The star treatment
"In November 2003, the Buffalo branch of the church moved into a renovated 19th century building north of the Theater District, heralding Buffalo's role as a Northeast hub of Scientology. In light of the global controversies and its growing presence in Western New York, The Buffalo News has examined church practices, looked at court records and interviewed more than 60 people, including Scientologists, attorneys, former members turned critics, medical professionals, city and county officials, and targets of Scientology lawsuits.
Among the criticisms, and what The News found:
Scientology can tear apart families. The Buffalo church pressures some of its members to sever contact from loved ones critical of Scientology.
It uses deceptive practices. Some of the Buffalo church's recruitment methods - such as a 'free personality test' - lack professional credibility.
The church seeks legitimacy through government alliances. The Buffalo church wooed city and Erie County officials in an attempt to escape its reputation as a cult. Mayor Anthony M. Masiello obliged by declaring 'Church of Scientology of Buffalo Day'; county jail officials joined church officials in trying to bring a Scientology-related drug program to Erie County Holding Center.
It practices intimidation and harassment. The Church of Scientology has a history of using lawsuits to silence critics, and private investigators to spy on them.
Spiritual pursuit is costly. Advancing personal spirituality within the Church of Scientology can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And, as seen with the Perkins family, the Buffalo church - known internally as the 'Buffalo org,' for 'organization' - opposes psychiatry.
Elli Perkins' devoted opposition may have proven fatal.
'Elli was adamant about not allowing psychotropic drugs,' said Dawn Pastva of Kenmore, a longtime friend of the family. 'She said it was against all the (Church of Scientology) tenets, and psychiatry was the equivalent of the devil.'
On the morning of March 13, 2003 - L. Ron Hubbard's birthday - Jeremy Perkins went into his family's kitchen, grabbed a 12-inch knife and hid it behind his back.
In his delusional state, he was suspicious of his parents' decision to send him that afternoon to live for a while with someone in the Southern Tier.
He thought the vitamin pills his mother wanted him to take were making him worse. And he believed his mother possessed an evil eye.
Elli Perkins, a Scientologist for more than 30 years, was talking on the telephone when Jeremy pushed her into a bedroom.
He stabbed her 77 times.
Perkins was arrested that morning and held without bond. A grand jury indicted him three months later on second-degree murder and weapons charges."
SPECIAL REPORT: CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
Being in, breaking out
By MARK SOMMER, News Staff Reporter, 1/31/2005
"Rich and Anne-Marie Dunning joined the Church of Scientology of Buffalo because they
wanted to help save the world.
Scientology presents an unwaveringly shiny, upbeat public image, reinforced through its literature, videos and public presentations. Elli Perkins' killing - coming just five months after the opening of the church's new building in Buffalo - threatened to puncture that image at a critical time.
After Jeremy stabbed his mother, the church began covering trails that could link Jeremy Perkins to Scientology, according to Dunning and her husband. 'This was a black eye they were afraid of,' said Rich Dunning, Anne-Marie's husband and the deputy executive director before the couple left Scientology in May 2003.
Proper care absent
If Scientology officials did their best to distance the church from Perkins, the judicial system put it in the public record. Court-ordered expert testimony during Jeremy Perkins' appearance in Erie County Court suggested his rejection of modern psychiatric care contributed to his worsened mental state and possibly the tragedy that followed. Jeremy Perkins was initially diagnosed as a 'chronic paranoid schizophrenic' in court-ordered psychiatric examinations and treated with psychiatric medicine.
'The onset of a schizophrenic illness was not dealt with in an appropriate manner,' psychologist Joseph Liebergall concluded in April 2003. 'It is unclear how long this illness has been active, but no definitive treatment has been afforded to this man.' Singh, the forensic psychiatrist, went further. He testified in court in January 2004 that, had Perkins been treated with proper psychiatric care, 'his mother would be alive today.'"
What Scientologists believe-and what critics say
Defending against its critics
"The Church of Scientology attacks outspoken ex-members, journalists, government officials and others it regards as threats. It has spent tens of millions of dollars on lawsuits and private investigators to do so, according to the St. Petersburg Times, which has long been at odds with the church.
And its tactics work.
Several former Scientologists, academicians and others contacted for this series declined to be interviewed, citing a fear of retaliation. The Church of Scientology claims it has to protect itself - and does so legally - because powerful enemies target it for destruction.
