Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 26
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 trial of Scientologists for fraud and practicing medicine without a
license concluded in Marseilles, France this week. From the Associated
Press, on September 20th:
"The Scientologists' defense demanded the trial be postponed because of the 'dreadful climate' created after documents relating to the case disappeared from the court. An official inquiry found that the loss of the documents two weeks ago was due to a mistake by a court clerk. The original charges in 1990 were lodged by 10 people. But nine dropped their claims. The man now bringing the case, Raymond Scapillato, was the only one not to withdraw his claim until today when the second man, also one of the original ten who withdrew his claim, reentered the case as a civil party."
>From Reuters on September 20th:
"The court rejected a bid by the defendants to have the hearing postponed on the grounds that a controversy over the disappearance of legal documents relating to the case would make a fair trial impossible. It was the third time in a year that evidence was reported missing in a case involving the Church of Scientology. The church, which complains that its members in France are harassed and persecuted, has accused its opponents of waging a slander campaign and pressuring judges by trying to pass the blame for an administrative blunder.
"Scientology President Heber C. Jentzsch said in a statement faxed from Los Angeles he would complain to the United Nations Human Rights Commission that 'governmental religious intolerance in France has escalated to the point where it threatens the right of minority religious members to a fair trial.' Alain Vivien, who heads a ministerial committee investigating sects, has called it a totalitarian movement and raised the possibility of a ban. 'Mr Vivien should be dismissed and his 'anti-sect' office disbanded,' Jentzsch said. Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement said last week the group should be watched for any abuse, but a ban would go against freedom of thought, a principle enshrined in the French constitution."
>From the BBC, on September 20th:
"The church itself - which claims some 40,000 adherents in France - has accused the French government of 'trying to turn the justice system into a Roman circus. 'For 10 years, these defendants have been subjected to outrageous harassment - jail, hysterical media for the last month, and then the very files that would prove their innocence were destroyed,' said Heber Jentzsch, President of the Church of Scientology International."
>From the Independent on September 21st:
"The money-hungry practices of the Church of Scientology are expected to be laid bare at a trial that opened in Marseilles yesterday amid an atmosphere of near-paranoia over the sect's penetration of the French state and judicial system. Seven leaders of the sect in southern France are accused of defrauding former adepts of up to pounds 15,000 each by selling pseudo-scientific 'purification' courses that left the victims more psychologically disturbed than when they began. Several politicians have called for Scientology to be outlawed. Scientologists and other sects had made efforts to penetrate the French judicial system. Of the 600 examining magistrates in Paris, 'at least four or five' belonged to 'sects considered as dangerous.'"
>From the Telegraph on September 21st:
"The defendants, five of whom are women, are accused of 'embezzlement, the illegal practice of medicine and violence with premeditation' between 1987 and 1990. They are said to have charged for services like Dianetics, described as a 'mental science' aimed at 'suppressing illness and undesirable sensations'. The prosecution alleged they charged about 120 pounds an hour, with some courses of treatment in 'extreme cases' priced at 1,500 pounds. The defendants face up to five years in prison and fines of up to 250,000 pounds.
"The prosecutor said the trial would still go ahead as planned but pointed out that it would be up to the three-judge court to decide on the importance of the missing papers once the court convened. As the trial opened, the prosecutor said the documents destroyed were 'subsidiary' and enough evidence remained to put his case."
>From The Associated Press on September 21st:
"The case has put the controversial Church of Scientology back in the spotlight while it struggles to win recognition as a legitimate religion in Europe. The case also has whipped up fury among Scientology leaders, one of whom said Monday he would denounce France to the U.N. Human Rights Commission for threatening the rights of minority religions to a fair trial. Some 100 members of the Church of Scientology protested outside the courtroom in Marseilles on Tuesday, waving banners that read 'Scientology, 40 years in France: a new religion.'
"The Scientologists fought back on Tuesday, flying a human rights delegation to a meeting in Vienna, Austria, of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to brief members on 'human rights abuses by the French government's anti-sect office.' The Scientologists' delegation will call for the disbandment of France's anti-sect office, the Interministerial Mission to Fight Against Sects, and the dismissal of its chief, Alain Vivien, the group said in a statement."
>From Tages-Anzeiger on September 21st:
"The 'Journey to the Prison of the Mind,' as 'Liberation' titled its perspective, began in the 1980s, when the Scientology 'church' offered its services in Nizza and Marseilles: individual sessions and lengthy courses were supposed to 'purify' people plagued by worries and wants and transform them into a state of 'clearness.' They were indeed transformed, but not in that way, as the investigations have shown. After having taken the services, some had to receive psychiatric treatment - and this was after they had paid a total of up to 35,000 franks for Scientology course fees. Which Scientology stated was the respectable net gain of a provider of healing. In 1989 the income of the Nizza branch alone reached 1.75 million franks.
