Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Brits 2, Scientologists 0

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It's nice to see the Brits sticking it to the Scientologists - first I read how English Heritage have turned down an application from the cult's supporters to place a blue plaque on a building once occupied by founder L Ron Hubbard in London's Fitzroy Street, and then I read this story on how Winston Churchill's descendants are threatening legal action over a Scientology poster (pictured) which uses the wartime PM's image. The poster was aimed at recruiting new Scientologists to work, funnily enough, at the same Fitzroy Street building for which English Heritage denied the blue plaque.

Churchill's grandson, the former Tory MP also named Winston Churchill, explained how he had asked lawyers to write to the Church on his behalf:
"Gordon Wise at [law firm] Curtis Brown has written the Scientologists a letter protesting, on my instructions. Predictably, nothing has been received in return. The family finds it very offensive that an organisation not only as controversial, but some might say as disreputable, as the Church of Scientology should be trying to use my grandfather's likeness and quotes in furtherance of their recruiting.

"We have strong objections to the implication that our grandfather, if he were alive, would have something to do with Scientology. In fact, he wouldn't have touched an outfit like that with a bargepole. I can't represent too strongly how much we resent the suggestion that he would. They have no right, or permission, to use his name or likeness, and I hope they now respect my grandfather and his family's wishes."

There a couple of choice quotes there that I'm sure we'll be reusing in the future. And as for the blue plaque, the Telegraph report that prospective plaque suspects must have been dead for at least 20 years, and have made an "important positive contribution to human welfare or happiness". A source involved in the decision to deny Hubbard a plaque said:

"The decision was on the grounds that he wasn't well known or well respected enough. Controversies surrounding him come into the well-respected bit. The committee was not divided on this, I think."

The Scientolgists, of course, dispute the decision but, sadly for them, an English Heritage rule states that no application can be reconsidered until ten years after rejection. In the meantime, perhaps Hubbard's followers can console themselves with our representation of how his blue plaque might have looked.


Richard Wilson said...

Nice work with the plaque - and please do let me know if you get any threatening messages from the CoS lawyers over this piece - it's about time we did another flashmob...

Eiskrystal said...

From the poster : win the real battle of britain??

What an absolute insult.

John Connell said...

Think I'd go with:

"Religion is for cults"

James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

Churchill's other grandson, Nicholas Soames, is the MP for East Grinstead - the Scientologists' spiritual home.