Week in Review Volume 8, Issue 25
12/14/2003 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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The Advertiser newspaper from Australia reported on December 10th that a
Scientology-affiliated dating agency is accused of defrauding clients by
charging high fees without providing dating opportunities.
"A West Coast farmer has spent almost $320,000 with a dating agency -
without meeting one woman. The man from Cleve on the Eyre Peninsula, who
does not wish to be identified, is taking legal action against Affinity
Consulting International based in Queensland. It has led to the
Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Mark Bodycoat, to issue a warning when
using such agencies.
"The man first contacted Affinity, which has links to the Church of
Scientology, in March last year. An agency employee is alleged to have
told the farmer if he spent $5000 he would receive a 'basic introduction
service', the court papers say. During the next three days, he paid a
further $65,000 after the employee, Shannon Courtney Grant, promised him
'extra services' including that she would be his personal consultant and
fly from Queensland to his home to help him produce an introduction video.
"Ms Grant told the man she wanted to quit her job and move in with him but
she could not cease her employment until he paid Affinity more than
$250,000. He claims to have paid the company $319,890 between March 13 and
June 6, of last year. He is suing the dating agency and Ms Grant in the
District Court for breach of contract as well as breaching the Trade
Practices Act and Fair Trading Act and is seeking unspecified damages,
interest and costs.
"The Office of Consumer and Business Affairs received 23 complaints last
financial year concerning introduction agencies. The majority of the
complaints related to the failure of agencies to provide introductions as
represented in the advertisements or in the contract."
> Unauthorized Pageant
The Village Voice on December 3rd reviewed an off-off-Broadway New York
production based on the life of L. Ron Hubbard
"Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant does to L. Ron
Hubbard what The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui did to Adolf Hitler: It
reduces him to ridiculous, contemptible proportions. By casting actors
aged between eight and 12, writer Kyle Jarrow and director Alex Timbers
accentuate the puerile absurdity of Scientology's tenets as well as the
childlike naivete of those who believe such nonsense. Learning of
Hubbard's theory about Thetan spirits banished to earth by galactic ruler
Xenu, we become ever more convinced that the subject matter is perfectly
suited to the realms of pre-pubescent rationality.
"The use of a young cast doesn't make Scientology Pageant a one-gag play.
The script punches its points home quickly. Timbers has wisely counseled
the kids to avoid too much irony, aware that the material generates its
own comic absurdity without nudges or winks. The children, garbed in the
outer-space-alien equivalent of togas, generate a respectable ensemble
chemistry. They even manage to hint at the reservoir of misery that leads
people to seek solace in Scientology or other sects. Standing under
umbrellas outside the theater on 42nd Street, the boys and girls, still in
their togas, stare dead-eyed through a window at the audience as we hear a
recording of them singing - 'Just don't ask questions, and everything is
From New York Press on December 2nd:
"I was anticipating a lot of really low blows and recycled hyper-paranoid,
anti-cult nonsense. I was pleasantly surprised by this show, at first.
The kids are terrific and the music is good. Little Alison Stacy Klein was
wonderful, with a poise and radiant talent that brilliantly illuminated
her depiction of the Angelic Girl. The kid playing young Hubbard is
energetic and upbeat, really fun to watch. The twins Emma and Sophie
Whitfield do a very funny number as the analytical and reactive minds.
They do some very funny bits centered around Ron's preference for using
the initial 'L' instead of the given name Lafayette, and there's a good
recurring riff on his wide variety of endeavors - 'teacher, author,
explorer, atomic physicist, nautical engineer, choreographer, and
"Things take a turn for the worse about midway through the production,
however, when the children start reciting the same tired old
anti-Scientology propaganda that's been circulating since the 1960s.
There's an incredibly clumsy sequence in which the production attempts to
'reveal' the 'inner doctrine' of Scientology via a barely coherent
science-fiction sketch that falls flat. So much has been written with
regard to the OT III documents by people who have no understanding of them
whatsoever that I am not going to add to the din by recapping any of it
"The show stumbles badly in its presentation of Clear as a state of
flattened affect. I know plenty of Clear Scientologists, and they're as
capable of emotional response as anyone else. Their responses tend to be
more rational than most people's, but they do indeed respond. I don't know
where people get this idea that Scientology consists of some kind of loss
of personhood, but it is a very traditional way of demonizing a religion.
