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A.r.s Week in Review - 11/23/2003

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  • Rod Keller
    Alt.religion.scientology Week in Review Volume 8, Issue 24 11/23/2003 by Rod Keller [rkeller@voicenet.com] copyright 2003 Alt.religion.scientology Week in
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      Week in Review Volume 8, Issue 24
      11/23/2003 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
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      see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/weekinreview. PDA channel available at

      Week in Review is archived at:


      > Off Broadway

      The New York Times reported on November 14th that a New York play has
      drawn criticism from Scientology.

      "An Off Off Broadway production performed by a cast of children has
      received some unwanted attention from the Church of Scientology. 'A Very
      Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant,' tells the life story
      of L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer who founded a religion whose
      adherents include Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Alex Timbers, who
      conceived and directed the show, imagined it in the 'idiom of a Nativity
      pageant,' so he cast children 8 to 12.

      "The Rev. John Carmichael, president of the Church of Scientology in New
      York, is not amused. He has visited the artistic staff to express his
      concern three times and sent a stern letter to the producer, Aaron
      Lemon-Strauss. 'I have not seen the show,' Mr. Carmichael said by phone on
      Wednesday, 'but in general I don't think you should ridicule a religion
      that helps people.'

      "Mr. Timbers says the show has a 'deeply ironic concept' but does not mock
      the church. 'We allow the church to speak for itself,' he said, calling
      the show 'a celebration of sorts.' But just to be on the safe side, Mr.
      Timbers consulted lawyers. 'We've been told that the letter is a precursor
      to a lawsuit,' he said.

      "Mr. Carmichael said: 'I've been assured that the intention is humor, not
      ridicule. So if it's genuinely funny, that's O.K.' He'll find out next
      Friday, when he plans to see the show."

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      > Buffalo Org

      Radio station WGRZ reported on November 17th that the new Buffalo
      Scientology org has opened its doors.

      "The Church of Scientology had a marching band, a Hollywood-style set,
      even Hollywood celebrities promoting the religion, created by science
      fiction write L. Ron Hubbard in 1954. 'You find something that works for
      you, that makes you happy, and you want to tell them about it,' said
      actress Jenna Elfman, of 'Dharma and Greg' and the new 'Looney Tunes'

      "Last year, the church bought the former Buffalo Catholic Institute on
      Main Street and put in a reported 50,000 man hours to restore it. 'It's
      another sign that Buffalo is coming back. People want to invest in our
      buildings, but also invest in our people,' said Buffalo Mayor Anthony
      Masiello. City leaders hope the new church will spur more development
      along Main Street, including a block of empty buildings right across the
      street. That block includes the Metzger Building, nearly destroyed by
      fire, and saved from the wrecking ball by preservationists.

      "Local church President Teresa Reger said they will offer social services
      and are committed to improving Buffalo. 'What we do with our literacy
      programs, our drug rehab, that is going to help the community, and that's
      why we are here. It's not only for the church,' Reger said.

      "The church ran into some trouble over the summer, when several teenagers
      responded to a 'we're hiring' sign at the church, only to find out they
      were volunteer positions. After a Channel Two investigation, the church
      said it made an honest mistake due to numerous inquiries."

      From the Buffalo News on November 17th:

      "A large insignia engraved on a dramatic backdrop stood in commanding
      fashion over a red-carpeted stage. In front rested a sculpted wooden
      podium flanked by a TelePrompTer. Politicians and celebrities sat among
      rows of filled white seats, as plainclothes security wearing earphones
      surveyed the crowd. Meanwhile, hundreds of red, white and blue balloons
      waited to be released.

      "Despite a chilly, gray afternoon, a crowd estimated by organizers at
      1,400 came out to hear outdoor speeches, get a tour of the restored 1893
      building and celebrate Scientology's expanded presence in Buffalo.

      "It is the latest chapter for a worldwide organization that has long been
      accused of being a cult rather than a religion. 'What we have here in
      Buffalo are great people, great architecture, great opportunity, and I
      think this represents the best of the best here today,' said Mayor Anthony
      M. Masiello, who read aloud a proclamation that declared Church of
      Scientology Day in Buffalo.

