Week in Review Volume 7, Issue 28
10/13/2002 by Rod Keller [rkeller@...
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 articles
posted to the newsgroup. They include message IDs for the original
articles, and many have a URL to get more information. You may be able to
find the original article, depending on how long your site stores articles
in the newsgroup before expiring them.
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> Buffalo Org
Business First of Buffalo reported on October 9th that the city of Buffalo
still plans to tear down the Scientology org to build a parking ramp.
"The stalemate on the proposed expansion of the Augspurger Ramp in
downtown Buffalo is about to be broken by one of the city's primary
economic development agencies. The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, at its
Oct. 10 meeting, is expected to start eminent domain proceedings to
acquire the necessary parcels to expand the parking ramp.
"Critics, however, say the project would require taking and demolishing a
building owned by the Church of Scientology, a move they claim is unfair
to the church, and eliminate a building that may ultimately find other
uses as a residential or commercial parcel.
"Downtown leaders said they are encouraged that Masiello has tapped BURA
to champion the project. 'It sounds like a welcome avenue,' said David
Sweet, owner of the Rand and Main Seneca buildings. Many downtown leaders
thought the project was going to get the green light earlier this year, so
much so city leaders began to sell bonds for the ramp's expansion to meet
in-house deadlines. The council, as recently as its Oct. 1 meeting, voted
against the project."
The Buffalo News reported on October 11th that Scientology has filed a
lawsuit to oppose the plan.
"The Buffalo Church of Scientology had filed suit in U.S. District Court
to protect its building, which stands in the way of the project. The
lawsuit accuses Mayor Anthony M. Masiello of making an 'end run' around
the Common Council by reviving the project under a 1981 downtown urban
"'Relocating a church is not a slight matter, but the city has had a 'take
it or leave it' attitude,' the Rev. Elizabeth Akiyama, spokeswoman for the
church, said in a statement. 'The Scientologists in Western New York
should not have to bear the burden of not being able to practice our
religion so that a parking structure can be built.'
"The key weapon in the agency's arsenal is the power of eminent domain,
which is likely to be needed to acquire the church building, at 43 W.
Huron St., and a surface parking lot at 352 Pearl St. To date, offers to
purchase the properties have failed, making condemnation an almost
certainty. The situation involving the church proved particularly thorny.
The city offered church leaders $425,000 for the four-story building but
was rebuffed, raising the likelihood of acquisition through condemnation
proceedings. The Council found itself drawing fire from opponents who
charged the city cares more about expanding parking than leaving a
religious congregation without a home."
The Patriot Ledger reported on September 26th that Scientologists who have
been protesting a mental health facility in Massachusetts will be invited
to tour the facility.
"Protesters who demonstrated outside the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton
on Tuesday have agreed to take a guided tour of the facilities and will
schedule the tour within two weeks. The Rotenberg Center, a private school
on Route 138 for people with severe behavioral problems, operates day and
residential programs for 145 adults and children.
"The center uses a therapy of rewards and punishments. Some of the
punishments, including shock treatment on the surface of the skin,
prompted the protest, said Christopher Garrison, Massachusetts director of
the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which was co-founded by the
Church of Scientology in 1969. 'I know darn well he's going to sugarcoat
the thing, and he's going to try to show me his video of successes,' he
said, referring to the center's executive director, Matthew Israel. 'It's
not like I'm not going to see people being shocked over and over again.'
"As the protest was winding down Tuesday night, Garrison said Israel came
out with some assistants to speak with the demonstrators. 'They agreed to
give us a call in a week or two,' said Ann-Marie Iasimone, assistant
director of the center. 'It was cordial. Everybody was professional.'
Iasimone then defended the therapy. 'Sometimes the end result justifies
what you have to do,' she said."