"What's most troubling about this show is the use of children in what
amounts to a propaganda exercise directed against the proponents of a
perfectly valid religious belief. I get the impression that Les Freres
Corbusier, the creators of this extended skit, are trying to be shocking
and provocative while at the same time avoiding any truly dangerous
targets. Bashing Scientology is a mediocre pursuit."
The Chicago Tribune reported in articles on December 3rd and 9th that
Scientology's Citizen's Commission on Human Rights was first denied
permission to exhibit anti-Psychiatry materials in a state office
building. That ruling was overturned, and the group will conduct the
exhibit next month.
"The Blagojevich administration Tuesday ordered the removal from the
Thompson Center of a controversial exhibit ridiculing psychiatry as a
wicked profession with ties to Nazi Germany after officials learned that
the group that erected the display was an offshoot of the Church of
Scientology. The group, which calls itself the Citizens Commission on
Human Rights, agreed to dismantle the exhibit under protest only one day
after it had been set up in the main atrium of the state office building
in the Loop.
"Officials of the agency that runs the Thompson Center said the group
applied months ago to showcase the exhibit for a week in early December in
connection with the anniversary of the 1948 UN Declaration of Human
Rights. Michael Rumman, director of the Department of Central Management
Services, said the group did not at the time reveal its links to
Scientology and only declared that its exhibit would deal with the history
of psychiatry 'It appears they did not adequately represent themselves
when they applied,' said Rumman, who acknowledged that his agency made no
effort to vet the group. 'The Illinois administrative code says that
exhibits may not promote religious philosophies and this clearly does.'
"Lynn Ward, local chapter leader of the Citizens Commission, acknowledged
that it was founded by Scientology but was not run by the organization.
'There's nothing religious about this display,' said Ward before packing
up the items. 'But because we have not disavowed any link to the Church of
Scientology, they are asking us to leave. I think that's wrong.'
"The display in the Thompson Center made only scant reference to the
group's ties to Scientology. Its main focus was to challenge psychiatry,
with materials charging that psychiatrists are 'hooking our children on
drugs.' Such views are aspects of Scientology's belief structure. 'It is a
cold, hard fact that psychiatry spawned the ideology which fired Hitler's
mania, turned the Nazis into mass murderers and created the Holocaust,'
read one panel of the museumlike display. Pamphlets making similar
arguments were distributed by members of the group to passersby.
"Central Management Services officials said the display was ordered
removed after they received several complaints that it was spreading
misinformation and violated the separation of church and state. Darrel
Regier, director of research for the American Psychiatric Association,
said the group's charges have no scientific basis. 'They are taking a
theological position that mental disorders do not exist,' Regier said. 'I
think it's not an evidence-based position, it's a faith-based position.'"
"After conferring with state lawyers, the Blagojevich administration
reversed itself Monday and said it no longer thought a controversial
Scientology-linked exhibit blasting psychiatry promoted a religious
philosophy and would therefore allow the exhibit to be displayed next
month in the Thompson Center. Officials with the Department of Central
Management Services said the exhibit promoted the Church of Scientology,
which in 1969 founded the organization that set up the display, the
Citizens Commission on Human Rights.
"After reviewing the display Central Management attorneys determined the
exhibit did not promote Scientology. Marla Filidei, international vice
president of the Citizens Commission, said the state's flip-flop was a
victory for 1st Amendment rights. 'We were prepared to go as far as need
be to ensure that justice was done in this case,' she said. 'The state was
very misguided in its initial decision. The exhibit is what it portrays
itself to be and nothing more than that.'
"The exhibit is expected to return to the Thompson Center for a week,
beginning Jan. 5, Central Management spokeswoman Pam Davies said. Despite
the about-face, Davies said she did not think the state's decision last
week was hurried. 'We really don't think it was hasty, particularly
because within hours after the exhibit went up we had an incident in which
security had to be called,' Davies said.
"Davies said the state plans to change procedures for future applicants
who wish to rent space in state buildings by asking them to disclose any
connections to religious organizations. Had that requirement been in
place, she said, the Citizens Commission exhibit would have been allowed
but the state would have known about the group's ties to Scientology and
been able to study the display before it was erected.
"Although the state will allow the group to bring the exhibit back, it is
requiring the organization to pay $1,650, in addition to rental space
expenses, to cover the cost of having a security guard. The state also
maintains that when the Citizens Commission first sought to rent the
atrium space, it did not fully disclose its affiliation to Scientology or
fully describe the nature of the display. The state contends that the
group described the exhibition as a 'history of psychiatry' in its
> Former Members
Gil Spencer, a columnist for the Delaware County Times reported contact
from former Scientologists and others following a previous column critical
"Astra Woodcraft grew up in the Church of Scientology and doesn't have
much nice to say about it. She wrote me after reading Sunday's column
about celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise and his interview on 'Larry King
Live.' 'I was raised in Scientology my entire life and was able to get out
almost six years ago when I was 19,' she wrote. Both her father and mother
were Scientologists. So were her grandmother, brother and sister. Today,
she, her father and sister are out. The rest of the family is still in.
'They obviously are allowed no contact with us,' she says.
"'I was forced to work there full-time from the age of 14 until I was 19
when I escaped. I was married off two months after my fifteenth birthday.
I even attended school and used to work 80-plus hour weeks.' The same year
she signed a contract promising loyalty to the Sea Org, a subgroup within
the church that practices a more intense version of Scientology. 'They say
you join the Sea Org for a billion years, and every time you die you get a
21-year leave of absence between lifetimes,' she told the San Francisco
Chronicle in 2001. 'It's ridiculous.'
"I also heard from a guy named Ken Dandar. He's the attorney from Florida
who has been suing the church for more than seven years over its role in
the death of Lisa McPherson. She was the church member who died while in
the care of fellow Scientologists in 1996. 'I have been litigating against
this UFO cult for seven years over the homicidal death of Lisa McPherson,'
Dandar wrote me. 'They stop at nothing.'
"But I can't believe that about Bruce Thompson. He's the spokesman for the
Philadelphia branch of the church. I called him yesterday. He told me
about all the great things the church does to help people - the drug
counseling, the criminal counseling, the life-improvement techniques, etc.
I asked him why he thought so many people had so many negative things to
say about his religion. 'I would disagree that there is a lot,' he
replied. 'It's really a small handful of people.'
"Not so small if you check the Net. 'Anybody can put anything on the
Internet,' he pointed out. But so much of this stuff first appeared in
magazines like Time and Newsweek and newspapers like the New York Times.
Bruce doesn't know much about the Lisa McPherson case ('I wasn't there,'
he says). But he can't believe she 'wasn't treated properly' because 'it's
not consistent with the way the church acts. We very much value and
respect human life.'
"I asked him about the billion-year contract church members sign to become
Sea Orgs. He said that it shouldn't be taken literally. I asked him if he
was a Sea Org. He said no. Sea Orgs have to devote themselves to the
church completely. Doesn't he do that? Yes, he said, but he has a job and
a life outside the church. What kind of job? I asked. 'I'm a flight
attendant.' Of course he is. And in more ways than one."
> Silent Birth
CHILD (Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc.) reported that
Scientology has introduced a bill in the Nebraska legislature exempting
Scientologists from medical screening of newborns.
"Member of the Church of Scientology have gotten a bill introduced in
Nebraska to allow a religious exemption from metabolic screening of
newborns. It was tabled, but will probably be brought up again next year.
Scientologists Ray and Louise Spiering of Wahoo, Nebraska, testified
before the Unicameral's Health and Human Services Committee explaining
their church's belief in 'Silent Birth,' which prohibits speaking any
words to the new born or inflicting any pain before the infant is a week
old. The church therefore opposes drawing the few drops of blood needed
for metabolic testing during that period.
"Ray Spiering testified that the brain has a primitive part called the
reactive mind that is 'survival-oriented' and cannot reason. Pain
activates the reactive mind to record the details of the current
situation, such as smells and sounds 'and especially words themselves,' he
said. Later, when an individual encounters the same sensory data or words,
his primitive mind turns on its old recording and tells him to fight or
flee and can make him relive the pain of an earlier experience, Spiering
said. He also described how Scientology's 'dianetics' helped a person
troubled by replays of early trauma. Because a newborn has been through so
much pain during the birth process, Scientology believes she should not be
subjected to any pain or hear any words until she is several days old.
"The committee amended the bill, changing it from a carte blanche
religious exemption to the following: 'A parent or guardian acting on the
basis of sincerely held religious beliefs may delay the specimen
collection past the period prescribed by the department. Such parent or
guardian shall sign a waiver prescribed by the department and shall ensure
that the specimen is collected no later than ninety-six hours from the
time of birth at a birthing facility or laboratory otherwise competent to
collect the specimen.'
"Several psychiatrists and psychologists we contacted said they know of no
scientific evidence to suggest that birth trauma or having a few drops of
blood drawn has any after-effects on mental health. One pointed out that
babies can hear words for many weeks before they are born. Others pointed
out that scientific research indicates that talking to newborns is
"According to R.D. Adams in Principles of Neurology, 6th ed. 93l, 'The
importance of these (metabolic) diseases relates not to their frequency
but to the fact that they must be recognized promptly if the infant is to
be prevented from dying or from suffering a worse fate, that of lifelong
severe mental deficiency. This inherent threat introduces an element of
urgency into neonatal neurology.'"
Het Parool newspaper reported on December 11th that Scientology will no
longer be considered as tax exempt in the Netherlands.
"The Scientology Church Amsterdam can not be considered to be 'an
institute for the common good' as intended in the income tax law merely
because the church claims to be such an institute. Therefore, the revenue
service does not have to consider payments to the sect to be tax
deductible, the more because Scientology uses 'more or less commercial
"Inspectors of the revenue service in Amsterdam refused to accept gifts as
deductible, after the revenue service had researched the 'factual
activities of the Scientology Church.' Even the height of the rates for
courses demonstrates a commercial intent, the tax office said to
Scientology: 'The rates vary from 125 guilders for a course for beginners,
via rates of 6,500 guilders for advanced and finally to 9,800 guilders for
courses for more advanced students. In addition, the way in which
Scientology recruits students can also be considered as commercial.'
"Of main importance, however was the fact that the 'intent and content' of
the courses is aimed mainly at taking away 'personal problems,' and
therefore 'individual' and for 'personal benefit.' 'From factual research
it therefore follows that Scientology is an institute not for the common
good, but serving personal benefit.'
"The Scientologist involved and the Scientology church now have four weeks
time to proof to the court in The Hague that the sect indeed serves the
common good. Considering the reputation of the 'church' in this area, this
will no doubt lead to truckloads of notarized and other official
statements from Scientologists which should serve to proof that
Scientology certainly is not interested in the money, but rather in the
common good of all mankind.
"At the moment, Scientology Netherlands has problems on many fronts. In
recent months, sixty of the estimated 150 active members of the sect, with
offices at Amsterdam's Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, have turned their backs on
the 'church.' They consider the sect to be too strict and far too
Het Parool also reported on December 9th that Scientology in the
Netherlands has been placed under control of the international
organization following a large number of members leaving recently.
"The international leadership of Scientology, based in Los Angeles and
Copenhagen, has placed the Scientology Church Netherlands under
guardianship. First victim of the intervention is the highest boss of 'the
church' in the Netherlands, executive directory Maria Beekmans-Koster. She
has been relieved of her position, effective immediately. The reason is
the serious crisis in which the Dutch branch of Scientology has - through
mismanagement - found itself. The 'believers' are leaving in droves, the
church suffers big losses, and loses important legal procedures.
"The new director of Scientology Nederland for now is Italian Massimo
Pozzi. He comes from the sect's notorious Sea Organization. In
Scientology's jargon, Koster's replacement is called a bypass. Insiders
say it is 'highly unusual' that director Maria Koster has been shoved
aside and has been replaced by an bunch of elites from abroad. 'It has
never happened before that Sea Orgs have been ordered to Amsterdam. That
can mean only one thing: that Los Angeles and Copenhagen seriously
consider the possibility that they, if things continue like this, can shut
down the tent in the Netherlands.
"That under leadership of the Sea Orgs, a new broom is sweeping through
Scientology Netherlands is immediately noticeable, sources within the
church report: even on St. Nicholas-evening [Dec. 5] work had to be done
in 'the Org,' the head office at the Nieuwezijds, and new members had to
be recruited on the streets. 'In other words, from now on work will be
done seven days a week.'"
> Keith Henson
Dave Touretzky reported this week that efforts by Scientology to foreclose
on the house of Scientology critic Keith Henson in bankruptcy appear to
"Henson is in bankruptcy, and Judge Whyte granted RTC an emergency
extension to block the sale of Henson's and Lucas's home. This extension
request was filed literally at the last minute, leaving no time for Lucas'
attorney or the bankruptcy trustee to file an objection. The cult's
objective was to get the house foreclosed. That way it would be sold for a
pittance and there would be no money left for Henson or Lucas. But Helena
Kobrin neglected to properly serve the bankruptcy trustee or Lucas'
attorney. So the house got sold to a willing buyer."
An article in LA Weekly on December 5th described a recruitment center in
Los Angeles aimed at musicians and other performers.
"I'm walking down Melrose Avenue minding my own business when a couple of
well-groomed 20-somethings stop me. 'What is your goal in life?' one asks.
'Nothing,' I reply, not wanting to share my innermost desires with total
strangers. The pair seem confused, as if they'd never heard this before.
Even so, they must have been obligated to ask the follow-up question: 'Do
you find it difficult to achieve your goal?' 'No, not really,' I answer.
It dawns on me that these are not your average pollsters, but rather
members of the often-maligned Church of Scientology.
"I have a morbid fascination with all things Dianetic. I've seen the
orientation film three times, and had them arrange a special screening for
me of the rare Scientology flick, Man the Unfathomable. I've even mastered
the personality tests, so much so that the person administering the exam
accused me of being an undercover Scientologist sent to study her
techniques. So, I don't need to be asked twice to follow them to an
ultramodern, immaculate Starbucks-esque environment above Golden Apple
Comics. Bookshelves carrying the numerous tomes of the mighty L. Ron line
the walls. But what makes this Scientology recruitment center different
from all other Scientology recruitment centers are the bongos and guitars
that sit at one end of the main room.
"My guide informs me that Scientology is trying to reach out to artists
and musicians. Part of the strategy involves hosting open-mike nights once
a week at 9 p.m. at this location. A youthful Jewel wannabe wails away on
an acoustic guitar, while a ponytailed young man plays lead on an electric
ax. After her number, the brunette singer-songwriter goes into VH1's
Storyteller mode and introduces a tune that she has yet to name. Crispin,
an extremely supportive poet with an English accent, says we will all try
to think of a title while we listen to her composition.
"Next, Crispin struts to the microphone with an enormous notebook full of
poems. In a voice made for commercial voice-over work, he explains that
his first offering was written moments after he and a female poet spent
the entire evening reading their works to each other. Crispin's next poem
is based on one by William Blake. He reads the Blake poem first for
'reference,' then his.
"Finally, it's my turn. I play lead guitar while a man with his baby in
tow works some bluesy riffs. Then, a Rasta-phony-an dude wearing a
camouflage jacket with the letters H*A*S*H on it enters and says he just
wants to sing some things that come off the top of his head. Marcus plays
guitar, another gentleman plays a drum and I man the bongos.
"As I leave, a young Scientology gal asks me if I've filled out the
personality test. I tell her, 'No, I lost mine.' They want me to fill out
something called the 'Public Consultation Form,' which asks such personal
questions as, 'Are you currently receiving any sort of psychiatric,
psychological, or mental treatment? (If Yes please specify.)' I make a
hasty getaway, but plan on returning as many times as I can without
filling out any surveys. What can I say? I'm addicted to Beatnik
> Protest Summary
Phil Scott reported a protest at the opening of the new Scientology org in
San Francisco on November 29th.
"The security was extreme, at least 20 probably more like 30 or more
police and 4 or 5 cruisers parked around the event. I had called the
police Friday evening informing that I would be picketing alone and was
worried about assault or attempts to frame me with a weapon or some such.
They told me to check in with an officer when I got there to be safe,
which I did, 4 or 5 different cops and showed them that I was just
carrying fliers and the sign that was it. I got a card from the Sergeant
in charge. The card reads Carl T. no last name or badge number.
"I handed fliers to two lady officers sitting in a squad car. Only one
officer seemed to be a stick in the mud and on the Scientology side. I was
not able to get close enough to hear the speakers but could see them.
