The Church of Scientology
in France: Legal and
Activist Counterattacks in
the “War on Sectes”
Susan J. Palmer
Michel Raoust is a Parisian Scientologist whose wedding day was spoiled by anticult propaganda. He joined the Church in 1975, when he was a university student. Over the years, he has taken Scientology courses in Paris and in East Grinstead, and steadily climbed“up the grades” to become an Operating Thetan 5 and a Class 5 Auditor. Through the Church he met A—and asked her to marry him. On December 3, 1994, their wedding day, they arrived at a friend’s garden where the ceremony was to be held to find that over half of the wedding guests were missing.
I interviewed Michel Raoust at the Church of Scientology in Paris, 7 rue Jules Cesar, on the evening of October 9, 2007. As I stood waiting in the hall I reflected on the controversial status of Scientology in France, when I noticed the doors to L. Ron Hubbard’s study were open—the small shrine room that is a standard feature of every CoS in the world: his desk, a fifties typewriter, a fountain pen and inkwell, and an early wooden cased model of the E-Meter. Hubbard visited France briefly in the 1950s. In 1978 he was tried and convicted in France for fraud in absentia and never bothered to appeal. Michel Raoust is another controversial figure, and has been described as a “spy” and a “very dangerous Scientologist” in the French media, but when he came down the hall and introduced himself, I saw only a thin, shy, balding man in his mid-fifties. I asked him to tell me about his wedding.
“My beau frère (brother-in-law) had gone to ADFI and they had given him articles that were critical of Scientology and some about me,” he replied. “These articles were linked to a discrimination case involving my company.”