Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 8
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 Minnesota Daily published an article this week on the American Family
Foundation meeting held at the University of Minnesota.
"On Friday afternoon, a handful of protesters mingled among a crowd of people in front of the St. Paul Student Center, toting picket signs stating 'Don't tell us what to believe!' Meanwhile, inside the student center, about 150 people convened for the weekend-long American Family Foundation Cult Awareness Conference, where prominent psychologists, sociologists and writers from all over the world discussed issues of mind control.
"'Everybody's got the right to their own opinion -- the KKK, AFF or anybody,' said protester Casey Dickerson, 'but the University shouldn't sponsor these guys.' A public contact secretary for the Church of Scientology, Dickerson and a handful of cohorts came to decry the conference's stance on freedom of religion. Two days before the conference, scientologists released literature denouncing the AFF and discrediting many of the speakers. The release, however, did not contain the word 'Scientology.' Instead, the writers of the release referred to themselves as the Cult Awareness Network. Speaker Ron Enroth, professor of sociology at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif., said the letter was a product of the church's legal strategy to combat anti-cult groups. 'These guys have unlimited funds,' Enroth said. 'And they use them to pay good lawyers to wage war on groups they hate.'
"The conference provided information on how families of cult members can hire psychologists affiliated with the American Family Foundation to reclaim their loved ones through a psychological process called 'thought reform' -- a concept that has spawned animosity among groups like the Church of Scientology."
A Piece of Blue Sky
Web book store amazon.com this week removed Jon Atack's book A Piece of
Blue Sky from its offerings. Amazon later announced that it would reverse
the decision, but the book is still missing from Amazon, despite continued
availability on other bookstore sites. From Wired News:
"Amazon.com has removed a controversial book from its listings, a book well known for angering the Church of Scientology. A Piece of Blue Sky, by UK writer Jon Atack, is an expose of the Scientology movement from its creation in 1959 until the death of founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1986. The book disappeared from Amazon's site only recently. Amazon spokeswoman Lizzie Allen would only say that 'under certain circumstances, for legal reasons, we need to stop selling a book. I really just can't comment any further.'
"Officials at the Church of Scientology said they have had nothing to do with the removal of the book from Amazon's site. One woman told Wired News that the book was illegal to sell in the United Kingdom, and that was why Amazon had removed the book. 'It was declared defamatory because it contained false statements,' said church spokeswoman Linda Peters. 'Amazon didn't know about it. We don't really know who alerted them. There are a lot of Scientologists around the planet.' Peters said the ruling took place 'four or five years ago.'
"Amazon's Allen said she was surprised that the church would speak for Amazon, but she still couldn't say what had prompted the bookseller to remove the book. But the 'legal reasons' can't be very far-reaching, since both barnesandnoble.com and Books.com still offer it for sale. 'We haven't been contacted by anyone to remove this book,' said Lisa Lanspery, manager of external communications for barnesandnoble.com. 'It's on our site and it's going to stay there.'"
>From ZDNet Germany:
"The first ones to notice the disappearance of the book were the Scientology opponents who gather on the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup to protest the sect. There have indeed been complaints by the sect against the book, however its sale is now and has always been legal. Amazon is exercising an unfathomable censorship, believe some voices on the newsgroup."
>From ZDNN, on the decision to restore the book:
"After absorbing withering criticism for its decision to stop selling a book critical of Scientology, Amazon.com has reversed itself. He said Amazon will again offer the book after the company implements a feature that blocks its sale to the United Kingdom. Curry said the original decision to stop selling the book was not a mistake. 'It seemed the right decision at the time,' he said. 'But like so many decisions,' he continued, 'once you start peeling a decision, like an onion, you say maybe there's a better way to handle this.'
"While competitors reaped a PR windfall, Amazon was taking a PR pummeling: Newsgroup postings on the Internet condemned the company and Netizens noted that despite the UK ban, Amazon rivals such as Barnesandnoble.com and Borders.com, continued to offer 'A Piece of Blue Sky.' 'They did a very stupid thing, and considering what weak foundation they stand on, I would not be surprised or unhappy to see them pay big,' wrote one participant in the alt.religion.scientology forum.
