Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 3, Issue 49
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
Cult Awareness Network
Charlotte L. Kates reported this week on the files of the original Cult
"As many ARS readers are well aware, the (real) Cult Awareness Network has been undergoing a major legal battle to save its thousands of sensitive files from passing into the hands of Scientology and its fake CAN. On Friday, March 12, Chicago Judge Thomas Quinn ordered *all* of the CAN files-membership and donor lists, financial records, and thousands of personal, once-confidential letters and correspondence from ex-members and families of cult victims to be turned over to the sheriff for auction in 60 days. CAN Board representative Dr. Ed Lottick stated that it appeared the judge had not even read the CAN board's briefs on the issue, and that the judge 'ran roughshod over us with big clodhopper boots.'
"Quinn, with remarkable insensitivity, commented that a previous judge had received letters of protest over such a sale, and that if he received such letters, he would not read them. Scientology's already-dominant ability to spend money for the files is bolstered further by the fact that Gerald Beeney, a Scientologist, bought the Scott judgment from Jason Scott for $25,000, and would receive any income from the sale of the files, which he would undoubtedly be willing to return to Scientology.
"If you or anyone you know has information about yourself or a relative or friend in the CAN files, this is a warning that Scientology--well known for using personal information to harass and attack its critics and opponents--may soon have that personal information in its hand. Thousands of cult victims and their families may be at risk of harassment due to this action! Said Cynthia Kisser, former ED of CAN, about this issue in the past, 'If the bankruptcy court lets those records be sold they are basically taking people's worst fears, which they've confided in the Cult Awareness Network, and selling them to the very organization that created the trauma and that pain.'"
The March 15th issue of Spiegel reported on the status of the film
"The Munich film distribution company, Intertainment AG, which has recently been quoted on the stock market and is looking for high returns there, has now closed a deal on some hot items in the USA. The extensive rights of the Hollywood company, which covers 13 productions for $150 million, include the work 'Battlefield Earth.' In the filming of the novel by Scientology Founder Ron Hubbard, professed Scientologist John Travolta appears as co-producer and lead actor. Rivals such as Telepool or CLT-Ufa passed up acquisition of the rights; the distribution of the Hubbard film in theaters and TV includes a 'potential risk,' a spokeswoman for Intertainment AG also said."
ZDF-Magazin Kennzeichen D reported in its March 17th issue on an
anticipated advertising campaign by Scientology in Germany.
"Information released by the Federal Office of Constitutional Security indicates that the Scientology Church is planning a new campaign against critics in Germany in the amount of $40 million. President of the agency, Peter Frisch, told ZDF magazine 'Kennzeichen D' that American officials would also support Scientology in Germany. 'I regret that to an exceptional degree,' stated the agency president.
"In his release, Frisch emphasized the anti-constitutional endeavors of the Scientologists, 'Scientology wants to build a new civilization in which basic rights, as provided for by our fundamental, liberal democratic order, would not be valid. This assessment is supported by the statements of a former Scientologist who reported to 'Kennzeichen D' on his operations for the sect's private secret service. That is the first time a former member has verified the operational methods of such an establishment in Germany. 'There were neighbors questioned to find out negative things; trash cans were rummaged through in order to find incriminating material from people's private lives; artificial critics were established who, in reality, were from Scientology,' the former member included in his report."
The April issue of McCall's magazine contains an interview with
Scientology celebrity Kirstie Alley.
"'I'm a big believer that we create our own fate and that life changes, whether you acknowledge it or not,' says Alley, who, along with Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is one of Hollywood's most visible members of the Church of Scientology. She credits its controversial teachings (the organization has been described as being a cult) with getting her off drugs and changing her life. 'Scientology helps you remove barriers so you can go up instead of down, so you can say 'I will' instead of 'I wish,' so you can literally decide something's going to occur, and it will occur. If I said 'There are no roles for women today,' I'd be stuck in Loserville. If somebody is not offering me things, I'm willing to create them.'"
The St. Petersburg Times in its March 16th issue reported that the judge
in the Lisa McPherson civil case has ruled that the McPherson estate have
access to Lisa's auditing folders.
"Two boxes of notes jotted in a unique shorthand sit in the office of a Tampa judge while the Church of Scientology fights another legal battle for what it says are its religious rights. The notes were written by Scientology 'auditors' who 'counseled' Scientologist Lisa McPherson in 1995, the year she died after a 17-day stay at a church retreat in Clearwater. On Monday, Hillsborough Circuit Judge James S. Moody Jr. rejected for a third time Scientology's attempts to keep those records private.
