: December 12, 2002

A woman who is suing the Church of Scientology for damages told the High Court yesterday she was distressed to recall that a man became unconscious while she was giving him an "auditing" session. She described the church as "coercive" and "destructive".

Ms Mary Johnston (40), who operates a sports equipment business in Foxrock, Dublin, said she was giving the auditing session in question in Britain in 1994. "I am distressed when I think back to how that poor man went unconscious on me and I was able to click him back. It has bothered me that I may have caused him harm."

She has sued the church and three of its members, Mr John Keane, Mr Tom Cunningham and Mr Gerard Ryan, for damages alleging personal injury, breach of constitutional rights. Mr Michael Collins SC, for the defendants, was continuing his cross-examination of Ms Johnston on the seventh day of her action.

Ms Johnston said she felt she had carried out things on a human being without having had the medical background to do so. She had done this through following the commands given by Ron L. Hubbard, the founder of the church.

Asked about carrying placards outside a Church of Scientology meeting, Ms Johnston said she believed the church was coercive and destructive and altered people's perception of reality.

"I defend people's rights to believe what they like, but if people carry out acts which harm people by taking them away from their families, then I have a problem with that and have a duty to speak."

Ms Johnston agreed she had told people he church was evil.

She had changed her mind about the Church of Scientology after a meeting with her family in Edenderry, Co Offaly. She said the church diminished God as the supreme being.

The case continues today before Mr Justice Peart.

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