Presenting Rod Keller's
Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review

Volume 8, Issue 7 - June 1 2003


Note: This issue contains articles from the past two weeks of Alt.religion.scientology.


Clearwater

The St. Petersburg Times reported on May 29th that Scientology has mailed promotional materials to encourage retailers to open stores in downtown Clearwater, Florida. "The Church of Scientology has sent out promotional brochures to national retailers such as the Gap and Banana Republic in an effort to lure more upscale businesses downtown. But city officials, largely caught off-guard, expressed surprise and disappointment at the strategy. 'I thought that it was odd that an independent entity would do this,' Commissioner Whitney Gray said. 'You don't see other businesses, or churches certainly, marketing downtown to this degree.' "Gray said she had been notified by the church about plans for the eight-page flier touting downtown. She met with a church representative and bluntly outlined her concerns. Given the church's dominant presence downtown, there are people who refuse to spend money there because they think it would benefit Scientology, according to Gray. 'If it looks to the public like the Church of Scientology is building downtown,' she said, 'people won't come.' "The brochure was distributed to 10 to 20 retailers, including Haagen-Dazs and Ann Taylor. The church, he said, has an interest in seeing downtown thrive, both for parishioners' benefit and for the community at large. "Commissioner Frank Hibbard said the church had ventured outside its traditional bounds. 'When you talk about promoting Clearwater as a whole,' he said, 'that is the role of city government.' In fact, the city put out a glossy brochure of its own in March, sending it to 4,000 developers nationwide. Assistant City Manager Ralph Stone said the effort was widely publicized and sought input from a host of city groups, many that include members of the church. "Mayor Brian Aungst said he was surprised by the brochures. 'I don't know that it hurts anything,' he said. 'It's probably helpful, but we'll find out, I guess.' City officials said they had no problems with the information contained in the church's flier - it is standard economic development fare, with statistics on population, median age and income. But they worried about straying from a unified message. At the very least, Gray said, the city of Clearwater needs to be perceived as heading up its own economic development. 'This just makes it a little bit harder,' she said." The article prompted a letter to the editor on June 1st. "The headline should read, City of Clearwater sold downtown to Scientology. The city of CLEARwater has long since been handed away bit by bit to this church by ill-informed and misguided commissioners and a few mayors, most recent being the ever-so-eloquent Brian Aungst. It does not bother me that the 'The Church of Scientology' operates in the city; it has a constitutional right to and I believe it should. However, do not think for a second it has the citizens of Clearwater in the forefront of its mind. "The church operates and caters to a transient population that, for the most part, is crammed into motels and apartment complexes throughout Clearwater and Pinellas County and is clothed and fed by the church. How is this helpful to a once thriving city? It is not. I challenge the City Commission to research the legal term ad valorem, and try to enact a bill that would restrict any tax-exempt entity from owning a certain percentage or dollar amount of property within a single city limit. - Paul Hodges, Clearwater The St. Petersburg Times reported on May 23rd that Scientology is requesting the Lisa McPherson wrongful death case be moved from Clearwater because of the low opinion potential jurors have about the organization. "Earlier this spring professional researchers combed Tyrone Square Mall asking Pinellas residents what they thought of the church. 'A cult,' said person after person. 'Scam,' said one. 'Crooks,' said another. The researchers, hired by the church, questioned 300 people. Their findings were grim: Four out of five had unfavorable things to say about Scientology. The church concluded that the negative opinions Pinellas residents hold toward Scientology are so deep and widespread, it could not get a fair trial here. "This week, it took the unusual step of asking the court to move a civil trial out of this area because, it says, potential Pinellas jurors have been prejudiced by negative media coverage. The motion for a change of venue comes in a related matter, a countersuit against the McPherson estate and its attorney Ken Dandar. The church alleges that Dandar improperly attempted to add Scientology leader David Miscavige as a defendant in the wrongful-death suit. That case is scheduled for trial July 7. "'(The church) has learned that the breadth and intensity of 'community prejudice' against both the Scientology religion and Flag (the church's Clearwater entity) within Pinellas County is such that Flag cannot receive a fair trial in this venue,' the 28-page motion states. 'The community prejudice has been fueled by an ongoing barrage of negative media comments, principally by the St. Petersburg Times and the local television stations, including publication of inflammatory and unethical public statements by Kennan Dandar.' "Dandar, who has represented McPherson's family for six years, called the allegation 'a bunch of baloney' and another delay tactic by the church's formidable legal team. "Ben Shaw, the church's head of public relations in Clearwater, said the respondents were residents whose perceptions were 'created by the continuing onslaught of negative media coverage.' "Times editor and president Paul C. Tash defended the paper's coverage. 'The Church of Scientology remains a big and important institution in the Tampa Bay area and we're going to continue our coverage, fully and fairly, even if sometimes the church officials object to that coverage,' Tash said. "Dandar said he wasn't surprised by the survey's findings. 'They (church officials) are complaining about the newspaper reporting on the tragic death of Lisa McPherson when they are the ones who caused her death in the first place,' Dandar said. 'They are blaming everyone but themselves for their bad public relations image.' "Last month, the case was reassigned from Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer, who sat through weeks of hearings last year, to Senior Judge Robert Beach. Chief Circuit Judge David Demers made the move after Schaeffer recused herself from handling a counterclaim." Message-ID: 1053685708.753904@newshost02.voicenet.com Message-ID: 1054203669.363094@newshost02.voicenet.com Message-ID: 1054469652.461617@newshost02.voicenet.com

