Week in Review Volume 6, Issue 10
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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The St. Petersburg Times reported on June 19th that plans to build a
downtown parking garage in partnership with Scientology have fallen
"Negotiations involving the city, the Church of Scientology, Pinellas
County and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority failed to produce a
deal to make the project work. Several months of talks ended last week,
after one last-ditch effort to save the project. The garage was to be
built at the site of the PSTA's downtown terminal at 525 Park St. and an
adjacent county parking lot. The city will have to keep looking for other
places to build a garage, which would be an incentive for other downtown
"The two partners in the project - Pinellas County and the Church of
Scientology - had no more funds to contribute either, Brumback said. The
plan called for the county to provide land and $250,000 or more to the
project. The church was ready to spend about $4.2-million, buying into the
garage at a rate of about $9,800 per space, Brumback said. The Church of
Scientology wanted to have a garage site planned by June's end, so that a
parking garage would be ready when the Flag Building opened."
The St. Petersburg Times reported on June 22nd that a proposed land swap
between the city of Clearwater and Scientology has been finalized.
"Commissioner Ed Hart was the only commissioner to vote against the swap,
saying that he needed more information about downtown's parking needs
before he could approve it. In the exchange, the city will give the
church two vacant parcels used for parking. The lots, which total about
22,300 square feet, are south of Franklin Street and east of Garden Street
on a block where the church plans a parking garage to serve its Flag
Building. The land is worth $156,500 by city estimates based on county
property records. No appraisal was presented to commissioners.
"For its part, the church will give the city an 11,345-square-foot parcel
at 612 Franklin St. between the city's Fire and Police departments. The
land includes a 6,400-square-foot building that could be renovated for
city office space. The church bought the land in April for $365,000."
> Tom Cruise
Salon Magazine reported on June 18th that the publisher of Bold magazine
has threatened to counter sue Scientology celebrity Tom Cruise. The
magazine claims to have videotape of Cruise having gay sex.
"Davis is threatening to counter sue. 'Since this False accusation Davis
has suffered great emotional distress and is the Target of Crazy Fanatical
Scientology activists making threats on his Life and Gay bashers who claim
Davis makes his Money on his Macho Playboy Image and He's a fake,' Smith
"According to a recent Smith missive, 'The Next Big Story That will hit in
Bold Entertainment Magazine is: SCIENTOLOGY THE HOLLYWOOD CONNECTION. With
some many False reports on the Organization. Bold Magazine has gone DEEP
UNDERCOVER inside the Church of Scientology."
> Emeril Lagasse
The Toronto Sun reported on June 21st that a new TV comedy starring chef
Emeril Lagasse will remove dialog critical of Scientology.
"Two lines disparaging Scientology, one of which refers to high-profile
devotee John Travolta, are among elements of the Emeril pilot that will be
cut, Lagasse said at a Food Network Canada press conference. Asked by The
Sun whether the Scientology lines will stay in the show, Lagasse looked
uncomfortable, paused, launched into a non-sequitur about wishing he had
time to take his wife sailing, and finally, when pressed, said, 'I don't
> Keith Henson
LA Weekly published an article on June 22nd on Keith Henson, a refugee in
Canada after being convicted in California of interfering with the
"Henson, a Palo Alto computer consultant, was in custody at the
'super-maximum-security' Metro West Detention Centre on a Canadian
immigration warrant. The warrant was based on Henson's April 26 criminal
conviction in Hemet, California. Henson was found guilty of a single
misdemeanor count of interfering with a religion. To those familiar with a
ferocious five-year war between the church and its Internet critics, it
comes as no surprise that the religion was Scientology.
"Earlier this month, Henson was freed, pending a hearing on his
application for political asylum in Canada. Henson, who says he did no
more than post nasty Usenet messages and picket Scientology locations,
claims the church set him up. The case is likely to raise questions of how
far a religion can go to protect itself from dissidents, and of free
speech on the Net.
"Skeptics have long congregated on alt.religion.scientology (ARS), a
lively but not exactly headline-grabbing Usenet group. In 1995,
Scientology tried to shut the site down. The retrospectively ill-advised
attempt was followed by denial-of-service and 'sporging' (forgery and
spoofing) attacks, which raised the hackles of the hardcore Net community.
A new generation of anti-Scientology activists was born.
Alt.religion.scientology now is one of the most popular Usenet groups.
'Scientology's action had the psychological effect you would have seen of
a gang of thugs riding into a Midwestern town and burning down the
newspapers,' Henson said.
