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

Volume 8, Issue 9 - June 15 2003


A St. Petersburg Times editorial on June 9th reacted to charges made by Scientology that Clearwater area residents have been prejudiced against them by press coverage. "Many Pinellas County residents know the story of how the Church of Scientology slipped into Pinellas under a different name in 1975 and began buying property in downtown Clearwater, where it established its international religious retreat known as Flag. They remember the clashes that followed between Clearwater city officials and Scientology, the church's penchant for secrecy and the disinformation campaign hatched by the organization to discredit a city official who opposed Scientology. "Many Pinellas residents also remember hearing that a member of the Church of Scientology, Lisa McPherson, died in 1995 after being kept in the care of staffers in the church's Fort Harrison building. Because they know all that, some of them have strong opinions about Scientology, and it should come as no surprise that many of those opinions are negative. What is surprising, given the history of the church in Pinellas, is that Scientology officials are shocked by how many Pinellas residents distrust or dislike their organization. "The church recently hired professional researchers to survey 300 shoppers at a St. Petersburg mall to learn their opinions of Scientology, Flag and the McPherson case. Since getting the results, the church has asked for a change of venue in an upcoming jury trial that peripherally involves aspects of the McPherson case. The church's motion for the venue change is filled with accusations about the 'religious bigotry' of the Pinellas population and 'hate-mongering' by local media, including the St. Petersburg Times. The church claims that the media have poisoned the public's view of Scientology. "The truth of the matter is that most residents of Pinellas County are neither misled nor confused about Scientology. What they are is well-informed, and they have good memories. They see not just the dressed-up image the church has displayed since getting smarter about public relations a few years ago, but also the years of shenanigans that preceded the change. "Church officials apparently thought they had made more progress at changing perceptions, especially in Clearwater. And indeed, Clearwater officials have forged a cooperative relationship with Scientology, in some cases accepting campaign support and assistance from church members, bestowing awards on the church and even inviting church officials' participation in city government affairs. "Perhaps it was the city of Clearwater's accommodating attitude that recently led the church to believe it had the standing to start recruiting national retailers to downtown Clearwater. The church prepared a brochure spotlighting the city's demographics and benefits (including a section touting the positive presence of the Church of Scientology downtown) and sent it to retailers such as the Gap and Banana Republic. Because no author is listed, the brochure promotes the mistaken impression that it comes from city government. Yet asked about this presumptuousness by the church, Mayor Brian Aungst said merely, 'I don't know that it hurts anything. It's probably helpful, but we'll find out.' "Clearwater officials would do well to review the results of the Scientology survey and consider whether an informed and wary public would be comfortable seeing them hold hands with the Church of Scientology." Message-ID:

Lisa McPherson

The Palm Beach Post reported on June 11th that Scientology has withdrawn its request to move the breach of contract counterclaim in the Lisa McPherson case to another county. "In a letter to the judge on the breach-of-contract case, an attorney for the church wrote that since the court date was only four weeks away, the church would try for a fair jury panel there. The Scientologists previously argued that they could not continue in the Clearwater area because a survey conducted by the church had shown a bias in the area. "The church lawyers asked that the case be moved to Palm Beach or Broward county because the counties have demographics similar to Pinellas County. The church is involved in expansive litigation after a church member died while under psychiatric care at a church facility. The church member, Lisa McPherson, 36, a devout Scientologist from Clearwater, had a mental breakdown in 1995 and was taken to a church retreat facility, where she died 17 days later." Message-ID:

Tom Cruise

The Washington Post reported on June 15th that Scientology celebrity Tom Cruise visited U.S. Government officials in part to discuss issues important to Scientology. "Church of Scientology cause celeb Tom Cruise slipped into town this week for private meetings with senior Bush administration officials at the Department of Education and the White House. On Thursday, Education Secretary Rod Paige hosted a lunch for Cruise so the actor could gab with education officials in the secretary's dining room. 'He wanted to learn more about the president's 'no child left behind' program,' Education Undersecretary Eugene Hickok told us yesterday. Hickock added: 'We're willing to talk to anyone interested in the issue. I don't think I'm star-struck.' But we hear that on Friday at the White House, where Cruise lobbied officials on Scientology-related issues, there were plenty of young female staffers standing around, hoping to bump into him in the corridors of power." Message-ID:

Reed Slatkin reported on June 14th that an attorney for Scientology will be asking for a subpoena in the Reed Slatkin Ponzi scheme case to discover communications between creditors of the Slatkin estate and the Slatkinfraud creators. "Scientology lawyer Helena Kobrin, here acting as counsel for herself (independent from Scientology) and other Scientology investors, has filed a declaration revealing her intent to target members of the Creditors' Committee for subpoena. First on Kobrin's list is George Kriste. Among the monstrous laundry list of material she asks Kriste produce is a request for 'all documents which relate to communications you have had with any person who is involved in the Slatkinfraud web site, including, without limitation, David Touretzky, Kady O'Malley, and Scott Pilutik.' Kirkland & Ellis attorney Alex Pilmer replies in a letter that Kriste will only respond to the subpoena if ordered to by the court. If the court does allow the Kriste subpoena, Kobrin states plans for serving identical subpoenas to the rest of the Creditors' Committee." Message-ID:

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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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