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A.r.s Week in Review - 5/26/2002

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  • rkeller@voicenet.com
    Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review Volume 7, Issue 8 5/26/2002 by Rod Keller [rkeller@voicenet.com] copyright 2002 Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
    Message 1 of 1 , May 26, 2002
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      Alt.religion.scientology
      Week in Review Volume 7, Issue 8
      5/26/2002 by Rod Keller [rkeller@...]
      copyright 2002

      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.

      Free A.r.s Week in Review subscriptions are available. Subscriptions are
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      see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/weekinreview. PDA channel available at
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      Week in Review is archived at:
      http://www.xenu.net/archive/WIR/
      http://wpxx02.toxi.uni-wuerzburg.de/~krasel/CoS/ars-summary.html
      http://www.uni-bonn.de/~uzs1dc/scientology/wir.html
      http://www.religio.de/publik/arsfaq.html

      #####

      > Cannes Film Festival

      indieWIRE reported on May 24th that Scientology was represented at the
      annual Cannes Film Festival.

      "New religions are popping up at the 55th Cannes Film Festival: the Church
      of Scientology mounted an exhibit to L. Ron Hubbard in a small art store
      just off the Croisette. But the old gods still hold sway. As usual, some
      harrumphed that the main competition bowed to old standbys like David
      Cronenberg, Manoel De Oliveira, Allen and Olivier Assayas out of blind
      faith."

      Message-ID: <KFpH8.1835$cw5.1486740@...>

      #####

      > Dianetics Day

      "Cerridwen" reported events at Scientology's May 9th Dianetics Day
      festivities.

      "The big new is that DM was a no show. The first speaker was Karen
      Hollander and she just stumbled through her prepared speech for several
      minutes until she finally settled down. Then came Mark Yager, who was
      also stumbling and bumbling through his prepared speech. Heber made an
      appearance. It has been several years since I've seen Heber at one of
      these events and he got a big round of applause. He was brought out to
      present the awards for most books sold.

      "There was a remake of an LRH Film called 'Evolution of a Science.' This
      was a 20 to 25 minute film and will be part of a new campaign to go along
      with promoting the book. The film promotes the book 'Evolution of a
      Science' through a story and of course, they have to add all that hokey
      crap about the psychs.

      "There was news of new missions opening. Four new ones may have opened in
      the US since the beginning of the year, or since the last event, I can't
      remember which. The number of Book One auditing hours did something like
      10X in the past year, and a graph with actual hours was shown. The
      bookseller from Liberia has been selling DMSMH there and in the
      surrounding half a dozen or more countries. There are Dianetics groups now
      all over the area, including Rwanda."

      Message-ID: <0335645c8511cb28da269d9e39a3bf54@...>

      #####

      > Church of Religious Science

      The Los Angeles Times published an article on the Church of Religious
      Science on May 24th, and the difficulties with being confused with
      Scientology and Christian Science.

      "When Edward Graff talks about his church, its philosophy and spiritual
      basis, people listen and seem interested. But the moment he mentions the
      name, he senses a change. 'They get a little standoffish,' said Graff,
      board president of the Claremont Church of Religious Science. That's
      because some confuse the Church of Religious Science with two other
      churches: The Church of Christ, Scientist, and the Church of Scientology.
      So the Claremont church put out a request to its members to come up with a
      new name. So far it has collected 47. In February, at its annual
      membership meeting, the congregation will vote on whether to change the
      name, and then if so, what it would be, Graff said.

      "When he explains the beliefs of his church, Graff said, people show
      curiosity. Once he says Religious Science, 'they're not as open and they
      don't feel as easy.' They get 'a little worried when they hear science and
      religion in the name of a church,' Graff said. 'We didn't want a name that
      was too confusing or too threatening.' The Church of Religious Science
      grew out of the studies of Ernest Holmes, born in 1887 in Maine. It's more
      philosophy than religion, Graff said.

      "Religious Science is different from Scientology and Christian Science,
      said Pastor Patt Perkins of the Claremont Church of Religious Science. 'I
      believe that Scientology has got a pretty bad reputation,' Perkins said.
      'We don't want to be identified with that because that's not who we are.'

      "If the Claremont church changes its name, it will be the church's fourth
      in 53 years. Suggested names include: Learning Center for Spiritual
      Growth; Church of Serenity; Spirit, Mind and Body Institute; or Claremont
      Community Church of Wisdom."

