A.r.s Week in Review - 3/26/2000
Week in Review Volume 4, Issue 50
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
also available on ONElist. Email email@example.com or see
Week in Review is archived at:
> ClearwaterFrom the letters to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times this week.
"Although the St. Petersburg Times has printed letters from Scientologists
in response to a number of stories, I would like to comment on the
propensity of the Times to publish at the same time extremely prejudiced
letters. It is a mystery why intolerant letters that would not be
published had they been about any other religious or ethnic group in the
area make the opinion pages. Then again, maybe it is not any surprise;
newspapers are usually the last ones to champion any needed human rights
issue. -- Liz Adams, Clearwater"
Mark Bunker reported a new development in the white lined zone by a
Scientology building in Clearwater, in which people have been prevented
from walking or protesting in recent months.
"Just moments ago I took a victory march through the white lines on
Watterson Street. In a hearing this afternoon, Judge Pennick decreed that
we can walk through the lines when we're not protesting. We must announce
our names to the police then we are free to cross. As I strode manfully to
the white lines, I announced in a strong but not booming voice 'I'm Mark
Bunker and I'm here to cross the white lines!' I then walked down the
street just like a citizen."
> Leo J. Ryan FoundationRod Keller and Tom Padgett reported on the Leo J. Ryan Foundation annual
conference last week in Stamford, Connecticut.
"The main speakers after the meals were Ron Loomis, Steve Hassan, Bob
Minton, Stephen Kent, Deborah Layton and Robert Jay Lifton. Ron Loomis'
presentation was his standard talk he delivers at colleges around the
country, Cults 101. Steve Hassan discussed his new book, Releasing the
Bonds. Bob Minton's talk was on the Lisa McPherson Trust, and the city of
Clearwater. Stephen Kent described the political and legal situation in
Europe with respect to cults and Scientology in particular. Deborah Layton
wrote 'Seductive Poison', a book on her experiences in Jonestown and her
escape before the suicide/murders. Robert Lifton was amazing in his talk
on Aum Shinrikyo and his new book 'Destroying the World to Save it.'
"Joe Kelly and Pat Ryan discussed altered states of mind and how
hallucination and suggestion work to fool members into believing the
cult's claims. The example of levitation was very interesting, how trance
states and hypnosis can make members of meditation cults believe that they
and others can actually fly across the room, not just hop around on the
"[In] the Lisa McPherson Trust session Grady Ward describing how far the
Internet has come in providing cult awareness information, and how cults
have been working to destroy what has been achieved. Stacy Brooks
described her experience with the Trust and how so many active members
have been following the material available on web sites, newspapers, etc.
Flo Conway and Joe Sigelman spoke on 'Church vs. State', and had some
interesting analysis of the changing government attitudes towards cults,
including the Waco incident. The session on the Maryland Task Force on
Cults on Campus included Denny Gulick, a professor of mathematics at the
University of Maryland and a proponent of cult education on campus, Ron
Loomis who testified before the task force, and Frantz Wilson, a member of
the task force and parent of a member of the Black Hebrews, a cult that
believes black people should inherit the state of Israel as the true
descendants of Isaac and Jacob."
"Thomas Padgett gave a brief overview of his time from being recruited in
1978 to leaving on his own in 1987, but gave more detailed highlights of
the rein of terroristic attacks, stalkings, character assaults, death by
litigation tactics, burglaries, SP declarations, destruction of his once
successful and rewarding career, and worst of all, 'disconnection' from
his minor children! Padgett's ex-wife remained in the cult as a devoted
Hubbard believer. His litigious ex has tried several times to get him
convicted on bogus trumped-up child support allegations which is a crime
in all 50 states. Padgett has a warrant out for his arrest in Kentucky
from his ex's continued fair gaming tactics. The judge in the cases is a
family friend of the pro-scientologists in a small politically controlled
Western Kentucky town.
"Recipients of this years' LJRF Award were Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman,
pioneers in the study of cults and mind control going back to the 1970's.
