Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 3, Issue 20
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 Natick TAB, a suburban Boston newspaper, published an article on
Scientology's Narconon program and summer day camps.
"Are parents so terrified of drugs that they will allow literally anyone into the classroom or summer camp to speak to their kids? This was my question when I saw my local newspaper July 24. A press release entilited 'YMCA Camp hears anti-drug message' boasted that the message had been delivered by a 'drug prevention specialist' from a group called Narconon. My son has attended YMCA day cares and camps since 1989. This year, the Y has held 'community building' courses in the Waltham public schools' sixth-grade classes. I have always trusted the Y to be responsible in its programming, which is supposed to be in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and I trust them to check their employees' references and do standard background checks to weed out child molesters and other dangerous individuals.
"My sense of utter betrayal was the reason I shrieked at the poor receptionist on the day the article was printed that, had my child been at the Y when Scientology came to get personal details from him in the form of the 'evaluations that are done after each presentation,' to quote the July 24 press release, I would have acted to get that information back. To be more accurate, I yelled that I would have sued the Y, and I called them idiots. I try not to lose control, but I was flaming mad, and bitterly disappointed.
"While it is possible that the Waltham Y simply took Narconon's word that it was a bona fide drug education program, this cannot excuse them. A spokeswoman for the Greater Boston YMCA told me Waltham Y director Jay Flannery assured her that 'the speaker only told kids to stay off drugs.' What they seem to be saying is that the message is more important than the messenger. This does not sit well with me.
"Given that one of Narconon's claims to legitimacy in their press release seems to be the sheer numbers of young children to whom they have presented their course, they could well be setting up 'drug prevention' lectures in Y facilities throughout the Commonwealth. Check out www.factnet.org on the World Wide Web and then you won't have to take my word that Narconon is going into schools and camps without clearly revealing who and what they are, at the same time collecting a great deal of money and recruiting members to Scientology."
The St. Petersburg Times reported that Scientology has purchased the
Osceola Inn in downtown Clearwater.
"The Church of Scientology has spent $3.2-million to purchase most of a city block across the street from its waterfront Sandcastle property, continuing its spate of downtown land buys over the last year. The property's centerpiece is the former Osceola Inn, a vacant retirement center at 221 N Osceola Ave. The church will renovate it to accommodate parishioners who travel to Clearwater for Scientology counseling. Since June 1997, the church and companies that represent it in real estate transactions have purchased 12 properties in the downtown core for a total of $7.2-million. Church officials say they expect to attract thousands more Scientologists to Clearwater each year with the expansion.
"The Osceola Inn property and law office comprise three-quarters of the block bounded by Drew Street on the south, Osceola Avenue on the west, N Fort Harrison Avenue on the east and Jones Street on the north. The remaining portion of the block is a vacant used car lot owned by Ray Cassano, a prominent figure in local Scientology circles."
A summary of news articles on Scientology from Germany. Die Zeit carried a
piece by Hans-Peter Bartels, the sect commissioner for Schleswig-Holstein
on the history of the Scientology's claim to be a religion.
"What is Scientology? A religion? A company? A science? A psychotherapy? When it comes to satisfying the official interest, Scientology has given only one answer for decades: Scientology is a church, that is what the full name says: 'Scientology Church.' In 1952 in Phoenix, Arizona, the 'Hubbard Association of Scientologists' was registered as a commercial corporation. In 1954 the 'Church of Scientology of California' was founded. At the time, Hubbard wrote, 'It appears that we have now managed everything. All auditors will be clergymen, and the clergy has special privileges in many places, including tax advantages. Of course everything is a religion that deals with the human spirit.'
"For the recruitment of new adherents, the religious label is easily dropped. Scientology support centers incorporate as 'Dianetic Centers' or 'Celebrity Centers.' Until the mid 1980's, the Hamburg branch was called the 'College for Applied Philosophy.' In the front groups of the 'church' management training companies and business consultants struggle to gain a new following.
