Valeska Paris claims families are lured to Scientology HQ for a free family day out but are asked to hand over personal details. Picture: Liam Kidston
Valeska Paris claims families are lured to Scientology HQ for a free family day out but are asked to hand over personal details. Picture: Liam Kidston

Scientology accused of family day recruiting ploy

A former long-serving Scientologist has warned the church is using family fun days to recruit members and boost its coffers by charging them hundreds of dollars for parenting courses.

Valeska Paris, 41, alleges families lured to the church's Australian HQ in Chatswood with the promise of face-painting, sausage sizzles and bouncy castles, are asked to hand over their address, email and mobile phone details by members. They are then "bombarded" with pitches to join the religion.

"There is nothing fun about the Fundays, they're a sinister part of their recruitment drive," said Ms Paris, a former member of the Church's elite Sea Organisation who left after 32 years in 2009.

Ms Paris said members were set quotas for contact details later used to sign up unsuspecting visitors to parenting and "Purification Rundown" courses.

"At first the courses are cheap and once you're in they say you need follow up ones like the Purif Rundown, which costs $1,000-per-hour … all they want is members and money," she said.

"I left nine and a half years ago and I'm haunted by my 32 years with them."

 

The pamphlet for the church’s family day out.
The pamphlet for the church’s family day out.

 

Her comments come after a Taiwanese man allegedly killed a Scientology member at the Chatswood HQ while trying to stop his mother undergoing a "purification" process.

Leaflets touting the monthly Fundays emblazoned with photographs of beaming children petting animals and jumping on bouncy castles are regularly stuffed through letterboxes of homes in Sydney's Lower North Shore, home to the Church's Australasian HQ.

 

It comes after a Taiwanese man allegedly killed a Scientology member. Picture: 9 News
It comes after a Taiwanese man allegedly killed a Scientology member. Picture: 9 News

 

Chatswood mother Tina Xu, 38, attended one last year after receiving a pamphlet and said she felt rattled after staff asked for her phone number and email.

"They seemed really friendly at first but then became pushy; I was told if I wanted to have a better bonding with my children I needed to join their parenting course for $200 for a term. I almost did it out of guilt but when I told my husband he told me not to go," Ms Xu said.

Scientology leaders say Ms Paris' claims are false and maintain the sole purpose of the BBQs is to thank the local community.

"It is a community service we offer to our neighbours and parishioners," said a spokesman.



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