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A.r.s Week in Review - 4/6/2003

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  • Rod Keller
    Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review Volume 8, Issue 1 4/6/2003 by Rod Keller [rkeller@voicenet.com] copyright 2003 Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2003
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      Alt.religion.scientology
      Week in Review Volume 8, Issue 1
      4/6/2003 by Rod Keller [rkeller@...]
      copyright 2003

      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
      also available on Yahoo. Email weekinreview-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or
      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://www.uni-bonn.de/~uzs1dc/scientology/wir.html
      http://www.religio.de/publik/arsfaq.html

      #####

      > Belgium

      Frankfurter 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
      this operation.

      "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."

      Message-ID: <3e8e070a$1@...>

      #####

      > Prison workers

      The 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
      sheriff.

      "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
      prison.

      "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."

      Message-ID: <3e471c14.0304060557.36909676@...>

      #####

      > Germany

      Agence 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
      report said."

      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."

      Message-ID: <XVDia.18444$gU.811418@...>
      Message-ID: <IHXia.18778$gU.813250@...>

      #####

      > Lisa Marie Presley

      Fox News published a story on April 3rd on Scientology celebrity Lisa
      Marie Presley, who is conducting a publicity tour to support her first
      album.

      "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.'"

      Message-ID: <3e471c14.0304030652.5828e5a@...>

      #####

      > Org News

      The 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
      million."

      Message-ID: <3e471c14.0304030640.3161feee@...>
      Message-ID: <3e471c14.0303310625.3d2bae9@...>

      #####

      > U.S. State Department

      The annual U.S. State Department Human Rights report was released on March
      31, 2003.

      "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
      business.

      "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
      Court.

      "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."

      Message-ID: <ZcYia.18779$gU.813250@...>
      http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/

      #####

      > Vancouver

      The 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
      pot.

      "'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
      reactive mind.

      "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
      on itself.'

      "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
      Armstrong.

      "'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
      Zundel.

      "'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.'"

      Message-ID: <3e8aeaaa$1@...>

      -end-
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