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Craig Branch, director of the Apologetics Resource Center in Birmingham, Alabama, has been examining the teaching and practice of Scientology from a Christian perspective since 1989 and has studied new religious movements for more than 15 years. He has also worked with Watchman Fellowship, a ministry focusing on outreach to non-Christian religions. Branch says evangelical scholars criticize Scientology for these reasons:

Scientology's moral code is based on self-preservation.

"Scientology subscribes to the idea that the end justifies the means," says Branch. "And their end is to overcome the world with Scientology."

Branch believes this contributes to a warped view of ethics in which anything that advances the goals of Scientology is permissible.

Scientology attacks opponents and former members.

One Scientology policy, Fair Game, says a "suppressive" person who is an enemy of the church "may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. [A suppressive] may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed" (High Command Office Policy Letter, Oct. 18, 1967). Although Scientologists deny that they still openly follow some of Hubbard's more punitive policies, such as Fair Game, many court cases have found that Scientologists still operate under Hubbard's principles of aggression, Branch says.

According to The Daily Appellate Reporter, the California Supreme Court found Scientology guilty of intentional and negligent infliction of severe emotional harm in the case of Larry Wollersheim (1989). The court wrote that Scientology's "policy of Fair Game by its nature was intended to punish the person who dared to leave the Church."

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In the Magazine

September 4, 2000

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