Jun 20, 2017

Scientologists pitch up near site of Grenfell tragedy

Jody Harrison 
Herald Scotland
June 20, 2017

SCIENTOLOGISTS have been criticised after setting up a tent near the burnt-out Grenfell Tower block and offering "healing" massages to people in the area.

Locals said the group were acting like “vultures” after they started handing out leaflets near the site of the disaster, which has claimed at last 79 lives.

Members of the controversial organisation were first spotted outside Westway sports centre on Friday but increased their presence during the weekend with tents and flags.

Their base, which by last night had been removed, was only metres away from the spot where locals have been gathering donations and leaving tributes to those who died in the inferno.

Although some local residents said the Scientologists were friendly, others were unhappy about their presence. Some are alleged to have told the Scientologists to “take their tent and leave” after being offered massages to help them heal.

The Church of Scientology, founded in the 1950s by the science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, has gained celebrity followers including Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The religion has become controversial for saying the spirit can alleviate “injury, trauma or discomfort” by “putting the spirit in communication with the body”.

Many on social media were outraged that these views were being directed at members of the community grieving after the Grenfell disaster.

Germaine Arnold wrote: “Can’t believe these Scientology goons are recruiting next to Grenfell Tower. Vultures.” Tom Sloane said: “Cynicism of the highest level. Know where I would like to stick their banners.”

Another user added: “Lots of vulnerable shell shocked people there, I’m not surprised they’ve turned up.”

The church told Mail Online: “We have worked with hundreds of other people in many ways, doing whatever was needed to somehow lend a hand to help the survivors and those who lost loved ones.

“It is easy to stand by and criticise. Our friends are those who were, and still are, in there pitching and trying to make a positive difference.”


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