"The new org is in one of SF's historical buildings, white stone of some
type, nice architecture 3 stories, wedge shaped. The event was on Columbus
St. with a big tent on one end of Columbus and the podium near the pointy
end on Columbus was blocked to all but invited guests. The police said I
couldn't hand out fliers there as the entire sidewalk was rented by
Scientology, but they said reluctantly that I could walk on it to get to
the other end so I did that.
"Total crowd was under 300 but all mostly very well dressed and
professional looking. The Steven's Creek Org staff (15 or 20) arrived in a
stretch limo in time to look my picket sign over from about 10' away as
they each stepped out of side door. It read: 'xenu.net A Margaret Singer
Memorial Picket.' The other side read: 'It's a CULT Xenu.net. I gave the
sign to an OSA lady when the picket was over as a trophy. They took me to
dinner. We talked for an hour about reverse processing. They declined to
give me their names as we rode in their car to the restaurant me
sandwiched between an OSA lady and OSA guy in the back seat.
"The only lapse in generally fun and decent behavior was when KTVU FOX 2
rolled up with a camera and John Sasaki to interview me. They interviewed
me on camera for about 5 minutes. One of the questions was how do I define
a cult as different from a church or some such. I said a cult is after
power and money and a church with some exceptions is a civic service
organization. The cults handers were tying to block his filming of me with
their umbrellas. He laid right into them."
Jeff Jacobsen reported a brief candlelight vigil at the Mesa, Arizona org
on December 5th.
"I did a little 10 minute or so candlelight vigil in memory of Lisa
McPherson at the local org. I held my sign with Lisa's photo, lit my
candle, and thought about Lisa McPherson, her family, what happened
exactly 8 years ago, and about previous candlelight vigils. The thing that
most came to mind was that Scientologists blew out our candles as we held
a vigil across the street from the Ft. Harrison Hotel where Lisa was held.
It just made me think, what kind of people would hold a psychotic woman
until she died? What kind of people would blow out candles at a vigil in
memory of someone? I read that Lisa was pronounced dead at 9:51pm on
December 5, 1995. So at 9:51pm Florida time, I blew out my candle and went
John Ritson reported a protest at the London Scientology org on December
"Eight suppressives assembled in front of the Tottenham Court Road 'org',
which seems to be undergoing some kind of repair as it had scaffolding all
the way up the front. We had our boom-box and plenty of leaflets, while
after the usual frenzied phone calls to their controllers, the
Scientologists eventually managed to get a maximum of three people out
counter-leafletting, with one of them even being optimistic enough to call
out 'Free Personality Test?' to anyone who took his leaflet. Eventually
the DSA of the 'London Celebrity Centre' turned up and took a few photos.
"Two Scientologists tried to drown out the sound of the boom-box (fat
chance!) by using a power saw to cut out a Scientology cross symbol out of
a large wooden rectangle. Evidently they had not yet done the relevant
Scientology carpentry course, as it was all rather painful to watch.
Very positive response from passers-by, including some from France and the
John Ritson also reported a protest at a fundraiser for the London
"Scientology had organised a 150 pound a head dinner at the Institute of
Directors premises in Pall Mall to raise funds for a new 'Celebrity
Centre.' Since they have an adequate building under that name in West
London already, it was clearly just another attempt to gouge money out of
their victims. Three suppressives turned up outside the august portals of
the IOD and leafleted the incoming trickle. The invitations stated 7:30
for 8, so we were there from 7 to 8.
"It was hard to estimate how many people were there for the Scientology
bash, and how many for other functions. My guess would be somewhere
between 50-100. But absolutely no celebrities. A few of the people going
in took our leaflets, two made rude gestures. Some were hustled in and
told not to have anything to do with us, and I had a long chat with a man
who had done Scientology courses and said that he thought they might be
doing some good, though he left the building before 8.
"Another visitor to the IOD was a bank official who was very insistent
that Scientology were crooks and told us about the time they had tried to
open an account with a pile of gold bars. We had a good time, the
Scientology officials (judging by their scowls) didn't."
> Purification Rundown
The New York Daily News reported on December 13th on New York firefighters
participating in Scientology's Purification Rundown.
"Not many medical clinics frame and display a filthy gym towel. But then,
not many medical clinics are bankrolled by Tom Cruise, target ailing
firefighters who worked at Ground Zero and follow the teachings of the
Church of Scientology. 'We're helping people,' Jim Woodworth, director of
Downtown Medical, said the other day as several firefighters sat in the
clinic's 168-degree sauna. As for that soiled towel in the frame above his
desk, Woodworth said its purple stains prove toxins still lurk inside
rescue workers who toiled at Ground Zero. 'This is what our first patient
was sweating out for 13 days,' Woodworth said. 'We took that to the lab.