The church names among its enemies the U.S. government, including the FBI and IRS; the press; and the medical establishment. 'We're up against people who don't want us to succeed,' said Teresa Reger, president of the Buffalo church. 'There are people out there with vested interests in drugging people and keeping people down.'
The Cult Awareness Network was the nation's largest repository of information on cult-like organizations between 1978 and 1994. But Scientologists had long considered it a 'hate group' that practiced religious bigotry and illegal deprogrammings. So members filed 50 lawsuits against the network, according to Kisser, who was named in 15 of them. Defense costs for the anti-cult group were nearly $2 million."
So, how did you come to be interested or involved with Scientology?
Back in 1995, I was interested in Internet free speech issues, and I heard over a Usenet newsgroup -- it's sort of like a bulletin board on the Internet -- that Scientology was censoring messages that were posted to a discussion group dedicated to Scientology. So, I went over there to take a look. I didn't know anything about Scientology. My interest was in censorship. But when I started reading this Scientology discussion group, it was -- it's called alt.religion.scientology, or ARS for short. Just as I got there, a guy posted a court document called the Fishman Declaration, and he said you'd better get this document quickly, you'd better download this quickly, because the Scientologists are going to cancel my posting in a few hours. And that just didn't seem right to me, that other people could cancel this guy's posting, and stop the public at large from reading it.
"A couple of years ago we published an article on our pages called 'Anti-Christ targets Nizhny Novgorod,' from the Nizhegorodsky 'Novoe delo' newspaper of 10-16 August 2001 (http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/russia/021120.htm). The article talked about the connection between the Nizhegorodsky commercial-industrial company 'Zemlyan' ('Earthan') and the unfortunately well-known totalitarian sect of Scientology. What the newspaper wrote, though, was hardly stunning news. Zemlyan's Hubbardism and the risk of such a widespread sect in Nizhny Novogorod is not idle talk.
After that came a call from Zemlyan to our Center. First a lady who said she was a Zemlyan press secretary called me [Alexander Dvorkin] up and asked me to remove the above-mentioned article from the site. I answered that I didn't see why I should do this. She mentioned lawsuits, and I mentioned the right to cite any material if it is not refuted in a court order. Zemlyan could always go to the primary source of the material if they wanted that. The lady tried to convince me that the article was 'yellow' journalism, it was unfair and she had never heard anybody there was a Scientologist. I said in that case, everything was really very simple. All Zemlyan had to do was publish a statement saying it was not connected with Scientology and did not accept Hubbard's methods. The matter would be done with; I would remove the article from our site and publish Zemlyan's statement instead. After we went through this five times, the lady finally grasped that I wouldn't budge from! this position, and she listlessly promised to check with management and hung up.
Another call on this theme came in today, January 20, 2005. It was a man with a booming baritone. He said he was Konstantin Borisovich Barkov, employed in the Section to combat corruption and protect the constitution in the office of the RF President. Mr. Barkov said his boss was General Vladimir Konstantinovich Mamaev. He had called me twice that morning, and when I wasn't there the first time, left his name and number. He said he had already talked with Father Arseniy, the deputy of Patriarch Aleksei the Second (just like that), who had said, he reported, that 'Dvorkin was a normal man' and one 'could talk man-to-man' with him.
Mr. Barkov began his manly conversation by emphatically asking me why I was persecuting Zemlyan. I asked him what exactly did this persecution consist of. It turned out that the web page contained several links. Those links, according to my caller, needed to be removed immediately. 'We in the administration are interested in fighting corruption and oligarchs,' he added, 'but Zemlyan is a good company that puts a lot of money into government coffers. I myself know their competitors have come across this article. Hence the false accusation. The administration of the President is no less interested than you in ridding Russia of sects. You know that we would never stop your work. Cooperate. Say what we can do for you. Then take the article off your site.'
In answer to my question of how he could show that he really worked in the President's administration and what opinion this office had expressed on the matter, Barkov replied that he could send someone right over with credentials, and if that was not enough, then several top officials from the FSB could come over, and if that was still not enough, then all my work would cease and desist tomorrow.
'We talked with Volkov (a Nizhergorodsky expert on sects who was quoted in the Scientology-Zemlyan article) about fifteen minutes before you, and we paid him special attention,' said the self-proclaimed staff member of the President's office, 'and we are for democratic development of society and for the exchange of democratic values! And my management says to pass on to you that Zemlyan should be supported.'
