Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 24
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
Court files in a criminal case against Scientologists in Marseilles have
been destroyed, leading to speculation that Scientology was involved in
the operation. From the Associated Press on September 8th:
"France's Justice Ministry opened an investigation Wednesday into the destruction of evidence against the Church of Scientology in a Marseilles court. 'I will shed light on this malfunction,' said Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou. 'It's serious that this evidence has disappeared.'
"Marseilles court officials alerted the Justice Ministry to the removal of more than three tons of evidence in August, saying the destruction appeared to be accidental. The Marseilles prosecutor's office said in a statement that the disposal of certain sealed files was a result of 'negligence' by a court clerk and not an intentional act.
"The documents relate to an investigation opened in 1990 against regional Scientology leaders in the southern coastal cities of Marseilles and Nice for alleged fraud and illegal practice of medicine. Seven of those leaders are scheduled to go on trial Sept. 20. The destruction of the evidence will not delay the trial, the officials said. According to a lawyer representing the plaintiff, a former Scientologist, the evidence destroyed includes financial statements, notes concerning Scientology members and apparatus known as 'electrometers,' designed to measure 'self-control.'"
>From the Guardian on September 9th:
"France's continuing battle with the Church of Scientology took a bizarre twist yesterday as the justice ministry announced an inquiry into the mysterious destruction of more than 3.5 tonnes of evidence against the organisation held in a Marseilles courthouse. According to the state prosecutor the evidence, including dozens of sealed files, was apparently shredded through the negligence of a court clerk, not as a deliberate attempt to affect the outcome of a case against several Scientology leaders in the south of France.
"But the incident follows the suspicious disappearance last year of one and a half volumes of a 10-volume mass of evidence against the church in an almost identical case in Paris. The office of the prime minister, Lionel Jospin, issued an immediate statement: 'The question must once again be asked as to whether certain services of the state have not been infiltrated by sects. Such a question cannot afford to wait long for an answer.'" >From Agence France Presse on September 8th:
"'I want the whole truth', said Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou after an official government panel expressed concern that scientologists may have infiltrated the French administration. 'Was it an error? Was it sabotage?' she asked when speaking to reporters about the incident. 'It seems a priori to have been an error ... But I want full light shed.' "'The case is ready and is complete. There's no reason to delay the trial,' deputy prosecutor Yves Le Baut told AFP. He could not say when or how the documents were destroyed, simply that 'a certain number of boxes' were involved. Seven scientology officials who operated in Nice and in Marseilles are to face charges -- notably of fraudulent business practices -- following complaints filed almost 10 years ago by followers. These included a French businessman, Raymond Scapillato, who fell seriously ill after attending a scientology course. "A spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology, Danielle Gounord, said the organisation had nothing to with the missing documents. 'I'm as surprised as you are,' Gounord told AFP, adding that the charges facing the seven was 'a local-level aberration' that 'has nothing to do with the general way the Church of Scientology operates.' But France's inter-ministerial committee against sects -- scientologists are considered to be part of a sect in France -- said in a statement that it was 'stupefied' by the destruction of the documents. 'The question arises again of knowing whether certain state offices have been infiltrated by sectarian groups. There must be no delay in answering this question.' it said in a written statement. The deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Socialist member Raymond Forni, also suggested a conspiracy was at work. 'I don't believe for a minute that they were destroyed accidentally,' he said."
Reuters reported that some are calling for Scientology to be banned in France following the destruction.
"French Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou on Thursday raised the prospect of banning the Church of Scientology as investigators probed how legal documents that could have been used as evidence against the movement had vanished. 'Sects, and this one in particular, are extremely powerful ... and I think they should be prevented from doing any harm,' she told RTL radio. Asked about a call by Alain Vivien, the head of an interministerial committee investigating sects, to ban the Church of Scientology, she said: 'I think that actually one can raise the question.'
"A lawyer on Thursday charged that legal documents had vanished in a case involving a Scientology member -- the third such case in a year. He said they disappeared as the file was being transferred from a court in Verdun, in eastern France, to Caen in the west. But Caen Prosecutor Eric Enquebeck said some documents had been withdrawn from the file on a court order because they were obtained in irregular circumstances. Other documents reported missing were in the process of being transferred, he said. The case involves charges by a young Scientology member that her mother tried to kidnap her to force her to leave the Church."
