Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 38
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 The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported that Scientologist dentist
Richard Brittain has been sentenced for fraud.
"After sentencing Dr. Richard E. Brittain Jr., 44, to serve a year in prison for the offense, U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan recommended that Brittain apply for a license which will allow him to practice pro bono dentistry under the supervision of another dentist for a limited period of time. Brittain, who voluntarily surrendered his license in 1997 after an investigation into his activities, had faced from 18 to 24 months behind bars for bilking the Medicaid/TennCare program and private dental insurance plans out of more than $200,000 over a five-year period.
"After attending a management training program conducted by the Church of Scientology in 1992, Brittain began offering his LaFollette office staff free cruises or $1,000 cash bonuses if they met the revenue-boosting goals he set, according to his plea-agreement papers. He also 'engaged in actions' which caused the staff to submit the false claims on his behalf. According to the agreement papers, Brittain and his office submitted claims from 1992 to 1997 for services that were not performed or not medically necessary. 'He profited tremendously,' Weddle said. 'When he was first approached by the TBI, he willfully concealed files and instructed employees to manufacture notations in dental files that would disguise the fraud.'"
The Daily Radar web site reported that Scientology celebrity Jenna Elfman
recently refused to participate in a charity autograph auction.
"During the last holiday season, the Dharma & Greg star refused to take part in a celebrity autograph auction for an organization that raised money for the care of children with HIV. As a brainwashed devotee of The Church of Scientology, the bah-humbugy Elfman stated that she couldn't support any organization that raised money for AIDS research or relief because 'AIDS is a state of mind, not a disease.' Get over it! They're babies, for Buddha's sake!! (or should we say 'for Xenu's sake' -- in honor of her wacky alien leader/god?). Ironically, Scientology megacelebs Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and John Travolta all donated autographs for the same auction."
Wired News reported on December 21st on the controversy in Germany over a
Scientologist-owned company making a component of Windows 2000.
"Is there Scientology in your software? That's the question confronting Microsoft in Germany, where an alleged connection to Scientology in Windows 2000 has prompted a government inquiry into the operating system software. Laws in the German states of Hamburg and Bavaria require that companies with government contracts and some private companies be free of connections to the Church of Scientology.
"Executive Software's CEO Craig Jensen is a member of the Church of Scientology and has boasted that his staff is trained according to administrative systems developed by the Church of Scientology. Jensen has attributed his company's success in selling its defragmentation utility DisKeeper to a 12-volume encyclopedia on managing organizations written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. 'Our staff is trained on these procedures,' Jensen said in a 1992 statement.
"Michael Ziegler, spokesman for the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior. said the issue for many Germans is state security. 'It's not only an issue that concerns Bavaria but the whole of Germany. That means the [federal] Office for the Protection of the Constitution is checking into it,' Ziegler said Monday. Microsoft spokesperson Mark Thomas said the technological concerns raised unfounded. 'We've looked a this issue very carefully and there's really no issue for people to be concerned about,' Thomas said. The software is put through rigorous review and it poses no data security threat to companies, he said."
>From Hamburger Abendblatt on December 24th:
"In response to the apprehension that this could be a set-up in regard to the the flow of data, some of which is highly sensitive, in the Hamburg government apparatus, the speaker of the leading revenue office stated: 'We take the matter seriously.'
"Technical computer magazine 'c't' wrote on the subject that Windows provider Microsoft had 'handled a problem with the integration of the Executive product in Windows 2000, which was taken seriously by at least a few potential major customers.' The major customers would not only include Hamburg, but also other German states and agencies, as well as large firms. A computer expert told the 'Abendblatt': it cannot be ruled out that in the 'tidying up' of the hard disk, files could be transmitted out over the internet to an unknown address.
"As do other companies, Executive Software belongs to the 'World Institute of Scientology Enterprises' (WISE), a federation of firms which are uniformly managed according to the ideology of sect founder L. Ron Hubbard. And yet more: a report from the work group on Scientology directed by Ursula Caberta to the citizenry stated that a WISE enterprise had just as much of an obligation to spread Scientology ideology in society as do Scientology organizations or missions. Caberta on the Windows 2000 problem: 'If it goes together with Microsoft, then it should not be underestimated.' Her advice: 'hands off.'
