Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 11
by Rod Keller
Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review summarizes the most significant postings from the Usenet group Alt.religion.scientology for the preceding week for the benefit of those who can't follow the group as closely as they'd like. Out of thousands of postings, I attempt to include news of significant events, new affidavits, court rulings, new contributors, whatever. I hope you find it useful. Like many readers of a.r.s, I have a kill file. So please take into consideration that I may not have seen some of the most significant postings.
The articles in A.r.s Week in Review are brief summaries of articles posted to the newsgroup. They include message IDs for the original articles, and many have a URL to get more information. You may be able to find the original article, depending on how long your site stores articles in the newsgroup before expiring them.
Free A.r.s Week in Review subscriptions are available, just email me at
The San Jose Business Journal published a story on June 7th on Amazon's
decision to drop A Piece of Blue Sky, a book critical of Scientology.
"Amazon.com is about to be tested by one of the most litigious cults ever assembled--and consumers soon will learn how much grit the Seattle-based online bookseller has. In February Amazon removed from its offerings a controversial expose critical of the Church of Scientology, founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1959. To Amazon's credit, it reversed its position just before Memorial Day and is again offering the book. Amazon was deluged with complaints from angry customers--myself included--following the disclosure that it had removed the book from its shelves.
"Scientology has a tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, since it has won the right to call itself a 'church.' Yet it makes millions annually from mandatory charges to its members, as well as from sales of its books and videos. It's a business. I'm sure it has some sort of spiritual meaning to its members--there's a longing soul looking for badly needed enlightenment born every day. But it has revenue and profit, and the fact it pays no income taxes while at the same time whining about copyright infringement has raised my hackles.
"Look, if Scientology is able to get over on the Feds, with the support of the courts, more power to it, I suppose. But to sue writers, ex-church members, opponents, publishers or anyone who shares with the world its doctrine, on the basis of copyright infringement, and then duck behind its tax-exempt status, it galling. It shouldn't be allowed to have it both ways. Either it is a tax-exempt church that should not be able to copyright its doctrine any more than the Bible, Talmud or Koran can be patented; or it's a business that can copyright its written word, but then which must pay taxes on the profits of those works like any other publisher."
The Los Angeles Daily News reported that the founder of Scientology's
Narconon program, Willie Benitez, has died.
"Founder of the Narconon drug rehabilitation program, passed away on Thursday, June 3, 1999, after a brief illness. Mr. Benitez started Narconon in 1966 while an inmate at Arizona State Prisons, and in a little over 33 years, the program he started to help a small group of fellow addicts grew beyond the prison walls to become a worldwide network of 60 drug rehabilitation and drug education centers in more than 25 countries.
"As a further extension of his work to help inmates, Mr. Benitez became a Hearings Officer for the Arizona Department of Corrections, where we worked for 19 years. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, June Benitez, a daughter and son-in-law, Lana and Jeff Glazier, a daughter and son-in-law, Laura Nitto and John Gibbs, and grandchildren Lisha, Nicole and Jake Glazier of Phoenix, Arizona, and Spencer Bird of Denver, Colorado.
"The family request that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the William C. Benitez Scholarship Fund at Narconon International, Church of Scientology, 7060 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 220, Los Angeles, CA. 90028"
The New York Daily News published an article on June 7th about the summer
move Bowfinger, which parodies Scientology. HBO appears to have dropped
production plans for a film on Scientology.
"Hollywood insiders who've gotten a sneak peek at 'Bowfinger,' the Eddie Murphy-Steve Martin comedy about a religion called Mind Head, say the film is an obvious tweaking of the beliefs of Scientologists, among them John Travolta and Tom Cruise. 'Bowfinger,' which opens July 23, has Murphy playing Kit Ramsey, a movie mega-star deeply dependent on Mind Head's cold and controlling leader, played by Terence Stamp.
