Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 23
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
A Very Fine Trip
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published an article on Scientology's
response to an article on the book A Very Strange Trip, based on a story
by L. Ron Hubbard.
"A few lines in this space on July 25, about a new book ostensibly written by L. Ron Hubbard, set in motion the church's publicity machine. At first, it was a call from Mary Tinat, who is director of public affairs for Bridge Publications, publisher of A Very Strange Trip. Tinat wanted to talk about what I had written, which wasn't nice, she wanted me to know.
"Since Hubbard has been dead for 13 years, and since the book immediately popped up on the New York Times best-seller list for just one week, I wondered about this successful posthumous authorship. I suggested that it happened when the church itself sent out its members to buy massive numbers of the book at the big chain bookstores, thus propelling A Very Strange Trip to the coveted best-seller list. I had hit a nerve with the church publicity mill. Tinat argued that the readers can't be wrong about L. Ron Hubbard's literary worth. The caller grew tedious and angry. I recognized a trained debater on the other end, and a skilled interviewer.
"Getting no satisfaction, Tinat then wrote a letter to this newspaper spelling out the wondrous popularity of Hubbard and my failings: 'With such popularity, it's no wonder that demand for Hubbard's works continues to grow and now enthralls a whole new generation of readers,' Tinat wrote. Baloney, I thought to myself at the breakfast table.
"It wouldn't be the first time that the church has been accused of buying a massive number of its books with the intent of creating a best seller and making it appear that church writings were immensely popular. In an article in 1991, 'The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power,' Time magazine made the accusation. Time's cover article said Scientology director David Miscavige, described as 'cunning, ruthless and so paranoid about perceived enemies that he kept plastic wrap over his glass of water,' is obsessed with obtaining credibility for the church in the 1990s. Among the tactics Time listed were: 'Retains public relations powerhouse Hill and Knowlton to help shed the church's fringe-group image; buys massive quantities of its own books from retail stores to propel the titles onto best-seller lists; recruits wealthy and respected professionals through a web of consulting groups that typically hide their ties to Scientology.' The church promptly took Time to court, but Time won. Litigation, and training bullying publicity agents, is standard procedure, it seems, for the church. The tactics worked against the IRS, which agreed after a barrage of lawsuits against the agency and some of its employees to grant Scientology tax-exempt status.
"Today, a battle against the Church of Scientology is fought on the Internet. The church operates a 30,000 screen site at http://www.scientology.org. Dozens of anti-Scientology sites are available simply by using a search engine and typing in Scientology. Three good ones are http://www.xenu.net, http://www.shassan.com and http://www.scientology-kills.net. Xenu, in the Web address above, is a planet, by the way. The Church of Scientology teaches that souls of space aliens murdered 75 million years ago were flung out to Earth from Xenu, only to attach themselves to the bodies of Earthlings. New church members are told that they are encumbered by these souls and to achieve spiritual benefits they must pay to have them removed at a cost of $400 per hour."
Letters to the Editor of the St. Petersburg Times were published this week
on the subject of Scientology.
"To set the record straight, the Church of Scientology not only pays property taxes, but it pays more than anybody in downtown. The Church of Scientology further brings in excess of $100-million to Clearwater through its parishioners, who come from around the world. Let's not forget that downtown went belly up before we ever located here. After all, that's why the buildings we bought were empty. The debate is not about needing the church or not. We are members of the community, as are over 10,000 Scientologists who are Clearwater citizens. We are doing our part to contribute to city plans.
"Our parking needs are being addressed and have not been set in concrete, so as to allow the city to finalize its downtown plans. We don't want a structure that is but another eyesore like so many other downtown lots. Everyone should applaud the cooperation. - Pat Jones, director of public affairs, Church of Scientology
"Residents of Clearwater will not come downtown as they once did. They do not want to mingle with the Scientologists, who deprive a city of taxes. We all know them as a cult. - N.J. Swan, Clearwater"
Giessener Anzeiger reported on August 31st that the German state of
Nordrhein-Westphalian questions the need for surveillance of Scientology.
"The Nordrhein-Westphalian Constitutional Security Chief Fritz Achim Baumann believes the importance of the Scientology organization in commercial and political areas has been overestimated, and has placed the necessity of further surveillance by the intelligence agency in question. Baumann said that Scientology was 'primarily a commercial undertaking which entices people with a mix of offerings which contain elements of church, religion and therapy.'