"Henson began picketing Scientology facilities nationwide, including the
church's film-production compound outside Hemet. The razor-wire-enclosed
spread, called Golden Era Productions, occupies 500 acres along Gilman Hot
Springs Road. Critics claim the compound also houses the church's highly
secretive security apparatus. Many of the 700 Scientologists who work at
Golden Era are bused in from apartment complexes in Hemet, dressed in blue
"One of his postings was a suggestion to land a 'Cruise missile' on Gold
Base; another said of Scientology, 'destroy it utterly.' Henson says the
messages were inside jokes: 'Cruise' referred to actor Tom Cruise, a
longtime Scientologist, and the 'destruction' quote was a takeoff on one
of L. Ron's own incendiary statements. Golden Era general manager Ken
Hoden says Henson's bomb postings were taken seriously. 'Based on evidence
we were able to collect off the Internet, his intention was to destroy
[the production facility] utterly, to leave not one stone unturned,' Hoden
"After a disastrous non-defense defense - Henson and supporters say
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Robert Wallerstein gutted their case
- the jury hung on two counts, but convicted Henson of the interfering
charge, which is classified as a hate crime. Facing a recommended 200 days
in Riverside County Jail, which Henson feared had been infiltrated by the
Scientologists' Criminon rehab program, the defendant fled before his
sentencing date to Toronto, where he and Hagglund, a Canadian Scientology
foe, picketed a downtown Scientology office. The church complained,
bringing out the SWAT team.
"Henson blames his prosecution on a Scientology doctrine called 'fair
game.' In 1967, Hubbard announced that any suppressive person (Scientology
jargon for 'enemy') 'may be deprived of property or injured by any means,
by any Scientologist. He may be tricked, sued or lied to, or destroyed.'
Frank Oliver of Florida, flew in to testify on Henson's behalf, but the
judge refused to let him take the stand. Oliver told New Times Los Angeles
his Scientology duties: 'Spy on people. Gather intelligence. Write
"Henson's asylum application could take nine months to two years to
resolve. In the meantime, he plans to be back on the picket line soon,
despite a Canadian order to keep away from the church."
Newsbytes reported on June 22nd that the Electronic Frontier Foundation
has come out in support of Keith Henson.
"Fearing that fugitive Scientology protester Keith Henson is being
unjustly 'slimed' by the Church of Scientology, the Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF) on Friday publicly proclaimed its support for the
convicted Internet critic, who has taken refuge in Canada from California
authorities. 'Online civil liberties groups are concerned about what
happened to Mr. Henson,' EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said today. 'We
felt the need to counter some of the sliming that is going on by
"Cohn said that prosecutors blew out of proportion Henson's comments about
launching a 'cruise missile' at one of the Church's compounds. Although
transcripts from the trial have yet to be released, Cohn said that the
trial judge in the case refused to allow the jury to see Henson's comments
in the proper context. Read in context, it would be obvious that Henson
was joking in his postings, Cohn said.
From the EFF press release on June 22nd:
"The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today expressed concern over a
California court conviction of H. Keith Henson in a case involving online
criticism of the Church of Scientology. In a decision which appears to
have violated his constitutional right to free speech, a jury in Riverside
County convicted Henson of threatening the free exercise of religion by
members of the CoS.
"'We are deeply concerned that the decision violates Mr. Henson's free
speech rights,' said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. 'Since he does not
appear to have made any credible threat of physical attack as required for
conviction under the U.S. Constitution, Mr. Henson has a legal right to
express criticisms online without fearing a prison term.'
"EFF Executive Director Shari Steele commented, 'EFF is deeply disturbed
by these possible violations of Mr. Henson's constitutional rights. This
trial seems intended to punish Mr. Henson for his opposition to a powerful
organization, using the barest thread of legal justification to do so. EFF
joins Mr. Henson's American counsel in urging the California Court of
Appeals to set aside this verdict and confirm Mr. Henson's right to
protest publicly a group that he opposes.'"
The Los Angeles Times reported on June 22nd on the reopening of a
Scientology mission in Glendale.
"After moving off Brand Boulevard four years ago, the Church of
Scientology returned earlier this month. The church's Mission of Brand
Boulevard celebrated its grand opening at 222 1/2 N. Brand Blvd. on June
10 with a ribbon cutting. The new mission includes a classroom with
self-study materials and rooms for pastoral counseling."
> Stephen Kent
The Marburg Journal of Religion published a response from Leisa Goodman,
of the Office of Special Affair's PR branch, to an article by Stephen Kent
on European American relations regarding Scientology and other cults.
"Stephen Kent writes about the Church of Scientology. Yet he has never
been inside one of our churches, and he refuses to consider
Scientologists' views. He has no first-hand experience. His descriptions
of the Church of Scientology and its members are remote, unreal and
untrue. His role in writing about Scientology is not that of a researcher
seeking greater understanding, but a propagandist advocating a cause. His
function is evidently to legitimise a governmental policy and practice of
religious discrimination against Scientologists in Germany that has been
criticised in more than 35 reports by international human rights agencies.
German officials responsible for the abuses have been eager to seek out
Kent, ignoring genuine scholarship and expertise on Scientology.
"Take his remarks about the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), a
voluntary programme undertaken only by members of the Sea Organisation.
The Sea Organisation is a fraternal religious order within the Church of
Scientology, and its name derives from its founding days aboard a fleet of
ships, although today most Sea Organisations units are based on land.
"The RPF programme is based upon one of the oldest and most fundamental
concepts in religion - that of withdrawing to a cloister for prayer and/or
intensive spiritual studies. This practice is common to many different
faiths, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and the monastic orders of
the Roman Catholic Church.
"Turning to Germany, Kent questions the reality of religious
discrimination in that country. How would he even know? He has never
interviewed a German Scientologist and his bias precludes him from
obtaining first-hand information.
"Kent does not treat the matter of minority faiths in France with any more
scholastic integrity than he does in Germany. He hastens to the defense of
the French 'Interministerial Mission to Fight Against Sects (MILS)',
targeting the Church of Scientology based upon an affidavit signed by a
dismissed ex-member. The affidavit made ludicrous and outrageous claims
about a Church facility in California. An attorney, who U.S. courts have
since sanctioned approximately $100,000 and declared a 'vexatious
litigant' for filing frivolous suits, paid the former member $17,000 to
attach his signature to that affidavit. The legal firm for which this
attorney worked, after reviewing evidence of the ex-member's lack of
credibility, stopped using the affidavit. Kent, because fabrications fit
his agenda and that of the French officials whose human rights abuses he
is intent on sanctifying, chooses to ignore these facts.
"Scholarship is a discipline which carries the responsibility to provide
objective and accurate information in the service of the truth. It is not
a channel to be exploited in an effort to coat human rights violations
with a veneer of legitimacy. A real expert in the field of religion who
approaches Scientology with an open mind will discover the culmination of
a religious quest that man has engaged on for thousands of years.
> Lisa McPherson
The St. Petersburg Times reported on June 22nd that one of the charges
against Scientology in the civil case has been dropped.
"The Church of Scientology won a partial victory Thursday when a judge
dismissed one of four counts in a 4-year-old wrongful death lawsuit filed
by the estate of Lisa McPherson. In one of his final acts overseeing the
case, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Frank Quesada dismissed the count
alleging that McPherson was falsely imprisoned.
"Ken Dandar, the lawyer representing the McPherson estate, argued that
McPherson was psychotic and incapable of giving her consent when she was
taken by members of the church to the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater.
The 36-year-old Scientologist died in 1995 after 17 days in the care of
"Although the lawsuit has yet to make it before a jury, Quesada on
Thursday granted a motion to dismiss the false imprisonment count.
'Based on the undisputed facts of this case, plaintiff has not made and
cannot make a showing that Lisa McPherson was unlawfully restrained
'against her will' by the defendants,' Quesada wrote in his 49-page
opinion. 'In fact, all of the evidence indicates the opposite. Lisa
McPherson refused psychiatric observation or admission at the hospital;
she expressly stated her desire to receive the religious care and
assistance from her fellow congregants that she and they wanted her to
have. Moreover McPherson exhibited bizarre and psychotic behavior, there
is no competent evidence that Lisa McPherson demanded to be released and
was unlawfully restrained from leaving,' Quesada wrote.
"Dandar said he will appeal Quesada's ruling. He said after a hearing
Thursday that Quesada's order was based on false testimony and disregards
the testimony of several psychiatrists who said McPherson was incapable of
giving consent. But the ruling is not damaging to the main part of the
case, Dandar said. 'It is not central at all,' Dandar said. 'Even if the
jury were going to believe that Lisa wanted and consented to go to the
hotel, she never consented to dying.'
"Because of a shuffling of judicial assignments, the lawsuit will now be
transferred to Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge Susan Schaeffer. Dandar said he
plans to file a motion asking Schaeffer to recuse herself because of
previous comments she made that he said were sympathetic to the church."
From the Associated Press on June 23rd:
"'Not only is there no evidence that Lisa was brought to the Fort Harrison
against her will, but the evidence is uncontroverted that, by every
objective measure, Lisa agreed, consented and wished to go there,' Circuit
Judge Frank Quesada said in dismissing the false imprisonment claim
brought by McPherson's estate. Based on undisputed facts of the case, the
estate made no showing that McPherson was unlawfully restrained against
her will, Quesada wrote in a 49-page opinion granting a summary judgment.
'In fact, all of the evidence indicates the opposite.'
"The judge said McPherson was exercising her constitutional right of
privacy to refuse medical treatment at Morton Plant Hospital and to go
instead to the Fort Harrison to receive care at the church's facility. Had
the hospital refused to release her, that would have constituted false
imprisonment, Quesada said. Church workers were not only entitled, but
legally bound, to respect McPherson's 'constitutionally protected choice,'
Stacy Brooks attended the hearing in which the judge announced his
"Jesse and I attended the hearing yesterday. Judge Quesada signed
Scientology's proposed ruling on their motion for summary judgment
regarding false imprisonment exactly as they submitted it. He added
"Regarding Scientology's motion to exclude Jesse Prince as an expert or
fact witness, Judge Quesada declined to rule at all, despite vigorous
argument by Kendrick Moxon, aided by Lee Fugate."
> Protest Summary
Gregg Hagglund reported a protest in Toronto on June 23rd.
"Picketers - Close Range: Mike Argue, Kaeli, Zeratul, Gregg Hagglund. 120
feet: Keith Henson, Dave Palter. Observers: Grammarian, DeepWog2. Flyer
Count: 270. Duration 12:15 PM to 2 PM.
"This was the first picket since Keith's false arrest as a 'dangerous pipe
bomber' and Internationally Hunted Misdemeanant 'hate criminal'. Org staff
under OT3 went into hiding and skulking mode. A back alley was utilized to
scuttle in and out of the Org. Police did not appear to respond to
Scientology calls for assistance. The only Org response was a forlorn
counter picketing effort by an OT3 named J.G. Layton. Layton started out
by passing the libelous handout Al Buttnor or one of his stooges,
manufactured years ago. However shortly thereafter a more senior org staff
member stopped him. He was then only permitted to hand out the 'Free
> John Travolta
The Herald Sun reported on June 24th that Scientology celebrity John
Travolta is touring Australia with an eye to recruiting for Scientology.
"John Travolta is out to win recruits to Scientology during his
promotional tour of Australia. 'I'm so proud of what it does and how it
helps people, I don't really mind when Scientology is brought up,' he
said. 'I feel like it's a perfect invitation for me to maybe help someone
with their life.'
"He said he was happy for the media to harp on the controversial religion
to which he was one of several celebrity recruits. 'I think your average
fellow would be offended by that, but in my case I'm actually pleased when
it comes up because maybe it gives me an opportunity to share it with
someone and maybe help them,' he said.
"Based on the sci-fi writings of self professed guru L. Ron Hubbard,
Scientology hinges on the assumption human beings can 'clear' themselves
of past hurts and experiences and achieve optimal performance as humans.
But it has attracted criticism that it can brainwash its devotees and
strip them of much of their material wealth.
The President of the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises wrote
members on June 20th to announce summer events and a cruise on the
"At this year's Maiden Voyage Anniversary Cruise, new LRH technical and
administrative services and materials are being announced which are
crucial to moving all Scientologists up The Bridge to OT. And, as occurs
each year, the briefings from the Maiden Voyage will be presented at
events in local orgs throughout July.
"Factually, EVERYONE must attend the Summer Events at their local org, and
what is needed and wanted from the WISE Sector to back this up is that
each member and all those you care about attend. What is coming will blow
away any stops or failed purposes and put beings at cause. And I can tell
you that anything standing between beings and reaching the top of The
Bridge is about to be blown to smithereens. You will find out how at the
Freewinds Summer Events.
"The first events begin at Flag and PAC on Friday, 29 June and on Saturday
7 July in most other areas. The events will then continue on successive
weekends for 4 weeks, with the wins continuing to build up. Contact your
local org or WISE office for details.