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

Volume 7, Issue 8 - May 26 2002

Cannes Film Festival

indieWIRE reported on May 24th that Scientology was represented at the annual Cannes Film Festival. "New religions are popping up at the 55th Cannes Film Festival: the Church of Scientology mounted an exhibit to L. Ron Hubbard in a small art store just off the Croisette. But the old gods still hold sway. As usual, some harrumphed that the main competition bowed to old standbys like David Cronenberg, Manoel De Oliveira, Allen and Olivier Assayas out of blind faith." Message-ID: KFpH8.1835$

Dianetics Day

"Cerridwen" reported events at Scientology's May 9th Dianetics Day festivities. "The big new is that DM was a no show. The first speaker was Karen Hollander and she just stumbled through her prepared speech for several minutes until she finally settled down. Then came Mark Yager, who was also stumbling and bumbling through his prepared speech. Heber made an appearance. It has been several years since I've seen Heber at one of these events and he got a big round of applause. He was brought out to present the awards for most books sold. "There was a remake of an LRH Film called 'Evolution of a Science.' This was a 20 to 25 minute film and will be part of a new campaign to go along with promoting the book. The film promotes the book 'Evolution of a Science' through a story and of course, they have to add all that hokey crap about the psychs. "There was news of new missions opening. Four new ones may have opened in the US since the beginning of the year, or since the last event, I can't remember which. The number of Book One auditing hours did something like 10X in the past year, and a graph with actual hours was shown. The bookseller from Liberia has been selling DMSMH there and in the surrounding half a dozen or more countries. There are Dianetics groups now all over the area, including Rwanda." Message-ID:

Church of Religious Science

The Los Angeles Times published an article on the Church of Religious Science on May 24th, and the difficulties with being confused with Scientology and Christian Science. "When Edward Graff talks about his church, its philosophy and spiritual basis, people listen and seem interested. But the moment he mentions the name, he senses a change. 'They get a little standoffish,' said Graff, board president of the Claremont Church of Religious Science. That's because some confuse the Church of Religious Science with two other churches: The Church of Christ, Scientist, and the Church of Scientology. So the Claremont church put out a request to its members to come up with a new name. So far it has collected 47. In February, at its annual membership meeting, the congregation will vote on whether to change the name, and then if so, what it would be, Graff said. "When he explains the beliefs of his church, Graff said, people show curiosity. Once he says Religious Science, 'they're not as open and they don't feel as easy.' They get 'a little worried when they hear science and religion in the name of a church,' Graff said. 'We didn't want a name that was too confusing or too threatening.' The Church of Religious Science grew out of the studies of Ernest Holmes, born in 1887 in Maine. It's more philosophy than religion, Graff said. "Religious Science is different from Scientology and Christian Science, said Pastor Patt Perkins of the Claremont Church of Religious Science. 'I believe that Scientology has got a pretty bad reputation,' Perkins said. 'We don't want to be identified with that because that's not who we are.' "If the Claremont church changes its name, it will be the church's fourth in 53 years. Suggested names include: Learning Center for Spiritual Growth; Church of Serenity; Spirit, Mind and Body Institute; or Claremont Community Church of Wisdom." Message-ID: HvpH8.1834$

Lawrence Wollersheim

The Los Angeles Times published a story on May 21st on Lawrence Wollersheim and the recent collection of his judgment from Scientology for abuse he received while he was a member. "Lawrence Wollersheim was awarded millions of dollars, but he plans to keep living as a nomad in a solar-powered RV, connected to the world by a cellular phone with a secret number. The ex-Scientologist came by his money in a unique fashion, too: He won a grueling 22-year court battle against the Church of Scientology of California that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Wollersheim said the church pushed him to the brink of suicide, brought on bipolar disorder and drove his business into bankruptcy. A Los Angeles jury agreed. On May 9, the church deposited $8.67 million with the Los Angeles Superior Court, marking the only time in two decades, church officials say, that Scientology has lost a lawsuit and been forced to pay a former member, or as church officials call him, an apostate. 'Justice is more powerful than therapy,' Wollersheim said. 'If it takes another 22 years, I'll stay with it. I'm standing up straight and tall and looking them in the eye, and they're not pushing me anymore.' "Church officials see a very different picture. They paint Wollersheim as a calculating, deranged ex-member who was mentally unbalanced when he joined and managed to convince a jury - using bogus testimony - that Scientology was responsible for what was wrong in his life. His victory was 'a miscarriage of justice,' said Kurt Weiland, an official with the Church of Scientology International. Church officials dispute Wollersheim's allegations that they dragged their heels to avoid paying. They said that he didn't want to collect and that he had an elaborate scheme to lose so he could continue collecting donations from anti-Scientologists. "Wollersheim's lawyers dismiss this claim as ridiculous. Attorney Craig Stein said the church 'used every possible litigation technique to make the pursuit of collection of the judgment so costly that any less determined person would have given up a long time ago.' "Scientologists believe that auditing can help rehabilitate the human spirit and is the path to spiritual enlightenment. For 11 years, Wollersheim said, he believed that too. He signed a billion-year contract, which the church describes as a symbolic gesture of eternal commitment. At one point, he said, he lived with other Scientologists and spent all his waking hours working for the church. He also operated several businesses, including a photography enterprise. In the mid-1970s Wollersheim agreed to undergo auditing sessions aboard a ship in Long Beach. It was a strenuous regime of little sleep, paltry food and hours of auditing that experts testified helped bring on his mental illness. At another stage, according to court records, Wollersheim agreed to disconnect from friends and family who had expressed concerns about Scientology. "When he started to question his belief in Scientology, Scientologists drove his business into bankruptcy. Church officials said members stopped patronizing Wollersheim's business because they discovered he was disreputable. They also deny pressuring him to disconnect from friends and family. "Much of the money is owed to lawyers and others who helped bankroll Wollersheim's battle. He hasn't had a long-term job in the last decade, he said, because harassment from those angry at his suit have forced him to stay on the move, at times armed with a gun and a bulletproof vest. Scientology officials say they never harassed him. "What kept him going was the conviction that he was fighting, not just for himself, but for others hurt by the church, he said. He lives in a recreational vehicle with four wheel drive and solar power so he can go 'off the grid' to hide if necessary." Message-ID: JiqG8.1410$