"That was the year in which the affair was kicked off. An 'exhausted' doctor had signed up for treatment with the Scientologists and had made out a check for 33,150 franks. Afterwards he filed a charge of fraud. Other charges followed, although most of them were withdrawn after intimidations by threats from the 'church.' Today only two people are appearing as civil complainants. One of them is a young man who had belonged to the local Scientology staff in his time, and who therefore is familiar with its inner workings.
"Clarifications in the Palace of Justice have yielded that four or five of the 600 court personnel belong to sects which have been categorized as dangerous. The Chairman of the Interministerial Anti-Sect Committee, Alain Vivien, recently stated in a 'Figaro' interview, 'It has been stated, and has never been refuted, that the Scientologists managed to infiltrate the cabinet of a former state president. Attempts at infiltration into management of the arms bureaucracy have also been mentioned.' Vivien describes Scientology as a totalitarian movement which is trying to install elite units which are meant to govern the rest of humanity, the 'happy slaves,' as 'church' founder Ron Hubbard called them."
>From Der Standard on September 21st:
"Probably only Scientologists believe in coincidence: on more than one occasion in France recently, court documents have disappeared or have been 'inadvertently' destroyed before trials against their group. That also happened shortly before a trial against seven Scientologists which began yesterday in Marseilles. The disappearance of the documents was even stranger than the disappearance of court documents which had been assembled for years out of a court safe in Paris. Scientology documents also vanished into thin air in the north French city of Caen. Add to that a burglary into the office of the director of a parliamentary sect commission. The public is asking how this could have been possible in heavily guarded buildings like the National Assembly or the Palace of Justice. The sect commission is wondering aloud whether certain administrative offices in the state apparatus could have been 'infiltrated by sects.'"
>From KNA on September 21st:
"The Scientology Organization intends to bring charges against France before the UN Human Rights Commission. The trial opened on Monday in the southern French city of Marseilles was a violation of the European Human Rights Convention and other international human rights accords, stated Scientology President Heber C. Jentzsch in Los Angeles. The defense pled to suspend the process because essential evidence was missing. The written material, according to Justice Ministry statements, had been mistakenly destroyed after an initial process against the Scientologists had been suspended in 1995 because of administrative errors. The court rejected their application. Another process against Scientology members for fraud is to begin in Paris on September 29. Records for the proceedings are also missing there."
>From Reuters on September 22nd:
"A state prosecutor on Wednesday asked a French court to jail a former leader of the Church of Scientology for fraud, saying the group was bent on making money from its faithful in 'a monstrous con trick.' Prosecutor Danielle Drouay-Ayral recommended that Xavier Delamare, a former leader of the church in southeastern France, be sent to prison for 18 months, with another 18 months suspended, and should be fined 200,000 francs ($32,000). The charges carry a maximum five-year sentence. The prosecutor asked the court to condemn five other defendants to two years suspended jail sentences and denial of civil rights for five years. She sought a nominal sentence against the last defendant, Dominique Pons, who has turned against the group and accused Delamare of sending him on shady fundraising missions.
"Drouay-Ayral rejected arguments that the church's mission was to halt crime, violence, drugs and the degradation of society. She said would-be members were being lured into joining by questionnaires which she called worthless and aimed at finding personal problems that would justify seeking help through the church's courses and medicine. 'Selling is the Scientologists' only aim...It is a monstrous con trick,' she told the court."
>From Die Welt on September 21st:
"As ever, when Scientologists go before the court in France, it is a matter of very much money, of fraud and of psycho-terrorism. That is the way it was at the first big trial against the Scientology sect three years ago in Lyon; that is the way it went Monday in Marseilles, where seven members of the sect, two men and five women, were accused of fraudulently separating a total of ten people from their money between 1987 and 1990 with mental 'purification cures.'
"Unlike Lyon several years ago, Marseilles is not just dealing with the 'abusive practices' alone of the Scientology sect, which regards itself as a 'church.' In the background is much more the issue of to what degree the Scientologists have infiltrated society and state in France. This is what the Chairman of the French anti-sect agency, Alain Vivien, is convinced of. The Scientologists have not just managed to systematically infiltrate sports, cultural and health organizations. Their connections go all the way up into the head of government. At one time they even tried to infiltrate the anti-terrorism unit of the French police (Raid). Vivien's opinion has been seconded by Raymond Forni, Vice President of the National Assembly. 'It would not at all surprise me,' he said, 'if this sect was being patronized by or at least had connections within the Justice apparatus.' As far as Forni can see, the reliability and the trustworthiness of the Justice Ministry is being put to the test."