We found magnesium, mercury, aluminum.'
"But the Fire Department has no use for Downtown Medical and its disputed
detoxification program. FDNY officials are concerned that many of the 120
firefighters who sought help at the clinic stopped using inhalers and
medications prescribed by department doctors. Fire officials also say the
department has no proof that the clinic's regimen of moderate exercise,
vitamins and saunas removes toxins from the body. 'Our doctors went down
there and checked it out,' said Deputy Commissioner Frank Gribbon. 'Their
opinion was this was not a detoxification program. We don't endorse it.'
"This month, the city's largest firefighters union yanked its support of
Downtown Medical. The Uniformed Firefighters Association initially praised
the clinic for its 'unique' work. But sources said the union reconsidered
after some firefighters questioned the clinic's methods and connections to
Scientology - a movement described as both a persecuted religion and a
"A union spokesman, Tom Butler, told the Daily News that Downtown Medical
'made claims that have yet to be backed up by scientific data. The
clinic's ability to prove its case to the department's top doctors is
absolutely critical in gaining the union's confidence,' Butler said.
"Bob Barrett, a 62-year-old retired firefighter, who worked at Ground Zero
for several weeks, said the clinic's care improved his breathing and cured
nagging muscle aches. 'I felt like I owed it to my family to take
advantage of this detox,' he said. The detox program follows the teachings
of the late L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer who founded the
Church of Scientology. The regimen includes doses of the vitamin niacin,
exercise, saunas, repeated showers and the digestion of a small amount of
polyunsaturated oils. The goal of the rundown is to remove toxic chemicals
stored in the body. 'We've had firemen sweat out black, yellow, gray,
purple,' Woodworth said. 'We've had patients with yellow bowel movements,
green bowel movements, purple bowel movements.' Patients undergo
three-hour treatments seven days a week, from 21 to 40 days. The regimen
costs $5,200. But rescue workers pay nothing.
"In many cases, Tom Cruise, perhaps Scientology's best-known adherent,
picks up the tab. Woodworth said other donors also provide support. The
clinic's medical director, Dr. Kawabena Nyamekye, said the clinic does not
tell rescue workers to stop taking prescription drugs but helps them get
off their medicines if they insist. 'We make sure they do it safely,' he
"Dr. Kerry Kelly, the chief medical officer for the Fire Department, said
she has seen no 'objective evidence' to support Downtown Medical's claims.
'The essence of their program is you stay in it until you suddenly wake up
and say, 'I feel great,'' she said. 'It's hard to have faith in a program
like that.' She added, 'I have trouble believing in these purple-stained
Regions.Ru reported on November 26th that a Scientologist has lost custody
of her two daughters in the Russian state of Karelia.
"As a result of a Karelian OMON operation in one of the districts of
Petrozavodsk, two sisters, ages 9 and 11, were freed. They were held for
two years in one of the rooms in the apartment by their own mother, a
member of the Scientology cult. The girls did not go to school for two
years and were fed waste from the nearest market. The girl's mother did
not work anywhere. When they were found, the girls asked for their father,
who has permanent residence in Finland. It was there that his former wife
joined the cult. After the divorce she first went to Saint Petersburg,
then she returned to Petrozavodsk, where they settled and made
arrangements with the welfare agencies. Now the girls are in the hospital
in poor condition. The Petrozavodsk court deprived the mother of parental
> Dr. Margaret Singer
The San Francisco Chronicle on November 25th reported the death of
psychologist and cult expert Margaret Singer in Berkeley, California.
"Margaret Singer, the soft-spoken but hard-edged Berkeley psychologist and
expert on brainwashing who studied and helped authorities and victims
better understand the Peoples Temple, Branch Davidian, Unification Church
and Symbionese Liberation Army cults, has died. Professor Singer, 82, died
Sunday after a long illness at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley.
"'She's one of a kind, the foremost authority on brainwashing in the
entire world,' said lawyer Paul Morantz in an interview last year. Morantz
led the effort against the Synanon cult in the 1970s. 'She is a national
treasure.' She testified in the 1976 bank robbery trial of newspaper
heiress Patricia Hearst, who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation
Army, and at the 1977 hearing for five young members of the Rev. Sun Myung
Moon's Unification Church whose parents sought to have them
"She interviewed more than 3,000 cult members, assisted in more than 200
court cases and also was a leading authority on schizophrenia and family
therapy. 'I might look like a little old grandma, but I'm no pushover,'
she told a reporter last year, just before tossing back another shot of
Bushmills Irish whiskey, her libation of choice.
"She was occasionally threatened by cult leaders and their followers, and
she never backed down. Professor Singer liked to tell how, at the age of
80, she frightened off a stalker who had been leaving menacing notes in
her mailbox. 'I've got a 12-gauge shotgun up here, sonny, and you'd better
get off my porch, or you'll be sorry!' she hollered out the window. 'And
tell your handlers not to send you back!'
"She was the author of 'Cults in Our Midst,' the authoritative 1995 study
on cults that she revised earlier this year with analysis of the
connection between cults and terrorism. She was the winner of the
Hofheimer Prize and the Dean Award from the American College of
Psychiatrists and of achievement awards from the Mental Health Association
of the United States and the American Family Therapy Association. She was
a past president of the American Psychosomatic Society and a board member
of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute Review Board and the American
From the New York Times on December 7th:
"Several members of the People's Temple, with Dr. Singer's help, left that
group before 900 people committed mass suicide in Guyana in 1978. Dr.
Singer would often help win lawsuits against groups that former members
claimed had lured them into dark, insular worlds that left them
psychologically traumatized. 'Her testimony would help people understand
the clinical impact of a cult's manipulation and exploitation,' said Dr.
Richard Ofshe, a sociology professor at the University of California at
Berkeley who worked with Dr. Singer for 20 years. 'There was a constant
stream of people who would go into these organizations and end up in
psychiatric emergency rooms.'
"Dr. Singer's battles made her a target for harassment and death threats.
At times, she found dead animals on her doorstep. Margaret Thaler Singer
was born in Denver and earned her bachelor's degree, master's degree and
Ph.D. from the University of Denver. She became an adjunct professor at
Berkeley in the 1950's. Dr. Singer conducted several widely known studies
on schizophrenia and was a renowned family therapist. She spent much of
her career at Berkeley, but also taught at the University of Rochester and
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, among others."
> Reed Slatkin
The Los Angeles Times reported on December 9th that victims of Scientology
minister Reed Slatkin's fraudulent investment scheme may recover more
money than expected from the case.
"The trustee in the Reed Slatkin bankruptcy doubled his estimate Monday of
what victims of Slatkin's Ponzi scheme might recover, saying it could
reach 40 cents for every dollar lost - and more if investors who came out
ahead in the scam would 'find it in their hearts' to return some of their
profits. Hundreds of people were cheated by Slatkin, a former investment
advisor from Santa Barbara who constructed an illusory empire using $593
million collected from Hollywood celebrities, Internet moguls and fellow
Scientologists. He pleaded guilty to operating a financial fraud that
continued for 15 years before dissolving into bankruptcy proceedings in
May 2001. He is serving a federal prison term of 14 years.
"Some of Slatkin's clients were paid back more than they invested - a
common occurrence in such so-called Ponzi schemes, which use funds from
later investors to pay phony profits or dividends to the earliest
participants. Neilson sued 430 of these so-called 'net debtors,' seeking
the return of anything they received in excess of the amount they put in.
So far, 144 of those suits have been settled - typically at about 80 cents
on the dollar - for a total of $31.8 million, most of it to be collected
in payments over the next two or three years. For example, tobacco
litigator John Coale and his wife, legal commentator Greta Van Susteren,
agreed to return about $700,000 of the $939,000 they netted. Suits seeking
an additional $138 million are pending against other defendants, including
actor Peter Coyote, who made $943,000.
"If those defendants 'were to simply find it within their hearts and
wallets to pay the $138 million without any further litigation,' Neilson
wrote, it would yield a return to the creditors of 84% of their losses. A
'more realistic approach,' according to his memo, would be to assume that
35% of the $138 million can be collected by spending an additional $7
million on litigation - a formula that would bring the recovery to about
40% of the losses."