Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 36
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
Note: This issue covers events on alt.religion.scientology for the past two weeks.
Scientology released a press release on the recent hearings in Colorado on
prescription drugs and school violence.
"The Colorado State Board of Education's resolution recommending academic rather than drug solutions to learning and behavior problems is a long overdue response to an escalating prescribed drug abuse problem in schools. Jan Eastgate, the International President of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which testified before the Board, said, 'The Colorado school board has not discriminated against anyone, it hasn't taken away moral choices, it simply responded to a serious problem that many others have ignored to the detriment of children's lives.'"
Education Week published a story on the Colorado controversy this week.
"The Colorado board of education is urging schools to use proven management techniques to correct student behavior instead of relying too readily on psychiatric prescription drugs. But the resolution has generated concern because of some claims by supporters. They asserted that such drugs had led to suicides and prompted parents to removal their children from school rather than succumb to pressure to medicate them.
"Among the witnesses Ms. Johnson brought in to corroborate her claims was Bruce Wiseman, the president of the U.S. Commission on Human Rights, a private organization founded by the Church of Scientology. He warned that the 'fraudulent labeling and drugging of our nation's youth with psychiatry's mind-altering drugs' was leading to violence such as the shootings at Colorado's Columbine High School.
"Language in the resolution stating that 'there are documented incidents of highly negative consequences' in which psychiatric drugs were used for discipline also spurred debate over whether the board had the medical knowledge to adopt it." The Express reported that Scientology protested at a hearing to investigate the death of former child star Lena Zavaroni.
"The frail and emaciated singer who had battled with the anorexia nervosa eating disorder for more than 20 years, underwent the ' relatively minor' operation at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales on September 7 this year. Consultant neurosurgeon Brian Simpson told the Cardiff inquest that after the 90-minute operation Miss Zavaroni, weighing three-and-a-half-stone, was 'very well'. But after three weeks, the singer's condition deteriorated 'rapidly and profoundly' and despite antibiotics treatment in intensive care she died on October 1 with her family at her bedside.
"As her family left without commenting, 20 protesters carrying placards demonstrated against the use of pyschosurgery. Margaret McNair, director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, part of the Church of Scientology movement, said: 'Nobody can endure this kind of treatment when they weigh three-and-a-half stone. Pyschosurgery by any name is medieval, barbaric and inhumane.' A hospital statement said: 'The operation was not a lobotomy, neither was it experimental. Physically, it was a relatively minor procedure and Miss Zavaroni came through it without difficulty. There were already signs that it may have been successful when, more than three weeks later, she developed a chest infection which tragically overwhelmed her despite intense treatment.'"
The St. Petersburg Times reported that Clearwater may demolish the bus terminal in downtown, which could be used as a Scientology parking lot for the new Super Power building.
"An alliance to build a $5-million bus terminal complex in downtown Clearwater, once hailed as a great redevelopment project, has crumbled. It would have reinvented a block between Pierce and Park streets that now is home to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority's terminal and a county parking lot. But recently, the PSTA's board voted to consider building a less-grandiose bus terminal at another location downtown.
"If the PSTA moves to another location, it could put up for sale its existing property in the heart of downtown across the street from a Church of Scientology building under construction and in need of parking. Church officials tentatively inquired months ago about purchasing the PSTA's site, Sweeney said."
A plan for Clearwater, sent to local Scientologists was posted to a.r.s this week.
"Hello to my fellow third dynamic team members. I am writing to you once again to give you data on a very important plan for you and for Clearwater. As a Clearwater Scientologist, you are part of the OT foothold on land for the Freewinds. By that I mean it is important that we have a strong base on land from which we can launch the multitudes of public to the ship for their spiritual journey to OT. Clearwater is that base and you are part of the Scientology 3rd dynamic community. You wouldn't be living in Clearwater unless you wanted a strong 3rd dynamic of Scientologists., Otherwise, you'd come here, do your Bridge and return 'home' elsewhere.
"Therefore, in order to help you create such a group, I am enclosing information on an LRH lecture series and OT Hatting Course - The Ability Congress. This is THE 3rd dynamic OT course which will give you the OT tools to create an incomparable Scientology community here in Clearwater, your home. The goal is to get every Clearwater Scientologist to the ship for this OT hatting course.
"Much love, Donnie Webster, FLB Ship Office in Charge"
Clearwater considers Scientology an asset to downtown development, according to a St. Petersburg Times article on December 5th.
"They differ in details, but the goal of the five proposals to build a shopping and entertainment attraction on the city's sloping, waterfront bluff is the same: Make the city's downtown an exciting place to shop and play instead of a sleepy, 9-to-5 world that empties of 8,000 workers when the whistle blows.
"Market research indicates downtown Clearwater could support a major retail and entertainment development. Instead of a curse, the Church of Scientology is now viewed by more businesses as an asset -- even a potential partner -- for economic growth. Over the years, some city leaders have blamed the Church of Scientology for the demise of downtown. The church became such a prominent institution that residents and businesses decided to avoid the area, they argued. The church has maintained that it improved the downtown, by bringing people here and enhancing its property. It is the latter view that many city officials and the potential developers are now espousing. Some are touting Scientology as an asset, despite controversies such as protests this weekend over the death of a former Scientologist.
"'We even met with officials of the Church of Scientology,' said Miller of Steiner + Associates. 'Their visitors come from as far away as Europe and they're looking for something to do. We viewed it as a potential positive.' The cooperative attitude toward the church helps make a major downtown project possible, city officials said. 'We were straightforward (with the developers),' said Assistant City Manager Bob Keller. 'The church is here. It can be an asset. It draws a lot of people with expendable income. We need to involve all the players in redeveloping this downtown.' Scientology owns some of the land that could be needed to develop the bluff and is willing to negotiate to see a new retail and entertainment complex built, said Tom Devocht, a church official who is overseeing construction of new Scientology facilities downtown.
Also, the church has as many as 1,000 visitors each week, Devocht said. The number is expected to grow as the church expands. 'Ninety percent of our people want movies. They want brand-name stores, Italian restaurants and seafood restaurants,' Devocht said. 'I think the developers want to tap into that. These people are definitely looking for places to go.'
"Still, some residents don't view Scientology as an asset, but rather as a reason to stay away from downtown. 'Clearwater city officials, go out and ask your constituents why they don't go downtown and don't want to go downtown,' one resident, Harold McGee, wrote recently to the Times. 'The answer from most will invariably be: 'Because of the Scientologists.'"
A St. Petersburg Times editorial on December 8th discussed the benefit of Scientology to Clearwater.
