Church of Scientology Defends Hosting Family Fun Day Event at Site Where Member Was Stabbed to Death

The Church of Scientology has defended its decision to host a family fun day event at one of its Australian sites months after a member was stabbed to death there.

Some among the local community described their shock after receiving flyers from the Church inviting them to attend the event on its ground in Chatswood, Sydney, on May 19.

“Bring your family and friends to enjoy the day on the beautiful lawns of the Church of Scientology in Chatswood,” the flyer read, reported 7News Sydney.

The fun day is scheduled to take place more than five months after Taiwanese national Chih-Jen Yeh, 24, was allegedly murdered by a 16-year-old boy while he was being escorted out of the Church's Australian headquarters on January 3.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the 16-year-old was attempting to storm into the grounds to visit his mother, who was attending a so-called "purification ceremony” on site.

The ceremony is a described as a cleansing process which involves members taking daily saunas while sticking to a strict regimen of vitamins and exercise to purportedly rid the body of toxins.

"Maybe they should have it in a local park,” one local resident, named only as Robin, told 7News Sydney when discussing the event. Another named as Rachel told 7News Sydney she was "shocked" by the move.

In a statement, the Church of Scientology said they will continue to hold such events as they have done in the past, while attacking the media's reporting on it.

“The Church has been hosting these family days since moving into the Chatswood property in 2016,” a spokesperson told Newsweek.

“Opening the grounds to the neighbors was something that residents told us the previous owners had done from time to time and we agreed it was a good idea. The countryside around the Church is beautiful and is a very nice place for parents to bring their children on a Sunday afternoon. The Church resumed these events in April 2019, after a four-month hiatus.”

The Church also accused 7News Sydney reporter Bryan Seymour, who presented a story on the event for the network, of being “motivated by religious bigotry.”

“It really is unconscionable of Bryan Seymour to go out of his way like this to try to prevent the neighborhood from moving on from this tragedy and coming together as a community,” the spokesperson added.

Seven West Media, which owns 7News Sydney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Church previously blamed the murder on an A&E TV series starring actress and former member Leah Remini for allegedly "inspiring bigotry and violence."

In a letter addressed to A+E Networks President Paul Buccieri, the religious organization claimed the show Scientology and the Aftermath was an attempt to stir up hate and turn it into cash.”

Responding to the letter, the show's co-host, Mike Rinder, told 7News Sydney: “They basically seek to shift the blame to our show for their abuses. Their statement that this is all caused by A&E and our show because someone apparently looked at a website that mentioned our show—that's absurd," Rinder said.

The 16-year-old suspect was detained in a mental health facility after being charged with murder. He is due to appear in a children's court next month.