Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
Volume 4, Issue 35
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
Scientology and the CCHR continue to make news in Denver, where
Scientology claims psychiatric drugs cause teen violence, such as at
Columbine High School. From the Denver Post on November 22nd:
"The debate about whether it is wise or even necessary to medicate children who are hyperactive, depressed or have other psychiatric conditions has been around for decades. Yet earlier this month it surfaced in Colorado with so much force and emotion, it seemed almost like a whole new issue. A lot of this is related to the post-Columbine situation," said Dr. Jennifer Hagman, medical director of Children's Hospital's in-patient psychiatric unit. 'The community is really struggling to figure out what happened.'
"Earlier this month, both an informal committee of state legislators and the Colorado Board of Education listened to testimony on psychiatric medications and a suggested link between drugs such as Ritalin and Luvox and school shootings across the country. The debate about psychiatric drugs 'is a very old bandwagon,' Hagman said. 'It's a bandwagon that was more predominant in the late '70s and early '80s, and was primarily Church of Scientology-driven.' Pfiffner and Johnson deny Scientology connections. Both say they became concerned about children on psychiatric medications several years ago and believe it's an issue that needs to be explored. 'We haven't grappled with the policy issues,' Pfiffner said. 'I don't know what the answer is. I'm not a doctor.'
"'It's very short-sighted to say that the medications are to blame for all the problems,' Hagman said. 'These kids who are on medications are sometimes the ones who are acting out, but the medications are not causing that. The underlying mental condition is, and they aren't fully treated.' Hagman said she hopes that the silver lining in this latest round of discussions is more attention to the need for every child with problems to have a thorough psychiatric assessment.
"By early last summer, Pfiffner said, he was thinking about the coincidence of shootings and reports of medications. About the same time, a slick magazine from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, which was founded 30 years ago by the Church of Scientology, was sent to state legislators. The packet raised the question about a possible link between psychiatry and school violence. Pfiffner said it made him back off from holding a forum on the subject in early July. 'I was not going to be a front for the Church of Scientology,' Pfiffner said. 'I shut everything down. I have been around enough to be cautious about the Scientologists.' Pfiffner said this fall he decided to renew the forum idea and sent letters to experts that he said he thought would present a balanced view.
"On a national level, the debate may have only just begun. Columbine was a 'spiritual holocaust for this country,' said Bruce Wiseman, national president of the Scientologist-founded Citizens Committee on Human Rights International. Colorado is the first place where his group was contacted to come and present views, Wiseman said. He spoke at Pfiffner's hearing and before the state education board in October. He's also testified in Pennsylvania and Tennessee and plans to speak soon on the topic in Atlanta."
>From the New York Times on November 25th:
"A resolution recently passed by the Colorado Board of Education to discourage teachers from recommending behavioral drugs like Ritalin and Luvox has intensified a national debate over the growing use of prescription drugs for children. The resolution, the first of its kind in the country, carries no legal weight. But it urges teachers and other school personnel to use discipline and instruction to overcome problem behavior in the classroom, rather than to encourage parents to put their children on drugs that are commonly prescribed for attention deficit and hyperactive disorders.
"Patti Johnson, the school board member who organized a hearing on the issue and proposed the resolution here, conceded that only a small number of teachers in Colorado had ever insisted on a child taking prescription drugs as a precondition to returning to class. But the resolution, she said, was largely intended for them. 'I hope what happened in Colorado is the exception and not the rule,' said Michael M. Faenza, president of the National Mental Health Association, a consortium of advocacy groups for the mentally ill, conceding that he fears other states and school districts might replicate Colorado's efforts 'Holding up psychotropic medicines as the possible cause of violent behavior is absurd,' Faenza said. 'There's a wealth of information to show that they have helped dramatically.'