"Martin, who wrote the script, has said in published reports that Mind Head is a 'pastiche' of spiritual-guidance groups that hold sway in Hollywood. And Church of Scientology spokeswoman Janet Weiland told us, 'I spoke to the people at Universal, and they assure me that Bowfinger is not about the Church of Scientology. I have to believe them.' But Mr. Showbiz' Jeffrey Wells says on his Net site: 'I've seen the movie, and all I have to say is, 'Yeah, right.''
"Scientology followers may have had more to worry about from a now-dormant HBO biopic of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The script, by John Stockwell and Nancy Stoddart, is said to be evenhanded and scrupulously sourced from Hubbard's own writings. But 'it's obviously not the film the Scientologists would make,' says an insider, who reports that the screenplay doesn't overlook Hubbard's two marriages and the suicide of his son.
"The cable network had quietly been developing the project for several years. But a rep for new HBO production head Colin Callender says that it is 'no longer in active development.' Was the project too hot for HBO to handle given the church's past court battle with the network's corporate cousin, Time magazine? 'That's pure speculation,' says the HBO rep, adding that 'a regime changes and takes a look at the old one's slate.'
This Is London published an article on Scientology celebrities Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
Tom and 'Nic' (as he lovingly calls her) are aliens. And so, by the way, are the rest of us. As devout members of the Church of Scientology, the Cruises believe that humans are an exiled race from outer space called Thetans. The collapse in 1990 of Tom's first marriage, to actress Mimi Rogers, has been attributed to the failure of the union to produce children. Soon after her divorce from Tom, Mimi became pregnant by her new man. She offered an apparent explanation for the lack of children from the union, citing Tom's religious beliefs. She said: 'He thought he had to be celibate to maintain the purity of his instrument.' She added: 'My instrument, on the other hand, needed tuning.'
"Tom and Nicole's couple's children, Isabella, six, and Connor, three, are adopted. The birth of adopted daughter Isabella sounds a little odd. Isabella's natural mother - an impoverished follower of Scientology - was instructed to remain silent during the delivery because Scientologists believe that noise at birth can damage children's brains."
Arnie Lerma reported on a meeting of the Helsinki Commission on religious
freedom in Europe.
"Joe Harrington was there also wearing an XXLarge, SCN Kills [shirt]. Joe said Sue Taylor looked mortified to him there. [We] walked the halls of congress in our t-shirts, going into random offices and handing out literature, got a lot of 'Good Lucks' and smiles.
"Senators on Panel: Ben Nighthorse Campbell Colorado [co-chair], Kay Baily Hutchison - Texas, Spencer Abraham - Michigan, Sam Brownback - Kansas, Tim Hutchinson - Arkansas, Frank Lautenberg - NJ, Bob Graham - Florida, Russel Feingold - Wisconsin, Chritopher Dodd Conn.
House side: Christopher H Smith - NJ Chairman, Frank Wolf - VA, Matt Salmon - AZ [rumored to be scientology's boy], James C Greenwood - PA, Michael Forbes - NY, Steny Hoyer - Md, Edward Markey - Mass., Benjamin Cardin - Md, Louise Slaughter - NY.
"50 people attended the hearing today of the CSCE and all of them saw Scientology Kills and WWW.XENU.NET. I spoke to perhaps a half dozen of them after the meeting and distributed another dozen flyers."
Danish TV DR2 aired a documentary on Scientology this week. Christina
Egholm summarized the broadcast.
"Tonight Danish TV has brought a 2 hour critical documentary about CoS. In-between the documentaries there were interviews and debate with scientists and politicians. They did a reconstruction of the Sec. Check for children - the 'what has somebody told you not to tell' drill etc. Also they showed the horrifying buildings the members live in in Copenhagen - as opposed to the beautiful 'official' buildings, Scientology have here. Furthermore they talked about the isolation of the children, the indoctrination, and the fact that they hardly get to spend any time with their parents.
"Afterwards a member of the Danish parliament and the chairman of The Children's Council discussed what to do after having been presented with these facts. They ARE going to do something, they promised. They both agreed that it was child abuse and it had to be stopped - and that it had to be checked out thoroughly that all Scientology children living in Denmark are living under 'suitable' conditions."
