Scientology video channel's credibility in question

Muddy waters of fact and fiction meet as mysterious “dignitaries” and out-of-context quoting bring video channel’s legitimacy into question.

The Church of Scientology has refuted claims by an independent French news Web site, the Anonymous Group and the Enturbulation that a video posted to the church's new Video Channel includes bogus or misleading footage of non-existent dignitaries singing the praises of the controversial religion's youth humanitarian efforts.

The video in question – Human Rights, In Support of Human Rights – featured on the Scientology Video Channel includes more than 20 unnamed dignitaries from various political, cultural and educational occupations promoting the Youth for Human Rights campaign; a movement in which the Church of Scientology is only one of over 30 sponsors. Only the speakers distinguished job titles are offered to the viewers as a means for judging the credibility of the speaker's statements.

The satirical French news site Bakchich – a similar publication to Australia's Crikey news site – claimed that a so-called representative from the mayor's office in Marseille did not exist. "The fellow in the video was perfectly unknown to the municipal team," said the article's author after contacting the mayor's office in Marseille.

The Church of Scientology told PC World it was unfathomable that he would not be recognised, as he was at the time of the interview the deputy mayor of the seventh arrondissement of the city of Marseille.

The Bakchich article also brought into question the comments made by a so-called representative from the 'Council of European Communities'.

The Church of Scientology said the speaker is the retired president of the civil servant's trade union of the Council of the European Union, the current name of the Council of European Communities.

Bakchich showed the video to the media service for the council of ministers of the European Union, who replied that the name 'Council of European Communities' did not correspond with any institute of the European Union, and that the video, which does not indicate the names of any of the speakers, did not strike them as convincing.

The director of media for the European Parliament, Jaume Duch, told Bakchich that no one in the video worked or belonged to the European Parliament.

Two Australians are also featured in the video praising the Youth for Human Rights campaign. PC World discovered that one was correctly identified in the video as a member of the Legislative Council, Parliament of NSW.

The other, described in the Scientology video as a Commissioner for Community Relations, Sydney, Australia, could not be identified. The media manager for the NSW government Community Relations Commission said that the person in the video is not a commissioner of the CRC, and no one from the CRC has been authorised to speak on behalf of the CRC on that video.

PC World was told by one of the persons featured in the video – who did not wish to be named – that they were upset that their comments relating to Youth for Human Rights was included in a video promoting Scientology, and that they felt their comments had been taken out of context. They said they had contacted the Church asking for their appearance in the video to be removed.

Enturbulation, a source for information on activism against the Church of Scientology, features a thread posted by users that claims to have identified more speakers in the Scientology video whose identities or job titles are either false, fabricated or embellished.

The Church of Scientology did not respond to questions as to why they did not include the names of such apparently distinguished interviewees in its videos, but said the Church stands by its Video Channel.

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Andrew Hendry

PC World

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