"After a two year surveillance of the organization by Constitutional Security, he further stated in the interview, 'Indeed we have found indications of endeavors taken by the Scientologists against our basic democratic principles. However according to our observation, these [endeavors] were not actually being transformed into reality.' He said the risks associated with Scientology lie primarily in personal areas. 'Isolation, lack of ability to succeed, intellectual deficit - all the little, human weaknesses are immoderately magnified by the Scientologists. For the victims, that turns into expensive pseudo-therapy. The fact is that the sect counselor is more in demand than the secret agent,' said the chief of the Nordrhein-Westphalian Constitutional Security office.
"According to the findings obtained, Scientology has only about 5,000 members nationwide. 'Of those, 2,000 could be card-carrying Scientologists.' In contrast to Bavarian Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein, Baumann does not see any indication that the 'World Institute of Scientology Enterprises' has infiltrated the economy to any great extent with the so-called 'WISE' management methods."
Agence France Presse reported on August 31st that Bavaria disagrees with Nordrhein-Westphalian.
"The Bavarian state administration believes it is necessary for Constitutional Security to continue surveillance of Scientology. Interior State Secretary Hermann Regensburger (CSU) dismissed considerations of Nordrhein-Westphalian (NRW) Constitutional Security to suspend surveillance by the intelligence agency. Even if the number of active Scientologists were under 5,000, this was 'no reason for calling off the alarm,' stated Regensburger. He said that Scientology had at its disposal 'a well-constructed, strategic network intact which was born by an aggressive cadre organization.'"
Keith Henson reported that his lawsuit against the Internal Revenue
Service has been dismissed.
"Plaintiff H Keith Henson alleges that the IRS conspired with the Church of Scientology and various Church related entities to defraud the United States. More specifically Plaintiff alleges that the IRS unlawfully executed a 'closing agreement' granting the Church tax exempt status. Plaintiff alleges that the IRS' conduct violated the Establishment clause of the Constitution of the United States.
"Plaintiff alleges that he has special standing to bring this action because the Church has allegedly 'paid approximately one million dollars collected as 'charitable donations' to harass Plaintiff, up to and including physical attack, and for other purposes which are clearly outside of the legislatively sanctioned uses of 'charitable donations.''
"The United States moves to dismiss the action, contending that Plaintiff lacks standing, has failed to include an indispensable party, namely the Church, and cannot demonstrate waiver of sovereign immunity or that this Court otherwise has jurisdiction to hear this matter.
"Plaintiff asserts standing generally as a 'federal taxpayer,' claiming the public treasury has been harmed because of the IRS. In Flast, the Supreme Court held that a taxpayer will be a proper party to allege the unconstitutionality only of exercises of congressional power under the taxing and spending clause of the Constitution. Second, the Supreme Court required that the taxpayer 'show that the challenged enactment exceeds specific constitutional limitations upon the exercise of the taxing and spending power.' Plaintiff has failed to satisfy both of the Flast requirements. First, Plaintiff is not challenging congressional power, but rather challenging an executive branch action, the IRS execution of a closing agreement with the Church. Second, Plaintiff has failed to show, and cannot show that the IRS' conduct exceeded constitutional limitations. Plaintiff has alleged that the IRS' conduct violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. However, Plaintiff's constitutional challenge is without merit in light of the Supreme Court's holding in Hernandez V. Commissioner.
"Plaintiff appears to argue in the alternative that he has standing to assert his claims because the Church has used tax-exempt funds to harass Plaintiff with lawsuits and pay private investigators to attack his reputation and physically attack him while picketing. However, these alleged injuries are not 'traceable' to the IRS' allegedly unlawful conduct. Furthermore, Plaintiff concedes that these alleged injuries are not likely to be redressed in this action. In other words, Plaintiff acknowledges that even if he were to prevail in this litigation, Plaintiff would he unable to stop the Church from continuing the alleged harmful conduct. Therefore, the Plaintiff lacks standing.
"For the reasons set forth above, the IRS' motion to dismiss is GRANTED with prejudice.
"Dated: August 16, 1999 JAMES WARE United States District Judge"
Keith also reported developments in his bankruptcy case, filed following Scientology's $75,000 judgment against him for copyright violations.
"This was a hearing to compel me to turn over various kind of financial records, most of which I don't have, some of which they already have, and some of which make no sense at all, and when the records are produced for me and my wife to undergo more 2004 exam. Helena Kobrin and Alan Cartwright showed up for the cult, Tom Hogan and Elane Seid as local lawyer and bankruptcy specialist, nasty Marc and Darlene for the cheering section.
