La Ville de Reims aux prises avec la Scientologie
Translation of a French article posted on April 14, 2012 on the website of L'Union.Scientology takes City of Reims to court
by Julienne Guihard-AUGENDRE
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Reims (Marne). Reims City Hall dragged its feet, so the Church of Scientology pounced and is taking City Hall to court. The matter could have been settled quickly, except that ...
In what is likely to emerge as a hollow lawsuit, the administrative court in Châlons will today hear a complaint brought by the Éthique et Liberté association against the City of Reims. Hollow but nevertheless revealing about the methods cherished by the Church of Scientology, which publishes Éthique et Liberté magazine.
Reviewing the substance of the case will probably not take up much of the judges' time. The Éthique et Liberté association decided to take the City of Reims to court for "failure to provide administrative documents." The matter began in 2008. At that time, Éthique et Liberté requested information about the amount of subsidies granted by the City of Reims to the Association for the Defense of Families and the Individual (UNADFI), an organization that combats sects. "In general," says Antoine Robert, secretary of the Éthique et Liberté association, "things go well in the communities where we ask for this information. In Reims, clearly, someone has been setting up roadblocks. Either that, or there was a lack of communication ... "
Antoine Robert is able to formulate this generality because Scientology, through the Éthique et Liberté association, has a habit of making this kind of information request, which, it must be said, is perfectly legal. This comes as no surprise to UNADFI's national president, Catherine Picard. "It's part of a strategy to snipe at people involved in the fight against sects," she believes, "and it's a way to get others to talk about them."
The story could have ended in 2008, except that Reims City Hall turned a deaf ear and chose not to respond to the request. At least not right away. Reims Deputy Mayor Éric Quénard considers the court action "incomprehensible." "The association in question [UNADFI] did not receive any subsidy from us. Since we are prudent, we formally replied that the requested documents do not exist." Yes, but too late. The reply, according to the explanation we received from the city's department of communications, was sent after the complaint was filed with the administrative court.
Logically, the Éthique et Liberté association should have dropped the procedure, since it became useless. But this is not what happened. According to Antoine Robert, "City Hall decided to sue us and is seeking to have us ordered to pay 900 euros for making them waste a great deal of time." The legal skirmishing is thus set to take place in court this morning.
Regarding the background of this story and why Éthique et Liberté scrutinizes the subsidies received by UNADFI, this reflects the state of relations between a cult and an organization that combats cults. For Antoine Robert, "These subsidies represent large sums. Since this association [UNADFI] helps families, it should be funded by individuals, not by the public sector." The explanation given by the communication service of the Church of Scientology in Paris is a bit more candid: "These people are constantly opposing us, so it is normal that we seek to understand their funding and their motivations ... "
Since UNADFI's motivations are quite clear, this is no doubt a source of embarrassment for Scientology.
REIMS Scientologie : le tribunal rend sa décision en mai
Scientology vs Reims: Court to decide in May
Saturday, April 14, 2012
The case opposing Éthique et Liberté - which happens to be the magazine of the Church of Scientology - and Reims City Hall was reviewed by the administrative court in Châlons on Thursday morning. The court will issue its decision on Tuesday, May 15.
The matter began when Éthique et Liberté asked Reims City Hall to provide information about any subsidies paid to the Association for the Defense of Families and the Individual [UNADFI], an organization that combats cults.
Not having received any response after several months, Éthique et Liberté filed a legal complaint for "failure to provide administrative documents."
Once the legal complaint was filed, City Hall finally replied that the requested documents do not exist.