A.r.s Week in Review - 4/6/2003
Week in Review Volume 8, Issue 1
4/6/2003 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.
Free A.r.s Week in Review subscriptions are available. Subscriptions are
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> BelgiumFrankfurter Rundschau reported on March 30th that members of Scientology
have been charged as being part of a criminal association.
"A spokesman for the public prosecutor's office has confirmed that
proceedings are being instituted against the members of the sect who had
been the subject of previous reports in the Belgian media. Apparently the
action that has been taken is the consequence of 25 house searches carried
out against Scientology in 1999. Investigations at the time had been
triggered by a former member of the sect, who had demanded the repayment
of the contributions and course fees he had paid. All nine accused are
also being charged with being members of a criminal association It now
remains only for the charges to be approved by the appropriate court.
"La Libre Belgique, a French-language Catholic daily newspaper, reported
that the house searches in 1999 had provided grounds for believing that
several members of parliament, a journalist and members of the Belgian
Gendarmerie (an organisation that has since been dissolved and absorbed
into the local and federal police force) were also members of the sect.
Furthermore, links with Belgium's extreme right wing had emerged during
"A fact-finding parliamentary committee had included Scientology on the
list of sects and classified it as 'damaging and dangerous.' In a petition
to Mary Robinson, the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the
Scientology organisation demanded the return of 2000 files that had been
seized by van Espen."
> Prison workersThe Buffalo News reported on April 6th that prisoners worked to renovate
the new Scientology org in Buffalo, New York.
"Buffalo's Church of Scientology, soon to be forced from its downtown
church for a new city parking ramp, turned to Erie County prison inmates
to help get its new Main Street home ready. A crew of six inmates from the
Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden, dressed in orange prison
jumpsuits and guarded by corrections officers, spent the last month
helping with interior renovations in the new Scientology Church at Main
and Virginia streets.
"Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan, questioned Thursday by The Buffalo News
about a government agency providing free labor to a church, removed the
prison crew from the building several hours later. 'He decided to pull
them until they resolve this,' said Mary Murray, a spokeswoman for the
"Gallivan earlier told The News that, while he had a firm policy that
prison crews could only provide labor to county departments and non-profit
groups, he had never thought about the longtime tradition of separating
church and state. 'Now that the issue is raised, we will immediately look
at it,' Gallivan said. 'It's just something we hadn't considered, and it's
apparent we should have.'
"The county's assistance comes after a Scientology benefactor and church
member financed a trip to inspect Mexican prisons for H. McCarthy Gibson,
the county's top jail administrator, and one of his deputy
superintendents, Robert Huggins. Gibson said they took the trip in October
2001 to look at a Scientology anti-drug program being used in Mexican
prisons that he thought might work here. It was never begun at the county
"Gallivan said helping the church renovate its new home was unrelated,
suggested by a West Seneca insurance agent impressed by the prison crew's
work on another project. 'I think it's an outstanding program,' the
sheriff said of the prison's Service Assistance Corps. 'We're providing a
service to the community and the inmates are doing something productive
with their time, rather than just sitting there.'
"The Internal Revenue Service designated Scientology a church for tax
purposes a decade ago. That's enough for Rob Boston, a spokesman for
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a lobby group in
Washington, D.C. 'Houses of worship should be built by private donations
without any help from government at all,' he said.
"Gibson, the county's chief prison administrator, said the inmates working
on the building were model prisoners who are considered prison trustees.
He said there were no sex offenders or violent offenders among them. 'It's
an inmate works program,' he said. 'These are people who have never had an
opportunity to work before. We designed the Service Action Corps to do
some non-profit community related projects.'
"Gibson said the trip to Mexico that he and Huggins took allowed them to
see a Scientology Second Chance drug program that uses long sessions in a
sauna with large doses of vitamins and minerals. 'It was a holistic
program involving saunas and a vitamin regimen that actually purged the
toxins out of your body,' he said. Gibson said he had hoped to start a
pilot program involving the Scientology methods here, but said prison
administrators have not had time to do it."
> GermanyAgence France Presse reported on April 1st that Scientology has sued the
German government in order to stop surveillance by the Office of the
Protection to the Constitution.
"The German branch of church has asked an administrative court in Cologne
to order the country's interior ministry to 'cease surveillance of the
Church and its parishioners by the state security police,' the church
said. It also wants the court 'to declare that such 'observation' is
illegal,' it said in a statement issued from its Los Angeles headquarters.
"A parallel suit was filed against the interior ministry of the State of
Berlin to end alleged observation of church members by its Office of the
Protection of the Constitution (OPC), it said.