"Which is the real Church of Scientology? Is it the apparently reasonable group whose relationship with the city of Clearwater is evolving into one of acceptance and cooperation? Or is it the litigious force that clings to a secretive, malevolent image? In the past two weeks, Clearwater residents have seen both sides of the Church of Scientology. For the first time, some business people spoke of Scientologists as an asset in downtown Clearwater rather than as a liability.
"Five developers submitted ambitious plans for downtown redevelopment, proposing movie theaters, shops and public improvements worth millions of dollars. The church also hired the prominent Clearwater law firm Johnson Blakely Pope Bokor Ruppel & Burns to handle local issues. The lead attorney on the account, Ed Armstrong, will be chairman of the Clearwater Area Chamber of Commerce next year.
"But the church soon embroiled itself in a new controversy. Robert Minton, a wealthy New Englander, showed up in Clearwater to lead a vigil for Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist who died in the custody of church members. Minton was charged with striking a church member, and the church hauled him to court where a judge ordered the activist to maintain a 10-foot distance from Scientology's 17 buildings. Then, in a childish display, Scientologists painted orange dots on city sidewalks marking a 10-foot zone around the church's buildings. The church also tore up sidewalks in front of its Fort Harrison Hotel as part of a project whose timing appears to be no accident. In its effort to intimidate Minton and his followers and to limit their right to peaceful protest, the church showed it will spare no expense to silence its critics. By its overreaction, the church drew attention to an otherwise uneventful protest and motivated Minton to further action. He vows to establish a permanent presence in Clearwater, offering defecting Scientologists and critics a 'safe zone.'
"No matter how much money the Church of Scientology brings to downtown Clearwater, it will be impossible for it to be an asset if it cannot control its harmful behavior."
A hearing was held on November 29th to rule on Scientology's request to
keep Bob Minton away from Scientology properties in Clearwater. From the
St. Petersburg Times:
"After a nine-hour hearing Monday, a judge said he needed more time to decide whether one of the the Church of Scientology's most vocal critics can continue to picket in front of church properties in downtown Clearwater. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thomas E. Penick Jr. said he will rule Thursday on the church's request that Robert S. Minton, a New England millionaire, be permanently ordered to stay away from Scientology buildings. Minton, who crusades against Scientology, was arrested Oct. 31 on a misdemeanor battery charge after he pushed his posterboard picket sign into the face of Richard Howd, a church staffer who had followed him all day with a video camera. Scientology lawyers said it was the third time in the past two years Minton had behaved violently toward Scientologists.
"Monday, Minton's attorney, Denis deVlaming, told Penick that Minton was the target of dirty tricks by Scientology staffers trying to stifle criticism of the church in violation of Minton's First Amendment rights. DeVlaming said there was a pattern in which church operatives exaggerated minor physical contact with Minton and other Scientology critics, then called police to report a battery in hopes a judge would enjoin them from going near church property."
>From The Tampa Tribune:
"After hours spent Monday viewing obscenity-laced videotapes of Scientologists and antichurch protesters confronting one another on public streets, a judge held off ruling on a permanent injunction against a prominent church critic. 'I'm concerned that both sides seem to have a fetish with getting within two feet of one another,' Judge Thomas Penick said.
"The videotaped confrontations between Scientologists, Minton and other antichurch protesters show the situation to be both incendiary and ongoing, the judge said. The request for protection from Minton stems from an Oct. 31 incident outside Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater. There, Scientologists from around the world come for spiritual counseling that critics claim is simply a front for making money. Acting on behalf of member Richard W. Howd Jr., church lawyers quickly obtained a temporary injunction barring Minton from going near Howd or any other Scientologist. The order also prevents Minton from going within 150 yards of 17 church properties, most in downtown Clearwater. Minton's lawyers contend the incident was the latest attempt by church members to provoke their critics into fighting so that injunctions can be obtained to keep them from protesting.
"Howd, Minton said, fell dramatically to the street after being bumped with the placard. Police Officer Mark Beaudette, who arrested Minton, testified he would not have been knocked down by such a blow."
Despite Scientology's construction areas around Clearwater buildings,
protests were held this week to commemorate the anniversary of Lisa
McPherson's death. From the St. Petersburg Times on December 1st:
"Ah, early December in downtown Clearwater. Light poles wrapped in red holiday ribbons. Trees along Cleveland Street abloom with tiny white lights. And, now, a newer tradition: the annual game of cat and mouse between the Church of Scientology and about two dozen of its most vocal critics, who for three years have gathered in Clearwater to stage protests on the anniversary of the Dec. 5, 1995, death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson.
"The church has torn up sidewalks on the north and west sides of its worldwide 'mecca,' the Fort Harrison Hotel. Just around the corner, it has constructed a 20-foot-high steel scaffold sheathed in green mesh across the lower facade of the hotel, making walking there impossible. It also has pulled up about 1,000 feet of sidewalk along Drew Street, most of it in front of its glistening Sandcastle property. 'They'd rather destroy their own property than see criticism,' said Jeff Jacobsen of Arizona, an organizer of the annual picket.
"The old sidewalks, they say, will be replaced with 'integrally colored stamped concrete' that will look and feel like bricks. Though the public owns the sidewalks, the church has agreed to maintain them and is paying $500,000 to rebuild them. The scaffolding is needed for roof, window and stucco repairs to the Fort Harrison, according to a city permit. Workers also will drill into the base of the building to test the load capacity for a skywalk that someday will connect the Fort Harrison with Scientology's mammoth new building under construction immediately across the street.
"The pickets will choose another place for their protest, Jacobsen said. They also plan a conference on 'Scientology/Clearwater Relations' on Saturday at the Holiday Inn on U.S. 19 near Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. A candlelight vigil is planned that evening. The events, as in past years, memorialize McPherson, the Scientologist who died while in the care of church staffers after a 17-day stay at the Fort Harrison Hotel."
"Protesters from all over the nation and some foreign countries are gathering to picket the Church of Scientology's World Headquarters at the Ft. Harrison Hotel. It's all in memory of Lisa McPherson who died four years ago while under the care of fellow Scientologists at the Fort Harrison Hotel. "Scientologists are adding some color of their own to this year's protests--they're painting the town orange. The orange marks are intended to show Scientology critic Bob Minton just how close he can come to 17 church properties in Clearwater. Friday a judge ordered Minton to stay ten feet away. The judge also told a Scientologist Minton recently scuffled with to stay 20 feet from Minton. "Clearwater's Police Chief Sid Klein says his officers won't have tape measures on their gunbelts this weekend, but they will enforce the judge's orders. Protesters have various activities through the weekend planned at the Holiday Inn on U.S. 19 just north of State Road 60. They're also planning a Saturday evening candlelight vigil just north of the Fort Harrison Hotel starting at 7 p.m."