In their book 'Snapping,' earlier extensive research surveys indicated
'hour for hour, Scientology's techniques may be more than twice as
damaging as those of other cults and self-help therapies, and up to four
times as damaging per hour as the rituals of some other major cult
> Jenna ElfmanMrshowbiz published an interview with Scientology celebrity Jenna Elfman
"My husband has been a Scientologist for years, and I kept hearing him
talk about Dianetics. And I said, 'What is Dianetics?' So he gave me the
book. And he said there's a course you can take and you just have to read
parts of it. And then one day I ran into a situation that made me like,
frazzled. I was spending the night at my now-husband,
boyfriend-at-the-time's house. I was so used to the alarm that it didn't
wake me up, and I woke up an hour and a half after I was supposed to be
there. I got in the car and I was all frazzled and starting to cry and was
rushed, and I couldn't think. Then I went, Wait a minute--that's purely
reactive and insane. Look, you're in the car, you can't get there any
faster. So just turn the music on, enjoy. And I went da-da-da, da-da-da
and got a lot more analytical about the situation.
"When I got there, I said, 'I'm very sorry I'm late. The alarm didn't wake
me up.' And they said, 'That's fine. We're not going to get to you for
another few hours.' Like, wow! I went, This is great. It's just very
simple: Scientology helps me live my life better."
> GermanyFrankfurter Neue Presse reported on March 20th that Scientology must pay
membership dues to a business council in Frankfurt.
"The 'Scientology Church' must accept mandatory membership in the
Frankfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce and pay membership dues. That
was decided by the Frankfurt Administrative Court. In the court's
opinion, 'Scientology' is a corporation which is required to pay
commercial taxes and therefore, according to legal determinations, it
automatically has to be a member of the IHK. 'Scientology' operates a book
store in Frankfurt in which its scriptures are distributed. The
association had refused to accept mandatory membership because, it said,
the distribution of the printed matter was occurring only on an 'honorary
basis,' and that the shop was not being managed 'fully
mercantilistically.' According to the court's presentation, that was not
reflected in the circumstances. As a result there was the obligation to
pay commercial tax, as had been confirmed by the revenue office and the
City of Frankfurt."
Mannheimer Morgen reported on March 17th that two government ministers in
Hesse continue to be criticized for doing business with a Scientology real
estate developer in Zwickau.
"Hesse's Interior Minister Volker Bouffier and Justice Minister Christean
Wagner (both CDU) were assailed yesterday in the state assembly for doing
business with a Scientologist. The two ministers were attacked because, in
1996, they bought buildings in Zwickau from a company whose business
manager is a Scientologist. The top CDU politicians were said to have
indirectly supported the organization because of a total of 3.7 million
marks the Scientology Organization normally receives 15 percent, said
Greens Representative Evelin Schoenhut-Keil. The Scientologists' goal is
said to be the infiltration of society. In pursuing that goal, said
Schoenhut-Keil, the organization is not above practicing money-laundering,
corruption or psycho-terrorism against its members.
"In response, Interior Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU) stressed that the
CDU politicians had not known anything of the business manager's
membership in Scientology at the time the purchase was made. In 1997, the
business manager had submitted sworn testimony stating that he was not a
Scientologist. Even if the opposite of that would have happened, stressed
Bouffier, he would not have been able to terminate his five year contract
because of that."
From Frankfurter Rundschau on March 17th:
"'This is dealing with a private financial matter which has nothing to do
with my post as state minister,' wrote Bouffier last week to the SPD
faction in response to a questions about his real estate business with a
professed Scientologist from Zwickau. In reality, the Minister, who has
already been accused of 'treason to the party' and 'back-door affairs,'
has not separated his private and work matters quite so clearly. That is
proved by a letter which Bouffier filed against Kurt Fliegerbauer, the
Zwickau Scientologist, in charges in the Zwickau state attorney's office
on February 23rd of this year. The letter is authored on the official
letterhead paper of the Minister with Hesse's coat of arms. Bouffier
admitted that this afternoon he had 'inadvertently' had the charges
prepared on ministry paper even though the charge was being filed by him
'as a private man.'
"Bouffier stated yesterday that in 1996 he was not aware of who managed
the Osterstein company. It was not until September 1997 that he had read
in the newspaper that a Scientologist managed the company. The investor
verified for him, in writing, that there was nothing to the accusations.
The businessman asked Bouffier for help in 1999, because he felt he was
being persecuted by Zwickau CDU members because of his membership in
Scientology. The Minister said he rebuffed Fliegerbauer's request.
Fliegerbauer then suspended the guaranteed rental payments for the eastern
real estate he had agreed upon with Bouffier because of what he said was a
lack of help. Bouffier filed charges for breach of trust - on his ministry
paper. SPD and Greens have criticized Bouffier for not clearly maintaining
his distance in his cooperation with the Scientologist. Bouffier countered
that it would not have been possible to get out of the contract without
taking a loss if he only used the argument that his partner in the
contract was a member of Scientology."
Berliner Morgenpost published an update on March 17 of the Otto Dreksler
case, a former police supervisor accused of being a Scientologist.
"It's been almost two years since one of the biggest police scandals in
Berlin got a start. Yet it has still not been explained why police
director Otto Dreksler was wrongly described as a Scientologist, first
anonymously, and then by Constitutional Security. If things go the way the
CDU members of the Constitutional Security Committee would like, a cloak
of silence will be drawn over the whole affair. As Interior Senator Eckart
Werthebach said, 'This whole story has been over for years.'
"What everything is really pointing to is that a secret plot against Otto
Dreksler and the Berlin Security authorities had been concocted. In the
past year, Interior Senator Eckart Werthebach has spoken of a
disinformation campaign by the Stasi. Ex-staff of the DDR intelligence
agency have, beyond any doubt, played a significant role in the affair.
Besides the undercover men, there is much to support the concept that the
anonymous letter writer who first slandered Dreksler had also snitched for
the Stasi in the DDR era. Therefore, SPD Vice Chief Klaus Benneter also
asked yesterday why Stasi spies were used on Scientology. Joerg
Schoenbohm, stated that Stasi spies were only being implemented to observe
continuing structures of that secret agency.' It has not yet been
explained what led Constitutional Security management, including the
Interior Senator and State Secretary, to deviate from this policy. PDS
Representative Gernot Klemm asked, 'How could they know which undercover
people at Constitutional Security had worked for the Stasi?' In the
meantime, the state attorney's office is attempting to find out who was
behind the intrigue. Investigation is currently in process."
Die Welt reported on March 23rd that Scientology is the only organization
to take advantage of new public records laws in three German states.
"Its arrival has been calm and quiet in the offices of Schleswig-Holstein,
Brandenburg and Berlin. Agencies from the Interior Ministry to
Constitutional Protection are now open for inspection down to the last
dusty folder - and nobody is looking in. For the first time, the
authorities in three German states are obligated to let anybody have
access to their administrative files. Before then, information, as a rule
was refused: all information of the state was dealt with as confidential
and reached the hands of normal citizens only as an exception - if they,
themselves were affected by the information. Now any uninterested party
can gain access to the files, which also include those on organizations.
"The Scientologists' 'Human Rights Bureau' has been diligently writing to
the ministries and government agencies of the three states. 'We would like
to know what there is about us in their files,' said Koch. That alarms
critics of the new law. 'That goes to show you who is interested:
organizations like Scientology, which is under surveillance by
Constitutional Security,' said Ulrich Spitzer, spokesman of the Flensburg
Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Because of Scientology's inquiries, the
Brandenburg SPD and CDU coalition parties want to back-paddle now and
permit access to folders only by those who could show a 'justified
interest' - as determined by the government.
Suedwest Presse reported on March 23rd that former Labor Minister Norbert
Bluem will oppose Scientology's recognition as a religion.
"Norbert Bluem (CDU) intends to use all means to keep Scientology from
being acknowledged as a religious denomination in Germany. 'The
Scientologists have as much to do with a religious denomination as
bicycles have to do with space travel,' said the former Labor Minister.
Bluem accused the Scientologists of having ruined many people."
> IrelandThe Irish Times reported on March 22nd on Ireland's churches efforts to
monitor cults, including Scientology.
"Mike Garde is employed by Ireland's major churches to monitor the
country's 100-plus alternative religions. He tells Kellie Russell why
we're now more susceptible to the 'unsettling presence' of cults Cult
watchdog Mike Garde knows what can happen when you start poking your nose
in other people's religions. He's Ireland's theosophical Big Brother,
monitoring cults - or new religious movements as he prefers to call them -
for Dublin's mainline Christian churches. As a self-employed fieldworker
for an ecumenical ministry called Dialogue Ireland, he reports to a board,
composed of representatives of the main Christian churches, on what he
calls the 'unsettling presence' of alternative religions. He provides
information, advice and pastoral support, for families, clergy, teachers
and other professionals who encounter activities of cults.
