Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 6
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
The Edmonton Sun published an article May 2nd on a cult awareness
conference held in Edmonton.
"'I believe there are between 300 and 500 cults operating in Alberta, some as small as two people,' said Dr. Norman Costigan, who helped organize a cult awareness conference taking place in Edmonton this weekend. The term cult, he said, can be applied to any manipulative group which exploits its members, causing psychological, financial and physical harm. 'They are all about power and control. In this case, sexual power,' said Costigan, chief of psychiatry for the Red Deer-based David Thompson Health Region. His startling claim is based on more than 20 years experience working with cult survivors. "'Sometimes they will appear to be innocuous religious groups who start to worship a particular minister or leader,' said Edmonton social worker Marianne Wright, a speaker at the conference. 'They may also portray themselves as self-help groups, therapy groups or even commercial ventures.' Ritualistic sexual abuse, pornography and satanism may be involved, said Wright. She has dealt with cases where entire families are lured into a cult.
"Seductive charm and flattery are often used by cults to recruit new members. 'If someone offers you something that sounds too good to be true, it's probably some kind of a recruitment for a cult,' said U.S. researcher Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer. 'Watch out if someone says they are going to teach you to communicate better, to improve your personality or that they are going to give you enlightenment. 'If they say they are a direct pipeline to God or that they are in contact with flying saucers, the answer should be, let me out of here,' said Singer, also speaking at the conference. She said an estimated 20 million Americans are involved to some extent in 5,000 or more cults. "Church of Scientology spokesman Al Buttnor traveled to Edmonton from Toronto to attend the conference. 'Conferences like this breed intolerance of religious freedom,' said Buttnor, adding his church has been unfairly dubbed a cult. 'When you have unscientific ideas being bandied around and if you don't have people exposed to the other side, that's as much brain-washing or information management as so-called cults are accused of.'"
Oberoesterreich Online reported on May 3rd that Scientology is defending
against attempts to remove Scientologist from government service.
"Scientology Austria is defending itself against the endeavors of states dominated by the OeVP to remove Scientology members from state service. The Austrian presence of the business sect wants to introduce a lawsuit on maintaining 'freedom of belief and conscience' against several Austrian states. After Upper Austrian state official Franz Hiesl (OeVP) announced proposals of this sort, 'Format' reported in its most recent edition of similar considerations underway in the states of Lower Austria and Salzburg. Scientology spokesman Andreas Boeck confirmed the upcoming suit: 'A regulatory hysteria is upon us. It simply takes my breath away. We will fight that in the Constitutional Court. In any case we will sue.'"
The St. Petersburg Times reported on May 6th and 7th that the city of
Clearwater, Florida is modifying a plan to raise donations for the public
library due to concerns over Scientology.
"Imagine entering the new Clearwater Public Library sometime in the future, taking a book off the shelf and settling into a chair in the L. Ron Hubbard reading room. While I made up that scenario, it is just such a fear that has perplexed the Clearwater City Commission. On the one hand, the commission would like to encourage generous contributions to its proposed public library; on the other hand, the commission fears that some of those contributions will come from the Church of Scientology, which will then demand some public recognition of its gift.
"Commissioner J.B. Johnson suggested ruling out a whole class of potential contributors: churches. 'We should not be accepting money from religious organizations, whether it's the Scientologists or the First Baptist Church,' he said. Commissioner Bob Clark expressed concern about Scientology participation as well. 'It's unfortunate, but it's a fact of life, just as in other parts of the world something else would be inflammatory.'
"Hallam's proposed policy is reasonable: Acknowledge gifts with a 'discrete engraved plaque mounted on or near the gift.' That way, donors would be recognized but all of the plaques would be similar and no one gift would dominate the others. She would rule out naming buildings after any donor, and she would shy away from grandiose forms of recognition. But even a plaque referring to the Church of Scientology is sure to embarrass some and anger others. Given the church's past behavior, such reactions are understandable."
