Television show 60 Minutes aired a piece on the demise of the Cult Awareness Network due to Scientology this week. James Cherry provided a transcript. Some excerpts:
"LESLEY STAHL: There was a time, if you were worried about your son or daughter being in a cult, you could get help from a small, nonprofit organization called the Cult Awareness Network, or CAN, for twenty years the nation's best-known resource for information and advice about groups it considered dangerous. Among them was Scientology, a church not known for turning the other cheek. And while Scientology did attack its enemies in the past, Church officials say they don't do that any more. But recently, the Cult Awareness Network was forced into bankruptcy, and its leaders blame the Church of Scientology.
"MOXON: I don't know if she's a topless dancer or not.
"STAHL: Did you tell our producer that you didn't believe that was true?
"MOXON: I told your producer that I thought, looking at Cynthia Kisser, it seemed improbable that she could have been a topless dancer because of the way she looks.
"STAHL: Yet despite his own view and the evidence from Investigator Shomers, Moxon, also a minister in the Church, persisted in bringing it up.
"MOXON: I mean, we've got a declaration already indicating that she had been a topless dancer.
"STAHL: I can't believe you're continuing to talk about her being a topless dancer!
"STAHL: Were you a topless dancer?
"KISSER: No, and later the person that they claimed told them that retracted it...issued a retraction saying that it wasn't true.
"KISSER: I got hit with twelve suits in one week! I would open the door, a process server would give me a suit. They were suing us all over the country, sometimes simultaneously.
"STAHL: In all, CAN was hit with more than fifty lawsuits. Even though most of the suits were eventually dropped or won by CAN, she says the cost of defending them, nearly two million dollars, drove CAN to the brink of bankruptcy.
"JENTZSCH: I would say that the individuals who were involved definitely wanted to do something about CAN. What are you going to do when they're trying to destroy you? Look, if you're a Jew, no Jew is going to cry about the fact that the Nazi party is gone. If you're an African American, no one is going to cry that the KKK is gone. I'm not crying because CAN is gone, OK? They were a vicious group --
"STAHL: My question is, would you concede that at least part of what happened with those lawsuits was a deliberate attempt to harass and intimidate them into silence?
"JENTZSCH: No, absolutely not --
"STAHL: Well, you're not going to make us believe that there were these thirty or fifty lawsuits that all sprang up, you know, just... serendipitously.
"MOXON: They didn't spring up serendipitously. A number of Scientologists came to our firm and said, 'I'm being discriminated against by CAN.' We have these complaints in the computer.
"We deny the Church's accusation that we have a conflict of interest in this story, because producer Richard Bonin has an aunt who's a lawyer involved in litigation against the Church. Though that's true, our producer's aunt Leta had nothing to do with our story."
Mark Dallara reported that participants in a marathon in Clearwater were surprised to find themselves sworn in to a Scientology front group.
"[T]he 'Say No To Drugs Holiday Classic', the marathon sponsored by, among others, the Dianetics Running Team ($cientology PR front) and AMC Publishing ($cientologist-owned company). At the post race party, triathelete Mark Allen was sworn in as a Drug-Free Marshall. And once he was, he prepared to swear in the *REST* of the runners as Drug-Free Marshals. At which point, a number of the race participants, realizing that they had wandered into the twilight zone, promptly walked out."
Clearwater officials are considering a land swap with Scientology to build a new City Hall, according to an article in the St. Petersburg Times.
"City officials are considering building a new City Hall and a main library across from each other at the intersection of Cleveland Street and Myrtle Avenue. The proposal calls for the two buildings to face Cleveland Street, separated by a well-landscaped, decorative traffic circle. Scientology spokesman Brian Anderson said church officials have previously talked to the city about the former Travelodge building, but no decision has been made about selling or trading the property.
"The church bought the building, now called the Mariner, last summer for $475,000. Church officials said they plan to renovate the building at 711 Cleveland St. and use it to house visiting members. Soon after Roberto started work in June, he said church officials asked him whether the city would be willing to swap land with the church. Scientology officials have expressed interest in acquiring a city alley on Court Street near the American Red Cross and a small parking lot at the corner of Franklin Street and East Avenue."