"Dr. Peter R. Breggin, director of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, a nonprofit research organization in Bethesda, Md., testified at both hearings and said doctors have become too eager to prescribe psychotropic drugs at the expense of conversations among parents, teachers and children to learn why children are acting in antisocial ways. 'It's a tremendous mistake to subdue the behavior of children instead of tending to their needs,' Dr. Breggin said in an interview. 'We're drugging them into submission rather than identifying and meeting the genuine needs of the family, the school and the community,' Dr. Breggin said. 'It's wrong in principle.'
"Opponents of the measure also said they were uncomfortable with the ardent support offered the measure by the Church of Scientology through an affiliate organization, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. The president of its American branch, Bruce Wiseman, who described the commission as a 'psychiatric watchdog group,' testified at both hearings and urged rejection of Ritalin and other drugs as a solution to troublesome behavior. But Ms. Johnson, as well as Pfiffner, said the organization's support was not a critical factor in any of their actions."
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Patricia Greenway reported this week on Scientology's preparations for
next week's protests in Clearwater, on the anniversary of Lisa McPherson's
"They have ripped up most of the sidewalks surrounding the Fort Harrison Hotel and the Sandcastle. With the exception of the sidewalk directly in front of the building, all sidewalks are now dirt, rubble and barricades. This tends to limit the picketing opportunities, which, of course, is their intention.
"The vans are back in action, shuttling the 'fearful' back and forth to all the buildings with windows blacked out by opaque Christmas decorations. The course rooms on Cleveland Street have a festive 'tarping' design: all windows are covered in Christmas wrapping paper with bright decorative bows! The Scn. Bank Building looks like Santa's House with the front steps holding a dozen Christmas trees and fake snow!
"It's quite obvious to CW residents that the cult's plan is to hide behind the 'valence' of Christmas in order to portray the message: Look at these scary, degraded people who DARE to picket Christmas itself!'"
http://www.xenutv.com/trust/sidewalks Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
David Cecere CCHR
David Cecere, the Executive Director of the Lisa McPherson Trust, reported
a Scientology-paid private investigator contacting his ex-wife this week.
"My ex-wife Suzy has been visited twice in the last 45 days by a PI calling himself Mike. Mike told Suzy that he is in the employ of Scientology. He asked her questions about me. He wanted to know what my motivation is for being a 'deprogrammer.' He told Suzy that 'deprogramming' was a dangerous thing for me to do. He asked if Bob Minton and/or Ken Dandar was paying me. He asked Suzy if she still loved me and whether I was gay. He told Suzy that he had my financial records and that he could prove that I was hiding assets from her. He told her that scientology would help her with her divorce. Mike was curious about my position as Executive Director of The Lisa McPherson Trust, Inc. Mike wanted to know why I was chosen to be ED. He was interested in why I accepted the position.
"Mike told Suzy that he and his partner are retired Redmond, WA cops. He gave Suzy a business card supposedly bearing his partner's name: Associated Investigators International Steve B. Bourdage P.O. Box 653 Auburn, WA 98071 877-787-8345 email@example.com
"I decided that I wanted to ask some questions myself so I gave Mike a call. He said that he has a partner named Steve Bourdage. When I told him that he better hope that he really _is_ a retired Redmond cop because if he's not the Redmond PD is going to take exception to his posing as one. Mike denied ever telling anyone that either he or his partner was a retired cop. Mike would not give me his last name. At one point in the conversation, Mike asked 'What's your problem?' I explained that my only problem was that he was willing to harass innocent people and that he was working for an abusive cult. Mike said that he works for various clients and that he doesn't take a personal point of view about them. I told him that a whore rarely cares about such trifles."
Hamburger Abendblatt reported on November 24th on the new Hamburg org in
the city center.
"No longer on the edge of downtown on 63 Steindamm, but right in the middle of it, on 9 Dom Street; that is where the controversial organization now has its new center. The new building will be opened at 12 noon on Saturday. At around 3,000 square meters with five stories, the new building is bigger than the old one in which Scientology resided since 1989. The new president, Gisela Hackenjos, has her office up at the top. On ground level is the chapel, festival hall, book shop and working spaces. Those include ethics and auditing rooms, finance offices and a sauna.
