Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 10
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 case against Scientology in France is set to resume following the
mysterious disappearance of the case files. A rough translation from
Liberation on June 3rd:
"The judge Marie-Paule Morrachini, who started the instruction since 1989, is yet unable to explain why files disappeared from that affair. On May 24th, it should ask before the accusation chamber the continuation of the judiciary information against the cult, under counts of fraud and illegal medicine practice. The Parquet also asked for the instruction judge to be replaced... as Marie-Paule Morrachini has treated this affair quite strangely.
"On 20th September 1999, should be open in Marseilles a suit. The counts are the same than in Paris: fraud and illegal medicine practice."
Scientology has lost the right to call itself a registered association in
Munich, according to a June 2nd article in Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
"The Scientology Church Celebrity Center Munich, reg. ['registered association'] has had its legal capabilities as a registered association revoked by the city administration officials. However, the aggressive psycho-cult is fighting for the status of an 'idealistic' association and is suing in the Munich Administrative Court today. It does not want to give in to the pressure by the codes office and have to become an ordinary business.
Almost exactly 15 years ago, the city succeeded on the first try in redesignating a Munich 'Scientology Church' as commercial enterprise. In the second attempt before the Bavarian Administrative Court, a compromise had to be agreed upon. In principle, nothing has changed in the city's accusations. The gist of it is that an association which first subjects its members to a sort of brainwashing and then commercially exploits them has forfeited its right to invoke a so-called 'idealistic' purpose. In reality, Scientology is only concerned about making sales.
"The city is pursuing a specific goal in withdrawing the association's legal capability: while an 'idealistic association' is less marked by creditor protection and is restricted by the regulations on the requirement to apply for bankruptcy by the board and the liquidation of the association, 'legal entities' are subject to the trade law in the interest of creditor mandated regulations on minimum capital assets, requirements for publication and review of balance statements. Besides that the intention is to avoid the possibility that interested parties would believe that services could be sold more favorably from a registered association than from within the competitive structure organized by trade law."
>From Spiegel on June 3rd:
"It is a serious loss for the controversial Scientology organization. The 'Celebrity Center' in Munich must now do business as a commercial enterprise. Now Scientology must keep balance sheets and is subject to audit, and must be able to show that it has minimum capital assets. This is mainly of advantage to creditors who have no assets they can demand in repayment from groups which have the status of 'association.'
"Scientology Church Germany (registered association) is appealing this decision. It says the judgment disregards the decision of a federal administrative court. It alleges that the 'Celebrity Center' and the Scientology Mission in Munich do not at all compete for customers in regards to their courses."
>From Main Post on June 4th:
"Bavarian Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein (CSU) welcomed the decision by the Munich Administrative Court on the Scientology organization. It will help protect customers in the psycho-market from the machinations of Scientology, related Beckstein yesterday in Munich. The biggest effect of the decision will be in debt collection. Creditors enjoy a relatively small amount of protection when dealing with 'registered association.' If there are no assets at hand, their requests for payment will go unanswered. In contrast, legal entities of the trade law, of which Scientology is now one, must maintain a minimum capital investment, keep balance sheets and are subject to audit."
Berliner Zeitung reported on May 27th that Otto Dreksler is asking for compensation for an investigation into whether he was a Scientologist.
"Police Director Otto Dreksler, who was wrongly suspected of being a Scientologist by the state office for Constitutional Security in March 1998, and who was suspended from duty for several months because of that, has filed a complaint for slander, defamation and insult. Besides that, the police director intends to sue the state of Berlin for damages, said Dreksler's attorney, Johann Schmid-Drachmann on Wednesday.
"After the Scientology Affair, the state office for Constitutional Security has not been able to stay out of the headlines. Now an anonymous letter has appeared which, in the estimation of Constitutional Security agents, has come straight out of the 'Inner Circle' of the state office as it reveals intimate details about the staff and their failure in the critical examination of Dreksler. Besides that an undercover man has identified himself as having previously worked for the state security organ of the DDR, and as being the one who had identified Dreksler last year as a Scientologist. The man, who is currently 76 years old, blames the agency for the failure and now asserts that he had never seen Dreksler with the Scientologists.
"Constitutional Security chief Vermander and Interior Senator Eckart Werthebach (CDU) so far have no comment in response to the accusations. The letter is said to be 'an outright fake' only in the state office and in the Senate interior administration. Among the Constitutional Security staff though, unrest has been growing in the meantime about management, which has not publicly defended itself against the accusations. 'Everybody is shaken up here,' said a source in the state office. The agency's reform which was announce in Spring by the interior senator has not made any headway. As reported, Werthebach intended to tighten up the departments, separate the functions of 'Information Acquisition' and 'Evaluation,' and institute rotation of staff. 'A couple of positions were dropped, but nothing else has happened,' criticize Constitutional Security agents."