"He is a Mennonite - 'not a cult', he's quick to point out - but one of
the Quaker-like peace churches founded before Anglicanism. It's a personal
fact not lost on at least one of the organisations he's pursued in the
name of disillusioned members and their disquieted families, a Dublin
branch of the Scientologists. 'Scientology operates on a system of black
propaganda,' he says. 'A section of the Mennon church was linked to a drug
cartel in Mexico, so they contacted the church leaders I work for to tell
them they had a dark horse among them.'
"According to his research, there are more than 100 minor religions
operating throughout the country. To date, Dialogue Ireland, which
replaced the Catholic-run Cult Awareness Centre in 1992, has focused on
Scientology, the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, new churches with Eastern
or Christian foundations, 'human potential' movements and a group called
Emin, which Garde describes as 'quasi-occult', promoting the powers of
"'We are the only country in Europe that still has not had a parliamentary
investigation on the phenomenon of cults,' he says. Dialogue Ireland has
now written to the Committee for Equality, Justice and Women's Rights,
asking it to investigate the current situation in Ireland."
> Kirstie AlleyThe Wichita Business Journal carried a column on March 6th by Scientology
celebrity Kirstie Alley.
"Please join me in building on Wichita's ever-increasing commitment to
education by attending our upcoming Education Expo at 10 a.m on Saturday,
March 4 at the Wichita State University Metropolitan Complex. More than
40 community groups around the city will be represented at the Expo, all
seeking tutors to assist in our common efforts to improve educational
opportunities and success.
"I want to tell you a story of a little girl I'll name Chloe, who came
into our tutoring center. She was 9 years old and hadn't learned to read
yet. Her mother was at her wit's end. Chloe was having all sorts of
difficulty in school and her mother had taken her to several different
counselors where she ended up being put on a psychiatric drug for three
years, which caused further problems. Our tutors worked with Chloe and
found she had missed some basics at the beginning of her schooling. Chloe
was brought forward with one-on-one tutoring and taught to read. She then
learned the study tools that give students the solutions to difficulties
with study so they can resolve them on their own. Today Chloe is doing
very well and is drug-free. She loves school and gets along well with her
peers. Both Chloe and her mother are extremely happy.
"We have operated the free tutoring program at Lillie's Learning Place out
of our Church of Scientology building at 3705 E. Douglas and have helped
more than 700 children and adults. Not all of them have had learning
problems but they all benefited from gaining the ability to effectively
study. It gave them the key to both dreaming and reaching whatever goal
they wished. I believe it is the key to our future as a society to create
a new generation of kids who are literate and love to learn. It has too
often been a failing that has cost us all a great deal."
From The Sunflower, a student newspaper at Wichita State University, on
"Actress and Wichita native Kirstie Alley will be opening a branch of
Lillie's Learning Place, a free tutoring center, this Saturday after she
hosts the Education Expo 2000. There will be several speakers, including
Alley, Mark Siegel, national spokesperson for Applied Scholastics, and
Jean Schodorf, president of USD 259. Rudy Love and the Love family will
provide music. Having fun and being involved in the education of Wichita's
children is the reason for Education Expo 2000, said Peggy Crawford,
president of the Church of Scientology, which has sponsored the tutoring
program for five years. 'The idea of it is to create 500 new tutors,' said
Crawford. 'It's a community effort to increase education.'
"L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, has researched
the study tools used at Lillie's Learning Place. However, Crawford said
the program does not have any religious content. 'This is not a church
activity,' said Crawford. 'It is completely secular.' Burks said most of
the children involved in the program have another belief system, and the
learning tools involved with Lillie's Learning Place help them learn how
to handle life better."
> Lisa McPhersonThe St. Petersburg Times reported on March 26th on the documents provided
by Scientology in an attempt to influence Medical Examiner Joan Wood in
the case of Lisa McPherson.
"Medical studies, scientific research, sworn testimony and more --
thousands of pages from the Church of Scientology that Medical Examiner
Joan Wood considered over five months before changing her ruling in the
1995 death of Lisa McPherson.