"Information Technology Professor Klaus Brunnstein also stated about Windows 2000 that it was conceivable that the software in question contained a function which could forward files to unauthorized points unknown. That would not necessarily be perceptible to the PC user, nor would it have to appear under emails sent. Hamburg agencies still have the question of whether they can continue contractual obligations with Microsoft. That is to say, the city made a decision in 1996 not to make purchases from companies which operated according to Hubbard's technology. What is not clear is whether that also applies when other providers are part of the picture."
The St. Petersburg Times reported that two organizations are forming in
Clearwater under the name of Lisa McPherson, who died in Scientology's
care in 1995.
"Vowing to speak out against 'the propaganda of hate,' a new organization of local Scientologists is gearing up to counter the efforts of Robert S. Minton, the New England millionaire who is setting up shop in downtown Clearwater to oppose the Church of Scientology. The new organization is called the Lisa McPherson Foundation, named for the veteran Scientologist whose 1995 death while in the care of church members has saddled Scientology with a lawsuit, a criminal prosecution and increased pressure from its critics.
"And, in an added twist that local Scientologists find appalling, the case has resulted in McPherson's name being used against the church they say she loved. Although McPherson had been a practicing Scientologist for 13 years, the church's critics consider her a martyr for their cause. The name of Minton's group, for example, is the Lisa McPherson Trust, which plans to present a dark picture of Scientology to locals and provide 'exit counseling' for those who want to leave the church.
"In contrast, the Lisa McPherson Foundation seeks to pull McPherson's name back into the Scientology camp by opposing Minton at every turn and by 'standing up for religious tolerance,' said Bennetta Slaughter, the foundation's leader. Slaughter, a prominent Scientologist in Clearwater, was McPherson's longtime friend and employer at AMC Publishing Co. 'I will, in fact, counter any hate that will come from them and I will handle that,' Slaughter said of Minton and his group in an interview last week. 'They are not going to poison this town.' The foundation has about 300 members, Slaughter said.
"Minton responded, saying he primarily is opposed to Scientology's strict 'ethics' system, which he called harmful. He cited records that came to light after McPherson's death indicating she was struggling under a Scientology ethics program being administered at Slaughter's company. In a wrongful death lawsuit filed by McPherson's family and financed by Minton, that ethics program is alleged to have caused the severe mental breakdown that played a key role in her death. 'Bennetta Slaughter is herself part and parcel of the Scientology abuse process,' Minton said.
"He said he plans to close his purchase of a local headquarters on Jan. 5. He has said the building is next to a Scientology property in downtown Clearwater, but has not named the location. The staff will include former Scientologists who want to share their perceptions of the church with current members."
MSNBC reported on December 18th on a lawsuit by Scientology challenging the authenticity of documents naming the executor of Lisa's estate.
"It could be a year before a Pinellas judge makes a decision whether a critical document in an $80 million lawsuit against the Church of Scientology was forged. The case stems from the mysterious death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson. The legal question now is whether Lisa's mom signed over permission to the sue the Church of Scientology before her own death two years ago. Scientology lawyers say Fannie McPherson's signature on a key document is forged. Friday, one of her surviving sisters testified it is not. One handwriting expert says the signature is real, and another says it's forged. "Ann Carlson, Lisa's Aunt, testified to the validity of the signature: 'Were you present when that document was signed?' 'Yes.' 'Where was it signed?' 'In Fannie's home in Texas.' 'Who signed 'Fannie B. McPherson' to that document?' 'It looks like her signature to me.' 'Did you see her do it?' 'Yes.'"
Bennetta Slaughter, Lisa McPherson's employer until her death, failed this week in an attempt to avoid a deposition with former Scientologists in the room.
"CW Scieno drama queen Bennetta Slaughter was held in contempt this morning for failure to be deposed by Mr. Dandar with Jesse Prince and Stacy Brooks in the room. A tearful Slaughter pleaded with Judge Moody to keep Prince and Brooks out of her deposition. When Judge Moody held her in contempt, sanctioned her about $500 and ordered her to deposition, she interrupting the Judge to no avail."
The St. Petersburg Times reported that the criminal trial of Scientology for Lisa's death will be delayed until October, 2000.
