Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 01
by Rod Keller
Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review summarizes the most significant postings from the Usenet group Alt.religion.scientology for the preceding week for the benefit of those who can't follow the group as closely as they'd like. Out of thousands of postings, I attempt to include news of significant events, new affidavits, court rulings, new contributors, whatever. I hope you find it useful. Like many readers of a.r.s, I have a kill file. So please take into consideration that I may not have seen some of the most significant postings.
The articles in A.r.s Week in Review are brief summaries of articles posted to the newsgroup. They include message IDs for the original articles, and many have a URL to get more information. You may be able to find the original article, depending on how long your site stores articles in the newsgroup before expiring them.
Free A.r.s Week in Review subscriptions are available, just email me at
Barb Snow reported an upcoming event at the Delphi Academy of Boston.
"On April 24th Delphi Academy of Boston will host a 'Public Relations Seminar' from 8:30-5:30 at the Back Bay Hilton, Boston Mass. This is only $75.00 and includes breakfast and a light lunch, as well as materials. In a pamphlet from ABLE the sponsors ask several questions, including 'Have you ever hesitated to communicate to another about L. Ron Hubbard and his works?' and promises those in the seminar will 'Gain the ability to communicate confidently about L. Ron Hubbard's Social Betterment Programs.'"
Dennis Erlich posted a declaration filed in his copyright infringement
"This declaration addresses the central feature Scientology practice which claims to provide a form of spiritual absolution and ascension through 'confession,' the maintenance of various files containing information based upon these confessions by numerous Scientology entities, and the expectation of confidentiality associated with these confessional activities and files.
"[D]uring each auditing session, the auditor is required to maintain detailed notes on a worksheet which records the information discussed. These worksheets are placed into the person's 'preclear' or 'pc' file. In my experience, preclears are indoctrinated to believe that confessions made or elicited during an auditing session are kept confidential.
"Despite this expectation, and in accordance with numerous Hubbard policies, after the session an auditor is required to report any transgressions or breaches of Scientology's numerous codes and policies in writing to the preclear's 'ethics' file. Although most preclears do not know or understand this, an auditor is required to make special note of any potential 'ethics' matters that come up during an auditing session (for example, needle readings that indicate negative thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard or transgressions of policy) and report them to a Case Supervisor.
"When a Scientologist does an act or expresses a thought that might be considered to be counter to Hubbard's intention, he or she can be placed in a 'lower ethics condition.' A Scientologist in a lower ethics condition is often ordered by an Ethics Officer, among other things, to go through a process called writing up 'overts and withholds' to help determine and ameliorate the reason for the lower condition. The confessions made in an O/W write-up, while not formal auditing, are according to Scientology policy, considered to be 'case actions' to be filed in the confessional folder and considered to be confidential.
"A person cannot complete any action in Scientology or progress to the next action without writing a glowing 'Success Story' praising the gains they have made. Part of the graduation procedure from any level requires the parishioner to be sent to the Examiner who reads the Success Story and if it is glowing, puts the person on the e-meter and asks what is called the 'Key Question,' that is, 'would you like others to have similar gains to yours?' The person cannot 'pass' unless the e-meter needle 'floats.' If the person does not write a glowing success story, he is sent to the Department of Review for correction at his own expense.
"I would consider the information in my 'ethics' file to be confidential, and subject to the same privilege as material in my preclear file. It should also be noted that in discovery the plaintiff failed to turn over either my ethics files or my pc files, claiming that they had been lost. Instead what they produced were selected copies of discreditable materials culled from both folders. Although Mr. McShane acknowledged that Scientology considers material in a person's preclear file to be confidential and privileged, it should be noted that Scientology considers that a person who has been declared a Suppressive such as myself is no longer entitled to such protection. Accordingly, as a matter of Scientology doctrine, plaintiffs would consider themselves to be entitled to use information culled from a confessional setting (during auditing or otherwise) to impeach or discredit a witness."
CNET News reported the settlement agreement between Scientology and
Factnet in their copyright infringement lawsuit.
"The Church of Scientology International has won a long-standing legal battle to repossess about 2,000 unpublished and copyrighted documents and keep them from being accessed by computer users in the future. Under a settlement reached in a U.S. district court earlier this month, a Colorado-based nonprofit group called FACTNet is permanently enjoined to pay the church $1 million if FACTNet is found guilty of future violations of church copyrights.
"'They have to give back all of our illegally copied materials written by L. Ron Hubbard,' Warren McShane, president of Religious Technology Center, said today. Religious Technology Center is the legal name of the Scientologist church.
"The settlement would seem to stave off for now one avenue for publishing trademarked church materials on the Net, but the church continues to be scrutinized by online critics. Cases such as this have been widely observed because they pit copyrights and online free speech against one another.