>From the St. Petersburg Times on December 4th:
"The Church of Scientology has taken the liberty of showing its leading critic where he may and may not walk with a picket sign this weekend. Hundreds of bright orange dots decorated the public sidewalks and streets surrounding Scientology buildings in Clearwater on Friday, the work of church staffers with spray paint cans and measuring tapes. The painting was done in response to a judge's order Thursday that Scientology critic Robert Minton stay at least 10 feet away from 17 church buildings in Clearwater. By Friday morning the orange markings appeared like an overnight snow, showing lines of demarcation 10 feet from each property.
"In some places, the dots were connected by orange chalk lines. At Hacienda Gardens, a residence for Scientology staffers, the church had installed long rows of tiny orange survey flags that told Minton he was welcome to walk on a narrow strip of grass near the curb on Saturn Avenue.
"Minton's attorney, Denis deVlaming, compared the spray-painted markings to graffiti. Police Chief Sid Klein said the markings were 'defacing public property.' A short time later, Scientology officials told Klein they would remove the markings. They also gave him detailed drawings of Scientology buildings, complete with marks showing the 10-foot boundary. Scientology critics mocked the markings Friday by wearing round orange stickers on both their clothes and picket signs.
"In addition to ordering Minton to stay at least 10 feet from Scientology properties, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thomas E. Penick Jr. ordered Howd to stay at least 20 feet away from Minton. But both sides were confused by wording that extended the order to all 'officers, agents, servants, employees' of Minton and Howd, as well as 'those persons in active concert' with them. Minton's camp interpreted that to mean all Scientologists were ordered to stay away from him. Scientology interpreted it to mean that all the anti-Scientology protesters in town this weekend had to stay 10 feet away from church buildings. Enter Klein, who was left to cut through the confusion and enforce the order. The chief met with both sides Friday, telling them his officers will focus on Minton and Howd, and that if anyone else in either camp engages in 'picket chicken,' there will be one warning."
A protest report from Maggie DiPietra:
"There were gaggles of picketers moving like waves lapping at a beach downtown despite the torn-up sidewalks and draped scaffolding in front of the Fort H. Flag buses and vans drove people around all day so they wouldn't have to encounter entheta en route from building to building. Although the windows are tinted, you could still see the faces of those inside as drivers tried to quickly maneuver by us. One van almost ran a red light trying to get by.
"About a third of the cars coming by honked, accompanied by smiles, thumbs-ups, and happy waves. We heard 'thank you!' and 'all right!' and 'you got it!' coming from the cars of residents of Clearwater all day long. At one point, Arnie was yelling through a cardboard megaphone 'No OTs here!' at the Fort H, and every time he'd pick up his megaphone, loud bells would be heard coming from the building until he set it down again. It was comical, watching Arnie trying to fake them out, and the bells starting and stopping as if on cue. Their actions indicate that they fear their parishioners hearing what he has to say. Along Cleveland Street, loud music was turned on when picketers tried to talk with passersby."
>From Beverly Rice:
"The level of hiding was more intense than ever. The only scientologists that the Co$ allowed to be seen and displayed in public were their children. On the little strip in front of batch of Co$ owned stores on one side, and the Bank Building on the other, a lavish and overt display of little children and teens dressed in little santa hats and other Xenumas garb was presented to the Public. How can it be, that the critics, portrayed as criminal SP's by the Co$ to their members, are to be feared and hidden from by Co$ adults and 'OT's', but yet the Co$ was so quick to take some of their little children and make sure they were out where they would be mixed in with the big, bad, SP's.
"The children being put in the middle of areas the Co$ knew would be getting picketed, shows that the Co$ knows that all critics, every single one, are totally harmless."
>From Bruce Pettycrew:
"I was driving for a very determined ex-OSA SP who had created a mobile high wattage slide projector powered by my car's battery via the cigarette lighter socket and a 12 volt to 115 volt converter. The idea was to enhance the start of the candlelight vigil for Lisa McPherson. We stopped at the corner of the Ft. Harrison building that was next to the vigil site. The mad wizard projected a 12 foot circle of light on the side of the Co$ property; the slide read 'We will never forget you, Lisa'.
"When the traffic light changed, I drove around the block behind the Ft. Harrison and we repeated the message a second time. On the third trip around we picked up an OSA follower car, and as we came to the stop sign on the road behind the building, we discovered another OSA vehicle stopped and not moving. Luckily, I stopped short of the second car, so that even though our tail pulled up almost to my rear bumper, I was able to drive around the front car and pull up to the Ft. Harrison for one more slide projection."
"I have never felt so appreciated in my life, and by so many people. The citizens of Clearwater gave us a very warm welcome. Their responses varied from outright honking, shouting of approval, and thumbs ups out the car windows to silent thank yous, nods and winks. I was moved by the people who were torn between their fear of being seen acknowledging us and their desire to let us know they appreciated our presence. Their fear of being seen is not unrealistic - I noticed OSA with cameras on top of the Fort Harrison; they could see over most of the downtown area; they were actually using it like a fort. Constantly surveying the surrounding territory.
"The orange markings painted in the middle of the night on Thursday, 10 feet around cult properties (also referred to as defacement of public property), which were not all successfully removed, combined with the torn up sidewalks turned out to be a double whammy footbullet. The torn up sidewalks encouraged us to spread out all over town, and the orange marks showed us where to go to picket.
"Since Lord Xenu's primary mission is to make his existence known, he sent two of his children to Clearwater with wynot and me as goodwill ambassadors. The Xenu Babies were dressed in purple felt robes with gold trim, and tied about the neck with gold cords with tassels on the ends, and I strolled them all over town in a 'Sit and Stand LX' model baby stroller. They had their own matching picket sign (purple, with gold trim) with gold letters spelling out simply XENU.NET. There was nothing negative about scientology anywhere on the Xenu Babies display, and unless the URL or the Xenu story was known to onlookers. Yet from what I heard, OSA was obsessed with us. I heard that they tracked 'the stroller' everywhere with their radios.
"The first few times I strolled up and down Cleveland St. with the Xenu Babies, the Scientology children there loved them, and thought they were cute, and were smiling at me and being just as friendly as could be. Even the few Scientology adults there were amused by them. Of course, the OSA lurking in the buildings and around corners were not amused, and after a few passes, all the people at the booths were scowling and no longer friendly. Across the street, in front of the 'OSA Bank' there was an unattended Santa Chair, and several of us had fun putting the Xenu Babies in the Chair and taking pictures of them.
"I remember seeing FLAG vans circling the block, drivers on their radios presumably for instructions on how to avoid letting their passengers see us. I stood at the only entrance to the Fort Harrison, across the street, being watched by the OSA behind the gate. The gate was wrought iron, and would have probably looked very nice, except for being covered by large metal sheets painted black covering all but about a foot at the top and bottom."