From the letters to the editor of the Houston Press on October 10th:
"Excellent coverage of the broad range of issues involved with reactive
attachment disorder and the dangerous treatments that have been concocted
for it. Having had the opportunity to review the assaults that Jeannie
Warren was subjected to at the hands of Dr. Gross and his staff several
years ago, I was astounded at the lengths to which practitioners will go
in their pursuit of a 'cure.' I thought it was quite clear that the
therapists involved would rather have her dead than untreated, and I think
that treatment reimbursements played a large role in determining that
"Dr. Gross has been a fugitive from U.S. justice for years. He has been
convicted of fraud in association with his work with patients like Ms.
Warren and has been hiding in England for several years to avoid jail.
"Andrew Prough, executive director
Texas Citizens Commission on Human Rights
> Body Routing
The Washington Post reported on October 13th reported that Scientology has
joined a line of scalpers and homeless beggars outside the MCI Center
before Washington Capitals games.
"The Washington Capitals' season-opening hockey game was sold out when
Alex Kuo and Alex Chou, both 16, got to the ticket window at MCI Center.
So the high school friends were left with two options: head home to
Potomac or buy a pair of tickets from the guy standing on the corner of
Seventh and F streets NW.
"City leaders and sports executives say they are growing increasingly
unhappy with this sort of transaction. Ticket scalpers are an impediment
to the way teams market their entertainment to the public. Fans who are
hassled by pushy scalpers have complained that they should not have to
navigate such a gantlet, event organizers say. 'It's like aggressive
panhandling. They're all over you,' said D.C. Council member Sharon
Ambrose (D-Ward 6), who along with Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), is sponsoring
legislation to combat scalping.
"At the Capitals game, the 'trading floor' wasn't held only by scalpers. A
woman was passing out fliers for the Church of Scientology, and a homeless
man held out a money bucket attached to a stick. Running this gantlet with
her three elementary school children, Mary Meador of Clifton shrugged and
said: 'It's part of living. It's not a big deal.'"
Reuters reported on October 10th that Scientology claims book sales have
risen in Germany this year.
"Scientology may have some way to go before it becomes a bestseller in
Germany, a country that describes it as an unwelcome cult, but officials
said on Thursday demand for its books rose sharply this year. 'There is
still negative publicity around but things are improving considerably,'
said Thomas Goeldenitz, an official at Scientology's publishing wing New
Era Publications. 'We have had some very good changes which are helping a
"The group claims to have sold 160 million copies of Hubbard's works over
the past half century in 53 languages. Goeldenitz said New Era sells more
than a million Scientology books a year worldwide. 'In Germany these days
we are selling in 12 months 70-80,000 copies. In 1996 it was 35,000
copies,' he said. Yet he admitted it was not always easy to get books onto
store shelves. 'I've been talking to the big bookstores and you know they
are telling me they are just scared to have the books,' he said,
explaining they did not want to lose customers opposed to Scientology."
> Arts Festival
The Los Angeles Times reported on October 8th that the Celebrity Center
plans a series of Artists for a Better World Arts Festival events.
"Artists for a Better World Arts Festival Celebrity Centre's Garden
Pavilion 5930 Franklin Ave., Hollywood
"Performances, displays, showcases, art exhibits, seminars will be
featured at this event sponsored by the Church of Scientology.
"Oct. 18: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Oct. 19: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Oct. 20: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m."
> Hurricane Relief
The Advertiser reported on October 7th that Scientologists participated in
feeding emergency workers in Lafayette, Louisiana during Hurricane Lili.
"Justin English, 17, knew strangers were working furiously in the heat and
humidity Sunday to restore electricity to his house. In return, English
spent the day pouring drinks and making sandwiches to be delivered free to
the thousands of electric linemen, tree trimmers and city workers
restoring power knocked out by Hurricane Lili.
"English was one of more than 50 volunteers, headed by the Church of
Scientology Volunteer Ministers, who provided more than 2,500 free meals
Sunday to workers across Acadiana, from Youngsville to Abbeville to Breaux
Bridge, many of whom are contractors from other states.