"The sale was managed allegedly through an attorney's office in Washington. The sale price was said to have been set at 20 million marks, which was paid for by the American Scientology center. The appearance of the Americans as buyers emphasizes, in the opinion of Reinhard Wagner, Hamburg Constitutional Security President, 'the high importance which the Hamburg organization holds in the USA.' 1,000 of the total five to six thousand Scientologists nationwide live here or in the surrounding areas."
Sueddeutsche Zeitung published an article on November 24th describing the status of Scientology in Munich.
"Is Scientology a religion or a cut-and-dried business operation? A legal proceeding between the Scientology Church Germany, Inc, and the Municipal Planning Office has been reduced to this question in the Munich Administrative Court. In the foreground, this is about information with which the Planning Office has denied the self-named church and its members special permission to 'conduct missionary work' on Leopold Street. What is actually behind the legal dispute, however, is a feud which has gone on for years between the Bavarian Interior Ministry and the Scientologists.
"The Interior Ministry does not regard Scientology as a religion in any case: its position is that the Scientologists are merely hiding behind a pseudo-religious facade for the purpose of creating a lawless field in which to carry out its constitutionally hostile activities which range from dirty to criminal. Scientology counters that no type of danger emanates from the 'church.' All accusations are said to be only worn-out phrases from apologetic opponents like the sect commissioners of the major churches - and the Bavarian Interior Minister is also included.
"The Second Chamber will now hear a number of witnesses in an attempt to clarify the question of whether the Scientologists may call upon the free and open use of the public streets so that their 'body routers' may 'perform missionary work,' or whether they are pursuing commercial activity which requires a business permit."
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Hubbard Quotations CCHR
LA Weekly published an article this week on a campaign to have newspapers
and magazines carry quotations from L. Ron Hubbard.
"'Affection could no more spoil a child than the sun could be put out by a bucket of gasoline.' Don't go looking for this maxim in your Bartlett's Familiar Quotations - but you just might find it in your local newspaper, courtesy of Scientology. The IRS-designated religion has been mailing out this and other pearls from the lips of founder L. Ron Hubbard to newspaper 'Quote of the Week' sections. The Hubbardisms address Morals ('The criminal accuses others of things which he himself is doing'), Problems ('Any problem, to be a problem, must contain a lie') and, in a masterpiece of mixed metaphor, Marriage ('Communication is the root of marital success from which a strong union can grow, and noncommunication is the rock on which the ship will bash out her keel'). They run above the tagline 'L. Ron Hubbard, one of the most acclaimed and widely read authors of all time.' (Hubbard was a science-fiction writer.)
"Hubbard public-relations director Kaye Conley says the quotes have appeared in 80 publications, including the Orchard News (Nebraska), Clayton Today (Oklahoma), and the Stratford Star, Iraan News, and Talihina American (all of Texas). 'I'm not saying they're big, huge papers,' Conley says. 'They don't have to be to be popular.' Iraan News editor Clara Greer says her paper (circulation 900) printed 'everything that I got' during the two-month-old Scientology P.R. campaign. 'One of our customers didn't appreciate reading them.
"The Hubbard P.R. machine has been busy. An article on the P.R. News Wire this month spoke of some 'interesting new insights' into the subject of memory found in the Hubbard bestseller Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. 'Never has our society been hit with so much devastation. We're trying to do something about it,' Conley says. 'We just use the quotes as filler to fill our little holes,' shrugs newspaper editor Driver."
Lisa McPherson CCHR
The St. Petersburg Times reported on November 24th that Medical Examiner
Joan Wood will re-examine some of the evidence in the death of Lisa
"Lawyers for the Church of Scientology have given Wood new evidence that, they say, casts doubt on Wood's original opinion: that McPherson was severely dehydrated when she died while in the care of Scientology staffers. Scientology's evidence includes sworn statements from laboratory employees involved in the original testing of McPherson's eye fluid, a clear, jelly-like substance used by medical examiners to assess a body's condition at death. It includes other scientific information that, according to the church, shows McPherson's death had nothing to do with dehydration.