"None of the disputed materials--most of which Wollersheim and his attorneys say were gathered during the course of earlier legal proceeding--has appeared on FACTNet's Web site. But the Church of Scientology may have had reason to fear that is where the documents were heading. Others have published the church's 'members only' material online. Meanwhile, as the Net has grown in popularity, the RTC has stepped up its legal actions against alleged trademark and copyright violators. 'We've gotten great cooperation from the ISPs around the world in taking action against infringements when they come up,' McShane added.
"However, the subjects of these lawsuits or cease-and-desist letters often counter that the church is using its high-powered lawyers to pressure online service providers into shutting such sites down, and to silence critics who can reach out to millions of people on the Net. Citing intellectual property infringement, the church threatened in January 1998 to seek legal recourse against the owner of 'scientology-kills.net,' which also sells T-shirts bearing the same phrase."
>From the Denver Post:
"The Church of Scientology and a Boulder-based Internet Web site founded by disgruntled former church members have settled a copyright-infringement suit involving one of the largest number of claims in memory. Under the settlement, F.A.C.T.NET. Inc., a Web site founded by former church members to provide information about cults and mind control, agreed to stop publishing any works by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and any works published by any Scientology organization. All materials, including CD-ROM discs that have been produced, must be turned over to the church.
"'This is the first time in the church's history that it reached an amicable settlement that didn't end up in the destruction of a critic,' said Lawrence Wollersheim, a Boulder resident who co-founded F.A.C.T.NET Inc. Wollersheim, a former Scientology member, said he has spent the past 19 years fighting with the church. He said F.A.C.T.NET spent $2.7 million in attorney's fees - $2 million from an insurance fund and $700,000 in cash. 'We came to the decision that donor funds could be better spent by settling and ending the litigation. We are moving forward from that money pit to victims' support and social education,'' he said of the nonprofit Web site.
"'Awards for copyright claims are made for each work that can be protected. I've never seen anyone spend more effort in breaking down each work into subsets that could be copyrighted,'' said Clifford Beem, the attorney representing F.A.C.T.NET. 'This case was unique because the church litigates with gusto. They had nine lawyers in court every time there was a hearing. When they filed a motion for summary judgment, they had a cart with 25 boxes of documents wheeled in. The church admits that it isn't out to just win a lawsuit. It's purpose is to bankrupt the other side,'' he said."
Peter Reichelt reported that he has obtained a restraining order against
"Round 1 in this case goes to Peter Reichelt, who, as is known, made the film about Scientology 'Missing in Happy Valley'. Peter Reichelt expressed an opinion about Thomas Kruchem, author of the book 'Public Enemy Scientology', that Thomas Kruchem had attempted to prevent the film 'Missing in Happy Valley' from being broadcast by SWR. Thomas Kruchem disputed this assertion made by Peter Reichelt, and in return, raised considerable doubt about Peter Reichelt, both verbally and in writing."
>From the restraining order:
"The opponent is forbidden to assert in the course of business that: the association 'Stiftung Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe PRONICA e.V.', of which Peter Reichelt is a board member, has possibly made a donation to the publication of the applicant's book, 'Helnwein and Scientology - Lies and Betrayal', thereby operating in a manner contrary to the purpose of the association and its charter, in particular as this occurred in the letter submitted with this application. [That t]he renowned actor, Dietmar Schoenherr has left the 'Stiftung Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe PRONICA e.V.' after a very unpleasant conflict with the applicant. For each instance of violating this order, the opponent is subject to a fine of up to DM 500,000 or confinement of up to six months."
Los Angeles New Times columnist "The Finger" commented on recent protests
and revenge pickets in Los Angeles.
"A dozen people -- some wearing 'Scientology Kills' T-shirts -- carried signs bearing other not-so-cuddly phrases. Some of the same folks also protested in front of the church's Celebrity Centre on Franklin. OK, the protesters had the usual complaints: Some were upset over the death of Lisa McPherson (a Scientologist who died of a pulmonary embolism in Florida in the company of fellow Scientologists at the church's Clearwater facility); some wish the church would pay the multimillion dollar judgment Lawrence Wollersheim won in a court case against the church; some contend the church 'brainwashes' members into handing over large sums of money; and some are appalled by the church's Fair Game campaign, in which it 'strikes back' at those who criticize it, which anti-Scientologists say 'invades the privacy of ordinary citizens.'
"On the latter note, some of the protesters complained about the church's Bigot Pages on the Internet, which contain photos and commentary about those actively opposed to the church, and about Scientology's alleged flooding of a Scientology-critical Web news-group (alt.religion.scientology) with so-called 'spam' -- thousands of junk postings, some of which bear headings making them look as if they were written by Mark Bunker, an anti-Scientologist Web site operator who videotaped the anti-Scientologist birthday picket. Scientologists have the same constitutional right to protest publicly as anybody else. Get used to it.