"A criminal trial has been delayed seven months as prosecutors and lawyers for the Church of Scientology find themselves mired in what is becoming an extraordinarily complex case. The trial now is scheduled for Oct. 16. Scientology is arguing in part that the prosecution is burdening the church and its members as they try to practice their religion, an alleged violation of the First Amendment and the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998. They say the case should be dismissed.
"In response, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office argues that
neither the First Amendment nor state law gives people the right to break
the law under the guise of religion. They argue that McPherson's
treatment, which included forced medication and being held against her
will, had nothing to do with Scientology's religious practice."
Lisa McPherson Trust
Bob Minton announced the opening of the Lisa McPherson Trust offices in
"We of the Lisa McPherson Trust, will open our doors to you on January 6, 2000 at 33 N. Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater, Florida 33757, Telephone: (727) 467-9335. We will be there to help you make those happier times return again to your life."
The Scottsdale Tribune published a description of Scientology's early days
"The 'Phoenix years' of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard were among his most fruitful, say those who worked with the man who laid the groundwork for founding the Church of Scientology while a Phoenician. In 1952 at the age of 41, Hubbard moved his family to Phoenix. First leasing office space at 1405 N. Central Ave., his organization would rent the downtown locations for offices and training. He made the area his base until 1955 when he moved permanently from the Valley. But during his stay, Hubbard was remembered for riding fast motorcycles, owning horses and indulging his insatiable need to travel, lecture and write.
"Hubbard moved from Los Angeles to Phoenix because he liked the desert, Swanson said. 'He had a house near Camelback Mountain that he had gotten from Jimmy the Greek (Snyder) of all people - this was the rumor,' Swanson said. Hubbard apparently 'had done some kind of work' for the legendary oddsmaker, social gadfly and TV sports analyst, so Snyder deeded the house over to Hubbard. He also owned another house downtown, Swanson said. Hubbard was 'all business,' Swanson said, describing him as a 'very charming, very friendly, very personable' 6-foot, 200-pound man with red hair and an unsinkable confidence in his mission.
"'The Phoenix area has special significance for the church internationally' because of what Hubbard did while living here, said the Rev. Leslie Durhman, a minister of the Church of Scientology of Arizona which relocated to Mesa about five years ago. 'During this time, Mr. Hubbard gave hundreds of lectures and wrote more than 20 books, all dealing with the field of the spirit and of the attainment of freedom and happiness for the individual,' she said. 'Most notably, Mr. Hubbard presented his 'Phoenix Lectures' here, lectures that mapped out the religious and philosophical roots of the Scientology religion.'
"'We have about 6,000 parishioners who come in from time to time to do services here,' said Kelly Jaroff, who has been a minister on staff for two years and a Scientologist for 17 years. At the church services last Sunday, just six people attended the 20-minute worship that largely included readings and creeds from Hubbard's vast writings. 'A lot of our parishioners attend other churches,' Jaroff said in explaining the small turnout. Scientologists often choose to remain part of other faiths, she said." went and looked and saw, and that's what he thought.'
Bruce Pettycrew protested in Mesa, Arizona this week.
"The Religion section of the Arizona Republic for Saturday had a notice in the meetings section stating that the Arizona Co$ was holding a 25th anniversary service at 11:00 Sunday, followed by an open house from 1:00 to 5:00. Jeff Jacobsen and Kathy and I arrived at 10:30 to picket. There were 9 cars in the parking lot, and by 11:15 only two more had arrived, which included Leslie Durhman, the current OSA maven."
"Mr. Bungle" reported a protest at the Sacramento org.
"Today's (Saturday's) picket was rather uneventful. I arrived at the org at around 1:30 pm and began picketing. For about forty-five minutes, there was no response from the church. Then two people emerged from the entrance to inform us that we should be picketing the 'psychs' instead. The whole while we were getting cheers and honks from passing cars, and even got some support from passers by on the sidewalk. Then, a tall gray haired gentleman came out with a camera and pointed it at me and my friend, so I struck a pose, making certain that my picket sign could not be left out of the picture. Shortly thereafter, two other gentlemen came out and waited for us to finish our circuit of the building. I snapped off a picture with my own camera, and one got rather upset. He informed me that he was a Graphic Designer from New Hampshire visiting Sacramento with his wife. He then took out a camera and took a picture of me. The other guy who was with him was silent the whole time. He was also very gaunt. I laughed about the guy taking a picture of me, and then after asking my name and so forth, the both retreated into the church. We left at four o' clock exactly and went home unnoticed.