Scientology responded to the accusations. From Agence France Presse:
"The 'Church' of Scientology demanded an apology from the French Justice Minister, who is may have speculated about the possible involvement of Scientologists in the destruction of evidence in Marseilles, in the South of France. The French justice minister, Elisabeth Guigu 'has a responsibility to undertake a thorough investigation of these false accusations, instead of engaging in irresponsible speculation' according to Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology, in a public statement Thursday in Los Angeles. 'I hold the minister personally responsible for any harm that may come to any member of the Scientology community because of these statements', he added."
Berliner Zeitung reported on August 28th that a court order now prevents
the airing of a ZDF film on Scientology's involvement in real estate.
"Hamburg Scientology Commissioner Ursula Caberta has gotten a temporary restraining order against ZDF in the Hamburg State Court. Based on her claim, the court prohibited further distribution of a film broadcast by ZDF last week, 'Das Netz - Scientology and the Real Estate Market,' because it contains statements which discredit her, stated the Interior Agency on Friday. ZDF announced that it would fight the order with all legal means available."
Suedwest Presse published an article on September 10th on the size and danger presented by Scientology.
"Is Scientology just a hollow, greatly over-estimated bogey man? That is what Fritz-Achim Baumann, at least, believes; he is the just retired chief of the State Office for Constitutional Security in Nordrhein-Westfalen. He now advises against further waste of state undercover resources for the surveillance of Scientologists. Scientology is now said to number just 5,000 in Germany. Even though the organization is said to have undemocratic goals, they are allegedly not being realized. Even though it has allegedly infiltrated business, it was said not to be to a great extent. Ergo, Scientology would not be a case for Constitutional Security, but for sect commissioners, believes Baumann, who thereby runs into a misunderstanding with Helmut Rannacher, his Baden-Wuerttemberg colleague. His office will be releasing a brochure in the next few days which alerts people to Scientology.
"How ex-Constitutional Security agent Baumann comes up with a membership number of 5,000 will remain his secret. There are no official membership lists. Besides that the number of members is irrelevant. According to internal strategy documents, the Scientologists have brought the bulk of their activities underground. Business and political power is to be obtained primarily through cover organizations."
Karin Spaink reported this week that Scientology has appealed a court
decision that allows her to keep advanced Scientology materials on her web
"Yesterday night, upon arriving home after a rather adventurous and time-warped day, I found a huge fax. A 29-page appeal against the June 9, 1999 ruling. RTC etc appeal on all possible counts, and against all parties. That means that my page will again be the subject of a court case."
"Don NOTs" reported on the proceedings at a recent Career Night at the
Palo Alto org.
"As I entered the Org a pretty, young Ronbot handed me a small leaflet with the words 'If you want to know about That Guy' referring to Henson. The leaflet read: 'The people who have come here to protest have absolutely no first hand knowledge of anything they are supposedly here to talk about. They belong to a tiny handful of bigots. They are picketing in support of their fellows who insisted on breaking the law by violating the Church's copyrights. The Church was forced to take them to court to protect their copyrights. One fellow lost his jury trial last month when it was found he 'willfully' violated copyright law. The jury awarded the Plaintiff $75,000.
"Once inside, I paid my $17 dollar admission fee and was handed a blue manila folder containing a paperback copy of 'Ethics and the Conditions', a yellow flier exhorting me to sign up for the 'Personal efficiency Course', the ubiquitous Personality Test, and a High Tech Career Night questionnaire. The questionnaire wanted to know my address, phone and email details as well as questions about my career goals and what was preventing me from accomplishing them. The room contained about thirty chairs and a rostrum. The left wall was the library, a collection of works from El Fraud Hubbard. The opposite wall had small bulletin board with a total of 23 student report graphs tacked to it. Behind the rostrum were tacked six handwritten success stories.
"I settled down in my chair inside the Palo-Alto bOrg to listen to what Carol Montgomery-Adams, AOL/Netscape Vice President of Marketing for Electronic Commerce and $cientology shill had to say on the subject of 'Marketing Strategies for the Internet'. She opened her talk by recommending everyone in the audience read 'Ethics and the Conditions' by L. Ron Hubbard. She said that she read it a year and a half ago and that it helped her go from Director to Vice President much faster than normally possible. She spoke about how marketing strategies can be related to Scientology: 'Nothing will work if you don't believe you can be successful.' She then talked about how the $cientology 'Personal Efficiency Course' would help people accomplish their goals.
