Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 46
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
>From the letters to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times this week:
"First you have your roundabout, a colossal joke if I ever saw one. Can't wait till spring break! Then you have your city fathers, in their infinite wisdom, condemning existing buildings and giving taxpayer money to developers to destroy the north beach, one of the last beautiful public beaches where you are not hemmed in by high-rise condos. Then you have this business about Coachman Park and the bluff. Perhaps we could build three roundabouts and ask Ringling to put on a circus. Of course, maybe everyone will be scared off by the war between Bob Minton and the Scientologists. I wonder if anything could make downtown Clearwater more spooky. -- Pat Smith, Hector, N.Y."
"I avoid downtown Clearwater because of the Scientologists. I will even take Myrtle Avenue as a north-south route rather than have to view the Fort Harrison Hotel and their latest growth across the street from the former hotel. Clearwater is their town. We might as well admit it. City Manager Mike Roberto is their lap dog. -- Davanna C. Kilgore, Ozona"
Jyllands-Posten reported on February 22nd that Scientology staged a
demonstration at the newspaper's offices to protest recent articles.
"About 250 Scientology members were tuesday morning standing outside of the newspaper office of Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen, to protest the newspaper's article series on the controversial movement. During the last week, Jyllands-Posten has written about the extensive activities of Scientology in Denmark, where the movement has its European main office. A string of defectors have come forward to tell about coercion, exploitation and manipulation inside, but Scientology dismisses the criticism as 'black propaganda.'
"Those who had met up were all members of the central core of Scientology - the so-called 'Sea Organization', where people give themselves 100 percent to the movement. About 700 of them are residing in Copenhagen. Most of the protesters were foreigners and could not speak any Danish, but they said they had had the articles translated. Scientologist Brian Hickey from Ireland said, that the German or French governments might be behind the articles in Jyllands-Posten."
Suspicion over Scientologist-created portions of Windows 2000 continue in
Germany. From Kurier on February 17th:
"[A] sub-program of Windows 2000 was purchased from a U.S. enterprise whose chief is a professed Scientologist. Craig Jensen's Executive Software International www.execsoft.com introduced his 'Diskeeper' program into Windows 2000. Data security professionals, as well as Constitutional Security, fear that software could be built into Windows 2000 which could reveal the contents users' hard disks without permission. On the basis of these fears, Windows 2000 will now be checked out by experts at the German Federal Office for Security of Information Technology (BSI). 'We will be looking at the program closely,' said BSI speaker Michael Dickopf. 'The contracts have not even been signed yet, but we are confident that we will be able to start with the tests in the near future.'
"As far as ARGE data chief, Hans Zeger, is concerned, an objective check of software programs is long overdue. 'I don't want at all to see this kind of check in connection with Scientology,' said Zeger. 'In general, I no longer regard the producers as trustworthy, because so-called 'trap-doors' are built into many programs.' Using trap-door functions, information can be skimmed off the hard drive, such as whether the software on the computer was purchased or copied."
Fuldaer Zeitung Politik reported on February 11th that false rumors of Scientology involvement are being fought in Fulda.
"Rumors spread behind closed doors are making business for several companies in Fulda difficult: 'Haven't you heard? They're working with Scientology!' In that or a similar way is how most of the whispering campaigns start which harm business. In the past two years, seven companies have sought advice from Reverend Ferdinand Rauch, sect commissioner of Fulda diocese. Rauch offers companies a prepared sworn statement which will 'stand up in court,' said the sect commissioner. In it the company affirms that it does not operate according to the methods of L. Ron Hubbard, and that it fully rejects these methods. The company guarantees that it does not organize any training, courses or seminars according to those methods and that it hinders any distribution of those teachings. Furthermore, the company states that it maintains no business relationship to persons, firms or organizations which support or spread Hubbard's methods. However, if the company belongs to the Scientologists and lies, then its staff can bring it to court with the sworn statement, said Rauch.
"'95 percent of the suspicions are groundless,' Rauch said from experience. He does not know of any east Hessian companies who apply Hubbard's methods. He said it is frightening what power slander has, 'it can cost a company its business,' said the sect commissioner. Companies who sign these kind of statements very probably have made a clean breast of it, verified Scientology expert Renate Hartwig."
>From Vogtland Anzeiger on February 11th, a report on the departure of Scientologist and real estate developer Kurt Fliegerbauer from Zwickau:
"Before Fliegerbauer permitted questions, he read a prepared statement, 'Now in this moment, while I am giving this press conference, the brass nameplates are being removed from all properties of Osterstein Castle Management, Inc. I am withdrawing from all areas of business of all companies in Zwickau, that means from business management and as businessman.'