Vernon Cain reported the first known protests at the Hawaii org.
"I had stopped by the police station on the way to the site and advised them of my intent as well as to expect a frantic call. I discussed my intent and asked if a permit was needed. None was required for a simple picket of less than a small crowd. One of the bOrg persons kept holding up a package over the sign where I had the words - Don't ask the Dwarf why he isn't OT!! I advised her that the act was being recorded and she backed up.
"The Hawaii Police arrived in style! The foot officer arrived just seconds before the little vehicle that jumped up over the curb to come close to where I was standing. I was a little startled by the curb jump but was soothed when I caught the officer's slight grin. The two officers had a discussion with several very excitable bOrg members about how this was their sidewalk and how this had never been done before and how they wanted the protester removed for violating their rights to the sidewalk. The officers explained my rights and theirs. They drove off. I kept picketing and handing out fliers. Several passersby gave me high-signs and several others had looks of agreement. There was fair foot traffic and good street traffic. I kept walking until the meter expired and I had to go after twenty minutes. During the entire time I was out there there was a commotion inside. I saw some 9-12 persons come to see what was going on. The OT type came out to 'handle me' and was immediately recessive when I pointed out that he was doing 'picket chicken' by walking so close to me blocking my way and that I would not put up with his 'OT Powerz!' if he insisted on violating my right to free movement. He tried several times to 'Command Me' to leave. I was un-impressed. He slithered off."
"Yesterday I made another picket at the Hawaii bOrg. I just read the fliers that the clams were passing out. It is in a booklet form titled What is $cientology (WIS). Inside is a article called Personal Integrity. As we arrived I could see the tall Asian gentleman, from a block away, that works the Public area standing outside. As soon as he spotted me he darted inside. As I arrived at the site three people, including him, left to distribute the WIS booklets to the public on the streets. I estimate their cost at between $0.70 and $1.00 each. They are four 8.5x11 sheets full color saddle stitched with a post-paid request card insert. When they later returned their one foot tall stack of fliers was gone.
"As a solo picket for about 40 minutes or so I paced about occasionally stating my position on the 'SCAM', and 'BAIT and SWITCH.' At one point I wanted to give the receptionist a copy of the newer flier. She declined to accept directly. I offered that this flier was a little different and that since she couldn't have direct contact with me would she accept my leaving one here on her little table outside the door. She didn't object, and came soon to retrieve the sheet.
"[A] militant hippie type woman with long straight hair returned with a 7-9yr old boy in tow I offered her a flier and a smile. She declined and accused me of offering lies about the 'tech.' I offered to read aloud the clip of OTIII in Hubbard's own handwriting. As I began to read the words the receptionist lady bolted for the door and pulled them shut. A short time later the tall older Asian gentleman, I think he is a Exec in the Public Division, returned from passing out WIS and actually took a flier. As he turned to the closed doors he crumpled the sheet aggressively at about his eye-level. I could see that he was visibly upset. From time to time the various staff would pause in the lobby area and just stare through the window. They would stand motionless for moments just watching me through the window. At times I would loudly state 'The Tech is a SCAM - IT WILL NOT PROTECT YOU' 'Why am I still here!?'"
Jim Beebe reported that a recent refund request in Chicago caused a noisy
"[A] very determined couple entered the Chicago Org recently and very noisily demanded a full refund of money they had paid there. A great deal of entheta ensued. A staff person named Mary Anne Ahmad threatened to call the police and the determined couple reportedly expressed delight at the chance to report to the police the details of how they had been scammed by the Chicago Church of Scientology. The police were not called. [There is] a marked uneasiness in the Chicago Org as more and more demands for refunds are coming through the door."