I wondered out loud by what democratic route in civilization would a decision be made by pressuring someone over the telephone, as opposed to a court of law? Then I basically repeated everything to him I had told the Zemlyan press secretary. To this Barkov first said that he didn't know who the 'Earthan' was, but just said his management didn't think the Earthans would publicly renounce Scientology. I used his previous words to comment that if the administration of the President was interested in ridding Russia of totalitarian sects, then it needed to keep the image of its favored financial-industrial groups clean.
Barkov blurted out, 'And what would be so bad if Zemlyan does use some of the methods of Scientology in its operation? Why is that not allowed?'
Then everything finally became clear. I repeated the official line, but Barkov, who had already lost his temper, said that this conversation was over and that they would be paying special attention to me, and that I would be very sorry for not listening to him. Right after this I called an acquaintance of mine in the administration of the President -- whose roster contains neither the names Barkov nor Mamaev. Nor does the department have 'sections' (it's 'departments').
I called Barkov back at the number he gave me and asked him why he had been talking nonsense to me, why he had to do that. 'You are just an ordinary Scientologist, 'I concluded. 'Ah, Alexander Leonidovich,' he sighed, 'you really know how to get to a guy,' and hung up.
Professor A.L. Dvorkin
P.S. We had just published this material when our Yaroslav colleage, Evgeniy Mukhtarov, sent us the following: There was only one General Mamaev in the last fifty years. Major-general, to be exact. Back then he was in charge of the press and information section of the DOSAAF (Army, Navy & Air Force volunteer drivers and pilots training association) when Pokryshkin was the chairman. There are no other Mamaevs that were generals. But Konstantin Borisovich Barkov came to light in the 'Vedomosti' newspaper readers club forum. He used the nickname 'barkas,' and the place of work indicated was the Zemlyan company. (see http://www.vedomosti.ru/vedusers/index.shtml?alpha/193/23)
From this it's clear that Zemlyan engages in forgery and threats. They are capable of forgery and more in forcing a person to be silent instead of speaking the truth. Well Scientologists are the same all over, in Africa, too. Everywhere they accept and use one and the same method. And we know them well."
The site includes court files, an article archive, a section on Scientology osteopath Dr. Conrad G. Maulfair, Jr., a copy of Jeremy's 'I am a Scientologist' web page, and a timeline of Scientology's attempt to cover up its connection to Elli Perkins' death."
"Here's a new web site on Scientology's activities in Buffalo:"
Chuck Beatty story:
Jolly West's tape:
For Tsunami Survivors, A Touch of Scientology
By Peter S. Goodman, Washington Post Foreign Service,
Friday, January 28, 2005
Meyers is healing the survivors, he says, employing the techniques he has learned from Scientology. More precisely, he is helping them heal themselves, eradicating pain waves and allowing energy waves to flow, clearing pathways for nerves to run errands of anatomical necessity, liberating the spirit to align with the body as described in the confident prose of the late L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology and the applied practices known as Dianetics. ..."
The following are excerpts from Scientology newsletters concerning
"Asian disaster relief" and "Scientology volunteer ministers":
13 January 2005
"There are many dead in the villages but the survivors are poor and not particularly socially prominent people, so, while sympathetic, the population at large seems quite indifferent and more focused on getting on with life in normal ways. We have delivered over 1000 assists and trained several hundred to give them themselves. We include in our team the 28 Tibetan Buddhist monks. Seeing one of the Dalai Lama's monks in long maroon robes and a bright yellow VM shirt delivering an assist to a fisherman is quite something."
22 January 2005
"Wherever we go with our two buses people wave at us. When we get to the shelters at least 100 children come running and screaming, happy to see us. They all want to shake our hands and say hello. They always ask our names and for me it's the first time someone can actually remember my name _ in fact the Indians say it's a sweet name. Once we've greeted the children we line up our chairs in a circle and people queue up for the assists or treatments. The results are fantastic and it's very moving when the person you helped hugs you with tears in their eyes. [...]"
"Members of Churches of Scientology were among leaders of different faiths who joined the largest group of rabbis and other Jewish delegates to be granted audience by the Pope."
Nothing posted as to what extent the Scientologists represented themselves as Scientologists.
A.r.s. Week in Review is put together for your benefit.
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.