Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 3, Issue 30
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
Jim Bohannon Show
Arnie Lerma appeared on the Jim Bohannon show this week, carried on the
Westwood One radio network.
"400+ stations This show was rebuttal to a show Jim Bohannon did with Heber Last week. Covered topics included : Heber in handcuffs see picture at lermanet.com, xenu, subliminal shock therapy-emeter, lisa, harassment as purpose of lawsuit, scientology attacks psychs cause competitors, world domination, How to find a ruin /recruitment techniques/ promise them anything, medical claims, lisamcpherson.org, xenu-city.net, xenu.net, lermanet.com.
"Appearing LIVE on the Show Nukewaster - Diane K, Jeff Jacobsen, Mecklar, Mark Dallara all got in great presentations. Frank Oliver estimates this cost OSA MINUS 100 Points... as a nationwide media hit."
Tilman Hausherr posted an update on the CAN files controversy this week.
"The hearing originally set January 6, 1999 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois regarding the disposition of the files of the original Cult Awareness Network (CAN) has been postponed to January 28, 1999. Scientologist Gary Beeny is seeking to have the CAN files transferred to him in satisfaction for a judgment he holds against the Cult Awareness Network. Beeny purchased the judgment from Jason Scott for $20,000. Scott obtained the judgment against CAN in 1996. CAN has a petition pending before the United States Supreme Court asking it to accept the Scott case for review. Beeny's attorneys pursuing seizure of the CAN files are David J. Letvin of the Chicago firm of Letvin & Stein and Kendrick Moxon, a 'reverend' in the Church of Scientology. CAN's attorneys are Chicago attorneys John Beal and Robert Markoff.
"Included among the files Beeny seeks are confidential letters from families and former members of controversial organizations, including checking account numbers of individuals who ordered tapes, books and information articles from CAN, and personal information about CAN's membership, such as their home address, phone number, history of donations to CAN, and reasons for their joining CAN. CAN's litigation records, including court pleadings, deposition transcripts, and attorney-client privileged communications, are among the files."
CULTinfo National Conference
A CULTinfo National Conference was announced this week to be held February
12-14 in Stamford, Connecticut.
"Come find out what has been happening in the cult awareness movement. The last national conference held by the Cult Awareness Network was 4 years ago. It has been four years since we've seen or heard from each other. New People have joined since then. This will be our chance to meet and: Re-energize Re-acquaint Re-focus.
"Janja Lalich and Ben Zablocki- Just exactly what is the process that changes our friends and family into persons we don't recognize any more? Is it called thought reform, mind control, coercive persuasion, or brainwashing? These two well respected authors and experts will also comment on new developments in their debates with apologists.
"Sandra Stephon - Hear the story of how one angry mom took on the cults in the Maryland State Legislature and won! Sandra has shown us a valuable weapon in our war against deceptive recruiting on college campuses. This encouraging development will energize you and show how you can use this tool in your state legislature.
"Steve Hassan - One of our country's leading authorities on cults and author of the best selling book 'Combating Cult Mind Control,' will be joined by noted cult specialist, Joe Szimhart for an important workshop entitled 'How to help a loved one in a cult.'
"Attorney Herbert Rosedale - President of the American Family Foundation and nationally acclaimed legal expert on cult related issues, Herb will speak along with Larry Zilliox, Police Officer Mark Roggeman and Dr. Herbert Neiberg on the Illegal Activities of Cults. You don't want to miss this session.
"James Randi will be the Saturday evening Keynote speaker. James Randi is a professional magician, known as 'The Amazing Randi.' He is the author of eleven books and an internationally known lecturer. He appears frequently on television and has done three world tours as a performer and lecturer through the Far East, Europe, Australia and North and South America. James will speak about deception and manipulation."
Bob Minton and Stacy Brooks announced changes to the organization of
Factnet, and the establishment of a sanctuary for former Scientologists to
come to put their lives back together on Vashon Island, Washington.
"Lawrence Wollersheim is taking a one-year sabbatical from his official duties as a director. After eleven years as a member of Scientology and eighteen additional years working to expose its criminal nature, Lawrence has made a decision to devote time to his family and his personal life for the next year. Grady Ward has just recently come on board as the FACTNet webmaster, so watch for substantial upgrades to our website in the coming months.