"'The rules are emerging,' said Michael Traynor, a specialist in First Amendment law at the San Francisco firm of Cooley Godward LLP. 'British libel law is considerably different than the U.S.,' Traynor said. 'If a company has no presence in England, then the question is whether they should be able to publish whatever they want. In this case, Amazon wasn't the publisher of the book or its author -- so what differentiates them from the library? It seems their original decision was unduly protective.'"
>From CNET News.com:
"Amazon spokesman Bill Curry said Amazon removed Jon Atack's A Piece of Blue Sky from its virtual bookshelves in February after being advised that sales of the book were subject to a cease-and-desist order in the United Kingdom. Curry said the order stemmed from a ruling barring distribution of the book in that country because of defamatory language. Amazon has since reevaluated that policy and will again list the book within the next several days, Curry said. However, he said the company will block sales of A Piece of Blue Sky to customers in the United Kingdom. The work turns a critical eye on the history of the Church of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard."
"That rumble you felt yesterday was the original Amazon warriors turning over in their graves. Wired News reported yesterday that Amazon.com had dropped a book critical of the Church of Scientology from its list for undisclosed legal reasons. What those 'legal' reasons might be is gosh-darned mysterious, since it is legal to sell the book in the U.S., and since Barnesandnoble.com and Books.com are still offering it for sale. Could it be that Amazon.com just doesn't want to risk being sued by the notoriously litigious Scientologists?
"Traditional brick-and-mortar bookstore owners and employees kept selling Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses in the face of bomb threats by terrorists. They risked their lives defending a book that few of them had even read, and they did it because the business they were in actually has some values beyond maximizing profits. Amazon.com appears to operate on a different moral plane."
The Sunday News in Lancaster, Pennsylvania reported on May 11th that a
Scientologist has been arrested in the murder of a business partner who he
had introduced to Scientology and insurance schemes.
"He had parked his blue Mercedes in the driveway. The garage door stood open. If 33-year-old David R. Artz had any premonition of danger, he took no obvious precautions. The killer or killers walked into his newly purchased home in Coral Springs, Fla. They tied him to a chair. And, with a flurry of gunshots, they took the Manheim Township businessman's life. The murder of the president and owner of Conestoga Fuels Inc. took place in February 1985, and in the ensuing years it has appeared increasingly unlikely that either of the two men charged with setting up the killing would be held accountable. One, former Lancastrian Samuel G. Lombardo, died in Florida in 1994. The other, John W. Kramer Sr., formerly of York, moved to Costa Rica.
"But now, 14 years after the crime, immigration agents in Atlanta, Ga., have arrested Kramer as he re-entered the country for medical care. The attorney declined to discuss any matters concerning Kramer, other than the extradition proceedings. Court documents, however, describe him as a practitioner of Scientology, known as 'Father John,' who converted Artz to the religion and used its doctrines to influence his business decisions. Kramer and Lombardo had run similar insurance schemes, most unsuccessful, against other business owners during the previous two decades, Florida prosecutors charged in 1990."
Trierischer Volksfreund reported on May 15th on a cult awareness event in
"The Trier diocesan speaker on sects and weltanschauung issues reacted to the challenges by sectarian groups with an extensive offering of information and advice on all media, and enjoyed plenty of feedback in the past year. For instance, in 1998, there were a total of 653 verbal and written inquiries to the diocesan experts. Most of the inquiries had to do with Scientology and esoteric institutions.
"Besides the internet and the traditional mass media of press, radio and television, the Trier diocese of sects and weltanschauung issues also made use of many study assemblies for it information activities - be it for new business people about Scientology or for young people about Satanism."
Bob Minton posted a letter to a.r.s this week from Kurt Weiland of
Scientology to Net Productions in Denmark. The letter attempts to
discredit Jesse Prince, who is scheduled to participate in a TV show on
"We are not seeking to exert editorial control over your program; your journalistic integrity deserves to be respected. However, knowing what we know about Jesse Prince, we do object to the fact that he is being given the prominence of your television program to violate his contractual obligation. Mr. Prince was removed from any position of authority in the Church more than 10 years ago for his inability to attend to his duties in an honest, ethical fashion. He has no current knowledge of any of our Churches or activities. Thus, nothing he could possibly say on your program will improve your viewers' understanding of Scientology at all.
