Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 50
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.
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>From the letters to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times this week.
"Although the St. Petersburg Times has printed letters from Scientologists in response to a number of stories, I would like to comment on the propensity of the Times to publish at the same time extremely prejudiced letters. It is a mystery why intolerant letters that would not be published had they been about any other religious or ethnic group in the area make the opinion pages. Then again, maybe it is not any surprise; newspapers are usually the last ones to champion any needed human rights issue. -- Liz Adams, Clearwater"
Mark Bunker reported a new development in the white lined zone by a Scientology building in Clearwater, in which people have been prevented from walking or protesting in recent months.
"Just moments ago I took a victory march through the white lines on Watterson Street. In a hearing this afternoon, Judge Pennick decreed that we can walk through the lines when we're not protesting. We must announce our names to the police then we are free to cross. As I strode manfully to the white lines, I announced in a strong but not booming voice 'I'm Mark Bunker and I'm here to cross the white lines!' I then walked down the street just like a citizen."
Leo J. Ryan Foundation
Rod Keller and Tom Padgett reported on the Leo J. Ryan Foundation annual
conference last week in Stamford, Connecticut.
"The main speakers after the meals were Ron Loomis, Steve Hassan, Bob Minton, Stephen Kent, Deborah Layton and Robert Jay Lifton. Ron Loomis' presentation was his standard talk he delivers at colleges around the country, Cults 101. Steve Hassan discussed his new book, Releasing the Bonds. Bob Minton's talk was on the Lisa McPherson Trust, and the city of Clearwater. Stephen Kent described the political and legal situation in Europe with respect to cults and Scientology in particular. Deborah Layton wrote 'Seductive Poison', a book on her experiences in Jonestown and her escape before the suicide/murders. Robert Lifton was amazing in his talk on Aum Shinrikyo and his new book 'Destroying the World to Save it.'
"Joe Kelly and Pat Ryan discussed altered states of mind and how hallucination and suggestion work to fool members into believing the cult's claims. The example of levitation was very interesting, how trance states and hypnosis can make members of meditation cults believe that they and others can actually fly across the room, not just hop around on the padded floor.
"[In] the Lisa McPherson Trust session Grady Ward describing how far the Internet has come in providing cult awareness information, and how cults have been working to destroy what has been achieved. Stacy Brooks described her experience with the Trust and how so many active members have been following the material available on web sites, newspapers, etc. Flo Conway and Joe Sigelman spoke on 'Church vs. State', and had some interesting analysis of the changing government attitudes towards cults, including the Waco incident. The session on the Maryland Task Force on Cults on Campus included Denny Gulick, a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland and a proponent of cult education on campus, Ron Loomis who testified before the task force, and Frantz Wilson, a member of the task force and parent of a member of the Black Hebrews, a cult that believes black people should inherit the state of Israel as the true descendants of Isaac and Jacob."
"Thomas Padgett gave a brief overview of his time from being recruited in 1978 to leaving on his own in 1987, but gave more detailed highlights of the rein of terroristic attacks, stalkings, character assaults, death by litigation tactics, burglaries, SP declarations, destruction of his once successful and rewarding career, and worst of all, 'disconnection' from his minor children! Padgett's ex-wife remained in the cult as a devoted Hubbard believer. His litigious ex has tried several times to get him convicted on bogus trumped-up child support allegations which is a crime in all 50 states. Padgett has a warrant out for his arrest in Kentucky from his ex's continued fair gaming tactics. The judge in the cases is a family friend of the pro-scientologists in a small politically controlled Western Kentucky town.
"Recipients of this years' LJRF Award were Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, pioneers in the study of cults and mind control going back to the 1970's. In their book 'Snapping,' earlier extensive research surveys indicated 'hour for hour, Scientology's techniques may be more than twice as damaging as those of other cults and self-help therapies, and up to four times as damaging per hour as the rituals of some other major cult groups!'"