"This fraud came to a legal end in Germany last year in two high court decisions. The Federal Administrative Court upheld a decision by the Superior Administrative Court of Hamburg from 1993 in which the overwhelming portion of the Scientology activities are seen as commercial and therefore are reportable as earnings for tax purposes. The Federal Labor Court took it one step further, and was the first federal court to answer the question of whether Scientology was entitled to legal protection as a religion -- clearly not. An institution which pays a commission for recruitment of members cannot be a religious community in the sense of German Basic Law.
"Hans-Gerd Jaschke, the political scientist from Frankfurt, presented an opinion about Scientology in December, 1995 on commission from the Nordrhein-Westphalian Ministry of the Interior. He assembled indices which indicated 'that Scientology advocates long term constitutionally hostile goals and exhibits common points as a totalitarian organization with political extremism.' A new opinion by Ralf Bernd Abel, a professor of law, written on commission by the Schleswig-Holstein Minister President, supports the theory of political extremism of a new sort. Abel determined that 'Scientology's idea of people and society contradicts the legal order of the Basic Law.' The State Interior Ministers themselves, independent of party lines, are still at odds with each other. Nordrhein-Westphalia and Bavaria are for surveillance [of Scientology], most of the others reserve their opinions. On the part of the federal administration, Youth Minister Claudia Nolte pleads in favor of surveillance while Interior Minister Manfred Kanther rejects use of the secret agency. His State Secretary, Eckehard Werthebach, who earlier was intelligence chief himself, thinks the agency would be appropriate.
"At the suggestion of Schleswig-Holstein and Bavaria the administrative chiefs agreed to the withdrawal of the status of 'registered association' for Scientology, to an information exchange of diverse tax and labor inspections, and to prevention of irresponsible exploitation of medical practice and street recruitment. Besides that, consumer protection should be improved for psychological courses. Furthermore, the states agreed unanimously that the matter would have to be 'continuously' examined to seen if it was in the operational realm of domestic intelligence. That is not a decision for surveillance, but a quasi-permanent pre-inspection process. Finally, the federal interior ministers were invited to introduce an investigative process of association law, the results of which could mean an association ban [of Scientology]."
Sueddeutsche Zeitung published an article on Konrad Aigner, a Scientologist who died as a result of multiple organ failure. Cornelius Krasel posted a summary of the article.
"Konrad Aigner was 23 years in Scientology and during this time accumulated approx. 600000 DM (approximately equivalent to US$ 330000) in debts. After his death, his family had to sell almost their whole property to cover these. The reason for Mr. Aigner's death is apparently unclear. >From the report, it appears to be very unusual that a 43-year-old person dies of multiple organ failure. The public prosecutor may have more information, but it is apparently secret and possibly based on the raid of the Munich org, which occurred on 10 February 1998.
"After his death, the family found in his room (among other things) two Knowledge Reports which total 30 pages. The magazine publishes some excerpts from these which demonstrate that the main goal of Scientology was to extract as much money as possible from Aigner (and probably other clients as well).
"'Konrad Aigner has been a member of Scientology since 16 years and has not managed yet to become Clear or to advance on the Bridge but again and again fell from the Bridge, drank alcohol etc. We (Gabi Brendel and me) therefore decided several weeks ago to help him to finally advance on the Bridge. Konrad Aigner possesses some lands, (meadows, woods and fields and a house) in Lower Bavaria, he owns this but his parents live there and have the right of use (or something similar) on these lands. A few years ago, Konrad has borrowed 50000 DM on these lands and paid it to Copenhagen. The parents had to sign as well, and then Konrad lied to them and told them the money would be for renovations of the house.'"
Tages-Anzeiger reported on the Scientologist Online program to create thousands of web pages for individual members.
"The approximately 13,000 private homepages of the sect adherents are fashioned after a uniform model page, but begin with a personal message. 'What most impresses me is that the most brilliant technology in life for each and every person is here,' announces a Swiss Scientologist.
"The path then leads from the page 'My Favorite Quote from L. Ron Hubbard' to 'Groups I Support' (which mentions only Scientology sub-organizations or cover companies) to 'My Favorite Links.' These links direct the surfer to the main pages of Scientology, which offer recruitment material. Anybody who lets his address be known is, as a rule, contacted.