A Scientology press release claims that the villain in the upcoming John
Travolta movie, Battlefield Earth, is one of the most notorious of the
"Traditional figures in the roster of the arch-villains of books, film and television -- Frankenstein's monster; Transylvania's blood thirsty gift to the ghastly, Count Dracula and the entombed terror of ancient Egypt, the Mummy -- took the lead in the survey by Dateline News Service with 50% of those polled. But for a full 30 percent of the respondents, the 20th century's most sinister characters were ominously newer: the visored darkness of Star Wars' Darth Vader; the muzzled fury of Hannibal Lecter, and the alien evil of Terl, the space villain of L. Ron Hubbard's science fiction epic Battlefield Earth, whose nine feet of taloned, gas-breathing menace -- personified by John Travolta -- is already giving film goers a 'teasing' glimpse on his way to filling the country's movie screens in May, 2000."
The Miami Herald published an interview with Battlefield Earth director Roger Christian.
"Though the 1,000-page novel is nothing more than pure, pulpy sci-fi adventure, there are already grumblings that part of Travolta's interest in the project is that it's an indirect way of raising scientology's profile. 'Well, they are kind of synonymous,' he says. 'L. Ron Hubbard is very famous for scientology and Dianetics. On the other hand, he's equally as famous in the science-fiction world. So for people to think that - look, I don't want everybody to try scientology. I don't really care if somebody thinks that. I'm not worried about it. You can't be. The truth of why I'm doing it is because it's a great piece of science fiction. I'm going to be the wickedest nine-foot alien you've ever seen in your life.'"
"It's a picture of Barry Pepper (The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan) in full regalia from John Travolta's pet sci-fi project, Battlefield Earth, which is already test screening around Hollywood. Pepper is so geeked about the movie he showed me a personal photo during the Green Mile junket. 'It's really cool,' says Pepper, who stars as the film's hero, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler. 'It's awesome.' Pepper, who isn't a Scientologist, admits he was hesitant to join Travolta's galaxy quest to bring Battlefield Earth to life. 'I wasn't sure. But once I got started, I had the best time. It has nothing to do with Scientology, which was one of my concerns, and that's the biggest question I'm going to have to answer.' Oh, really?
"Considering Travolta's the most famous Scientologist ever (next to Tom Cruise), and not withstanding recent Washington Post revelations that Battlefield Earth sets up some major tenets of the church, that seems like a stretch. As you probably know, the film is based on a novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Pepper says the story, a Planet of the Apes-meets-Star Wars sort of thing, is about 12-foot aliens mining Earth. The creatures, led by Terl (a gruesome-looking Travolta), have imprisoned missing-link humans."
Chris Owen reported a new round of advertisements in the London
Underground this week.
"It's basically a rerun of the 'What Is Scientology?' campaign earlier this year - posters advertising the new edition of the 'What Is Scientology?' book. The campaign is being run by New Era Publications, will probably cost tens of thousands of pounds a week and of course has nothing to do with last week's decision by the Charity Commission to refuse charitable status to Scientology or with the adverse publicity that followed in the newspapers."
Mike Gormez reported that the campaign is also being run in The Netherlands.
"The criminal cult has launched a massive advertisement campaign on Dutch railway stations (Hengelo, Sloterdijk and Eindhoven etc). Which I suspect is done by company TDI of Infinity Broadcasting, who bought Alrecon recently."
"The Exile" reported the recent deaths of two Clearwater area
"Ruth Valko-Burness. She and her husband Kirk ran a consulting business that promoted LRH tech and Scientology. I found her name on an flag OT club list three years old. When Lisa McPherson was asked to write a letter in support of Scientology for an area newspaper it was 'qualled' by Valko and Associates. Ruth Valko-Burness died of cancer at the age of 48.
"Ellie Blankenship, OT Ambassador, also died of cancer. She was 55. She gave large donations to Scientology and was very active on the local scene."
The Atlanta Constitution reported on Dec 22nd that Scientology
participated in an interfaith parade.
"It rained on Ann Seidl's parade Tuesday, but that didn't dampen her joy a bit. Seidl marched and sang with Christians, Jews and Muslims. Along the way, she even made friends with a 17-year-old member of the Church of Scientology. 'A Buddhist and a scientologist --- how cool,' Seidl said. 'This is like an early Christmas for me.' Forging relationships across religious lines was the goal of Tuesday's event, officially labeled the Interfaith Unity March and Convocation. It drew about 1,600 people.
"The march, sponsored by Atlanta 2000 Inc., a nonprofit organization created by Mayor Bill Campbell, was designed to mark the dawn of a new century by encouraging people of different faiths to form relationships."