Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review Volume 1, Issue 39 01/26/97 by Rod Keller [firstname.lastname@example.org] copyright 1997
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 the articles. Many include an excerpt, and all include message IDs for the articles I cover. This may or may not be useful to you, 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 email@example.com It is archived at: http://wpxx02.toxi.uni-wuerzburg.de/~krasel/CoS/ars-summary.html http://user1.i1.net/~mallen/scn/arswr/ars-summary.html http://users.aimnet.com/~jdiver/scieno.htm http://www.thur.de/religio/publik/arsfaq.html #####
The Scientology funded attack on Dennis Erlich in family court ended this
week, with a ruling from Judge Clements.
"After 30 minutes of lies and vile accusation against YHN from the scieno-paid slime lawyer for my venomous ex-wife, Rosa, attempting to blow smoke at the the court about how bad I was, the judge dismissed the charges and denied to motion to throw me in jail for 40 days for failing to abide by court orders.
"He said that I had made all my required child support payments in a timely manner and that there was no cause whatsoever for the action the lawyer requested. Slimeberg, the scieno-paid attorney, asked the judge if the ruling was 'with prejudice' (meaning can he present the same charges again). [T]he judge said 'yes'. The ruling is 'with prejudice', meaning it cannot be relitigated. A done deal."
The Associated Press reported this week that France is supporting Germany
in its dispute with Scientology and the letter signed by Hollywood
celebrities, which compared modern Germany to the historical Nazi party.
"'I share the apprehension of the Germans regarding these sects,' said Herve de Charette, the French foreign minister. De Charette joined his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, in denouncing an advertisement signed by Hollywood celebrities that likened German treatment of Scientologists to the Nazi persecution of Jews.
"'This letter is an insult to the victims of National Socialism,' Kinkel said. 'It is nonsense. This is not a religion,' Kinkel said. 'It is a sect that is trying to get money from people.'" Bavaria announced a new web site, designed to publicize their efforts against Scientology.
"The information, presented today by Interior State Secretary Regensburger, will be available at the internet address http://www.bayern.de/STMI/Scientology. It will provide detailed information to counter the infamous ad campaign of the Scientologists in the USA.
"The English version is here: http://www.bayern.de/STMI/Scientology/welcomeE.htm
Frank Rick of The New York Times wrote a column on the issue of the celebrities letter.
"Why have so many Hollywood names, none of them Scientologists and many of them Jewish, invoked the Nazis on behalf of Scientology? At least half of the 34 signatories have past or present professional ties to Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology's most famous recruits. Others may be along just for the ride, but still others, as one producer put it, 'would like to be making a movie with Tom Cruise or John Travolta as soon as possible.'
"What makes the ad even more frivolous is that it studiously ignores the controversy over Scientology itself -- which is at least as heated as the controversy over Germany's treatment of Scientologists. Flo Conway's and Jim Siegelman's book 'Snapping' and a 1991 Time cover story have most recently raised serious questions about this church, with Time arguing it is 'a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner.'
"But were any of the letter's signatories to actually look into complaints against Scientology, they might risk forgoing business with two of the industry's most bankable stars. That would require a courage that in Hollywood is far harder to come by than 56,000 bucks."
And finally, Reuters reported that Scientology has filed a complaint against Germany with the European Commission of Human Rights.
"In a statement from its Los Angeles headquarters, the Church of Scientology International said the application directly to the European Commission in Strasbourg was unprecedented in that the church was bypassing German courts. 'Scientologists in Germany continue to suffer systematic discrimination simply due to their religious beliefs,' said Rev. Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International. 'Athletes, artists, teachers, musicians, dancers -- indeed Scientologists in any profession -- know that they risk losing their job, their business or other rights and entitlements if their religion is known.'
"Jentzsch said that although more than 36 German courts have held that Scientology is a religion entitled to constitutional protection, 'the German government refuses to abide by its own laws and ignores its own courts, making a direct application to the Commission necessary.'"
A Greek court this week ordered Scientology to close its doors in that
country, as reported by Agence France Presse. The decision is on hold
pending an appeal.
"Scientologists came under more fire Monday when a court ordered the closure of the Greek branch of the cult church, an informed judicial source said Monday. The lower court which took the decision said the church's 'primary objective' was finding members 'it could brainwash to create beings with no will of their own.'