The Sunday News from Lancaster, Pennsylvania reported on May 17th that a Narconon staffer is asking to have his drug-related sentence reduced. "Anthony J. Mariani III has struggled with drug addiction his entire adult life and has been in criminal court many times. But now, family members told Judge David Ashworth on Wednesday, Mariani is clean from his drug habit and back in control of his life. Now, he is an 'integral part' of the administrative staff of a drug rehabilitation center in Georgia, Ashworth was told. "Defense attorney John A. Kenneff urged the judge to put Mariani on probation for a long time and let him go back to his work helping others. Assistant District Attorney Jeff Conrad was skeptical about Mariani's recovery from heroin since his arrest in September 2000. Conrad argued for a stiff prison sentence, saying Mariani still needed to be held accountable for committing the felony crime for which he was convicted last March - possessing 31 bags of heroin with the intent to deliver. "After listening to more than an hour of testimony and discussion of the case Wednesday morning, Ashworth sentenced Mariani to one to two years in prison followed by 13 years probation. The judge reduced the prison sentence by one day so that it could be served in Lancaster County Prison. Then Mariani may be paroled to a drug rehabilitation facility, including the one where he works. "Mary Reeser, director of the Narconon facility where Mariani works, said that since completing the program himself and joining the staff, he has become an 'integral part of our facility.' While Mariani may be clean from his drug addiction now, Conrad suggested that there was an 'undue risk to society' and treatment is 'best supplied in prison.' Conrad asked for a stiff prison sentence, telling the judge that a lesser period of incarceration would depreciate the seriousness of the crime." Message-ID:

Protest Summary

Tory Christman reported a protest in downtown Hemet, California on May 25th. "I pulled into Blockbuster and pulled out my signs. I thought these people should be informed of the latest news, and how I feel about Scientology and families. They read: 'SCIENTOLOGY PAID (after 22 years of fighting) WOLLERSHEIM 8.7 MILLION DOLLARS!' My other one is red, shaped like a stop sign and reads: 'SCIENTOLOGY STOP HURTING FAMILIES.' "I walked back and forth on a main corner in downtown Hemet as numerous cars streamed by. Almost all read my signs. Soon a number of people started honking, giving me the Hi Five Sign and Waving. I stayed for about 20 minutes, walking back and forth, nodding to people, holding my signs out for them to read." Message-ID:

U.S. State Department

The U.S. State Department released its annual report on human rights for 2001 this week. Some excerpts from the report on Austria: "The nine religious groups that have constituted themselves as confessional communities according to the law are: Jehovah's Witnesses, the Baha'i Faith, the Baptists, the Evangelical Alliance, the Movement for Religious Renewal, the Pentecostalists, the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Hindu religious community. After initially filing for confessional community status, the Church of Scientology withdrew its application from consideration in 1998. Sensitivity to Scientology in the country remained high. The Church of Scientology has reported problems obtaining credit cards, and individual Scientologists have experienced discrimination in hiring." On the Czech Republic: "On December 18, Parliament voted to override President Havel's veto and enacted the Law on the Freedom of Religious Belief and on the Status of Churches and Religious Societies. It will impose a two-tiered registration system, lowering the membership requirement for the first tier (non-profit religious association with limited tax benefits) to 300, but raising the membership requirement for the second tier (full religious association with benefit of state funding and property rights) to approximately 20,000. The new law will also impose a 10-year observation period on all first-tier organizations wishing to obtain second-tier status. Under the old law, registered churches would automatically receive second-tier status. The new law has been criticized by some unregistered religious groups (including the Muslims and the Church of Scientology) and nongovernmental observers as prejudicial against minority religions." On Belgium: "In February the Church of Scientology took legal action to force the return of documents seized in a 1999 police raid of church facilities and the homes and businesses of about 20 members. The Church of Scientology also filed a complaint asserting that the Prosecutor's Office provided prejudicial statements to the press in violation of the country's secrecy laws regarding investigations. A second, smaller raid on the Church of Scientology's Brussels headquarters took place on February 8 at which time additional documents were seized. Most of the seized computer equipment was returned to the Church, but the documents from both raids still were being held by the investigating magistrate at year's end. In March the Church filed a complaint against the Government with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance. No arrests were made or charges filed against church members as a result of the original raid. "In November the Church of Scientology was informed on the morning of the scheduled day that it could not use the International Press Center to announce its suit against the Commission's dangerous sect list. A representative of the center reportedly cited the presence of the Church of Scientology on the commission's list as a reason for the cancellation. However, in a subsequent review of the refusal, the Center decided that in the future the Church of Scientology could use the facilities." On Denmark: "Scientologists continued to seek official approval as a religious organization. Their second application was resubmitted in 1999 and withdrawn again in early 2000, shortly before a decision by the Government was expected. In withdrawing the application, the Church of Scientology asked the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs for additional time to respond to reports about Scientology that had appeared in the media. The Scientologists had not resubmitted an application by year's end." On France: "The Government does not recognize all branches of Jehovah's Witnesses or the Church of Scientology as qualifying religious associations for tax purposes and therefore subjects them to a 60 percent tax on all funds they receive. "A number of court cases have been initiated against the Church of Scientology, generally by former members who have sued the Church for fraud and sometimes for the practice of medicine without a license, and some cases have been brought under the Data Privacy Act. In April the Church of Scientology was taken to court for fraud and false advertising in a lawsuit brought by three former members; the case remained pending at year's end. Church of Scientology representatives reported that a case filed by a parent whose child attended an 'Applied Scholastics'-based school remained ongoing. In March warrants in this case were executed, and the police entered Scientology offices and removed files. "In April the press reported that software produced by Panda International was created by a Scientologist. According to representatives of Panda Software, the Interior Ministry and others subsequently indicated that they would not renew their contracts with the company. Panda claimed that critical statements by government officials in press articles that linked the product to Scientology have caused a significant loss of business." On Germany: "Several states, noting their responsibility to respond to citizens' requests for information about these groups, have published pamphlets detailing the ideology and practices of nonmainstream religions. Scientology is the focus of many such pamphlets, some of which warn of the alleged dangers posed by Scientology to the political order and freemarket economic system and to the mental and financial well being of individuals. For example, the Hamburg OPC published 'The Intelligence Service of the Scientology Organization,' which claims that Scientology tried to infiltrate governments, offices, and companies, and that the church spies on its opponents, defames them, and 'destroys' them. "In April the federal OPC concluded in its annual report for the year 2000 that its stated reasons for initiating observation of Scientology in 1997 remained valid. The section of the report covering Scientology described the organization's political ideology as antidemocratic, quoting from the writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology pamphlets. "On December 12, the Berlin Regional Administrative Court held that the Berlin OPC could not employ undercover agents to continue the observation of Scientology's activities in the state of Berlin. The Court concluded that after 4 years of observation, the Berlin OPC had failed to uncover information that would justify the continued use of intrusive methods. "A number of state and local offices share information on individuals known to be Scientologists. Until March the Government required firms to sign a declaration in bidding on government contracts stating that neither the firm's management nor employees were Scientologists. Firms that failed to submit a sect filter declaration were presumed 'unreliable' and excluded from consideration. In response to concerns expressed by foreign governments and multinational firms, in 2000 the Economics Ministry limited the scope of the sect filter to consulting and training contracts. In March the Economics Ministry persuaded the federal and state interior ministries to accept new wording that would only prohibit use of the 'technology of L. Ron Hubbard' in executing government contracts. Firms owned or managed by or employing Scientologists