Former Scientologist Jesse Prince was interviewed for the show.
"TOM HEINEMANN: You signed a document saying that you promised not to speak bad about Scientology.
"JESSE PRINCE: Well, at the time that I signed that document, I was being held prisoner by Scientology at Gilman Hot Springs in California. Under guard, armed guard, video surveillance, security sensor equipment. And I was held there for so long, and then one day, they come and they say, 'You can leave. All you have to do is sign this.' I didn't even read it, I just signed it. My wife didn't read it either, she signed it and we left.
"I received at least five, five or six death threats. I know exactly where they come from. They come from the senior authorities of Scientology paying private investigators to do psychological warfare on its critics.
"It's a cancer within the society. It's a disease whereby, you know, young, idealistic people are brought into Scientology; they're separated from their families. Everything that they could possibly own or have endowed to them such as credit, um, trust funds or whatever, are taken by Scientology. They take huge amounts of money from people.
"In one of the very first out-of-the-country jobs that I had to do was to come here and extort mission holders--mission holders being people that have a small franchise and license to use Scientology--that had accumulated money. I was sent here along with a group of senior people that are still within Scientology to extort them out of their money so that the money could be taken and sent to either Liechtenstein banks or Cyprus banks that were set up because there was a real threat in America that the IRS, the Internal Revenue Service, was gonna raid Scientology and seize its bank accounts.
"These people were called in on a false premise that they were gonna be given a new and wonderful briefing about the new direction of Scientology's expansion. And when they were all brought in the room, the door was locked, and they were screamed at for hours and they were told to write down every bad thing that they did. And then they were photographed exactly as criminals were--mug shots, where they had to do a front profile, a side profile. They were put on the Scientology e-meter and all the senior executives of Scientology crowded around and screamed at the person at once--they call that gang-bang sec checking. And then they were told to relinquish, relinquish their bank accounts and pull out their check books and empty their bank accounts, and then this money was taken--whoosh--very quickly, and taken to Liechtenstein or Cyprus. And, um, that still goes on.
"By no stretch of the imagination is Scientology a religion. It's actually--the bulk of Scientology--in my opinion, I would say 70% of Scientology is built on intelligence--intelligence practices as they were being practiced in the 1950s Cold War era, which is the mentality of L. Ron Hubbard."
Die Welt published an article on June 8th about Scientology and other
cults recruiting in France.
"Sect influence upon children is being scrutinized in France for the first time. The terrible bottom line: more and more children are falling victim to sects. According to a report from an office of the Interior Ministry, it is estimated that about 40,000 children have been affected. Frequently their parents do not have the slightest idea to whom they are entrusting their children. For instance it recently surfaced that the 'Institut Aubert' school in Paris has connections to Scientology.
"The most significant role in the recruitment of children at this time is played by groups affiliated with Scientology. With short courses, sports, tutoring and child care, according to the report, the sect has already attracted 2,000 children."
Jens Tingleff summarized a broadcast on French TV this week.
"This evening (Thursday 10th of June 1999), a French specialist on the Co$, Serge Faubert, and a group of other journalists had a one-hour spot in a prime-time investigative TV programme - 'Envoye Special' on France 2. In spite of taking great pains to be fair to the $cientologists, the main impression was not positive. We were all set to get out our hankies to weep for the sorry plight of Pierre, the nuclear clam, who had been transferred out of the nuclear power field only because he is a $cientologist. Unfortunately, Pierre felt compelled to share his impressions of the purification run-over and referred to 'important scientific evidence' which supported his view that the purif was just the ticket. Of course, he didn't want to bore the journalists by quoting from these documents. Nor could the organisation furnish these materials.