"About two years ago, he publicly admitted to being a member of the Scientology sect, which is under surveillance by Constitutional Security. Fliegerbauer continues to dispute that he is a high-ranking Scientology member, as has always been asserted. Among other things he had wanted to erect a museum for modern art in the city. As an art collector and aficionado, Fliegerbauer kept close contact to painter Gottfried Helnwein, for instance he brought him to Zwickau for his 100th renovated building. Helnwein is also said to have contact with Scientology.
"It was visibly difficult for Fliegerbauer at the press conference to stick to his role; he was missing his customary nonchalance and joviality as too many questions about Scientology and his position in the sect were asked. 'Your battle against Scientology is over, no more members, you should let up on the Scientology discussion here, nobody is interested in what you are saying,' and he cut off a journalist who was pursuing the theme with 'you can write about that what you want.'"
>From Frankfurter Rundschau on February 15th:
"'A good day for Zwickau,' was heard in the council hall. 'A victory for democracy,' said one city councilman. A construction tycoon known city-wide had packed his bags last Thursday and left the community forever. Kurt Fliegerbauer, the real estate businessman from Munich, had quickly called a press conference together and announced in a few short words: 'The withdrawal has nothing to do with Scientology,' said the businessman.
"Suppositions about Scientology's influence have also spread in the Zwickau trade union. 'There's a powerful stink here,' said a construction businesswoman who said she was '100 percent' convinced that other people in Zwickau belonged to the Scientology sect. In leaving Fliegerbauer had assert that he himself, his wife and a business partner had been the only Scientologists in Zwickau. Yet there are suppositions that more Scientologists are at work, countered a local newspaper. Despite Fliegerbauer's departure, the city will still establish the information office about the Scientology sect. 'One never knows,' was heard in the council building. The members of the Zwickau theater orchestra are even willing to do without a portion of their fee so that the office can be financed."
>From Berliner Morgenpost on February 12, a report that Scientology may be increasing in some German states.
"Sect experts have warned of increased activity by the Scientology organization in Germany. The group has also been gaining footholds in the new federal states, said Ursula Caberta y Diaz, Director of the Work Group on Scientology at the Hamburg Interior agency. Primarily in Sachsen, there is strong activities by the U.S. organization, which is trying to make contacts in companies and government agencies. Zwickau is regarded as one of its strongholds in Germany. There are also indications of Scientology activity from Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In the old German states, the organization is chiefly active in Hamburg, Bavaria and Nordrhein-Westphalia."
Sindelfinger Zeitung reported on February 15th that the status of Scientology in Stuttgart remains undecided.
"'After carefully checking the basis of judgment, we have decided to have the judgment by the administrative court reviewed,' stated administration president Udo Andriof. In November 1999, the administrative court had decided that the Scientology branch of Dianetics could retain its association status. The services could not be separated from the convictions of the members without a loss of meaning. The RP had withdrawn the status of association from Dianetics in 1994 because it was alleged to operate a commercial business under the guise of something else. The annual income of Dianetics Stuttgart was estimated at between 2.5 to 3 million marks."
Medical Examiner Joan Wood has changed her opinion of the manner of Lisa
McPherson's death. It has been changed from "undetermined" to
"accidental". From the St. Petersburg Times on February 23rd:
"Scientology's top executives, clearly pleased Tuesday, called the switch 'extremely significant and a huge development that dramatically affects the state's case.' They said it supports their view that McPherson's death while in the care of Scientology staffers in Clearwater was sudden, unpredictable, 'undiagnosable' and not the church's fault.
"Assistant State Attorney Doug Crow, the lead prosecutor in the case, called the change 'something of major significance we need to review.' He declined to discuss how the case might be affected, adding: 'We really need to evaluate that, and we'll take some time to do that.'
"Wood's decision came after church officials and their lawyers spent months plying the veteran medical examiner with expert information that revealed the lengths to which Scientology has gone to defend itself. There were scientific studies on a body substance known as ketone, an elaborate accident reconstruction, even a report by an 'anthropometric' specialist who studied McPherson's physical stature.
"Gone from the new report is the original reference to the bed rest and dehydration. Wood still traces the death to a blood clot behind McPherson's knee. But she lists McPherson's psychosis and a minor auto accident as major factors."
