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

Volume 7, Issue 48 - March 9 2003


The letters to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times on March 4th included two responses to last week's article on new Scientology missions being established in the Clearwater area. "Scientology is only about making money. Scientology is a cultic, multilevel marketing enterprise where the merchandise is ostensibly personal well-being rather than household products. At least with Amway, you get some pretty good detergent. Scientology is religion as a pyramid scheme. "If Scientology is truly about improving lives, why aren't its insights free? Certainly at some point, organized religions get around to passing the collection plate, but for the world's major faiths, salvation (of one sort or another) comes first, and it comes free of charge. Scientologists would consider Mother Teresa types dismal failures because such people don't earn revenue for their church. "Apart from the issue of proprietary information, there are other reasons Scientology members don't share their beliefs freely. One is they haven't had enough brainwashing to know the Scientology version of the Greatest Story Every Told. They don't know about the evil galactic ruler Xenu who, Hubbard said, exterminated hundreds of millions of space aliens on Earth 76-trillion years ago. They haven't paid Scientology enough cash for indoctrination to learn suffering comes from the ghosts of those murdered beings - called Body Thetans -- inhabiting humans and instilling false memories, causing sickness and mental dysfunction. "But if Scientologists are happy with their beliefs, who does it hurt? The same might be asked about snake oil treatments desperately purchased from avaricious charlatans. At least con artists simply rip you off and move on. The Scientologists want you to become a salesperson too, ensnaring those you can and disassociating yourself from all others. And Scientology is quite able to destroy your ability to reason and thoroughly control all aspects of your life so you'll be a willing drone in their cause. - Jim Carroll, Largo "Scientology seems poised to have an effect on other cities with its ever-expanding enterprise and tax-exempt status. The tax-exempt status is the key, and this article shows exactly why Scientology should not be exempt from paying taxes. The fees in this article are much like a fee paid to a doctor. Are fees paid to doctors exempt from taxes? No. Are the doctors' offices free from paying property tax, or do doctors' offices pay employment tax and every other proper tax that other businesses pay? Yes, and so should Scientology. "With that tax exemption Scientology is allowed to make huge sums of money and keep it all. This allows them the luxury to build multimillion-dollar projects on property that should be generating taxes for the county and state. This has ruined downtown Clearwater, without any question. The immense presence of Scientology in Clearwater and expanding areas is bad for the community. Scientology is a business and should be taxed as one. - F. Charles Gordon, Clearwater" Message-ID: f019a.17760$


The Irish Times reported on March 6th and 7th that the case of Mary Johnston, a former Scientologist who is suing for conspiracy, misrepresentation and breach of constitutional rights, continued this week with testimony from Dr. Stephen Kent. "A professor of sociology who has written books and articles critical of the Church of Scientology and other organisations told the High Court yesterday the church was attempting to isolate him within the academic community. Prof. Stephen Kent, who is based in Canada, made the claim in the ongoing action for damages by Ms Mary Johnston. "Yesterday, during resumed cross-examination of Prof. Kent, Mr. Michael Collins SC, for the defendants, referred to articles written by a number of sociologists, psychologists and others dealing with the concepts of brainwashing and coercive persuasion. Mr. Collins suggested the conclusions of some of these writers were at variance with those of Prof. Kent, particularly regarding the professor's view that a person's free will can be overborne by certain coercive persuasion techniques to such an extent they may undergo a significant personality change and truly convert to whatever ideology it may be sought to persuade them of. "Prof. Kent agreed there were some differences between his views and those of some writers referred to but said he was in broad agreement with them on many issues. He said one expert had not referred to religion in discussing coercive persuasion and he believed it was vital to factor in that people are motivated for purposive rewards. He agreed the term brainwashing can be used in two different senses, involving an element of physical force and no such physical element. "Mr. Collins said one recognised expert had described as a myth the theory that certain techniques could result in a person's psychiatric status being transformed from normal to pathological. Prof. Kent said he believed there could be a change in psychiatric status as a result of coercive persuasion. He agreed hypnosis could be a factor but said there were other factors. "At one point, Prof. Kent told Mr. Justice Peart the defendants had put in a critique of his work in an attempt to isolate him in the academic community. Mr. Collins said Prof. Kent had responded to that critique and he was indicating, in referring to certain articles, was that the professor has been the subject of criticism by reputed scholars." "A fundamental issue in the legal action by a woman against the Church of Scientology is whether her free will was overborne or compromised in her decision to take up certain courses run by the church, the High Court heard yesterday. If the court finds Ms Mary Johnston's free will was affected, it must then decide whether that has any legal consequences entitling her to damages, Mr. Michael Collins, for the church said. "The fundamental point was whether Ms Johnston's free will was compromised to an extent that was unacceptable in law, counsel added. His side would be arguing free will is a concept that cannot be measured. "Yesterday, Prof. Kent said he had referred to free will in the context of a sociological definition and not in the context of a philosophical discussion. He agreed that man has a reasoning power that is unique. Mr. Collins suggested that if a person exercises that power free of direction by anyone else, that is an exercise of free will, irrespective of how complete their information is. Prof. Kent said sociologists and psychologists had identified the importance of deception as mitigating a person's ability to make a decision." Message-ID: Ls7aa.17969$ Message-ID: Jt7aa.17970$

