A.r.s Week in Review - 6/15/2003
Week in Review Volume 8, Issue 9
6/15/2003 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.
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> ClearwaterA St. Petersburg Times editorial on June 9th reacted to charges made by
Scientology that Clearwater area residents have been prejudiced against
them by press coverage.
"Many Pinellas County residents know the story of how the Church of
Scientology slipped into Pinellas under a different name in 1975 and began
buying property in downtown Clearwater, where it established its
international religious retreat known as Flag. They remember the clashes
that followed between Clearwater city officials and Scientology, the
church's penchant for secrecy and the disinformation campaign hatched by
the organization to discredit a city official who opposed Scientology.
"Many Pinellas residents also remember hearing that a member of the Church
of Scientology, Lisa McPherson, died in 1995 after being kept in the care
of staffers in the church's Fort Harrison building. Because they know all
that, some of them have strong opinions about Scientology, and it should
come as no surprise that many of those opinions are negative. What is
surprising, given the history of the church in Pinellas, is that
Scientology officials are shocked by how many Pinellas residents distrust
or dislike their organization.
"The church recently hired professional researchers to survey 300 shoppers
at a St. Petersburg mall to learn their opinions of Scientology, Flag and
the McPherson case. Since getting the results, the church has asked for a
change of venue in an upcoming jury trial that peripherally involves
aspects of the McPherson case. The church's motion for the venue change is
filled with accusations about the 'religious bigotry' of the Pinellas
population and 'hate-mongering' by local media, including the St.
Petersburg Times. The church claims that the media have poisoned the
public's view of Scientology.
"The truth of the matter is that most residents of Pinellas County are
neither misled nor confused about Scientology. What they are is
well-informed, and they have good memories. They see not just the
dressed-up image the church has displayed since getting smarter about
public relations a few years ago, but also the years of shenanigans that
preceded the change.
"Church officials apparently thought they had made more progress at
changing perceptions, especially in Clearwater. And indeed, Clearwater
officials have forged a cooperative relationship with Scientology, in some
cases accepting campaign support and assistance from church members,
bestowing awards on the church and even inviting church officials'
participation in city government affairs.
"Perhaps it was the city of Clearwater's accommodating attitude that
recently led the church to believe it had the standing to start recruiting
national retailers to downtown Clearwater. The church prepared a brochure
spotlighting the city's demographics and benefits (including a section
touting the positive presence of the Church of Scientology downtown) and
sent it to retailers such as the Gap and Banana Republic. Because no
author is listed, the brochure promotes the mistaken impression that it
comes from city government. Yet asked about this presumptuousness by the
church, Mayor Brian Aungst said merely, 'I don't know that it hurts
anything. It's probably helpful, but we'll find out.'
"Clearwater officials would do well to review the results of the
Scientology survey and consider whether an informed and wary public would
be comfortable seeing them hold hands with the Church of Scientology."
> Lisa McPhersonThe Palm Beach Post reported on June 11th that Scientology has withdrawn
its request to move the breach of contract counterclaim in the Lisa
McPherson case to another county.
"In a letter to the judge on the breach-of-contract case, an attorney for
the church wrote that since the court date was only four weeks away, the
church would try for a fair jury panel there. The Scientologists
previously argued that they could not continue in the Clearwater area
because a survey conducted by the church had shown a bias in the area.
"The church lawyers asked that the case be moved to Palm Beach or Broward
county because the counties have demographics similar to Pinellas County.
The church is involved in expansive litigation after a church member died
while under psychiatric care at a church facility. The church member, Lisa
McPherson, 36, a devout Scientologist from Clearwater, had a mental
breakdown in 1995 and was taken to a church retreat facility, where she
died 17 days later."
> Tom CruiseThe Washington Post reported on June 15th that Scientology celebrity Tom
Cruise visited U.S. Government officials in part to discuss issues
important to Scientology.
"Church of Scientology cause celeb Tom Cruise slipped into town this week
for private meetings with senior Bush administration officials at the
Department of Education and the White House. On Thursday, Education
Secretary Rod Paige hosted a lunch for Cruise so the actor could gab with
education officials in the secretary's dining room. 'He wanted to learn
more about the president's 'no child left behind' program,' Education
Undersecretary Eugene Hickok told us yesterday. Hickock added: 'We're
willing to talk to anyone interested in the issue. I don't think I'm
star-struck.' But we hear that on Friday at the White House, where Cruise
lobbied officials on Scientology-related issues, there were plenty of
young female staffers standing around, hoping to bump into him in the
corridors of power."
> Reed SlatkinSlatkinfraud.com reported on June 14th that an attorney for Scientology
will be asking for a subpoena in the Reed Slatkin Ponzi scheme case to
discover communications between creditors of the Slatkin estate and the
"Scientology lawyer Helena Kobrin, here acting as counsel for herself
(independent from Scientology) and other Scientology investors, has filed
a declaration revealing her intent to target members of the Creditors'
Committee for subpoena. First on Kobrin's list is George Kriste. Among the
monstrous laundry list of material she asks Kriste produce is a request
for 'all documents which relate to communications you have had with any
person who is involved in the Slatkinfraud web site, including, without
limitation, David Touretzky, Kady O'Malley, and Scott Pilutik.' Kirkland &
Ellis attorney Alex Pilmer replies in a letter that Kriste will only
respond to the subpoena if ordered to by the court. If the court does
allow the Kriste subpoena, Kobrin states plans for serving identical
subpoenas to the rest of the Creditors' Committee."