Keith Henson reported that he lost the appeal of Scientology's judgment
against him. Scientology was awarded $75,000 for copyright violation when
Keith posted the secret NOTS 34 level.
"Just got word from the 9th after almost three months. Flat lost."
Keith Henson protested at the San Jose org this week.
"Memorial day, half hour around 3 pm. 38 cars in the lot, fair degree of traffic. Two of us, me and 'The Stunning Brunette.' Next to no response from the staff, though they sure knew we were there. No flyers handed out because I was completely out of them, having given away close to 200 of them at a recent function."
Report from Barb who protested in San Diego.
"It was a nice surprise to get email from Xenubat, who was to be in town for a day or so. She'd gotten with Conner3, and decided to launch a San Diego picket! It was around 4:00 pm, and rush hour traffic was just beginning. They were already in action when I arrived; Conner handed me a sign and a fistful of flyers, off I went. I picked the northeast corner of the signaled intersection, with two one-way streets; I got all the stopped traffic south and west.
"Guy comes up to me; pleasant enough, asks for a flyer. I hand him the story of Xemu. He asks for another one. I hand him the Lisa McPherson flyer. He asks for another one. I give him 'It's a Kwazy Kult!' He asks for another one...I suddenly twig. 'You're one of THEM, aren't you?' I say, whereupon he takes my picture a couple of times and goes back to hovering damply by the door of the bOrg, watching Conner and Xenubat spreading that entheta!
"Throughout the course of the 2 1/2 - 3 hour picket, we were routinely honked at, waved to, and thumbed up. We all got in Conner3's car and prepared to leave. A red car, following us! Conner3 whips into one of those parking lots that takes up a whole block, and pulls over to the attendant. Meantime, the clams have followed us into the lot. Seeing us speak with the attendant, they race on through and go southbound. We, however, do a U and head north, around the block, and thence to The Field, an Irish pub on 5th Ave. where Guinness is on tap."
>From Sue M.:
"Conner had some extra signs in his car, so I used one of those; the one I carried said 'Great lies exposed' on one side and 'www.xenu.net, www.scientology-kills.net, www.entheta.net' on the other side; Conner had one that said 'Scientology indicted on two counts in death of Lisa McPherson' on one side, and I forget what the other side said; he had an extra sign that Barb used that said something like 'Scientology is a $360,000 space alien cult' on one side, and I think the other side was about the OT-8 cognition, 'find out who you really are'. Conner had some 'Lisa', 'Space Alien Scam' and 'Insane Cult' flyers, and I also had a bunch of 'Scam' and 'Insane Cult' flyers as well as copies of the 'Xemu' flyer. I was also wearing my 'Who Is Xemu?' T-shirt (with the first page of OT-3 on the back).
"Reaction from the public was favorable; we got a number of thumbs-ups and car honks from cars going by, as well as some thumbs up from a number of passengers on the San Diego Transit buses (one bus driver also honked at us and gave us a thumbs up). Several other pedestrians said things like 'I agree with you!' and I know there was one guy walking down the other side of the street who started applauding! It also looked like some people who worked at the other businesses across the street were standing outside and watching us. I think I handed out maybe a dozen flyers; I'm not sure how many Conner handed out, but I think he ran out of 'Lisa' flyers. I'm not sure how many flyers Barb handed out, either, but I know she had to come back twice to get more!"
>From "Realpch", who protested in San Francisco:
"It was the regular cast of characters, the people driving by in cars, the pedestrians, us picketers, and of the people going into the Scientology Org. We did what we always do, waved, smiled and handed out flyers. There was a lot of traffic in and out of the Org, and an older blonde woman who turned up with a little girl hung out in the front. At one point I heard her telling the child that we were pathological liars! I must say, I do not approve of giving children incorrect information."
Scientology is attempting to obtain the identity of "Safe", who has posted
to a.r.s material from Introduction to Scientology Ethics. From
Scientology lawyer Ava Paquette:
"I am counsel with the law offices of Moxon & Kobrin, which, along with the New York law firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C., represents Bridge Publications, Inc. ('BPI') in this matter.
"I make this declaration pursuant to 17 U.S.C. & 512(h), which is one of the provisions of the 'Digital Millennium Copyright Act' (the 'Act'). That section of the Act states that '[a] copyright owner or a person authorized to act on the owner's behalf may request the clerk of any United States district court to issue a subpoena to a service provider for identification of an alleged infringer in accordance with this subsection.'
"On May 26, 1999, I was informed that someone had made two unauthorized, verbatim Internet postings of BPI's copyrighted works known as 'PR Series 18', 'Suppressive Acts' and 'Offenses and Penalties', under the email address and name safe2WC@worldnet.att.net. Therefore, on behalf of BPI, I immediately notified AT&T, the Internet service provider through which the infringing postings were made, of this claimed infringement and requested the identity of the infringer.