>From Michael Reuss:
"Several of us wanted to picket on the two small, uncovered segments of sidewalk across from the Ft. Harrison. There were two uniformed cops standing there, saying we should not stand there, nor would he even agree that we could walk through the tunnel with our picket signs! He kept saying he had made a call and was trying to get a ruling on whether or not the 10 ft. line applied to all picketers. Finally, after about 15 minutes of discussion and waiting, we just ignored him, and began walking through the tunnel to picket on both ends. The two cops did nothing to stop us. What he never told us, but what I learned later, was that both of these cops were off-duty, and were hired by Scientology for security reasons.
"Not only were the sidewalks on the west and north sides of the Ft. Harrison destroyed. Sidewalks are also torn up on the only two sides of the Sandcastle hotel which have street fronts. The south sidewalk was very long, about 500 ft. The east side was shorter, but the entire block's sidewalk was gone. On the block to the east of the Sandcastle, the entire west side and part of the north side walks were destroyed. Plastic orange barricades and fencing kept people from walking were the sidewalks used to be. Another small area around a temporary building to the south of the ABC class room building had it's sidewalk ripped up. For those who do not know, the Sandcastle is where one goes in Clearwater to learn to believe they are OTs, while the Ft. Harrison is where one goes to learn to believe they are Clear.
"We picketed mostly quietly and uneventfully from about 10 AM to about 5:40 PM. At first there were only about 10 of us, and then later in the day, I would say the numbers peaked at 25 or so picketers. Since there were so few large sidewalk areas on which to picket, the protesters just spread out across many blocks of downtown. Since the Scientologists were being shuttled around in vans, I believe this spreading out of the picketers created more enturbulation across a wider area than would have otherwise been seen. The shuttle vans would turn down side streets in order to avoid a block with a picketer on it.
"Saturday morning found a new wrinkle to sidewalk destruction tech. U-Hauls were rented overnight and parked in areas were the Scientologists could NOT tear up the public sidewalks. There were two U-Hauls parked to cover the west side of the parking lot one block south of Cleveland Ave. and 5 or 6 more parked along side the Sandcastle, on the side of the street which has a city park. The Scientologists obviously thought to try and hide picketers from the Sci'ts by making them picket on sidewalks which were behind lines of U-Haul trucks. Overnight on Friday, EssPees Dave Touretzky and Don Knotts parked a rental car in the best parking spot, right across from where the Sandcastle parking lot exits to the south. Then, Saturday morning, they replaced the car with a pickup truck, with two large protest signs aboard, as well as an inflatable Xenu in the bed. They manned this post pretty much all day, requiring Sandcastle vans to drive right past their signs. They also picketed on one tiny fragment of the sidewalk that was not destroyed, right next to the Sandcastle driveway. This upset the Scientologists so much that they actually parked two more U-Haul trucks in the driveway, completely blocking it! That didn't last too long, because the public members had no way to enter the facility in their cars. So after about an hour, they moved the two big trucks that were blocking their own entrance.
"Virtually all the critics, many reporters, and several townspeople attended the Saturday evening candlelight vigil honoring the memory of Lisa McPherson. It was a fairly large crowd, I think around 60 or so. Six members of the McPherson family were also there. I spoke to one Clearwater woman who had seen the news broadcast about the vigil, and she decided to participate. Crocodile Dundee hovered with his video camera, about 50 ft. away. Gregg Hagglund spoke at the vigil, giving a brief Christian service. A bagpipe player played. Then the attendees then walked around the block to the back of the Ft. Harrison, near the room where Lisa M. was held on the babywatch. We were told by police that we could not be in the street, so we settled in the parking lot and sidewalk across the street to the west of the Ft. Harrison Hotel. Greg spoke again, saying that regardless of human justice, we would all one day face God's judgment. There was a moment of silence. Attendees then filed past a floral wreath and blew out their candles in what is a metaphor for the way Lisa McPherson's life was blown out by the Introspection Rundown. The bagpipe player played 'Amazing Grace.' TV news reporters were all over blowing-out-the-candles portion of the ceremony, filming each person as they came forward. I really didn't want to be a part of that, so I just stood back and blew out my candle in back row."
>From "Don NOTs":
"On Saturday, the 4th of December 1999 at approximately 09:30 hours, I pulled Gregg Hagglund aside and asked whether he was interested in assisting me in a signals intelligence operation directed against OSA. The plan was a simple one: to use radio transmissions to create a phantom army of picketers and see whether $cientology would take the bait and react. Armed with a single channel, push-to-talk walkie-talkie each, we headed off our separate ways, agreeing to be in radio contact from 11:30 hours onward.
"Our radio chat went along the following lines: 'Don NOTs this is ElRon: What's the status of the mission, over.' 'ElRon this is Don Nots: Execute Plan Alpha Romeo Delta Bravo, over.' 'Don NOTs this is ElRon: Plan Alpha Romeo Delta Bravo acknowledged. How many picketers? Over.' 'ElRon this is Don Nots: Count on two blue busses with Eight-Zero pax, over.' For the next couple of hours, Gregg and I would chat every 20 minutes or so. I'd give him updates on the status of the busses and we'd pass 'codewords' back and forth. All discussions between the 'blue buses' and myself was done using 'the secure line'. At two forty-five, I got my final message from Gregg about the busses having arrived
"When I arrived back at the hotel in the evening, I strolled into the bar for a post-picket beer. Gregg, laughing hysterically, filled me in as to what happened with the 'Blue Packages'. At 2:30, he went to the back of the Fort Harrison to see if OSA reacted to our bogus radio transmissions. At least 10 OSA and Co$ security guards were at the back of the hotel listening intently to their radios as well as their scanners. When they saw Gregg, they freaked, each of them talking feverishly into their walkie-talkies at the same time. For some inexplicable reason, two big blue tour buses decided to drive down toward the back of the Fort Harrison at that very moment. It was at this time that Gregg sent his final message to me: 'Don NOTs this is ElRon: The Blue Packages have arrived.' The OSA guys collectively soiled their underwear and called in to the Clearwater Police. The police came charging to the back of the hotel and wondered what the emergency was all about. The OSA guys pointed to the two blue busses heading toward them. As they looked on in anticipation, the busses, filled with Baptist children on their way back from a picnic, slowly cruised by the smirking cops and angry OSA guys. Finally, the $cienos knew they had been had."
Shift magazine carried a story on Scientologist Sky Dayton recently.
"True to the model of the young internet turk, patience is not on Sky Dayton's list of attributes. His zeal, which led him to found one of America's fastest growing ISPs, is legendary in high-tech circles. This image gives his investors confidence--peace of mind in knowing that EarthLink wasn't just a fluke of timing.