could bid on these contracts. The Federal Property Office has barred the sale of some real estate to Scientologists, noting that the federal Finance Ministry has urged that such sales be avoided, if possible. "In the state of Bavaria, applicants for state civil service positions must complete questionnaires detailing any relationship they may have with Scientology. Bavaria identified some state employees as Scientologists and has required them to complete the questionnaire. Some of these employees have refused, and two filed suit in the local administrative court. Both cases have been decided, both in favor of the employees. The Bavarian Interior Ministry commented that these were individual decisions, but withdrew the questionnaire for persons already employed with the State of Bavaria or the City of Munich; however, the questionnaire is still in use for persons seeking new state or municipal government employment. According to Bavarian and federal officials, no one in Bavaria lost a job or was denied employment solely because of association with Scientology. "In January 1999, a higher social court in Rheinland-Pfalz ruled that a Scientologist was allowed to run her au pair agency, for which the State Labor Ministry had refused to renew her license in 1994 because of her membership in the Church of Scientology. The judge ruled that the question of a person's reliability hinges on the person and not their membership in the Church of Scientology. The ruling remained under appeal by the State Labor Office at year's end, and the au pair agency continued operations. "In October the management of a commercial racing track in Oschersleben informed the foreign subsidiary of the California Superbike School that it could not rent the track to conduct a training session; they stated that the denial was based on the grounds that the founder of the School was a Scientologist, and that Scientology was under OPC observation." On Greece: "In February 2000, the Scientologists submitted an application for recognition as a known religion. Although the period mandated by law for processing the application is 3 months, the Ministry waited until October 2000 to decide that it would not recognize the Scientologist community as an 'official' religion. In October 2000, the Ministry denied the Scientologists their application for recognition and a house of prayer permit on the grounds that Scientology 'is not a religion.' The Church of Scientology appealed the decision to the Council of State in December 2000, and the case was pending at year's end." On Hungary: "In 2000 the Hungarian Tax Authority initiated investigations of the Church of Scientology, based on questions regarding the registration of its clergy. The investigations took place at the Church's office where investigators requested files and conducted interviews. The APEH had not completed its investigation by year's end." On Russia: "The Church of Scientology has experienced problems in reregistering its organization in Moscow. In October the Moscow city court upheld a lower court ruling on the denial of reregistration to the church's local chapter, and the local department of the Ministry of Justice initiated liquidation proceedings against the chapter. "Some religious minority denominations accuse the FSB, Procurator, and other official agencies, of increasing harassment of certain 'nontraditional' denominations, in particular, Pentecostals, Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and the Unification Church. In December 2000, a Moscow court returned a case in which the Church of Scientology was accused of 'criminal activities' to law enforcement authorities for further investigation because of irregularities by the procurator's office. In January the case resumed, but subsequently was dismissed for lack of evidence. The procurator appealed, but the appellate court upheld the lower court's ruling in May, clearing the Scientologists of all charges. "In March the head of the local department of the Ministry of Justice and other local officials held a press conference at Nizhniy Novgorod's city hall in which they called for noncooperation with such groups as the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Moonies, and the Scientologists. From April 23 to 25, local Russian Orthodox Church officials held a conference in Nizhniy Novgorod, which was devoted to 'Totalitarian Cults - Threat of the XXI Century,' featured a number of presentations from both domestic and foreign 'anticult' activists. In the materials that came out of the conference, groups such as Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Unification Church, and Scientology were included in the list of 'cults,' despite the fact that all have legal status. "On September 16, perpetrators hurled a Molotov cocktail into the Moscow headquarters of the Church of Scientology; the church had received bomb threats by telephone prior to the incident. By year's end, the police had arrested five suspects." On Slovakia: "The police law regulates wiretapping and mail surveillance for the purposes of criminal investigation, which may be conducted on the order of a judge or prosecutor only in cases of extraordinarily serious premeditated crimes or crimes involving international treaty obligations. There were reports that the Ministry of Interior actively monitored members of the Church of Scientology. "The Ministry of Interior also actively monitored Scientologists. Several stories have appeared in the media critical of companies that have ties to Scientology, including reports that the Director of the SIS was concerned that a company with close ties to the church of Scientology had won a vote to provide the Government with a new computer system." On Spain: "In December a Madrid court acquitted 15 Spanish citizens of charges of illicit association and tax evasion. The charges arose from a fraud complaint against Church of Scientology offices Dianetica and Narconon and the subsequent arrest of Scientology International President Heber Jentzsch and 71 others at a 1988 convention in Madrid. Scientology representatives asserted that the indictment against Jentzsch, who was not part of the trial, was religiously based, a claim denied by officials." On Switzerland: "In December 2000, the Federal Department of Police published a followup report to a 1999 report by the Business Review Commission of the National Assembly regarding the need for state involvement in controlling 'sects.' The December 2000 report concluded that the activities of sects, including Scientology, had not increased significantly and that special monitoring of sects therefore was not justified. "In 1999 a court held that the Scientologists' activities were commercial and not religious, and that the city should grant them and other commercial enterprises, such as fast food restaurants, more freedom to distribute pamphlets on a permit basis. Fearing a heavy administrative and enforcement workload, the city appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal in June 2000, affirming the decision by the lower court that the Scientologists' activities were commercial in nature and thus should be permitted." 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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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