"Wood refuses to say what finally tipped the scale, prompting her to rule
last month that McPherson's death was an accident. But records from her
office examined by the St. Petersburg Times show she reviewed a wide array
of materials seriously challenging her original conclusion that McPherson
had died from a blood clot in her lung caused by 'bed rest and severe
"The volume and scope of the records also reveal the lengths to which
Scientology has gone to defend itself against criminal charges in
McPherson's death -- charges it contends are threatening its reputation
and viability, not only in Clearwater but throughout the world.
"In making its case to Wood, Scientology hammered on several points: A
blood clot in the lung, known as a pulmonary embolism, is a common killer.
The public perception that McPherson was emaciated and lost as much as 40
pounds while in the care of Scientology staffers in Clearwater is
unsupported and incorrect. The fatal blood clot came not from dehydration
but from a bruise McPherson had received in a minor auto accident before
her 17-day stay at the Fort Harrison. Lab results on sodium levels in
McPherson's eye fluid were too high to be credible and did not jibe with
other findings in the autopsy.
"The church's strategy is reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson murder case in
1995 when defense attorneys meticulously picked away at the handling of
blood samples and other forensic evidence, creating doubt among jurors. In
the McPherson case, however, the all-out attack on the state's medical
evidence is occurring well ahead of a trial. The church's Clearwater
entity was charged in 1998 with abuse of a disabled adult and practicing
medicine without a license, both felonies. One church official, asked
recently to put a price tag on the defense so far, called it 'enormous.'
"The stakes for Scientology apparently are high. In a recent court filing,
the church contends the prosecution puts an unconstitutional burden on a
religion, arguing in part that the case might even threaten its cherished
and hard-won tax-exempt status from the IRS.
"Assistant State Attorney Doug Crow, the lead prosecutor on the case,
declined to comment. Marty Rathbun, a top Scientology official, said the
church could have waited until a trial to bring forth the evidence. But
that would have harmed 'the credibility of many persons in a fashion that
would have made them appear incompetent to the community,' he said."
> Protest SummarySean Ostler reported a protest in Salt Lake City this week.
"We got our picket signs out and began walking back and forth in front of
the org. Almost immediately, I saw them start to scurry about inside. Judy
Steed, the Executive Director, got on the phone at the receptionist's desk
and called someone (presumably Phil). We picketed for about 20 minutes
with no 'handling' from the org. Then Phil Parke (resident OT8) came
slinking out the org with a camera and began taking our pictures. Then
Deana pulled out her camera and began snapping pictures of Phil. Phil
continued to snap pictures for a few minutes and then he slinked back into
"I noticed a lot more activity in the org lobby than usual. At one point
there were five people. Then I noticed Phil taking pictures of us from
inside the org. He had his camera right up against the glass."
> Lisa Marie PresleyStar magazine reported this week that Scientology celebrity Lisa Marie
Presley plans a Scientology wedding in Clearwater.
"Lisa Marie Presley is planning a wacky Scientology wedding with rocker
boyfriend John Oszajca. Elvis' daughter -- who sources say has already
given more than $1 million to Scientology -- has now convinced her
Hawaiian-born fiancee that he, too, should join the controversial church
before they get married this summer.
"And their bizarre wedding plans include: Having an ordained Scientologist
minister conduct the ceremony at the Scientology Center in Clearwater,
Fla., personalized Scientology training for the 25-year-old Oszajca before
the wedding. a special Scientologist official who will be on 24-hour call
to provide advice to the couple in the event of marital woes.
"An insider told STAR that devout Scientologist Lisa Marie is thrilled
that John is now embracing the Scientology movement. 'Lisa is so excited
because she adores John,' said the insider. 'It means a lot to her that
he's starting to get involved in her religion. In fact, it's an answer to
Lisa's prayers. She has so much more in common with him than she had with
Michael Jackson.' But, just to make sure that the marriage works out, the
couple are making plans to meet with Scientologist counselors before they
tie the knot. John has also been asked to go into Auditing--a program the
church has devised to initiate new members.
"'Lisa lived in Clearwater with her two kids for two years prior to her
marriage to Michael Jackson and, during that time, she spent most of her
days trying to reach the top echelons of Scientology,' said the insider.
It's been estimated that she has invested more than $1 million in the
church. 'A million dollars is worth spending for her because she wants to
achieve her goals in the church.'"