"Laywers for people who are busy trying to sue the French Co$ pointed out that the act of wiping out a company which owes money to the tax authorities and establishing a new one can be criminal. A crime which is not, by the way, subject to a statute of limitations. One is still searching for complete certainty in the matter of the agent ('F10') who guided the President (Mitterand) to influence the investigation by judge Fenech in Lyons in the case the suicide of Patrice Vic."
A Dutch court has returned a mixed decision in Scientology's copyright
infringement case against Karin Spaink.
"The court has ruled that your homepage does not infringe the rights of the Church (anymore). The quotations of OT II, III and Ability do not infringe, and the Church has not substantiated that it holds any other rights with regard to its other documents. Your homepage can remain unaltered. The court has ruled that you have infringed the rights of CoS in the past. The court finds, however, that there is no fear that you will do so again in the future.
"According to the court the ISP may be obliged to cooperate and to take adequate measures if he finds that one of his subscribers infringes copyrights of third parties or otherwise acts unlawful. He may be obliged to prevent further infringement. If the infringement is obvious, and he does not intervene, the ISP may act unlawful."
>From ANP Newswire on June 9th:
"Internet providers who know that there are Scientology texts on their computer system have to remove those immediately, otherwise they get a fine of 5000 guilders per day. The county court in The Hague has ruled this Wednesday in the basic procedure that the Scientology Church had instituted against over twenty Internet providers and the writer Karin Spaink. Several years ago she had large parts of secret works from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard on her homepage on the Internet.
"The court considered it proven that the Scientology Church has the copyrights on the works of Hubbard. During the period she had those works on her homepages, Spaink infringed those copyrights. However, she is allowed, as she is doing since February 1996, to quote form those works, according to the court.
"A 'pleased' Spaink said she was nevertheless worried because the court also condemned so-called hyperlinks. About this there had never been any discussion in the Dutch courts. According to her the verdict is absolutely debatable. Selling child pornography is illegal, a sign with the text 'Here you can buy child pornography' not, according to her.
>From CNET News.com on June 9th:
"Linking to a site that contains material that infringes someone's copyright also is an infringement, a Dutch court ruled today, according to the Church of Scientology, the plaintiff in the case. The County Court in the Hague ruled that the materials on the Dutch Web site also infringed the church's copyrights. But the court broke new ground when it ruled that hyperlinks to the materials also infringed the church's copyrights. Although only binding in Holland, the decision got the attention of attorneys who follow Internet law.
"'It's hard for me to imagine how this holding can be correct,' said Dan Burk, an associate professor of law at Seton Hall University, who noted that hyperlinks serve merely as footnotes or library call numbers that direct a computer to the source of information. 'I think it's pretty clear that just giving you a reference can't make me an infringer,' he added.
"But Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, said that it is 'not implausible' that a U.S. court could agree with today's decision under a theory known as 'contributory infringement.' 'The only requirements [for a showing of contributory infringement] are that you knew or should have known about the infringement and you materially contributed to the infringement,' Volokh said. 'This [decision] isn't some ridiculous thing that only a Dutch court could come up with.'"
Protest / Revenge Summary
"Realpeach" posted a summary of recent revenge actions at her home. She is
a regular protester at the San Francisco org.
"I got a home picket by two Scientologists today, so I thought I'd report on it, and the last couple of incidents I hadn't posted before. May 27, 1999: Two incidents. I got home at 7:20 pm to find two people picketing my house with the standard 'Religious Bigot' flyers attached to picket signs. Both were older people, who certainly ought to have known better, one man, one woman. Someone else came by later and left one of those rock-filled, rolled up flyers on the walkway to my house.
"May 30, 1999: It was the man named Craig who has picketed me before. But when I opened the door ready to get a picture, no one was there. June 6, 1999: Two picketers this time, the woman with the dark curly hair, and Craig.
"It has been my policy to do my best to not engage in discussion with the Scientologist Home Picket/Harassment Brigade. I do not wish to reward what I consider to be outrageous stalking. My neighbors however, have no such policy. In the strongest terms they advised the Scientologists to leave the neighborhood. Which, after a few minutes, the two Scientologists did. My neighbors also said that their kids don't like to walk down the sidewalk when the Scientologists are there."