"Her talk concluded with a brief question and answer session. 'Have you brought a lot of $cientology into Sun?' I asked. 'Every marketing plan I work on the first question I ask myself is, 'what kind of [ethics] condition is it in?'' The 'Industry Standard' incorrectly reported that Carol Montgomery-Adams did not talk about Scientology. This is not true. If either Sun or $cientology claim otherwise, they are either uninformed or lying."
Protest / Revenge Summary
Kristi Wachter reported on a picket this week at the San Francisco org.
"Picketers: Phil Scott, Keith Henson, Kristi Wachter, Administrati, Brent Stone, Peaches, phr, SP:Ultra. Number of Handouts given away: 253 (upstat!).
"Somewhere between 12:30 and 1, I think, a police car stopped in the traffic lane closest to the org and the officer went inside. He was inside for a LONG time - maybe half an hour or more. When he finally emerged, he said nothing to us, just hopped into his squad car and drove away - but not without a friendly wave to us.
"With the large number of picketers, we were able to cover more territory - Brent found that he gave away many more fliers by simply going around the block (Market Street has lots of foot traffic), and I crossed to the other side of the street whenever tall trucks parked in front of the org and obscured my sign. Each time someone arrived, a Scientologist would pop out of the org to take pictures - usually Josh or Nice Mark. When Administrati got ready to leave at about 1:45, I herded everybody together for some group photos, and Mark came over and got some, too. We all posed obligingly for Mark."
"Meklar" reported a picket at the Sacramento org this week.
"Jour was the special out-of-town guest picketer. Naturally she came in her red picketing 'jamies, 'Scientology is Breaking the Law' picket sign, and Lisa M. fliers. I showed up with 24 'Scientology Kills' tee shirts which I planned to give away to interested people. Jour started out by walking up and down G St., while I waited across the street with my trusty camera to record the reaction from the Org. It took about five minutes before the Org knew that they were being picketed. When they realized it was someone new they trotted out their camera and soon Jour had nine, count 'em, nine handlers. One of the Orgs actions' was to quietly send single members down the street in different directions. After a few minutes they members would walk back down the street and back in to the Org.
"After a time one of the female handlers, Picture Girl, waved me over to join them and called out my name. When she wanted to see my shirts I let her look at one. She read the URL on the back, WWW.XENU.NET, she ask me what X-E-N-U meant, so I ask here what her case level was. She looked at me for moment, so I repeated myself. She then said that it must be a site where adulterated NOTS must be. I replied that she should look for herself to which she replied that she was not interested in anything adulterated.
"About 6:30 pm Joe (Name Changed) knocked on my door and wanted me to know that I had been counter picketed. His wife had told him of pervious instances, but he did not believe her until he saw it with his own eyes. It was the usual 3 religious bigots counter picketers with Picture Girl taking videos of their own counter picket. Joe (Name Changed) gave the counter picketers the finger as he drove by them. He also reported that a resident was in a heated debate with one of the counter picketers."
"Meklar" also reported that Scientology is phoning his neighbors, hoping to have him evicted.
"His neighbors in his apartment complex have been receiving telephone calls from the Sacramento Org about a 'religious bigot' living near them. Meklar says: 'It is obvious that these phone calls are designed to have the complex manger evict me.'"
"Joseph" and "Fier" reported picketing the Canberra, Australia org.
"We started about 12pm with 2 signs and loads of Xenu and 'why we picket' leaflets. At the start there was just the 3 of us and the one ronbot (the ethics officer). We started handing out leaflets and he was handing out his. We provide one of ours for every one of his. After about a 1/2 hour another woman appeared who Hemi identified as 'OSA' - Lara. She started taking loads of pictures of us, but strangely enough didn't seem to want hers taken? I managed to lock down one cultie in discussion and he told me about how scientology has helped him. So I asked him if it had really been the courses or was he so determined that he was improving HIMSELF WITHOUT THEIR HELP. Shortly after this OSA Lara grabbed said cultie and they had a chat.
"I had 100 copies of Wulfen's 'The Human Cost' with Kristi Watcher's 'Why I'm picketing' on the reverse, and they all went to good homes, and so did at least 50 XEMU, WHO IS flyers. Our signs were new and improved; I had the '$cientology KILLS' on mine, readable from 100 feet away, and MR Smith liked the '$cientology is a $cam of Galactic Proportions' addition to his sign. The clams were a little talkative today, maybe the effects of terror the OSA had instilled in them last time (so they wouldn't talk) was wearing off, as it had been a week since the last picket.