"My big objection was the cult wanting such things as names of doctors and dentists, and to the cult lawyers doing the depositions. Hogan agreed that information of that sort could be redacted. We went back in and my lawyer gave the judge a report that all was well, except that there was this issue of who could do the 2004 depositions. Hogan made the representation to the judge that Kobrin and Moxon were independent lawyers just the same as him and Seid, and whoever had time would do the depositions. Judge Weissbrodt then called Helena over to the mike and asked her how much work her firm did for RTC and all related corporations. Helena waffled a bit saying quite a lot, and the judge quickly cut her off by saying 'is it over 50%?.' Since just about *all* Moxon and Kobrin do is scientology related, she had to say yes. Judge Weissbrodt cut her off and said any exams had to be done by Seid or Hogan, she and other RTC types could not be present, and any transcripts had to be redacted by Seid or Hogan of information which could be used by RTC to bother employers, clients, contributors, doctors, or the like.
"A few days ago, I had filed a short declaration about the harassment RTC/SPC have been doing of my clients, and samples of the nasty DA posters put up around where I work and near my home by the RTC controlled Scientology Parishioners Committee. Naturally, Helena had to respond. She did so with a few postings of mine off the net which did nothing for them, and - with absolutely no explanation as to why or even *who* this person is - a copy of Judge Williams vexations litigant ruling on Graham. I had been racking my brain trying to come up with a justification to file the Cipriano declaration in my bankruptcy case, and Helena provided me with a perfect opening.
"All in all, a rewarding afternoon, especially considering that I had to be there anyway to file the appeal from Judge Wear's dismissal of the IRS case."
The Industry Standard published an article on career nights at the Palo
Alto Scientology org.
"The church's Palo Alto mission started hosting the lecture series in early August, featuring Scientologists prominent in the technology field. Critics say the church is trying to sucker unsuspecting job hunters into joining what many have labeled a cult, but a spokesman for the Scientologists says the group is just trying to provide an educational service to its technology-minded neighbors.
"At the first event, Craig Jensen, chairman and CEO of Executive Software, talked about how Scientology had helped him to find success in business, says church spokesman Mark Warlick. Carol Montgomery-Adams, VP of customer loyalty for the Sun-Netscape alliance, spoke last Wednesday at the second church-sponsored 'career night.' According to a company spokesperson, Montgomery-Adams spoke only about her career and made no mention of Scientology, although she is a practicing member of the church.
"'Carol's talk last week had nothing to do with religion,' says Sun-Netscape Alliance spokeswoman Mary Camarata. 'She was just sharing her career story at a career night in response to a personal invitation.'"
"Fier" protested at the Canberra, Australia org this week.
"Solo picket, midday - 1pm; My sign read '$cientology is a bait-and-switch SCAM' and '$cientology hates free speech.' The clam handlers no longer talk to me, even though I tried to engage them in conversation. I walked around, giving out my 100 Lisa leaflets quickly. The clams were bringing out 'drug free ambassador' signs, leaflets, even a table and chair when I started, but they quickly moved them back into the org when they saw me.
"One hostile non-staff long-time clam, whom I hadn't seen counter picketing before, ranted on about getting a Restraining Order on me, if I didn't leave her alone. Well, considering I was peacefully picketing, she was out there *because I* was, and the last RO attempt by someone failed miserably, I think her chances of getting one are nil."
Bruce Pettycrew picketed the Mesa, Arizona org this week.
"Kathy and I picketed the Mesa org from 8:45 to 9:15 this morning. No one was at the building when we started the picket. During the picket, 7 cars arrived with 8 people, and one bicyclist for a total of 9 members. No one came out to handle us. The large 'Church Picketers are Bigots' sign that we have seen only one time has certainly been a big waste of money for the Borg."
Tampa Weekly Planet
Following last week's interview with Clearwater Scientologists in the
Tampa Weekly Planet, a full page ad ran in this week's issue.
"Half the ad is a large 'space opera' painting with a pyramid in the distance The text reads: 'IF A RELIGION EMBRACED ALL FAITHS, ALL COLORS, ALL PEOPLE. IF IT GAVE HOPE TO THE BELIEVER AND THE UNBELIEVER ALIKE. IF IT COULD SET MAN FREE FROM PAIN, FROM GRIEF, FROM SUFFERING. IT WOULD CHANGE THE MILLENNIA AS WE KNOW IT.'"