"'Scientology teaches you very specific things,' he says, 'like formulas for communicating with people, or who to chose as your friend, or how to fix a broken marriage.' (He is, incidentally, happily married to a writer named Arwen.) It's Scientology, chased with a healthy dose of Ayn Rand-whose novel The Fountainhead Dayton adores-that's convinced him he's in complete control of his destiny. 'One of the basic concepts of Scientology is that you are not a product of your environment,' he says. 'That is a great lie of the past hundred years-that you are the product of the inputs in your life. Scientology teaches that your environment is the product of you.'"
Heise web site reports that Windows 2000 may be banned in Germany because
of the Scientologist-owned company that produces a part of the package.
"A component of Windows 2000 is made by a Scientology company. The defragmentation program Diskeeper will be released to the market in February as an integrated part of the NT successor. The program was developed by Executive Software, a company led by and belonging to the admitted Scientologist Craig Jensen. The connection between Scientology and the software giant is a thorn in the flesh of sect observers from the large churches.
"'This will be of interest not only for the Catholic church, but also for the German states, the Verfassungsschutz (federal agency in charge of protecting the constitution) and the German industry', commented Harald Baer, a German Catholic church representative for sects, to the German press agency dpa. According to Ursula Caberta, head of the Scientology task force at the Hamburg office for internal affairs, Executive Software is one of the leading companies of the Scientology organisation WISE (World Institute of Scientology Enterprises). 'WISE is the decisive part of Scientology for infiltrating and spying on the economy', she says. The German states Bavaria and Hamburg have passed government policies which forbid agencies - particularly those in the area of information technologies - from purchasing services from Scientology companies."
Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on December 2nd that Munich won a court battle to prevent Scientology from doing personality test recruiting in public.
"The provincial capitol of Munich prevailed against Scientology in court today. The city had prohibited Scientologists from accosting pedestrians on Leopold Street to talk them into taking a personality test so that they would buy courses and books. Scientology had object, but lost in Administrative Court. The planning office which had jurisdiction in the area had founded its decision on the idea that this type of recruitment activity bothered pedestrians and was impermissible on public land."
"taz" reported on December 12th that Hamburg is concerned about Scientology videotape surveillance.
"Illicit video shots in the City concern Senate and Data Security officials. 'I know only too well what master and what purpose they are serving,' said Walter Zuckerer. A recently installed video camera on the roof of the building at 9 Dom Street has come under the scrutiny of the current chairman of the SPD faction of the state representatives. There, in the middle of the city, is where Scientology's Germany Central has been located since November 27. And Zuckerer does not at all like the Scientologists having 'public thoroughfares being under private surveillance. That could be an 'illicit encroachment of the personality rights of specific people,' unsuspecting passersby, for example. Therefore, he has submitted an extensive inquiry to the Senate yesterday as to whether they or the Hamburg Data Security Commissioner were already involved with the matter."
Fraenkischer Tag reported on December 7th that Bavaria has set up a counseling center for those affected by Scientology.
"The Bavarian state administration has established a crisis counseling center for victims and people affected by the Scientology sect. That was announced by state assembly representative Christa Matschl. Even if the dangerous sect is apparently not so active in our region, said the representative, we should make our offer of help known. The counseling center is meant primarily for those ready to leave the sect and for friends and relatives of Scientologists. 'Everything must be done to free the victims of their dependency on this sect, and that can also affect people from our county.
"As a starting place for general questions on the theme of Scientology, Christl Matschl gave the Coordination and Information Center of the Bavarian Culture Ministry. Those who want other important addresses can order the free brochure 'The Scientology System'. It is made available by the Bavarian State Ministry of the Interior."
Florida prosecutors have filed with the court in the Lisa McPherson
criminal case, arguing that Scientology's defense that Lisa consented to
her treatment by virtue of being a Scientologist. From the St. Petersburg
Times on December 7th:
"The Church of Scientology in Clearwater cannot rely on religious grounds to escape prosecution in the death of one of its members, Pinellas-Pasco prosecutors argued in a strongly worded document filed Monday. The wording aims to undercut an argument by church lawyers that Scientology staffers were giving 'spiritual assistance' to parishioner Lisa McPherson when she died in their care in 1995. The church is charged with felony counts of abusing a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license. But it has argued that its care of McPherson was protected under the First Amendment and the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
"That means there can be no prosecution for McPherson's death, the church's lawyers have said. They also argued that no one -- not even a judge -- may question or inquire too closely about Scientology beliefs that formed the basis for McPherson's treatment. They argued that the charges should be dismissed.
"But prosecutors, seeking to have the charges stand, argued Monday that the term 'church' usually refers to a 'body of believers' or a place where worship occurs. They say neither applies at the Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, the church's entity in Clearwater.
"In addition to constitutional arguments, the document filed Monday was rife with new details about the case. It accused high-ranking church staffers in Clearwater of misleading and lying to police investigators and later to the public through statements that sanitized the 'nightmarish' details of McPherson's demise at Scientology's Fort Harrison Hotel. One staffer, according to the document, later acknowledged lying to police to protect himself and the church. The document also contains evidence that Scientologists themselves were deeply conflicted and disturbed about McPherson's treatment. One staffer, a former nurse, complained to someone in the church's legal department. Another Scientologist -- the doctor who pronounced McPherson dead -- described the condition of her body as 'horrific,' the prosecution document states."
>From columnist Howard Troxler of the St. Petersburg Times on December 8th:
"McPherson died that Dec. 5 after 17 days at the church's Fort Harrison Hotel under the supervision of Scientologists. The state says she died of a pulmonary embolism, with dehydration and immobility as contributing factors. The state says her final days featured raving delusions and forced medication.
"Flag's lawyers seek to have the charges dismissed. First, they say it is a violation of the First Amendment, and laws that protect religious freedom, to charge the entire organization instead of individuals. Second, even if Flag can be charged, it is unconstitutional to punish Scientologists for their religious belief opposing psychiatric care. Third, even if the laws of abuse and unlicensed medicine were violated, that was done by 'errant, albeit well-meaning' individuals, and not by Flag or the church itself, the lawyers argue.
"Florida politicians, pay attention. This is your doing. This argument is based in part on the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998, which the Legislature passed as a sop to the Christian Coalition. I'll bet nobody had the Scientologists in mind. This law says that the state must have a 'compelling interest' before imposing a burden on the exercise of religion.
"Bernie McCabe, the Pinellas-Pasco state attorney, and his assistants have filed a vigorous counter-argument. First, Flag's treatment of McPherson is not about religious freedom, they argue. Second, even if there is a legitimate claim of religious freedom, that freedom does not protect a crime. Third, even if the religious-freedom law applies, these charges are not a 'substantial burden' on the church. Mere bad publicity is not an impermissible burden. Neither are the minimal potential fines involved. Finally, the state argues that Flag should be charged because the organization as a whole, many of its officers and staffers, were involved in or aware of McPherson's case. 'The complicity in the crimes arising out of Lisa's stay at the Fort Harrison is widespread,' the state argues, 'and the responsibility for the failure to act is collective.'
