France Tries Scientology for Fraud
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted May 25, 2009 6:44 AM CDT
Scientology poster boy Tom Cruise.   (AP Photo/Toho Towa Co., HO)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – The church of Scientology goes on trial for fraud today in a landmark case in France, reports the BBC. The American organization is widely regarded in the nation as a sect, and if Scientology is found guilty of a crime, it could be banned in the country. It's the first time the organization, rather than individual officials, will be on trial in France. Charges were triggered by a female member who complained she was pressured to spend her savings on books and a Scientology electronic meter.

Her lawyers will argue that the church deliberately seeks to make money by exerting pressure on vulnerable members to spend money on ersatz "cures." Scientology officials deny than any "mental manipulation" was used. Church attorneys are expected to argue that their organization espouses a belief system just as any legitimate religion.