"The private web pages of the Scientologists are not only a huge portal for the sect's site, but also suppress critics' text. Anybody looking for critical material that includes 'Scientology' as a keyword necessarily runs into the flood of propaganda. A software filter is used 'which allows you freedom to view other sites on Dianetics, Scientology and its principals without threat of accessing sites deemed to be using the Marks or the Works in an unauthorized fashion or deemed to be improper or discreditable to the Scientology religion.'
"What is being written [in this agreement] using so many words can also be interpreted as a type of censorship: the adherents are not to call up web pages with material critical of Scientology. The black list contains not only critics, but also magazines and newspapers which have published articles about the sect."
Die Zeit published a column by Robert Leicht on the Scientology controversy.
"The fight about Scientology has shown how precarious our society has become - in regard to the phenomenon of religion as such as well as to this particular 'religion.' When an official in the US State Department employs criticism in a description of the German handling of Scientology, that brings about a particularly disunited feeling: an inappropriate meddling in our internal affairs, but perhaps not so unjustified after all - or is it?
"If the Scientology sect, under the pretext of religion and church, commercially exploits its adherents, psychologically subjugates them and practices 'brainwashing' [judgment control]; if it endangers the public peace by terrorizing its critics; when it tries to undermine commerce, society and state in the course of its fantasies of conspiratorial omnipotence - the the state and citizens have a Basic Law to protect, including that of the victims - decisively and without guilty conscience.
"Whenever the Scientology sect rushes in for purely monetary gain, the usual commercial and tax statutes apply - the same as they do for breweries. If, however, the sect uses pressure to exploit its members out of their last dollar for alleged course fees, then this is simply an improper business which - when it comes down to it - is as invalid as profiteering. That which applies to the established churches in matters of tax law also goes for sects: exit from the community must be as free and unhindered as the entrance into it was. Easy in, easy out - what else?
"Nobody needs to be in the dark when it comes to the propaganda of the Scientologists and a few of their American advocates and agents. The principles are as clear as the law. Can an intelligent relationship between freedom and connection be recovered? The limits of empty individualism are becoming steadily more defined. In the meantime, the state can only prevent charlatans and exploiters from openly plying their contempt for humanity."
Grady Ward this week posted a letter from Scientology's lawyers to Judge
Fogel, citing his request for Scientology secrets not currently covered
under his restraining order.
"One of the issues relating to the settlement is the extent to which plaintiff ought be required to provide Mr. Ward with a list identifying the copyrighted works owned by plaintiff and/or other Scientology-related entities. We have previously advised the Court that we oppose any such requirement on the grounds that, inter alia, (1) plaintiff never agreed during the May 12 proceedings to provide Mr. Ward with such a list; (2) it may well be impossible to compile such a list (and, even if it were possible, it would be enormously burdensome to do so) and (3) under the language of the Court's proposed Final and Permanent Injunction, there is simply no reason why Mr. Ward needs to receive such a list.
"Recent events have shed light on yet another reason why plaintiff ought not be required to provide Mr. Ward with a list of copyrighted works. Specifically, based on a recent Internet posting by Mr. Ward, it is evident that, if he is provided with such a list, he will use it as a road map to solicit infringements by others, infringe additional Scientology works himself, or both. In his posting, entitled CULT SECRETS WANTED NOW, Mr. Ward exhorts his alt.religion.scientology cronies to send to him by fax, U.S. mail or e-mail all materials [they] own that evidence the criminal nature of the Church of Scientology. Then, further revealing the obvious purpose of his posting, Mr. Ward writes that 'even in the case of the Advanced Technology materials listed below, I am specifically permitted to download [the] materials for use in my defense if someone *else* uploads them *without* any direction or encouragement from me.'
