Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue
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
Die Presse reported on July 14 that warnings are being raised against a
new Scientology mailing campaign in Austria.
"The Archdiocese of Vienna warns of letters from the Scientology sect. In the letters an alleged Commission for Violations of Psychiatry against Human Rights portends to be a partner against the undermining of faith and religion."
U.S. Representative Mary Bono is speaking out about Scientology's
relationship with her late husband, Sonny Bono. From the Washington Post
on July 15th:
"Since her election to the House, Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) has gotten two visits from emissaries of the Church of Scientology, including one from well-known church adherent John Travolta. The California Republican's late husband was a devotee of Scientology, but church officials did not find a receptive audience in Mary Bono. Bono tells George magazine that Sonny Bono ultimately became disenchanted with the church. 'Sonny did try to break away at one point, and they made it very difficult for him,' the congresswoman says.
"Bono says she told the Scientologists who visited her House office that she will deal with any 'legitimate concern' they have. A church official denied to the magazine that there had been any estrangement with Sonny Bono."
>From a July 15th article in the New York Post Page:
"Pop-star-turned-politician Sonny Bono, once a devoted Scientologist, tried to break away from the cult-like group in 1991 - but members refused to let him, his widow says. 'Sonny did try to break away at one point, and they made it very difficult for him,' she recalled of a California book tour in 1991 during which church members paid a visit to Bono at his hotel. 'Extremely difficult. I was resentful of that. I did not like the fact that he said, 'Hey, I'm done with it. I'm not a Scientologist.' And they were saying, 'Hey, you can't do that.' 'He was amazed, and I was upset.'
"'Ridiculous,' Scientology official Mike Rinder told The Post last night. 'I'm very offended by the statements that were made' in the article, said Rinder, a member of the church's board of trustees. 'I had both a personal and professional relationship with Sonny. He was constantly talking to me, seeking advice and assistance on matters ... I had no indication he was not a Scientologist. He never said anything discouraging to me. 'I don't know what Mary Bono 's agenda is, but it isn't Sonny's,' Rinder added."
Grady Ward reported that Scientology has filed for sanctions against him.
"RTC filed a motion on July 14, 1999 demanding $4,446 in sanctions from me for allegedly canceling a hearing without giving them adequate notice. Besides the material factual errors that can be corroborated both by Pacific Bell and Judge Infante's courtroom deputy Ms. Andrea Hollis herself, this motion shows the extent the RTC will try to blow smoke to hide the underlying issues. Meritless -- indeed frivolous -- and *itself* a sanctionable violation of filing standards of FRCivP 11 and 18 USC 1927."
The Way to Happiness
The Los Angeles Times reported on July 15th that Scientology will
distribute Hubbard's book The Way to Happiness in Glendale, California.
"The Glendale Business Association, a collection of about 25 Glendale businesses that follow management techniques developed by Hubbard, is sending out 64,000 copies of the book, one to every home in Glendale. The group supports the Glendale Chamber of Commerce's 'Character and Ethics Project,' a program designed to mainstream morals and values into society.
"'The Way to Happiness' is a nonreligious moral guide for living that Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, wrote before his death in 1986. Hubbard wrote the book as a way around the separation of church and state, said Cat Tebar, a spokeswoman for the church in Hollywood.
"Some members of the chamber are distancing themselves from the book. Chip Stone, a co-chairman of the ethics project, said the group's mailings are not affiliated with the chamber. 'There is not a relationship,' he said. Marilyne Wiechmann, a chamber member who is on the Character and Ethics Project Committee, was more adamant. 'The L. Ron Hubbard program is very controversial,' she said. 'I don't think the project should be involved in anything controversial.' Those who have read the book say it has tremendous value to society. Jim Dadlani, a member of the chamber's board of directors, said he hopes people realize the mailings are not from the chamber. 'But a project like that does not need the chamber's blessing,' he said."
Keith Henson this week posted Scientology's demand for attorney fees
related to the failed appeal of his judgment for copyright violation.