"With the help of radio station KQIS, Marie Pace, executive director of
the Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers, asked residents for
donations of food, drinks and time. She especially appealed to residents
without electricity to donate food that might otherwise be lost without
cold storage. 'We cooked roasts, we cooked hams,' Pace said. 'People
brought enough food for us to feed 2,500 people.'
"The volunteers worked out of Comeaux's Cajun Corner in Lafayette, the
space donated by owner Ronnie Comeaux, who cooked hamburgers and
pistolettes alongside the Scientologists on Sunday."
The McGill Daily published an article on September 23rd on a visit to the
Scientology org in Montreal.
"I am, quite understandably, afraid. I'm standing outside Montreal's own
Church of Scientology, and I'm beginning to seriously doubt the viability
of my plan, not to mention its wisdom. The original idea? To waltz into
the place undercover, posing as an interested and eager potential convert.
I wanted to see what these Scientologists would do to me. Would they
brainwash and indoctrinate me with utopian, sci-fi visions of an alternate
reality? Would they blackmail me into signing my life away? Or would they
simply demand the entirety of my meager savings account in exchange for
promises of spiritual fulfillment?
"The place doesn't even look like a church, but instead like a decrepit
hardware store. I take a deep breath and summon forth all my faculties of
rational thought and analysis, as well as my courage. Steeling myself, I
stride through the glass door, only to be confronted with an array of
glossy pamphlets and two or three mild-mannered, relatively normal-looking
people sitting calmly at their desks.
"Immediately, a man approaches me, inquiring as to my business. I play
innocent, citing an interest in Scientology that remains unquenched by my
casual internet surfing. He ushers me into a special viewing cubicle,
where I sit among stacks of videos with names like The Deterioration of
Liberty, Operation Manual for the Mind, and The Dynamic Principles of
Existence. The video I watch consists entirely of a 1966 interview with L.
Ron Hubbard, the charismatic founder of Scientology. He has 'cult leader'
written all over him: a friendly Nebraska drawl, intent and slitted eyes,
an avuncular air. I do my best to conceal my reporter's notebook in which
I furiously scrawl notes, convinced that I am being watched.
"The second the movie concludes, a second unidentified man appears behind
me. 'I need to speak with you now,' he says. I furtively look around and
map out possible escape routes. The man - Alain - and I talk for some
time. He is rather non-threatening. He asks about any potential engrams I
may be harbouring, and I quickly invent a tale of a troubled relationship
with my parents. He nods and recommends that I take one of the
instructional courses offered by the Church, which he assures me will
improve my interpersonal relations. He offers to give me a standardized
personality test. In the box for my name, address, and telephone number, I
provide a battery of fakes, as friends had warned me that the
Scientologists would stalk and blackmail me if I gave them my real vitals.
My test results indicate that the majority of my personal traits are in
the 'Unacceptable State' zone, and the several pages of analytic print-out
- only parts of which I am permitted to see, tell me the following: 'You
have an unstable character; you are a person on whom no one can count; you
are in a total nervous state; you do not know how to control yourself,
even in ordinary circumstances.' The report goes on to tell me that I am
irritable and 'can become hysterical or violent' in my everyday actions. I
am 'totally irresponsible,' as well as 'totally insensitive and without
heart.' Alain tells me that my condition is urgent, but that -
conveniently - Scientology can help me. I extricate myself from the
situation, citing budgetary constraints and a need to think things over. I
promise to return later in the week and quickly walk out, vowing never to
"Jean La Riviere, Director of Public Affairs at Montreal's Church of
Scientology and a practitioner of the faith since 1974, acknowledges how
damaging the widespread criticism and scapegoating of Scientology has been
for its believers. 'It's hard to hear these stories, which continue
pushing negative stereotypes of our beliefs.' La Riviere observes that any
new religion encounters difficulty and opposition at its inception, as did
Christianity and other now-accepted faiths when they were getting off the
ground. 'When you have a new religious movement, this kind of targeting
happens because the faith is not understood. Right away, because they
don't have any information, people will create information for
themselves,' La Riviere says. 'It's unfortunate, but that's how human
nature works.' What does the future hold for Scientology? It's hard to
say. Now that society has legions of second- and third-generation
Scientologists on its hands, it looks as though the faith is here to stay.
