A.r.s Week in Review 11/25/2001
Week in Review Volume 6, Issue 31
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 OrgThe Buffalo News reported on November 21st that the city may seize the
Scientology org there to create a parking ramp.
"The city has offered to buy the five-story building owned by the Church
of Scientology for $425,000, City Real Estate Director John Hannon told
the Common Council's Finance Committee. He said the figure was based on
what he called two good appraisals. Except for space occupied on the first
floor by the owner, most of the structure is vacant, city officials said.
"Under powers of eminent domain, governments can initiate condemnation
proceedings to obtain private property for public use. The Common Council
is expected to authorize public hearings on the planned condemnation
proceedings within the next couple weeks."
> Al ButtnorA letter from Al Buttnor of the Toronto org to the husband of
"Yduzitmatter" was posted this week.
"Dear Pastor Palmer:
"I am sorry to tell you that your wife has become involved in a hate
campaign against our religion in Toronto both by her regular postings to
the internet on a newsgroup and by her recent participation in pickets at
our Church. We are not sure why she is doing this.
"We have discussed this matter with several of our Lutheran Friends and
they suggested that we write to you in an effort to open a door
communication and hopefully reconciliation. It was even suggested to us
that a mediator from Conrad Grebel College may be of benefit to resolve
the situation if necessary and we agree that this may be helpful.
From the reply:
"Dear Mr. Buttnor:
"I am aware of my wife's activities in regard to Scientology both on the
internet and her participation in peaceful pickets of the Toronto Org. I
do not believe that we have anything to discuss in this regard either
personally or with a mediator. I will be sending a copy of your letter and
my reply to my Bishop's Office. Please do not contact me again as there is
nothing for us to discuss.
Rev. William Palmer"
> Cruise/KidmanAAP reported on November 23rd that Scientology celebrity Tom Cruise and
Nicole Kidman have settled their divorce without a court battle.
"Under the settlement, struck to avoid a courtroom showdown, Kidman, 34,
and Cruise, 39, agreed to joint custody of their adopted children,
Isabella, eight, and six-year-old Conor. She will keep their $US10
million five-bedroom mansion in Pacific Palisades, near Los Angeles, and
their $US5 million eight-bedroom, three-storey villa on the Sydney harbour
front. Cruise got their $US5 million 110-hectare estate in Telluride,
Colorado's best skiing area, and kept control of his three aeroplanes.
"The couple have agreed that they can continue to be educated in a private
school in Australia, at home in Los Angeles, and with tutors when Cruise
or Kidman are filming on location. Both parents will make joint decisions
about their education and religious upbringing. There had been claims the
couple had disagreed on whether the children should be brought up in
Cruise's religion of Scientology or follow Kidman's Catholic upbringing."
> WoodcraftsThe Daily Mail published an article on November 25th on the Woodcraft
family, the escape of several members from Scientology.
"'I hated it. Mum and Dad did not get home until 10pm, and we had to do
chores after school, under the supervision of a Scientology nanny,' says
Astra. 'We had to clean the kitchen and mop the floors. After dinner we'd
do homework and be given a bedtime drink called 'calmag.' This drink,
others verify, is calcium, magnesium, vinegar and boiling water, which
acts as a mild sedative on children.
"For a year, Astra was in the cadets, a group for children of Sea
Organisation members. 'My school teacher was not a trained, certified
teacher but a Scientology 'supervisor'. We had no lessons but worked
straight out of books and instruction sheets,' she says. Lawrence
explains: 'Hubbard believed we had all lived before and attended school,
so he didn't put too much emphasis on formal education.' Astra's life
became even more grueling. After lessons, she had to do several hours'
filing before falling asleep on a campbed, finally being collected by her
parents at around 2am.
"Astra began attending a Scientology course at the Celebrity Centre in
Hollywood. There, she was invited into the Sea Organisation, aged 14. 'I
knew it would make Mum and Gran happy and I thought I was going to earn
good money.' Astra says she was told she would be working for a publishing
offshoot and would earn 200 pounds a week. In fact, she found herself
working long hours as a secretary for nominal pay (10 pounds a week plus
board and lodgings). During this time she says she attended school for
only six hours a week. One of my tasks was to persuade people who wanted
to leave the Sea Organisation that they should stay. If they refused I had
to order them to do hard labour and make them sign 'confessionals' saying
it was all their fault they were leaving.'
"At just 15 she wed fellow Sea Organisation employee Jason Merrill, in the
Silver Bell chapel in Las Vegas. Astra became disillusioned with her
limited life and the strict teachings of the religion. 'I couldn't tell
anyone how I was feeling, not even my husband, because he would be obliged
to report me and I'd be ostracised. You are taught to think there is
something wrong with you if you are not happy in the organisation.'