"'This organisation insults the very essence of man, forcing its members to modify their personalities and behaviour,' the tribunal's judgment continued. The Greek decision follows a trial last October 7 after a complaint from the prefect of Athens, backed by the Orthodox Greek church, accusing KEPHE (Centre of Applied Philosophy, as the church is known here) 'of becoming a centre of proselytizing'.
"The Greek branch of the Scientology Church on Tuesday lodged an appeal against a ruling by an Athens court ordering it to be shut down. The appeal will allow the church to continue its activities in Greece, pending the decision of the appeals court, the sources said."
Scientology issued this press release concerning the events in Greece.
"In a statement issued today from the Church of Scientology International, President Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch vowed that the Church 'will persist until we bring Greece out of its Third World status as far as religious freedom is concerned, and into compliance with international human rights standards.
"'We will forge a path to religious freedom on this continent which until now has only seen hundreds of million dead as a result of religious conflicts and strife.'"
>From the court's verdict:
"The policy of 'Dead Agenting' is activated against anything negative for Scientology, which means corroding reputation and attacking to bend reactions. Anyone leaving the Association is facing its persistent calls to return as is the case of Stylianos Mystakidis, on the other hand are characterized as 'enemies', being in a 'state of treason'.
"The Association approaches the candidate member in order to join it without objections, because individuals - such as Markos Kapiris and Anthony Bosnakoudis - who expressed doubts and questions for the Association's activity, were driven out as unwanted, the latter because of his journalist identity. It promises jobs and solution of problems. Then the members sign contracts for working without pay or insurance for five years, some of them are sent abroad (especially Denmark) for further training.
"Questions are asked for the explicitly personal life of the individual and his/her close environment and files are kept for these data, which the individual cannot see, because KEPHE claims this may have negative impact for his/her progress."
Tilman Hausherr reported this week that Scientology is now suing the
Russian Orthodox Church.
"Scientology has joined a lawsuit against the Department of Religious Education of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, which runs the St. Ireneus of Lyon Information and Consultation Center.
"Prof. Dvorkin had published a book '10 questions to an obtrusive stranger. Or a handbook for those who do not want to be recruited into a destructive cult'. (It is partly based on a segment of Steve Hassan's book) The book did not name any cults, but some sued anyway: a Krishna, a scientologist, and a group of scientologists.
"Scientologist Titovchenko states a financial claim: he introduces himself as a staff worker, and says that the book caused a worsening of his relation to his former wife (!), with a close friend, other friends and acquaintances. Titovchenko values his 'moral harm' at $10,000.
"Scientology seems to credit Dvorkin for persuading the health minister to stop scientology fraudulent medical programmes in public medicine. Moxon and Bartilson have already started an investigation of Dvorkin's friends in the US, where he lived for some time."
Europe appears to be uniting against Scientology. This week Agence France
Presse reported that a Milan court sentenced 29 Scientologists to serve
jail time for "criminal association", perhaps the Italian equivalent of
"A Milan appeal court has sentenced 29 members of the Church of Scientology to between nine and 20 months' jail for criminal association, the Corriere della Serra reported Saturday. It said the ruling was handed down on December 2 after an appeal by Milan prosecutors against the acquittal of 67 of 74 Scientologists six years ago.
"The remaining seven then were given light sentences for ill-treatment of people regarded as mentally weak, but they all were acquitted of tax evasion charges even though the Church refuses to pay taxes. In December's court ruling, the stiffest penalty of 20 months was given to Gabriele Segalla, who is considered to have brought Scientology to Italy."
Inside Edition/Card Copy
The US TV tabloid shows Inside Edition and Hard Copy aired stories on
January 21st concerning the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson. A
transcript of the Inside Edition show was prepared by anonymous poster
"Xmudder". Some excerpts:
"Hostess (Deborah Norville): Scientology: some people call it a cult, while millions around the world, including some top Hollywood stars, call it a life focusing religion. It's even been granted tax exempt religious status. But since its inception, it been surrounded by controversy. One of the biggest is how it views and treats members with emotional or mental problems. Matt Hall reports about a young women who had devoted her life to the Church, and her family is now wondering if that cost her her life.
"Matt Hall: Lisa was taken to a Clearwater hospital after a minor traffic accident. According to hospital records we obtained from her family, Lisa told EMS workers at the scene 'she needed to talk' and that 'she took her clothes off to make people think she was crazy'. But soon after she was taken to the Emergency room, some members of the church of Scientology arrived. The records indicate they told the doctor they didn't want her to see a psych, and that 'they would be able to handle her themselves'.