Mrshowbiz published an interview with Scientology celebrity Jenna Elfman
"My husband has been a Scientologist for years, and I kept hearing him talk about Dianetics. And I said, 'What is Dianetics?' So he gave me the book. And he said there's a course you can take and you just have to read parts of it. And then one day I ran into a situation that made me like, frazzled. I was spending the night at my now-husband, boyfriend-at-the-time's house. I was so used to the alarm that it didn't wake me up, and I woke up an hour and a half after I was supposed to be there. I got in the car and I was all frazzled and starting to cry and was rushed, and I couldn't think. Then I went, Wait a minute--that's purely reactive and insane. Look, you're in the car, you can't get there any faster. So just turn the music on, enjoy. And I went da-da-da, da-da-da and got a lot more analytical about the situation.
"When I got there, I said, 'I'm very sorry I'm late. The alarm didn't wake me up.' And they said, 'That's fine. We're not going to get to you for another few hours.' Like, wow! I went, This is great. It's just very simple: Scientology helps me live my life better."
Frankfurter Neue Presse reported on March 20th that Scientology must pay
membership dues to a business council in Frankfurt.
"The 'Scientology Church' must accept mandatory membership in the Frankfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce and pay membership dues. That was decided by the Frankfurt Administrative Court. In the court's opinion, 'Scientology' is a corporation which is required to pay commercial taxes and therefore, according to legal determinations, it automatically has to be a member of the IHK. 'Scientology' operates a book store in Frankfurt in which its scriptures are distributed. The association had refused to accept mandatory membership because, it said, the distribution of the printed matter was occurring only on an 'honorary basis,' and that the shop was not being managed 'fully mercantilistically.' According to the court's presentation, that was not reflected in the circumstances. As a result there was the obligation to pay commercial tax, as had been confirmed by the revenue office and the City of Frankfurt."
Mannheimer Morgen reported on March 17th that two government ministers in Hesse continue to be criticized for doing business with a Scientology real estate developer in Zwickau.
"Hesse's Interior Minister Volker Bouffier and Justice Minister Christean Wagner (both CDU) were assailed yesterday in the state assembly for doing business with a Scientologist. The two ministers were attacked because, in 1996, they bought buildings in Zwickau from a company whose business manager is a Scientologist. The top CDU politicians were said to have indirectly supported the organization because of a total of 3.7 million marks the Scientology Organization normally receives 15 percent, said Greens Representative Evelin Schoenhut-Keil. The Scientologists' goal is said to be the infiltration of society. In pursuing that goal, said Schoenhut-Keil, the organization is not above practicing money-laundering, corruption or psycho-terrorism against its members.
"In response, Interior Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU) stressed that the CDU politicians had not known anything of the business manager's membership in Scientology at the time the purchase was made. In 1997, the business manager had submitted sworn testimony stating that he was not a Scientologist. Even if the opposite of that would have happened, stressed Bouffier, he would not have been able to terminate his five year contract because of that."
>From Frankfurter Rundschau on March 17th:
"'This is dealing with a private financial matter which has nothing to do with my post as state minister,' wrote Bouffier last week to the SPD faction in response to a questions about his real estate business with a professed Scientologist from Zwickau. In reality, the Minister, who has already been accused of 'treason to the party' and 'back-door affairs,' has not separated his private and work matters quite so clearly. That is proved by a letter which Bouffier filed against Kurt Fliegerbauer, the Zwickau Scientologist, in charges in the Zwickau state attorney's office on February 23rd of this year. The letter is authored on the official letterhead paper of the Minister with Hesse's coat of arms. Bouffier admitted that this afternoon he had 'inadvertently' had the charges prepared on ministry paper even though the charge was being filed by him 'as a private man.'
"Bouffier stated yesterday that in 1996 he was not aware of who managed the Osterstein company. It was not until September 1997 that he had read in the newspaper that a Scientologist managed the company. The investor verified for him, in writing, that there was nothing to the accusations. The businessman asked Bouffier for help in 1999, because he felt he was being persecuted by Zwickau CDU members because of his membership in Scientology. The Minister said he rebuffed Fliegerbauer's request. Fliegerbauer then suspended the guaranteed rental payments for the eastern real estate he had agreed upon with Bouffier because of what he said was a lack of help. Bouffier filed charges for breach of trust - on his ministry paper. SPD and Greens have criticized Bouffier for not clearly maintaining his distance in his cooperation with the Scientologist. Bouffier countered that it would not have been possible to get out of the contract without taking a loss if he only used the argument that his partner in the contract was a member of Scientology."