"City commissioners decided Thursday that they would rather collect less money for the new main library than allow controversial groups that make large donations to be recognized prominently. The Church of Scientology was not mentioned at the televised meeting, but commissioners have said they are uncomfortable with the church being named in a visible way on the library's walls. They voted unanimously to accept money from anyone but to recognize donors only discreetly on a small plaque instead of naming rooms or areas after large contributors.
"A handful of Scientologists attended the meeting but did not speak and declined to comment after the vote. Pat Jones, a church spokeswoman, said in a statement Thursday night that the church did not want to comment specifically on the policy. But the statement said, 'If the Church of Scientology itself makes a contribution to aid in its construction it will do so ... without any desire for or expectancy for credit.'"
Passauer Neue Presse reported on May 6th that the Youth Union in
Altoetting, Germany is warning against cults.
"One of the leaflets is concerned with Scientology. It describes its teachings and its 'ethics,' gives information about the structure of the sect and reveals the companies, magazine, associations and social groups behind which Scientology conceals itself. 'Scientology is a constant theme,' gave JU district chairman Stephan Mayer as a reason for the re-printing of the leaflet from the Bavarian JU.
"Nevertheless, Mayer and the Toeginger JU local chairman Martin Huber both agree that Scientology is not the most pressing problem in the district. It's a different story with the so-called Engelwerk, though. According to what Martin Huber knows, this group is on the advance in the district. He knows several people personally who have been affected. They are from the Burghausen areas, as well as from the western part of the district.
"In contrast to Scientology, whose members admit they are Scientologists, Engelwerk is a secret society; little of its structure has surfaced. Huber stated, 'The motto of the Engelwerk members is to be silent or lie.' People who end up in the clutches of Engelwerk, according to Huber, 'cut themselves off from the outside and live in a dream world' which puts criticism beyond their grasp."
Stavanger Aftenblad published an article this week on Scientology's
parishioners.org web site, which attempts to discredit critics of
"Matthias Fosse says: 'I have not yet checked if we are responsible. There are a lot of organizations in USA who monitor hate pages on the Internet, like the one Heldal-Lund has.' But mostly the focus on racists and history forgers, says Fosse. He denies that this is some sort of offensive against critics of CoS. Fosse is very relaxed about the whole issue.
"'The guy has been doing this for three years. At regular intervals Heldal-Lund claims we are out to get him. I think he is boring and repeat himself. He has an anti-religious basis for his activity. He is clearly against religion. He must count on people answers his allegations', says Fosse."
Protest / Revenge Summary
"Ethercat" reported revenge flyers at her home and "Wynot" described a
protest at the Atlanta org this week.
"Illegal activity by the Church of Scientology in Atlanta continues, as the ARSCC-ATL finds more 'Religious Bigot' flyers tacked to telephone poles. Some were put up either Sunday or Monday, more were put up yesterday. Again, we are leaving them up as evidence of lawbreaking by the 'Church'."
"Ethercat and I arrived at the cult's storefront at 4:00, signs ready. EC had the 'suppresses free speech and free thought', and I carried several signs, including the 'is a scam', and 'convicted in canada' backed with 'banned in greece', and the '$360,000 for Salvation?' sign. After about half an hour, a Saab pulled in, and two young women got out and headed for the door. They turned the handle, but could not get in! They had to pound on the door until someone came and unlocked it to let them in. Are they so afraid of one man and one woman with paper picket signs?
"After about an hour Linda came out and began following me as I picketed, attempting to engage me in conversation. I mainly ignored her, responding just a little for politeness's sake. The culties finally have a sign! Two, in fact - banners tied to posts, one for church of scientology, the other for hubbard dianetics foundation.
"As usual, they called the police, and as usual, the police officer told them that we had every right to picket. The nice officer did tell us that we could not go on their property, but we said we had no intention of doing that. The four of us picketed until just after 6:00."