      "Other speakers, including David Miscavige, chairman of the
      Scientology-related Religious Technology Center, and Ellicott Council
      Member Brian Davis, praised the work of the church and its potential
      impact on Buffalo. The building, which was the Buffalo Catholic Institute
      when it originally opened, replaces the church's former home in the Hurst
      building at 47 W. Huron St. The city paid $740,000 in December for the
      right to demolish the building and expand the Owen P. Augspurger Parking

      "The Scientologists then paid $300,000 for the Main Street building and
      relied on volunteers from around the globe to repair and restore the
      building at a cost of 1.4 million, according to Teresa Reger, the Buffalo
      chapter's president.

      "Viewers gazed at the renovated facade that now boasts buff brick, glazed
      white terra cotta and limestone trim. Inside, visitors paraded through the
      freshly painted and polished spaces, while moving images of founder L. Ron
      Hubbard appeared on plasma screens. The Buffalo center will now be the
      regional home to scientologists in Western and Central New York,
      Pennsylvania and some parts of Ohio and Canada."

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      > Clearwater

      Television station Bay News 9 reported on November 3rd that an underground
      explosion damaged power lines leading to Scientology's Coachman building
      in downtown Clearwater, Florida.

      "An underground explosion in Clearwater early Monday knocked out power for
      for several blocks. Most service was restored as of 9 a.m. Progress
      Energy says a problem with an underground feeder line under Cleveland
      Street and Osceola Avenue took out electricity to about 100 customers at
      approximately 4 a.m. Witnesses say the explosion blew out windows and
      tossed manhole covers into the air in Clearwater's downtown section.

      "Ft. Harrison Street, a major road through the downtown district, is
      blocked off. Traffic is expected to be thick until power is restored. The
      most significant damage was to a Church of Scientology building.
      Officials with Progress Energy are working with them to replace what was

      From the St. Petersburg Times on November 4th:

      "A predawn explosion under S Fort Harrison Avenue Monday morning lifted a
      manhole cover, shattered windows in a nearby building and led to a day of
      inconvenience for more than a dozen downtown businesses and offices. Power
      company officials believe the explosion was caused by an underground
      electrical wire that caught fire and ignited methane gas from a sewer
      line. A city utilities official, however, doubted that theory. The blast
      broke some windows and the facade of an empty Church of Scientology
      building classroom.

      "'Thankfully, it happened at 4:30 in the morning, as opposed to when
      someone was in the room or cars were out there,' said Pat Harney, a
      spokeswoman for the church. In the block bordered by Cleveland Street, S
      Fort Harrison Avenue, Pierce Street and S Osceola Avenue, business after
      business waited to be reconnected to power Monday.

      "The 4 a.m. fire began in an electrical wire below an alley that runs
      between Cleveland and Pierce. The fire traveled east along a duct and
      caused the explosion. The electrical wire caught fire because it had a
      short circuit that may have been caused by normal wear and tear,
      overheating or an animal, Perlut said. He said Progress Energy crews often
      encounter methane gas when they go into manholes to work. That's why he
      suspects the presence of methane gas in this case.

      "But Clearwater assistant director of public utilities Todd Petrie said
      it's unlikely that methane gas played a role in the explosion. The
      sanitary sewer system is designed to release methane gas through vent
      stacks atop buildings."

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      > Michael Jackson

      Fox News reported on November 5th that the web site for singer Michael
      Jackson's new song promotes a Scientology literacy program.

      "HELP - the Scientology-based literacy program - is back on the Web site
      Michael Jackson is using to raise money for charity. HELP was removed as
      one of the groups that would receive money from Jackson's single 'What
      More Can I Give?' after I reported the connection last week.

      "But unbeknownst to Jackson, his supporters insist, the HELP logo was
      added back to his Web site over the weekend. And, unknown to him, there is
      a simple reason. The Web site, www.whatmorecanigive.com, was registered on
      Oct. 14 to a high-level Scientologist.

      "According to Jackson insiders, the singer himself chose only one charity,
      Oneness, as a beneficiary of his single, which can be downloaded for $2.
      Otherwise, Jackson is said to have left the selection to the Web site
      operator, who, according to Jackson's friends, failed to tell him she was
      a Scientologist and that she was choosing one of that church's
      subsidiaries to receive the funds.

      "The site operator, Valerie B. Whalin, hosts an Internet radio show for
      Earthlink under the name 'Surfer Val,' the same name under which she
      registered Jackson's Web sites. Sources at both Clear Channel
      Communications and Broadway Entertainment, the companies that hired her to
      run the Web site, told me yesterday that no money would be going to

      "The HELP logo and link, however, remained on the Jackson Web site as of
      early this morning. The big question is: How will the many celebrities
      who sang on 'What More Can I Give?' feel about their work contributing
      money to causes other than Sept. 11 victims and families?"