"After Lisa signed herself out of the hospital, she didn't go back to her apartment. She came here to the old Ft. Harrison hotel the Churches spiritual headquarters in Downtown Clearwater. Church officials say Lisa requested to come here for rest and relaxation. But 17 days later, with bruises and abrasions on her arms and legs, and having lost a great deal of weight, Lisa was taken to another hospital - this time she was dead on arrival.
"Matt Hall: The autopsy, given to us by Lisa's family, says she died of a blood clot in her heart, but look at the cause of the clot: 'bed rest and severe dehydration.' ME, Dr. Joan Wood: This is the most severe case of Dehydration I've even seen. Matt: 5 days you think she went w/o liquid? ME: I think 5-10 is reasonable, it may have been 17. Matt: What could possibly explain that? ME: Umm, I think there's several possibilities. The first is that she refused to eat or drink, perhaps she was deprived of food and water, because if you've even been thirsty, you know how powerful that thirst drive is.
"Matt Hall: While Scientologists don't believe in Psychiatric care, they do have their own methods for dealing with members who are having what they call 'Psychotic Breaks'. Their teaching call for isolating members who they believe are a danger to themselves or others.
"Matt Hall: Abelson says Lisa became physically ill very suddenly, and it wasn't until the last 24 hours of her life that the people around her had reason to be alarmed. Abelson: She lost a lot of fluids at that time. There certainly wasn't enough of a weight loss for anyone to suggest she be taken to the hospital earlier than the last 24 hours. Matt: You don't deteriorate the way Lisa McPherson did in a day or two? ME: No. Absolutely not.
"ME: I've spent some time in court, as you can imagine, and so I am very careful with my wording. And my wording would be this: from the time that Lisa McPherson died, backwards 24-48 hours, she was unconscious. Matt: Comatose, Unconscious? ME: Yes Matt: She didn't sit around that day and decide whether or not she was gonna to go to the doctor. ME: Absolutely not.
"Matt: Dr. Wood says she can't explain the cuts and bruises on Lisa's body, they may have been from falls before she was comatose. Abelson maintains the Staph infection could have caused the bruises. The autopsy also refers to insect bites on Lisa's body. Abelson: I can't explain the insect bites, other than there were a lot of people probably coming in and out of the room, and there's a lot of mosquitoes in Florida. So that's how that happened. ME: No, they are not mosquito bites. They appear to me to be cockroach bites. Matt: How could Lisa McPherson sit there and let cockroaches bite her while she's laying on a bed? ME: If she's comatose, it can happen and she doesn't know it and doesn't react to it."
Lunch With Jeff
Jeff Jacobsen reported having lunch with two Scientologists this week, who
tried to persuade him to take down the Lisa McPherson web page and to stop
the upcoming picket in Clearwater to protest her death.
"To sum up, it seemed that they basically wanted a few things from me; 1) don't mention the OT stuff next time I'm interviewed, 2) tone down my web page, 3) dump the Lisa McPherson page, and 4) stop organizing pickets of the church.
"#4 was the most interesting to me. They tried to imply that my calls to picket are dangerous because unstable people might join the picket and shoot someone or do something harmful. Their proof of this theory was a big stack of a.r.s. posts from names I don't recall saying things like 'bring a gun to your local picket and shoot up the place', and 'henri's' post stating 'bomb your local Church of Scientology.' I protested that there could be nuts on both sides and that us picketers are in just as much danger from crazy people as the Scientologists. I also reminded them that my demonstration page (http://www.primenet.com/~cultxpt/demo.htm) has *always* promoted a peaceful, non-violent picket,and I even quote Gandhi and Vaclav Havel. But they didn't seem moved by these arguments.
"The worst part of the lunch was at the end, when the LA person began to apparently run the security check drill on me. She had previously accused me of being a liar, and now she asked me if I'd ever bombed a building. I said no. She asked if I had ever murdered someone. I grabbed my notebook and left. She followed me out trying to engage me in more conversation, which I refused to do."
The Clearwater demonstration has been moved up one week, Jeff reported.
"Due to certain circumstances, the picket in Clearwater has been moved from March 15 to March 8. You can read about it at http://www.primenet.com/~cultxpt/demo.htm Any questions, or if you plan to attend, please email me."
The St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune both ran stories this week
following the Inside Edition broadcast. From the Times:
"Laboratory tests indicate a 36-year-old member of the Church of $cientology went without fluids for five to 10 days and was unconscious for up to two days before her unexplained death in 1995. Those conclusions by Joan Wood, the Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner, are at odds with the Church of $cientology's version of how Lisa McPherson died after spending 17 days in the organization's downtown Clearwater retreat.