Juliette Lewis

The Washington Post reported on March 5th that Scientology celebrity Juliette Lewis visited the U.S. Congress to push for restrictions of the use of medicine for children with problem behavior. "Actress Juliette Lewis visits Capitol Hill today to sell Congress on the nationwide effort - spearheaded by the Church of Scientology - to stop educational authorities from requiring 'problem' schoolchildren to take mood-altering medication. "'This is not a Scientology thing, but there are Scientologists involved,' said the 29-year-old Lewis, who joined the church seven years ago after reading a Scientology text 'and it was really logical. I was 22, and at the time I could really use it. We are against putting people on drugs to help solve problems.' Lewis said she got involved in the anti-pharmaceutical campaign in 1999. 'Everyone was really upset due to Columbine and the other violent crimes that popped up afterward,' she said. 'The media started looking at entertainment media and blaming them - which was an oversimplified explanation. So I became curious.' "Given Scientology's influence in Hollywood, has it helped her career? 'No. I don't look at it that way,' Lewis answered. 'It's helped me personally, but not necessarily professionally. The two can go together but that's not what I look to Scientology for.'" Message-ID: 1Jl9a.17771$

New Zealand

The Dominion Post published an article on March 1st on the state of Scientology in New Zealand. "'Be careful what you write about Scientology. They're very rich and very litigious.' This warning comes from a psychiatrist - psychiatry is the sworn enemy of Scientology - and shows that the scepticism about the movement founded in the 1950s by L Ron Hubbard, who made his name as a writer of science fiction, is alive and well. The heyday of fear of it as a cult came in the late 1960s when hundreds of New Zealanders signed a petition calling for legislative curbs on it and a government commission of inquiry upheld a complaint that it was responsible for alienating two young Scientologists from their family. There was no subsequent legislation, but a handful of rules the cult said it had already embraced were laid down. Times have changed. Mike Ferris, spokesman for the Auckland-based church, says the family involved in the inquiry have long been reconciled. Scientology bears the respectable title of a religion. And a few weeks ago the Inland Revenue Department decided it qualified as a charity and was thus tax exempt. "The Scientologists - the church claims there are more than 6000 in New Zealand - are over the moon. Only a scattering of countries of the 151 in which they operate give them such fulsome recognition, notably Australia, South Africa and Sweden. Britain does not, nor does France. So what happened to make Scientology respectable, to align it with the mainstream churches in New Zealand, and give it the same financial advantages? Mr. Ferris says the possibility of recognition as a charity has been discussed with Inland Revenue for years. 'You could say we were running in to fixed ideas on what a religion might be.' He says a breakthrough came in the form of a 2001 Inland Revenue paper in which the definition of religion came from a 1983 Australian High Court case recognising Scientology as a religion. Armed with this, the Scientologists applied for charity status again. "Mr. Ferris laughs off the 'rich and litigious' label, unless litigious can include a case in the 1970s when someone impugned Scientology on talkback radio. 'He put forth a retraction.' He says Scientology is a non-profit group and funds are used in the region from which they come. The only New Zealand church, on the Ellerslie Panmure Highway, is rented. 'Collecting real estate is absolutely not what we're about.' "The New Zealand Church of Scientology was the the first to be established outside of the United States. Paul Morris, professor of religious studies at Victoria University, says New Zealand is historically hospitable to new religious movements. 