"As to any past knowledge he may have had at one time, Mr. Prince admitted in a documented interview with Church counsel that such knowledge did not include any of the areas of expertise that he is now pretending to be an expert, such as Church legal affairs. Worse than merely being uninformed, Mr. Prince has amply demonstrated that he will say anything for money. Indeed Mr. Prince conceded in his August 19, 1998 testimony (excerpts of which were provided to you) that he had received several thousand dollars and a new car for testifying against the church, and that his paychecks would continue as long as he continued to speak out. This money is his only regular source of income beyond some occasional work as a handyman.
"Further, you were provided with evidence concerning Mr. Prince's long, unchanging pattern of unethical conduct. These included court records of arrests and convictions for lewd conduct and for driving while intoxicated. This conduct continues to the present. You were provided these materials for a specific reason: Mr. Prince intends to come on your program and pass moral judgment on my Church. His fitness to make moral pronouncements is thus directly relevant. It is my view that Mr. Prince's conduct renders him unfit to judge Scientology or anyone else.
"Finally, we have presented you with the contract Mr. Prince signed when he left Church staff in which he agreed never to disclose any of the information he learned while on Church staff. This contract was entered into precisely to avoid the circumstance of Prince inventing allegations which force the Church to disclose private internal matters to disprove his lies. Mr. Prince is contractually bound to the Church in the amount of $10,000 for each breach of this contract. As he is penniless, and as your program is paying his expenses to enable him to fly to Denmark and appear on your show in violation of his contractual obligations, the Church will hold your production company and any of its employees or agents who induced Mr. Prince to breach his contractual obligations fully responsible for any violations."
The Kansas City Star published a story on the Scientology on May 22nd.
"Nestled between a tobacco store and a small restaurant at 3619 Broadway is a flight of stairs that leads up to the Church of Scientology. The entrance could be easily missed. The sign is almost hidden by several large trees. But somehow a growing number of people have been finding the location. So many people, in fact, that the Kansas City church won an award in March for being the fastest-growing Scientology church in the country.
"There appears to be many pathways to the Scientology doorway. About two months ago Lynda Norris, 47, of Basehor in Leavenworth County was telling her brother that she was on 'a real health kick.' Her brother, a Scientologist, told her about the 'purification rundown' that the church says removes toxins and drugs from the body. 'I was very interested in it,' she said. 'I never knew there was a way you could get the drugs out of your system.' Every day for a month Norris went to the Scientology church either after work or driving 25 minutes from Basehor for a four-hour regimen of taking large amounts of vitamins and oils, running and sitting in the sauna. She could take breaks, shower to cool off and eat. 'Since the purification (which ended May 9), I probably have had just one headache,' she said. 'I felt great after this. My mind is much clearer; my senses are much keener. I'm more aware of things. I never knew what a cloud I lived in; all that medication just clouded me.' Norris said she paid about $1,500 for the purification, several additional courses and books. Critics have noted the high costs of Scientology training. Kittinger said that many services are free, and some introductory courses are less than $80. Norris said she had no problem with the cost 'because if this is something you want to do, you'll come up with the money.'
"'The recent expansion is the result of trained staff members returning to Kansas City,' said the Rev. Daniel O'Connor, who returned to his native Kansas in May 1998 after several years of training at the large church in Clearwater. 'The staff enabled us to take Scientologists and help them more, and when you get results, you attract people.' In addition the local group is benefiting from national public relations efforts, such as the widespread distribution of a revised What is Scientology? book, advertising campaigns on television, billboards, buses and the Internet plus endorsements from celebrities like John Travolta and Kirstie Alley, Kittinger said. Kittinger estimates there are 500 Scientologists in the Kansas City area this year compared with 100 to 200 last year. The staff has jumped from five last year to nearly 30 this year, she said.
"First-time visitors are greeted by friendly smiles and offers to be of help. Children and new and longtime members readily explain how their experiences with Scientology have changed their lives for the better. The local church leaders do not think their group has been adversely affected by years of controversy surrounding Scientology. Ex-members, family of church members, anti-cult groups, the media and others have harshly criticized the church for being controlling, for its denouncement of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs, for costly training and intimidating its critics. The group has been the object of numerous litigations and investigations. Kittinger thinks a lot of the controversy is due to a lack of understanding of Scientology. All new religions have gone through this, she said, adding that Christianity went through a period of persecution."
Protest / Revenge Summary
Revenge report from "Realpch" in the San Francisco area:
"Well the people responsible for papering my neighborhood with 'Religious Bigot' flyers are at it again after a short hiatus. When I got home this evening I found a flyer in my yard, wrapped around some stones and rubberbanded at each end, in the manner of flyers which are sometimes left in more innocent pursuits...you know, by people who want to mow your lawn, or trim your hedges."