"Plainly, Mr. Ward's posting is an invitation to others to unlawfully copy the thirty-nine (39) works -- each of which is listed by name in the Preliminary Injunction -- that Mr. Ward has already infringed himself. If Mr. Ward is provided with a further list of copyrighted works, there can be little doubt that his response will be to post that list to the Internet in the hope that he (a) will cause others to infringe those works, (b) will be able to obtain copies of the works and then post them himself using an anonymous remailer, or (c) both. For this reason, and for the reasons we have previously offered, we submit that plaintiff should not be required to provide Mr. Ward with a list identifying copyrighted works owned by Scientology-affiliated entities. Although Mr. Ward's August 16 posting plainly violates Judge Whyte's May 7, 1997 Preliminary Injunction, the possibility that he could be held in contempt of the Preliminary Injunction was apparently insufficient to deter Mr. Ward from posting his offending message to the Internet. Thus, although we question whether anything short of imprisonment will ever be sufficient to deter Mr. Ward, it is a virtual certainty that, until the Permanent Injunction is entered, Mr. Ward's unlawful conduct will continue and, if history is any guide, escalate, all to the great prejudice of our client."
Dennis Erlich posted the incorporation documents of inFormer Ministry, a
tax-exempt organization he has founded.
"This corporation is a nonprofit religious corporation and is not
organized for the private gain of any person. It is organized under the
Nonprofit Religious Corporation Law primarily for religious purposes. The
specific purposes for which this corporation is organized are, (1) to
minister to victims of cults or mind control, and to their families, (2)
to provide guidance and information which might serve to warn people away
from such dangerous groups, and, (3) to assist victims of such dangerous
groups in their recovery and re-entry into the mainstream of society.
This corporation is organized and operated exclusively for religious
purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue
"Notwithstanding any other provision of these Articles, the corporation
shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on (1)
by a corporation exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of
the Internal Revenue Code or (2) by a corporation contributions to which
are deductible under Section 170(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code."
Bob Minton reported that Scientology has conducted a deposition of former
RTC executive Jesse Prince, who is now testifying on behalf of Lawrence
Wollersheim in his efforts to collect a judgment against Scientology.
"Jesse concluded 2 days of questioning by Rosen--the transcript of which will no doubt become available--in the Factnet case. Rosen used everything from Jesse's PC folder. Not even a second thought. Strange policy or calculated evil? What did you expect from the church of hypocrisy?"
The text of two letters from OSA head Mike Rinder to Therese Minton, wife
of anti-Scientology activist Bob Minton, was posted to a.r.s this week.
"Dear Mrs. Minton:
"I am certain you are unaware of the real activities and nature of the people Bob is involved with, and I do not believe you would want your family engaged in these matters if you knew the character of these people or their agenda with respect to the 'Minton money.' While Bob claims that the Church has sought to upset his family, in truth it is his activities that are the source of the turmoil that now surrounds his life and yours. It comes about as a result of his relationship with a group of morally bankrupt individuals who are taking money from him while they are engaged in unethical and even criminal activities.
"Stacy Young is the center of much of the harm that is being caused. She has a history of engaging in illicit relationships, Bob is not the first to be lured into her web. While Bob denies that this relationship exists, however, I have documentary evidence that on July 24 and 25, 1998, Bob and Stacy are at your home in New Hampshire together. Their affair is alive and well and the manipulation and deceit continues.
"Your husband, so far as we know, has spent almost $2 million dollars - at least funding Vaughn and Stacy Young (a house and various payments); Lawrence Wollersheim (to the tune of over $500,000); Ken Dandar ($250,000); Arnie Lerma ($60,000); Keith Henson ($25,000); Grady Ward ($60,000); Dennis Erlich ($5,000); and Jessie Prince (reportedly $100,000). There may be more.
"Courts have found several of this group of low-lifes guilty of violating the Church's rights and yet Bob gives them money to continue. A couple of them are wife abusers and child molesters. None are fit to be in the presence of you or your children, yet Bob is playing Santa Claus to them with your money. Bob's irresponsible, if not outright malicious acts, are damaging my church and individual Scientologists as well as you and your children. I believe a face-to-face meeting between us would be helpful."