      Message-ID: <HvpH8.1834$cw5.1486445@...>

      #####

      > Lawrence Wollersheim

      The Los Angeles Times published a story on May 21st on Lawrence
      Wollersheim and the recent collection of his judgment from Scientology for
      abuse he received while he was a member.

      "Lawrence Wollersheim was awarded millions of dollars, but he plans to
      keep living as a nomad in a solar-powered RV, connected to the world by a
      cellular phone with a secret number. The ex-Scientologist came by his
      money in a unique fashion, too: He won a grueling 22-year court battle
      against the Church of Scientology of California that went to the U.S.
      Supreme Court.

      "Wollersheim said the church pushed him to the brink of suicide, brought
      on bipolar disorder and drove his business into bankruptcy. A Los Angeles
      jury agreed. On May 9, the church deposited $8.67 million with the Los
      Angeles Superior Court, marking the only time in two decades, church
      officials say, that Scientology has lost a lawsuit and been forced to pay
      a former member, or as church officials call him, an apostate. 'Justice is
      more powerful than therapy,' Wollersheim said. 'If it takes another 22
      years, I'll stay with it. I'm standing up straight and tall and looking
      them in the eye, and they're not pushing me anymore.'

      "Church officials see a very different picture. They paint Wollersheim as
      a calculating, deranged ex-member who was mentally unbalanced when he
      joined and managed to convince a jury - using bogus testimony - that
      Scientology was responsible for what was wrong in his life. His victory
      was 'a miscarriage of justice,' said Kurt Weiland, an official with the
      Church of Scientology International. Church officials dispute
      Wollersheim's allegations that they dragged their heels to avoid paying.
      They said that he didn't want to collect and that he had an elaborate
      scheme to lose so he could continue collecting donations from
      anti-Scientologists.

      "Wollersheim's lawyers dismiss this claim as ridiculous. Attorney Craig
      Stein said the church 'used every possible litigation technique to make
      the pursuit of collection of the judgment so costly that any less
      determined person would have given up a long time ago.'

      "Scientologists believe that auditing can help rehabilitate the human
      spirit and is the path to spiritual enlightenment. For 11 years,
      Wollersheim said, he believed that too. He signed a billion-year contract,
      which the church describes as a symbolic gesture of eternal commitment. At
      one point, he said, he lived with other Scientologists and spent all his
      waking hours working for the church. He also operated several businesses,
      including a photography enterprise. In the mid-1970s Wollersheim agreed to
      undergo auditing sessions aboard a ship in Long Beach. It was a strenuous
      regime of little sleep, paltry food and hours of auditing that experts
      testified helped bring on his mental illness. At another stage, according
      to court records, Wollersheim agreed to disconnect from friends and family
      who had expressed concerns about Scientology.

      "When he started to question his belief in Scientology, Scientologists
      drove his business into bankruptcy. Church officials said members stopped
      patronizing Wollersheim's business because they discovered he was
      disreputable. They also deny pressuring him to disconnect from friends and
      family.

      "Much of the money is owed to lawyers and others who helped bankroll
      Wollersheim's battle. He hasn't had a long-term job in the last decade, he
      said, because harassment from those angry at his suit have forced him to
      stay on the move, at times armed with a gun and a bulletproof vest.
      Scientology officials say they never harassed him.

      "What kept him going was the conviction that he was fighting, not just for
      himself, but for others hurt by the church, he said. He lives in a
      recreational vehicle with four wheel drive and solar power so he can go
      'off the grid' to hide if necessary."

      Message-ID: <JiqG8.1410$cw5.1030230@...>

      #####

      > Narconon

      The Sunday News from Lancaster, Pennsylvania reported on May 17th that a
      Narconon staffer is asking to have his drug-related sentence reduced.

      "Anthony J. Mariani III has struggled with drug addiction his entire adult
      life and has been in criminal court many times. But now, family members
      told Judge David Ashworth on Wednesday, Mariani is clean from his drug
      habit and back in control of his life. Now, he is an 'integral part' of
      the administrative staff of a drug rehabilitation center in Georgia,
      Ashworth was told.

      "Defense attorney John A. Kenneff urged the judge to put Mariani on
      probation for a long time and let him go back to his work helping
      others.
      Assistant District Attorney Jeff Conrad was skeptical about Mariani's
      recovery from heroin since his arrest in September 2000. Conrad argued
      for a stiff prison sentence, saying Mariani still needed to be held
      accountable for committing the felony crime for which he was convicted
      last March - possessing 31 bags of heroin with the intent to deliver.

