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The commercial cult

Scientologists cleared for first ads on British TV

Daily Mail 13 September 1996

Scientologists have won the right to advertise on television for the first time.

The controversial cult, which numbers Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Priscilla Presley among its members, is spending UKP70,000 on a month of broadcasts on the satellite channels UK Gold and UK Living.

If the campaign is successful, it could move to ITV and Channel 4.

The 60-second commercial features people from different cultures saying the word 'trust'. It ends with the slogan: 'On the day we can fully trust each other, there will be peace on Earth.'

Althought the Church of Scientology claims the broadcast is 'more of a message than an advertisement', a group which helps parents trace children who have joined religious cults said it was deeply opposed to the campaign.

Ian Haworth, general secretary of the Cult Information Centre, said: 'I am very concerned for the welfare of anybody who might finish up being interested in going along to a Scientology meeting after seeing these ads.

'It's a group about which we are deeply concerned and always have been. It is most unfortunate that they have been allowed to go on TV.'

Scientology spokesman Rachal Ryerson said: 'It will get across the values that we stand for and enable people to find out more about us. We want people to be able to make up their own minds.'

The Independent Television Commission had banned previous advertising campaigns by the Scientologists.

But a spokesman confirmed that the new campaign, starting next Wednesday, had been approved.

The Church of Scientology -founded in the Fifties by the science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard -has 100,000 members in Britain and eight million worldwide.

[Note: This claim that Scientology has 8 million members has no factual basis. It is a claim made by Scientology's public relations people which is contradicted by the organisation's internal documents. The Daily Mail printed a letter a few days later which rebutted this claim.]

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