'Scientologists' view of themselves has greater continuity than it once had. Scientology has a series of different levels in many ways, a kind of inner circle with a shop-front version. Like many New Age movements, self-improvement is important.' The idea of auditing, he says, is 'like a pop-version of psychoanalytic theory, memory as a release. The aim is to become clear and fully functioning'. "Auckland University emeritus professor of psychiatry John Werry says any truth in Scientology's attacks on the psychiatric profession is 'highly overblown'. Scientology, he says, is supposed to be a religion with a scientific basis. Scientologists have a science for understanding human behaviour and see psychiatrists as competitors. "'It's about feeling good about yourself and your community,' says Tim Perkins, 33, of Wellington, who has been a Scientologist for seven years. Mr. Perkins was introduced to Scientology by his brother, who encountered it travelling with mates in the United States. He has done several Scientology courses, including a purification course in London in 2001. The aim was to clear toxins and radiation from his body. Vitamin and mineral supplements and exercise were part of that. 'After five or six weeks, I felt 10 years younger,' he says. 'Do I think it was expensive? Definitely not. I know I was pretty filled up with different toxins.' On other courses, he has learned communication skills, including 'dealing with the ups and downs of life and how to recognise people who have been harmful and are holding you back'. 'The whole ethics programme is amazing and gets back to doing unto others what you would have done to yourself.' "Bernard Roundhill, an early, acclaimed graphic artist, has been a Scientologist for almost as long as the movement has been in existence. He is 91 and lives with his third wife, Peggy, in Auckland. She, too, has been a Scientologist for decades. Mr. Roundhill discovered it in 1953. Mrs Roundhill says he learned, through Scientology, to create art that could communicate to people. 'With Scientology, he received validation and learned to do it better and better.'" Message-ID: yEl9a.17770$

Protest Summary

Dave Bird reported a protest on March 8th at the Birmingham, England Scientology org. "Present were Dave, Damian, Tony, and Katie, plus Jens and Martin who rolled in at the end of lunch. David and John arrived during the demo because of delayed trains from London, and also Neil. We were short of leaflets, but John had some and Martin did an extra hundred at the stationers. We set up the boom-box, first with Martin and later with John on the Mic, also the cylinder for helium balloons: we have two sorts, white with a single red and blue design or transparent with the same print on each of 4 sides in blue, and we had long-float coating in for the tiny tots who kept them rather than sucked the gas. "There were a fair number of clams counter-leafleting. One guy came past me and said 'are you protesting against that bunch on the second floor? Well done, they conned me into there six months ago, and wouldn't let me out. I hadn't got any money, so she kept saying I'd seen now how valuable the courses were and why didn't I borrow a few hundred quid off my mother to buy them with?' By popular request I went on the Mic at the end and did a few spirited choruses of Do The ElRon-Ron, Little Ghosties, the Xemu Rap, and so forth." Message-ID:

In Memoriam

The Ocean County Register reported that a teenager was struck and killed by a truck in his way to the Scientology org. "Clint Coleman had crossed Red Hill Avenue hundreds of times on his way to weekly youth meetings at the Church of Scientology. But Tuesday night, the Tustin 14-year-old never made it. A Dodge pickup hit Coleman and a friend while they were crossing Red Hill at Olwyn Drive at 6:50 p.m. Coleman died instantly, police said. His friend, Sam Crabtree, 19, also of Tustin, was recovering from major injuries Wednesday at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. "The accident was the second involving teens at a crosswalk in the past week. Saturday, two 14-year-olds were injured when they were hit by a minivan in an unincorporated area near Tustin. Danielle Genzen, 14, a friend of Coleman's, is collecting signatures on a petition asking the city to add more streetlights and a stop sign or traffic light at the intersection. "Friends and family at the Church of Scientology remembered Coleman as a fun-loving guy with a witty sense of humor and a crooked smile. He could raise anyone's spirits with a mean Clint Eastwood impression and he rattled off movie lines like a tape recorder, said Andra Clark, 23. Coleman attended Brighten School in Orange and spent many hours on Church of Scientology youth projects, including cleaning the shoreline at Doheny State Beach." Message-ID: 3e675fb8$