Berliner Morgenpost published an update on March 17 of the Otto Dreksler case, a former police supervisor accused of being a Scientologist.
"It's been almost two years since one of the biggest police scandals in Berlin got a start. Yet it has still not been explained why police director Otto Dreksler was wrongly described as a Scientologist, first anonymously, and then by Constitutional Security. If things go the way the CDU members of the Constitutional Security Committee would like, a cloak of silence will be drawn over the whole affair. As Interior Senator Eckart Werthebach said, 'This whole story has been over for years.'
"What everything is really pointing to is that a secret plot against Otto Dreksler and the Berlin Security authorities had been concocted. In the past year, Interior Senator Eckart Werthebach has spoken of a disinformation campaign by the Stasi. Ex-staff of the DDR intelligence agency have, beyond any doubt, played a significant role in the affair. Besides the undercover men, there is much to support the concept that the anonymous letter writer who first slandered Dreksler had also snitched for the Stasi in the DDR era. Therefore, SPD Vice Chief Klaus Benneter also asked yesterday why Stasi spies were used on Scientology. Joerg Schoenbohm, stated that Stasi spies were only being implemented to observe continuing structures of that secret agency.' It has not yet been explained what led Constitutional Security management, including the Interior Senator and State Secretary, to deviate from this policy. PDS Representative Gernot Klemm asked, 'How could they know which undercover people at Constitutional Security had worked for the Stasi?' In the meantime, the state attorney's office is attempting to find out who was behind the intrigue. Investigation is currently in process."
Die Welt reported on March 23rd that Scientology is the only organization to take advantage of new public records laws in three German states.
"Its arrival has been calm and quiet in the offices of Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg and Berlin. Agencies from the Interior Ministry to Constitutional Protection are now open for inspection down to the last dusty folder - and nobody is looking in. For the first time, the authorities in three German states are obligated to let anybody have access to their administrative files. Before then, information, as a rule was refused: all information of the state was dealt with as confidential and reached the hands of normal citizens only as an exception - if they, themselves were affected by the information. Now any uninterested party can gain access to the files, which also include those on organizations.
"The Scientologists' 'Human Rights Bureau' has been diligently writing to the ministries and government agencies of the three states. 'We would like to know what there is about us in their files,' said Koch. That alarms critics of the new law. 'That goes to show you who is interested: organizations like Scientology, which is under surveillance by Constitutional Security,' said Ulrich Spitzer, spokesman of the Flensburg Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Because of Scientology's inquiries, the Brandenburg SPD and CDU coalition parties want to back-paddle now and permit access to folders only by those who could show a 'justified interest' - as determined by the government.
Suedwest Presse reported on March 23rd that former Labor Minister Norbert Bluem will oppose Scientology's recognition as a religion.
"Norbert Bluem (CDU) intends to use all means to keep Scientology from being acknowledged as a religious denomination in Germany. 'The Scientologists have as much to do with a religious denomination as bicycles have to do with space travel,' said the former Labor Minister. Bluem accused the Scientologists of having ruined many people."
The Irish Times reported on March 22nd on Ireland's churches efforts to
monitor cults, including Scientology.
"Mike Garde is employed by Ireland's major churches to monitor the country's 100-plus alternative religions. He tells Kellie Russell why we're now more susceptible to the 'unsettling presence' of cults Cult watchdog Mike Garde knows what can happen when you start poking your nose in other people's religions. He's Ireland's theosophical Big Brother, monitoring cults - or new religious movements as he prefers to call them - for Dublin's mainline Christian churches. As a self-employed fieldworker for an ecumenical ministry called Dialogue Ireland, he reports to a board, composed of representatives of the main Christian churches, on what he calls the 'unsettling presence' of alternative religions. He provides information, advice and pastoral support, for families, clergy, teachers and other professionals who encounter activities of cults.