"But the church, fielding a battery of seven lawyers, said it would immediately appeal. It contends the records of McPherson, like those kept on all Scientologists, are as private as disclosures in a Catholic confessional. Scientology indicated it would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. Releasing the records, the church's lawyers said, would undermine the ironclad promise of privacy in an auditing session, the core practice of Scientology in which parishioners are said to purge psychological and physical problems.
"McPherson's auditing records are sought by Tampa lawyer Ken Dandar, who represents McPherson's family in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the church. Dandar says the records could help prove his contention that McPherson wanted to leave Scientology and was held captive. Church lawyers reject that theory and say Dandar has many other ways to try to prove his case.
"Moody denied two motions Monday attempting to keep the records secret. One was from the Scientology 'mother church,' the Church of Scientology International. The other motion was from a group of nine Clearwater area Scientologists who were friends and co-workers of McPherson. Because they once had daily contact with McPherson, they are probably mentioned in the records and their privacy could be compromised, argued their lawyer, Michael Foster of Tampa. The nine Scientologists also contend that release of the records would seriously harm their religion by undermining parishioners' confidence in the permanent secrecy of auditing.
"One reason for the secrecy, according to the mother church's motion: 'When a Scientologist dies, his or her (auditing record) is held by the church in the strictest confidence so that it may be available for use in the deceased Scientologist's future auditing, when he or she assumes a new physical identity.' Scientologists believe each person is a 'thetan' who eventually 'drops' the body and moves into countless successive lifetimes.
"Church officials say the records cannot be understood by non-Scientologists. Indeed, Moody, who has reviewed them, called them 'illegible' and written in 'some form of shorthand.' But Dandar said he has recruited a former high-ranking church member to decipher the notes. The records could allow him to rebut church claims that McPherson loved Scientology, Dandar said. 'They may contain truths I could use to challenge their statements. Everything I know today shows, without question, that she had great difficulty with Scientology.'"
Keith Henson reported that Scientology intervened to prevent the subpoena
of records to identify those responsible for the large number of forged
messages sent to alt.religion.scientology in recent months.
"Scientology lawyer Moxon had stepped in and stopped Pacbell from telling us who had the phone which was being used for the sporgeries. Unless scientology is connected, why should he care? I consider the scientology source of the massive spam/forgery to be far more than a speculation at this point."
Protest / Revenge Protest Summary
Los Angeles New Times reported on the recent protests in Los Angeles in
its March 18th issue.
"Saturday drivers on Sunset Boulevard near Vermont were probably surprised to see white plastic tarps erected inside the parking lot of Scientology's headquarters, blocking the view into the big, blue building. The reason? In an ostrich like attempt to shield members from picketing critics out front, the Scientologists had wrapped their property up like a big birthday present for their founder L. Ron Hubbard. To commemorate the day, dozens of protesters opposed to Scientology arrived from all corners of the country -- and the galaxy. Yes, Galactic Overlord Xenu was there to sing a special 'Happy Birthday' to Ron, since it was Hubbard, after all, who made the world aware of Xenu's existence.
"L. Ron Hubbard Way was blocked at each end by film crews shooting testimonials about Scientology. The picketers -- bearing signs questioning Scientology's cost, invasion of privacy, and the 1996 death of Lisa McPherson -- were shuttled from one end of the street-formerly-known-as-Berendo to the other by bemused LAPD officers during breaks from the filming."
Stacy Brooks reported revenge pickets this week in response to the recent protest in Washington, DC.
"While I was picketing in DC with Jesse Prince, Frank Oliver, Arnie Lerma, D.W. Pierce, Ishmael, Rod Keller and Joe Cisar, Scientology sent revenge pickets to my mother's house in northwest Atlanta, and to my sister's house in Ansley Park. My mother lives in a gated brownstone community, which makes it trespassing if they try to picket in front of her house. So they arrived Saturday afternoon in a red van, parked at the gate, and picketed outside the gate for twenty minutes. Their signs said things like 'Tell Stacy to stop spreading hate and start spreading love,' and 'Tell Stacy to stop being a religious bigot,' etc., etc. Several of mother's neighbors saw them and managed to chase them away.
"Three of them arrived at my sister's house in Ansley Park, two men and a young woman. Fortunately, my family is used to being harassed by Scientology by now. The picketing just made my mother and my sister even angrier at Scientology than they had been before. All they want to do is tell as many people as they can what a horrible organization Scientology is. My mother went to a cocktail party Saturday night and had the whole group spellbound with tales of Xenu and the volcanoes.