"Realpch" in the San Francisco area reported revenge pickets every day this week.
"It was one of the people who had been here picketing on Friday. I took a look and no one was outside, but once again there were bigot flyers applied to my car. I would like to point out that my car is on my property, and no one has my permission to come on my property in order to leave flyers, least of all ones describing myself in a rude and scurrilous manner!"
"Home with the groceries at about 7pm, a solo picketer down at the end of the block hurries up so she can be right in front of my house as I get out of my car. This one is a sixtyish woman with a big sign, a fistful of what were undoubtedly 'Religious Bigot' flyers, and of all things, a pair of sunglasses. I called the police, and put away my groceries. I checked awhile later and indeed an officer was out front discussing matters with the Sunglasses Woman, and he said that he'd talk with me later. I fed the cats and checked in about 15 minutes, and they were still talking. When I checked in another 15 minutes, no one was there. I have no idea what happened."
"This afternoon while cleaning my living room I noticed that there were people picketing my house again. There was the shrill young blonde girl, the tall black man who had been here on a previous Friday, and the short blonde boy with the video camera. He was taping my front door, where nothing was happening! I called the police. Two officers came, asked for their names, which they would not give. The officers apparently asked them to leave, and on the way, take with them the flyers they had once again stuck into the chain link fence next to my house.
"It was quite the neighborhood drama. One policeman talking to the three Scientologists on the sidewalk, one talking to me on my porch, where I am afraid I lost my temper and loudly mentioned things like 'cult' and 'stalking', and in response to the suggestion that I come to an agreement with Scientology, 'I don't make deals with the devil!'"
Kristi Wachter also received revenge pickets.
"At least two revenge picketers, Craig and Nick, graced the sidewalk in front of my apartment building today. I noticed them at 1:50 and they were gone when I went down at 2:15 to say hello and engage in the obligatory photo shoot. They had affixed two bigot fliers to the gate of my building. In addition, yesterday, someone tossed two bigot fliers through the gate, where they sat, face down, unnoticed."
"Craig, Mick, and Joanna stopped by today for another quick revenge picket. I noticed them at around 2 pm and they left at about 2:15. Joanna had a new hand-lettered sign without a stick. Joanna asked me again, 'Don't you have a job?' even though we went over that last Thursday (I had explained that, as an independent contractor, I have a lot of control over when I work). Mick harped repeatedly on the psych history he's certain I must have, asking whether I'd taken my medication today and inviting me to tell him how psychiatry had helped me. I repeated for the umpteenth time that I'm not interested in discussing my personal life."
"My revenge picketers just left. It was the usual trio: Craig, Mick, and Joanna. Mick was wielding his trusty video camera, and Joanna had her hand-made sign again. They were here from about 3:45 - 4:15. I picked up the two bigot fliers they tossed through the gate - they've backed up an issue or two, and they're back to the ones with the decent picture of me, grinning, and calling me 'This woman' instead of 'Your neighbor.'"
"Representatives from Scientology picketed my apartment building again today. Bob was back this time, bringing the total to four - Bob, Craig, Mick, and Joanna. They arrived at around 2:10; I think they were only here for about 15 minutes, but I'm not sure."
Kristi also reported a protest in San Francisco this week.
"Start and End Times: 12:05 - 2:10 pm. Picketers: Kristi Wachter, Roop, Brent Stone, Administrati Number of Handouts given away: 115 - PLUS 30 Brent gave out.
"Almost immediately after I arrived, a bright young gentleman came over and started talking with me. He seemed pretty well informed about Scientology. Alas, I didn't realize he was actually a new picketer, come to join in the protest. We chatted all through the picket, and he gave his name/nickname as 'Roop'. About a half-hour into the picket, I unhooked my spare sandwich sign, so he had a sign to wear during the picket, and he did an excellent job of handing out fliers.