Reed Slatkin reported on March 2nd and 7th that the trustee in the Reed Slatkin bankruptcy case is involving several Scientology organizations that may have benefited from the Slatkin Ponzi scheme. "Despite its best efforts to disassociate itself from its disgraced former minister, the Church of Scientology is being dragged into the Reed Slatkin bankruptcy investigation once again - and this time, trustee Todd Neilson and the Creditors' Committee want documents. The Trustee has demanded that seven separate Scientology organizations produce documents related to any donations or gifts that the church has received from Slatkin since 1985. Church officials from each of the seven corporations will also have to appear for a videotaped examination. "In addition to records related to money transfers, the trustee also wants any and all documents or correspondence related to the Slatkin bankruptcy, pre-bankruptcy investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the ongoing criminal investigation. Neilson is also demanding all documents related to communication or correspondence between church officials and any other individual or entity regarding investments with Slatkin from 1985 until the present." "Two more Scientology organizations have been added to the list - the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, the quasi-independent network of Scientologist businesses, and the Church of Scientology Religious Trust, one of the strongholds of cash within the labyrinth of the Scientology corporate empire. Both organizations have the potential to provide the trustee with a wealth of information related to Slatkin's activities in the years before his Ponzi scheme was uncovered. "According to Church of Scientology International spokesman Aron Mason, Slatkin was ejected from WISE precisely because of a failure to meet unspecified 'ethical standards.' A Knowledge Report, prepared by Slatkin business associate and net profiteer Richard Levine in 1988, is likely just one example of the correspondence that WISE and other Scientology-related entices would have received from puzzled and angry Slatkin investors over the years about Slatkin's shifty and deceptive business practices. "Many Scientology-related payments and donations are made directly to the Church of Scientology Religious Trust, which serves as a repository for virtually all of the cash collected from within the United States. "Scientologist attorney Helena Kobrin, long-time counsel to the Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center, two of the Scientology entities currently facing Slatkin-related Rule 2004 examinations, lost no time in filing an objection to the examination on behalf of net-gainers named in adversary proceedings related the Slatkin case. Ms. Kobrin's motion, filed on behalf of Elvira Morgan, Yvonne Kellerhals, Alex Guevera, and the Fair family (Virginia, Whitney, Joshua and Jana), argues that the Rule 2004 examinations into the Scientology-related entities, which will scrutinize not only money received from Slatkin, but also from adversary defendants, would improperly deprive defendants of discovery rights. "Ms. Kobrin and her husband, Michael D. Kobrin, are also facing adversary proceedings based on the Trustee's claim that they netted $268,000 in Slatkin-related profits." Message-ID: Message-ID:


The News and Star newspaper from Carlisle, England reported on March 7th that the Scientology affiliated Citizen's Commission on Human Rights is asking a hospital to stop using Electroconvulsive Therapy to treat depression. "The Citizen's Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), set up by the Church of Scientology in America, said the West Cumberland Hospital's Yewdale Ward carries out Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), which involves sending between 180 and 460 volts of electricity through the brain. "The procedure has been used since the Sixties and cannot be carried out unless a consent form is signed. It is practiced in hospitals all over the UK. But the CCHR is calling for the treatment to be stopped altogether. CCHR spokesman Brian Daniels said: 'Electroshock should not be available as a choice. After 50 years of practising this, psychiatrists are not likely to suddenly agree that it is harmful.' "Lindsay Varty, spokeswoman for North Cumbria Acute Health Trust, confirmed: 'It is a proven form of safe and effective treatment for people suffering from severe depression. The treatment is the subject of an ongoing audit.'" Message-ID: J27aa.17968$

Back to A.R.S. Week in Review

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.

Brought to you by:
Operation Clambake