"NoScieno" transcribed a story on the tabloid news show Extra about the death of Lisa McPherson. Some excerpts:
"It's a two-year-old mystery that may unlock the secrets of the Church of Scientology. One minute Lisa McPherson was a healthy 36-year-old woman whose love of country dancing was eclipsed only by her love for her church. But the next minute she was dead. The bizarre circumstances of her death have protesters and Lisa's own aunt blaming the church.
"Kurt Weiland, interview: 'What they are trying to do here is extort 80 million dollars from the church, through this lawsuit. And that means that they will tell 80 million lies if that's what it takes to get to the point of payoff.'
"Dell say that's not true She simply wants to avenge her niece's death, and leave people with a message.
"Jackson: 'What would you tell anybody that has a family member who's suddenly become involved with Scientology?'
"Leibrich: 'I say: get out, get out. You don't know what you're getting into.'"
Mark Dallara posted a summary of the recent Clearwater edition of Scientology's Freedom magazine.
"More than a year after Lisa McPherson's death, and flanking the St. Petersburg Times' inflammatory coverage, Tampa personal injury attorney Kennan Dandar 'approached the family,' soliciting them to sue the Church of Scientology, according to McPherson's aunt Dell Liebreich - undoubtedly promising mutual financial gain.
"Those few who came for 'protests' in Clearwater were a collection of wife beaters and child molesters whose real intention was to instigate violence and create incidents which could then be capitalized upon by Chief Klein and the Times."
The secret agreement signed by Scientology and the Internal Revenue Service in 1993 was made public this week by the Wall Street Journal.
"The Church of Scientology paid the federal government $12.5 million as part of a broad 1993 settlement with the Internal Revenue Service under which the church's main branch secured its tax-exempt status. According to a copy of the settlement, details of which have never before been made public, the church also agreed to set up a special 'church tax-compliance committee,' composed of high-level church officials, to monitor its adherence to the pact and to laws governing nonprofit organizations.
"Further, the church agreed to drop thousands of lawsuits filed against the IRS in courts around the country and to stop assisting people or groups suing the agency based upon claims prior to Oct. 1, 1993, the settlement date. Any Scientology member or organization that sues based on those claims could face IRS penalties.
"The IRS canceled the payroll taxes and penalties it had assessed against certain church entities and seven church officials, including church leader David Miscavige. (The pact doesn't specify the amount of these bills). It also dropped liens and levies it had filed against these entities and officials for these bills. The church tax-compliance committee was required to give the IRS annual reports for 1993 through 1995 disclosing how much the church paid its 20 top-compensated officials, as well as the finances of 23 member churches, businesses and organizations. Failure to file the reports could result in penalties of as much as $75,000 for each committee member.
"The IRS can impose as much as $50 million in penalties on certain church entities if the IRS finds that they repeatedly spend church funds on noncharitable purposes, including enriching themselves. The penalties would be in effect through 1999. The IRS dropped its audits of 13 Scientology organizations, including the mother church, the Church of Scientology International, and agreed not to audit the church for any year prior to 1993. The IRS also dropped litigation to enforce summonses for church records. Regulating the activities of churches has long been a prickly area for the IRS."
From The New York Times:
"The agreement, which was signed on Oct. 1, 1993, represented a sharp reversal for the tax agency. For 25 years, the agency had refused to provide Scientology with the blanket tax exemption accorded bona fide churches. The agency had contended that Scientology operated as a for-profit business that enriched some church officials. In response, the church had mounted an aggressive campaign against the revenue service and individual agency officials. In a campaign first described last March in The New York Times, private detectives dug into the backgrounds of agency personnel and the church helped finance an organization of agency whistle-blowers.
"The newly disclosed details of the agreement show that the church agreed to more federal government intrusion than perhaps any religious organization has ever allowed. Rathbun, a senior Scientology official and member of the oversight committee, said the church was willing to accept the monitoring because it had nothing to hide. 'When you are as pure as the driven snow, it doesn't mean anything,' Rathbun said of the oversight. 'We're doing what we have always done, and that is operating for religious and charitable purposes.'"
From Tax Notes Today, a publication of Tax Analysts, who have been suing the IRS for release of the document.