"Like the Scientologists' lawyers, I am not keen on the idea of charging churches with crimes. But not many people die in a church's care because of alleged negligence, either. I would deny the motion to dismiss and let a jury decide the central question of fact -- did Flag as an institution break the law in Lisa McPherson's death?"
Lisa McPherson Trust
Bob Minton posted to a.r.s this week a Mission Statement and Statement of
Objectives for the newly formed Lisa McPherson Trust.
"To carry out the final wishes of Lisa McPherson's mother, Fannie, which were to expose the abusive and deceptive practices of Scientology and to help those who have been victimized by it.
"We will expose Scientology's abuses of the human, civil and privacy rights of its members and critics. We will reveal its deceptive advertising practices that border on consumer fraud. We will disclose its 'religious practices' and conduct that violate civil and criminal law. We will assist former Scientologists to recover from their unique personal experience with the abusive and deceptive practices of Scientology. We will offer counsel to current Scientologists who choose to learn the truth about how Scientology uses deceptive mind control techniques to capture their hearts and minds. Our dedicated staff of counselors will provide the information, compassion and support to current Scientologists that will enable them to release the bonds of cult mind control. Finally, all of the people involved in the Lisa McPherson Trust will respect the dignity and innate human goodness of all current, former and recovering Scientologists."
>From The St. Petersburg Times on December 5th:
"An opposition group to the Church of Scientology said Saturday it is well-financed and 'here to stay' with plans for a variety of activities, from speaking to school children and civic groups to counseling Scientologists about leaving their church. The group is called the Lisa McPherson Trust Inc., named for the 36- year-old Scientologist who died in 1995 while in the care of church staffers. Its intentions were made public during a 'Scientology/Clearwater Relations Conference' at a local hotel.
"Robert Minton, the New England millionaire who formed the new trust, said its offices would be a 'safe zone' for Scientologists and others who find fault with the church or have questions that only its critics would answer. 'We will be encouraging people to think for themselves, and we will be offering people any information they want to listen to,' Minton said as he waved and held a picket sign at downtown's main crossroads, Cleveland Street and Fort Harrison Avenue.
"Mike Rinder, a top Scientology official, said: 'The only ones spreading fear and hate in Clearwater are those people.' He called the Lisa McPherson Trust 'a hate group set up for profit and for the personal benefit of Bob Minton.' Rinder added, 'I don't think anybody in this community wants them around.'
"At the anti-Scientology conference, a small audience of the activists heard from several speakers, including Peter Alexander and David Cecere. Cecere, a Scientologist from 1975 to 1992, will be the trust's executive director. 'We're here to stay. We're here for the long haul. We're here to see the truth come out,' Cecere told the group. 'We're going to be busy.' Alexander, a former Scientologist, said he spent $1-million on Scientology over 20 years and last year moved his business from Clearwater to Tampa to get away from the church. As one of the trust's 23 board members, he tried to find office space for the group but was met, he said, with resistance from downtown landlords fearful of Scientology. Alexander said the new trust would be 'the force that people can get behind so they won't be afraid any more.'"
Picket reports from cities other than Clearwater this week. From "Fier" in
"There was a small, $cientology exposing demonstration outside their indoctrination centre today, for about 90 minutes. Around 5 critics of the cult walked around Civic, handing out about 200 Lisa flyers in the warm and windy summer heat. We had 2 signs among us, pointing out the fraudulent scam aspect of this foolishly recognised religion. Although 2 Ronbots were sent out to counter-leaflet, they studiously avoided our vicinity, walked away from us when we approached, and spoke not.
"A local $cientologist attempted to get a restraining order on me, to stop me from attending the pickets. The basis of it was false, and weak, a temporary injunction was not approved. Instead a court hearing was scheduled over 3 months down the track. This allowed plenty of pickets until then, and because the application was withdrawn 2 days ago, it allows plenty more pickets in the future.
"The E.D. was not amused. 'If you talk to me that's harassment' he says quickly, while hauling his Thetan rapidly up into the Org."
"Xenubat" reported a protest in San Diego.
"Me, Barb and Conner decided to pay a visit to the San Diego org today to do a picket in memory of Lisa McPherson. I had on my 'Who Is Xemu?' picketing t-shirt, and, this being a typical San Diego day with wonderful weather, I didn't even need to wear my sweater which I had brought with me. I had my 'Lisa' picket sign with me: The first side had two pictures of Lisa McPherson and said, 'YOUNG. PRETTY. DEAD.'. The other side said, 'DID 100% STANDARD TECH KILL LISA McPHERSON?' Barb's sign said, 'SCIENTOLOGY KILLED LISA--1959-1995'; the other side 'RON IS GONE BUT THE CON LIVES ON'. Conner's sign said, 'SCIENTOLOGY INDICTED IN DEATH OF LISA McPHERSON, DECEMBER 5, 1995' and '$CIENTOLOGY--$ECRETIVE RELIGIOUS $CAM'.
"I don't think we had been there two minutes when the driver of a car going down Ash that was waiting at the stoplight honked his approval and yelled out, 'Thank you so much!' He actually thanked us twice, said he was glad somebody was out there doing this (picketing) and as the light turned green and he went by, he yelled, 'L. Ron Hubbard was a psycho lunatic!' A short while later, a woman driving another car going down Ash yelled out, 'Why don't you guys go home and knit?'"
John Ritson protested in London.
"On a very cold winter morning, about a dozen suppressives including old friends we had not seen for some time gathered at a London hostelry. After some delicious pre-picket snacks, we made our way to the Tottenham Court Road 'org' at about 1.30. Scientology only managed to produce two or three sullen leafleters at any time, although Jacques Vollet was there, and two low-ranking Sea- Orgers peeked through the door but dared not come out and confront us.
"Many of the passers-by were remarkably well-informed about Scientology and its evils. Some people who we talked to went into the 'org' to wind up the Scientologists. When a 'body-router' was stationed outside with a clipboard, and had no success, one passer-by allowed himself to be routed in, and eventually emerged with the comment 'I've never heard such a load of bollocks'.
"After about two hours, it started raining and we retreated into the warmth of a pub, to re-emerge for a candle-light picket between 5 and 5.30 meeting another suppressive who had been picketing on his own from 4.30 armed only with an inflatable purple alien and a loud voice."
"Nukewaster" protested in Washington, D.C.