"Wood said she will review the materials and also has agreed to join a church-hired toxicologist in testing a second sample of McPherson's eye fluid -- about one-fifth of a teaspoon -- which has been stored by Wood's office since the autopsy. That test could take place as early as next week at a lab near Philadelphia. An expert from Wood's staff will witness the test along with Dr. Frederic Rieders, a toxicologist who was a defense witness in another case where key scientific evidence was challenged -- the O.J. Simpson prosecution.
"One of Scientology's lawyers, Lee Fugate, said if Wood were to alter her original conclusions, 'that may change the entire playing field.' Wood originally listed the manner of McPherson's death as 'undetermined.' Wood said it is possible her review could lead to a finding of accidental death.
"The review is mandated in Wood's policy manual, which says the medical examiner will 'readdress key issues' in a case if 'credible new evidence is presented, regardless of its source.' Church lawyers also argue the eye fluid samples were handled improperly, that the tests were conducted incorrectly and the results contradict other findings in the autopsy."
The (London) Times published an article this week on a Scientology
celebrity event to be held in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve.
"The Scientologists are planning an enormous end of year bash for some 20,000 followers, drawn to LA by the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard - and the possibility of rubbing shoulders with John Travolta, Tom Cruise and the rest of the celebrity tribe who have been drawn to this secretive and controversial religious organisation. The partying will begin on December 28 and go on for three days, with the happy pilgrims attending a series of seminars. The organisers are still trying to secure suitable venues, and their travel agents are making block hotel bookings.
"[A] spokeswoman could not confirm whether celebrities would definitely attend - but she didn't rule it out either. But what she could promise was that there would be well-known faces performing in the Christmas play. Next week, Kirstie Alley (of Cheers fame), and another television comedy star, Jenna Elfman, will be among those performing skits in what is billed as 'a 1930s-style radio show'. Profits from the show go to The Police Activities League, a youth development programme."
Dagens Nyheter reported on November 22nd that the secret NOTS materials
will be protected from public viewing.
"The legislative council has accepted the change in The Official Secrets Act that was proposed by the government. However, this is to be viewed as a temporary measure, and in the long-term view a simple change should be made in The Freedom of the Press Act. Ever since the 'Scientology bible' was handed in to Swedish authorities a couple of years ago, it has caused trouble. Due to the Swedish Principle of Public Access to Official Records, it became a public document as soon as it had been registered with these authorities, and anyone could read it for free.
"This led to protests from the United States, who considers this a breach of copyright law. The 'Scientology bible' has never before been made public to persons outside of the Church of Scientology. The legislative council does not, however, consider the change in the Official Secrets Act proposed by the government to be the best road to take in this matter. Instead, the paragraph that defines exceptions to the Freedom of Press Act should be extended to include copyright protected works handed in to public authorities without the consent of the copyright holder. But the Freedom of Press Act is part of the Constitution, and changes to the Constitution takes time to accomplish. Because of this situation, the legislative council accepts the proposed changes as a temporary measure."
John Travolta CCHR
The Washington Post published an analysis of the book Battlefield Earth on
November 28th. The movie version of the L. Ron Hubbard book is being made
by Scientology celebrity John Travolta.
"So is 'Battlefield Earth' a recruiting film for Scientology? Nonsense, Travolta says. The movie, he keeps telling reporters, has absolutely, positively no connection to Scientology. Since 1975 he has been a devotee of Scientology, an 'applied religious philosophy' that claims millions of adherents. He credits Hubbard, the late science-fiction author, for all his worldly and spiritual successes. Travolta calls 'Battlefield Earth' one of the most popular books published in this century. 'The truth of why I'm doing it is because it's a great piece of science fiction,' Travolta has said. 'This is not about him [Hubbard]. This has nothing to do with Scientology.'