"Jesse's father, who had gotten out of the hospital the day before after having surgery, was also picketed Saturday afternoon. He also called the police and the picket broke up as soon as the police arrived. D.W. Pierce also had a revenge picket at his home in northern New Hampshire. The police were called and the picketers left when the police showed up. "
>From Neal Hamel:
"I was picketed on Saturday and Sunday in my neighborhood. The text of the flyer they passed out reads as follows:
"NEIGHBORS BEWARE!! This is what a religious bigot looks like! Your neighbor, Neal Hamel, is not all that he seems. Today, has he has done in the past, he is fomenting hate against peaceful members of a religion. He stands outside Churches insulting and degrading people for their religious beliefs. When he isn't on the streets, is in front of his computer monitor spreading evil lies and hatred creating an atmosphere of intolerance which incites acts of hate and violence against peaceful members of a religion. His activities put those members and their families at risk. Next time you see this face, recognize the face of religious bigotry."
"The apartment complex manager called me into her office and told me that members of the Church of Scientology had once more picketed the apartment complex. 3 counter picketers were out in front of the apartment gate on a public right-of-way with signs that had my real name and 'The Face of Religious Bigotry'.
"Since I have been picketed at my home before the complex manager knew who was behind the picket and she called the local Org. She ended up speaking with the Orgs public relations person 'Erica' to complain about the counter picketers. With in minutes of her call the counter picketers were gone.
"The manager has stated that she supports my right to picket and she is appalled at Scientology¹s behavior, however there some 150 other tenants that live here and they have the rights as well. The complex manager stated that further pickets of the apartment complex could cause the owners of the complex to ask me to vacate the premises, i.e. evicted."
>From Ted Mayett:
"Just learned that the local clams here gave me a picket this past Saturday. The report I have is that they were loud and rude. 2 females and a male. I no longer live at El Segundo, my new address is 454 Sierra Vista DR. Sierra Madre Apts."
"The woman who spoke with them said their eyes looked like they were hypnotized. She said the women were angry and the guy just sort of did and said nothing. When she informed them I no longer lived there they left, she watched them go to their car which they had parked about a block away."
CNEWS Politics reported on a revenge picket against Kady O'Malley.
"Last Saturday she attended a free speech protest against outside a Church of Scientology in Toronto. She was photographed by the Scientologists who traced her back to Ottawa. On Monday they arrived on Parliament Hill and mounted a protest against O'Malley outside the Centre Block. They carried printed signs, including one which featured a large photograph of O'Malley denouncing her as 'The Face of Bigotry.'
"Scientology members play hard ball. They follow people they don't like and picket them at their place of work. The idea is to embarrass them into silence. It often works. In O'Malley's case, it didn't work. First because she writes about federal politics not Scientology, and second, because the young, soft- spoken, five-foot something O'Malley, who wears a nose ring, and says 'cool' all the time, hardly qualifies as a storm-trooping, neo-fascist intolerant. Fellow reporters saw the whole thing as a farce. O'Malley didn't. She was too afraid of the nasty bunch outside to even venture from the Buildings."
"I too got revenge picketed today - sadly I missed it - I was 50 miles away at work - didn't get to use the banner I had prepared. Now - off to print off the nice note to my neighbors I'd prepared for just this eventuality."
>From "Don NOTs":
Since the Co$ is too incompetent to locate my home near Cape Town, they decided to send a member of their cult to picket the home of my girlfriend, whom I'm visiting with for the next eight days. At about half past one this afternoon, a worthy oriental gentleman by the name of Harry Wong showed up in front of her Redwood City home with a 'David Johansen: Religious Bigot' sign and matching leaflets. The sign was one-sided (bad sign tech) and had a blurred picture of me taken with a telephoto lens.
"Despite the fact that it is legal, the police (no doubt noting the cult's violent past and present) sent two cruisers over to make sure all was well. Harry Wong was well-dressed, well fed and polite: clearly a public. He told me he has been a $cientologist for over ten years and that I was a religious bigot for picketing the cult in LA. I told him the Xenu story (didn't believe me) the Lisa story (a plot against the Co$) and Hubbard's attitudes toward Asians (didn't believe me). At my request, he promised to send me my SP declare, noting that OSA 'dealt with people like you'.