>From Reuters on September 23rd:
"Arguments in the fraud trial of seven French members of the Church of Scientology ended on Thursday with defendants insisting that the case was a religious matter that was none of the court's business. Defence lawyer Jean-Yves Leborgne said the case, in which the Scientologists are accused of exploiting naive people by selling them sessions of mental purification, had nothing to do with crime. 'Justice is being asked to rule on everything, including on matters that are none of its business,' he told the court in this Mediterranean port city at the end of the four-day hearing. 'Practising a religion is not a crime. Nothing has been proven in this trial,' Leborgne told the court.
"Prosecutor Danielle Drouay-Ayral asked the court to jail Xavier Delamare, a former leader of the church in southeastern France, for 18 months with another 18 months suspended. He also sought two-year suspended sentences against five other defendants and a nominal sentence for another who has turned against the church. The court said it would return a verdict on November 15."
>From The Associated Press on September 23rd:
"In a 90-minute plea, attorney Jean-Yves Le Borgne urged the judges to 'escape the media and political pressures that denounce Scientology and the danger it represents.' The defense asked that all charges be dropped. Le Borgne argued that 'fraud cannot exist in the domain of religion.' The assistant prosecutor refused to debate about whether Scientology was a religion, comparing the Church of Scientology to 'an octopus, a monster that devours the money of its followers.'"
Scientology celebrity John Travolta fled France this week to avoid being
called to testify at the trial of French Scientologists. From the
"The actor and scientologist John Travolta has cut short a visit to Paris apparently because he feared he might be called to give evidence in the trial of seven French members of the Church of Scientology in Marseilles. Members of his entourage told the French news agency, Agence France Presse, that Travolta feared that he might be forced to give evidence at the fraud trial of seven French Scientologists. The judgment on the seven, accused of claiming sums of up to pounds 15,000 for bogus treatment, has been delayed until 15 November."
Freie Presse reported on September 20th that the CDU party in Zwickau,
Germany is distancing itself from Scientology.
"The Zwickau CDU city faction has established a clear-cut space between itself and the Scientology Organization. This was announced by faction chief Frank Seidel. In doing that he could refer to a unanimous result from a self-survey. For Frank Seidel that means, 'The CDU faction is devoid of Scientology influence.' The Christian Democrats wanted to send a sign by their action, 'The other city factions should also publicly announce their separation from Scientologists,' stated the CDU man. Background: Zwickau has been making Scientology headlines for years. The valley city has been named particularly in connection with real estate business and old building renovation."
Freie Presse also reported, on September 24th, that Scientology may be changing its tactics in Germany.
"Anybody who thinks that Scientology is in retreat and losing significance is apparently mistaken. According to information available to the 'Freie Presse,' the sect has only altered its strategy and, after critical publications have opened many people's eyes, is trying to recruit new members less clumsily. Instead of decreasing, the operating field has gotten stronger in business. Companies aligned with Scientology include many from the construction and real estate sectors. In Zwickau, influential Scientologist Kurt Fliegerbauer is buying up considerable amounts of real estate with his Schloss Osterstein company.
"According to information from a business woman, the so-called WISE organization is exerting increased influence. It is said to use practical trickery to covertly bring companies into dependency and then to cash in on them. To alert the public to the sect's activities, the Contact and Info Bureau Zwickau (KIB), which belongs to the church and is financed by the public, is organizing presentations. KIB director and theologian Joerg Bank is aware of the increased endeavors in North Vogtland. 'There are business people from the region who warn us about it,' he said.
"On October 5 at 7:30 p.m., the KIB will talk about goals, practices and dangers in the Reichenbach Old Meeting Hall. Scientology ex-member Sylvia Goerg will report there on the time she was in the sect. This Friday, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a presentation in the Zwickau 'Neuen Welt' with Ursula Caberta, a Scientology specialist."
The Telegraph published an interview with Scientology celebrity Juliette
Lewis on September 16th.
"'I'm tired of taking myself so seriously,' Juliette Lewis says, looking immensely serious. I think she means that she wants to put behind her a string of highly publicised personal and professional setbacks - her broken romance with heart-throb actor Brad Pitt, a painful battle with drug addiction and a period during which her acting career seemed to have self-destructed.