"I declare that the purpose of the subpoena requested by BPI is to obtain the identity of an alleged infringer, specifically, the individual responsible for the claimed infringements identified in paragraph 4 above. This information will only be used for the purpose of protecting those rights provided for under the Act."
Wired News carried a story on the subpoena on June 3rd.
"An anonymous online critic of Scientology is the subject of a legal complaint targeting newsgroup postings of church doctrines. It is the latest move by the church to prosecute what it maintains are copyright abuses online. Attorneys for Scientology-backed Bridge Publications have served AT&T WorldNet with a subpoena demanding that the Internet service provider reveal the identity of an online critic. The WorldNet subscriber said that he wants to remain anonymous, afraid that the Scientologists will harass him because of his views about the church. 'I am scared of this church,' he said in a phone interview on Wednesday. 'Can you believe that? [A] church is supposed to be there for spiritual redemption and I'm freaking scared of them?'
"The man, who goes by the alias Safe, said that it's a Catch-22 situation: He can keep AT&T from revealing his identity by arguing against the subpoena in court. But if he chooses to argue in court, he must identify himself. If he doesn't argue the subpoena, AT&T will be forced to comply and will reveal his name to the Scientologists.
"AT&T representative Jonathon Varman said that the ISP had not yet complied with subpoena, and that its legal team was evaluating how to proceed. 'We are looking for a way to do the best for our customer and still comply with the courts,' Varman said. Phillips said that AT&T had not complied with the subpoena but had asked instead for an extension, since the original subpoena had a Wednesday deadline.
"Dan Leipold, an attorney who has represented a number of defendants against suits brought by Scientologists, said that Safe had contacted him for representation in this case. Leipold said that the Scientologists have named two of Safe's postings in the subpoena (here and here). One of the postings contains a list of crimes, according to Scientologists. The list includes items such as 'Discourtesy and insubordination' and 'committing a problem,' as well as 272 other crimes.
"Safe, ironically, considers himself to be a Scientologist. While he disagrees with the teachings of current church leaders, he said that he lives his life by the principles laid out by Scientology's founders."
>From CNET News on June 3rd:
"Raising new issues about anonymity on the Net, the Church of Scientology is invoking a law past last year to force AT&T to disclose the identity of an Internet service subscriber who allegedly infringed the church's copyrights online. Invoking a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Bridge Publications filed a subpoena on AT&T that would require it to turn over the name of the Worldnet subscriber. 'I'm not aware of anyone who has yet to use the subpoena procedure,' said Eric Goldman, an attorney representing ISPs at Cooley Godward. Goldman added that the provision gives copyright holders powerful new ammunition to learn the identity of alleged infringers. 'If they can make a colorable claim that someone is infringing those rights then they have the power to force service providers to hand over disclosure information pretty much at the owner's request,' Goldman said. 'I'm not sure [the provision] is the death of anonymity on the Net,' he added. 'It just makes it easier to squash anonymity if the person was using weak tools to hide their anonymity.'
"In a telephone interview, the poster, going by the pseudonym 'Safe,' said AT&T had agreed to delay complying with the subpoena until at least tomorrow to give his attorney time to figure out how to proceed. Regardless, Dan Leipold, Safe's counsel and an attorney who has done battle with Bridge Publications in the past, said he was concerned the law was being misused against his client. 'This individual has not been shown to do anything wrong and yet he's going to lose his anonymity,' said Leipold, who declined to name the author. 'He's worried. He does not want to give up the anonymity because he knows who's on the other side and he knows what they'll do to him.'
"According to one of the offending Usenet postings, the church goes so far as to make it a 'high crime' for followers to 'Organize splinter groups to diverge from Scientology practices still calling it Scientology or calling it something else.' In all, the post, which purports to cite the Introduction to Scientology Ethics, lists 274 'errors, misdemeanors, crimes, and high crimes' against the Church. Leipold argued that despite the large amount of text quoted verbatim, the posting fell under so-called fair use exceptions to the copyright law. Fair use provisions permit parties to reprint copyrighted work depending on the purpose, the amount of text quoted, and other factors. 'If you're trying to illustrate the point that they exert control over their members, you can't do it by quoting only five or six rules,' Leipold said. 'You've got to look at what the scope is.'"
Safe's identity may be produced as early as Monday.
"AT&T is going to produce my name unless I can find an attorney to File a Motion to Quash the subpoena by the close of business, East Coast time, this coming monday. I'm desperately trying to find a New York attorney to do this. But I'm having an extremely difficult time getting an attorney to accept the case especially on such a rush notice. Right now I'm at a loss and feel helpless. Nobody seems to want to take on the Church of Scientology. AT&T COULD give me more time to get help, but their attorney Michael Lamb is adamant about my Monday deadline ... probably because they know how ruthless the Church of Scientology can be. So they are giving in to their pressure."