"He is a Mennonite - 'not a cult', he's quick to point out - but one of the Quaker-like peace churches founded before Anglicanism. It's a personal fact not lost on at least one of the organisations he's pursued in the name of disillusioned members and their disquieted families, a Dublin branch of the Scientologists. 'Scientology operates on a system of black propaganda,' he says. 'A section of the Mennon church was linked to a drug cartel in Mexico, so they contacted the church leaders I work for to tell them they had a dark horse among them.'
"According to his research, there are more than 100 minor religions operating throughout the country. To date, Dialogue Ireland, which replaced the Catholic-run Cult Awareness Centre in 1992, has focused on Scientology, the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, new churches with Eastern or Christian foundations, 'human potential' movements and a group called Emin, which Garde describes as 'quasi-occult', promoting the powers of electromagnetic fields.
"'We are the only country in Europe that still has not had a parliamentary investigation on the phenomenon of cults,' he says. Dialogue Ireland has now written to the Committee for Equality, Justice and Women's Rights, asking it to investigate the current situation in Ireland."
The Wichita Business Journal carried a column on March 6th by Scientology
celebrity Kirstie Alley.
"Please join me in building on Wichita's ever-increasing commitment to education by attending our upcoming Education Expo at 10 a.m on Saturday, March 4 at the Wichita State University Metropolitan Complex. More than 40 community groups around the city will be represented at the Expo, all seeking tutors to assist in our common efforts to improve educational opportunities and success.
"I want to tell you a story of a little girl I'll name Chloe, who came into our tutoring center. She was 9 years old and hadn't learned to read yet. Her mother was at her wit's end. Chloe was having all sorts of difficulty in school and her mother had taken her to several different counselors where she ended up being put on a psychiatric drug for three years, which caused further problems. Our tutors worked with Chloe and found she had missed some basics at the beginning of her schooling. Chloe was brought forward with one-on-one tutoring and taught to read. She then learned the study tools that give students the solutions to difficulties with study so they can resolve them on their own. Today Chloe is doing very well and is drug-free. She loves school and gets along well with her peers. Both Chloe and her mother are extremely happy.
"We have operated the free tutoring program at Lillie's Learning Place out of our Church of Scientology building at 3705 E. Douglas and have helped more than 700 children and adults. Not all of them have had learning problems but they all benefited from gaining the ability to effectively study. It gave them the key to both dreaming and reaching whatever goal they wished. I believe it is the key to our future as a society to create a new generation of kids who are literate and love to learn. It has too often been a failing that has cost us all a great deal."
>From The Sunflower, a student newspaper at Wichita State University, on March 3rd.
"Actress and Wichita native Kirstie Alley will be opening a branch of Lillie's Learning Place, a free tutoring center, this Saturday after she hosts the Education Expo 2000. There will be several speakers, including Alley, Mark Siegel, national spokesperson for Applied Scholastics, and Jean Schodorf, president of USD 259. Rudy Love and the Love family will provide music. Having fun and being involved in the education of Wichita's children is the reason for Education Expo 2000, said Peggy Crawford, president of the Church of Scientology, which has sponsored the tutoring program for five years. 'The idea of it is to create 500 new tutors,' said Crawford. 'It's a community effort to increase education.'
"L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, has researched the study tools used at Lillie's Learning Place. However, Crawford said the program does not have any religious content. 'This is not a church activity,' said Crawford. 'It is completely secular.' Burks said most of the children involved in the program have another belief system, and the learning tools involved with Lillie's Learning Place help them learn how to handle life better."
The St. Petersburg Times reported on March 26th on the documents provided
by Scientology in an attempt to influence Medical Examiner Joan Wood in
the case of Lisa McPherson.
"Medical studies, scientific research, sworn testimony and more -- thousands of pages from the Church of Scientology that Medical Examiner Joan Wood considered over five months before changing her ruling in the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson.
"Wood refuses to say what finally tipped the scale, prompting her to rule last month that McPherson's death was an accident. But records from her office examined by the St. Petersburg Times show she reviewed a wide array of materials seriously challenging her original conclusion that McPherson had died from a blood clot in her lung caused by 'bed rest and severe dehydration.'
"The volume and scope of the records also reveal the lengths to which Scientology has gone to defend itself against criminal charges in McPherson's death -- charges it contends are threatening its reputation and viability, not only in Clearwater but throughout the world.