"The courts are deciding whether anti-Scientologists are allowed to take Scientology written material off the Web and use it as they see fit. But zealots against the church are definitely correct about their inalienable right to stand on a public street outside Scientology Headquarters carrying signs emblazoned with whatever insulting slogan they choose. So in the name of Hubbard, why is it that when the Scientologists turn the tables on them, they get so freakin' outraged?! See (you Scientology-bashing folks with way too much time on your hands), church members have the same constitutional right to protest as you. Only, they are willing to hit you where you live. Literally!
"The aforementioned Bunker discovered a couple of protesters in his neighborhood after the birthday picket. They carried placards bearing his photo with the caption: 'Religious Bigot.' 'I grabbed my video camera and went out to talk with them.' One of the picketers left, when he began to recite the legend of Xenu (an allegedly secret Scientology doctrine, known at OT3, which is revealed to parishioners after years of membership): 'Seventy-five-billion years ago, the evil galactic overlord Xenu captured rebels and transported them to Earth, then known as Teeagak, dropped them in volcanoes, and exploded them.' The other picketer held out for 20 minutes in front of Bunker's camera.
"The Finger's advice to the anti-Scientology picketers: If you're going to wage public war, don't get all pissy when the enemy one-ups you. It's more than just 'Fair Game' -- it's the Thetans' legal right."
David Alexander reported on a protest in Dallas, Texas.
"Another new picketer joined me today, Bobby Parker, a former Scientologist Sea Org'er, who joined Scientology at the Dallas Org. We used standard signs: Scientology is Fraud, and 'Don't Buy It!, Scientology is Deception.' We arrived at 11:45 for the lunch rush. Bobby got some recognition from some staff who recognized him. Two pick-up trucks drove away with some furniture. I guess they are proceeding with their move."
"Nukewaster" reported a protest in Washington, DC.
"Date: Saturday, 27 March 1999. Time: 12:00 - 15:40. Picketers: Arnie Lerma, Xapped, Nukewaster. Busy Saturday at the Founding Church. Xapped & Arnie Lerma arrived in time for the course break lunch crowd. Apparently, the Lerma E-meter hypothesis was loudly broadcast to the scurrying students, hungry from a morning reading HubSpew. I arrived about 12:45, mounting a sign 'SCIENTOLOGY SHOULD NOT BE TAX EXEMPT' to my chair. Sylvia Stanard soon appeared. She saved her verbal abuse for Lerma, trying to end her comm cycle with the biting, if none too intellectual, statement 'You're a JERK, Arnie!' Apparently the surprise picket had caused her to be rousted out of bed.
"Best comment by a passer-by: You need a sign that says 'The Germans Are Right.' We garnered numerous honks, waves, thumbs up, even a honk/wave combo from a gent driving a Subaru with Diplomatic Tags (country unknown). We split from the main org building to set up camp at 1731 Connecticut Avenue, NW, home of the OSA offices for DC. Many of the passers-by were curious about our new picketing location, until informed that this was the building that houses the secret police of Scientology. After lunch, we returned to the Frasier Mansion location to picket through course break. I was oddly dismayed by the uniforms some staffers were wearing. Brown shoes, brown pants or skirts (knee length), and 'OEC Vol' shade green vests with small golden name tags. Then it struck me! I had last seen such a uniform combo not at FLAG or ASHO, but at a Denny's restaurant along side of Interstate 70."
Scientology took revenge on Arnie Lerma for the protest.
"On Sunday I found that the cult had distributed literature to my neighbors and my 73 year old mom's neighborhood, she has a stack of them, I told her to keep them, I'm going to mail them to the IRS with my info packs."
Bruce Pettycrew protested at the Mesa, Arizona org.
"Deana Holmes joined Jeff and Kathy and me for a one hour picket from 9:00 AM to 10:00 on Saturday morning. The traffic was more appreciative than ever. [W]e were joined by the elderly woman who I believe is Russ Shaw's Mother-in-law, to counter picket with a 'Stop Littering' sign."
Reports on a protest in San Francisco by "Realpeach" and Kristi Wachter:
"At first it seemed as if we would have a fairly quiet picket, but without warning unpleasant Mark burst upon the scene, fairly dripping aggression. It would seem that he was peeved that at a previous picket I declined to converse with him, and asked Tani to come to my rescue. Nothing would stop the man, not even a running tape recorder! He told me that I was a loser, he said that the people driving by thought I was a lunatic. He implied that my life was without charm, and that I used drugs. He seemed to be fixated on my little smiley face 'I took my Prozac today!' button which I had worn on a previous picket. He inquired about my mental health, and told me that I was totally accountable to him since I had turned up in front of his church with a picket sign. He felt that he was entitled to know all pertinent details of my life.