"Eldon" reported a protest at the Paris org, and his subsequent detention by police.
"I proceeded to 7, rue Julius Cesar, a not heavily trafficked street. My handheld sign said: Le mystere de la secte - 1.000.000 F [crossed out] GRATUIT! In English, that's: The Sect's Secret - 1,000,000 francs [crossed out] FREE! Even so, many passersby thought I was offering a free personality test with a catchy slogan, so I made it a point to say 'C'est contre la secte,' emphasizing heavily the word 'contre.' Then they smiled and took a flier, happy to see someone opposing their neighbors, who appear to be uniformly regarded with suspicion.
"Soon six scienos emerged, discussing what to do. Two crossed the street and engaged me in conversation, part in my fractured French and part in equally fractured English. Another approached and snapped a couple of pictures, for which I nicely smiled, holding a 'L'HISTOIRE DE XENU' flier under my chin. I gave them a rather obtuse piece of paper I had printed out explaining that I was an American ex-Scieno protesting Scientology's harassment of Safe, and that I hoped it took them a lot of wasted effort to figure out who I was. This was in English, and I told they could fax it to California or Florida or wherever in order to report this entheta incident.
"They informed me that I could not hand out flyers and make a 'manifestation' (demonstration) in Paris without a permit, and that they were going to call the police. I had been told by four people that I was doing nothing wrong, including the neighbor who was hanging around, so I told them to go right ahead, figuring that they were lying. Then I meandered some more, handing out flyers. Well, sure enough, the police showed up and asked to see my passport. I was then transported in their van to the XIIeme arrondissement station. They were a bit befuddled, asking various questions about what I was doing in France, and why there was no stamp on my passport from my entry into France (they haven't stamped passports for several years, since no entry visa is required for US citizens).
"One cop who spoke pretty good English said I needed to indicate the name of the author and the organization being represented on flyers being handed out. I pointed out that the name of the author was indeed on the flyer. The other cop said handing out flyers is only permitted during official manifestations. None of them could tell me what law I had violated - the old 'not my department' runaround. They were nice enough, and said I could go, but I couldn't leaflet promiscuously again or I would get fined. They kept my card and a copy of the flier for their files."
"Gypsyblue", a protester at the Toronto org reported possible surveillance of her home.
"It's late (2:30 am, to be exact) and I, night owl and chronic insomniac, am sitting at my computer. The beagles next door are behaving excessively, even for beagles. I step out on to the deck and look down the staircase. At the bottom are two 'gentlemen' - they say 'we were just taking photos'. Then they scurry off, even before the 'ohhhh????' has left my mouth.
"The officer I spoke to asked why I didn't call last night, when it happened. I said 'I didn't want to seem paranoid, I've recently become active in the fight against Scientology'. You know, I sensed that her demeanor changed, that she became somewhat more sympathetic when she heard that. Anyhow, I'm waiting now for an officer to return my call and get the details."
Bruce Pettycrew protested at the Mesa, Arizona org this week.
"Kathy and I picketed this morning from 8:30 to 9:30. Two women arrived at about 8:45, and had to wait until 9:00 for Leslie 'Doorman' Duhrman to arrive to unlock the site of mysterious money-mongering. About 10 minutes later a guy on a bicycle arrived, sans shirt, to join them. No handlers or 'Church picketers are bigots' sign. They went to a lot of effort to make that 10 foot banner, for only one use."
Anonymous a.r.s poster "Safe" had his true identity revealed to
Scientology by AT&T this week.
"They totally betrayed my trust. That the Church of Scientology has betrayed my trust again is nothing new though. Telecommunications Giant AT&T gave in to the CofS Management bullies. Now AT&T has opened me up to being 'fair gamed' by the church of Scientology to ruin me utterly if possible."