"Mark Rathbun, director of the church's Religious Technology Center, was angry that the agreement had been disclosed, arguing that the document's release constitutes a felony. 'How would you feel if your tax returns were spread about without your authorization?' he remarked in a conversation with Tax Analysts.
"Lehrfeld said he finds it interesting that the payment apparently was not paid in relation to any one tax. 'The Service apparently thinks it has authority just by the mere power to execute a closing agreement to assert a dollar sum as the equivalent of a fine or cost without regard to whether it is a tax, a penalty, or an interest payment,' he told Tax Analysts. 'The implications are enormous.'
"Lehrfeld also said the settlement appears to give exempt organizations little leeway to comply with tax law. 'The conditions and limitations that are in this agreement reach so far over the horizon that they have the effect of a binding contract that removes any discretion as to the leeway allowed to an exempt organization to comply in its own judgment with the law as their lawyers read the law,' Lehrfeld said. 'They've got some conditions in there that are extraordinary.'"
The IRS has begun an investigation into the disclosure of the agreement. From the New York Times:
"The Internal Revenue Service indicated Wednesday that it would open an investigation into the disclosure of the confidential closing agreement that granted tax-exempt status to the Church of Scientology. The agency did not formally announce an investigation, but the statement said disclosure of confidential tax information was investigated by its Office of the Chief Inspector.
"Frank Keith, a spokesman for the revenue service, said the agency would not confirm that the document was genuine. Keith also declined to say whether an inquiry had been started. But he said the agency would regard the release of confidential taxpayer information as a serious matter and would seek an investigation. The unauthorized disclosure could be a felony, he said. A former senior official at the agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the disclosure would certainly be investigated and that the press statement was a means of signaling the inquiry."
The document released is an IRS Form 906, and is at least 50 pages long.
"WHEREAS, the Church of Scientology and its constituent entities (the 'Church') and the Internal Revenue Service (the 'Service') have a long history of controversy spanning over 30 years;
"WHEREAS, the Church has pending with the Service applications on Form 1023 requesting that the Service recognize certain constituent entities within the Church as exempt from income taxation pursuant to section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Service Code, as exclusively charitable organizations described in section 501 (c) (3) of the Code;
"WHEREAS, the Church signatories and individual Scientologists have initiated, supported and/or otherwise participated in litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the Service to disclose information withheld by the Service in response to FOIA requests about its treatment of Scientologists and Churches of Scientology (hereinafter 'FOIA litigation');
"The parties have entered into this Agreement in order to put the past controversy behind them, to extinguish all potential claims and liabilities arising as a result of action or inaction prior to the date of this Agreement and to structure their relationship into the future. While complex, there are certain basic principles underlying the Agreement that will aid in its comprehension.
"First, under section II of the Agreement the Church will make a single payment that is intended to extinguish any potential tax liability that may be due and unpaid by any Scientology-related entity for all tax years up to and including the tax year ending in 1992. Thus, as of December 31, 1992, the Church will be current with respect to all income, employment and estate tax liability.
"Second, under section II of the Agreement, the Church and the Service will withdraw from virtually all existing controversy, including ongoing examinations of Church entities, ongoing litigation by the Service to enforce summonses for Church records, and all litigation by the Church against the Service and its current or former personnel. In addition, because the parties intend that the relationship between them begin anew, and in light of the other provisions contained in this Agreement, including the payment with respect to potential past tax liability, the Service and the Church agree under this section II of the Agreement that the Service will not examine the Church for any year ending prior to January 1, 1993. Similarly, no Scientology-related entity may initiate or support any legal action against the Service or any Service employee for any claim arising prior to the date of this Agreement.
"Third, it is the view of the Service that certain Church entities are entitled to recognition of tax-exempt status as entities described in section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Thus, section III of the Agreement contains a list of entities that will be recognized as tax exempt entities, including certain entities that will receive group exemption letters covering their subordinate organizations."
|Letters from Clearwater|
Mark Dallara posted a series of letters to Clearwater City Commissioners this week from Scientologists, protesting alleged discrimination, bigotry and hatred. The letters are public documents under Florida law. Some of the letters are copies of letters sent to the St. Petersburg Times.