>From Arnie Lerma, who participated in a protest in Washington, DC:
"During today's DC picket the head of DM was ripped off the pike while Rod Keller held it. The head of david miscavige on a pike has a small sign below that said simply: 'There are no OTs in Scientology If there were we wouldn't be here.'"
"One lady today on the street by DC Org when offered a flyer was afraid to take it. WAS AFRAID TO BE SEEN TAKING A FLYER FROM US! Said, 'I live in the neighborhood, and I'm scared of retribution'"
>From Karsten Lorenzen:
"The picket started today at 11:30 am. Present was Me, arnie, Rod, Nukewaster and bigbeard. We handed out 200 flyers (critics guide to the web). I had a wonderful long conversation with OSA babe Michelle, she was actually very nice to speak with. At one point a guy started washing the sidewalk. And was not very happy when he got filmed."
>From Rod Keller:
"This guy will be a new star in the video vault. He gives a terrific rant on drugs and kids, telling me how terrible I am for opposing Scientology. But it's funny how silent he gets when I ask him to repeat on camera what he said a minute before. 'I'm going to kick your fat ass, you piece of shit!' He neither confirms nor denies saying this on camera. He also told me that I should stay away from the front of the org, and that if he didn't want me to walk there, I wouldn't. His water beams failed to keep me off that part of the sidewalk, so I think he must have really wanted me there."
>From Roland Rashleigh-Berry, on a protest in Brighton, England.
"There was me, Dave Bird, Jens, Martin P, Hartley P and Richard. We were expecting a strong show by the clam since we were informed that they had opened up a new place in a shopping centre after closing down their place on the London Road. What we found instead was a sign on a side door to a Travel Agents indicating that they were on the third floor. The public were very supportive of our demo and were surprisingly hostile towards the clams. We ran out of leaflets after we had given out 250 of them. The clams sent out their usual guy who we had seen before and an emaciated Sea Ogre in standard Sea Ogre blue and grey civies. They talked to a policeman on the beat who clearly wasn't bothered about our presence and was expecting us in any case. The clams claimed we were stopping people entering their premises. The policeman asked us if were were and we replied that we were not."
>From Bruce Pettycrew, on a protest in Mesa, Arizona:
"Kathy and I picketed from 8:00 to 9:00 PM today. The heat has finally started in the valley of the Sun, so the morning hours are better. The traffic was light at first, picking up after 8:30. We got a good percentage of honks, thumbs-up and other support. The first 'perishioners' arrived at about 8:45, and did not look too pleased to see us. Three people were there by the time we left. No attempt to handle us was made."
>From "Wynot" in Atlanta:
"Mad_Cow, Ethercat, and I arrived at the cult's storefront at 5:00. We had the usual compliment of signs, including 2 'Is A Scam's. First, as usual, the police arrived. Susan whined all about how evil we were, picketing her church, and harassing her parishioners. This time the police officers were not as friendly as at previous pickets. The officers gave us the usual 'stay off their property, don't block their driveway, etc.' talk. They left after about 10 minutes. Almost immediately after the police left, 'John', the 27 year culty who harassed S at our last picket came out, and walked right up to me. 'What is your crime!' he screamed in my ear. I walked away, but he followed, still yelling at me that I was a criminal, and that my crimes would be found out. He cursed me most vilely, calling me a criminal and a fool and an asshole, and then began bumping me as I marched. I asked him politely to please step away from me, whereupon he began bumping me harder. I went to EC, who had the cell-phone, and asked her to please call the police. She told me that she already had. As soon as John heard that, he turned on his heel and almost ran back into the cult's building.
"When the police arrived, it was the same 2 who had been there earlier. They pulled fairly far into the parking lot, and talked first to Susan and John. They then went to EC, and asked her if she was the one who had called. She said yes, and she and I began to detail John's actions of a few minutes before. The police asked if I wanted to file charges, and I said not now, that I just wanted protection from his abuse. The officers told EC and me, and I assume John and Susan, that if there were any more physical contact between us of any kind reported that they would take us all to jail. After that, the culties did stay at least a step or 2 away from us as we picketed. But that did not stop their tirades, and when S and Mea Culpa arrived just before 7:00, they soon had as many people as we had, yelling at us as we picketed. People were starting to arrive for the Anniversary party, and the lot was filling and over filling. I estimated they had maybe 35 to 40 people there in all, not counting children."