"I told him that he was not a nice person and I didn't wish to talk with him, but this only increased his in-your-face activities. He began jostling me. In short, he exhibited all the behaviour of a drunk in a bar, seeking to pick a fight. I asked Phr to come and help me, so Mark turned on him next. He was even more unpleasant to Phr, repeatedly asking him to demonstrate his manhood! Which Phr subsequently did, by pulling out his cell phone and calling the police.
"When a harried policeman arrived, a confab was held. I said that Mark had been trying to pick a fight and had called me a bitch. The policeman said that that was a free speech issue! I had to laugh. But he did tell Mark to leave it alone for the rest of the day.
"Administrati then turned up to picket, having missed most of the excitement, while a Scientology Parishioners Committee left with their 'Kristi Wachter, Religious Bigot' signs. Among the committee was Kristie's good friend Bill the Scientologist! Jour had our picket listed the Bay Guardian, and a staff photographer turned up to get pictures. He said that he'd come a long time ago, probably when Wayne Whitney had been picketing, and caused quite an upset to the Scientology staff. Someone started following him, so he just went to the police station, which is down the block."
"My sign was the usual 'Scientology hurts people' backed with 'Does Scientology cause liver damage' and 'Why does Scientology lie about their founder', and I supplemented my front ('Scientology charged with felonies') and back ('L. Ron Hubbard was a convict') sandwich panels with side panels saying 'Scientology attacks religious freedom' and 'Scientology: RICO The ARSCC-SF(wdne) R&D Div will continue researching picket sign tech.
"Bill Crawford and Nasty Mark arrived. Were our friends at San Francisco responding to my repeated requests for a handler for Administrati? Alas, Administrati was only present for a small portion of the picket, so Bill latched on to me, and Nasty Mark went to work on Peaches. And then we were retreading long-exhausted conversational territory. He tried the tired old 'wouldn't you lock up a family member if you thought they might hurt themselves' routine. I pointed out, again, that even with family, it is only legal to hold someone until the authorities can be contacted, and I pointed out that that is WHY the types of deprogramming tactics common in years gone by were illegal - because, even if your family thinks you're destroying yourself, they can't hold you against your will.
"Bill tells me that he thinks that people who 'got into trouble' in Scientology - by which he means people who died or were hurt in some way - would have ended up in similar trouble even if they hadn't gotten into Scientology. Obviously, I disagree with him on that.
"Jeff came out for MORE pictures. As he was snapping shots of me, he said, loudly, 'Liver damage - that's a lie.' (Actually, Jeff, it's a QUESTION - my sign says, 'Does Scientology cause liver damage? Ask Scientology about the Purification Rundown.') 'LRH was a convict - that's a lie.' I retorted, 'He was convicted in France. He was a convict.' - and Jeff made a face indicating that doesn't COUNT. He says LRH had never been to France - how could he have broken the law in France? (Easy, Jeff - by supervising and directing illegal activities.) 'You must be friends with Hitler.' <sigh> 'No, I'm not.' <sigh> I decided to just ignore Jeff, if he was going to be patently silly.
"When I got home at about 2:15 or 2:30, there were no revenge picketers in sight, and no DA fliers stuck in the gate. Perhaps they decided to go for coffee instead. And don't forget, the next regularly scheduled first-Saturday-of-every-month picket is May 1."
The St. Petersburg Times continued its series on the Scientology with four
"While the number of cases Scientology is currently pursuing is down in the United States, a survey of the cases still under way shows a persistence and bitterness on both sides that make it hard for either to walk away. Scientology reacts to the pickets by sending staffers out to confront them and take pictures. Increasingly, Scientologists go out and picket critics' homes or offices, distributing fliers that accuse them of being 'religious bigots.' Some pickets say Scientologists have frightened elderly family members with visits and questions about their picketing.
"In England pickets travel with a toy dog that wears water wings. They carry signs suggesting that Duke, the dog of Los Angeles Judge Ronald Swearinger, drowned at the hands of Scientology. The church has vehemently denied any responsibility for Duke's death."
"Around the clock, from Norway, the Netherlands, Australia and every corner of the United States, the critics of Scientology discuss the controversial organization and its practices. A court decision in Sweden is quickly posted to the news group, followed quickly by a full translation. Daily transcripts of a trial in Northern California are up before daybreak the next day, and news accounts from all over the world are quickly translated and reproduced.
"Many of those who post messages to the central anti-Scientology news group, alt.religion.scientology, have their own critical Web sites with much more on Scientology. The best known of the critical Web sites is Operation Clambake (http://www.xenu.net), a massive library of information on Scientology operated by Andreas Heldal-Lund, a Norwegian critic who has operated his Web site despite dozens of letters threatening legal action by Scientology. Scientology once attempted to get the news group tossed off the Net but failed. It's obvious the organization closely monitors the news group because it is constantly turning up in courtrooms with copies of messages that have been posted."