"Two new 'public' clams counterpicketted today, with the regular bunch (OSA, Ethics, and 'the other 2') plus da boss man put in an appearance. Or he did, for a while, until it is possible my sign touched his shoulder (I doubt it did) and he sulked, ranting assault, looking for witnesses and slithered back into the org to call the police. The 2 new counter picketers were talkative and 50% friendly, and were addressing the issues we raised, albeit from a misguided and uninformed basis, but that was a good sign."
"AndroidCat" reported on a protest at the Toronto org.
"10am to 5pm (lunch break from 12:30ish to 2pm). Over 1000 flyers handed out. 800 from Gregg, 100 from Mike, 100 from me, and extras from Gregg's car. Attendees: Gregg, Alan, myself, ex-scientologists David and Mike. Once again we had to go through the drill with the off-duty police officer (*Ka-Ching*!). Co$ was claiming that the public sidewalk under their overhang was their property. They tried that a while ago, and were shot down - since Gregg didn't have the proof on hand *this* picket, he let it go. It didn't affect us at all. To greet us were the usual bunch: Andy Hill, Dan, and others.
"They were handing out the 'kiddy pictures in the internet' DA with an Orientation slip inside. In the afternoon, they added a Dianetics flyer. They had an emeter, old black job, and table to do 'Dianetics Stress Tests'. One dirty tricks handler tried to third-party Gregg to me with news that Gregg had long ago posted to ars. And he tried to quiz me about why I wasn't working at the company that Peter Ramsay had tried to Fair Game me at. I'd left long before Peter sent his letters."
"Xenubat" and "Barb" protested at the San Diego org this week.
"We started hiking to the org around 3:30, armed with signs and fliers. Xenubat's sign asked if the Bridge really cost $360,000, the reverse was a Space Alien Scam sign. My sign said, 'Omigod! Scientology Killed Kenny' and a graphic of Kenny on one side, and 'Ron is gone, but the con lives on' on the reverse. We had Lisa and Xenu fliers, along with some Bowfingers. We unwrapped our signs just south of the org, and walked past it to the corner, where our signs were more visible. A couple of guys came out of the org and hung around by the door, staring at us. Just as they emerged, a car came down 4th Avenue. The driver honked at us, raised his fists, and yelled, 'Yeah!'
"Presently, we were approached by a young German man who came from the org. We offered him fliers, which he accepted. He then asked us who was paying us. 'The psychs!,' I said. 'The psychs are paying us. Or is it the Marcab Federation this month?' I can't keep track; between the Marcab palladium, the checks from the psychs, and Minton bucks, it's no wonder my finances are in confusion!
"A video team from Helix High School approached us, and said they were lucky to find us, as they were doing a school project on cults. They taped me while I rambled on, Hubbardlike, relating the many facets of the Scientology construct. At the end of a five minute interview, they gave me a big foam hand and asked me to say, 'Go Helix!' I donned the foam hand and gave a quick warning to the students heading to college. I told them that the cult preys on the lonely, isolated, and vulnerable. 'Beware the free personality test!' I said. 'Stay away from Dianetics and Scientology!'"
Cult Awareness Network
The Los Angeles New Times published a cover story on Scientology's
takeover of the Cult Awareness Network this week. Some excerpts:
"It was an idea whose time had come. That's how Priscilla Coates describes the humble beginnings of the Cult Awareness Network, founded two decades ago in the wake of the murders and mass suicides in Guyana that claimed the lives of hundreds of the late Jim Jones' followers. The concept was simple enough: set up a nonprofit, national organization to assist the often desperate loved ones of people caught up in the ever-proliferating cult scene. On paper, at least, the group known by the acronym CAN endures. But nearly a quarter-century later, neither Coates, who ran the Los Angeles chapter during the organization's heyday, nor anyone else who once helped nurture the network has anything to do with it. That's because whenever people call CAN's hotline these days, more likely than not someone from the Church of Scientology answers the phone. Instead of warning people about suspected cults, opponents say, the new group promotes them. As one Scientology critic puts it, 'It's like Operation Rescue taking over Planned Parenthood.'
"An L.A. lawyer prominent in Scientology attached himself to a civil lawsuit against CAN in suburban Seattle several years ago. No one could have imagined that the suit, brought on behalf of a young man named Jason Scott -- who had been kidnapped and deprogrammed from an evangelical Christian sect -- would produce judgments totaling $5.2 million and hasten the anti-cult group's financial ruin. Nor could they have guessed that on the day in 1996 that its logo, furniture, and phone number were auctioned off at the order of a bankruptcy judge, a Scientologist would appear out of nowhere to place the winning bid. But the ultimate indignity for the anti-cult crusaders occurred earlier this year in a Chicago courtroom. Already having vanquished CAN, appropriated its name, and moved its offices from Illinois to within blocks of Scientology headquarters in Hollywood, lawyers with ties to the church moved to take possession of 20 years' worth of CAN's highly sensitive case files. Filling more than 150 boxes, the materials contained names, addresses, and detailed information on thousands of people who had turned to CAN for help in rescuing their friends and relatives.
"Since transporting the files to L.A. barely two months ago, the new Scientology-backed CAN has begun the arduous task of organizing and archiving them. It intends to hand over to each of the many groups targeted by the old CAN copies of all the documents that pertain to those groups, says Nancy O'Meara, the new CAN's treasurer and office manager. A 25-year veteran of Scientology, O'Meara sees the old CAN as made up of hate-mongers bent on persecuting any group they didn't like. Citing the old CAN's 'reign of terror,' she scarcely conceals her glee at the prospect that some of the formerly targeted groups may want to use the newly obtained materials to pursue lawsuits or even criminal prosecutions. Already, the top lieutenant to once-jailed cult leader Tony Alamo -- the flamboyant one-time L.A. street preacher who combined his messianic pronouncements with a lucrative business in sequined leather jackets -- has flown in from Arkansas to obtain copies of the files pertaining to Alamo. 'The documents are amazing,' O'Meara says. 'They're really going to open some eyes, and we think they will -- or should -- generate a lot of media interest.' Understandably, where they are being held is a carefully guarded secret. As for specifics, she referred questions about the files to Moxon, the Scientology lawyer who was a key figure in the old CAN's demise and the person whom she says is responsible for overseeing the files. But when approached for an interview, Moxon expressed more interest in asking questions about this article than in discussing the Cult Awareness Network. 'I've seen a lot of shitty things [about Scientology] in New Times,' he said, before hanging up on a reporter. 'And I don't trust you.'
"Starting in 1991, CAN had been forced to fend off at least 50 lawsuits filed by Scientologists in state and federal courts around the country. Coates, the former L.A. chapter head, recalls being hit with a half-dozen suits in the span of just two weeks in 1992. Although individual Scientologists had filed the suits, many of them contained almost identical language. And there was another common denominator: Many of the lawsuits were drafted by Moxon's law firm. The plaintiffs' claims fell into one of two categories. Either they had been denied membership in one of CAN's local affiliate groups, or they had been refused admission to CAN's annual conference. 'You'd have to be an imbecile not to see that it was part of an orchestrated effort,' says Dan Liepold, a Santa Ana attorney who defended CAN in three dozen of the lawsuits and who has often butted heads with Scientology. His files contain scores of letters written by Scientologists to CAN, requesting to join it. In many of them, the language is virtually identical as if they were churned out using a common model. The extent of the orchestration became clear, he says, when he began to depose individual plaintiffs and discovered that some hadn't even applied for membership in CAN before they sued. Others, he says, didn't know who was paying for their lawyers or how the lawyers had been selected.
"Coates and others associated with the old CAN continue to say what they said then: that the group only supported legal means for getting people out of cults and would have never knowingly made a referral for a forcible deprogramming. It's an assertion greeted with considerable skepticism in some quarters. 'I think [the old CAN] did a tremendous amount of harm to the extent that they cooperated or linked people up with these deprogrammers,' says Newton Maloney of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. Maloney, a clinical psychologist who is also a United Methodist minister, sees the new CAN as doing positive work in trying to reconcile family members with people who've joined groups their relatives don't approve of. He acknowledges that his nonjudgmental view toward the Scientology-backed new CAN has caused him to be regarded as a cult apologist within the anti-cult movement.