>From "Wulfen", in Toronto:
"Picketers: Me, Gregg Hagglund, Alan Barclay , Ron Sharp, Gypsyblue, and Granfalloon doing his pastry resupply run in the middle. Leaflets: Gregg's Crimes/Xenu, my $cientology costs a MINT/HUMAN COST of $cientology leaflet, the updated version, more of Deana Holmes' Witness Affidavit leaflets, some of Ron's Xenu flyers, and my last $cientology: Insane Cult leaflet by Roland Rashleigh-Berry. We passed out around 750 of them all told.
"Dan the Scientologist was there from the start, trying to engage us in conversation. The apparent reason for this tactic is to take our attention off of picketing. One guy, who claimed to be a US Army (or maybe Marine?) officer told me that he liked the way Scientology made decisions and that he supported everything Scientology did. I countered with specific examples such as the death of Lisa McPherson and the criminal conviction in Canada, and he just kept parroting the 'I support everything they've done' line. He said Scientology had helped him, and I asked specifically how, given that his problem was apparently radiation exposure from government experiments, did Scientology help him with that? He told me that he was a nuclear physicist, at which point Gregg jumped in and asked for the guy's science. The guy stomped off down the street, telling Gregg that Gregg had called him a liar and 'you'll pay for that!'
"The Scientologist I gave the leaflet to came up to me and said, 'Research has shown that people who criticize our church have crimes. What crimes have you committed?' Then she launched into the most amazing bull-baiting that I've ever heard. She would keep repeating it to me, from right in my face. 'How many children have you killed?'; 'How many people have you murdered?'; 'How did you kill them?'; 'Are you gay?'; 'How many people have you given AIDS to?'; 'Are you seeing a psychiatrist?'; 'What have you done to women?'; 'What have you done to men?'; 'Are you a Nazi? Did you kill them in Germany or here?'.
"I started to picket back down the sidewalk again to get away from this deranged woman and she followed me! Halfway back I asked her to leave me alone, and being a very theta lady, she didn't. I went and complained to the police officer, whose reaction was along the lines of what did I expect when I picketed Scientology, and if I didn't like it I could leave. The Scientologist started taunting me with 'The police officer isn't helping you, is he? Are you scared of me?' and so on. When she got to the child-killing and Nazi bits I complained again to the police officer - his reaction was 'Ok.'
"The deranged Scientologist who'd been bull-baiting me went after Alan, who played with her - he'd walk along, then suddenly change directions, whereupon she'd scurry after him and keep on baiting. The other Scientologists who were there joined in too. They'd hold loud conversations whenever I picketed near 700 Yonge, with things like: 'Meet Chris, he's gay.'; 'You should wear an earring.'; 'What have you done to help people?'; 'Almost five o'clock, then you can go get drunk.'; 'Unconsciousness will be good for you.'
"The Scientologists also started butting into my conversations. Various female Scientologists would come up to me and the passers-by I'd be talking with, and then start talking over me in an attempt to drown me out. Sometimes, they'd walk up, say something strange like 'He's getting paid $40 an hour to do this', and 'He has crimes'.
"Then, when I got home, I found evidence that Scientologists *had* actually picketed my apartment while I was down by the Org! I picked up five pieces of theta litter: 3 of the 'WHAT would you do if these people took your put your child's picture and put it up on the Internet?' leaflets, and 2 'buy our book - $8.99 paperback' Dianetics flyers. Yes, even when the Scientologists are supposedly demonstrating for 'Religious Liberty', they're trying to get money from people."
>From Kristi Wachter on a solo protest in Mountain View, California:
"Following a tip I got from a fan that there was a lot of traffic past the Mountain View org during morning rush hour, I decided to try a morning picket. I didn't notice much more than the usual amount of traffic, but of course, that's plenty; over 1000 people, conservatively, had a chance to see my sign. I was sporting a new sign: 'SCIENTOLOGY: -> STILL <- BREAKING THE LAW www.scientology-lies.com'
"A few folks seemed to be hanging around outside the Dianetics office, one of them smoking, moving stuff from the trunk of a car into the offices. Two young ladies came out and took my picture. I wished them a good morning, but they didn't return the greeting."