"Plaintiff-Appellee Religious Technology Center hereby moves this Court for an award of its attorneys' fees as the prevailing party. RTC seeks a fee award of $129,250.75, plus expenses of $12,064.81, for a total award for legal services on appeal of $141,315.56.
"Henson's conduct, commencing with his infringements and continuing throughout his 'defense' of this case, was specifically calculated to cost RTC as much as possible in an openly declared effort to exact from RTC a heavy price for enforcing its intellectual property rights. In keeping with his stated goal, Henson's conduct of this appeal went far beyond the normal and appropriate actions of an appellant who is prosecuting his appeal in good faith.
"If ever there was a frivolous litigant, it is Henson. Henson has always viewed this litigation as entertainment, as an opportunity to achieve personal status among his like-minded cohorts on the Internet, and as a means to visit financial hardship on RTC.
"The threat to RTC's intellectual property on the Internet continues. That threat emanates not from commercial enterprises, but from individual infringers like Henson who engage in a form of 'cyber-terrorism' that makes the conventional threat of a lawsuit and injunction almost meaningless. Many of these infringers regard it as a badge of honor to be sued or threatened with suit by RTC or other Scientology entities and believe that, injunctive relief notwithstanding, no genuine adverse financial consequences will result from their acts. Thus, RTC has been required to expend significant financial resources to protect its copyrights in a medium where RTC is at a significant disadvantage over infringers who can disseminate its unpublished works to potential Internet users at the stroke of a computer key. RTC submits that it is only through substantial damage and attorneys' fees awards that unrepentant law breakers such as Henson will be deterred."
Protest / Revenge Summary
Catarina Pamnell protested against Scientology in Copenhagen this week.
"Me and Ake Wiman arrived in Copenhagen Friday night for preparations. I went to meet a new picketer trainee. He's a Swedish university student, Valfrid Lindeman. We mainly stayed on the sidewalk just opposite of the AOSHEU. Ake first went into the org to ask for Danish Freedom magazines, 'Frihed', and got some. After a while we got company by some scientologists distributing their fliers (free personality test, film, What is Scientology book) and some Frihed mags. We also had a number of 'handlers' throughout the day, like Erik who was doing the video filming, Julia, BlondLady, PurpleHairedLady, BagLady, and CurlyHead (very sorry, but unlike us they were not wearing any name tags).
"Young people will often take the flier. There are quite a few tourists passing by, so English fliers also come in handy. Several people said 'I don't need a flier, I already know about Scientology' - and many would not take one until you had explained that even though we were outside the org, we were leafleting against the CoS. All in all, we distributed 298 Danish Xenu fliers, and over 100 English Lisa/Xenu.
"Eventually we got moving again, this time going over to the DK org at Gammel Kongevej. Ake still wanted a copy of the latest edition of Frihed which they didn't have at the AOSHEU, so he rang the door bell of the org and asked for it. We were let inside the stairs, but with our t-shirts not allowed into the actual org upstairs. The scieno staffer did however come out with five copies of Frihed, which was nice of him.
"Back at Jernbanegade, they had put out an e-meter test table! Ole and Ake went up to have a look. I was a bit anxious for a while that the discussions were getting too heated - being a non-confrontative person myself. But the boys cooled off and there were no incidents.
"Sunday. We got to Jernbanegade at about 12.50. They had all the different european etc. flags out on the facade, which looks quite festive. It took them a few minutes, but then we got flier distributors and handlers, just like the day before. By now, some of the handlers were catching on to our little trick of saying 'it's against Scientology' when offering the fliers. CurlyHead was pointing at one after the other of the people standing in the street, saying 'that's a scientologist', 'that's a scientologist', etc. When he pointed at Valfrid, another scieno said 'no, he's not a scientologist', but CurlyHead said 'yes, he's a scientologist, everyone here is a scientologist'. And when somebody was reaching for our fliers, Julia said 'that's information about Scientology!'"
"Shellac" posted reports on protests at Scientology's open house in London.