"Dear Mrs. Minton:
"You are probably under considerable stress and you need to understand that my interests at this point are similar to yours. I want to inform you of facts and assist you, and I think I am in a position to do so. Neither I nor anyone in the Church of Scientology has ever had any intention to interfere with your life and happiness. For reasons unbeknownst to me, your husband set upon a vicious crusade against my religion. He gallantly stated on national television that when you said you'd had enough, he'd stop. It is ironic that in this same show Stacy Young referred to him as an angel who came out of nowhere into her life.
"It's a well-known fact that people have had violent reactions when their hidden secrets are revealed and this appears to have been the case after Bob's affair with Stacy Young was inadvertently exposed. As you may have learned, he fired shots at people who saw him and Stacy together at your home in Sandown. I would imagine that at this point you have had enough, yet he is clearly not stopping and, in fact, is now going to dangerous extremes.
"I wish to make you aware of information through a face-to-face meeting at your convenience. Again, I believe that if you were aware of all the facts you would not support what is happening."
Bob also reported that the anti-Semitic magazine The Spotlight has apologized for printing a Factnet article under Bob's name.
"Page 24 of the July 6 issue I of The SPOTLIGHT carried a story, 'What's Scientology-IRS 'Mystery'? Mr. Robert S. Minton was credited as author. This was an error. The article was compiled primarily from data issued by Fight Against Coercive Tac-tics Network, Inc. (FACT-Net), of which Mr. Minton is only one director, Additional data was added to the article by The SPOTLIGHT. All data in the article is correct except the identification of the author. The SPOTLIGHT regrets this error."
Keith Henson has become involved in a picket contest, in which Scientology
attempts to picket his home for every picket Keith holds at a Scientology
"After finding out the scns picketed my house again, along with a bunch of cops to observe it, I could not let such an opportunity go to waste. I picketed the mission at Winchester and Heading from 7:45 to 7:55."
"Two of us, one hour 5:00-6:00, 30 cars, maybe ten in and ten out during that time Eye contact or at least getting the finger from most of the scns who went in or out. Enthusiastic support from those who drove by. No counter picket yet, maybe in the morning."
"Rosemary location, 4:30-5:10, 35 cars, about ten in/out during this time. Most are now acking my waves, one xenu flyer to a curious black member who said he been in for two years. About 20 minutes into my picket my OT 5 drove in and walked with me the rest of the time. I had a hot-off-the-web-site signed Jesse Prince affidavit with me from which I read to him and he read some of the juicier parts. 5:10 I split for home through the (usual) dense commute traffic. When I rounded the corner I had 3 with picket signs. As I went over with a friendly wave holding my picket sign I ran into some real hostility from a white shirt & tie, thin, balding dude with glasses who insisted I had no right to smile at him because I was not his friend and should shut my ugly face. I told him to hold the thought and speak it into my camcorder. Unfortunately by the time I picked the camcorder up and got back outside they were out of sight. Well, I am still up two on them. That makes four pickets at my house by one, two, two and three picketers."
"I put in about ten minutes this morning at the Palo Alto mission right around the corner from my place. No in or out traffic at all. Not wishing them to have missed me, I put my sign down, walked up and let the lone guy in there (with a kid) know they had been picketed. He thanked me and I split. San Jose 12:45-1:10 34 cars, not much in or out traffic. For variety I carried my Lisa McPherson sign today. Counter picket expected (if they hold to pattern) this evening 5-6 pm at my house, 302 College Ave (at Birch). College is two streets toward SF from California Ave, and about two blocks toward the bay from El Camino if anyone wants to drop by and watch. I am now up 4 pickets on them for the week."
"9:10-10:40, extended half an hour due to ARC. 20 cars when I got there, 33 when I left. Other than one East Indian looking guy who said this was his third time there and he was not very happy with what they told him (he took a Xenu flyer) it was an uneventful picket until they sent out 'Bob' with the accusations of child molestation made against me in a divorce in 1982. On the way back, 11:00 to 11:10 I picketed the Mt. View org. Few cars, looked nearly inactive. No counter pickets since Wed. I am up six on them at this point."
Ron Newman reported the counter-picket activity in Boston.