"In making its case to Wood, Scientology hammered on several points: A blood clot in the lung, known as a pulmonary embolism, is a common killer. The public perception that McPherson was emaciated and lost as much as 40 pounds while in the care of Scientology staffers in Clearwater is unsupported and incorrect. The fatal blood clot came not from dehydration but from a bruise McPherson had received in a minor auto accident before her 17-day stay at the Fort Harrison. Lab results on sodium levels in McPherson's eye fluid were too high to be credible and did not jibe with other findings in the autopsy.
"The church's strategy is reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson murder case in 1995 when defense attorneys meticulously picked away at the handling of blood samples and other forensic evidence, creating doubt among jurors. In the McPherson case, however, the all-out attack on the state's medical evidence is occurring well ahead of a trial. The church's Clearwater entity was charged in 1998 with abuse of a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license, both felonies. One church official, asked recently to put a price tag on the defense so far, called it 'enormous.'
"The stakes for Scientology apparently are high. In a recent court filing, the church contends the prosecution puts an unconstitutional burden on a religion, arguing in part that the case might even threaten its cherished and hard-won tax-exempt status from the IRS.
"Assistant State Attorney Doug Crow, the lead prosecutor on the case, declined to comment. Marty Rathbun, a top Scientology official, said the church could have waited until a trial to bring forth the evidence. But that would have harmed 'the credibility of many persons in a fashion that would have made them appear incompetent to the community,' he said."
Sean Ostler reported a protest in Salt Lake City this week.
"We got our picket signs out and began walking back and forth in front of the org. Almost immediately, I saw them start to scurry about inside. Judy Steed, the Executive Director, got on the phone at the receptionist's desk and called someone (presumably Phil). We picketed for about 20 minutes with no 'handling' from the org. Then Phil Parke (resident OT8) came slinking out the org with a camera and began taking our pictures. Then Deana pulled out her camera and began snapping pictures of Phil. Phil continued to snap pictures for a few minutes and then he slinked back into the org.
"I noticed a lot more activity in the org lobby than usual. At one point there were five people. Then I noticed Phil taking pictures of us from inside the org. He had his camera right up against the glass."
Lisa Marie Presley
Star magazine reported this week that Scientology celebrity Lisa Marie
Presley plans a Scientology wedding in Clearwater.
"Lisa Marie Presley is planning a wacky Scientology wedding with rocker boyfriend John Oszajca. Elvis' daughter -- who sources say has already given more than $1 million to Scientology -- has now convinced her Hawaiian-born fiancee that he, too, should join the controversial church before they get married this summer.
"And their bizarre wedding plans include: Having an ordained Scientologist minister conduct the ceremony at the Scientology Center in Clearwater, Fla., personalized Scientology training for the 25-year-old Oszajca before the wedding. a special Scientologist official who will be on 24-hour call to provide advice to the couple in the event of marital woes.
"An insider told STAR that devout Scientologist Lisa Marie is thrilled that John is now embracing the Scientology movement. 'Lisa is so excited because she adores John,' said the insider. 'It means a lot to her that he's starting to get involved in her religion. In fact, it's an answer to Lisa's prayers. She has so much more in common with him than she had with Michael Jackson.' But, just to make sure that the marriage works out, the couple are making plans to meet with Scientologist counselors before they tie the knot. John has also been asked to go into Auditing--a program the church has devised to initiate new members.
"'Lisa lived in Clearwater with her two kids for two years prior to her marriage to Michael Jackson and, during that time, she spent most of her days trying to reach the top echelons of Scientology,' said the insider. It's been estimated that she has invested more than $1 million in the church. 'A million dollars is worth spending for her because she wants to achieve her goals in the church.'"
Gary Campbell reported on a new org location in Edinburgh, Scotland.
"It looks like they've just moved straight into a former grocers and done very little redecorating. The sign above the shop still reads 'Best Choice' and they have a rickety message board with a hand-scrawled advert for their personality tests outside. They do look to have been spending a bit of money on the inside though, they've got a polished wooden floor with big glass windows giving a good view inside. It's noticeable, and they're likely to do a fair bit better than they did at their old place."