"Church counseling relies on a battery-powered contraption called an 'E-meter'-- a lie detector-type device invented by Hubbard that supposedly helps members locate sources of mental and spiritual distress. Scientology says its therapies can make people smarter, healthier, more successful. In France this month Scientology staff members were convicted of fraud. A German court ruled that Scientology used 'inhuman and totalitarian practices.' A California appeals court branded its treatment of one member 'manifestly outrageous.' (His award of $2.5 million for 'serious emotional injury' was twice upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, but he has never been able to collect.) Church policy letters show that Scientology wants to eradicate psychiatry and psychology, as well as gain control, or the allegiance, of 'key political figures' and the proprietors of 'all news media.' Its avowed goal is to 'Clear the Planet'--that is, to turn everyone into a Scientologist who has achieved the level of 'Clear' through Hubbard's books, drills and E-meter.
"For those who pay enough to achieve its top levels (as Travolta has), Scientology offers a secret cosmology centered on intergalactic travel, space battles and encounters with aliens. Traditional faiths may embrace visions of Heaven and Hell, redeemers and miracles, but Hubbard says all those were merely 'implanted' in humans by extraterrestrials eons ago. Hubbard taught that the psychiatric establishment was not just a present-day evil, but a timeless one. In a distant galaxy, alien 'psychs' devised implants that would ultimately wreck the spiritual progress of human beings, he said. The psychs and their 'blackened souls,' he preached, were to blame for all crime, violence and sin. 'They destroyed every great civilization to date and are hard at work on this one.' In 'Battlefield Earth,' Hubbard writes that the ruthless Psychlo race was the tool of a medical cult that implanted metallic capsules in Psychlo babies' skulls so they grow up to become sadists. He writes that these 'mental doctors'--called 'catrists'--made up the 'real, hidden government.' Psychlo ... catrist? It doesn't take a degree in semiotics to make the connection.
"In 1977, he penned a screenplay titled 'Revolt in the Stars,' featuring an intergalactic overlord named Xenu and his psychiatric advisers, Stug and Sty. They carry out a holocaust by rounding up 'unwanted' beings from every planet and transporting them to Earth, where they are put in volcanoes and slaughtered with atomic bombs. The plot of 'Revolt' mirrors a sacred Scientology text called 'OT III'. It is revealed to Scientologists only after they pay tens of thousands of dollars and undergo many hours of intensive 'processing' to prepare them for the Xenu message. 'Revolt' was shopped around Hollywood in late 1979 but never made it to the screen.
"Travolta has taken special courses to help him detect enemies. 'I don't think anyone should be tolerant of suppressive acts,' Travolta said in a 1990 interview with the church's Celebrity magazine. 'I no longer doubt when I am in the presence of suppression. And I am very unreasonable about it.' In Scientology writings, a suppressive person deserves no mercy. He may be 'deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist,' according to a 1967 Hubbard policy letter. 'May be tricked, sued, or lied to or destroyed.'
"When Hubbard's swashbuckling epic was published in 1982, Scientologists immediately saw parallels to the life of its author. Some figured Hubbard had based its fair-haired hero, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler on himself. 'This was Hubbard building his own mythology,' says Gerry Armstrong, a former Hubbard aide who lost faith in the founder in 1981 and left after a dozen years on staff. 'Hubbard had developed his own hagiography.' In 'Battlefield Earth'--the book and the movie--Tyler takes on the head of the Psychlo security force, Terl, who lords over a mining operation on Earth. Terl rounds up humans and feeds them a diet of raw rats. He is obsessed with spying, blackmailing and manufacturing evidence to be used against his enemies. (Some who had known Hubbard and personally felt his wrath detected traits of Hubbard in Terl, too.)
"Soon after the book came out, Hubbard autographed a copy for Travolta, says former Scientology public relations official Robert Vaughn Young. 'I delivered it into his hands,' Young recalls. Disaffected former Scientologists say the movie will serve to boost the church's membership and reinforce Hubbard's anti-psychiatry message. But Young detects a more subtle strategy. 'In one sense, John Travolta is right--this is not a book about Scientology,' he says. 'But it's a way for people to discover Scientology. It's a lead-in.'"