>From The Deseret News on June 12th:
"A law firm affiliated with the Church of Scientology on Monday compelled AT&T's Internet service to reveal the name of a subscriber who had been critical of the church in an online newsgroup. 'It is terrifyingly easy to rip off the cover of anonymity,' said Daniel Leipold, a Santa Ana, Calif., attorney who represents the man. Bridge Publications Inc., which publishes literature for the Church of Scientology, recently took advantage of a federal law enacted last year - the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - that allows subpoenas to be issued even without the filing of a suit in cases involving potential copyright infringement. The man, known only as 'Safe,' had posted documents to the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup. His attorney argues that the postings are protected under 'fair use' doctrine because they commented on how 'suppressive' some of the church's rules are, and then supported that contention by listing 274 'crimes' against the church cited in one of its publications.
"Citing potential copyright infringement, Bridge subpoenaed records from AT&T, which handled Safe's Internet account. After notifying Safe, AT&T turned his name over to Bridge Publications on Monday."
Tages-Anzeiger reported on June 9th that Buchs has joined Basel,
Switzerland in banning public recruiting by Scientology.
"Pedestrians in Buchs may no longer be confronted by Scientology members on public ground. The District Council based its decision on a criminal code of the Basel City Canton. The new Basel criminal code has been in force since last November. An open objection by Scientology before the federal court cannot serve as a delaying tactic, according to court decision."
>From Tagblatt Lokales on June 9th:
"Upon publication of the District Council's decision on Tuesday, the telephone rang in District Council Secretary's Mario Duesel's office. It was a suggestion from the Scientology camp that the decision should be corrected. The Council has no reason to review its decision at the present time, however. Scientology will have to resort to putting its request in writing, said Duesel. Other communities have had the same problem as Buchs. Fifteen months ago the city of Wil turned down an application by the Scientology Church. Scientology had wanted to operate an information stand in Wil."
Tages-Anzeiger reported on June 11th that Scientology will move into smaller quarters in Zurich.
"Scientology will vacate the mega-center on Badener Street in late summer or fall to move into two buildings with about 2,000 square meters of space at 11 and 27 Freilager Street. Course rooms and offices will be set up in two floors over the Mito Grage at 11 Freilager Street. The spaces have been vacant for almost two years. Scientologists are already engaged in renovative work. At 27 Freilager Street a printer's shop and offices will be established.
"Ruedi Schellenber, manager of the property at 11 Freilager Street, has no fear of trouble. 'For us Scientology is a renter, just like anybody else,' he said. Garage mechanic Karl Ecker at 27 Freilager Street is not especially overjoyed. 'I'll have to get along with the Scientologists and hope that they leave me in peace.' Robert Wille, boss at the Mito Garage, is not worried about his customers reacting negatively. He is still surprised that the new renters agreed to a few less parking spots.
"Press spokesman Juerg Stettler explained that they would not proselytize in Albisrieden, since Freilager Street is currently situated in an industrial quarter. For its missionary work an information and test center is planned in the inner city."
The Associated Press reported this week that Scientology celebrity John
Travolta credits his power in the film industry for the upcoming
Battlefield Earth movie.
"John Travolta's comeback is old news. Now he's so big in Hollywood he can really throw his weight around. 'I can get things done that a studio might not normally do,' Travolta says. 'I told my manager, 'If we can't do the things now that we want to do, what good is the power?' It's a waste, basically. Let's test it and try to get the things done that we believe in.'' One result of that effort is 'Battleship Earth,' a movie version of L. Ron Hubbard's science fiction novel. 'It's the pinnacle of using my power for something,' Travolta said. 'We've been trying to make it for 10 years, but we never got a script that was right. Hubbard had been writing sci-fi, fantasy and pulp since 1937, and it's high time it was done.'"
Scientology settled a libel case in London this week with Bonnie Woods.
>From Reuters on June 8th:
"The Church of Scientology on Tuesday agreed to pay a former member 55,000 pounds ($88,000) in libel damages and to apologise publicly for calling her a hate campaigner. The settlement with American-born Bonnie Woods, who was a member of the church in the 1970s, was announced at London's High Court.