"We are also making plans for the establishment of a sanctuary. This will be a safe house where former Scientology staff and Sea Org members will have a chance to recover physically and mentally from their experience in Scientology while learning the basic skills they need to survive in the real world. Such things as how to create a resume, how to set up a bank account, how to establish credit, and other basic skills will be available for them to learn. Our vision is for these people to work at the sanctuary and earn money as they recover, so that by the time their stay is over they will have not only the skills but also the confidence and wherewithal to re-enter the real world as a functioning, contributing member of society.
"We plan to raise the funds to send as many people as possible to Wellspring, a therapy program run by people who are extremely knowledgeable about the cult experience and who have extensive experience in helping former cult members generally, and former Scientologists specifically.
"Our plan also includes organizing a conference for critics and former members. It is time to pool our resources and energy in an organized conference, and we hope it can happen in 1999. All who are interested in helping make this conference a reality please let us know.
"If you are a Scientologist or former Scientologist in need of help immediately, you can either email us at the above email addresses, or call us at the following phone numbers: FACTNet at 303-247-1327, Stacy's home on Vashon Island at 206-463-6809, or Bob's home in New Hampshire at 603-887-4145. If you need a place to stay, go to the sanctuary at 19731 Vashon Highway, Vashon, Washington. Fly to Seattle, get a ride to the Fauntleroy ferry dock, take the ferry to Vashon, and go six miles up the highway to 19731. You'll find friends there. You can rest assured you will find a safe haven."
Berliner Zeitung reported this week that the controversy over
Scientologist Pierre Denis in France is receiving notice in Germany.
"Nuclear engineer Pierre Denis from Lyon does not have difficulties with radioactivity. Radiating particles in the human body are primarily a mental problem, he stated on the internet in 1996. He thought the deadly particles, since they are soluble in water, can be 'sweated out' with a sauna cure. 'That is what we do in a nuclear energy plant: we wash things.' The Frenchman's explanation was labeled 'primitive, common stupidity' by nuclear biologist Wolfgang Koehnlein from Muenster. Actually, it could be passed off as a curiosity if Denis were not in line for one of the most important jobs in the French nuclear energy industry.
"Ursula Caberta, the Hamburg Scientology Commissioner, warned about the casual dealing of the adherents of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard with radioactive material. 'Anybody who believes in Hubbard's theories is lacking in awareness of reality - he would present an enormous risk in a high security area of the nuclear industry.' Scientologists actually believe that contamination can simply be 'washed away.' As regards atom-splitting, the former science fiction author Hubbard maintained that he was 'one of the first nuclear physicists of America.' In his book, 'All About Radiation,' he stated in 1957 that the greatest danger resulting from radioactivity was hysteria. Scientologists believe that they can immunize themselves from any radiation, even from the atom bombs of the Third World War, by 'auditing' and their self-discovered 'purification rundown' - excessive time in the sauna with high intake of vitamins. Along these same lines, nuclear engineer Pierre Denis, who described Hubbard's book as 'absolutely true, wrote on the internet, 'Scientologists can withstand radiation better if they have done the purification rundown, because they then begin from zero.'"
TAZ reports that Freiburg, Germany is prohibiting Scientology from selling books on public sidewalks and streets.
"So that strollers may continue unhindered, the City of Freiburg has prohibited the Scientology sect from selling books on the open streets to passers-by. The Freiburg Administration Court has ruled this process to be justifiable. At twenty marks per copy, the Scientology members have been trying to sell the book 'Dianetics' by their sect founder, L. Ron Hubbard, on Freiburg's back streets. However, the city has prohibited that because a special use permit is required sales. Scientology is not content to let things be. 'We are not selling any novels here,' said Dietmar Hamer of the local Scientology community. He further stated that this was not all that much about the sale of books, it was only a reason for speaking to interested passers-by. What they're allegedly trying to do is perform non-profit missionary work and recruit new members. According to the complaint, he said, this is a typical common use of public land.
"This argument, however, did not meet with success before the Freiburg Administrative Court. Scientology may perform missionary work by any means, but may not sell books these days according to court ruling. When twenty marks is required in return for a book, then that is an 'equitable exchange' of the type normally performed in book stores.
"This south Baden metropolis has been tough on Scientology for some time. In 1994, the city established that Scientology would no longer be able to offer 'free personality tests' in Freiburg's pedestrian zones. This activity had also been rated as 'commercial.' The organization was only trying to sell auditing courses for its sister organization in Basel [Switzerland, just across the national border], argued the city. That decision by the Freiburg Administrative Court was to be model for similar decisions nationwide.