"It never ceases to amaze me how bigoted a person, a group of people, or an organization can be. I am astounded over the recent garbage your paper has been printing about my church, the Church of Scientology. The articles are full of innuendo, bias, and downright false and misleading statements. This endless tirade of harassment is getting stale and I have heard from several of my non Scientology friends who state they are getting sick of it as well.
"I am outraged by your paper's support of these bigots and of your efforts to keep the pot stirred up. Your editorials remind me of the hate propaganda so fondly used by Hitler and his regime to discredit the Jews, the Blacks, and many others. Get this straight! We are here to stay! We will never give up. Never! Never! Never!
CEO Quality Limousine Co."
"Ms. Karen Seel
P.O. Box 4748
City of Clearwater
Clearwater, FL 33758
"Dear Ms. Seel, The statements made in the St. Pete newspaper is full of false statements about the Church of Scientology. This newspaper is quite off the rails in what they print and only print one viewpoint and that viewpoint is full of false statements. How can the commissioners allow this newspaper to destroy the Clearwater community. They need to be handled!
"Miss Karen Seel
"My husband and I are writing to you as Scientologists. We want to let you know about the enturbulation and injustice brought by those articles on the Church of Scientology from the St. Pete Time [sic] and Tampa Tribune. We have been Scientologists since 1974 and I have never seen anyone badly threated [sic] in Scientology but I have seen and I still see many people improving their lives and helping others to do so.
"I don't know why those newspapers are attacking the church so much lately and I don't think it is fair. First the Church did and still do [sic] a lot of good things to help the community. Here are just a few: Winter Wonderland, Foster Children party occurring every year, Criminon; an organization that helps criminal [sic] to get back their self-esteem and respect for themselves and their environment. We also helped on the project to clean-up the city.
"The list could go on for many pages. There are also tons of project [sic] in other states and countries, here are some: In Hollywood we are handling illiteracy by using LRH Study Tech. In Zimbabwe more than 30,000 schoolchildren are now learning and benefiting daily from LRH Study Tech. And there are more but those are the most recent projects. Why aren't those newspapers acknowledging what we are doing that are [sic] helping the world instead of trying to find lies and disseminating them. My husband and I are very proud to be Scientologists. We are helping many people in our environment by using the technology of Scientology. I am a teacher and I have been working in a School using LRH Study Technology. It is a great School. Children really enjoy learning. My 2 daughters are highly productive. They love learning, helping, doing art etc."
"ABeing8008" posted news from Scientology's New Year's Eve event, broadcast by satellite to the orgs and missions.
"The Hubbard College of Administration received accreditation as a degree program in the state of California! More wins at Ensenada prison in Mexico by the prisoners on the Purification program and the Way to Happiness programs. About 11 insurance companies have approved of Narconon for insurance coverage, let's hear it for Narconon! The Chicago Bulls (professional basketball team) utilizes the Way to Happiness with their stressed out players!"
|New York Org|
An abandoned building on New York's 42nd Street collapsed this week. On the same day, a portion of Scientology's New York org on 46th Street fell from the building. From Reuters:
"An abandoned building collapsed on Tuesday on New York's 42nd Street, temporarily closing the famous thoroughfare a day before New Year's celebrations in Times Square. City officials said no one was injured in the partial collapse of the six-story building.
"Later on Tuesday in the same heavily-visited tourist district, a slab of concrete measuring two feet (0.69 metres) by three feet (0.91 metres) square broke off the Church of Scientology building. It crashed through the awning of a coffee shop on 46th street, known as Restaurant Row. No one was injured and the cause of the accident was not known."
From the New York Times:
"A chunk of concrete the size of a dining table crumbled from a building on West 46th Street yesterday and fell seven stories to the sidewalk, demolishing part of a restaurant awning and sending pedestrians scrambling.
"As in the two earlier collapses, inspectors said that strong winds and icy rain may have played a part, giving a final nudge to a loose 4-foot-by-4-foot piece of parapet on the seventh floor of a Church of Scientology building at 227 West 46th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. The falling concrete sliced through half of a blue and red awning over the door of Cafe Le Mirage next door, dragging the awning's metal ribs to the ground and shattering part of the cafe's door about 1:30 P.M.