"Best quote from Harry Wong: 'If Scientology were a dangerous cult, you'd be afraid of me.' After an hour or so, Keith Henson showed up with his own picket sign and informed Harry he was 'mocking up his reactive mind'. Harry lasted about five minutes in Keith's presence before scurrying off to his van -escorted by Keith and myself. Picketing the home of a lawyer whose firm is engaged in litigation with your cult is a bad idea."
Mike Gormez reported on a solo protest in Amsterdam.
"A little solo-picket in front of a hotel in Amsterdam where the cult had rented space for LRH's birthday. The city, hotel and cult all knew a picket would be held and the culties were obviously briefed on the possibility. Nothing much happened except that one scieno said I'd received 19k Euros. Which would have been nice if indeed I had seen anything of it. My one-sided cardboard picket sign, 50cm by 1mtr, had in white lettering on black folie: '$cientology says: you are full of murdered space-aliens. $cientology: Cult of Greed and Power. www.xenu.net'
"I had the Lisa/Xenu/Scam flyers (had put in some urls) and had made one myself of the El Pais article about Heber, and had inserted his handcuffed pic. Some 120 flyers in all."
David Alexander protested at the Dallas org.
"Arrived 10:00, this time with a helper, George (who prefers not to identify himself). 'Scott' came out with a camera to get George's picture. 'Scott' was a little provoking the first time as he drove up to us. Later he walked up to keep a closer picture. He was pretty disarmed when I told him he was 'my kind of people' (a determined seeker), and I was picketing to make the point to them that Hubbard had contrived Scientology to 'make a million dollars'.
"George carried my sign, 'Scientology is Fraud', and I carried an old one about 'Scientologists are Bad Neighbors. Just ask others who office here.' Incidentally, ALL 'Help Wanted' signs were gone--the big blue banner *and* the small sign that replaced it. There seems to be an effort to not make a stand as the ones we are picketing."
Agence France Presse reported on March 14th on the controversy following
tax police raids on Scientology locations in Moscow.
"The Russian inland secret service has become increasingly interested in the activities of the organization. The Russian authorities have already been investigating the allegedly religious organization for almost a year on suspicion of illegal commercial operations, coercion of members, and incitement to civil disobedience. The FSB inland secret service - the successor to the notorious KGB - and the tax officials have searched through several Scientology establishments in Moscow.
"According to Russian media reports, the investigations of Scientology may even be extended to include suspicion of spying for a foreign country. A spokesman for the secret service refused to make any comment on that issue. In response, Alexej Dantschenkow, speaker of the 'Ron Hubbert [sic] Humanitarian Center,' named after the Scientology founder, dismissed the investigations, 'Those are only rumors to discredit us. We pay our taxes and our employees have committed no crimes.'
"Nevertheless, some of the 15,000 folders looked at during the search operations were confiscated by the authorities. According to a statement made by Scientology, the majority of these folders contain only the addresses and telephone numbers of members. A portion of the accusations against Scientology, which has been active in Russia since 1993 and says it has about 30,000 members, also revolve around personal and confidential statements. A former Scientology member reports that, on order from the management, he had, for months, gathered 'information on those who criticize the organization, particularly priests and journalists.' The ex-member, who does not want his identity revealed, alleged that Scientology is not a religious movement, but is organized in a military manner, and that denunciation among members is customary.
"The Russian Orthodox Church, which is among the most vehement critics of Scientology, welcomed the intensified proceedings by the authorities. Leading Church official Alexi II stated that now it would be revealed whether 'this sect brings people good will and peace or confusion and unhappiness.'"
San Diego Union-Tribune reported in its Mar 11th issue that the city
council did not proclaim an L. Ron Hubbard day, as it has done in past
"The council did not proclaim March 13 as L. Ron Hubbard Day, in honor of the founder of The Church of Scientology. The proclamation was placed on the agenda by Waters but withdrawn without explanation at the council meeting Tuesday night.
"Hubbard, a science-fiction writer who died in 1986, founded Scientology in 1954. In his teachings, Hubbard described humans as clusters of spirits that had been trapped in ice and banished to Earth 75 million years ago by an intergalactic ruler. Through self-help techniques and counseling sessions known as 'auditing,' Scientologists believe they can live more productive lives. But the substantial costs of these sessions has often drawn criticism. And the church's operating entity in Clearwater, Fla., was charged last year with abuse and/or neglect of a disabled adult and unauthorized practice of medicine in the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson, a longtime Scientologist. High-profile followers of Scientology include John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, jazz keyboardist Chick Corea and singer Al Jarreau."