Basler Zeitung reported on March 23rd that the battle over Scientology
recruitment in the streets of Basel continues.
"Despite a misfire of the first police charges against two Scientology recruiters, the new Basel ban against improper recruitment on public land has had its effect. Scientology recruiters distribute 'free personality tests' with 200 questions in the Steinen suburb. The people accosted are invited to fill out the test and have it evaluated in a nearby office. It serves to find out the personal capabilities and weaknesses of the person approached, stated Andre Steffen from the Scientology Church. To improve the situation of the subject person, books, privately formed courses and seminars are offered, like the communication course for 250 franks. Bigger courses could cost from 1,000 to 2,000 franks.
"Anybody who is going through a crisis is susceptible to those kind of promises, answers SP greater council member Susanne Haller. First, she said, the person accosted is overwhelmed with 'love bombing,' a salvo of 'stroke units.' She said that whoever uncritically follows up on the offers ends up in a closed, self-justifying system of thought and behavior. Personal risk for the person recruited is associated with dependencies outside the network of psychological services and associated with considerable expenses.
"To oppose that sort of risk, the Greater Council decision prohibits recruiting passersby by using 'deceptive or obtrusive methods.' Recruitment personnel in violation of that ordinance can be dispersed 'from specific locations or in general.' In response to the state rights complaint of the 'Scientology Church Association,' the Federal Court confirmed the validity of this regulation. At the same time the criminal court exonerated two Scientology recruiters who had been charged. That is because it judged the recruitment to be commercial, and therefore not religious, activity. The Department of Police and Military submitted an appeal to that judgment, reported the chief of the legal service, Stephan Blaesi."
The Guardian published an article on March 23rd on the battle on the
Internet against Scientology.
"August 12 1995 was a Saturday much like any other in the urban sprawl of Arlington, Virginia. Except that an alert went out over email and on Usenet groups to say that 10 people - including two federal marshals, two computer technicians, one a former FBI agent, and several attorneys - were raiding the home of former Scientologist Arnaldo Lerma. Leading the raid was Helena Kobrin, a senior lawyer representing the Church of Scientology. She was well known on the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, due to her frequent postings which insisted on the deletion of files she claimed contained the Church's copyrighted materials. Lerma was distraught. Many of his personal and business files were kept on his PC. Told that his hardware would be returned the following Monday, he was still waiting weeks later.
"There had been other raids in the US and further afield, including on an anonymous remailer run by Johan Helsingius in Finland, as the Church pursued anyone it felt was posting 'secret' materials. Such confrontations are continuing - albeit in more subtle form - as pro- and anti-cultists struggle for control of the 'truth' over the net.
"On the Church of Scientology's slick official site you can take a personality test online (although you have to meet someone in person to receive the results) and visit links to more than 15,000 Scientologists. Said one British opponent of Scientology: 'The battle between Scientology and its opponents has been absolutely transformed by the net.' As writer William Shaw, author of Spying In Guru Land, explains, the main reason that the Church of Scientology has a large internet presence is the high net profile of its opponents. 'The CoS is very proficient at the internet now, but I believe that was only responding to very successful anti-Scientology sites on the web in the early 90s.'
"Much of the background to the war between Scientologists and their detractors can be seen at Operation Clambake set up by Andreas Heldal-Lund in Norway in 1996. One of the incidents he highlights was last year when Amazon.com dropped Jon Atack's book A Piece Of Blue Sky, which was critical of Scientology's teachings. There was a massive outcry from netizens and free speech advocates, and Amazon promptly reversed its decision. The site also outlines how, in 1998, Scientologists were issued with filtering software to prevent them visiting anti-Scientology sites. "Roger Gonnet, an anti-Scientology activist running a web site based in France, says: 'My two sites were attacked three times each, the first with three attorneys in a row, attacking my ISP too. They even tried to attack under the guise of 'violation of trade secrets' which is a strong thing for a 'religion'.'
"'For many years, the Church of Scientology has taken action to protect its scriptures from abuse,' says a spokesperson. 'It is in pursuit of its First Amendment right of free religious exercise that the Church has brought legal action to enforce existing copyright and trade secrets laws on the internet.'"