"For the Cult Awareness Network's new handlers, no detail has seemed too small in making life miserable for the church's critics. After Coates and her husband sold their home in Glendale and moved to upstate New York, she says 'swarms of private investigators,' whom she is convinced were hired by the church, descended on her community, asking neighbors about her and her husband, staking out their farmhouse, and, for a time, tailing her wherever she went. More eerily still, back in L.A. the new CAN called the phone company to request Coates' abandoned home telephone number. When New Times called the number recently, Bagley, the Scientologist, answered, 'Cult Awareness Network.' Although incensed at the idea of Scientologists fielding calls from unsuspecting clients, Coates says she has accepted that there's nothing she can do about it. 'It's a tragedy,' she says, 'but we take comfort in our belief that the word is spreading about what [the new] CAN really is.'"
The U.S. State Department has released an Annual Report on International
Religious Freedom for 1999. ABC news summarized the report.
"Although the religious freedom report was prepared by the same office that publishes the annual human rights reports, the Religious Freedom Report sees the world through a different lens. For example, the section covering Germany, not considered a major human rights violator, contains a lengthy discussion of that country's often contentious relationship with the Church of Scientology. Cuba, often the subject of official U.S. scorn for its human rights practices, gets generally light treatment in today's report. And even as President Clinton prepares to meet with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, the report hits hard at China, saying that citizens who engage in unregistered religious activity can face 'harassment, prolonged detention and incarceration in prison.'"
Sections from the report, first on Germany:
"The Church of Scientology remained under scrutiny by both federal and state officials who contend that it is not a religion but an economic enterprise. Authorities sometimes sought to deregister Scientology organizations previously registered as nonprofit associations and require them to register as commercial enterprises. During a March 1999 visit to Germany by a lawyer for the Church of Scientology, officials in the Foreign Ministry refused to engage in a dialog with the Church and decided not to meet with the attorney. According to officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Charge of the German Embassy in Washington met with a Scientology representative in 1996, but no tangible progress resulted from the meeting. Therefore government officials concluded that it was not worthwhile to meet with Scientology representatives again, since they do not believe the Church has changed those practices that the Government finds unacceptable.
"The interministerial group of mid-level federal and state officials that exchanges information on Scientology-related issues continued its periodic meetings. The group published no report or policy compendium during the period covered by this report and remains purely consultative in purpose. Several states have published pamphlets warning of alleged dangers posed by Scientology. On June 4, 1998, Bavarian Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein released two new brochures warning against the Church of Scientology. 'The Scientology System' and 'Scientology: An Anti-Constitutional Movement' warned about alleged hard-sell methods by the Church and asserted that Scientology was striving for world power. Beckstein asserted that the Church was even ordering the commission of criminal acts and compared its psychological methods to those of the former East German secret police. He added that due to government measures, membership in Germany had dropped to an estimated 10,000 persons. The states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein have published brochures regarding Scientology. The Hamburg Office for the Protection of the Constitution published 'The Intelligence Service of the Scientology Organization,' which outlines its claim that Scientology tried to infiltrate governments, offices, and companies, and that the Church spies on its opponents, defames them, and 'destroys' them. Schleswig-Holstein published brochures detailing initiatives directed against Scientology, as well as what it sees as the legal basis for public action against the Church. Lower Saxony's Office of Youth Protection describes Scientology as a multinational combine rather than a religion and claims that Scientology has a rigid hierarchy and that it severely punishes its members if they violate its codes.
"Scientologists continued to report discrimination, alleging both government-condoned and societal harassment because of their church affiliation. 'Sect-filters,' statements by individuals and companies that they are not affiliated with Scientology, are used by some state and federal agencies, businesses (including major international corporations), and other organizations to discriminate against Scientologists in business and social dealings. The Federal Ministry of Economics imposed the use of sect filters on companies bidding for contracts to provide training courses. Some state governments also screen companies bidding contracts relating to training and the handling and processing of personal data. Scientologists assert that business firms whose owners or executives are Scientologists, as well as artists who are church members, faced boycotts and discrimination, sometimes with state and local government approval."
>From the section on Greece:
Scientologists, most of whom are located in the Athens area, practice their faith through the Center for Applied Psychology (KEFE), a registered nonprofit philosophical organization. According to the president of the KEFE, the group chose to register as a philosophical organization because legal counsel advised that the Government would not recognize Scientology as a religion. In a step toward gaining recognition as a religion, Scientologists applied for a House of Prayer permit in October 1998. The application is pending at the Ministry of Education.