>From the Tampa Tribune on February 23rd:
"The ruling could affect a civil case pending in Tampa in which McPherson's relatives are seeking millions in compensation from the church. But Ken Dandar, the family's lawyer, said the new autopsy findings could work against the church. Wood still lists 'severe dehydration' as part of her 'final anatomic diagnosis.' Dandar said that shows that McPherson was mistreated at the Fort Harrison Hotel. Also, by adding psychosis as a significant condition, Wood has made it clear that McPherson was unable to exercise her freedom of religion in her final days, Dandar said."
Scientology issued a statement for the press following the filing.
"Obviously, the change of the death certificate -- both the cause of death as well as the conclusion that it was an accident -- is extremely significant and a huge development that dramatically affects the State's case. The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) from a bruise on the left leg. The point is: Her death was sudden. Her death was unpredictable. It was undiagnosable. IT WAS AN ACCIDENT.
"The bruise came from an automobile accident. The original findings of Joan Wood are what the State based their case on. She has now reviewed further information and concluded that the death was an accident. Obviously the State needs the opportunity to review their case in light of this dramatic development."
The St. Petersburg Times reported on February 24th that the judge in the criminal trial has allowed Scientology to take back its request for documents on the investigation, keeping them secret for now.
"Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Brandt C. Downey III decided the Church of Scientology could rescind its demand for all the evidence gathered by prosecutors. The church, which has been charged in McPherson's death, has a right to the prosecution's records, which lawyers call 'discovery.' But the records also become public when they are released to the defendant. The church demanded to see the evidence Feb. 2 but changed its mind last week when medical examiner Joan Wood revised her 1996 autopsy report to say that McPherson's death was an 'accident.' Church officials said Wednesday they did not want the records to be public while prosecutors rethink the case. The records total an estimated 10,000 pages."
Tampa are news programs covered the change in the Medical Examiner's report. From Channel 28 News:
"The medical examiner who once declared her cause of death as 'undetermined' has changed course and now says McPherson's death was an accident. The church released a statement saying Lisa's death was sudden, unpredictable, undiagnosable, and it reiterates the new findings saying it was an accident. But church critics say the medical examiner's change of heart does not shield Scientology from accusations of wrongdoing.
"STACY BROOKS: I don't think it's gonna cast any doubt in the prosecutors' minds, they're pretty clear on what happened; but I think it may make it difficult for them to carry on with the prosecution, which is really unfortunate. There are many, many, many people that would like to see the Church of Scientology brought to justice for this tragic death of this woman."
>From Channel 9 News:
"Clearly a major victory for the Church of Scientology's Flag Service Organization. Pinellas medical examiner Joan Wood has issued an amended autopsy report on the death of Lisa McPherson. That report says McPherson's death was accidental. Now the state attorney's office tells us the new evidence is a significant development that they are reviewing. As for the civil case against the church, an attorney for the estate of Lisa McPherson says the new developments will not stop them from going through with their case."
>From Fox 13 News:
"A Pinellas County judge today granted the latest wish of the Church of Scientology. It wanted tons of information about the death of Lisa McPherson kept locked up while criminal charges are reviewed. This, after a startling change in opinion by the medical examiner.
"LEE FUGATE: There has been a significant change in the medical examiner's opinion which changes the legal basis of the charges, I believe.
"That wish granted, high-ranking Scientologists left the courthouse without comment. Silence also from the assistant state attorney, who says the criminal case must be reviewed because of the major impact of the medical examiner's new opinion.
"STACY BROOKS: I'm sure Scientology is jubilant today. She was held against her will. She was not provided proper medical treatment. She did die in their care, very unnecessarily.
"Prosecutors won't say how long they'll spend reviewing the case but presumably they'll have some sort of decision by March 13. That's when the judge has scheduled a hearing on a motion to dismiss the charges against the Church of Scientology."
The St. Petersburg Times reported some new details on the circumstances of Lisa McPherson's confinement and death in an article published on February 24th.
"Alain Kartuzinski, a church counseling supervisor, admitted lying to police in 1996, telling them he had little to do with McPherson. Speaking with prosecutors two years later, he said he arranged to have McPherson, 36, confined in a special 'isolation watch' and authorized her to be medicated. Kartuzinski lied, he said, because Clearwater police detectives were 'sneeringly antagonistic' and he was scared.
"Janis Johnson, a church medical officer, also misled police, telling them her office gave only 'basic first aid' and considered McPherson a regular hotel guest. In fact, fellow Scientologists revealed that Johnson oversaw an unusual regimen of care for McPherson at Kartuzinski's direction. An unlicensed doctor, she also authorized medication and gave McPherson injections of a prescription muscle relaxant.
"David Houghton told how he filled a large syringe with ground aspirin, liquid Benadryl and orange juice, then worked it along the outside of McPherson's teeth and squirted the mixture behind her tongue. He had help from his fellow Scientologists, who held McPherson's arms and legs. A veteran dentist from Iowa and Ohio, he was not yet licensed in Florida and had no doctor's authorization and no medical history on McPherson.
"Judy Goldsberry-Weber, once a licensed practical nurse, heard of Houghton's procedure and was outraged. 'What doctor's order did you have to do this?' she demanded to know, almost coming to blows with Johnson. She later reported her fellow staffers to the church legal office.
"Minkoff, a longtime Scientologist who is not on the church staff, told prosecutors he violated standard medical procedure by prescribing sleep aids for McPherson without ever examining her. 'It was foolish to do what I did,' the doctor admitted.
"Once a senior Scientology executive, Kartuzinski was demoted to a file clerk in a church warehouse after McPherson's death became public. He told prosecutors he made three big mistakes. He violated a church policy that states that Scientology counseling at the Fort Harrison Hotel is of no use to 'psychotics' such as McPherson, lest they 'leave the organization open to failures.' He did not delegate his heavy workload to others, which might have left him more time to deal with McPherson. He also designated himself as her 'case supervisor,' which meant that under church policy he could have no direct contact with her.
"Talking with police in 1996, he minimized his role in McPherson's care and said she did not receive the Introspection Rundown. 'Yes, I was lying to them,' Kartuzinski told prosecutors in 1998. 'I was scared. Scared for myself. Scared for the church, possibly.' He said he thought the police were against Scientology and wouldn't understand. He began telling the truth after church attorneys reprimanded him, he said."
The St. Petersburg Times also published an article on February 24th on Scientology's view of the Lisa McPherson case.
"In a 2 1/2-hour interview Wednesday, officials for the Church of Scientology said the accounts of five Scientologists released recently by prosecutors do not accurately portray what happened to Lisa McPherson. Marty Rathbun, a top Scientology official, addressed the lies told to Clearwater police by church staffers Janis Johnson and Alain Kartuzinski. 'I'm not here to defend them,' he said, adding: 'Internal measures were taken for people who did things that were wrong.' He suggested the reason the staffers lied was the tense atmosphere in Clearwater during the mid-1990s between between Scientology and city government, particularly the Police Department. The church has worked to fix the rift, Rathbun said. But in that environment, he said, he wouldn't expect a Scientology staffer to be open with police.
"They also played a scene from the movie The Exorcist in which Linda Blair's character becomes psychotic. Their point: Scientologists who cared for McPherson faced trying circumstances. 'It's a pretty intense situation that can affect a person's perception,' Rathbun said."
The Tampa Tribune reported on February 26th that the judge in the civil case has ordered Scientology to hand over all the evidence they presented to the Medical Examiner which led to the change in her report.
"Medical experts hired by the Church of Scientology provided most of the fresh evidence and test results Wood reviewed. Hillsborough Circuit Judge James S. Moody Jr., who is presiding over the McPherson family's wrongful death lawsuit against the church, gave the church three weeks to turn over copies of that new material. The ruling was strongly opposed by attorneys for the church who said the information is exempt from release because it's part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
"Tampa lawyer Ken Dandar, who is representing the McPherson family, said he can't force Wood to turn over the new evidence. He asked Moody to compel the church to provide copies. But Michael Lee Hertzberg, an attorney for the church, said Dandar was simply trying to mine the criminal case for information. Moody said that because the church provided the documents to Wood - a potential witness in the wrongful death case - it must also give them to the family.
"Hertzberg tried again, asking the judge to at least place a hold on the release pending developments in the criminal case. No, Moody replied. Hertzberg later tried a third time, saying he was 'urging ... imploring' the judge to reconsider. 'I reconsidered it,' Moody said, 'and I'm not changing my mind.'"
The St. Petersburg Times reported on February 21th that two Clearwater
area Scientologists have been seeking funding for an Internet music
"Joe Vangieri has returned from peddling Visiosonic Ltd. to the deep pockets on Wall Street and the glitterati of the music industry. He pitched his Internet music company to the likes of Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone, and Charles Koppleman, former chief of record giant Thorne-EMI. So far the pitch has worked: Vangieri got an offer to sell 10 percent of his Clearwater company to a Korean entertainment company for $10-million. He's also attracted investors ranging from fellow Scientologists to New York City venture capital funds.
"His product: free software called PCDJ PHAT, which lets amateur DJs mix digital music and videos on their home computers. The software pumps a constant stream of advertising to its target market of 15- to 30-year-olds. By affiliating with everyone from Sprite to Marvel Comics, Vangieri hopes to drive traffic back to his company's Web site where customers can listen to music and buy everything from CDs to $5,000 professional DJ equipment.
"Visiosonic's early investors and board members include California investment adviser Kenneth Gerbino and Clearwater investor Matthew L. Feshbach. Both men, as well as Savas, are listed as contributors to the International Association of Scientologists in a church publication. Vangieri and co-founder Betterly also are Scientologists. 'In my personal life, Scientology has helped me out tremendously,' said Vangieri, who was raised as a Catholic. 'But it's not something I disseminate or even talk about in the workplace, and the bulk of our employees aren't Scientologists. I keep my religion on the down-low.'
"Vangieri said his penchant for charting everything from leads to sales to gross income by staff is derived from Scientology's management techniques. He also uses an employment agency that advertises in a local newspaper geared to Scientologists. But he said the Church of Scientology does not have any investment or involvement in his business. 'The church has got absolutely nothing to do with my organization,' Vangieri said. 'That's like saying if we had a group of Catholics working here that the Vatican ran the place. There's a strict separation of church and state here.' Steve Levine, whose Early Bird Capital Fund in New York City put $250,000 in seed money into Visiosonic, didn't know and doesn't care that Scientologists also have invested in the company. 'We're agnostic in our business,' Levine said. 'We're in the business of making wise investments and they're not motivated by anything but good business sense.'"
An anonymous poster reported a recent protest at the Sydney org.
"On Friday 11 February 2000, there was picket of the Castlereigh St Org in Sydney. Four picketers began waving placards at lunchtime. The culties responded by videotaping the picketers. The Castlereigh St Org called the the sea org who are only a few minutes drive a away to give assistance. The Scientologists waved anti psychiatry placards and gave out their promo. Some people passing by told the anti Scientology picketers to keep up the good work and one gentleman said 'its about time someone did something about them.' One other fellow said the Scientologists are crackpots. The picket finished after 2 pm."
Mike Gormez reported a protest in Amsterdam.
"I've picketed the cult shop for some two hours. 12:45 - 14:45. The cult had a 'Purification Rundown' lecture and I took it upon me to inform the people of the quackery. My cardboard picket sign [was] about 'space-aliens', 'cult of greed' and www.xenu.net Plus I had a flyer addressing passers-by of the new cult neighbor with stuff like the cult criminally convinced in Canada, its Guru ruled a criminal in France, Purif banned in Russia because it couldn't match its medical expectations and judged dangerous by experts.
"Only one guy was hostile, but after its futile attempts to get me moving and nearly touching me, I'd warned him that I would the one who'd call the cops instead of him. The cult took him inside after that. Gerard Alserda of www.vitals.nl fame made a fool of himself. I asked about Xenu, BTs and the rest. He laughed, but would not deny it. I asked him repeatedly to deny it he could not. The foot-traffic was low. When people approached I would go to them - showing my sign - and talked with a upbeat voice. Apparently so loud, the cult's recruitment was ruined.
"Three kids asked a leaflet, 'one for my father too'. I gave them 2 flyers. Guess what! They were the kids of the 'Course Supervisor'! Cops came. After they had spoken with the smoking-woman, they told me that the cult rather not had me here on this location. They told me the cult wouldn't press charges on the condition that I wouldn't anymore talk aloud, neither approach people by myself informing them of the dangers of Scientology, give flyers or put them in mailboxes. No flyers because I hadn't mentioned the leaflets on my picket declaration. Language was ruled by the cops too offensive and it should first be judged if it can be tolerated. Even my little picket sign was 'borderline'.
"So I held my part of the deal and they will forward my flyer for examination to the local municipality. I'll contact them too of course, this is certainly not the way things are done in free countries."
Andreas Heldal-Lund was a guest on the Bob Grant radio show this week.
"Last night I got a call from Bob Grant-talk Radio at WMCA in New York. Some caller had mentioned www.xenu.net twice and I guess they figured they'd call me and ask why I did this. Interesting call and rather funny to be standing outside a restaurant up here in Norway talking live on American radio.
"I was asked some simple questions on the reasons for the page, if I wasn't afraid of what the Scientologists could do to me and stuff like that. I answered that I came to a point where I had so much information on this cult that I no longer could be silent, no matter what the consequence was. Nobody want's of course to be harmed personally and most of us tries to avoid things that could cause problems for os personally. But if you have some integrity and truly believe in freedom of speech and thought you should be prepared to stand up for it when you see it threatened. I also explained who Xenu was. They also asked if all my claims on the site were true and my reply was that I for 3 years have invited Scientologists to comment on and disprove any of my claims and challenged the cult to sue me if they dare."
Robert Vaughn Young
Former Scientologist and writer Robert Vaughn Young posted a good-bye
message to a.r.s this week as he prepares to work on anti-cancer causes
and to fight his own terminal prostate cancer.
"I haven't posted to ARS for awhile and am choosing this moment to say hello and goodbye. To those who don't know me, I was in Scientology for about 21 years. Until Jesse Prince stepped forward, I was the highest-ranking Scientology executive to speak about the organization without its approval. I served in and saw virtually every echelon of the organization, from a franchise where I started in 1969 to working directly with David Miscavige. About 18 of those years was spent in or senior to Dept. 20 (now called the Office the Special Affairs or OSA), the section that deals with the 'enemies' of the organization, which comes to mean anyone who disagrees with or criticizes any aspect of Scientology, Hubbard or 'management.'
"I was diagnosed on 11/23/99 with an 'advanced and aggressive' prostate cancer that has metastasized to the bones. It is called Phase D or 'end stage' or just plain old 'terminal.' No prognosis has been given or is really possible and when metastasized, surgery is out of the question. There is no 'cure' at Phase D. So what I'm going to do is retire as an 'expert' in legal cases or in giving media interviews.
"Being diagnosed with a terminal disease can be devastating or a blessing. For me, it's been both but it's moved on to the blessing. It produces a better sense of one's priorities. When you realizes that your time is truly limited, you don't waste it with hate and rancor. I've had a good chance to look back on my life and what I've done and what's been done to me and I don't have time for either regret or bitterness. What I've decided to do is to dedicate my time, interest and talent to the issue of prostate cancer. It is such a devastating disease that one can fully grasp it - like any disease and disaster - only by the experience.
"I wish you all well, especially the ones who have to excerpt this and report soonest with a 'recommended handling.' I already have mine, thank you."
The Sunday Herald reported on February 20th that Scientology will apply
for charity status in Scotland.
"The move follows the sect's rejection by the Charity Commission in England and Wales last December. Scientology leaders are now to attempt to win charity status for their church through the Inland Revenue in Edinburgh - the only body with the power to grant charity status in Scotland. The English Charity Commission rejected the scientologists' application because the church was not of 'public benefit'.
"Former members have alleged that the sect uses brainwashing. One of its teachings is that the human race's problems are due to disembodied souls brought to earth. Followers undergo intense counseling to identify areas of 'trauma in the brain'.
"Ian Haworth, founder of the Cult Information Centre, said: 'There is a catalogue of damning evidence against them. Judge Laity in England described the group as 'corrupt, sinister and dangerous'. I only hope the powers that be in Scotland might take this view.'"
The United States State Department issued its annual report on human
rights. This year's report contains several mentions of Scientology. On
"The Moscow procurator general and approximately 70 members of the FSB, Federal Tax Police, and local police raided two locations of the Church of Scientology in Moscow on February 25. According to church officials, the authorities confiscated documents, including tax records and priest-penitent privileged counseling records. The tax police say that they are investigating possible tax evasion and other financial irregularities. On October 6, a Moscow district court revoked the operating license of a social center affiliated with the Church of Scientology because mistakes were made allegedly in the center's license application materials in 1993."
"In March the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church stated that it considers the Church of Scientology to be a dangerous sect that can have a negative impact on individuals and families. A spokesman for the Patriarchate said that it wanted the activities of the Church of Scientology to be scrutinized by the appropriate legal entities."
"[T]he Government in 1997 asked an advisory commission to examine Scientology. The commission published its findings in 1998. According to the report, there is no basis at present for special monitoring of Scientology, since it does not represent any direct or immediate threat to the security of the country. However, the report stated that Scientology had characteristics of a totalitarian organization and had its own intelligence network. The commission also warned of the significant financial burden imposed on Scientology members and recommended reexamining the issue at a later date."
"In August 1997 the Court of Cassation annulled a lower court decision that Scientology was not a religion, finding that the lower court was not competent to rule on what constitutes a religion. The Court of Cassation found further that the issue of whether Scientology constitutes a religion must be readdressed by another court of appeal, in accordance with criteria established by the Constitutional Court."
"Scientologists, most of whom are located in the Athens area, practice their faith through the Center for Applied Psychology (KEFE), a registered nonprofit philosophical organization. According to the president of the KEFE, the group chose to register as a philosophical organization because legal counsel advised that the Government would not recognize Scientology as a religion. In a step toward gaining recognition as a religion, Scientologists applied for a House of Prayer permit in October 1998. The application was pending at the Ministry of Education at year's end. A 1995 police search of Scientology headquarters revealed a file of press clippings on Greek opposition to Scientology. The file was confiscated and 15 KEFE board members subsequently were charged with 'unprovoked factual insult.' In May an Athens court acquitted the 15 Scientology board members of the charges."
"As of July 10, 1998, the Education Ministry had granted the status of 'confessional community' to eight religious groups, including for example, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, and Seventh-Day Adventists. The Church of Scientology and the Hindu Mandir Association withdrew their applications. In September 110 national police officers raided Church of Scientology facilities and the homes and businesses of about 20 members of the Church. One member's home in France was raided simultaneously by the French authorities. At year's end, an investigation continued, and no arrests had been made."
"The National Assembly formed a parliamentary commission, also known as the Gest or the Guyard Commission, to study so-called 'sects.' The Commission's report identified 173 groups as sects, including Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Scientology. The report was prepared without the benefit of full and complete hearings regarding the groups identified on the list. Groups were not told why they were placed on the list. The ensuing publicity contributed to an atmosphere of intolerance and bias against minority religions.
"In July 1997, a Court of Appeals in Lyon recognized Scientology as a religion in its opinion in the conviction of Jean-Jacques Mazier, a former leader of the Scientologists, for contributing to the 1988 suicide of a church member. In response the Minister of the Interior stated that the court had exceeded its authority and that the Government does not recognize Scientology as a religion. The Government appealed the Court of Appeals decision, but on June 30, the Court of Cassation rejected the Government's appeal, but the Court stated that it lacked the authority to decide if Scientology was a religion.
"There have been a number of court cases against the Church of Scientology, which generally involved former members who sue the Church for fraud, and sometimes for the practice of medicine without a license. In November the court found a former local leader of the Church of Scientology and four other Church employees guilty of fraud for swindling money from former members. The court sentenced the local leader to 2 years in prison, of which 18 months were suspended and the remaining 6 months served prior to sentencing, and a fine of approximately $16,700 (100,000 francs). The other four members received suspended sentences; charges against two other persons were dropped."
"The Church of Scientology remained under scrutiny by both federal and state officials who contend that it is not a religion but an economic enterprise. Authorities sometimes sought to deregister Scientology organizations previously registered as nonprofit associations and require them to register as commercial enterprises. In December the Stuttgart administrative court ruled that Baden- Wuerttemberg could not deregister the Church of Scientology as an ideological nonprofit organization, stating that Scientology's activities could not be classified as commercial if such activities were used to accomplish the organization's ideological purposes. In August the city of Munich revoked the nonprofit status of the local Scientology organization. In June the Munich administrative court rejected an appeal by the Church of Scientology and upheld the November 1995 decision by the city of Munich to deprive the Scientology- affiliated Celebrity Center Munich of its status as a nonprofit organization. During a March visit to the country by a lawyer for the Church of Scientology, officials in the Foreign Ministry refused to engage in a dialog with the Church and decided not to meet with the attorney.
"Some government officials allege that Scientology's goals and methods are antidemocratic and call for further restrictions on Scientology- affiliated organizations and individuals. During a March meeting with a lawyer representing the Church of Scientology, Hamburg state officials expressed their belief that the Church is a criminal organization with a totalitarian ideology. OPC officials seek to collect information, mostly from written materials and firsthand accounts, to assess whether a 'threat' exists. Scientology filed a suit in Berlin to enjoin the Berlin Interior Ministry from the alleged practice of bribing members of Scientology to 'spy' on other members. The case continued at year's end.
"Most major political parties continued to exclude Scientologists from membership, arguing that Scientology is not a religion but a for-profit organization whose goals and principles are antidemocratic and thus incompatible with those of the political parties. However, there has been only one known instance of enforcement of this ban.
"'Sect-filters,' statements by individuals that they are not affiliated with Scientology and which, in practice, are not applied to members of other groups, are used by some state, local, and federal agencies, businesses, and other organizations to discriminate against Scientologists in business and social dealings. The Federal Ministry of Economics imposed the use of sect filters on companies bidding for contracts to provide training courses. Some state governments also screen companies bidding contracts relating to training and the handling and processing of personal data. The Federal Property Office has barred the sale of some federal real estate to Scientologists. Scientologists assert that business firms whose owners or executives are Scientologists, as well as artists who are church members, faced boycotts and discrimination, sometimes with state and local government approval.
"In recent years, some individuals who had been fired because they were Scientologists took their employers to court for 'unfair dismissal.' Several reached out of court settlements with employers. Scientology held exhibitions in Munich, Stuttgart, and Hamburg to explain the Church to citizens. Although Scientologists reported that the exhibitions were a success, Scientology encountered serious difficulties in renting space in major hotels and convention centers. In some cases reservations were canceled because hotels said that they feared a loss of business if they allowed Scientology to rent exhibition space."
"In December 1998, the Ministry of Education turned down the application of the Finnish Association of Scientologists to be registered as a religious community. This was the first time that an applicant had been denied church status. The Scientologists' application was pending for nearly 3 years while the Government awaited additional information that it had requested from the Association. The Association acknowledged that it had not responded to the Government's request. The Education Ministry's decision can be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court. The Scientologists have not yet done so, but they have indicated that they may begin the process anew and reapply for recognition as a church."
Lisa McPherson Trust
Stacy Brooks reported unusual tactics in Clearwater by public
"To all those who suspected that my encounter with a wild-eyed Scientologist at the Publix supermarket last Sunday was a setup, I'd say what just happened this afternoon should confirm your suspicions. Another Scientologist just did exactly the same thing at the Grand Prix Car Wash on Gulf to Bay Boulevard! I was talking to Vaughn about something he had written. One woman walked back and forth past me enough times that I took note of her. She seemed very hyper, eyes darting around and movements kind of jerky. Suddenly this woman in the faded blue denim jumper darted over to me. 'You're Stacy Brooks! You're Stacy Brooks!' she said loudly. As soon as she said it I knew it was a repeat of last Sunday's encounter at Publix. 'You're conspiring right here!' the woman exclaimed. Now her voice rose several decibels: 'You're a Suppressive Person! You're a Suppressive Person!'
"'Actually,' I said, 'I'm speaking to Vaughn.' Mainly I said this to see if she knew who Vaughn is. I figured if she did, it would be a pretty clear indication that she had been briefed by OSA. 'Poor Vaughn!' she said very dramatically. 'You're killing all your loved ones! You're killing all your loved ones! You're a Suppressive Person! You need to leave this town! You need to leave this town! Why don't you just leave?'
"'And you need to speak more quietly,' I suggested, but far from taking my advice, she got even louder. 'Leave this town! Leave this town! You're killing all your loved ones! You're killing all of them!' She suddenly looked around the room and then started for the door, turned around one last time. 'I can't stand to be in here with you!' she cried, jumped into her car, and drove away. I was left in the waiting room with all these people wondering what was going on. 'She's a Scientologist,' I began, and immediately this very nice man holding a small child nodded his head knowingly, 'and I'm with the Lisa McPherson Trust.' The man obviously knew about the LMT, because he grinned and said, 'Ah! Good luck to you!' This is two Sundays in a row now. I hope they keep this up every week. Each time it happens it gives a few more Clearwater citizens a chance to see the true face of the Church of Scientology."
"Anti-Reg" reported developments in his efforts to get a refund from
Scientology of money on account.
"This afternoon at approximately 5:30 pm my doorbell rang. Due to my recent activities, I had been expecting some sort of clam repercussion. I went to one of the front upstairs windows and peeked out onto the street. There was a Honda Accord and a Volkswagen sedan parked in front of my house. My doorbell rang twice and then I saw Rex Bush, a local Scientologist and attorney, walk from my front door to the Volkswagen. He talked to the occupant of the Accord (his wife, I presume) for a short while and then got into the car. Both cars then drove away.
"About ten minutes later, a silver Dodge Intrepid pulled up in front of my house, parked, and turned its lights off. From what I could see, there were two males (whom I did not recognize) sitting in the car. They did not get out of the car, but stayed parked there for about 30 minutes. They were talking and occasionally looked at my house like they were watching for activity.
"At about 7:30, I logged on and checked my e-mail. I found the following e-mail message: 'Sean, I am assisting the Church of Scientology of Salt Lake City in resolving your cycle. I am in possession of the refund you requested in your letters of December 11th. I will contact you shortly. Rex Bush'
"At about 9:00 pm, the doorbell rang again. I peeked out the upstairs front window and saw the Accord parked on the street. My doorbell must have rung 7 or 8 times and Rex kept pounding on the door. I did not answer because I do not want personal contact of any kind with Scientologists at this point."