CESNUR - center for studies on new religions

Update on Stephen Kent's Expensive Affidavits: One Claims that Scientology Is a Religion, Cost of the Affidavit - $ 21,600

by Massimo Introvigne

I have commented before on Prof. Stephen Kent's crusade to preserve integrity in the study of new religious movements against monetary corruptions, and the (corresponding?) increasingly high costs of his affidavits. He has of course argued that scholars executing affidavits on behalf of new religious movements also receive significant amounts of money. Obviously, this is not the point. These scholars do not tour the world to lecture against money-induced corruption of scholarly studies about new religious movements. Kent does, and it is not unfair to suggest that he should be judged by his own standards. For those who have heard Kent downplay the religious element in Scientology, a recommended reading is now Kent's affidavit in the Texas case EEOC v. I-20 Animal Medical Center, signed on November 9, 1999. In the case, EEOC charged that the use of Scientology-based training methods in the workplace violates Title VII since Scientology is a religion and not a purely secular training system. Supporting EEOC, Kent signed an affidavit to the effect that this is a case of "intrusion of religious concepts into the workplace" (p. 9). The courses contained "Scientology terms" that Kent now describes as being "purely religious". In short, the courses "contained the Scientology religion" (pp. 12-13). Quite correctly, Kent concludes that Scientology is a religion based mostly on its notions of thetan and of past lives. We applaud Kent's reliance (at least) on mainline scholarship on Scientology in order to come to the conclusion that what others (including persons Kent should know better than any other) have described as mere "treatment" is in fact "a religious practice" (p. 18). If somebody should accuse him of incoherence, Kent would of course answer that he always claimed that Scientology is also, but not exclusively a religion, a fine distinction probably lost to the audiences and courts that received Kent's previous wisdom. For the 19-pages affidavit, Kent "has been compensated at the rate of $ 200.00 per hour" and has "worked approximately 108 hours to date". That raises the cost of a Kent affidavit (although, admittedly, not a typical one) to $ 21,600.

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Revised last: 11-10-2000