A REPLY TO ONE OF THE MANY DOCUMENTS ABOUT DIALOGUE IRELAND

DIALOGUE IRELAND

RESPONDS TO THE CLAIMS MADE BY GERARD RYAN, THE HIDDEN PUBLIC FACE OF
SCIENTOLOGY.

A REPLY TO ONE OF THE MANY DOCUMENTS ABOUT DIALOGUE IRELAND

WHO IS GERARD RYAN?

Gerard Ryan is a practising architect who is also the Public Representative for
Scientology, an organisation that is situated on Middle Abbey Street. Recently
he has taken to writing his letters and various articles from his home address.
This could be to avoid Scientology having to be involved in libel claims. He
has had to defend a case taken by Ms Mary Johnston who appeared on “The
Late Late Show” in 1995.

In 1999 Scientology claimed that they could not release her confidential files
as to do so would lead to damnation, an interesting observation given that they
do not believe in hell! Their claim was rejected by the high court and they
have now appealed to the Supreme Court.

I have taken legal advice, and await the Court’s judgement in relation to the
Mary Johnston case before reviewing my position. In the meantime I propose to
put this correspondence on Dialogue Ireland’s Web-page and let the public
decide as to the merits of the views of Dialogue Ireland’s and Scientology.

Whereas, I could ignore personal abuse and letters which have been
sent to Christian leaders over a period of years by Gerard Ryan. By his
entering the public arena, with primitive anti-Christian tracts and the first
instalment of his Dialogue Ireland series, I could not stand idly by with him
taking my silence as acceptance of his gross distortions. I
could not leave his material unchallenged!

This document has been produced

By Mike Garde of Dialogue Ireland © 2000

WHO IS DIALOGUE IRELAND?

Dialogue Ireland is an ecumenical committee made up of clergy and lay people
drawn from the Catholic, Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian
Churches.

Gerard Ryan claims that “They employ a ‘field worker’ who carries out
the vast majority of the day to day work of the group and who is the driving
force of the group
” and that “The ‘field worker’ for Dialogue
Ireland is Mike Garde
“. In fact the truth is that they do NOT

employ a “field worker”. I am self-employed and have no financial
connection to the committee.

Purpose of Dialogue Ireland
  • To work for contact and dialogue among people with different beliefs and
    philosophies of life. Not all-New Religious Movements (NRMs) are the same; I
    need to differentiate between the various groups here in Ireland. Some are of
    Christian origin. Some are of eastern origin. Others again are part of the New
    Age Movement. I want to keep open communication to all these movements wherever
    possible.
  • To promote the study and understanding of NRMs.
  • To compile and assess current documentation and news reports on NRMs
  • To provide pastoral support to members and former members of NRMs and their
    families according to their needs.
  • To provide information on NRMs for clergy, teachers, the medical
    profession, government departments and the media.
  • To provide information and educational services to schools, vocational
    groups and third level Institutes and Universities. Our approach is based on an
    informative strategy, which empowers young people, rather than unduly warning
    them or raising fear.
What is the agenda of Dialogue Ireland?

Gerard Ryan says that “Dialogue Ireland claim to be working for
‘dialogue’ with minority religions
” and that as far as he is aware
no such dialogue with any of the minority religions exists“.
In fact the truth is that in various schools I run a module on NRMs, and in the
early days I invited a number of NRMs to participate in the course. Gerard Ryan
was invited to make a presentation on behalf of Scientology and instead of
replying to let me know whether he would participate or not, he went behind my
back and tried to bad mouth me to the school. He also tried to control the
educational agenda in the school and in the end they had to withdraw permission
for him to enter the school! Fortunately this course continues in two schools
with the Hare Krishna’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unification Church as full
participants. One of the principal points I make in nearly every presentation
are the positive lessons to be learnt from the zeal of the Jehovah’s Witnesses,
the lifestyle of the Hare Krishna’s and the sense of community in the new
churches. Gerard Ryan writes, “There is, to my knowledge, no documented
instance where Dialogue Ireland has ever distributed any positive information
about the newer minority religions”
.

It is

In the Irish Catholic of 2/3/00 referring to the presence of new African
churches I am quoted in an article as saying, “I should welcome African
Born Again churches… Mr Garde would like the new religious movements to open up
communication with Dialogue Ireland to help foster understanding and
co-operation. He also said dialogue was essential, ‘because it is the only way
you can understand the truth of the claims that have been made by them’

“.

A conversation with any school or third level Institute would soon make it
clear that Gerard Ryan’s charges hold no water. When I meet with someone who
wants to review their membership of, say, Scientology I give them material
produced by Scientology as well as material produced by critics of the
movement. This approach is totally unacceptable to Scientology. A member is put
under extreme pressure not to read such critical material. In fact they regard
all that their founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote to be Scripture. Anyone who opposes
them is alleged to be hiding a criminal past! It also means it is difficult to
dialogue with them as they consider that they hold the truth and others are
wrong. I myself have received a number of letters from several Scientologists
outlining this view.

Dialogue is not just the pseudo conversation of everyone agreeing, but the
recognition of the confrontation of ideas that really searches out the
truth.

Why is Dialogue Ireland so intent on attacking minority
religions?

Gerard Ryan feels that I think, “other religions are a threat”, and
that this is what motivated the formation of Dialogue Ireland. It is true that
Dialogue Ireland has been involved in a number of articles, TV and Radio
documentaries concerning Scientology. However these have been high profile
non-tabloid media and include such prominent programmes as “The Late Late
Show”, “The Pat Kenny Radio Show” and “Prime Time”.

If Dialogue Ireland’s field worker’s goal was to recruit for the four main
churches, is it likely that they would use the services of a Mennonite? As
someone who is trained in Clinical Pastoral Education and counselling it would
be totally opposed to my beliefs to use undue influence in any individual’s
personal religious progress.

Who funds Dialogue Ireland?

The churches, along with school fees and individual donations fund my work. At
present this does not add up to more than about £15,000 a year!

But it may be that the state should pay for this work as the Council of Europe
suggests. That would be preferable, but without the support of the churches I
could not have done my work.

How does Dialogue Ireland operate?
Firstly
I collect information from the media, from academic institutions like NRM
centres such as INFORM, an independent centre for the study of NRMs based at
the London School of Economics, Fair and the Dialogue Centre in Denmark. Then I
get material on nearly a daily basis from the American Family Foundation. Some
of this material reports the activities of Scientology – for example, the
conviction of the leaders of a French Scientology Organisation for criminal
activity in 1999. Last summer there was another example of a heavy defeat for
Scientology in the High Court in London. This case had a lot of Irish
connections. Richard and Bonnie Woods, two ex-Scientologists, were awarded
damages of £50,000 and their costs of £100,000. This was for the libellous
comments made in a Scientology publication, “Freedom”, in which they
were accused, of being fundamentalist bigots and deprogrammers.

Many media outlets have published stories about Scientology but it would be
true to say that the tabloids have been more willing to take risks in this
regard. There is a very simple reason for this, namely the litigious nature of
Scientology.

Secondly
Gerard Ryan says that “Dialogue Ireland operates a referral service
whereby if any clergy come into contact with the newer minority religions it is
referred to Dialogue Ireland”
. This is a very wide-ranging charge,
which is based on no presented evidence. In Scientology there exists the notion
of a Suppressive Person. This is an individual one of who’s main
characteristics is the use of sweeping generalisations. Such a person is
considered by Scientologists to be a criminal who is hiding their crimes. It is
ironic therefore that Gerard Ryan should display such characteristics. In
reality how many clergy know I even exist! Counselling involves the free
interplay of ideas, not “indoctrination”, as suggested by Gerard
Ryan.
Thirdly
I generally meet with the family who is concerned about the involvement of
their family member at their request. This happens as soon as possible after
they make contact with me. I provide them with alternative information
and discuss how best to emotionally detach from the person involved. Sometimes
families try to solve the problem internally without being properly informed
and the consequence is that instead of being effective in communicating they
actually drive the person away. Giving families information and support reduces
the stress levels. Naturally I meet the family first because Scientology does
not encourage the person to get independent advice about their teaching. I
provide them with a wide range of literature, web sites and videos.
Fourthly
The family intervention is planned without the person in the NRM being
aware of it for the simple reason that if they knew about it they would not be
allowed to hear alternative views. When Mary Johnston met her family she was
coached in how to handle them, with Scientologists taking on the role of
different family members. Before this process starts I get the permission of
the person otherwise I do not go ahead.

It is claimed I do not give balanced information. A few years ago I met a young
man from west Cork. After a few hours of discussion he agreed to review his
membership of Scientology. He signed an agreement with his family to study both
sides for three months. I agreed to provide him with Scientology documentation
and also material taking a critical stance. It became clear he would not keep
the agreement and he returned to Scientology secretly. Trauma is caused by
Scientology because it breaks up the family by not allowing its membership to
review both sides of the argument. Families are denied access to their family
members who often move to another country unless the family agrees to play ball
and keep silent.

Fifthly
Gerard Ryan says that, “Dialogue Ireland often invites former
members to attack their former faith in the tabloid media
“. Generally
if someone leaves any group I would advise them not to give an interview until
they have processed this decision for a reasonable period of time. I do not
prescribe what people do or don’t do. Perhaps this is the way Scientology is
used to directing its members?

Dialogue Ireland are well aware of the family trauma they cause and
justify it by saying they have “saved a soul”, or some other such
excuse. These excuses cannot hide the reality of the pain they cause.”

How would the family feel trauma or pain if someone they love leaves a group
which they do not like? Perhaps the people experiencing the loss are GR and his
fellow Scientologists who have lost a member?

Are Dialogue Ireland Networked Internationally?

Dialogue Ireland does not have a parent body but is happy to associate with
Dialogue Centre International (DCI) Denmark. I also have connections with
INFORM at the London school of Economics and CESNUR in Italy, who have totally
different views from the DCI. They view groups from a more sociological
perspective, whereas the DCI has a more theological viewpoint. This provides us
with a variety of views and gives our conferences an authentic feel.

What does Dialogue Ireland do in Schools?

According to Gerard Ryan “Perhaps the most irresponsible activity I
participate in is to indoctrinate impressionable school children”. This
conjures up the image of 10-year-olds being forced to hear our message.

Normally I speak to young adults in sixth year who are about to vote and go to
third level. This is an informative strategy making them aware and defusing
fear. I would provide the most up to date information on the various movements.
I also encourage people to respect members of minority groups, whether they
agree or disagree with their beliefs.

Our response to Gerard’s comments about the non-constitutionality of our access
to schools is that we are fully entitled to enter the schools at the their
request. The state does not have a position on religious education except
article 44 of the constitution which guarantees the right to believe within the
law. This leaves the school to develop its religious ethos in harmony with its
beliefs and therefore they are free to invite anyone they wish!

Who is the Dialogue Ireland field worker?

Mike Garde is the field worker for Dialogue Ireland. He is a Mennonite, one of
the historic peace churches, which dates from the 16th century. It
is neither Protestant, nor Fundamentalist, nor a Sect from the USA. It was
founded in Europe, and experienced severe persecution from both Protestants and
Catholics. This gives Mike Garde a special understanding of minorities! As I
pointed out earlier I do not believe the main issue is danger, though the
violent conclusion to “Heaven’s Gate” or the “Solar Temple”
should warn us against complacency in regard to NRMs.

Rather the issue is one of people living with difference. GR has been drawing
attention for a number of years to an article in the
Independent on Sunday
, from March 3, 1996 which
pointed to some Mennonites from Mexico, not the USA, being involved with a drug
cartel. Up until this leaflet this has not been mentioned because it has
nothing to do with Mike Garde. Since GR has linked me to it, I mention it all
the time as an example of a Black Propaganda campaign to link me, guilt by
association. An analogy within the Irish context would be that as Fr. Patrick
Ryan was linked to the IRA therefore all Catholics are members of the IRA.
These Mennonites of German ethnicity came to Mexico from Russia via Canada.
Basically they are fish out of water in a Hispanic culture and the article
explains this. They are not in good standing with the church, which is trying
to help them. Obviously the Mennonite church opposes their practices.

Mennonites number about a million world wide, with a little less than half
living in North America, and the rest scattered more or less evenly in
Africa,Asia, Europe, and South America.

In other correspondence to Mike Garde, which has not to date been made public,
Gerard Ryan connected me to the crimes of Father Sean Fortune, calling me in
correspondence his “colleague” and sending me in the post copies of
the charges of buggery he was accused of because I was associated with the
Catholic Church. The difference between the crimes committed by Catholics and
some of the ones committed by Scientologists are that the Scientologists
committed them in the line of duty where as the Christians committed these
crimes in contradiction to their beliefs. For example five former senior
officials of the Church of Scientology in Southern France were convicted of
Fraud on 15th November 1999. Xavier Delamare, leader in the South of
France received a jail sentence of two years with 18 months suspended and a
fine of £10,000. Four others received lesser-suspended sentences (source:
The Times November 16, 1999).

How did Mr Garde link up with Dialogue Ireland?

Mr. Garde attempted to set up a Mennonite Community in Dublin many years ago.
It was an abject failure, partly due to the fact that it was attacked by Fr.
Martin Tiemey. This priest was in charge of the Dialogue Centre, the
forerunner of Dialogue Ireland. Fr Tiemey is currently the Chairman of
Dialogue Ireland. Following the destruction of his minority religious
community, it is remarkable that Mr. Garde then decided to become an employee
of Dialogue Ireland and attack other minorities! This is an about-turn that
would intrigue any student of human behaviour, and might even call into
question Mr.Garde’s motivation?

This is perhaps the most bizarre part of this catalogue of innuendo,
half-truths and outright lies. Father Martin Tierney has been a colleague of
mine for nearly 20 years, when I worked with the Mennonites and the Catholic
Cult Awareness Group, which preceded the Dialogue Centre and Dialogue Ireland.
So any suggestion that he had anything to do with the demise of the Mennonite
community is pure science fiction.

After 10 years of being a Mennonite community in Ballybough, it was decided to
move away from a separate identity as Mennonites to an ecumenical strategy of
working with the other churches already present here in Ireland. Obviously,
there was a sense of failure in a strategy, which had been tried for over ten
years, but as one Mennonite put it, “It was more a mundane failure than an
abject failure.” My involvement with Dialogue Ireland fits in well with
the strategy of working with the other churches. Another Mennonite, Dr Joseph
Liechty, is well known for his work in the area of sectarianism with the Irish
School of Ecumenics. A Mennonite worker is serving as Minister of Springfield
Road Methodist Church and a leader of the Forthsprings cross-community group in
west Belfast. The Co-ordinator of Mennonite work in Ireland is a Presbyterian
from Holywood, Co. Down, and that since 1989 Mennonite work in Ireland has been
shaped by twice yearly meetings of a Support Body for Mennonite Witness in
Ireland, which is composed of Catholics and Protestants from North and South.
Mennonites meet informally but most have joined or attend other churches. This
is indeed an “abject failure” or could it be recognition of the shape
of the future of Christianity in Ireland?

How does Dialogue Ireland feel about a multi-faith
society?

Perhaps their attitude is best described by their “field worker”,
Mr. Garde, who is on record as stating that Islam is ”
anti-Christian”. This illustrates that Mr. Garde appears to have an
inability to distinguish between ” non-Christian” and

“anti-Christian”. Dialogue Ireland appear to feel that every
religion, other than their own, is an obstacle to the “kingdom of
god”
. etc, etc.

Perhaps we could answer that question for ourselves rather than having it
answered for us by Gerard. We welcome the multi-faith shape of Irish society at
present. We are happy to be a part of this and continue dialoguing with the
authentic traditions of Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam. I am in fact
calling for the government to establish a third level institute of Religion,
which would give expression to this new multi-faith reality. Specifically, to
say that Islam is non-Christian or anti-Christian is meaningless. So Gerard
Ryan is misquoting me, as I hold to neither position. Islam is a monotheistic
faith like Christianity. Islam views Jesus as a prophet but they regard
Mohammed as the central figure of revelation. Christians believe Jesus is the
central figure of their revelation. This is not the end of the story, but where
the dialogue begins!

What should you do if you come into contact with Dialogue
Ireland?

Yes, do check all the information we give you – We would be delighted to
improve or correct any information that is inaccurate, that is how one arrives
at the truth. Equally ask the Scientology organisation are they willing for you
to look at material other than the writings of L Ron Hubbard in evaluating
their truth claims. Certainly our finances are open to scrutiny; we have our
accounts audited annually.

I disagree with Scientology not with Scientologists. I respect them as people.

As we mentioned before, within Scientology there is the concept of a
“Suppressive Person” (S.P.). In Scientology terms these are the bad
guys. Such people have certain characteristics, the chief of which is the
inappropriate use of sweeping generalisations. Quoting GR, “no minister of

any of the newer minority religions has ever been convicted of any crime
whatsoever”.

A well documented counter example to this claim is the case of Mary Sue
Hubbard, the very wife of L. Ron Hubbard and a high ranking Scientology officer
herself. In September 1979, nine members, led by Mary Sue Hubbard, of the
Guardian’s Office – a core Scientology Organisation – signed a stipulation
admitting their involvement in break -ins, infiltration of government agencies,
burglaries, thefts and buggings. In December 1979 they were all sentenced to
jail terms. So here I see GR making a sweeping generalisation which is patently
untrue. Ironically this does not bode well for Gerard Ryan in terms of the
Suppressive Person traits alluded to above.

Conclusion

The background of the Dialogue Ireland committee is clear. The various churches
that have representatives on the Dialogue Ireland committee support them.

Finally with regard to the Prohibition to the Incitement to Hatred act, you
might ask Scientologists why they call non-members “wogs” and new
recruits “raw meat” in light of their suggestion that we are
promoting sectarianism and intolerance?

I wish GR and all Scientologists well. I disagree with them. Let us learn to
live with difference. “Kick the ball, not the man”.

Further correspondence will be added to our web page.

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