"Ilyse Fink, a spokeswoman for the Buildings Department, said the city had issued a summons to the Church of Scientology earlier this year for failing to file an engineer's report on the condition of the 72-year-old building's facade. The reports are required every five years for buildings seven stories and taller.
"Fire Department inspectors, who secured other loose parts of the parapet yesterday with wooden beams, said it appeared that part of the building's cornice had been removed recently and that the work might have contributed to the collapse. But the Rev. John Carmichael, president of the Church of Scientology of New York, said work on the cornice was completed at least seven years ago."
The Vancouver Sun reported this week that a Scientology school has been receiving government funding.
"A Vancouver private school that teaches the philosophies of Scientology inventor L. Ron Hubbard has received thousands of dollars in government funding, government records show. And another school affiliated with Hubbard's teachings -- which hasn't been receiving government funding -- dissolved itself Dec. 24 in order to merge with the funded school.
"The Heritage 3R's School at 200-2010 East 48th Avenue received a grant of $85,725 during the last fiscal year, said Debbie Naubert, a communications officer with the education ministry.
"Gerry Ensing, director of the independent schools branch in Victoria, said the 3R's school has been reviewed and meets the criteria laid out by government, including being a non-profit organization with qualified teachers and regular inspections. Ensing said inspections determined the 3R's school doesn't contravene guidelines that prohibit the promotion of racial or ethnic superiority, religious persecution or violence. He said the Effective Education school had not sought funding under current government criteria, and that it informed his office in October that it was merging with the 3R's school this year. 'We will definitely stop by the school this year to take a look as to what is really happening there,' Ensing said. 'It will happen in the new year, you can be assured of that.'
"Government guidelines don't prohibit schools from being associated with controversial organizations, Ensing said. 'We're simply looking at what the act says. If some time in the future the act changes, then we will look at that. 'If there are any concerns that anybody has that we should know about, then by all means let us know. Obviously we can't do anything about it unless we're told about it.'
"Private schools that qualify for government funding receive $2,700 per student, Ensing said. The 3R's school received $42,007 during 1995-96 and $27,117 the previous year, according to the provincial Public Accounts records.
"While the Effective Education school and the 3R's school freely reveal their connections to L. Ron Hubbard, neither advertise any connection to the Church of Scientology. Both schools note they use the 'Hubbard method' of education developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the deceased science fiction writer who invented a 'science of the mind' called Dianetics, and a church to go with it called Scientology, in the early 1950s.
"By 1991, the school required all parents enrolling their children 'to have done a study course in L. Ron Hubbard's study technology.'"
Johan Wevers provided a signed affidavit to Grady Ward this week, to blunt the accusation from Scientology that Grady was responsible for the "Vorlon" posts of the NOTS materials to the Internet. Johan admits to posting all of the Vorlon materials.
"Scientology keeps harassing its members with lawsuits and worse. Even worse, they will accuse people of things they have not done. One example is their accusation that Grady Ward would be Vorlon. I know it it not true because I am Vorlon. The one and only. I have kept this fact secret for obvious reasons. But I won't let anyone else get the trouble for something I did. Therefore I decided to come out of hide and have sent the declaration below to Grady to help him in his lawsuit.
"Let me add that Co$ clearly showed no interest in who the real Vorlon was, when I met McShane the liar, I was surprised how uninterested he was. Now I know why: he wanted to blame an easier victim for it, and claimed in court I denied being Vorlon 1.
"I declare that I am the person and the only person known as 'Vorlon'. I am solely responsible for the initial posting on May 6, 1996, and subsequent postings made under that name on the Usenet discussion groups alt.religion.scientology, alt.religion.scientology.xenu, nl.scientology and alt.clearing.technology. Grady Ward had nothing whatsoever to do with them."
|Ybor City Mission|
"Jenster" reported that the Ybor City Mission in Tampa, Florida has closed. The mission was the site of one of the pickets in December to protest the death of Lisa McPherson.
"Well, the Ybor Dianetics Center is no more; the place, like almost every business down there that isn't a bar, has closed its doors and gone under. Every silly-looking Hubbard book and brochure is gone, every cheesy volcano wall poster, everything except a few chairs stacked in the corner. Even the neon in the front window is gone, stripped bare."
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