Narconon

The South Idaho Press reported on May 20th that city officials in Rubert, Idaho will hear a presentation from Narconon "The council will also hear from officials of the Burley-based NARCONON of Idaho. The group offers drug treatment and counseling. NARCONON's treatment is based on methods created by L. Ron Hubbard. 'It's a natural method of ridding the body of drugs stored in fat. They use herbs, saunas, sweating and exercise to help in the process,' Neiwerth said. "The council needs to know about drug treatment alternatives, she said. 'I wanted the council to be aware of some of the methods available to help people get off drugs so they can get out of that drug mode and trafficking and making drugs. It's to help take them off that dependency for drugs,' Neiwerth said." Message-ID: 3ECADCE2.1030601@tikk.net

Leipzig Human Rights Award

Freie Presse Chemnitz reported on May 18th that the Leipzig Human Rights Award has been presented to Andreas Heldal-Lund, creator of the web site xenu.net. "The information technology specialist was honored in Leipzig on Sunday for his work against the Scientology cult and his efforts towards freedom of speech on the Internet. For almost seven years, Heldal-Lund has maintained a web site by the name of Operation Clambake, in which he distributes information about the Scientology organization. "Last year's award winner Alain Vivien said in his laudation that Heldal-Lund had revealed the machinations of the Scientologists with 'respect and intelligence.' In doing this he was helping both potential and past victims. "In his acceptance speech, Heldal-Lund emphasized the role of the citizen in the fight for basic rights, such as freedom of speech. 'These rights being anchored in the Constitution is not good enough,' he said. Therefore every individual should deliberate on how to put a stop to such churches and organizations. Also people had to continue to earn their basic rights. "Heldal-Lund uses his Internet pages to inform people about the doctrines and practices of Scientology that the organization itself does not want published. Despite legal complaints from Scientology and temporary boycotts from several Internet Service Providers, Heldal-Lund has not shut down his web site. "The award is conferred annually by the European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA. Besides Americans and Germans, the committee includes members from England, Austria, Russia and Sweden. The Citizens Committee was formed in 1997 and opposes physical and psychological abuse of humans under the pretext of religion, among other things. One of the people who received the award prior to Heldal-Lund was former Labor Minister Norbert Bluem." From Frankfurter Rundschau on May 15th: "The Norwegian Internet expert from Stavanger is receiving this year's Leipzig Human Rights Award on Sunday. For six years Heldal-Lund has been engaged in uncovering the human rights violations of the cult-like Scientology organization, as reported by the 'European-American Citizens Committee for Human rights and Religious Freedom in the USA' in Berlin on Wednesday. The recipients of the unremunerated honor, bestowed since 2000 in the form of a glass-contained sculpture with an image of the Leipzig Nikolas Church, include former federal labor minister Norbert Bluem (CDU). In presenting its award to individuals, the Committee hopes to promote 'human rights reforms' among cult-like organizations." Message-ID: Pine.LNX.3.96.1030525055801.121A-100000@darkstar.zippy Message-ID: Pine.LNX.3.96.1030524061946.119B-100000@darkstar.zippy

Scientology Tour

Skyway News published the second of two articles on May 12th on a tour of the Scientology org in Minnesota. "After a quick talk with Scientologist Troy about how I don't have to be introverted, and, really, the depression score isn't high enough to be a real concern, Diane, another volunteer working at Scientology's 1011 Nicollet Mall center, asks if I'd like to see a video on Dianetics. There's a process in it that can help people figure out what's wrong and give them the tools to fix it. "There is a certain cadence to the narration and pacing of the imagery, the monotonous voice of the narrator regularly punctuated by exceedingly long pauses. However slowly, I am being introduced to the only system in the world that has ever figured out the source of man's problems and, more importantly, how to fix them. "Basically: the mind is split into two parts, the 'analytical mind' and the 'reactive mind'. The analytical mind is incapable of making mistakes, it is logical and rational - it is sane. The reactive mind is toxic, holding on to negative impressions of the world formed by bad experiences or by people saying things to us while we're in an unconscious state; it is the source of neurosis and insanity. "Michael has pulled out a screening form. The questions quickly grow intimate: Have I had any alcohol in the last 24 hours, how much do I normally drink, have I ever had any illegal drugs, am I on any medication, ever had psychiatric treatment or counseling, if so, why, how long, what was the analysis? I end up telling him things I don't usually divulge to strangers. Have I or a family member ever personally contributed to negative articles in the media about Scientology? Am I a member of the news media? Am I with the CIA or FBI or any other government agency? "I ask a free church service is contingent upon my profession or government involvement. 'The church has to protect itself from infiltrants,' he explains. Like I said before, I'm the managing editor of Skyway News, but I'm not in the CIA or anything. He just writes 'No.' With the form completed, albeit incorrectly, and oddly without me having to sign it, we move on. "For the next hour or so, I recount 10 times each the experiences of a bike accident and a previous childhood chin injury, eyes closed. Unfortunately, I couldn't recall anything said to me when I was unconscious, no engrams. But I did get a headache and my neck got tight - evidence of regression, i.e., reliving the experiences on that part of my time track. "I just need to pay for some books I picked up from hours ago. Michael drops me off with a woman who can process the book order. There's no cash register. She has to go to the basement to get change. Standing there, waiting, I browse the brochures. I'm back in the area where I watched the Dianetics video. "One of the men in the navy-like outfits approaches. 'Are you in the navy?' I ask. 'No, I'm in the Sea Org.' Uh-huh. 'Would you like to complete our survey?' he asks, handing me another opportunity to offer up personal information: name, address, am I married, do I have kids? How many? Do I have debts? How much? And answer 'yes or 'no' questions like, 'DO YOU HAVE A PURPOSE TO HELP CLEAR THIS PLANET?' "Another man approaches as I finger brochures. 'Do you like to read?' he asks. Yes, I like to read, in fact, I work at the local newspaper; no, I don't have much time. The woman emerges from the basement with my change. Despite my desire to leave, I find it impossible to be rude and leave the friendly man who approached me. We agree to talk until 4:30 p.m., no longer. At 5:30 p.m., I get up to leave. "Diane comes out. 'How was the auditing?' The next step is the basic Dianetics course for just $35 and another audit that costs $200 but it's eight hours long. Over the next day or so, I find 'Dianetics' impossible to read. I quote a passage to my husband and can't imagine calling the kind man for assistance decoding it." Message-ID: Xns9380618C6B62kadywwwaifnet@207.35.177.134