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      > Narconon

      The Los Angeles Times reported on November 3rd that neighbors are
      complaining about a new Scientology Narconon facility in Newport Beach,

      "Several residents near the three-story home operated on the Balboa
      Peninsula by Narconon, a private network of more than 100 drug
      rehabilitation and prevention centers around the world, complain about
      noise, clouds of cigarette smoke drifting into their homes and traffic in
      the narrow alley that separates them from their neighbors.

      "But what drove them to petition City Hall for relief, they say, was
      Narconon's recent rental of a smaller home across an alley that they said
      worsened the situation. City Atty. Robert Burnham said Newport Beach does
      not regulate drug and alcohol treatment facilities, which are governed by
      state law. But after neighbors complained at recent council meetings,
      Burnham instructed city staff to prepare a resolution for council
      consideration that would require a city permit for facilities that treat
      seven or more people.

      "Narconon's second dwelling houses a maximum of five residents and is in
      compliance with city ordinances, Burnham said. Company officials say the
      residents of that home are not in rehabilitation. 'There is nothing that I
      will not work out with my neighbors,' said Larry Trahant, executive
      director of the program's Southern California division. 'There is no one
      that I will not listen to resolve a legitimate problem.'

      "Linda Orozco, who lives across the alley behind the main facility, on
      Ocean Front, said complaints about noise and rude behavior have been
      ignored. She and other residents also say that facility is overcrowded and
      that Narconon has added to their problems by putting more clients in the
      second home. Orozco, neighbor Michael Bacus and others contend that the
      number of clients staying at the main facility exceeds the number allowed
      by the city. Burnham said the city allows 27 residents in the house, even
      though the state allows 32. He said the Fire Department is trying to have
      the state permit amended to reflect the city's limit of 27.

      "Neighbors say Narconon's incentive to overcrowd is the $20,000 fee
      clients are charged. Glenn Farnsworth, director of the center, said that
      even though the state allows treatment of 32 residents, the number
      recently was reduced to 27 because of the anticipated change in the state
      permit. Trahant, however, insisted that the facility is treating 32
      clients, as the permit still allows."

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      > Protest Summary

      Gerry Armstrong reported a protest in Karlsruhe on November 8th at an
      outdoor event.

      "Caroline and I learned that the Karlsruhe Scientology franchise was going
      to have a table in the Marktplatz to advertise Dianetics and the cult's
      other 'products,' so we decided to picket. Erik the Bear insisted on
      tagging along for his first protest. Caroline and I hooked up with a
      group of perhaps twenty other people, part of whom were from the Junge
      Union, the youth section of the Christlich Demokratische Union, the CDU
      political party.

      "Part of our protest group were from Ausstieg, or 'Exit,' a network of
      former Jehovah's Witnesses and others devoted to helping people who leave
      the JW cult and to educating the public about its dangers. On this
      Saturday, they turned their attention and joyful spirits to the good work
      of informing the public about the dangers of the Scientology cult.

      "The Junge Union and the Ausstieg folks had a table with a number of
      handouts right beside the Scientology table that was covered with promo,
      plus magazines and books the Scientologists were 'selling' for a donation.
      Among the protesters' handouts were photocopies of an article about my
      history with Scientology that had appeared in May this year in the
      Badische Neueste Nachrichten, Karlsruhe's main newspaper.

      "During most of the time Caroline and I were there, only three
      Scientologists manned the cult table. We were told two were brothers Nico
      and Danilo Carucci. Initially they were friendly, and Caroline was able to
      obtain their handouts, but their friendliness disappeared when they
      realized that we were with the protesters and were identified to them. OSA
      personnel, of course, were also on hand, but only observed from a

      "We took with us Hubbard's Bulletin of 24 April 1969RA, revised 20
      September 1978, entitled 'Dianetic Use,' which is very useful for
      demonstrating some of the fraudulent claims the cult makes for Dianetics.
      This issue is still published by Scientology in the bound 'Technical
      Bulletins.' Included in them is the claim that Dianetic auditing raises IQ
      about a point per hour.