"$cientology officials say McPherson, who had no medical problems when she entered the Fort Harrison Hotel, 'suddenly took ill' and was taken in a church van to a New Port Richey hospital more than 20 miles away so she could see a $cientologist doctor. They say she was given food and liquids and participated in discussions about where she should be taken for treatment. They say she was conscious when she was carried to the van and could have walked if necessary. They believe a severe staph infection was a major contributor to the blood clot that caused her death.
"However, Wood said Wednesday that McPherson's health declined slowly over several days and was far from sudden. She said it's 'impossible' that a staph infection led to McPherson's death.
"Her disclosures to the Times and to the television news magazine Inside Edition infuriated Elliot J. Abelson, a Los Angeles lawyer who represents $cientology. The church has its spiritual headquarters in Clearwater. In a phone interview Wednesday from Los Angeles, Abelson said of Wood: 'Liar. Liar. Liar. Liar. Liar. Hateful liar. That's what she is.'"
>From the Tribune:
"Wood said Wednesday the insect bites found on McPherson's body after her death were most likely from cockroaches. In addition, Wood said McPherson was comatose for the last 24 to 48 hours of her life. Scientology attorney Elliot Abelson Wednesday said none of that is true and called Wood a liar.
"Clearwater police say McPherson's death is suspicious. As part of their investigation, they are seeking three former Scientology staff members for questioning. All three have left the country. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office are assisting in the investigation.
"Abelson has said the Clearwater police investigation is a continuation of a long campaign of harassment against the church. A church publication also has said news media reports about the McPherson case have been 'fabricated.' Abelson said Wood made up all of the medical evidence. 'Dr. Wood is a liar, she's a liar, she's a liar, she's a hateful liar,' Abelson said. Abelson said medical experts whom he refused to identify said roaches don't bite humans. He could not offer an alternative explanation for the bites."
The Times also ran an editorial.
"The Church of Scientology is its own worst enemy. It spends considerable effort renovating its Clearwater properties, sponsoring holiday festivals and pleading to be accepted in the community it secretly invaded two decades ago. Then it resorts to intimidation and pretends to be above the law when serious questions are raised about the death of one of its members. Those old habits undercut the more recent efforts toward community acceptance.
"When Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Joan Wood publicly discussed her office's findings, a lawyer for the Church of Scientology called her a 'hateful liar.' That does not sound like an organization eager to help find the truth.
"Scientology officials intimidated McPherson's relatives by showing up at her funeral in Texas and insisting she wanted her body to be cremated. They accused Clearwater police of harassment. They sent a private investigator to the home of the former associate medical examiner who performed the autopsy. And they lashed out against Wood, a 22-year veteran respected by prosecutors and defense attorneys.
"This is not the appropriate response from an organization that wants to be welcomed into the community. The Church of Scientology is not above the law. Their bullying tactics should not deter law enforcement officials from finding out what really happened to Lisa McPherson."
Geoff Burling reported on the developments in the Jairus Godeka case in
"While getting ready for work, I heard on the local portion of 'Morning Edition' that Jairus Godeka has been declared mentally incompetent to participate in his own defense, & was confined to the psych ward at Oregon Health Sciences University, the local teaching college.
"For those of you who do not know who Godeka is (or what his relationship is to the CoS), he was the gunman who attacked the CoS offices on SW Salmon street, shooting 3 people, 2 of whom went to the hospital."
Tony McClelland reported that an unannounced protest in Sydney, Australia
was held this week.
"A protest was held near the Castlereagh Street Org yesterday 25/1/97. During the previous protest, one Scientologist was giving Zed a hard time with a tape recorder positioned within inches of his face for a considerable time period. I asked the member to please allow us 30 seconds for a discussion. The member laughed at us. I advised that if we were not given 30 seconds, I would return soon for a 'special'. I did.
"Stewart Riley from Brisbane joined me. We handed out 500 leaflets in 2 hours which pleased us because it was raining after the first hour.
"Michael and others advised me that they did not care how often I protest in the street because the number of tests they did (sold) increased when I was protesting. Their aggressive attitude towards our presence did not support their claim. I suggested that if I was so good for their business they may wish to consider paying me to protest, they declined."
Jens Tingleff reported that the European edition of Time magazine includes
an article on cults in Europe.
