(Personally, I think every individual has the right to view any files or records a religious organization has about them. Just like every individual is entitled to his or her own medical records, a person should be entitled to their own records kept by religious groups or organizations.)
If your religious leaders kept secret files on you, should you be allowed to have access to them once you leave the faith? That question is at the center of a controversial ruling last week involving the Jehovah’s Witnesses in British Columbia, and the story is far from over.
The case involves two former members: Gabriel-Liberty Wall and Gregory Westgarde. Wall had been a member of the Grand Forks congregation since 2014, having been baptized into the faith in 2012. He formally left the Witnesses in 2017. John Vabuolas was one of his elders. Westgarde was a member of the Coldstream congregation until 2009, when he left. Paul Sidhu was one of his elders. The names aren’t particularly relevant as much as their situation.
A couple of years ago, both men requested access to anything the Witnesses had on file about them, and they cited the province’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), which gives individuals access to that kind of data. The Witnesses, in response, filed a civil lawsuit against the government saying they ought to be exempt from the law and that the law as written was unconstitutional.
The elders obviously have something to hide.
At the very least, most religious organizations keep files on financial contributions, voluntary service and attendance on their members. Religion is a business and if you don't track your works, your income stream and growth then you aren't doing a good job of running your business.
The idea that a Christian church would keep records on people seems to run contrary to its supposed core principle of redemption and forgiveness. If they really believe that, why keep files on people? Well, there is a possible explanation: maybe its all about money.
@ErichZannIII When I wrote "Christian" that included the LDS.
In the case of Scientology, it's definitely about money.
In fact, it's definitely about money for the Christians too.
@ErichZannIII Note to self: never join any organization where signing a non-disclosure agreement is a prerequisite.
Without a doubt, one should have access to any files on one's self. I suppose one possible exception could be classified files, and even then, I ask why are they classified. If the government or an other entity is spying on you, yes you should have access; if you are working on a classified project, not so much.
I don't think they would admit to eign a cult, but there records would convince most people of it.