"After Pitt left, drug addiction and despair very nearly ruined her career. 'I never liked drugs, but I saw them as my only escape from melancholy. Unfortunately, they affect me like poison and they turned me into this pained introvert.' When her career went into a tailspin, her parents urged her to enter a drug rehabilitation clinic in Florida run by the Church of Scientology. Three years ago, on the set of The Evening Star, which starred Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson, she was in obvious distress. 'I was barely able to get through it. Half the time, I was just going through the motions. The drugs were killing me. People urged me to get help and I did.' Eighteen long months of treatment followed. She left Hollywood and spent the entire period of her recovery in Florida. 'I rented a house down there and got a lot of help from Scientology. I learnt how to take control of my life again, and how to avoid being an enemy to myself. Now, for the first time in my life, I think I can cope with my career.'"
Bob Minton reported a letter from an anonymous Scientologist to his wife
this week in an apparent attempt to curtail Bob's efforts against
"Bob and Stacy were sleeping together again in Philadelphia. I don't understand how she gets away with this sort of thing. It bothers me to see it. I don't like what they are doing. It is not fair and it is not right. But you have a right to know more than anyone does. I hate to have to send this kind of note, but I feel so strongly about the deceit of a husband who cheats on his wife that I felt it was necessary to let you know.
"They may be hiding their affair from you, but it is public knowledge as far as the internet goes and it is even more of an insult they would flaunt it like this. She plans to try and see him again. She does not care one bit about you or what she does that effects your family. She's a real black widow. Believe me. Bob can't see it at all."
Film Threat web site reviewed the introductory Scientology film
"Orientation" this week.
"The man in the blue suit looks directly into the camera and intones, 'You don't have to study Dianetics after this film ends, you are free to leave the room and continue your life just as before. It would be stupid, but you are free to do it just as you are free to jump off a bridge or blow your brains out with a gun.' And despite this singular warning, resuming my Dianetics-free life is exactly what I did.
"Although it lingered a tad long on the ups and downs surrounding their battles with the IRS for my taste, the film compellingly evoked the spirit of a Videodrome-era David Cronenberg. My one caveat was that although it proudly trumpeted the Church's recognition as a 'real' religion, it never exactly addressed the issue of what Scientologists believe in or what they do other than take dubious personality tests and buy the literally 100's of books that help guide their progress through their mysterious 'Org.'
"I found myself speeding through a passable computer generated asteroid belt towards the Earth and ultimately into the vestibule of a Scientology center where a handsome well-coiffed spokesperson takes us on a whirlwind tour of the Org. We first stop and chat with the curator of the L Ron Hubbard Museum about the amazingly multifaceted founder of the Church. Apparently he was a writer (in many genres BESIDES science fiction potboilers), movie director, sailor, enemy of state sponsored mind-contol (no snickering), Eagle scout, and world explorer among many others. Next, we pop into a Scientology bookstore ('this might take a minute, all the salespeople are busy because the books are so popular)! The clerk, dressed as an interdimensional stewardess, helpfully suggests 8 books we might want to buy as an introduction to Dianetics but strongly suggests that soon enough we'll need them all. Despite the obvious evidence that this film was created in the last decade (3D computer asteroids and a cameo by a puffy, post-Pulp Fiction John Travolta) the film in general and this scene in particular plays out as stiffly as a 1950's classroom hygiene movie.
"Soon follows a similar encounter with the Chief Scientologist in Charge of Personality tests who teases us with the briefest explanation of the auditing process. The auditee answers questions while holding on to a pair of tin cans wired up to a stylishly rounded plastic device as the Auditor records the answers while watching spinning dials on the reverse side that are hidden from view of the subject, much like Milton Bradley's Battleship. After being tempted with results (10 points of IQ increase in just 12 hours)! They bring out the big guns: testimonials. A dozen satisfied customers, only identified by their occupations tell us how Scientology proactively empowered them in an impactful way, the best of the lot being Kirstie Alley whose blunt 'Without Scientology I'd be dead' is either the films most inspiring, tragic, or comic moment - depending on your point of view."
Protest / Revenge Summary
Kristi Wachter reported a protest at the Las Vegas org.
"Date: Saturday, September 11, 1999. Start and End Times: about 10:30 - 11:45? Picketers: Ted Mayett, Kristi Wachter
"Ted first took me to the Las Vegas 'Celebrity Center,' a truly tacky looking place. There was a sign on the door advertising a $100 reward for a stolen e-meter, and a rack of info outside the door - I helped myself to a glossy, space opera-ish brochure about The Training Route to Clear. Several courses listed, but no prices, of course. We had an extremely brief chat or two with a passerby, but we mostly did a perfunctory picket and photo session, then headed over to the main building.