"$cientology features very heavily, with descriptions of the French Parliamentary report and the Lyon trial, the various German initiatives, the case in Norway where Magne Berge had $95,000 awarded to him, and the French initiative to educate young people by engaging 6,500 ministry employees with informing about cults.
"The US situation is touched on, with a discussion of the State Department's attitude towards the German initiatives (including a discussion of the infamous letter to Herr Kohl). Various anti- and not so anti-cult organisations are discussed. For the US, the AFF is mentioned, with comments from Michael Langone; CAN (of course) with some mentioning of the new turn of events; Johs Aagaard of the Dialog Center International is quoted; the German Campaign for Intellectual and Psychic Freedom discusses calls for consumer protection; a London group called 'Triumphing Over London Cults' and Inform.
"Another whole page is 'viewpoint' by Josef Joffe, about the comparison between Nazi Germany and the treatment by present-day Germany of $cientologists. His conclusion is that while the treatment of $cientologists is in no way comparable to that of Jews in the 30s, the state should stay out of matters of belief and let the courts handle the cases where movements break the existing rules.
"The standpoint taken is very studiously neutral (with Mike Rinder getting to do his spiel about French religious prosecution)."
The "new" Cult Awareness Network (which is Scientology) has created a
propaganda web site at http://www.barepower.net/~suzy/cani1/index.html.
"Suzy Jones" is maintaining the site from the Scientology domain,
evidenced by this look-up. The site is filled with dead agent attacks
against members of CAN and other opponents of Scientology.
"$ finger firstname.lastname@example.org [bolt.BarePower.net] Login: can Name: Suzy Jones Directory: /home/can Shell: /bin/tcsh Last login Tue Jan 14 07:44 (PST) on ttyp0 from ns2.scientology No mail. No Plan.
"$ whois 'scientology.org' Church of Scientology International (SCIENTOLOGY-DOM) 6331 Hollywood Blvd., Suite #1200 Los Angeles, CA 90028 US Domain Name: SCIENTOLOGY.ORG"
Ron Newman posted a portion of a newsletter from the new CAN, which includes a list of people they use as "References for Further Information On New Religions."
"Robert D. Hicks Criminal Justice Analyst Law Enforcement Section Department of Criminal Justice Services 805 E. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219
"Lee Boothby of Americans United for Separation of Church and State Marvin Bordelon of American Conference on Religious Movements Dr. Isaac Brooks Jr. of National Task Force on Religious Freedom, Legislation and Litigation Dr. David Bromley of Virginia Commonwealth University Dr. William Cenkner of Catholic University of America Dr. Edward Gaffney of Valparaiso School of Law Rev. Dean Kelley of National Council of Churches (retired) Dr. Lonnie Kliever of Southern Methodist University Dr. James Lewis of Association of World Academics for Religious Education Dr. Hubert G. Locke of University of Washington Dr. Franklin Littell, Religious Affairs Consultant Dr. Newton Maloney, Fuller Theological Seminary Dr. J. Gordon Melton, Institute for the Study of American Religions"
Scientology-affiliated Internet provider Earthlink completed an initial
public offering of its stock on the NASDAQ market. Their ticker symbol is
ELNK. From a Business Wire report:
"EarthLink Network is offering 2 million shares of its common stock. The initial public offering price is $13 per share. Invemed Associates Inc. is the underwriter of the offering. EarthLink Network couples reliable and easy-to-use Internet access with content-rich services and engaging products to deliver an informative and entertaining Internet experience. With headquarters in Pasadena, the company provides local access to hundreds of cities from more than 356 points of presence (POPs) in the United States and Canada."
Earthlink also announced a "Guardian Angel" program, somewhat reminiscent of Scientology fund-raising efforts.
"EarthLink created the Guardian Angel program in response to a survey of usage patterns which revealed that a group of EarthLink customers (members) were not using their Internet accounts to potential or appeared to be having difficulty logging on. 'EarthLink has always been dedicated to providing superior customer support, and we're now expanding on this strategy by redefining customer support,' said Jon Irwin, vice president of customer service of EarthLink Network. 'The Guardian Angel program is just one of many value-added services that distinguish EarthLink as a leading Internet access provider.'
"Each day, EarthLink's 'Guardian Angels' (a dedicated group of technical support representatives) proactively contact EarthLink members who are not accessing their accounts or appear to be having difficulty logging on. The Guardian Angels have found that many of these members experience a lack of understanding of the Internet or encounter technical difficulties."