      "A newspaper reporter came by our picket, spoke to us and made some notes.
      We just heard that an article appeared in the Badische Neueste
      Nachrichten, but we haven't seen it yet. A television reporter and
      cameraman from the local TV station also covered the protest, but we
      haven't heard yet what was aired.

      "I tried to engage one of the 'Caruccis' about what he was doing
      defrauding people by promoting Dianetics. I asked him how he could
      continue to sell this 'science of mental health' that simply doesn't work.
      He spoke to me and said that he does it for the money. He moved away
      again, saying, sotto voce, 'money, money, money.' He came back to me, and
      I asked if he realized that what he was promoting was a fraud. He looked
      thoughtful for a second, then said that I was right, but that it didn't

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      > Kelly Preston

      MSNBC reported on November 20th that actress Kelly Preston promoted
      Scientology programs on a national morning TV program.

      "John Travolta's wife appeared on 'Live with Regis and Kelly' Tuesday, and
      discussed her recent efforts to help open schools. She praised Delphi, a
      chain of private schools that she's backing, and told the audience that
      they're 'non-toxic' and 'very artistic' - but what she failed to mention
      was their link to Scientology, the controversial religion that she and her
      hubby follow.

      "Delphi Academies are touted as non-denominational, but they are based on
      the teachings and 'study techniques' developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the
      science fiction writer and founder of Scientology. As one Delphi web site
      put it: 'Mr. Hubbard's written works on education and child development
      are applied within the school's program and are directly related to our
      success in helping students and families.'

      "'There's often an Scientology-related interest behind Kelly Preston' s
      various causes,' said a long-time observer of the church. 'She is a very
      effective proselytizer.'"

      Message-ID: <3fbff6ad@...>


      > Lisa McPherson

      An article in Razor Magazine by Dr. David S. Touretzky and Peter Alexander
      described the treatment of Lisa McPherson by Scientology, and the legal
      forms being used to prevent future victims from suing.

      "Imagine a church so dangerous, you must sign a release form before you
      can receive its 'spiritual assistance.' This assistance might involve
      holding you against your will for an indefinite period, isolating you from
      friends and family, and denying you access to appropriate medical care.
      You will of course be billed for this treatment - assuming you survive it.
      If not, the release form absolves your caretakers of all responsibility
      for your suffering and death. Welcome to the Church of Scientology.

      "In September 2003, one of these Scientology release forms surfaced on the
      Internet. The form, which describes itself as a 'contract,' states that
      the signer opposes psychiatric treatment for anyone, particularly him or
      herself. Should some mental illness befall them, they authorize the Church
      of Scientology to 'extricate' them from the clutches of psychiatrists who
      might seek to treat them. In lieu of psychiatric care, the contract says
      they agree to be placed on the 'Introspection Rundown,' a Scientology
      therapy invented by the Church's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard."

      The New York Daily News reported on November 19th that Scientology has
      reacted to the article with threats to sue the magazine.

      "The Church of Scientology - never one to take criticism lying down - has
      been rattling sabers at Razor magazine. The male-oriented mag's latest
      issue contains a muckraking article about the religion, which claims among
      its members powerful Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta,
      and was founded in the 1950s by the late science-fiction writer L. Ron

      "Razor's story, headlined 'The Curse of Scientology - Lawsuits, Death, and
      Finance,' chronicles the strange death of church member Lisa McPherson,
      and was written by David S. Touretzky and Peter Alexander, a disaffected
      former Scientologist. 'Imagine a church so dangerous you must sign a
      release form before you can receive its spiritual assistance,' the authors

      "This week, Scientology spokeswoman Linda Simmons Hight left several
      urgent messages with Razor publisher Richard Botto and sent a tough E-mail
      to editor in chief Craig Knight. The Los Angeles-based Hight,
      communications director for Scientology International, made what a Razor
      spokeswoman tells me are 'veiled threats of legal action.' Hight's
      message: 'You and your magazine do not understand the agenda of the people
      who wrote this article ... I suggest you return my call immediately.'
      Razor is 'treading on serious ground,' she added.

      "Hight's E-mail to Knight was more explicit: 'A moment ago, I logged onto
      your Web site and saw the highly offensive promotion for the story. Until
      we connect with each other by phone, I strongly urge you to remove it from
      your site. I can only assume you do not know the persons who authored the
      story, nor what their actual agenda is, nor how inaccurate and slanted the
      story is. Please do return my call as soon as possible.'"

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