"A 1995 police search of Scientology headquarters revealed a file of press clippings on Greek opposition to Scientology. The file was confiscated and 15 KEFE board members subsequently were charged with 'unprovoked factual insult.' In May 1999, an Athens court acquitted the 15 Scientology board members of the charges."
"The issue of recognizing Scientology as a religion sparked, in part, the current effort to review the Government's recognition procedures. This review process is aimed at clarifying the requirements for recognizing and registering religious communities. In December 1998, the Education Ministry turned down the application of the Finnish Association of Scientologists to be registered as a religious community. This was the first time in Finnish history that an applicant had been denied church status. The Scientologists' application had been pending for nearly 3 years while the Government awaited additional information that it had requested from the Association."
"The category of 'religious confessional community' did not exist prior to the adoption of the 1998 Law on the Status of Religious Confessional Communities. A religious organization that seeks to obtain this new status is subject to a 6-month waiting period from the time of application to the Ministry of Education and Culture. According to the Ministry, as of April 1999 only 11 organizations had applied for the status of religious 'confessional community.' Of the 11, 9 were granted the new status including, for example, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, and Seventh-Day Adventists. The Church of Scientology and the Hindu Mandir Association withdrew their applications."
"In 1995 after the release of poisonous gas in the Tokyo, Japan, subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult, the National Assembly formed a parliamentary commission to study so-called 'sects.' Government officials have stated that 'sects' are 'associations whose structure is ideological and totalitarian and whose behavior seriously oppresses fundamental liberties as well as social equilibrium.' The Commission's report identified 173 groups as sects, including Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Scientology. The report was prepared without the benefit of full and complete hearings regarding the groups identified on the list.
"Tax claims asserted in 1994-95 against several Scientology churches forced them into bankruptcy. In the case of the Paris church the Ministry of Finance refused to grant the church authorization to import funds to pay the claimed taxes even though the church offered to pay the total amount of all taxes assessed, a percentage of which would have come from outside the country. Subsequently, in December 1997, the Government filed legal action for the claimed amount against the former officers of the Paris church and against the Church of Scientology International (a California nonprofit organization). The hearing in this legal action was deferred pending a decision regarding an administrative claim by the Paris church that the Minister of Finance acted improperly in refusing to allow the church to import funds to pay the assessed taxes."
"In August 1997, the Court of Cassation annulled a lower court decision that Scientology was not a religion, finding that the lower court was not competent to rule on what constitutes a religion. The Court of Cassation further found that the issue of whether Scientology constitutes a religion must be readdressed by another court of appeal, in accordance with criteria established by the Constitutional Court."
"The Moscow general procurator and approximately 70 members of the FSB, Federal Tax Police, and local police raided two locations of the Church of Scientology in Moscow on February 25, 1999. According to church officials, they confiscated documents, including tax records and priest- penitent privileged counseling records. The raids continued over 3 days. The tax police say that they are investigating possible tax evasion and other financial irregularities. Although there were earlier press reports that two church members were beaten, U.S. Embassy officials received no confirmation of this incident.
"In March 1999, the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church went on record that it considers the Church of Scientology to be a dangerous sect that can have a negative impact on individuals and families. A spokesman for the Patriarchate said that it wanted the activities of the Church of Scientology to be scrutinized by the appropriate legal entities."
The Organic Law of Religious Freedom of 1980 implements the constitutional provision for freedom of religion. The 1980 law establishes a legal regime and certain privileges for religious organizations. To enjoy the benefits of this regime, religious organizations must be entered in the Register of Religious Entities maintained by the General Directorate of Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Justice. Presence on the Register of Associations grants legal status as authorized by the law regulating the right of association. Religions not officially recognized, such as the Church of Scientology, are treated as cultural associations."
"Due to increasing concern over certain groups, especially Scientology, the Government in 1997 asked an advisory commission to examine Scientology. The commission published its finding in August 1998. According to the report, there is no basis at present for special monitoring of Scientology, since it does not represent any direct or immediate threat to the security of the country. However, the report stated that Scientology had characteristics of a totalitarian organization and had its own intelligence network. The commission also warned of the significant financial burden imposed on Scientology members and recommended reexamining the issue at a later date. In late November 1998, the city of Basel passed a law banning aggressive tactics for handing out flyers. This action was prompted by complaints about Scientologists' methods. In June 1999, Scientology suffered a setback when it lost a bid in the country's highest court to overturn a municipal law that barred persons from being approached on the street by those using 'deceptive or dishonest methods.' The Court ruled that a Basel 1998 law, prompted by efforts to curb Scientology, involved an intervention in religious freedom but did not infringe on it."