Reed Slatkin

Slatkinfraud.com reported on May 26th that Scientologists have been pressuring their members to join in opposing the Reed Slatkin trustee's attempts to recover money from Scientology orgs. "Scientologist profiteers used high pressure tactics to pressure fellow Scientologists with creditor status in the case to sign up for a legal maneuver almost entirely contrary to their own interests. In a mass email sent out last January, longtime Scientologist Tony Lonstein, currently on the hook for nearly $2 million according to the suit filed against him by the estate, called on his fellow Scientologists to join an objection to the trustee's plans to reorganize the estate, claiming that trustee Todd Neilson is 'out of control' and plotting to attack the church. "'The Trustee is out of control, suing anyone he can find. As an example, in the 50 page interrogatory which he just sent us, there is a full page devoted to listing out every single corporate entity of the Church, followed by questions related to our dealings with the Church. Despite the fact that this is highly inappropriate, it does lead one to believe that the Trustee has taken significant time researching all the Church's legal entities, and one must wonder if he doesn't intend to use this information in some sort of a suit or other attack against the Church, which I am sure you would not want to support.' "Scientologist net-loser Al Ribisi questioned Lonstein's failure to make clear his own pecuniary interest in the motion, and chided him; '(for) positioning the issue in any way with our Church. Leave the Church out of it. It's off-line. We have an Office of Special Affairs to handle these things.' Lonstein responded by quoting liberally from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and claimed that trustee Todd Neilson was a 'suppressive' - a Scientology term for an 'enemy' - for attempting to recoup Slatkin profits from 'hundreds of upstanding, ethical, productive Scientologists.' "'I personally believe that the Trustee's actions are suppressive, and that his suit of hundreds of upstanding, ethical, productive Scientologists is suppressive, and that his attempts use the legal system to strong-arm Scientologists into paying him by trying to get their assets attached in advance of a judgement are suppressive, and that his posturing to sue the Church is grossly suppressive, and if he sues the Church, he is 100% suppressive, and that anyone who actively backs him up or sits quietly on the sidelines getting monetary benefit from his actions is aiding and abetting a Suppressive. Think about it, one of the distributions you receive from the Trustee could potentially be money extracted from the Church. No-one would want that to occur.'" Message-ID: 5e0371c5.0305260806.e04472f@posting.google.com

Tampa

The Tampa Tribune reported on May 31st that Scientology has been aggressively distributing material in Ybor City, a neighborhood of Tampa, Florida known for its large number of bars and restaurants. "For months, well-dressed Scientologists have lined parts of Seventh Avenue, two on each side of the street, passing out pamphlets and asking passers-by to take a personality test. Now, Ybor City residents and business owners are complaining to the city that they are being harassed by Scientology recruiters who follow them down the street and won't take no for an answer. 'People have said they are just as annoying as panhandlers,' said Vince Pardo, president of the Ybor City Development Corp. "The church is renovating a building it is leasing at 1619 E. Eighth Ave. and plans to open The Scientology Life Improvement Center on June 7, said Ana Tirabassi, spokeswoman for the church's Tampa headquarters. It will offer lectures, courses and films on Scientology, she said. Scientologists stand on street corners not to harass people, Tirabassi said, but 'to introduce us to people new to the subject.' 'It's a traditional way of letting people know about Scientology,' she said. 'It's what we do in cities all over the country. We have excellent relations with our Ybor neighbors, and there have been no complaints that I know of.' "In response to complaints made to the city, Councilwoman Rose Ferlita on Thursday asked the city's legal department to investigate the issue and find out what, if anything, the city can do to limit how Scientologists recruit in the district. 'We have two issues here,' Ferlita said. 'The respect of visitors of Ybor and religious rights. I don't really feel you can equate this to panhandling, but them approaching someone may ultimately end in the request for a contribution.' "Tampa has an aggressive panhandling ordinance that prohibits people from repeatedly asking for money. Members of the Ybor Coalition have asked the city whether it can draft a similar ordinance to limit how many times Scientologists can ask someone to take a personality test. But because it is a religious organization, it has protection, said Gina Grimes, chief assistant city attorney. The city is faced with balancing the constitutional religious rights of the church with the rights of someone to walk down the street without feeling pressured, she said. "Joe Howden, an Ybor resident and Barrio Latino commissioner, said he walks past at least four Scientologists daily on his way to work at King Corona Cigars at 1523 Seventh Ave. 'We've worked hard to get panhandlers out of this area, and now we have these people standing on the street approaching people, and it's unfair,' he said. 'I don't know why this organization seems to think it has the right to step beyond the boundary of personal space.' "Irene Pierpont, general manager of Centro Ybor, said she has had to ask Scientologists to leave her property. 'We wouldn't have a problem if we didn't witness them following people down the street,' Pierpont said. 'But we just can't have that here.' "Rachelle Wagner, an Ybor resident, said she's glad to see the church renovating a vacant building, but she's concerned that members don't identify themselves when approaching people on the street. 'The average person doesn't know what a personality test is or what Scientology is,' Wagner said. 'What bothers me most is that they seem so sneaky.'" Message-ID: 1054395295.644605@newshost02.voicenet.com


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A.r.s. Week in Review is put together by Rod Keller © This collection is organised for WWW by Andreas Heldal-Lund. Only edits done by me is replacing word encapsuled in * or _ with bold and underscore, and made links into HTML.


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