"Having promised Jaques Vollet that I would return to Selfridges Hotel (where the 'What is Scientology?' exhibition is currently on show) I planned to return yesterday (Monday 12th July). The exhibition itself is a disappointment. There are virtually no members of the public in there, and of the four I take to be outsiders one is clearly less than impressed. I subject myself to the 'pinch' test. Essentially all that happens is that I grasp the 'cans' of the e-meter, then a woman pinches me, and subsequently 'clears' the memory of the pinch. Intriguingly as a suppressive I am supposed to 'rock slam', that is the needle is supposed to shoot off to the right when the cans are first held. No such thing happens.
"Later that day another critic (and former scientologist) and I return to hand out leaflets. I am handled by a guy who is 'nearly clear' but even I can stare better than him."
"So we come to Wednesday. I arrive at 5.30pm (for rush hour) outside Selfridges. In contrast to my previous two visits the Scientology leafletters are known to me from visits to TCR. As I begin handing out our leaflets a bus passes with the Damnation Navy Band (or 'The Jive Aces' as their fan knows them) give a demonstration of their 'musicianship tech'. Curiously this bus is never seen again. Richard turns up after a few minutes and the two of us distribute leaflets to the homeward-bound masses."
"Enfant Terrible" posted a description of a protest at the Minneapolis org this week.
"Sue and I picketed the Minneapolis 'Hubbard Dianetics Center' last night, 17 July. We started our picket at 5:30 PM. There were a lot of people downtown for the Minnesota Orchestra's 'Sommerfest' concert (their hall is just down the street from us), and the annual Hennepin Ave. Block Party. Consequently, we saw lots of pedestrians, cyclists and bus passengers.
"Sue was armed with her trusty picket sign ('Does the Bridge really cost $360,000?' and 'Scientology: Space Alien Scam') and copies of the famous 'Xenu' flyer. I brought my copy of Jon Atack's book 'A Piece of Blue Sky' and copies of my version of the 'Why I Picket Scientology' flyer. I also had flyers made especially for the scienos, which start with 'If you are a scientologist, you should think for yourself'. As always, the response from passersby was completely favorable.
"One by one, publics and staff came out to handle us; first a woman named Brenda. Then, 'Laurie', an older woman with an accent who had talked to us previously, came out to talk to us. After listening to our stories regarding the church's abuses, she attested to OT7. Without missing a beat, I replied 'Cool! Maybe you could tell us about Xenu!' She flinched visibly and changed the subject. Five minutes later, I asked about Xenu again, and she excused herself. Two 12 year old boys wearing rollerblades came out of the org and confronted us. One of them said 'You know, you are just making asses of yourselves out here. This is a really good place'. I regarded the boys with kindly, quizzical expression on my face and said 'Where did you boys learn to talk like that? The South Park movie?' At this, the adult scienos panicked and herded the boys back into the org."
Gregg Hagglund reported additional harassment of his family this week, with disturbing results.
"Recently my Brother and Parents received a threatening letter from Scientologist Peter Ramsay. As part of Scientology's Hate campaign against me Ramsay apparently threatened my brothers reputation and my Parents Church. They do not know this is an Operation by the despicable Office of Special Affairs out of Toronto, run by the cowardly and weak abuser of young and old: Al Buttnor and ordered by the pond scum, hiding in his closet, known as David Miscavige. Today I learned my brother in Ottawa, has 'Disconnected' from me. He has call blocked my home phone number. I managed to speak to him briefly today by calling him from another line.
"He informed me he is very afraid of what Scientology might do to disrupt his job, his family and children and his Church. He will not have any communication with me, because of this fear, as long as I continue to campaign against Scientology. I am sure, one day soon, I will receive a letter from my Brother, informing me of this, 'Disconnection'.
"Another family member, also terrified of Scientology, has told me, today, should Scientology discover them or their whereabouts and begin to harass and torment them as well, them that family member would sue *me*. (For what I can not fathom.) This other family member has also ceased communication.
"This is *extremely* upsetting to me, as it is totally unnecessary on their part to Disconnect with me out of fear of the NeoFascist Scientologists. However, I will *not* remain quiet or silenced by this Evil. My family, *out of fear*, will not have little or nothing to do with me as long as I continue to my legal right to campaign peacefully against the Evil that is Scientology. Therefore, if I wish to speak to my family again and have Harmony within my family, Scientology must cease to exist. So, it is in my best interest to persevere along legal courses until the Criminal Cult is destroyed utterly and as soon as possible."
"Wulfen" protested in Toronto this week.
"I arrived at around 3:45, and Gregg, Alan and Ron were picketing away, having a disgustingly good time. I ended up carrying Gregg's sign, and I *even* gave out about 50 leaflets (out of the 900 of the whole picket)! Gregg had a David Miscavige cardboard cut-out - complete with pink tutu.
"Funny vignette: Scientologist jumps in front of a passer by, and gives the standard pitch: 'Would you like a free stress test?' To which the answer is: 'Huh??' To the passerby's apparent complete bafflement, the Scientologist says, 'Do you know what stress is?'"
"Android Cat was the first person I spotted, walking with his yellow picket sign, back and forth, in front of the org. Elrond was in his standard spot, camped on the corner - he was loudly arguing with Andy Hill, who was apparently libeling El. right there on the street, into El's handy-dandy little tape recorder. I got into it, and quickly handed out 100 fliers. Again, as I reported last month, most people on the street who had heard of Scientology were aware of the scam, and many thanked me for actually doing something about it. People in cars honked to me to deliver fliers to them, which I was delighted to do."
Deana Holmes protested a book signing at a bookstore in Salt Lake City.
"I got my picket signs together. One side said, 'Today's signing brought to you by Bridge Publications, a tentacle of Scientology' and the other side read, 'The Dave Wolverton booksigning is a PR event for the Church of $cientology'. Both signs had the canonical URL of www.xenu.net on them. I got to the B&N about 2:40. I noticed a guy in the parking lot leafleting the cars with thin strips of paper. He wasn't putting them on the windshields, but slipping them into the windows on the driver's side. Well, it turned out to be Dianetics tickets. Printed on dark green paper, the tickets were 8 1/2 inches long by about 2 or so inches wide.
"For the next thirty minutes or so, there was almost a comic atmosphere, as the community affairs employee tried to tell the Scienos they could not leaflet in the parking lot or accost people, but she apparently felt powerless to stop them when they veered over into the Staples portion of the parking lot. I talked to her briefly, I believe she was nonplused that I would be out there picketing, but she said she'd booked Dave Wolverton (however, it is my opinion only that he was booked at the request of Bridge, not the other way around). But she made no effort to get rid of me, and I pointedly stayed on public property.
"This is not, however, what the Scienos did. Despite being told by the community affairs employee not to leaflet in the lot, whenever her back was turned they were out there hitting people up. I walked back and forth with my sign, pointing out to K whenever one of the Scienos tried to take advantage of the situation. There was a cop in the area, and he seemed to have a bit of a problem with me picketing without a permit. This guy seemed to be a bit slow on the uptake, not realising that Of Course the U.S. Supreme Court overrules any Utah court. At that moment, a young man came up to complain that his car had gotten hit in the parking lot and so he went off.
"I finally notice a guy going into the B&N like a black thundercloud. This was Dave Wolverton. K gave him a copy of my Lisa McPherson flyer and asked him to read it. Apparently Wolverton was a bit upset about my picket signs! According to K, there were about 18 Scientologists and about 3 'raw meat' there.
"Anyway, at about 4 pm I decided to call it quits. So I stowed my picket sign in the trunk of my car and went inside. As I walked up, either the community affairs (CA) employee or Dave Wolverton was saying (I believe it was the CA) that this was the first time that Dave had been picketed. Of course I wasn't going to let THAT pass. I said, 'That's not true. I know someone who tried to picket Dave's signing on LRH Way on July 3 and was roughed up by an off duty LAPD cop.' Well, of course, that didn't set well with these people. The CA woman said that Wolverton wasn't a Scn. I said, 'That's fine, he just needs to read about the group he's working for.' I told Wolverton bluntly that he needed to read that flyer, he needed to read www.xenu.net and learn the truth. It was like talking to a wall."
On July 8th, Tages-Anzeiger reported additional details on two former
Scientologists who are accused of investment fraud.
"Both of the men accused of having committed fraud in the amount of millions have since then left Scientology. As did the primary accused, the information technician accused of accessory also gave hundreds of thousands of franks to the sect for courses. 'For me Scientology was like heroin. My angle of view was restricted more and more to the organization,' he said before the court. In his departing [the sect] he had been declared to be a 'Subversive Person'.
"His career with the Scientologists drove the 55 year old primary accused deeper and deeper into financial ruin. 'I gave out about 450,000 franks for development courses to Scientology,' explained the lawyer who recently left the sect, and who is also a former St. Gallen investigative magistrate. Speculations gone bad as an independent options dealer and the purchase of several hundred lithographs by Scientology founder Ron Hubbard were responsible, in part, for his mountain of debt going up to 3.5 million franks in the beginning of 1991.
"It was in this situation that the accused sought out contact with a Munich financial advisor. The two of them are said to have defrauded [investors] of millions. In actuality they dealt with over 300 primarily German investors who were relieved of about 22 million franks between 1991 and 1994.
"A 39 year old colleague of the Swiss primary accused also stood before the court yesterday; he is also a former Scientologist. He had been accused of setting up an EDP [electronic data processing] system in the office of the accused in order to make his acquisition work easier."
Scientology has begun an advertising campaign in the U.K., according to
"The church of Scientology is mounting Britain's first national television advertising campaign promoting a religion. Hollywood actors and one of the US's best-known rap artists have arrived in London this weekend as part of a drive to establish the church, often described as a cult, as a recognised religion in the UK. Scientologists are swamping the media with advertisements, including 240 messages daily on the electronic screen in Piccadilly Circus, London, five television commercials a day on Sky News, and posters throughout the London Underground network.
"The Independent Television Commission, which regulates television advertising, said the advertisements would be monitored closely to ensure they did not denigrate other faiths. The church, which has been in the UK for 45 years, is lobbying hard with the Charities Commission for status as a religious charity, one of the key recognition points in Britain for new or alternative religions.
"The rapper Doug E Fresh and the actor Jason Beghe, who starred in the films GI Jane and Thelma and Louise, are among the Scientologists being used to promote a month-long What is Scientology? exhibition which opened this weekend at Selfridge Hotel in central London."
>From the BBC:
"The Church of Scientology is doing is hardest to be recognised in the UK as a bone fide religion. It has launched a TV advertising campaign, set up a month-long exhibition, and is pasting up posters in London's underground at a great rate of knots. Its efforts are co-ordinated to assist the church's case for religious status with the Charities Commission. But whatever the outcome of its applications to the commission, it will have a mighty battle on its hands to shed its popular image as a cult.
"The term 'cult', says the Cult Information Centre in London, applies to a group which demonstrates five different qualities. Scientologists are by no means averse to suing when the faintest scent of defamation is in the air. And the centre does not say that the church is a cult. But the centre's spokesman Ian Haworth, says the group and its activities have caused him serious concern for the past couple of decades. The judge in a custody battle in 1984, said the Church of Scientology was 'corrupt, sinister and dangerous'.
"Getting rid of engrams and striving for enlightenment through Dianetics - a kind of personal reprogramming achieved by intensive counseling - are the general aims and activities of church members. People who have left Scientology have also complained that as well as being intensive, the counseling can be extremely expensive. Mr Howarth says that it is not unknown for individuals to spend tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds trying to free their Thetan. But he added that it was not a group's central belief - or even the amount of money it made - that earned it the status of cult. He said: 'In a democratic situation, if people want to believe something, however strange that may appear to outsiders, then that is If, however, someone - whatever group it might be - is interfering with someone's right to free choice, then that is completely anti-democratic, and dangerous.'"