"As a consequence, the approximately 50 members of the relatively small Scientology 'mission' were forced by the city to report their earnings. Scientology also protested this action, but once again lost before the Freiburg Administrative Court."
Gerry Armstrong posted an open letter to Scientology leader David
Miscavige this week, describing new evidence of Scientology's harassment
"You will recall that a cult operative broke into the trunk of my car in 1984 and stole my briefcase which contained about 300 original pages of my art, almost all handwritten or drawn. You will recall that my attorney Julia Dragojevic wrote to the org demanding return, and that your org attorney John Peterson answered, denying the theft and possession of my things.
"Recently I had the happy opportunity to talk with Jesse Prince about all this. Jesse stated that while inside he too was told by both you and Mark Rathbun about your agent's theft of my things from the trunk of my car and your having possession of them. Jesse recalled you describing my work as weird writing. You stole them, you know were they are and you can put your hands on them. Now get them back to me, and be known thereuntil as a thief."
Hartley Patterson reported this week on a protest at the London org.
"Tuesday 5 Jan 1999 London UK. Our first picket of the New Year was a short afternoon visit to the London org by Martin, Dave, Duke, myself and a guest SP from America. Dave sang some jolly ditties using his megaphone and a good few leaflets were distributed to shoppers up in town for the January sales. Response was minimal - a silent leafleter and a brief attempt at Handling Picketers Grade I: 'What is your problem?' 'Have you read any of Hubbard's books?'"
David Alexander protested at the Dallas org this week.
"Picket from 11:55am to 1:30pm. I reverted to the 'Scientology is Fraud' sign today. The issue was to expose 'fraudulent deception' by revealing sales promises that Scientology is compatible with Christianity--to close sales on the order of $500.00 to $150,000.00.
"I had much better public contact today, with people approaching me supportively. One woman told me of her daughter who disconnected from her after her marriage to a Scientologist. She found L. Ron Hubbard Jr's book and presented it to her. Now she has her daughter and grandson back in her life, minus her son-in-law."
Bruce Pettycrew on a picket in Mesa, Arizona:
"Kristi Wachter was in town, so we picketed from 3:30 to 5:00 Friday. Kristi and her friend joined Jeff Jacobsen, Kathy and myself in a picket that was covered by a reporter and photographer from the local edition of the New Times newspaper.
"The paper had called and told the cult that we would be there, so no handlers were present. After getting pictures and background from the picketers, the reporters went to the Org front door to get their reaction. DSA Leslie Duhrman appeared wearing a _clerical collar_ !!! I recall reading a directive that said that staff should all wear ecclesiastical garments for the press."
The National Enquirer published an article on the Lisa McPherson wrongful
death case, including interviews with Scientology's celebrities.
"Two of Hollywood's biggest stars--John Travolta and Kirstie Alley--have rallied to the support of Scientology which is charged in the horrifying death of an attractive young member. Late last year the religious organization was hit with two felony charges in the death of emotionally troubled Lisa McPherson, who died terribly emaciated and dehydrated after being 'treated' in isolation by Scientologists for 17 days.
"The controversial church soon found itself under siege, and both Travolta and Alley--devout Scientologists--appeared on the December 20 edition of ABC's '20/20' and returned fire at critics. Declared the 'Pulp Fiction' star: 'You can look at the origins of almost every religion and the first so many years they are attacked.' The 'Veronica's Closet' star asserted, 'If you divorce a woman, and she gives me her version of why she left you, how valid do you think it is?' When respected newsman Tom Jarriel asked Travolta if attacks on Scientology 'make your blood boil a little bit,' the angry actor replied, 'It's beyond blood boiling. We're talking about worldwide survival here.'
"But the tragedy didn't stop Travolta and Alley from singing the praises of Scientology on TV. 'I took a course, and my life has never been the same,' the former 'Welcome Back, Kotter' star told '20/20'. And Kirstie--who once abused drugs--boasted that after her initial Scientology session 'I never did drugs again or had the urge to do drugs again.'