"I arrived at 2:30 PM, to find Flash, Bunny and __?__ already picketing. There were 2 body reggers out at that point, pushing the 'Personality Test.' I took up my usual corner between R Street and Conn. Ave., to the tune of many car honks and pedestrians saying 'HONK, HONK.' A few minutes later, I saw that __?__ was toting a sign that read 'Honk if Scientology Sucks.' Bunny and Flash were toting signs from prior actions, such as 'L. Ron Hubbard, Psychotic Con Man,' and were distributing a one page, double sided leaflet with 'Scientology: It's Worse than you think' at the top.
"My own signs were the two wheel inserts (courtesy OTVIII, CW '98) which read 'Doubt is the beginning of wisdom,' and 'Freedom rings where opinions clash', along with a pole mounted sign on my crutch holder. It read 'Scientology: A Clear Rip-off' and 'Scientology: Your Tax $$ for fraud' with 'Criminally Convicted Tax Exempt Cult' for a border. I distributed all 100 4 page 'A Scientology Critics Guide to Internet/web Resources by 3:15 PM. Lots of the locals turn them down now, usually saying things like 'Thanks for being out here. I've got your pamphlet already and have distributed it at (work, to friends, at church).'
"During afternoon course break, I took a number of pics. One gray-haired man who was out smoking on the front steps of the org came over to me. He had an interesting line about D.C. having laws about taking pics of people. I replied, 'Millions of tourists take pictures in D.C every year.'
"Well fortified after a leisurely dinner, we headed back towards the org. No signs this time, other than my w/c inserts. We lit up candles. I noticed a moderate number of scientologists hanging out on the balcony above the org's front door. 'Ah, supper course break isn't over yet,' I thought. I started a spiel, loud enough to reach the scientologists. 'Tonight, we are mourning the lives lost to scientology' along with the story of the death of Lisa McPherson. For variation, I tossed in the suicide of Noah Lottick, spoke of Patrice Vic, Konard Aiger, and others. It took the org about 15-20 minutes to get a handler over to us. Flash's remaining leaflets were just flying out of her hands. By the time the org had 4 handlers passing out Lerma fliers, Flash's stock was nearly gone. One handler tried to provoke Flash, telling her such gems as 'Get a life, If you had a life and could think for yourself, why would you be downtown on a Saturday night?'"
"AndroidCat" protested in Toronto, Canada.
"800+ leaflets handed out. A quick check with the Org provided off-duty police protection (*KA-CHING*), and we were off and picketing. Very shortly thereafter we were joined by Mike. And then there were three. I had my 'Honey I shrank the Xenu' flyers with The Story of Xemu on one side, and the New York Times '97 story of Lisa on the other, and a bunch of 'Insane Cult' flyers.
"Andy Hill and Toronto Dan were there, as were several others. But they mostly stood around and talked to each other and smoked. We had visitation by two ex-members who fed us Sugar-Powered pastry. Later on, Andy tried the handle: 'What would it take to get you go away?'. Of course, when I told him, we didn't exactly have a meeting of minds. Toronto Dan managed to get up the jism to play silly buggers by blocking Alan shortly before the lunch break. Calling attention to off-duty officer stopped that right away."
"Realpch" protested in San Francisco.
"The official picket commenced at around 12:30 with just us two in attendance. I had the feeling that the Org may have been disappointed by this low turnout. Jeff Quiros was there, and Phil had quite a long conversation with him. Phil has lots to say and doesn't pull any punches in saying it. Phr turned up a little later, and that was pretty much our quorum. We had two guests who came for the vigil later, and that was it.
"Jour passed a lot of leaflets, and inspired by her skill, I actually passed out more than my customary paltry number. We got what seemed to me more positive acknowledgment from the public for our picketing than usual, though perhaps this was because we were there for a very long time. I got a lot of thank-you-for-picketing's from people, and one fellow brought us 4 cups of hot coffee!
"At dusk, we had a brief candlelight vigil, and Phil gave a short speech about the death of Lisa McPherson that was heartfelt. Then there was a comic interlude with an apparent local who inserted his person into the ceremonies. After dinner we went back for another short candlelight vigil for Lisa and our visiting SPs performed a waltz on the sidewalk that undoubtedly contained a good deal of personal meaning and was lovely and touching.
"NoScieno" reported a protest in Chicago.
"I printed up 70 flyers based on Deana Holmes's excerpts from Agent Strope's affidavit, adding a few links for more information, and managed to pass out about half of them in the blocks surrounding the org. No I wasn't so foolish as to try a solo picket of the org itself. Not only would they try to tail me home and 'destroy me utterly' for my heinous crime of spreading a little public awareness, but I'm sure it would be impossible to keep a dialog going with the people on the street.
"Basically I just kept moving, and telling everyone about the death of Lisa, and offering flyers. Just about every time, when I stopped to talk with anybody, 4 or 5 other people would gather around to listen. There was a lot of sympathy for Lisa and her family from almost everyone. Only two people didn't already know about Scientology's reputation, and began to scold me for 'attacking a church.' A quick listing of just a few of its crimes and unethical practices was enough to show that I was not 'against religion.' I got a lot of support from more knowledgeable others in my 'audience' when that happened, and it almost seemed as though I could organize a picket from volunteers right there!"
Keith Henson protested in San Jose and Palo Alto.
"I was in San Jose today and picketed the org there starting about 2:15 for 20 minutes. One guy went out of the parking lot the wrong way to avoid looking at me. Put in ten minutes at the Palo Alto org. I got a number of thumbs up from the heavy traffic."
Bruce Pettycrew protested in Mesa, Arizona.
"Kathy and I picketed from 9 to 10 AM today. Traffic was light, we had about 6 affirmations from drivers. We gave out two Lisa McPherson leaflets to pedestrians."
Grady Ward reported a Scientology revenge picket at his home while he was
in Clearwater this week.
"My wife Felicity reports that she and our two young boys were picketed at our home in Arcata, California yesterday by a lone picket, Ray Beeninga, the Airport Manager for the Arcata- McKinleyville Airport (ACV). My wife took photographs of him and she handed out an extensive information packet to neighbors containing verifiable news articles about the criminal activities of scientologists around the world.
"His 8.5' x 11' picket sign looked ludicrous. Photographs of the criminal cult acting in desperation will be posted when available."
Bob Minton reported revenge actions in Boston.
"On December 4th fliers were handed out at my wife's house in Boston. No one was home when this happened and no one reported picketing. Further, on December 5th when I was back from Clearwater for my 12 year olds birthday party, Scientology passed out fliers during her party which read as follows:
"'Robert S. Minton is involved in an Internet hate-group that has engaged in KKK-like tactics against a peaceful religious group. This weekend he has traveled to Florida to try and disrupt the lives of these individuals and those of their neighbors. Robert Minton, the leader of this group, has already been arrested twice for assault and battery against members of this church and has been ordered to stay away from church buildings. Stop the religious hatred and intolerance. Stop the violence. For more information see: www.parishioners.org"
Gregg Hagglund reported a revenge picket at his family's home.
