For immediate release

April 2, 2021

Australian Reporter Ben Schneiders Leans on American Sex-Trafficking Apologist in Piece of Antireligious Hate 

On April 1, Australian reporter Ben Schneiders published a piece of anti-Scientology propaganda in the Sydney Morning Herald, knowingly misinterpreting Church financial data to promote hate against the religion and misrepresent its members’ activities in Australia. 

Sydney Morning Herald bannerhead
Image by Postmodern Studio/Shutterstock.com

Scientologists in Australia have worked for years to make their churches across the nation into Scientology Ideal Organizations—known the world over as homes for the entire community and meeting grounds for cooperative efforts to uplift citizens of all denominations. Today, thanks to the dedicated work of Australian Scientologists, Ideal Churches of Scientology stand in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, from which Scientology Volunteer Ministers memorably extended a helping hand in the 2019 Australian bush fires—preparing over 39,000 meals for firefighters and evacuees and giving some 6,000 hours of help—and most recently brought some 300,000 prevention resources to their communities to help their fellow Australians stay well throughout the pandemic. 

Schneiders goes further in embarrassing the “Sydney Morning Herald,” soliciting quotes for an article about the growth of Scientology in Australia from American sex-trafficking apologist Tony Ortega.

In his piece of unadulterated antireligious hate, Ben Schneiders nevertheless works to make the generous donations of Australian Scientologists toward their churches and communities seem part of some nefarious sequence of “money flows” of which he, in his bigotry, disapproves. In the process, he also attempts to belittle the Church’s achievement of religious recognition in the nation in a historic case—one which famously set the standard for the definition of religion and religious charities in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout the Commonwealth of Nations. 

In 1983, the Australian High Court determined that the Church of Scientology “has easily discharged the onus of showing that it is religious. The conclusion that it is a religious institution entitled to tax exemption is irresistible,” a conclusion Schneiders, in his arrogance, aims to cast doubt on some 40 years after the fact.

Schneiders goes further in disgracing the Sydney Morning Herald, soliciting quotes for an article about the growth of Scientology in Australia from American sex-trafficking apologist Tony Ortega, who has never been a member of the Scientology religion and has no insight into its activities in the country in which he resides, let alone across the globe in Oceania. Ortega, however, famously championed Backpage.com, the largest online sex trafficking site in the world before its seizure by federal law enforcement agencies in April 2018.

Schneiders’ other source, Mike Rinder, is a documented woman-abuser who sent the mother of his children to the hospital with his violent rage. She suffers permanent nerve damage to this day, a decade later, and is still in physical therapy as a result of abuse by Schneiders’ trusted source. 

“Ben Schneiders’ article is an embarrassment to journalism, an exercise in information manipulation and a model to be showcased in Media Bigotry 101,” said STAND Director Bari Berger. “We are disturbed and appalled the Sydney Morning Herald sanctioned Schneiders’ targeting of Scientologists with his blatant ignorance, prejudice and unrestrained antireligious hate.” 

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