I suppose the good news for the Church of Scientology is that Belgium is no longer calling it a cult. The bad news is that it has moved on to calling is a criminal organization in a comprehensive set of charges ranging from extortion to fraud to privacy breaches to the illegal practice of medicine. The charges follow years of investigation into labor contracts that led to raids on Church properties in 2008. In 2009, Scientology was convicted of fraud in Paris and fined almost $1 million.
Belgium has long treated Scientology as a cult as have other countries. However, this latest case strips away that controversy over the line between faith and a cult. Instead, the Church is defined simply as a criminal organization. The charges hit the Church in its European headquarters, which is based in Brussels.
The prosecutors in Belgium appear ready to strike at the very heart of the Church’s organization and revenue structure. That structure is deeply enmeshed with its religious beliefs, including a system of steps of higher awareness that gradually cost more and more to achieve. Past members have accused the Church of working them as virtual slaves with little pay and constant threats and intimidation as well as bribing officials or obstructing investigations into past deaths.
Source: Atlantic Wire