"Brent took occasional turns around the block, and when a parking space opened up near the org, he parked his van nearby, with his 'UFO CULT WITH PRISON CAMPS' sign on the back. I saw Mr. Lady I Work Here come out to the corner, stare intently at the sign, and zip back inside. As usual, many passing pedestrians and drivers shared our opinion of Scientology's unethical behavior, and lots of people honked and waved in support. One gentleman who took a flier said Scientology had killed a friend of his. We also had a lovely couple come strolling by who had both been involved in Scientology - the lady said she had been in really deep: they hadn't gotten much money from her, but she had been in the Sea Org. They got out of Scn, she said, when they met and fell in love - she said love has a way of getting people out of Scn.
"When I got home, there were a handful of bigot fliers awaiting me, evidence that my revenge picketers had paid me a call."
Bruce Pettycrew reported a protest at the CCHR office in Phoenix this week.
"Jeff Jacobsen and Kathy and I picketed the CCHR office in Phoenix today from 10:00 to 11:00 AM. The office was closed, but traffic was heavy and we handed out a number of pamphlets to people taking classes at the martial arts dojo next door to the CCHR office and to pedestrians. The Xenu handout was so popular that several young karate students came out for second copies.
"Jeff had a sign that said 'CCHR is Scientology' and 'Scientology is Dangerous'. Kathy and I had signs proclaiming 'CCHR Wants Bedlam Back' and 'CCHR Hurts Mental Patients'. I left copies of our Lisa McPherson and Xenu leaflets for the CCHR staff whenever they open the office; It was a single room with one desk. computer, and a table with several copies of a book that had Hitler on the cover.
Ted Mayett protested in Las Vegas this week.
"Little org, 6:07pm, 15 minutes. I was not paying attention and they got a picture of the sign. My plan was to hide the sign behind my back when they finally got around to taking the picture."
Tages-Anzeiger reported on May 5th that Scientology is launching a new
campaign against psychiatry in Switzerland.
"A glossy-paged booklet entitled 'Psychiatry deceives children and puts them on drugs' lists the alleged sins of psychiatrists. The pamphlets were sent to Kindergartens, schools, social institutions, agencies, politicians, and others. Numerous recipients were shaken up and puzzled as to who was behind the booklets. One had to look at the booklet closely and be well-informed in order to make the connection [to Scientology]. The publisher was listed as the 'Citizens Commission on Human Rights' (CCHR) on 141 Badener Street in Zurich. That is the address of the huge Scientology center.
"The concurrently appearing Scientology 'Freedom' magazine echoes the message, 'The waste of billions in public money pales in comparison with the spread of social harm caused by the infiltration of psychiatric ideas into the schools' presence, into the justice establishment, and even into the churches,' it states in poorly worded language.
"The Scientologists put up posters and distribute leaflets which summon victims of psychiatry to the Scientology center. These depict a screaming person receiving an electroshock. 'What is happening behind the walls of our psychiatric clinics must be brought to light. Your testimony is important to that,' state the posters and leaflets. No reference is made to Scientology."
Tages-Anzeiger also reported that Scientology is not yet ready to move out of its large Zurich headquarters.
"Scientology has not left the big center on 141 Badener Street as predicted this spring. 'We'll stay a few more months,' said press spokesman Juerg Stettler. The organization is obviously having trouble finding new office space. At one time it had wanted to rent offices in Albisrieden, but the other renters there mounted a protest."
The Irish Times published an article on Scientology celebrity John
Travolta on May 4th.
"Some might say that, in his co-starring real-life role (with Tom Cruise) as the movie business's best-known Scientologist, he still may not be surrounded by the best-intentioned people. 'Well, there's eight million people who take it seriously around the world, so that's serious stuff. I've been involved with Scientology for 24 years, and it's saved my ass lots of times. I think that decent people respect other people's religion. The opinions of less decent people, who won't respect my beliefs, is not interesting to me anyway. But it's naive to think that any new religion will not have trouble surviving in the midst of more established religions.'"