"Finally, Astra extricated herself from the movement in 1998, but not
before she confessed to a list of petty crimes to avoid being declared a
Suppressive Person. Her crimes included 'stealing' leftover food and a
pair of tights, forgetting to return a borrowed shirt and trying marijuana
at 13. 'I signed the confession because I didn't want to lose contact
with Mum, Gran, my sister and brother,' she says.
"Astra was pregnant when she left and Kate was born soon after. Free of
the constraints of Scientology, she felt relief, tempered with sadness and
fear. 'It took me a long time to fully break free because so many of my
friends were in Scientology. It was like starting my life all over again.
Her relationship with her mother has broken down since she denounced
Scientology, and the church has sent Astra a bill for almost 60,000 pounds
for the classes she was given. She refuses to pay. Two years later, Zoe
followed her sister and left Scientology. Now 16, she is at an ordinary
Los Angeles school and is struggling to keep up with her academic work.
"How could any father allow his daughters to remain in such an
organisation, even giving his consent for one to marry at 15? 'I feel
really guilty about what happened and I'm trying to make it up to them,'
he says, struggling to explain something he can barely comprehend himself.
'I had no idea Astra was unhappy. She used to tell me everything was fine,
because that is what she was drilled to say. I let her marry because I
didn't want to lose her. She needed only one parent's consent and Lesley
had already agreed. As for Zoe, she lived in Florida and I rarely saw
her. I had to be careful not to put too much pressure on her to leave or
she would have been obliged to tell her mother and others, according to
Scientology rules, and it could have pushed her further away."
> Essay ContestThe Foundation for Religious Tolerance, a Scientology front group,
announced an essay contest on the topic of human rights.
"The Foundation for Religious Tolerance has formed a new group, Youth for
Human Rights. Executive Director Mary Untiedt, a school principal and
long-time educator, launched an educational program for children so they
come to understand at an early age the importance of human rights and
"The first Youth for Human Rights project was done In coordination with
Irving Sarnoff, Founder and Director of Friends of the United Nations, and
the Human Rights Director for the Church of Scientology International,
Leisa Goodman. The topic of the essay was 'What do Human Rights mean to
me?' Mr. Sarnoff was the final judge of the essays and announced the
winners from each country at events highlighting the 2001 European
Marathon for Human Rights. The three winners of the contest were awarded a
trip to Geneva, the European home of the United Nations and the European
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to receive their awards.
"'Before I had read the Declaration, my opinion on human rights was very
abstract, but thanks to this school work and my Internet connection I can
say that human rights will become a very important part of my future
interests.' - Vaclav Bolina (age: 17) Czech Republic
"'Discrimination of any sort is not born in the children's hearts. I
appeal to the good sense of the adults to let human rights prevail.' -
Daniel Rupp (age:15) Austria
"'If all people would really go for human rights, we would win against the
bad and I'm sure, we would have peace not war.' - Manuel Lussi -
> Hollywood Christmas ParadeDilbert Perkins reported on the preparations for the Way to Happiness
float in the Hollywood Christmas Parade.
"They are still putting the 'Way to Happiness' float together. They have
been working on 'L. Ron Hubbard's Winter Wonderland' for two weeks now.
It's next to the Dianetics Testing Center."
> Protest Summary"Barb" reported a protest at Gold Base near Hemet, California on November
"Kaeli, Zeratul, phr and I met Richard at Ida's place. When we arrived at
Gold, we first did a photo op drive through so the Torontulas could get
some pix. Kaeli was in her foot cast, so she stayed with the car. We went
on up the road with our signs. It was pretty quiet behind the razor wire,
I did spot a couple of uniformed Sea Ogres and a few other personnel
wandering around while there. They have replaced the rotating camera by
the guardhouse with a stationary one.
"There's a driveway and gate there that leads to the base on the east side
of the highway. Richard walked up to the gate, and the intercom came to
life. 'Hey, Dick,' a disembodied voice said, 'You're trespassing! The
sheriff is on his way!' We were going to leave when we got back to the
car, but decided to stick around for the sheriff. He never showed."
"Barb" also reported a protest on November 23rd in San Diego.
"We had the Torontulas, Kaeli and Zeratul, phr, Barb, Richard, and a guest
from the LA area who drove down the night before. I saw people milling
about the front of the org when we were about 3 blocks down from it. They
had all vanished by the time we arrived, save for a few hanging around
outside the front door. They've redecorated their office again, and
there's a big banner hanging outside offering services for those who are
upset in these turbulent times. A big American flag hangs in their front
window next to the Help Wanted sign.
"We handed out a few fliers to passersby, including one Scieno who dragged
them back to the nest. A Scientologist took a picture of Zeratul
photographing him by the front door, but no one came out to us. Traffic
into downtown was good, and many people were slowing down to read our
'Scientology, Bait and Switch Fraud' signs. We knocked off after 30
minutes or so."
Tory Bezazian reported a protest in Los Angeles on November 23rd.
