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

Volume 8, Issue 24 - November 23 2003

Off Broadway

The New York Times reported on November 14th that a New York play has drawn criticism from Scientology. "An Off Off Broadway production performed by a cast of children has received some unwanted attention from the Church of Scientology. 'A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant,' tells the life story of L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer who founded a religion whose adherents include Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Alex Timbers, who conceived and directed the show, imagined it in the 'idiom of a Nativity pageant,' so he cast children 8 to 12. "The Rev. John Carmichael, president of the Church of Scientology in New York, is not amused. He has visited the artistic staff to express his concern three times and sent a stern letter to the producer, Aaron Lemon-Strauss. 'I have not seen the show,' Mr. Carmichael said by phone on Wednesday, 'but in general I don't think you should ridicule a religion that helps people.' "Mr. Timbers says the show has a 'deeply ironic concept' but does not mock the church. 'We allow the church to speak for itself,' he said, calling the show 'a celebration of sorts.' But just to be on the safe side, Mr. Timbers consulted lawyers. 'We've been told that the letter is a precursor to a lawsuit,' he said. "Mr. Carmichael said: 'I've been assured that the intention is humor, not ridicule. So if it's genuinely funny, that's O.K.' He'll find out next Friday, when he plans to see the show." Message-ID:

Buffalo Org

Radio station WGRZ reported on November 17th that the new Buffalo Scientology org has opened its doors. "The Church of Scientology had a marching band, a Hollywood-style set, even Hollywood celebrities promoting the religion, created by science fiction write L. Ron Hubbard in 1954. 'You find something that works for you, that makes you happy, and you want to tell them about it,' said actress Jenna Elfman, of 'Dharma and Greg' and the new 'Looney Tunes' movie. "Last year, the church bought the former Buffalo Catholic Institute on Main Street and put in a reported 50,000 man hours to restore it. 'It's another sign that Buffalo is coming back. People want to invest in our buildings, but also invest in our people,' said Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello. City leaders hope the new church will spur more development along Main Street, including a block of empty buildings right across the street. That block includes the Metzger Building, nearly destroyed by fire, and saved from the wrecking ball by preservationists. "Local church President Teresa Reger said they will offer social services and are committed to improving Buffalo. 'What we do with our literacy programs, our drug rehab, that is going to help the community, and that's why we are here. It's not only for the church,' Reger said. "The church ran into some trouble over the summer, when several teenagers responded to a 'we're hiring' sign at the church, only to find out they were volunteer positions. After a Channel Two investigation, the church said it made an honest mistake due to numerous inquiries." From the Buffalo News on November 17th: "A large insignia engraved on a dramatic backdrop stood in commanding fashion over a red-carpeted stage. In front rested a sculpted wooden podium flanked by a TelePrompTer. Politicians and celebrities sat among rows of filled white seats, as plainclothes security wearing earphones surveyed the crowd. Meanwhile, hundreds of red, white and blue balloons waited to be released. "Despite a chilly, gray afternoon, a crowd estimated by organizers at 1,400 came out to hear outdoor speeches, get a tour of the restored 1893 building and celebrate Scientology's expanded presence in Buffalo. "It is the latest chapter for a worldwide organization that has long been accused of being a cult rather than a religion. 'What we have here in Buffalo are great people, great architecture, great opportunity, and I think this represents the best of the best here today,' said Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, who read aloud a proclamation that declared Church of Scientology Day in Buffalo. "Other speakers, including David Miscavige, chairman of the Scientology-related Religious Technology Center, and Ellicott Council Member Brian Davis, praised the work of the church and its potential impact on Buffalo. The building, which was the Buffalo Catholic Institute when it originally opened, replaces the church's former home in the Hurst building at 47 W. Huron St. The city paid $740,000 in December for the right to demolish the building and expand the Owen P. Augspurger Parking Ramp. "The Scientologists then paid $300,000 for the Main Street building and relied on volunteers from around the globe to repair and restore the building at a cost of 1.4 million, according to Teresa Reger, the Buffalo chapter's president. "Viewers gazed at the renovated facade that now boasts buff brick, glazed white terra cotta and limestone trim. Inside, visitors paraded through the freshly painted and polished spaces, while moving images of founder L. Ron Hubbard appeared on plasma screens. The Buffalo center will now be the regional home to scientologists in Western and Central New York, Pennsylvania and some parts of Ohio and Canada." Message-ID: Message-ID:


Television station Bay News 9 reported on November 3rd that an underground explosion damaged power lines leading to Scientology's Coachman building in downtown Clearwater, Florida. "An underground explosion in Clearwater early Monday knocked out power for for several blocks. Most service was restored as of 9 a.m. Progress Energy says a problem with an underground feeder line under Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue took out electricity to about 100 customers at approximately 4 a.m. Witnesses say the explosion blew out windows and tossed manhole covers into the air in Clearwater's downtown section. "Ft. Harrison Street, a major road through the downtown district, is blocked off. Traffic is expected to be thick until power is restored. The most significant damage was to a Church of Scientology building. Officials with Progress Energy are working with them to replace what was lost." From the St. Petersburg Times on November 4th: "A predawn explosion under S Fort Harrison Avenue Monday morning lifted a manhole cover, shattered windows in a nearby building and led to a day of inconvenience for more than a dozen downtown businesses and offices. Power company officials believe the explosion was caused by an underground electrical wire that caught fire and ignited methane gas from a sewer line. A city utilities official, however, doubted that theory. The blast broke some windows and the facade of an empty Church of Scientology building classroom. "'Thankfully, it happened at 4:30 in the morning, as opposed to when someone was in the room or cars were out there,' said Pat Harney, a spokeswoman for the church. In the block bordered by Cleveland Street, S Fort Harrison Avenue, Pierce Street and S Osceola Avenue, business after business waited to be reconnected to power Monday. "The 4 a.m. fire began in an electrical wire below an alley that runs between Cleveland and Pierce. The fire traveled east along a duct and caused the explosion. The electrical wire caught fire because it had a short circuit that may have been caused by normal wear and tear, overheating or an animal, Perlut said. He said Progress Energy crews often encounter methane gas when they go into manholes to work. That's why he suspects the presence of methane gas in this case. "But Clearwater assistant director of public utilities Todd Petrie said it's unlikely that methane gas played a role in the explosion. The sanitary sewer system is designed to release methane gas through vent stacks atop buildings." Message-ID: Message-ID:

Michael Jackson

Fox News reported on November 5th that the web site for singer Michael Jackson's new song promotes a Scientology literacy program. "HELP - the Scientology-based literacy program - is back on the Web site Michael Jackson is using to raise money for charity. HELP was removed as one of the groups that would receive money from Jackson's single 'What More Can I Give?' after I reported the connection last week. "But unbeknownst to Jackson, his supporters insist, the HELP logo was added back to his Web site over the weekend. And, unknown to him, there is a simple reason. The Web site,, was registered on Oct. 14 to a high-level Scientologist. "According to Jackson insiders, the singer himself chose only one charity, Oneness, as a beneficiary of his single, which can be downloaded for $2. Otherwise, Jackson is said to have left the selection to the Web site operator, who, according to Jackson's friends, failed to tell him she was a Scientologist and that she was choosing one of that church's subsidiaries to receive the funds. "The site operator, Valerie B. Whalin, hosts an Internet radio show for Earthlink under the name 'Surfer Val,' the same name under which she registered Jackson's Web sites. Sources at both Clear Channel Communications and Broadway Entertainment, the companies that hired her to run the Web site, told me yesterday that no money would be going to Scientology. "The HELP logo and link, however, remained on the Jackson Web site as of early this morning. The big question is: How will the many celebrities who sang on 'What More Can I Give?' feel about their work contributing money to causes other than Sept. 11 victims and families?" Message-ID:


The Los Angeles Times reported on November 3rd that neighbors are complaining about a new Scientology Narconon facility in Newport Beach, California. "Several residents near the three-story home operated on the Balboa Peninsula by Narconon, a private network of more than 100 drug rehabilitation and prevention centers around the world, complain about noise, clouds of cigarette smoke drifting into their homes and traffic in the narrow alley that separates them from their neighbors. "But what drove them to petition City Hall for relief, they say, was Narconon's recent rental of a smaller home across an alley that they said worsened the situation. City Atty. Robert Burnham said Newport Beach does not regulate drug and alcohol treatment facilities, which are governed by state law. But after neighbors complained at recent council meetings, Burnham instructed city staff to prepare a resolution for council consideration that would require a city permit for facilities that treat seven or more people. "Narconon's second dwelling houses a maximum of five residents and is in compliance with city ordinances, Burnham said. Company officials say the residents of that home are not in rehabilitation. 'There is nothing that I will not work out with my neighbors,' said Larry Trahant, executive director of the program's Southern California division. 'There is no one that I will not listen to resolve a legitimate problem.' "Linda Orozco, who lives across the alley behind the main facility, on Ocean Front, said complaints about noise and rude behavior have been ignored. She and other residents also say that facility is overcrowded and that Narconon has added to their problems by putting more clients in the second home. Orozco, neighbor Michael Bacus and others contend that the number of clients staying at the main facility exceeds the number allowed by the city. Burnham said the city allows 27 residents in the house, even though the state allows 32. He said the Fire Department is trying to have the state permit amended to reflect the city's limit of 27. "Neighbors say Narconon's incentive to overcrowd is the $20,000 fee clients are charged. Glenn Farnsworth, director of the center, said that even though the state allows treatment of 32 residents, the number recently was reduced to 27 because of the anticipated change in the state permit. Trahant, however, insisted that the facility is treating 32 clients, as the permit still allows." Message-ID:

Protest Summary

Gerry Armstrong reported a protest in Karlsruhe on November 8th at an outdoor event. "Caroline and I learned that the Karlsruhe Scientology franchise was going to have a table in the Marktplatz to advertise Dianetics and the cult's other 'products,' so we decided to picket. Erik the Bear insisted on tagging along for his first protest. Caroline and I hooked up with a group of perhaps twenty other people, part of whom were from the Junge Union, the youth section of the Christlich Demokratische Union, the CDU political party. "Part of our protest group were from Ausstieg, or 'Exit,' a network of former Jehovah's Witnesses and others devoted to helping people who leave the JW cult and to educating the public about its dangers. On this Saturday, they turned their attention and joyful spirits to the good work of informing the public about the dangers of the Scientology cult. "The Junge Union and the Ausstieg folks had a table with a number of handouts right beside the Scientology table that was covered with promo, plus magazines and books the Scientologists were 'selling' for a donation. Among the protesters' handouts were photocopies of an article about my history with Scientology that had appeared in May this year in the Badische Neueste Nachrichten, Karlsruhe's main newspaper. "During most of the time Caroline and I were there, only three Scientologists manned the cult table. We were told two were brothers Nico and Danilo Carucci. Initially they were friendly, and Caroline was able to obtain their handouts, but their friendliness disappeared when they realized that we were with the protesters and were identified to them. OSA personnel, of course, were also on hand, but only observed from a distance. "We took with us Hubbard's Bulletin of 24 April 1969RA, revised 20 September 1978, entitled 'Dianetic Use,' which is very useful for demonstrating some of the fraudulent claims the cult makes for Dianetics. This issue is still published by Scientology in the bound 'Technical Bulletins.' Included in them is the claim that Dianetic auditing raises IQ about a point per hour. "A newspaper reporter came by our picket, spoke to us and made some notes. We just heard that an article appeared in the Badische Neueste Nachrichten, but we haven't seen it yet. A television reporter and cameraman from the local TV station also covered the protest, but we haven't heard yet what was aired. "I tried to engage one of the 'Caruccis' about what he was doing defrauding people by promoting Dianetics. I asked him how he could continue to sell this 'science of mental health' that simply doesn't work. He spoke to me and said that he does it for the money. He moved away again, saying, sotto voce, 'money, money, money.' He came back to me, and I asked if he realized that what he was promoting was a fraud. He looked thoughtful for a second, then said that I was right, but that it didn't matter. Message-ID:

Kelly Preston

MSNBC reported on November 20th that actress Kelly Preston promoted Scientology programs on a national morning TV program. "John Travolta's wife appeared on 'Live with Regis and Kelly' Tuesday, and discussed her recent efforts to help open schools. She praised Delphi, a chain of private schools that she's backing, and told the audience that they're 'non-toxic' and 'very artistic' - but what she failed to mention was their link to Scientology, the controversial religion that she and her hubby follow. "Delphi Academies are touted as non-denominational, but they are based on the teachings and 'study techniques' developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer and founder of Scientology. As one Delphi web site put it: 'Mr. Hubbard's written works on education and child development are applied within the school's program and are directly related to our success in helping students and families.' "'There's often an Scientology-related interest behind Kelly Preston' s various causes,' said a long-time observer of the church. 'She is a very effective proselytizer.'" Message-ID:

Lisa McPherson

An article in Razor Magazine by Dr. David S. Touretzky and Peter Alexander described the treatment of Lisa McPherson by Scientology, and the legal forms being used to prevent future victims from suing. "Imagine a church so dangerous, you must sign a release form before you can receive its 'spiritual assistance.' This assistance might involve holding you against your will for an indefinite period, isolating you from friends and family, and denying you access to appropriate medical care. You will of course be billed for this treatment - assuming you survive it. If not, the release form absolves your caretakers of all responsibility for your suffering and death. Welcome to the Church of Scientology. "In September 2003, one of these Scientology release forms surfaced on the Internet. The form, which describes itself as a 'contract,' states that the signer opposes psychiatric treatment for anyone, particularly him or herself. Should some mental illness befall them, they authorize the Church of Scientology to 'extricate' them from the clutches of psychiatrists who might seek to treat them. In lieu of psychiatric care, the contract says they agree to be placed on the 'Introspection Rundown,' a Scientology therapy invented by the Church's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard." The New York Daily News reported on November 19th that Scientology has reacted to the article with threats to sue the magazine. "The Church of Scientology - never one to take criticism lying down - has been rattling sabers at Razor magazine. The male-oriented mag's latest issue contains a muckraking article about the religion, which claims among its members powerful Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and was founded in the 1950s by the late science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. "Razor's story, headlined 'The Curse of Scientology - Lawsuits, Death, and Finance,' chronicles the strange death of church member Lisa McPherson, and was written by David S. Touretzky and Peter Alexander, a disaffected former Scientologist. 'Imagine a church so dangerous you must sign a release form before you can receive its spiritual assistance,' the authors assert. "This week, Scientology spokeswoman Linda Simmons Hight left several urgent messages with Razor publisher Richard Botto and sent a tough E-mail to editor in chief Craig Knight. The Los Angeles-based Hight, communications director for Scientology International, made what a Razor spokeswoman tells me are 'veiled threats of legal action.' Hight's message: 'You and your magazine do not understand the agenda of the people who wrote this article ... I suggest you return my call immediately.' Razor is 'treading on serious ground,' she added. "Hight's E-mail to Knight was more explicit: 'A moment ago, I logged onto your Web site and saw the highly offensive promotion for the story. Until we connect with each other by phone, I strongly urge you to remove it from your site. I can only assume you do not know the persons who authored the story, nor what their actual agenda is, nor how inaccurate and slanted the story is. Please do return my call as soon as possible.'" Message-ID: Message-ID:

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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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