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Official backed in Scientology flap

ADELAIDE, Australia, July 10 (UPI) -- The South Australian government said Friday that the education minister had a right to call Scientologists "bastards" in a video posted on YouTube.

Jane Lomax-Smith made the comments in May when she encountered demonstrators from a group that calls itself Anonymous outside the Church of Scientology headquarters in Adelaide, The Australian reports. Lomax-Smith asked the masked protesters if they were related to people who had been "sucked in" by Scientology.

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"They should be taxed, the bastards," she added. "They shouldn't be tax-free; we're subsidizing them. I like your masks."

Anonymous posted the video on the Internet, leading to an official protest from the church to South Australian Premier Mike Rann. In a statement Thursday from Sydney, the church said that Lomax-Smith should not promote intolerance.

Rann's office said that Lomax-Smith was giving her own views in a private conversation as she has a right to do.

The church, founded by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, has a number of high-profile members, including movie stars John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

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