Job ads as proselytizing tools—no, this is not science fiction! The Church of Scientology is now “recruiting” via the classified ads in newspapers. The following incident took place in Belgium.
It all began when Chadia, a young Brussels jobseeker, saw an ad in a free paper by an unspecified non-profit organization for an administrative assistant. Chadia went for an interview and once there, had the surprise of her life, realizing she was at the Church of Scientology. However, there was a poster clearly stating “Now hiring.” She had barely arrived when she was shown a DVD explaining what the Church is all about. She was then offered not a job, but an “opportunity” to become a member of the Church.
It goes without saying that Chadia declined the offer. She then went to the media with her story. She was not the only one to fall into the trap, however. Many other candidates saw the ad in Vlan, the free paper, as well as the poster in the window.
So is this the Church’s latest way of recruiting new members? Church spokespeople say no, that it was a volunteering agreement. “Curiouser and curiouser!” Candidates were offered the opportunity to sign up for Scientology “training” and could also lend a hand (for free, of course). According to someone who answered one of the ads, the document she was given asked her to subscribe to Scientology beliefs.
An investigation was launched following information communicated by ACTIRIS, the regional Brussels office for employment. After obtaining search warrants for the premises, the Church was charged with fraud. It is accused of recruiting members by promising them “dummy” work contracts, since the classified ads clearly specified a paid job.
According to the Church, it was simply seeking “volunteers.” And in a press release, the Church alleged a violation of its fundamental rights and a form of harassment by Belgian justice and media.
The Church of Scientology is considered a cult in many European countries, where it has already received several convictions. In Canada and United States, where it was founded and where its international headquarters are located, it is recognized as a religion.