DIALOGUE IRELAND - NEWSLETTER 13 - 2001
In this issue:
The year 2001 has been a year of transition. Gradually we are beginning to see an economic slowdown and people feel vulnerable again to the forces that seemed to have been banished forever. The gateway to the future is unclear and it is in this uncertainty that New Religious Movements enjoy success. Paradoxically, they also need stability and due to the uncertainty in N. Ireland they are still weak in that area. The crisis in Irish church life, as shown in the figures for Mass attendance and clerical and religious vocations, is far from over. Yet folk religion in the form of popular devotions appears vibrant. An indication of this is the way the visit to Ireland of the relics of St Therese brought out most of the population. Are these signs of a revival of Christianity or are we about to see the emergence of new forms of religion and spirituality? We had an insight into this in March at the Festival of Mind, Body and Spirit in which Dialogue Ireland participated. Here we had all types of New Age Spirituality, and a sense of people searching, possibly holding on to some vestige of Christianity, but also taking up an option quite at variance with it without realising it. Visits to schools were curtailed due to industrial action, but we managed to get the promise of a meeting with the Department of Education, which will now take place in the middle of October to discuss the issues we have been raising for some years now. These relate to the need to locate our work in a third level institute and for the state to take more responsibility for the pastoral care of its people, which is common in many European countries. We will also seek to raise the need for the teaching of World Religions at Third level. Finally, we are in the process of obtaining charitable status that will allow us to obtain funding for our work.
Many of you will have received a leaflet on Dialogue Ireland by Gerard Ryan, a Scientologist. Elsewhere we report on developments with that group. The Unification Church, otherwise known as the Moonies, which has been rather quiet for a few years, and now has very few members in Ireland, has been in the news a lot recently with the marriage of the former Archbishop of Lusaka, Emmanuel Milingo by the Rev. Moon. His current status remains a mystery, but the marriage is over! We had a very successful conference last year on Evangelical Christianity, and this year we are hoping to study Tony Quinn's philosophy. See our web site for more information.
The emergence of the Internet means that information is out of date before it is printed. So it is important that people can get up to date details of a group a loved one has become involved with. We are continually updating our website and adding international links so that people can get the information they need. Not only for NRM's but also as a resource for teachers involved in teaching about World Religions. Where as young people used to only become involved with NRM's when they came up to a big city many are becoming involved in their own homes via the internet in rural areas. Two groups where this has happened this year are The Raelians. See more on our web site and The Spiritual School of the Ascension is a combination of New Age rhetoric and practices, Eastern Mysticism, and Reincarnation. They believe that the earth is continuing to evolve and ascend to a higher plane and will become a star within 1000 years.
TONY QUINN YOGA
We have received a number of enquiries about his teachings and in the Spring TV3 and the Sunday Tribune had in depth reports especially covering his foreign seminars. Our conference is on Sat. Oct. 13 from 9:30 - 5:00 at Clonliffe College. Again see all these articles on our web site.
The Moonies, Unification Church, or otherwise known as the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace: Held a conference in Malahide in November last, obviously preparing for the Coronation Ceremony of God = Rev Moon, which was to take place on the 13 January 2001. When I turned up I was not allowed to enter, in case I enlightened a number of the participants as to the real goal of the conference they were attending! A further conference was planned to celebrate this event at Bellinter House, Navan this August, but was obviously cancelled with problems resulting from the marriage of former Archbishop Milingo!
DUBLIN CHURCH OF CHRIST
Have kept a low profile this year. We did contact the TGWU in London concerning Mick O'Reilly who has refused any dialogue concerning the use of the ATGWU Hall in Middle Abbey Street for the churches recruiting efforts! One of their members Peter Devin appeared on Boomtown on RTE 1, a series about twentysomethings in contemporary Dublin.
Seems now to be a part time religion for its members. Whereas, it appeared to be very active till about 1998, it now is only open in the evening during the week and for longer periods at the weekend. Their Middle Abbey Street location looks deserted and depressing most of the time. They are apparently opening a new mission in Dublin and a spokesperson replied as follows to a request for information about it, "I confirm that the organisation and set-up of the proposed second Dublin Mission of the Church of Scientology has not been completed-to say the least." This may be connected to the ongoing court case with Mary Johnston that was in the courts twice this year. Some of the former directors are due to meet with her in court again in case that has gone on for nearly 6 years. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Scientologists at the end of February. Mary claims she was "under undue influence", lost her right to obtain documents relating to her admission to the group won earlier in a High Court decision. Mary Johnson (35), who operates a sports equipment shop at Westwood, Foxrock, Co Dublin, won the right two years ago to see her "counselling notes" when the High Court rejected the Church's claim that it was entitled to "sacerdotal privilege" in relation to the notes. Ms Johnson is bringing an action against the Church and three members, Tom Cunningham, GERARD RYAN and John Keane. The Church and its three members did not appeal the High Court finding in relation to the counselling notes, but said they did not have other notes and appealed the High Court finding that they should produce them to her. These documents included Ms Johnson's IQ test, her aptitude test, a "success story" which she completed and a security checklist. They also said they did not have an agreement she signed with Sea Org an elite group of staff members who make a commitment of one billion years to work for the organisation. Giving the Supreme Court judgment, Mrs Justice Susan Denham said all the documents at issue originated in England and were created by the English Church of Scientology and had never been in Ireland and were not in the possession or custody of the Irish Church and the three members. Later in July the High Court refused an application by the Church of Scientology (COS) to strike out an action for damages taken against it by Mary who claims she suffered a distinct personality change after being subjected to mind control techniques by the church. Mr Justice Butler found there was no wilful refusal by Ms Johnson to comply with the order for discovery. It "beggared belief" that the order involved her having to make discovery of documents relating to her intimate relationships, he said.
One of the people involved in the case, Gerard Ryan has been sending out a leaflet to Church leaders and to Schools trying to attack the work of Dialogue Ireland. We answered his leaflet and he just intensified the attacks, but when we wrote to him in July 2000, he ignored our correspondence which we put up on our web site in the A - Z section Scientology - correspondence. Even when we were engaged in dialogue he continued to send out the same material. I was at an International Conference at the LSE in London in April and took up an invitation to visit Saint Hill the UK HQ of Scientology. I talked to some of the leaders there and proposed mediation and this led to a meeting with two of them, and Gerard Ryan in Dublin in May. I tried to obtain written responses to some of my questions, before we met, but unfortunately I did not receive these. We were due to meet by the middle of June, but a time constraint on their side has led to us postponing our next session till the end of September. I have stressed that as Scientology believes that "if it is not written it is not true", I will require written documentation so I can prepare myself before I meet with three Scientologists! In the meantime Gerard Ryan and myself have agreed to a correspondence cease-fire pending the outcome of the mediation. This I have noted on our web site! Finally Scientologists have opened a CITIZENS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, based in Castleknock which is very concerned about the abuse of psychiatric drugs, especially their use by children.