'If the media start reporting on Scientology in a more positive way,'
Cowan remarks, 'that might fuel its growth even more.' In the end,
Scientologists are harmless - they don't have laser eyes, they won't stalk
your family, they don't have apocalyptic fantasies. They're just people
who go to church, like any other people who go to church. Ultimately, I'm
amazed at how entrenched my misconceptions about these people were, and I
feel rather silly.
"I have to say, my greatest comfort through this whole experience has been
learning that the personality test I took at the Church has been widely
documented as being skewed - designed to indicate that people have
problems that Scientology can solve. So while I may still need to worry
about my stereotypes and biases, I can sleep easy about my hysterical,
> State Department
The Associated Press reported on October 7th that the annual U.S. State
Department on International Religious Freedom again criticizes Germany for
alleged mistreatment of Scientologists.
"Some local authorities and private firms in Germany use 'sect filters'
focused on the U.S.-based Church of Scientology in hiring and contracting,
a new State Department report says. 'These practices give rise to a
climate of discrimination and may cause financial losses for individual
companies, the department's 2002 report on international religion said. It
was released Monday. The report said the federal property office has
barred the sale of some real estate to the Scientologists, noting that the
Finance Ministry has urged that such sales be avoided if possible.
"'Scientologists reported employment difficulties, and in the state of
Bavaria, applicants for state civil service positions must complete
questionnaires detailing any relationship they may have with Scientology,'
the report said. The report said U.S. government discussed the status of
Scientology many times with state and local officials in the past year.
'U.S. officials frequently made the point that the use of 'filters' to
prevent persons from practicing their professions, solely on a basis of
their beliefs, is an abuse of their rights, as well as a discriminatory
business practice,' the report said. authorities, the U.S. German
officials, the U.S. government expressed its concerns over infringement of
individual rights because of religious affiliations."
In a BBC Worldservice Radio interview on October 8th, Scientology
spokesperson Leisa Goodman called for elimination of the French
governmental agency MILS, which is responsible for cult awareness.
"LG: The problem is that this body, which is under the government of
France, it creates discrimination, incites hatred, solely because of
someone's religion. And [the] French government in fact admitted two weeks
ago that MILS has caused some big problems. And then today [the] US State
Department released their report on religious freedom around the world and
it states that countries like China and Vietnam are now citing France
because they are stating how France is used to justifying persecution of
religion. All these countries, totalitarian countries, They're using the
French model and I think that sets a terrible example as a modern western
"Q: The French government says that it has to protect vulnerable members
of society. If the Scientologists are a bona fide body, what do they have
to be afraid of?
"LG: First before you persecute a body of people you'd have to have
evidence of wrongdoing. And the problem is that the French government,
they haven't come up with anything. In stead they go on this wild witch
hunt, which has been conducted majorly by MILS, against, they have a list
of a 173 religions, what they call a sect-blacklist, including Christian
denominations, it includes Jehovah's Witnesses, and many others besides
"Q: There are a number of legal suits pending against the Scientologists
in France, aren't there, hat have been brought by ex-Scientologists, by
"LG: No, that's not true at all.
"Q: Well actually it is true, because I spoke to some of them last week.
"LG: But they're not pending. Two of them have come to fruition. And
there's one that's ongoing. But there's very many positive decisions in
France that have been rendered. And there's also the decision by the
European court of human rights against France for their actions against
"Q: Are you worried that the church of Scientology could be closed down in
"LG: Not at all. Because you see, Scientologists, we've weathered the
storm, from 1950 since the church came into being, since the church was
founded in '54. We believe in fighting for human rights, not only for us
but for other religions. That's why we've sent this letter to the
president of France. We've demanded that he disband MILS, that he actually
get rid of this hate machine."