"My family was Revenge Picketed for at least one half hour on Sat. Dec. 4. One of three picketers was a middle-aged blonde haired man. The other two were middle-aged women. The man earned the ire of several neighbors by aggressive attempts at badmouthing me. The police were eventually called but the Co$Hacks had left, taking their bad manners with them."
Scientology was been granted a tax exemption in Sweden this week. From a
Scientology press release:
"Tax authorities in Sweden have granted the Church of Scientology exemption from all taxes on the basis that the Church of Scientology is a nonprofit association with a religious purpose. The decision grants the Church full exemption from corporate income tax and value added tax.
"The adjudication by the Swedish tax authorities is consistent with tax authorities' decisions on Scientology in the United States, Australia, and Venezuela and a recent ruling by the Supreme Federal Administrative Court in Germany and the Italian Supreme Court. Earlier this month, the Administrative court in Stuttgart held that the Church of Scientology is an idealistic organization whose members are seeking salvation."
>From the Swedish tax office ruling, including a schedule of back taxes to be paid:
"The Church of Scientology, through its representative Lars Engstrand by letter of 30th August 1999, has applied for an accord with the state regarding income tax assessments in the Commune of Stockholm for the years 1986-89.
"The Tax Office made a fiscal adjudication in October 1999 that the Church of Scientology is to be considered as an idealistic association for the public benefit which carries out an economic activity. The Tax Office further considers that the economic activity being conducted is a natural part of the publicly beneficial purpose and the association is thereby exempted from income tax. With this, it also follows an exemption from Value Added Tax pursuant to the 4th chapter, section 8 of the Value Added Tax Law. It can be established that the Church of Scientology will not be charged income tax or VAT for the way that the activity is presently carried out.
"In light of what has been stated about the debts and the costs related to a bankruptcy, and where the state cannot expect to receive any revenue and in light of the amount of the accord, the Tax Office considers that taking into account all the circumstances in this case the accord which is offered is advantageous to the public.
"The total debt today to the Tax Office equals a principle of 629,041 SEK, auxiliary taxes of 589,600 SEK, and penalties of 73,325 SEK, totaling 1,291,966 SEK. The accord offered includes payment of 630,000 SEK. Payment will be made in 5 installments with a larger initial payment (which has also been agreed upon by the Enforcement Office), as follows: 400,000 SEK 5 Dec 1999, 60,000 SEK 30 Jan 2000, 60,000 SEK 29 Feb 2000, 60,000 SEK 31 Mar 2000, 50,000 SEK 30 Apr 2000."
The The Associated Press reports that a German official has been given a
suspended sentence for spying on Scientology in Switzerland.
"The German agent, operating under the alias Peter Goller, was arrested in Basel in April after meeting with two Swiss women, from whom he was suspected of trying to solicit information on the church. The Basel criminal court found the 41-year-old agent guilty of carrying out 'illegal business for a foreign state.' The one-day trial took place under heavy security and was preceded by an anonymous bomb threat."
UK Denies Charity
The Associated Press reported that Scientology has been rejected for
charity status in the U.K.
"Scientologists said they would appeal the decision, announced by the Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England and Wales. The commission said the church did not meet the essential test for charitable status - 'that of conferring public benefit.' It said Scientology activities 'were private in nature and in the benefit they delivered.'"
>From the Guardian, on December 10th:
"The controversial Church of Scientology had its application to be recognised as a religion turned down yesterday. After more than three years' deliberation, the Charity Commissioners rejected the organisation's claim saying that it did not qualify because it was not a religion and did not benefit the public. Critics of Scientology portray the organisation as a wacky cult that brainwashes individuals and exists to make money.
"The charity commissioners said in a statement yesterday that the sect was not charitable 'as an organisation established for the advancement of religion' or 'to promote the moral and spiritual welfare or improvement of the community'. Its core activities were 'auditing' and 'training' adherents, the commissioners ruled, which were of private, not public benefit.
"Disenchanted ex-Scientologists say at the highest level initiates are exposed to Hubbard's cosmology, which holds that in the distant past billions of surplus beings from other planets were herded to earth and slaughtered by an evil alien called Xenu. These dead beings still haunt us and are the cause of all ills. 'I haven't done these levels,' said Mr Wilson. 'I've seen some of the rubbish written about such things and I'm assured by those who have reached these levels that they are completely untrue. You might find some elements of truth in there.'"
The Guardian carried an editorial on the matter on December 12th.
"'If a man really wanted to make a million dollars,' said the late Ron Hubbard, 'the best way to do it would be to start a religion.' True to his word, Hubbard created the so-called Church of Scientology and amassed an enormous fortune. So successful was he that even today, long after his death, the Scientologists, with branches all over the world, have access to vast amounts of wealth.
"The trick, as the wily con man Hubbard realised, was to masquerade as a religion and call your organisation a church when in fact it was nothing of the kind. Thereby you could con not only gullible punters into parting with their cash but hopefully enjoy all kinds of perks and privileges which bona fide religious organisations enjoy.
"However, there is still some good in the world. Last week the Charity Commissioners decided that Scientology is not a religion and can therefore not enjoy the status of a charity for tax purposes, as it does in America. It apparently took the Commissioners three years to come to this decision - something the rest of us could have told them after about five minutes. Still, never mind, no doubt they were under a lot of pressure to go the other way.
"Rather surprisingly, it was conceded last week that Scientologists do believe in a supreme being, though they do not actually worship him or her. Presumably the Charity Commissioners felt, however, that this was not enough and that, if they gave the green light to the Scientologists, other organisations who believe in a supreme being might apply for charitable status - even the Labour Party."
The Star-Telegram reported that a Scientologist-owned veterinary clinic
has settled a lawsuit for job discrimination.
"An Arlington veterinary clinic has agreed to end a federal job discrimination lawsuit by splitting a $150,000 settlement among six former employees who said that their advancement was linked to participation in Church of Scientology training sessions. The former employees of the clinic in the 5800 block of West Interstate 20 said that they were pressured to participate in employee training programs developed by the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises. Promotions, raises and bonuses were tied to participation in the activities, and employees who did not take part suffered retaliation, the employees charged in their complaint.
"The lawsuit was filed against the veterinary clinic and not the church organization. It sought back pay for the former employees and punitive damages for discrimination. The settlement is not an admission of guilt, and Robinson denied that any employees suffered discrimination. Robinson said there's no record that the former employees complained about the practices internally before they filed the lawsuit.
"In addition to the monetary settlement, the clinic agreed not to engage in religious teachings or training at the facility and to conduct training sessions that will inform employees of the settlement, explain their rights and how to complain, said Devika Dubey, a senior trial attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission."