Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 3, Issue 50
by Rod Keller
Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review summarizes the most significant postings from the Usenet group Alt.religion.scientology for the preceding week for the benefit of those who can't follow the group as closely as they'd like. Out of thousands of postings, I attempt to include news of significant events, new affidavits, court rulings, new contributors, whatever. I hope you find it useful. Like many readers of a.r.s, I have a kill file. So please take into consideration that I may not have seen some of the most significant postings.
The articles in A.r.s Week in Review are brief summaries of articles posted to the newsgroup. They include message IDs for the original articles, and many have a URL to get more information. You may be able to find the original article, depending on how long your site stores articles in the newsgroup before expiring them.
Free A.r.s Week in Review subscriptions are available, just email me at
Cult Awareness Network
Charlotte Kates reported on the files of the Cult Awareness Network, to be
sold at auction.
"On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected the appeal of the original Cult Awareness Network in the Jason Scott case. This means that the decision of Judge Thomas Quinn of Chicago to sell the once-confidential, highly sensitive files of CAN by auction will stand. Thousands of cult victims and their families stand to be hurt by the callous sale of these files to the highest bidder--widely expected to be the Church of Scientology, well-known for using personal information to harass and attempt to silence critics and former members."
"The high court without any comment or dissent let stand a ruling that upheld the award of $1 million in punitive damages and $875,000 in actual damages against the Cult Awareness Network in the case of Jason Scott. The anti-cult group was held responsible for the act of one of its unpaid volunteers, who referred Ross to Scott's mother. In its Supreme Court appeal, lawyers for the anti-cult group said, 'A decision that silences the message of an advocacy organization has serious nationwide consequences.' But attorneys for Scott urged the Supreme Court to deny the appeal, dismissing the anti-cult group's argument as 'factually and legally without merit.'"
On March 28th the St. Petersburg Times published the two articles on on
the litigation history of Scientology.
"When prosecutors filed charges in the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, the Clearwater-based Church of Scientology - the defendant - had one clear response: The litigation will be 'complex' and 'voluminous' and will require 'a significant number of hearings and significant hearing time.' Those words should echo ominously for Pinellas County prosecutors.
"In a 14-month, worldwide survey, the St. Petersburg Times has documented a consistent pattern of church officials' relentlessly pursuing its critics in legal actions that some charge are designed as much to harass as to achieve legal victory. In one year alone, the Times has found, Scientology spent more than $30-million on legal and professional fees.
"From critics outside the church to former members who sue for fraud and abuse, when Scientology goes to court, most often it is with lawyers and legal papers that can overwhelm less wealthy opponents. In France, England, Sweden and Germany, the pattern is similar: sue the critics, sue the government, and sometimes overwhelm the judges. Whenever necessary, use private investigators to probe your opponents' weaknesses and exploit them."
"In two days of interviews, officials from the Church of Scientology and five of its lawyers answered a wide range of questions in an effort to combat the church's reputation as litigious, secretive and closed to scrutiny. Continually citing the 1993 IRS decision to grant the church tax-exempt status, they compared their operations with mainline church denominations, including the Catholic Church, and compared their litigation history with that of the St. Petersburg Times. 'History has vindicated us on every front,' Rathbun says. 'We are at the turn of the millennium. A lot has changed, across the rest of the United States and the rest of the world when you say you're from the Church of Scientology, you immediately get respect.'"
Bob Minton reported that Factnet has settled the lawsuit brought by
Scientology for copyright infringement. Some excerpts from the settlement
"Within 30 days of the execution of this Agreement by all parties, FACTNet, Wollersheim and Penny shall: Return to counsel of record herein for BPI all documents in whatever form, including but not limited to copies, notes, digests, summaries, extracts, computer discs and media known as the 'Advanced Technology' of the Scientology religion. Return to counsel of record herein for BPI all other copyrighted documents, the copyrights of which are claimed by any of the 'Scientology Related Entities', other than any published work legally purchased by or given to FACTNet, Wollersheim or Penny.
"FACTNet, Wollersheim and Penny expressly covenant that neither they nor any person or entity acting on their behalf now has or will ever knowingly have possession, custody, or control of any of the Advanced Technology of Scientology in any form nor commit, encourage or approve any conduct constituting copyright infringement of Scientology Copyrighted Materials of the Scientology Related Entities.
"BPI hereby releases and forever discharges FACTNet from 'any and all claims' they may have against FACTNet, from the beginning of time to and including the effective date of this agreement, save for the Final Judgment being entered contemporaneously with the execution of the Agreement. FACTNet hereby releases and forever discharges BPI from 'any and all claims' which it may have against BPI, from the beginning of time to and including the effective date of this agreement.
"Contemporaneous with the execution of this Agreement, there is being entered with the Federal District Court for the District of Colorado in Denver, the Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction which provides, inter alia, for Final Judgment against FACTNet in the amount of One Million dollars ($1,000,000.00) none of which amount shall be dischargeable in Bankruptcy. RTC or BPI may execute and collect upon said Judgment, against FACTNet to the full extent permitted by law, but only if it is determined that FACTNet has committed an act constituting a violation or contempt of the Permanent Injunction entered contemporaneously.
"Each party to this Agreement shall bear its respective costs with respect to the negotiation, drafting, execution, and performance of this Agreement and all acts required to be undertaken by the terms thereof."
A translation of a March 26th article in La Nuova Sardegna was posted to
a.r.s this week.
"Scientology is leaving behind a trail of crime and civil cases, polemics and a number of suicides. The latest one concerns a Cagliari 20 years old boy, Roberto D., who put an end to his existence jumping from the 8th floor. He got in touch with Scientology hoping that the Hubbard's church could help him with his problems.
"It was March 1997. Now a police investigation started again on what seemed to be a silent tragedy bounded to be placed on files: Digos are investigating and raided the organization city offices - located in Sonnino rd. - and private apartments. There are some hypothesis of crime, as well, on which the detectives are working: circumvention of an incapable and extortion. They are heavy charges that would put the activities of Hubbard's followers under a completely different light. Public Attorney offices all over Italy have been opening and closing files on Scientology for years, and for years there have been complaints about the psychological subjection to which young people are forced to finance the church of 'Dianetics' with every means, ruining their own lives.
"Up to now, however, no courts have been able to prove the existence of a link between the proselytizing activities of Scientology and the charges about the consequences of those activities. And it was impossible to prove the links with the suicides that are committed all over the world on an almost regular basis. In Sardinia we can remember the case of a girl of Nuoro who killed herself at the end of the 80s."
The Ottawa Citizen published an article on March 26th about Scientology
celebrity Jenna Elfman.
"'The most obnoxious, proselytizing Scientologist in Hollywood' was how Movieline magazine recently described her. Asked about it, Elfman doesn't rise to the bait. 'I mention Scientology a lot,' she says matter-of-factly. 'But I never spoke to that magazine or the person who wrote that article. I never proselytized to them, so I thought the article was pretty funny.'"
David Alexander reported on a protest in Dallas.
"'George' and I arrived about the same time as yesterday, and picketed from 10:00 to 1:15. Drivers approached us freely for curb-service dissemination. As a pair we drew much more interest. We passed out several 'Xenu' and 'Lisa' pamphlets which George had downloaded from the Critics' websites. Scott, the executive trainee, came out to us again today to remind me that 'the door is always open'--one of Hubbard's more popular lies. Scott seemed to concentrate on his thinking that I'm waiting for an 'open door' to get back into a religion that I 'believe in'.
"One of the other tenants confirmed that the Dallas Org is planning to vacate those premises. That's sort of a loss for me as it was my $112,822.26 that financed their move to this building about six years ago."
Kristi Wachter reported a protest at the Mountain View, California org.
"Keith and I put in 45 minutes (me) to an hour (Keith) at the Mountain View franchise yesterday. No one came out to take our picture. We gave fliers to one gentleman driving out of the parking lot. Several people honked, waved, or gave us thumbs up. Someone who drove by and saw www.xenu.net on Keith's sign looked us up on the 'net and emailed me to thank us for picketing. I guess I'm gonna have to put the Clambake URL on my picket sign.
Kristi also protested at the Campbell/Los Gatos org this week.
"Date: Wednesday, March 24, 1999. Start and End Times: 1:30 - 2:55 pm. Picketers: Kristi Wachter, Keith Henson, Lisa. Handlers: none. Number of Handouts given away: about 40. Comments: lots of honks but uneventful. Keith, Lisa, and I did a delightful little picket at the Campbell 'Los Gatos' org on Wednesday.
"We got a LOT of supportive honks and waves (and the occasional 'go get 'em!' yelled out a car window). The demonstrations of support went up noticeably when Lisa arrived - more evidence that more picketers translates to more attention from the public. Lisa and I spoke with one lady who was concerned about her daughter's involvement. Her daughter was a chiropractor, and I got the impression that she hadn't been involved for long. She got all three of my fliers.
"There was another lone bigot flier from my friendly local Scientologists waiting for me when I got home. I hear it was raining much of the afternoon in San Francisco, so I hope they didn't get too wet, if they did picket. These new fliers have been corrected to say that I 'regularly' picket, rather than saying I picketed 'today' - I'm glad they've removed one of the untruths from their propaganda. I'm perplexed, though, that they still don't mention Scientology anywhere on the flier.
"Wynot" and "Ethercat" protested in Atlanta this week.
"In addition to ethercat and myself, there were two other long-time friends of X, along with the mystery picketer from last December's Lisa McPherson day pickets. Signs included 'Scientology is a Scam', '$360,000 for Salvation', and ethercat's personal 'Scientology Stole My Friend', backed with 'Scientology/Dianetics SUPPRESSES Free Speech and Free Thought'. As on Blubbard's birthday, we were immediately validated by a constant stream of waves, honks, and thumbs up from passing traffic. One woman pulled into the gas station next door, and (pointing to the 'Scam' sign), asked me if I had just figured that out? I answered that I had been aware of it for a very long time, and we were here because _that_ building is the new Scientology church for Atlanta.
"About 50 minutes into the picket they sent out a young lady to take our pictures. We attempted to engage her in comm, but she just smiled and snapped. I told her that if there was even one Operating Thetan on Earth, that we would not be here. She continued to smile, but I think the point was made."
"The banner sign which had supposedly disappeared the night wynot and I did a reconnaissance has still not been replaced, so there is no way other than the street number to identify who occupies the building. I heard a rumor that the Atlanta org's assets are frozen, so I wonder if that could be the reason they haven't replaced the sign. Soon after we started, a man drove into the parking lot, looking very enturbulated at the sight of us, and then went inside. We made sure he saw what the signs said. We thought 'good, now they will know we're here,' but no one came back out to handle us.
"One man left the org with a small boy, who he made duck down when he drove out. We're not sure why, but we assume it was so he couldn't read any of the signs. We believe this small boy will remember the day his dad was so afraid of the evil SPs, he made him hide."
On March 18th, Dagens Nyheter published an article on a case in Sweden in
which Scientology was sued to return donations.
"Weine Pettersson's words about how he, after years of useless treatment, for hundreds of thousands SEK, decided to sue the Church of Scientology. The first time Weine heard about the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was at the Narconon drug rehabilitation center in Huddinge. He had been sent there by a social worker, to be cured from a case of juvenile hasch smoking that had turned into a hidden abuse of amphetamines. 'It worked well for me', he says. 'I would probably have become drug-free in any other place as well, as I had reached a point where I'd had enough, but the addiction went away quickly which created a huge loyalty to Narconon. I felt as if I owed them for my freedom from drugs.'
"The treatment continued in a basement room. Weine held a tin can in each hand. Through these, the auditor sent a weak electrical current through Weine's body. The auditor called the instrument an e-meter. Weine compares it to a lie detector that was supposed to measure stress in the individual. The auditor went through set lists of questions. When a question made a read on the meter, there were follow-up questions. But Weine was only getting worse. Still he kept with the treatment for seven years. In total, he paid the auditor 130,000 SEK [$16,000]. The first 50,000 he borrowed. The remaining 80,000 was money from a life insurance after the death of his father.
"Today, Weine is looking at the situation in a clear light, the auditor was cheating him out of 130,000 SEK and that would of course not be fixed by further therapy. Then, his loyalty was stronger than his doubt, and he paid the sum asked for. 'The teachings of Scientology are totally overwhelming', he says. It is an indoctrination that by-passes everything. The doctrine is so totally inclusive, that when you are turning around to find a door to back out through, it is very hard to find one.
"Weine's 85,000 SEK course lasted for less than one year. Then the Church of Scientology wanted more money. That's when he lost his faith. In the end of 1995, Weine broke up with the church. He had earlier seen the bills where people were singled out as the enemies of the church, people who opposed the goals of the cult. Now he was one of them. 'The mental pressure they put on the individual to not openly criticize, debate or ask questions is incredible. You could call it brainwashing.' More than anything else, what upsets Weine is the fact that according to him the Church of Scientology is totally undemocratic, at the same time as it is utilizing the laws and rules of democracy.
"Despite the fear he felt, Weine sued the Church of Scientology, and at the end of last year he was offered a settlement which he accepted. It was written into the settlement agreement that neither party was allowed to reveal anything about the agreement to outside persons or the media. However, the Church of Scientology made the mistake to send the agreement to Stockholms tingsratt [town court of Stockholm]. In this way the document became public and anybody may thus require a copy and read about how the church has tried to buy Weine's silence for 50,000 SEK."
The St. Petersburg Times published an article on March 28th about
Scientology's Purification Rundown and a vitamin store in New Port Richey,
"Two members of the state physician's board are questioning whether a health-food store with ties to Scientology is practicing medicine illegally by offering a church-sanctioned vitamin regimen. The treatment, called 'purification rundown,' is one of the first steps Scientologists take upon joining the church. Church members tout the rundown as a purifying routine that enables people to kick drug abuse and 'think more clearly and have more energy.' Some physicians, and a former Scientologist interviewed by the Times, call it dangerous and ineffective.
"At a recent informational session, the owners of Pure Health on W Main Street told visitors that the rundown could avert the need for cardiac bypass surgery, treat kidney failure and alleviate eye problems. One of the owners -- who acknowledged having no traditional medical training -- said she sometimes 'weaned' clients from their prescription medication in preparation for the program.
"To Dr. Emilio Echevarria, a member of the state Board of Medicine, those statements raise concerns about whether Pure Health broke the law. 'There may be a violation,' he said. 'The state might say, in essence, 'You're practicing medicine.' I certainly would look at that very closely.'
"Although Pure Health does not advertise any connection with the church, the purification rundown is a trademarked service of Scientology that can only be offered with the consent of the church. Pure Health, which store owner Ron Howarth described as a franchise, pays 10 percent of its earnings from purification to an arm of the church.
"The purification rundown -- sometimes used as a recruiting tool by the church -- has been questioned by doctors. One of them is Ronald Gots, a Maryland toxicologist who reviewed the procedure at the request of city officials in Shreveport, La. Firefighters there underwent the treatment at city expense after they were exposed to carcinogens. 'I just found that it was useless,' Gots said in a telephone interview. 'Useless and fraudulent, considering the claims that were made. And very expensive.'
"Robert E. Geary, an Ohio dentist and former Scientologist, underwent the treatment with his wife. 'She was in okay shape, but she wasn't an athlete. She was losing sleep and having hallucinations, and they were saying, 'Oh, that's good,' ' Geary said in a telephone interview. Geary said his wife eventually suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized. When an organization linked to Scientology sought approval from Oklahoma regulators to offer a drug-treatment program that relied heavily on purification rundown, Geary wrote to state officials. 'As a health care practitioner that has participated in their so-called purification rundown ... I would say it is bunk,' Geary wrote. 'I consider their treatment unscientific and dangerous.'
"Several lawsuits have been filed against Scientology by families who blame purification programs for the death of a relative. In Portland, Ore., the parents of Christopher Arbuckle, 25, filed suit after he took a purification rundown course. Arbuckle died after his liver failed. His parents settled out of court for an undisclosed amount and agreed not to discuss the case.
"The small group that attended the meeting at the New Port Richey store was also not told about the controversy surrounding purification rundown. One woman asked Dyer: 'Have you ever had any failures?' 'No,' Dyer replied. Howarth said the program can also have value for heart patients. 'If you do this, you can avoid bypass surgery,' he said. Dyer said a wide variety of health problems can be attributed to the kind of impurities that the program purges. 'Cancer and AIDS are the final stages of toxic overload,' Dyer said. Addressing an elderly visitor who said she had recently experienced kidney failure, Dyer suggested the woman try the program. 'You need to do something about your toxins,' Dyer said.
"Dyer said she has years of experience in the alternative medicine community and has advised clients preparing for the rundown to discontinue the use of drugs prescribed by doctors. 'Sometimes I wean someone off of their medication,' she said. When the Times asked Echevarria and fellow Board of Medicine member Dr. John W. Glotfelty to review those statements, the physicians both suggested an investigation would be in order. 'It sounds to me like they are diagnosing,' said Glotfelty. 'My concern is that they're practicing medicine without a license.'"
On March 23rd, the Montreal Gazette reported on the filming of the movie
Battlefield Earth in Montreal.
"The producers of Battlefield Earth, a big-budget, science-fiction movie starring Travolta, have set up offices in Montreal in the past few days, preparing for the mammoth shoot, which will kick off in mid-July and run for about three months. Montreal film commissioner Andre Lafond says Battlefield Earth has a budget of $120 million. Lafond said Battlefield Earth will not only pump cash into the local economy, but will attract more Hollywood movies. 'There will be a Travolta effect,' he said. 'When projects come with big names, they establish a trend for shooting in Montreal.'
"The movie, expected to be chock-full of expensive special effects, will be directed by Roger Christian, who was the second-unit director on the upcoming Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace."