A.r.s Week in Review - 10/5/2003
Week in Review Volume 8, Issue 21
10/5/2003 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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Week in Review is archived at:
> Perfect ScoreThe Advocate newspaper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana reported on September
22nd that a student who earned a perfect score on the ACT college entrance
exam plans to join Scientology programs in New York City.
"Craig Gehring went over an old math test to prepare to take the ACT back
in June, but that's it. He ended up getting a perfect score, a 36. He was
the only student in Louisiana to get a perfect score that day and one of
only 72 such students across the nation.
"The ACT Assessment is taken by roughly two million high school seniors
each year, and was taken by 355,000 students in June. The ACT tests a
student's skills in English, math, reading and science reasoning.
Gehring's perfect score represents a composite score of all four tests.
"Both the ACT and the 1600-point SAT, which measures students' math and
verbal skills, are used as factors in college admissions and placement and
in awarding scholarships. Gehring, however, may not go to college. A free
thinker, Gehring said he plans to join a drug prevention and literacy
program in New York City, loosely affiliated with the Church of
Scientology. His father, Kyle Gehring, however, is uneasy. He said the son
has discovered Scientology on his own. 'We're encouraging him to go to
college,' he said. 'We think there is a lot he's going to miss out on.'"
> World Trade CentersThe New York Times reported on October 4th that a Scientology program in
New York aims to treat firefighters suffering from having worked at the
World Trade Centers disaster with the Purification Rundown.
"For the past year, more than 140 New York City firefighters, some ailing
from their work in the ruins of the World Trade Center, have walked into a
seventh-floor medical clinic just two blocks from the former disaster
site. Once inside, some have abandoned the medical care and emotional
counseling provided to them by their own department's doctors, and all
have taken up a treatment regimen devised by L. Ron Hubbard, the late
science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology.
"The firefighters take saunas, engage in physical workouts and swallow
pills - all of which together constitute what for years has been known,
amid considerable dispute, as Mr. Hubbard's detoxification program, one
meant to wash the body of poisons or toxins. The firefighters are not
charged for their trips to the clinic, called Downtown Medical.
"One retired firefighter is a paid member of the clinic's advisory board,
and the city's main fire union has pledged its 'full support' to the
clinic as it seeks government grants and other forms of financing. 'The
statements I have heard from firefighters who have completed the program
are truly remarkable,' Stephen J. Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed
Firefighters Association, wrote in a letter that is posted on the clinic's
Web site. The letter adds, 'The work you are doing in this regard is
unique in the city, and is very welcome.'
"But the existence of the clinic has upset city Fire Department officials,
who, among other concerns, are alarmed that the medical treatment
prescribed by its doctors is being discarded by some firefighters who
enroll at Downtown Medical. They say the clinic's detoxification program
requires firefighters to stop using inhalers meant to help with their
breathing and any medications they may be taking, like antidepressants or
blood pressure pills.
"The exact makeup of the pills taken as part of the program, for instance,
is not widely known, although they are believed to contain niacin. One
clinic board member wrote a report published in a firefighting magazine
that firefighters produced blue beads of sweat during the program. One
city firefighter said that the man next to him in the sauna once appeared
to sweat a quarter-size black substance - evidence, he said, that toxins
were being drained out of his body.
"Officials with the clinic, while acknowledging some of them are
Scientologists, said the clinic is not formally affiliated with the Church
of Scientology. An official at the church's office in Los Angeles said
they were aware of the clinic, but described it as a secular enterprise
employing Mr. Hubbard's methods. Joseph Higgins, a retired firefighter who
is now a paid member of the clinic's advisory board, said Tom Cruise, the
actor, had paid for 'quite a bit' of the treatments for rescue workers,
estimated by Mr. Higgins to cost $5,000 to $6,000 apiece.
"In a blistering 1988 report, Dr. Ronald E. Gots, a toxicology expert from
Bethesda, Md., called the regimen 'quackery,' and noted that 'no
recognized body of toxicologists, no department of occupational medicine,
nor any governmental agencies endorse or recommend such treatment.' The
report ended Shreveport's dealings with the program. In an interview
yesterday, Dr. Gots said of the program, 'It's an unproven, scientifically
"Officials at the Manhattan clinic said that shortly after the terrorist
attack, an official with the firefighters' union contacted the Foundation
for Advancements in Science and Education, a group that promotes the
detoxification program developed by Mr. Hubbard, to request the regimen
for New York firefighters.
"Stacks of of pamphlets about the program have appeared at Fort Totten,
the department's training center. Department officials have tried to
distance themselves from any impression that they endorse the regimen, but
they say that it has been difficult. 'This is a very hard battle to win,'
said Dr. Prezant, who noted that firefighters do the regimen on their own
time and do not have to report to the department that they are undergoing
it. 'It's not our job to say you can't go. All we can do is say there's no
proven evidence it works.'"
> Legal WaiverThe Oracle, newspaper of the University of South Florida, published an
article on September 24th on the waiver Scientologists sign to be eligible
"Rights and freedoms often go unnoticed until they are threatened. So why
someone would choose to sign his or her freedoms away intentionally is an
anomaly. However, the Church of Scientology has been making its members do
exactly that. With this in mind, one must ask why a church, which is
protected under the First Amendment, would force its members to forgo the
rest of the rights given to them by residing in this country.
"In order to be allowed to reach higher levels of success in the church,
members must sign contracts that sign away their national rights. By
signing, members waive the right to seek medical or psychiatric care as
well as the right to see their families during church-provided treatment.
This means family members or outside medical or psychiatric personnel
cannot force the member into an outside medical situation. According to
The New York Post, these contracts also say that members seeking advanced
treatment must sign to 'forever (giving) up (the) right to sue the church
and its staff for any injury or damage suffered in anyway connected with
"Instead of medical treatments, members receive vitamins and introspection
rundowns in which a guide assists the members in channeling past lives in
order to determine the source of the ailment. Under the First Amendment,
Americans have the right to practice whatever religion they see fit. But
it is contradictory of a church, protected by such an amendment, to force
its members to give up the rest of their rights if they want to be
successful in the church's eyes. It is also suspicious that they take such
precautions against potential legal actions if they did not see them as
being inevitable. It makes one question the intention of a church that is
attempting to administer such control over its followers."
> Hate CrimesThe Palm Beach Post reported on September 26th that Palm Beach County,
Florida ranks high on the state of Florida's list of cities with the most
hate crimes, in part due to vandalism at the Scientology org there.
"Palm Beach County ranked fifth in the state in hate crimes, according to
a state report released Thursday. There were 24 hate crimes reported
countywide last year, 13 of which were motivated by the victim's religion.
Boca Raton recorded the most incidents - nine - one more than the Palm
Beach County Sheriff's Office reported in the entire unincorporated area.
"Palm Springs reported two hate-related incidents in 2002, both at the
Church of Scientology in the Shores Plaza Mall, according to police
spokesman Lt. Mark Hall. Twice vandals broke in and rummaged through the
storefront church, painting graffiti on the walls. No arrests were made.
'As far was we know, it could have been kids,' Hall said, 'but because
(the graffiti) was directed at the beliefs of the church, it was
classified as a hate crime.'"
> BelgiumFrench newspaper Le Soir reported on September 19th on Scientology's new
offices in the heart of Brussels, Belgium.
"It's clear that Ron Hubbard's adherents love luxury. Their European
office, which officially opens 17 September 2003, is an expensive
three-story building at 91 Street of Law, in the very heart of the
European quarter of Brussels. 'For us it's nice here, thank you!' smiles
Fabio Amicarelli, director of the European office of the international
'Scientology Church' cult. In the building, painted with white flowers,
there are a few thematic halls. 'Here,' explained the director, 'no
religious services are held.' They claim this is a 'human rights embassy,'
which is 'a place for open and transparent dialogue.'
"The staff consists of ten permanent employees. 'They accept everybody
here,' emphasizes Fabio Amicarelli, 'on terms of mutual respect.' The
stage setting is thought out to the most minute detail: photographs,
symbolism, didactic paneling, slogans. Scientology does its best to show
that it is somebody you can trust, and that using the 'cult' label on them
is absolutely unjust. 'We serve as a religious association which is
officially recognized all over the world,' insists our interlocutor.
"The European office of the 'Church of Scientology' opens it doors 17
September. 'There will be many people,' asserts Fabio Amicarelli. How
many? What are their names? Unknown. Brussels was not chosen by accident.
The Church of Scientology makes no secret of its wish to have its
activities known in the capitals of Europe. Lobbying? 'If you like, yes.
But what is reprehensible about that?' And how about that speech in the
Belgian parliament from 1997 in which talks about a 'harmful cult?' 'We
respect Belgian laws and the government. But we think that Belgium lives
fifteen years in the past. Scientology is not what they say at all.' And
the questionable methods of proselytizing? And the sources of the
organization's financing? 'Rumors and prejudice,' says Amicarelli.
"The European office is a site for conducting conferences and meetings.
'We will invite the most diverse people so they can tell about our actions
in defending human rights,' says the director. 'We will work here through
our social programs: the fight against drug addiction, eliminating
intolerance and rehabilitating criminals.' The office doors will 'always
be open.' Even for the press? 'If they want to call on us.'"
> RussiaNewsru.com reported on September 19th that Scientology continues to
operate in Russia, and have protested outside a psychiatric institute in
"The director of the V.P. Serbsky Center for Social and Forensic
Psychiatry, Tatyana Dmitriev, expressed annoyance with the activities of
Scientologists on Russian territory. Appearing today in Moscow at a
conference on problems of prison psychiatry, she mentioned that officially
the activities of the Scientologists were prohibited in the Russian
Federation. Meanwhile, in her words, the Scientologists continue to
operate under the mask of rights advocate organizations. 'And that is how
the big money works that is invested in Scientology,' said the Center
chief. 'They believe,' explained T. Dmitriev, 'that psychiatry in general
does not need to concern treatment of the sick - that, as the saying goes,
God gave you whatever you need.' It was in this respect, T. Dmitriev said,
that the Scientology protest actions were carried on outside the V.P.
Serbsky Center. One of their principle slogans, said T. Dmitriev, was
'Psychiatrists: hands away from people!' Participants of such actions also
appeal to the government to stop financing the country's psychiatry."
> Applied ScholasticsThe Lovelock Review-Miner reported on September 4th that a pilot program
to use Scientology's study tech in a Nevada school district will be
"During a special meeting of the Pershing County School Board on Tuesday,
Sept. 2, the Pershing County School Board voted to permanently discontinue
use of the Applied Scholastics study program within the Pershing County
School District. Several people throughout the community, including
parents and teachers, had expressed concern with the program because the
books used in the program are reportedly based on the teachings of L. Ron
Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology.
"Pershing County Middle School teacher Debra Scilacci was one of those
teachers who supported the program. She said that she has used the program
in her classroom and it has helped several students improve reading
skills. Those who spoke against the program said that the link to Hubbard
was reason enough to cause them concern. Pershing County High School
teacher Valdine McLean expressed her opposition to using the program. She
said that she felt that Hubbard's connection to the program was her major
"Also speaking out against the program, were Pershing County Elementary
Literacy specialists Sandy Condie and Shea Murphy. Condie and Murphy run a
literacy program at the elementary school and said that the Applied
Scholastics program is radically different than what they teach in the
"School Board member Todd Plimpton made a motion that 'the Pershing County
School Board, upon further consideration and review of the materials and
testimony as presented, hereby suspend indefinitely, without prejudice,
the Applied Scholastics program.' Board member Rachel Clingan seconded the
motion. Clingan said that her decision was not a reflection of any the
people who have been involved with the Applied Scholastics program. 'It
has helped some students,' Clingan said 'that's not an issue here.' She
said that suspending the program is the right thing to do for the
community at this time.
"Board member Brad Arnold said that when the issue came up what he wanted
to know was if the program met the needs of the district. 'After the
reading the results presented by staff,' Arnold said 'I am not convinced
that this technique, by itself, has proved or produced a mainstream
improvement.' Arnold said that he is convinced that increased
individualized instruction as provided by staff either in school or summer
school has proven to be beneficial.
"The motion to discontinue use of the Applied Scholastics program was
unanimously passed by the board."