The Church of Scientology is in the news again, and that's never a good sign.
Reports indicate that the Freewinds, the church's cruise ship, is quarantined in the port of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. According to Reuters, the St. Lucia Ministry of Health "ordered the restriction after conferring with the Pan American Health Organization and others about the risk" of measles exposure to the island's residents.
300 passengers and crew members aboard the Freewinds have been ordered to stay aboard the ship after a female crew member was found to have contracted measles.
Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James, St. Lucia's chief medical officer, said in a video statement that the quarantine was necessary, adding that recent measles outbreaks in the United States are to blame:
"We thought it prudent that we quarantine the ship. We have been listening to the alerts from the Pan American Health Organization. There are outbreaks of measles [in the United States] largely because persons have not taken the vaccine."
Dr Merlene Fredericks James on quarantine of cruise ship www.youtube.com
Although the Church of Scientology has not spoken out publicly against vaccinations, the organization has been known to be aggressive in its opposition to other facets of Western medicine, particularly psychiatry.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared in 2000 that measles had been eradicated in the US. However, upticks in the disease have been attributed to the rise of anti-vaccination movements.
The news has already opened up Scientology to further criticism.
Church officials have not responded to requests for comment.
While no one can disembark from the ship, St. Lucian officials say there's nothing barring the Freewinds from leaving port and returning to its home port of Curacao.