"John Travolta and Kirstie Alley were not asked about the chilling death during their '20/20' appearance, but a source says their faith in Scientology remains unshaken. Although several other stars--including Tom Cruise--insist Scientology techniques enrich their lives and help with daily problems, critics are not hard to find. 'I'm outraged that John Travolta and Kirstie Alley are saying how wonderful Scientology is, while Lisa McPherson is dead,' fumed Arnie Lerma, ex-member and former financial manager for Scientology publications. 'They have become mindless robots for Scientology.'"
More on Scientology's celebrities this week, including news from the Star
magazine that Lisa Marie Presley plans to re-marry her husband, Danny
"The couple--shown in these photos with their two children, Danielle, 9, and Benjamin, 6--have been inseparable in recent months as Elvis' daughter tries to rebuild her life following her ill-fated marriage to Michael Jackson. Now she's telling pals Danny is the one she loved all along and she is making plans to get married all over again.
"Danny, 34, and Lisa Marie are both devoted Scientologists--and STAR has learned that the controversial group played a big role in healing the rift. They underwent vigorous relationship counseling at Hollywood's Scientology Celebrity Center in a shared attempt to rekindle their romance. 'It obviously worked,' says a source, who adds: 'I've never seen Lisa Marie so happy.'"
Also in the Star, John Travolta will be doing work for Scientology as a marriage counselor.
"John Travolta is getting a part-time job--he's going to become a marriage counselor for Scientologists. He and wife Kelly Preston have undergone intense relationship therapy at the group's L.A. headquarters, and now John's hoping to teach other Scientologists how to work through their marital woes. He's been studying for the job and hopes to start up after his latest movie wraps."
>From the Los Angeles Times, details of John Travolta's new movie, based on a novel by L. Ron Hubbard.
"Fans may think John Travolta's New Year's resolution should be to ditch his next movie - the film adaptation of a book by L. Ron Hubbard, the mediocre science fiction writer who founded the Church of Scientology, of which Travolta is a member. Battlefield Earth will cost $80 million to make and will feature the man from Grease as a 12-foot alien tyrant with a very big head."
Louis Jolyon West
Dr. Louis Jolyon West died this week of cancer. Dr. West was a
psychiatrist and a researcher on cults and mind control for many decades.
>From his obituary in the Los Angeles Times:
"West, who headed the department of psychiatry and the Neuropsychiatric
Institute at UCLA for 20 years, died Saturday of cancer at his Los Angeles
home. He was frequently sought out by the news media to offer insight
into such cults as Heaven's Gate, which staged a mass suicide in San Diego
County in 1997. West also served frequently as a court-appointed expert
psychiatrist. He examined such defendants as Jack Ruby--killer of
President John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald--and Patricia
Hearst, the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapping victim turned bank
"Ruby, West said, suffered from 'major mental illness apparently precipitated by the stress of [his] trial and its aftermath.' West's opinion forestalled Ruby's death sentence, and the convicted murderer died of cancer in prison. West was one of four psychiatrists named to examine Hearst before her 1976 trial in San Francisco. The panel found her sane and able to stand trial but, in West's words, 'psychologically damaged as a result of torture by the SLA.' The doctors urged that she be treated for mental illness before the trial, a recommendation ignored by the court. West said in a San Diego speech after her conviction: 'The government finished the destruction of her life started by an anti-government group.' President Jimmy Carter commuted Hearst's prison sentence in 1979.
"West studied torture and brainwashing during the Korean War, when he was an Air Force doctor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Asked to determine why American prisoners of war had falsely confessed to engaging in germ warfare, West determined that guilt could be instilled by solitary confinement and prolonged sleeplessness as well as by physical abuse. He continued his studies of brainwashing over the years, along with his work in post-traumatic stress syndrome, alcohol and drug abuse, pain, sleep problems, dreams and hypnosis. 'What happens in coerced confinement,' West once told The Times, explaining the behavior of cult members and kidnapping victims, 'can be called the three Ds--debility, dread and dependency. A prisoner is debilitated by inactivity, by sleep loss or, worse, by physical harm. He is filled with dread by constant threats of pain or death or harm to his family. He is rendered completely dependent upon his captors for information, food, shelter, life.'
"Among his many honors was the Leo J. Ryan Award from the National Cult Awareness Network. Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Kathryn Hopkirk West; a son, John; two daughters, Anne West and Mary Hawkins; and a sister, Nancy Wheeler of St. Paul, Minn. Funeral services will be private."