"I had two friends visiting from Canada who are critics, we decided to
give 'old Blue' a picket. The three of us parked on the street behind the
Complex, and walked around to L Ron Hubbard Way with our picket signs. My
sign says, 'Scientology: Stop Hurting Families,' and they other mentions
families too, and they have www.xenu.net on the back.
"As we walked along, immediately the security guards began slowly riding
near us, and others walking on the street. On this day there were about
5-6 kids skateboarding and walking around the complex. As we walked one
young kid yelled from across the street, 'GET OFF OUR STREET!' To which I
said, 'You don't own this street'. We quietly continued walking up one
side to the Sunset end of the Complex. As we did, the kids followed us, as
did the security guards. As we walked, one little girl (maybe 12 we
figured) came up to us and said, 'We aren't hurting families.' I said
back, 'Tell that to the kids who are dead.' She said, 'We didn't kill
anyone' and I said, 'I didn't say YOU did,' hoping she might think about
"The kids also continued to tell us to 'Get off of our street.' I told
them, 'We actually have a legal right to be here and picket. Did you know
that?' Her response? 'I don't care!' About this time we had curved around
and were walking back down the side of LA Org and ASHO. LA ORG seemed it's
usual totally empty look. My friend asked her, 'Do you realize you are
being manipulated?' Her response: 'I don't care!' How sad to hear such a
young person already SO shut down. About the time the security guards took
the kids across the street and 'handled' them so they stopped talking with
us. We decided to head over to Bridge, which is around the corner.
"As we walked along side of AOLA I could see the Examiner I had gone to
while Co-Auditing FPRD in the 80's. I could see the Reg's on the phone,
busy calling people trying to get them to buy more of the 'Route to Total
Christopher Wood reported on a protest in Toronto on November 24th.
"Leaflets: 300, mixed between 200 of Gregg's Xenu Special and 100 of Keith
Henson's flyer. Picketers: Me, Gregg Hagglund, Keith Henson, Arel Lucas,
and an Unknown Picketer. Also, a special guest appearance by Nan McLean.
"Dan Bryenton was there again. He showed us again that the cult facade of
being utterly terrified of picketers is exactly that, a facade. He showed
up, and snatched a flyer from the Unknown Picketer, and tried to snatch
one from me. He then hung around near the org for a while staring at us
picketers, and then went and stood about three metres away from Keith
Henson and stared at him. Peter Ramsay was there, and tried a few words
of the usual Scientology intimidation on me. I turned my back on him and
he didn't bother me again.
"The police were called, probably by Mario, the Dianetics franchise
holder, who was on the phone for a while. This time it was two police
officers, arriving separately in cars. One police officer talked to Gregg,
and the other officer got names and addresses of picketers. The one who
took my name asked if this was the extent of it, and I said signs,
leaflets, Gregg with his voice, and then pointed out Keith Henson down the
"I asked the older one why we only got two police officers this time (six
came in response to the last cult whinge, two weeks ago). 'Aren't we as
terrifying this time?' and I could almost swear that the police officer
rolled his eyes at me. Then he said that whenever there was a complaint
they had to investigate, and the two of them went into the org.
"Nan showed up, and hugged all us SP's, and smiled a big smile at our
signs and leaflets. She got shown off to a couple of passers-by, but Nan
can't actually talk about Scientology due to a past legal settlement with
the cult. We suspect that we were followed leaving the org's
neighbourhood in Gregg's car. The same car followed us from the parking
lot, to a lane-by-lane thing on the highway. We lost them at a highway
exit in Mississauga."
> ThanksgivingThe Austin-American Statesman reported on November 19th that Scientology
participated in an interfaith Thanksgiving service.
"The annual interreligious Thanksgiving service always carries a message
of faith and understanding, but this year, it took on a new urgency in the
aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes and subsequent war in
Afghanistan. The 17th annual interfaith unity service was conducted
Sunday at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Austin. About
1,000 people attended, from faiths as diverse as Baptist and Baha'i, Sufi
"It is the first year that the Church of Scientology has been a member of
the interreligious organization, and the reason for participating was the
same as for other faiths: better communication, said the Rev. Jeff Fischer
of the Church of Scientology. 'We believe communication is the way to
handle things in life, to understanding each other and pulling together,'
Voice of America News reported on November 21st that Scientologists in
Chicago will be celebrating Scientology with an emphasis on the September
"Some Chicagoans will eat Thanksgiving dinner at their place of worship.
Mary Strozewski will host members of her local Church of Scientology. She
says the events of September 11 place a new emphasis on work with people
to make a peaceful change in the world. 'We absolutely, positively believe
that things can change if we all put the postulate there and find out what
it is that puts man's savage instincts there and just simply get rid of
it,' she said. Those attending the service will have made a small
difference for some people. Money collected during the offering will be
used to buy dinners for poor families in Chicago."