"Michael Tugenhadt, a lawyer for Woods, said she publicly criticised the Scientologists and had attended vigils outside its bookshop in Surrey. 'As a result of her activities, in June 1993 the Church produced a leaflet showing a photograph of Mrs Woods above the words 'Hate Campaigner Comes to Town',' Tugenhadt said. 'Bonnie Woods does not hate any religion and would not take any step to force people away from their chosen religion or encourage others to do so.'"
>From the Daily Express on June 8th:
"The cult favoured by Hollywood stars is to pay 155,000 pounds for harassing a woman in a six-year campaign of hate. Bonnie Woods became the Church of Scientology's target when she left them and began counselling people who got caught up in religious sects. Now the church, whose followers include Tom Cruise and John Travolta, has agreed to apologise in the High Court today for orchestrating the dirty tricks campaign against Mrs Woods. It will promise not to repeat allegations against her, under the terms of the settlement of a libel action she brought against the church. The cult, which claims to have 100,000 members in Britain, described Mrs Woods as a 'spreader of disinformation who has caused untold upset among families'. Ian Thomas, a solicitor at the top London firm Allan & Overy said: 'It means that the Church of Scientology won't be allowed to repeat these allegations without being found in contempt of court.'"
>From the Sunday Times on June 9th: "Bonnie Woods, 49, fought a six-year libel battle against the Church that is estimated to have cost 100,000 pounds and involved more than 25 appearances in court. Her legal action began in 1993 when, after she spoke out against Scientology and offered counselling to its members, the Church hit back with a leaflet campaign delivered to Mrs Woods's friends and neighbours in East Grinstead, West Sussex. The leaflet, which showed a picture of Mrs Woods above the words 'Hate Campaigner Comes to Town', described her as a 'de-programmer', or someone who tried to force people away from their chosen faith.
"Michael Tugendhat, QC, representing the Church, told Mr Justice Eady that his clients 'regret that when responding to Mrs Woods's criticisms of the Church of Scientology they went too far in attributing to her conduct and motives which they now accept were not correct'.
"Mrs Woods became a Scientologist in the United States during the 1970s but left in 1982, moving to England with her husband, Richard, in 1985. In 1991 she converted to Christianity. Some time later Mrs Woods and her husband began to provide information and advice about Scientology through their organisation, Escape. It was this activity that provoked the Church's leaflet campaign, delivered through the letterboxes of those living in the same road as the Woods family and to members of the public on East Grinstead High Street.
"Outside court, Mrs Woods said: 'I am delighted that my reputation has been vindicated and relieved that this litigation is over.' The Church said: 'In deciding to settle the action, the Church bore in mind that Bonnie Woods would have been completely unable to pay the enormous costs of trial if the Church had won.'"
>From the Independent:
"After moving to Britain with her husband, Richard, she converted to Christianity in 1991 and later began offering advice and operating a help line for families and friends of Scientologists. She publicly criticised the church and gave media interviews about her experiences as a member. She also attended vigils outside its bookshop in East Grinstead, West Sussex, handing out a pamphlet highly critical of the church.
"In 1993 the church produced a leaflet, showing a photograph of Mrs Woods above the words 'Hate Campaigner Comes to Town', which was delivered to neighbours living on the same road and distributed on East Grinstead High Street. In 1993 she sued the church for libel. The Scientologists countersued with two writs, in 1994 and 1996, which were dropped last year after the church refused to disclose secret documents.
"Mrs Woods said demonstrators paraded outside the couple's home and the house was watched. A private detective working for the Scientologists encouraged a creditor to pursue a claim against her and she was declared bankrupt. After the hearing Mrs Woods, wearing a gold and diamante 'Jesus' brooch, called her ordeal a 'Job experience', adding: 'You learn to live at a level of harassment that most people would find intolerable. But we have a deep faith and sometimes you can learn from suffering.'"