"The big org is much more attractive. As Ted said, the Las Vegas Scientologists are quite well behaved. There were no confrontations, and they even took their photographs from inside the org. I might have given away a flier; I don't recall."
Charlotte Kates reported a revenge picket at her parent's home.
"I thought I recalled a conversation with Sylvia and Donya about how my parents' house was picketed because I lived there. I then stated that I live in a dorm at Rutgers, and to not harass my parents. However, last night, apparently 5 or 6 Scientologists, including the usual suspects Bruce Thompson and Tim Lomas, were outside my parents' house, picketing with 'Charlotte Kates--Religious Bigot' signs. Hey Scientology, leave my parents alone! "
"Joe" and "Fier" reported a protest at the Canberra, Australia org.
"Myself, MR Smith and Fier did a picket of the ACT Org on Friday 17th September. It was reasonably quiet and cold but we managed to hand out about 100 flyer on Xenu, Lisa and selected Elron quotes. When we first showed up there was only the Ethics officer Dean Detheridge (18 year member, not clear yet!) handing out his 'psychiatry kills' rubbish and chatting occasionally. However by the end of the picket at 2pm there was Dean, Anna (D's wife), Lara (OSA) and 3 publics. Lara attempted to get me to introvert by asking had I read any Dianetics stuff, I said yes I had read Dianetics and Bare Faced Messiah."
"I handed out 92 Space Alien $cam fliers, the majority to people who came to me and asked for one. The clams (varied up to 5) did not speak to me, not even once, and did not acknowledge my existence nor agree to a flyer swap. Their flyer, a folded double sided A4, begins with 'VIOLENCE DOES NOT START WITH THE THROWING OF BOMBS. IT BEGINS WITH WORDS', includes 'There is no place in a free world for any anti-cult or anti-religious movement that dictates its own view of what a religion is all about and which seems to base its reports on the complaints of disgruntled ex members, and reports of ill-informed family members or friends.'
"After my circuitous route home, I find 2 female deluded staff culties on public property, right outside, waiting for me! They confirmed they knew where I lived by telling me. They did not follow me, they were there waiting for me."
"Wynot" reported a protest at the Atlanta org this week.
"Ethercat, Mad_Cow, and I arrived at the cult's storefront at 11:00. With the arrival of cool fall temperatures, the culties had their front doors open to let in the morning breezes. It wasn't long before we had our usual visit from the county police. As soon as the squad car pulled in, Mad_Cow hailed to officer - the same policeman who was so nice to us on our first and third pickets at the new place. They talked for several minutes before the officer went to speak with the culties. Cow told EC and me that the cult had reported us as trespassers. I wish I could have heard what the culties had to listen to about frivolous wastes of peace officer's time!
"[A] new Scientologist (young woman, very well dressed) pulled in, and immediately walked up to Cow to ask him what he meant by his sign that said 'Scientology Hurts People'. I asked her if she would take some of our flyers, and learn why we were here picketing, and she thanked me. Almost immediately, a sea-ogre came out, but said nothing, just stood there looking menacing. Within a few minutes, Susan arrived, apparently to protect the new meal-ticket, I mean pre-clear. At one point I saw her holding onto the flyers that we had given the new member, and it looked like Susan was trying to take them away, but the woman refused to let go of them! She carried them into the org with her a few minutes later, and Mad_Cow told us that she still had them in her hand when she left a while later. I did hear her tell Cow that 'Nobody tells me what I can or can't read!'"
The Observer reported on September 19th that Scientology's press and
advertising campaigns have been stepped up in the U.K. and have increased
"Our old friends the Scientologists have adopted a new softly-softly approach towards press criticism. In the old days if you attacked them you were likely to get a libel writ and in extreme cases become the target of black propaganda. Now the response is more likely to be a pained letter to the editor and an invitation to the Scientology HQ at East Grinstead to talk it through over a nice cup of tea.
"The Scientologists have embarked on a massive advertising campaign (with the help of the authorities). There are posters all over the London Underground, the electronic screen at Piccadilly Circus flashes out its message 240 times a day and, meanwhile, there are commercials on Sky television. The next step will be to try to get onto ITV and Channel 4. A spokesman for the Independent Television Commission is quoted as saying that any advertisements would be monitored closely to ensure that the Scientologists did not denigrate other faiths.
"The success of this sinister organisation lies precisely in persuading people such as the ITC that it is a religious faith, but if anything is a breach of advertising ethics it is the Scientologists calling themselves the 'church' of Scientology when the organisation is nothing of the kind. There are no churches, no religious beliefs, no services and the only thing approaching a god is the person of the late L. Ron Hubbard, one of this century's greatest-ever rogues and con men."