Tim Magazine published a report on religious liberty in the U.S. this
week, including a portion about Scientology.
"Religious-liberty laws are in effect in seven states--Governor George W. Bush signed one in Texas in June--and they are leaving their mark on the judicial system. Last fall, for example, the State of Florida charged the Church of Scientology with criminal neglect in the death of Lisa McPherson, 36, a Scientologist in Clearwater, Fla. McPherson was in the care of church staff members for 17 days in 1995 before dying from a blood clot. Members of McPherson's family have also sued the church. Church lawyers have denied the allegation, saying injuries McPherson suffered in a car accident caused her death and the church had nothing to do with it.
"Scientology is known for its aggressive litigating style. But the church's most powerful legal weapon could be Florida's religious-freedom act. After the law glided through the legislature last year, church lawyers used it to argue that the criminal charges are illegal because they unduly burden the church and impair its right to practice religion. The lawyers have also used the law in the civil case to prevent the family from seeing notes taken by Scientology counselors who interviewed McPherson. The church's lawyers say the notes are religious material protected by the statute; the family believes the notes may help explain her death.
"The Scientology case will probably drag on for years, but opponents of the religious-liberty bill say the case illustrates the law's unintended consequences. 'It opens the door for all kinds of religious entities and individuals to make creative claims,' says Marci Hamilton, a constitutional-law professor at Emory University."
Dagens Nyheter reported that the U.S. is urging Sweden to change its
constitution to limit distribution of Scientology documents.
"The government wants to introduce limitations to the rules on access to public documents (offentlighetsprincipen) after the quarrel about the so-called scientology bible. A new bill that will prevent people from accessing certain documents has now been handed to the law council for approval. It is among other things criticism from the US that has caused the government to want to change the rules.
"A few years ago a person handed in the scientology scripture to several authorities. It was thereby registered as a public document. When a citizen requests to view a public document, the authority has to decide whether it can give it out. The government and the chancellor of justice chose to seal their copies, pointing to foreign secrecy - it could disturb Sweden's international relations if the contents of the 'bible' were spread to the public. The parliament came to a different conclusion and made copies available that the public could access. The scientologists were upset. They regard the 'bible' as a sacred scripture that not anybody should be allowed to read. The US questioned whether Sweden was abiding by the international agreements on copyright, the Bern convention and the TRIPS agreement.
"In its referral to the law council, the government writes that the US have made it clear that the country will request an arbitration against Sweden if Sweden does not change the law so that such a situation can be avoided in the future. According to the government's assessment, such an international dispute could lead to Sweden being forced to introduce limitations that go further than those that are now proposed.
"The new bill targets works that can be assumed to not have been published, that are handed in to an authority without the author's consent. Such a work will not be handed out if it can be assumed that the author could suffer damage, for example through diminishing sales incomes from the work. The law is proposed to be in effect from the beginning of next year."
Tages-Anzeiger reported on September 8th that a Scientologist is
attempting to have the funding of a counseling center removed.
"Scientologist Peter Thalmann is demanding from City Council that the city discontinue subsidies of 20,000 Swiss franks annually [about $14,000] to the InfoSekta Sect Counseling Center. His argument is that religious freedom is being violated with the supporting funds. Middle school teacher Thalmann, who calls himself an L. Ron Hubbard PR Representative, has submitted an individual initiative on this account. The individual initiative is another broadside which the Scientologists have been firing at independent sect counseling centers. Turning against the government assembly which has supported InfoSekta, Scientology has also sued all the way up to Federal Court. Without success, in any case, because the highest court has not been able to make out any violation of religious freedom.
"InfoSekta has protested against Thalmann's assertion that the counseling center only gave out one-sided information. They stated that the individual initiative contained false information. Thalmann claimed that the InfoSekta board of directors included ministers employed by the state churches and wrote, 'This strong presence of the state churches explains the conduct of InfoSekta, their activity is not clearly stamped with religious neutrality and tolerance, but presumably with thoughts of competition.' The fact is, however, that no ministers are on the board of directors."