      "After listening to more than an hour of testimony and discussion of the
      case Wednesday morning, Ashworth sentenced Mariani to one to two years in
      prison followed by 13 years probation. The judge reduced the prison
      sentence by one day so that it could be served in Lancaster County Prison.
      Then Mariani may be paroled to a drug rehabilitation facility, including
      the one where he works.

      "Mary Reeser, director of the Narconon facility where Mariani works, said
      that since completing the program himself and joining the staff, he has
      become an 'integral part of our facility.' While Mariani may be clean from
      his drug addiction now, Conrad suggested that there was an 'undue risk to
      society' and treatment is 'best supplied in prison.' Conrad asked for a
      stiff prison sentence, telling the judge that a lesser period of
      incarceration would depreciate the seriousness of the crime."

      Message-ID: <qscheusnu1s7lenqkcjv7bqdufqakt51lc@...>

      #####

      > Protest Summary

      Tory Christman reported a protest in downtown Hemet, California on May
      25th.

      "I pulled into Blockbuster and pulled out my signs. I thought these people
      should be informed of the latest news, and how I feel about Scientology
      and families. They read: 'SCIENTOLOGY PAID (after 22 years of fighting)
      WOLLERSHEIM 8.7 MILLION DOLLARS!' My other one is red, shaped like a stop
      sign and reads: 'SCIENTOLOGY STOP HURTING FAMILIES.'

      "I walked back and forth on a main corner in downtown Hemet as numerous
      cars streamed by. Almost all read my signs. Soon a number of people
      started honking, giving me the Hi Five Sign and Waving. I stayed for about
      20 minutes, walking back and forth, nodding to people, holding my signs
      out for them to read."

      Message-ID: <3cf070ee@...>

      #####

      > U.S. State Department

      The U.S. State Department released its annual report on human rights for
      2001 this week. Some excerpts from the report on Austria:

      "The nine religious groups that have constituted themselves as
      confessional communities according to the law are: Jehovah's Witnesses,
      the Baha'i Faith, the Baptists, the Evangelical Alliance, the Movement for
      Religious Renewal, the Pentecostalists, the Seventh-Day Adventists, the
      Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Hindu religious community. After initially
      filing for confessional community status, the Church of Scientology
      withdrew its application from consideration in 1998. Sensitivity to
      Scientology in the country remained high. The Church of Scientology has
      reported problems obtaining credit cards, and individual Scientologists
      have experienced discrimination in hiring."

      On the Czech Republic:

      "On December 18, Parliament voted to override President Havel's veto and
      enacted the Law on the Freedom of Religious Belief and on the Status of
      Churches and Religious Societies. It will impose a two-tiered registration
      system, lowering the membership requirement for the first tier (non-profit
      religious association with limited tax benefits) to 300, but raising the
      membership requirement for the second tier (full religious association
      with benefit of state funding and property rights) to approximately
      20,000. The new law will also impose a 10-year observation period on all
      first-tier organizations wishing to obtain second-tier status. Under the
      old law, registered churches would automatically receive second-tier
      status. The new law has been criticized by some unregistered religious
      groups (including the Muslims and the Church of Scientology) and
      nongovernmental observers as prejudicial against minority religions."

      On Belgium:

      "In February the Church of Scientology took legal action to force the
      return of documents seized in a 1999 police raid of church facilities and
      the homes and businesses of about 20 members. The Church of Scientology
      also filed a complaint asserting that the Prosecutor's Office provided
      prejudicial statements to the press in violation of the country's secrecy
      laws regarding investigations. A second, smaller raid on the Church of
      Scientology's Brussels headquarters took place on February 8 at which time
      additional documents were seized. Most of the seized computer equipment
      was returned to the Church, but the documents from both raids still were
      being held by the investigating magistrate at year's end. In March the
      Church filed a complaint against the Government with the U.N. Special
      Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance. No arrests were made or charges filed
      against church members as a result of the original raid.

      "In November the Church of Scientology was informed on the morning of the
      scheduled day that it could not use the International Press Center to
      announce its suit against the Commission's dangerous sect list. A
      representative of the center reportedly cited the presence of the Church
      of Scientology on the commission's list as a reason for the cancellation.
      However, in a subsequent review of the refusal, the Center decided that in
      the future the Church of Scientology could use the facilities."

      On Denmark:

      "Scientologists continued to seek official approval as a religious
      organization. Their second application was resubmitted in 1999 and
      withdrawn again in early 2000, shortly before a decision by the Government
      was expected. In withdrawing the application, the Church of Scientology
      asked the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs for additional time to
      respond to reports about Scientology that had appeared in the media. The
      Scientologists had not resubmitted an application by year's end."

      On France:

      "The Government does not recognize all branches of Jehovah's Witnesses or
      the Church of Scientology as qualifying religious associations for tax
      purposes and therefore subjects them to a 60 percent tax on all funds they
      receive.

      "A number of court cases have been initiated against the Church of
      Scientology, generally by former members who have sued the Church for
      fraud and sometimes for the practice of medicine without a license, and
      some cases have been brought under the Data Privacy Act. In April the
      Church of Scientology was taken to court for fraud and false advertising
      in a lawsuit brought by three former members; the case remained pending at
      year's end. Church of Scientology representatives reported that a case
      filed by a parent whose child attended an 'Applied Scholastics'-based
      school remained ongoing. In March warrants in this case were executed, and
      the police entered Scientology offices and removed files.

      "In April the press reported that software produced by Panda International
      was created by a Scientologist. According to representatives of Panda
      Software, the Interior Ministry and others subsequently indicated that
      they would not renew their contracts with the company. Panda claimed that
      critical statements by government officials in press articles that linked
      the product to Scientology have caused a significant loss of business."

      On Germany:

      "Several states, noting their responsibility to respond to citizens'
      requests for information about these groups, have published pamphlets
      detailing the ideology and practices of nonmainstream religions.
      Scientology is the focus of many such pamphlets, some of which warn of the
      alleged dangers posed by Scientology to the political order and freemarket
      economic system and to the mental and financial well being of individuals.
      For example, the Hamburg OPC published 'The Intelligence Service of the
      Scientology Organization,' which claims that Scientology tried to
      infiltrate governments, offices, and companies, and that the church spies
      on its opponents, defames them, and 'destroys' them.

      "In April the federal OPC concluded in its annual report for the year 2000
      that its stated reasons for initiating observation of Scientology in 1997
      remained valid. The section of the report covering Scientology described
      the organization's political ideology as antidemocratic, quoting from the
      writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology pamphlets.

      "On December 12, the Berlin Regional Administrative Court held that the
      Berlin OPC could not employ undercover agents to continue the observation
      of Scientology's activities in the state of Berlin. The Court concluded
      that after 4 years of observation, the Berlin OPC had failed to uncover
      information that would justify the continued use of intrusive methods.

      "A number of state and local offices share information on individuals
      known to be Scientologists. Until March the Government required firms to
      sign a declaration in bidding on government contracts stating that neither
      the firm's management nor employees were Scientologists. Firms that failed
      to submit a sect filter declaration were presumed 'unreliable' and
      excluded from consideration. In response to concerns expressed by foreign
      governments and multinational firms, in 2000 the Economics Ministry
      limited the scope of the sect filter to consulting and training contracts.
      In March the Economics Ministry persuaded the federal and state interior
      ministries to accept new wording that would only prohibit use of the
      'technology of L. Ron Hubbard' in executing government contracts. Firms
      owned or managed by or employing Scientologists could bid on these
      contracts. The Federal Property Office has barred the sale of some real
      estate to Scientologists, noting that the federal Finance Ministry has
      urged that such sales be avoided, if possible.

      "In the state of Bavaria, applicants for state civil service positions
      must complete questionnaires detailing any relationship they may have with
      Scientology. Bavaria identified some state employees as Scientologists and
      has required them to complete the questionnaire. Some of these employees
      have refused, and two filed suit in the local administrative court. Both
      cases have been decided, both in favor of the employees. The Bavarian
      Interior Ministry commented that these were individual decisions, but
      withdrew the questionnaire for persons already employed with the State of
      Bavaria or the City of Munich; however, the questionnaire is still in use
      for persons seeking new state or municipal government employment.
      According to Bavarian and federal officials, no one in Bavaria lost a job
      or was denied employment solely because of association with Scientology.

      "In January 1999, a higher social court in Rheinland-Pfalz ruled that a
      Scientologist was allowed to run her au pair agency, for which the State
      Labor Ministry had refused to renew her license in 1994 because of her
      membership in the Church of Scientology. The judge ruled that the question
      of a person's reliability hinges on the person and not their membership in
      the Church of Scientology. The ruling remained under appeal by the State
      Labor Office at year's end, and the au pair agency continued operations.

      "In October the management of a commercial racing track in Oschersleben
      informed the foreign subsidiary of the California Superbike School that it
      could not rent the track to conduct a training session; they stated that
      the denial was based on the grounds that the founder of the School was a
      Scientologist, and that Scientology was under OPC observation."