"At the picket, the Scienos handed out the following leaflet. SATANIC WORSHIPER. HILLIARY OSBORNE. Stop Attacking Others' Freedom of Religion. Today she is leading a protest against a well-respected religion that has helped improved the lives of millions of people directly and through its social betterment programs. This is a slap in the face to many people who are working to better the conditions in life of others. Hilliary's religious bigotry against the Church of Scientology, which she has never been associated with is absolutely Un-American. The United States was founded on religious tolerance and abhors religious persecution. It's time for Hilliary to put an end to her bigotry.
"The leaflet contained a home address, not of Hilary at Northeastern University where she is a student, but rather of her PARENTS on a small residential street in a suburb 30-40 minutes' drive from Boston. After the picket ended, HiLary talked to her parents and found out that three Scientologists had driven out to that suburb and PICKETED HER PARENTS' HOUSE while, or maybe after, we were picketing the Org. Two of the picket signs said something about 'satanic bigot' and one said 'God Bless America'. The following day, someone was handing out a similar leaflet about me to pedestrians on Third Street in Cambridge, near my office."
Ted Mayett reported on pickets in Las Vegas:
"The big org and I opened up for another day of business together. I arrived at 8:41am, which made me the first one there. I watched and counted as vehicles arrived. the last vehicle arrived at 9:05am, the others had arrived before 9am."
"Little org, 1:50-2:20pm, vehicles 5, temperature 100, one vehicle left and another arrived in that 30 minutes. They closed the curtains at 2:01pm, A Police car approached, I turned my back on it and kept walking along, it passed me by."
Bruce Pettycrew picketed the Mesa, Arizona org again this week.
"We picketed from 2:00 to 3:00 today. A breeze helped cool us off, but my sign was hard to control. There were 8 cars in the lot and one arrived during the picket. One woman came out to ask me to leave. I declined. I got over a dozen honks, and 7-8 thumbs up. I saw no negative reactions today. One car stopped in the driveway, and the woman driving it asked about my sign. While I was telling her my reasons for picketing, Leslie Dohrman, the resident OSA maven, came out to tell me to keep walking. It is nice to know that while I am relating to the traffic, someone inside the org is keeping close tabs on me."
David Alexander picketed the Dallas Celebrity Center.
"I changed my sign again. Simply: Scientology is Fraud! It's on a 22X28 poster. Letters twice as big this time, over three inches tall. People are beginning to stop and talk out of familiarity, having seen me for the past four weeks. They are wishing me well and many are thanking me for standing up to the church. People are familiar with Scientology duplicity from the news media. Two cokes from well-wishers today. I still got more shouts and thumbs up this week.
"Sunday: Feet were too sore to get out early. I started after 2:00 stayed until 4:00. A man from New York 'Thanked' me for picketing the church. He was once in New York City Org. When he left, Scientists threatened to kill him. He sounded timid and reticent to hang around."
Minkoff in the Morning
An anonymous poster described the morning radio show of Dr. Minkoff, the
physician to whom Lisa McPherson was taken by Scientologists as she was
"I wonder how long he's had this show on TAN-TALK 1340 AM? It's sponsored by his 'Life and Wellness Center' in Clearwater. Suppose he's been babbling on the air every Tuesday morning at the tail-end of rush hour for the past year or two, talking about 'alternative medicine' and probably taking pot-shots at Prozac and Ritalin, without anyone ever asking him how a medically trained physician could actually be stupid enough to associate with a health scam and con game like $cientology.
"The first call went something like this: 'Hi, I just have a quick question for Dr. Minkoff. I was wondering whether or not your listeners are aware of your affiliation with the fraudulent cult of $cientology and your involvement in the death of Lisa McPherson?' Silence. Dead silence for about three heartbeats.
"A few minutes later, they took another call. I think he said he was from Boston. Had a question about depression and nutrition, which probably perked the hosts up a bit, since that was indeed the topic. 'OK, if someone is in a hotel room, and they're starving - ' Whoopsie! Another technical difficulty. 'What?' 'I think we lost that one, too!' Very non-confront, Dr. Minkoff."