"The announcement of the suit against the German government came as the
State Department said in its human rights report for last year that German
authorities, notably the federal and state OPCs, remained wary of
Scientology. 'Scientologists continued to report discrimination because of
their beliefs,' the report said. 'A number of state and local offices
share information on individuals known to be Scientologists.' The State
Department report said the church had been singled out by OPCs for
scrutiny as they believed it posed a threat to the state's 'democratic
constitutional order.' The perceived threat was because the church
allegedly 'advocates replacement of parliamentary democracies by an
undemocratic system of government based on principles of Scientology,' the
From the Associated Press on April 2nd:
"All but one of Germany's 16 states have been monitoring the
Scientologists since June 1997, on suspicion of being a religious cult
with purely economic interests that poses a danger to the democratic
political order by trying to infiltrate governments and companies. The
Scientologists insist, however, they are a religious organization and
claim surveillance is 'politically motivated, based on no facts, and
abuses Scientologists' rights to freedom of religion and belief.'
"Sabine Weber, a spokeswoman for the Scientologists said the organization
hopes a victory in the Cologne case against the federal agency will be
precedent-setting. The Berlin suit was filed after a court there ruled in
favor of Scientologists in a 2001 case forbidding state officials from
planting informants in the church. It was not clear when either case would
be heard, she said."
> Lisa Marie PresleyFox News published a story on April 3rd on Scientology celebrity Lisa
Marie Presley, who is conducting a publicity tour to support her first
"I'd like to say Lisa Marie Presley should have her head examined. But she
can't, since she doesn't believe in psychiatry. I mean, she really doesn't
believe in it. On her album, which will be released next Tuesday, Presley
even sings the whole title track about this. The song, 'To Whom It May
Concern,' is a screed about psychotropic drugs being bad for kids. ('When
there's something wrong take an antidepressant. You can even choose which
kind you want by the latest suicide.')
"Of course, this is the position of the Church of Scientology, of which
Presley is an adherent: They are anti-psychiatry and anti-medication. They
would rather be the cure for what ails you. You'd think Rolling Stone,
which has Lisa Marie on its new cover and has promoted the heck out of
this fact, would have asked Presley about some of this in the story. In
fact, the writer of the 8,000-word piece glosses over it, as well as the
fact Presley's Web site promotes a charity called the Citizen's Commission
on Human Rights, or CCHR.
"In fact, this is Scientology. There are 23 registered non-profit chapters
of CCHR, and their purpose, besides lobbying and promoting Scientology,
seems to be to raise money for the group. On their tax filings, CCHR
chapters spend lavish amounts on promotion and press, paying consultants
far more than the charity's local directors.
"Writer Chris Heath could have asked Lisa Marie if she only listens to
Scientologists or goes to their parties based on this information. After
all, that's why some people think it's a cult. Presley does break with
Scientology philosophy, which says we shouldn't blame others for our
mistakes. To get publicity for her album, she turns on Michael Jackson and
blames him for their highly publicized bad marriage. She even sends Heath
lyrics to a song not on the album that imply Jackson is 'masturbative.'"
> Org NewsThe Seattle Times reported on April 3rd that Scientology plans to purchase
a building from the Seattle School Board.
"The district has reached a deal to sell its former computer center on
Fourth Avenue North in Lower Queen Anne for $2.25 million. The buyer is
the Church of Scientology of Washington. The computer center is the last
of four properties that became surplus when the district last fall opened
its new headquarters, the John Stanford Center for Education Excellence,
south of downtown."
The San Francisco Business Times reported on March 28th that the same firm
that helped Scientology purchase a new building in San Francisco will help
sell the old org on McAllister St.
"Steve Pugh of GVA Whitney Cressman represented the Church of Scientology
in the organization's $7 million purchase of 701 Montgomery St. Pugh is
also brokering the sale of the Church of Scientology's existing
38,000-square-foot space at 83 McAllister St. The asking price is $2.9
> U.S. State DepartmentThe annual U.S. State Department Human Rights report was released on March
"Austria - In March the Catholic Diocese of Linz, in conjunction with the
provincial government of Upper Austria, publicly distributed a CD-ROM
entitled 'The Search for Meaning: An Orientation Guide to Organizations
that Offer the Solution.' It included information on a wide range of
recognized and unrecognized religions ranging from the Roman Catholic
Church to the Church of Scientology.
"Sensitivity to members of the Church of Scientology and fears of
infiltration remained high. Individual Scientologists were subjected to
discrimination in hiring during the year. Scientology leaders complained
that the church's bank account was closed without cause and that they did
not receive permission to set up an informational tent in downtown Vienna.
"France - In 2001 charges were filed against the Church of Scientology for
fraud and false advertising in a lawsuit brought by three former members.
In May the court found the Paris branch guilty of violating the privacy of
former members and fined it approximately $8,316 (8,000 euros); however,
the branch was cleared of attempted fraud and false advertising. The court
fined the president of the Ile-de-France section of the organization
approximately $2,079 (2,000 euros). Church of Scientology representatives
reported that a case filed by a parent whose child attended an 'Applied
Scholastics'-based school remained ongoing.
"Scientologists continued to report cases of societal discrimination
during the year. Panda International software company claimed that press
reports in 2001 and critical statements by government officials linking it
to the Church of Scientology continued to cause a significant loss in
"Germany - Several states, noting their responsibility to respond to
citizens' requests for information about nontraditional religious groups,
have published pamphlets detailing the ideology and practices of these
groups. Scientology was the focus of many such pamphlets, some of which
warn of the alleged dangers posed by Scientology to the democratic
political order and free-market economic system and to the mental and
financial well being of individual Scientology practitioners. For example,
the Hamburg OPC published 'The Intelligence Service of the Scientology
Organization,' which claimed that Scientology tried to infiltrate
governments, offices, and companies, and that the church spied on its
opponents, with the aim of defaming and 'destroying' them.
"Bavaria announced in November that it might seek to ban Scientology based
on recommendations of a recently released study commissioned by the state.
The basis for the ban would be medical malpractice associated with
Scientology's 'auditing' techniques. The Bavarian Interior Ministry is
expected to test a ban in courts during 2003.
"The federal OPC's annual report for 2001 concluded that the original
reasons for initiating observation of Scientology in 1997 still were
valid, but noted that Scientology had not been involved in any criminal
activity. When the issue of OPC observation was discussed at the annual
gathering of state interior ministers in Bremen in December, the ministers
also acknowledged that Scientology had not been involved in illegal
activities. In December 2001, the Berlin Administrative Court ruled that
the Berlin OPC was barred from using undercover agents or other covert
means for observing Scientology activities. However, the observation of
Scientology activities through other means was not affected by the ruling,
which applied only to the city-state of Berlin.
"In March the Baden-Wuerttemberg Administrative Court ruled that
Scientologists were not permitted to sell books and brochures in
pedestrian zones in the cities of Stuttgart and Freiburg. The court noted
that such activity required a permit, which the Church of Scientology
never applied for. The Church of Scientology argued that this restriction
violated the basic right of religious freedom; however, the court did not
accept this argument.
"In the state of Bavaria, applicants for state civil service positions
were required to complete questionnaires detailing any relationship they
may have with Scientology. According to Bavarian and federal officials, no
one in Bavaria lost a job or was denied employment solely because of
association with Scientology; Scientology officials confirmed this fact. A
number of state and local offices shared information on individuals known
to be Scientologists. There were numerous unconfirmed reports from
Scientologists that they were denied banking services when the account was
to be opened under the name of the Church of Scientology, and were denied
the right to rent facilities to hold meetings and seminars.
"Greece - An appeal by the Church of Scientology to obtain recognition and
a house of prayer permit was pending at year's end. The non-Greek Orthodox
churches must provide separate and lengthy applications to government
authorities on such matters as gaining permission to move places of
worship to larger facilities.
"Russia - Efforts to liquidate the Moscow branch of the Church of
Scientology were defeated in the courts. At year's end, the Church
continued to be engaged in legal battles in other localities. The Moscow
Department of Justice, a branch of the Ministry of Justice, filed a
liquidation suit in 2001 against the Moscow branch of the Church of
Scientology, but the Church won both the suit and ensuing DOJ appeal in
July. While the Moscow Church had not been cleared to reregister by
October, the group continued to operate. The Scientologists filed a suit
with the ECHR against the liquidation order. The St. Petersburg branch of
the Church of Scientology filed an application to register in February,
but was refused twice. In Khabarovsk the local Department of Justice filed
for the liquidation of the Dianetics Center. The Church of Scientology
lost on appeal and the case was under consideration by the federal Supreme
Court. In a related case, the director of the Dianetics Center was
convicted on criminal charges of the illegal practice of medicine and
education. She lost on appeal and was given a suspended sentence of 6
years. Local media attention included references to 'totalitarian sects'
in their coverage. The case was also under consideration by the Supreme
"In October 2001, police arrested five suspects believed to have been
involved in tossing a Molotov cocktail into the Moscow headquarters of the
Church of Scientology in 2001; the church had received bomb threats by
telephone prior to the incident. In February one of the five defendants
was found guilty and sentenced to 2 years in jail.
"UK - The Government did not recognize Scientology as a religion for the
purposes of charity law. Scientology ministers were not considered
ministers of religion for the purpose of immigration relations or
facilitating prison visits. However, prisoners were free to register their
adherence to Scientology."
> VancouverThe Vancouver Courier published an article on Scientology on March 31st.
"Since it was created by world traveler-cum-science fiction writer L. Ron
Hubbard in the 1950s, Scientology has remained a relatively small, if
controversial, player among world religions, best known for high-profile
followers like John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Lisa Marie Presley, Isaac Hayes
and Nancy Cartwright - the voice of Bart Simpson.
"In Vancouver, the Church of Scientology has occupied the corner of
Hastings and Homer since 1980 with volcano-adorned window displays of
Dianetics and signs beckoning passersby to drop in for a free Personality
Test. That's what James Wood encountered when he found himself jobless,
with plenty of time on his hands and broke from spending all his money on
"'Then I went to the library to prove Scientology wrong, to read one of
their books and say, 'Well these guys suck' - like everything else I had
ever read.' Much to his surprise, Wood agreed with everything he read in A
New Slant on Life - a collection of Hubbard's essays on family, children
and the state of the world. Wood says that since immersing himself in
Scientology and the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, he no longer uses drugs,
he understands how to communicate better and his relationship with his
family has improved tenfold. He's also gotten married and now has a son.
"The book that seems to have smacked the most people in the head is
Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Published in 1950,
Dianetics was Hubbard's explanation of what makes people tick. He
postulated that humans possess an analytic mind and a reactive mind - the
part of the mind that acts unconsciously and causes unwanted sensations,
emotions and psychosomatic illnesses. Dianetics is essentially Hubbard's
prescription for how to 'clear' one's reactive mind. This is done through
a technique called auditing, where someone trained in applying Dianetics
and/or Scientology processes assists a 'preclear' to defeat his or her
"While Scientology believes in a supreme being, it doesn't dictate who or
what that supreme being is. It's up to individuals to decide as they
become more enlightened. Enlightenment, however, doesn't come cheap. One
of the first steps for anyone wanting to move up The Bridge to a state of
'clear' and beyond is the Purification Rundown - a regimen of vitamins,
minerals, exercise, rest and sauna time to rid the body of toxins,
pollutants, alcohol and drug residue that apparently block mental and
spiritual development. In Vancouver, the Church of Scientology's
purification program costs $1,609.87.
"Then there's the cost of the seemingly endless stream of L. Ron Hubbard
lecture CDs, workbooks, courses, training programs to become an auditor,
buying your very own 'Super VII Quantum E-meter' - all of which can add up
to thousands upon thousands of dollars in expenses, with the promise of
faster progress up The Bridge. 'Soar to OT,' announces an advertisement in
one of Scientology's many promotional magazines. 'Your fastest route to
Clear and OT starts here,' claims another.
"I take a tour of the premises with Angela Ilasi, the church's public
relations officer. As Ilasi walks me through the church, I notice that
nearly every room has a framed photograph of L. Ron Hubbard, usually in an
ascot or a captain's hat, often looking wistfully out at the ocean or
standing on the bow of a ship. Downstairs, there's a sauna, auditing rooms
and classrooms. In one of the rooms, a man and a woman, both training to
be auditors, sit and face one another in silence. 'They are practising
being able to confront,' Ilasi whispers. 'They're practising being able to
comfortably be in a space without bothering you. Later as it gets higher
to where people are yelling at you, you practice keeping it together.'
"Dr. Stephen Kent, a University of Alberta sociology professor
specializing in the study of religion, says the information superhighway
has hindered Scientology's expansion into the mainstream. 'The Internet
seems to have caused a problem for Scientology. People who might be
interested in the organization can log on and find out a lot of material
by the organization itself, but also a tremendous amount by its critics.
So the Internet has inhibited Scientology's ability to control information
"One of the church's most vocal critics is Gerry Armstrong, a former
Scientologist and Hubbard biographer who calls himself 'Scientology's
Salman Rushdie.' Armstrong left the church in 1981 and has dedicated his
life to speaking out against what he frequently refers to as a 'psycho
cult.' 'My goal is for every Scientologist or ex-Scientologist to be able
to speak freely about his experiences,' says Armstrong. 'I was lured into
Scientology the same way everyone else is - by its false promises. The
cult promised to raise IQ a point per hour of 'auditing.' It promised
stable psychological states far above what man has achieved before. It
promised superhuman abilities. I bought the package.' Even calling
Scientology a religion is controversial. 'Since the KGB and mafia are not
considered religions by thinking people, neither is Scientology,' says
"'Scientology can be very aggressive against perceived opponents,' says
sociology professor Stephen Kent, who himself has been a target. In 1998,
after Kent spoke to German government officials who were gathering
evidence against Scientology, the church paid for an advertising insert in
the Globe and Mail in which he was compared to Holocaust denier Ernst
"'Scientology is a multidimensional, transnational organization, only one
part of which is religious - Scientology would like to replace
conventional mental health practices with its own techniques, but most
Scientologists have no scientific training, which makes their ability to
offer intelligent criticisms somewhat limited. From time to time,
Scientology has helped uncover mental health abuses, but much of what it
claims is shrill.'"