From SchNEWS:

Sects and the City

City of London police have been cracking down hard on religious intolerance this week and on one four letter word in particular – CULT. And when does the word cult become illegal? Curiously only when it’s applied to the Church of Scientology (CoS) – and in the Square Mile. Around two-hundred anti-Scientology protesters gathered outside the CoS London base on Queen Victoria Street last Saturday as part of a day of action. Sporting Guy Fawkes masks, many carried signs accusing the organisation of being a cult. They were greeted by a number of City of London Police.
At 11.20, two offi cers approached one 15-year-old who was wearing a huge-nosed mask and holding a sign saying “Scientology is not a religion – it is a dangerous cult”. He was handed a pre-printed warning by a WPC stating, “The sign you are displaying commits an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 .. you are strongly advised to remove the sign with immediate effect”. He riposted with a verbatim quote from a verdict given by Justice Latey in 1984 “Some might regard this as an extension of the entertaining science fi ction which Hubbard used to write before he invented and founded the cult . . Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious.”
One cop (A747) told SchNEWS’ man on the scene that, “the idea is that if somebody gets prosecuted there will be a test case” Police were clearly out to protect CoS’s reputation with one offi cer telling us, “Our solicitors at the Crown Prosecution Service have advised us that any signs saying ‘Scientology is a cult’ could be deemed offensive.” He added “They are being treated as a religious organisation for the purposes of today”. Ten minutes later and the cops returned. The youth was chased up an alleyway and then forced to hand over his details for a court summons.

SchNEWS is a weekly anti-capitalist direct-action magazine which combines coverage of protests and direct action with deeper analysis of particular issues. It has been running since the mid-90s.

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