      On Greece:

      "In February 2000, the Scientologists submitted an application for
      recognition as a known religion. Although the period mandated by law for
      processing the application is 3 months, the Ministry waited until October
      2000 to decide that it would not recognize the Scientologist community as
      an 'official' religion. In October 2000, the Ministry denied the
      Scientologists their application for recognition and a house of prayer
      permit on the grounds that Scientology 'is not a religion.' The Church of
      Scientology appealed the decision to the Council of State in December
      2000, and the case was pending at year's end."

      On Hungary:

      "In 2000 the Hungarian Tax Authority initiated investigations of the
      Church of Scientology, based on questions regarding the registration of
      its clergy. The investigations took place at the Church's office where
      investigators requested files and conducted interviews. The APEH had not
      completed its investigation by year's end."

      On Russia:

      "The Church of Scientology has experienced problems in reregistering its
      organization in Moscow. In October the Moscow city court upheld a lower
      court ruling on the denial of reregistration to the church's local
      chapter, and the local department of the Ministry of Justice initiated
      liquidation proceedings against the chapter.

      "Some religious minority denominations accuse the FSB, Procurator, and
      other official agencies, of increasing harassment of certain
      'nontraditional' denominations, in particular, Pentecostals,
      Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and the Unification Church.
      In December 2000, a Moscow court returned a case in which the Church of
      Scientology was accused of 'criminal activities' to law enforcement
      authorities for further investigation because of irregularities by the
      procurator's office. In January the case resumed, but subsequently was
      dismissed for lack of evidence. The procurator appealed, but the appellate
      court upheld the lower court's ruling in May, clearing the Scientologists
      of all charges.

      "In March the head of the local department of the Ministry of Justice and
      other local officials held a press conference at Nizhniy Novgorod's city
      hall in which they called for noncooperation with such groups as the
      Jehovah's Witnesses, the Moonies, and the Scientologists. From April 23 to
      25, local Russian Orthodox Church officials held a conference in Nizhniy
      Novgorod, which was devoted to 'Totalitarian Cults - Threat of the XXI
      Century,' featured a number of presentations from both domestic and
      foreign 'anticult' activists. In the materials that came out of the
      conference, groups such as Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, the
      Unification Church, and Scientology were included in the list of 'cults,'
      despite the fact that all have legal status.

      "On September 16, perpetrators hurled a Molotov cocktail into the Moscow
      headquarters of the Church of Scientology; the church had received bomb
      threats by telephone prior to the incident. By year's end, the police had
      arrested five suspects."

      On Slovakia:

      "The police law regulates wiretapping and mail surveillance for the
      purposes of criminal investigation, which may be conducted on the order of
      a judge or prosecutor only in cases of extraordinarily serious
      premeditated crimes or crimes involving international treaty obligations.
      There were reports that the Ministry of Interior actively monitored
      members of the Church of Scientology.

      "The Ministry of Interior also actively monitored Scientologists. Several
      stories have appeared in the media critical of companies that have ties to
      Scientology, including reports that the Director of the SIS was concerned
      that a company with close ties to the church of Scientology had won a vote
      to provide the Government with a new computer system."

      On Spain:

      "In December a Madrid court acquitted 15 Spanish citizens of charges of
      illicit association and tax evasion. The charges arose from a fraud
      complaint against Church of Scientology offices Dianetica and Narconon and
      the subsequent arrest of Scientology International President Heber
      Jentzsch and 71 others at a 1988 convention in Madrid. Scientology
      representatives asserted that the indictment against Jentzsch, who was not
      part of the trial, was religiously based, a claim denied by officials."

      On Switzerland:

      "In December 2000, the Federal Department of Police published a followup
      report to a 1999 report by the Business Review Commission of the National
      Assembly regarding the need for state involvement in controlling 'sects.'
      The December 2000 report concluded that the activities of sects, including
      Scientology, had not increased significantly and that special monitoring
      of sects therefore was not justified.

      "In 1999 a court held that the Scientologists' activities were commercial
      and not religious, and that the city should grant them and other
      commercial enterprises, such as fast food restaurants, more freedom to
      distribute pamphlets on a permit basis. Fearing a heavy administrative and
      enforcement workload, the city appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme
      Court rejected the appeal in June 2000, affirming the decision by the
      lower court that the Scientologists' activities were commercial in nature
      and thus should be permitted."

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      -end-
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