> ScotlandGary Campbell reported on a new org location in Edinburgh, Scotland.
"It looks like they've just moved straight into a former grocers and done
very little redecorating. The sign above the shop still reads 'Best
Choice' and they have a rickety message board with a hand-scrawled advert
for their personality tests outside. They do look to have been spending a
bit of money on the inside though, they've got a polished wooden floor
with big glass windows giving a good view inside. It's noticeable, and
they're likely to do a fair bit better than they did at their old place."
> SwitzerlandBasler Zeitung reported on March 23rd that the battle over Scientology
recruitment in the streets of Basel continues.
"Despite a misfire of the first police charges against two Scientology
recruiters, the new Basel ban against improper recruitment on public land
has had its effect. Scientology recruiters distribute 'free personality
tests' with 200 questions in the Steinen suburb. The people accosted are
invited to fill out the test and have it evaluated in a nearby office. It
serves to find out the personal capabilities and weaknesses of the person
approached, stated Andre Steffen from the Scientology Church. To improve
the situation of the subject person, books, privately formed courses and
seminars are offered, like the communication course for 250 franks. Bigger
courses could cost from 1,000 to 2,000 franks.
"Anybody who is going through a crisis is susceptible to those kind of
promises, answers SP greater council member Susanne Haller. First, she
said, the person accosted is overwhelmed with 'love bombing,' a salvo of
'stroke units.' She said that whoever uncritically follows up on the
offers ends up in a closed, self-justifying system of thought and
behavior. Personal risk for the person recruited is associated with
dependencies outside the network of psychological services and associated
with considerable expenses.
"To oppose that sort of risk, the Greater Council decision prohibits
recruiting passersby by using 'deceptive or obtrusive methods.'
Recruitment personnel in violation of that ordinance can be dispersed
'from specific locations or in general.' In response to the state rights
complaint of the 'Scientology Church Association,' the Federal Court
confirmed the validity of this regulation. At the same time the criminal
court exonerated two Scientology recruiters who had been charged. That is
because it judged the recruitment to be commercial, and therefore not
religious, activity. The Department of Police and Military submitted an
appeal to that judgment, reported the chief of the legal service, Stephan
> WWWThe Guardian published an article on March 23rd on the battle on the
Internet against Scientology.
"August 12 1995 was a Saturday much like any other in the urban sprawl of
Arlington, Virginia. Except that an alert went out over email and on
Usenet groups to say that 10 people - including two federal marshals, two
computer technicians, one a former FBI agent, and several attorneys - were
raiding the home of former Scientologist Arnaldo Lerma. Leading the raid
was Helena Kobrin, a senior lawyer representing the Church of Scientology.
She was well known on the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, due to her
frequent postings which insisted on the deletion of files she claimed
contained the Church's copyrighted materials. Lerma was distraught. Many
of his personal and business files were kept on his PC. Told that his
hardware would be returned the following Monday, he was still waiting
"There had been other raids in the US and further afield, including on an
anonymous remailer run by Johan Helsingius in Finland, as the Church
pursued anyone it felt was posting 'secret' materials. Such
confrontations are continuing - albeit in more subtle form - as pro- and
anti-cultists struggle for control of the 'truth' over the net.
"On the Church of Scientology's slick official site you can take a
personality test online (although you have to meet someone in person to
receive the results) and visit links to more than 15,000 Scientologists.
Said one British opponent of Scientology: 'The battle between Scientology
and its opponents has been absolutely transformed by the net.' As writer
William Shaw, author of Spying In Guru Land, explains, the main reason
that the Church of Scientology has a large internet presence is the high
net profile of its opponents. 'The CoS is very proficient at the internet
now, but I believe that was only responding to very successful
anti-Scientology sites on the web in the early 90s.'
"Much of the background to the war between Scientologists and their
detractors can be seen at Operation Clambake set up by Andreas Heldal-Lund
in Norway in 1996. One of the incidents he highlights was last year when
Amazon.com dropped Jon Atack's book A Piece Of Blue Sky, which was
critical of Scientology's teachings. There was a massive outcry from
netizens and free speech advocates, and Amazon promptly reversed its
decision. The site also outlines how, in 1998, Scientologists were issued
with filtering software to prevent them visiting anti-Scientology sites.
"Roger Gonnet, an anti-Scientology activist running a web site based in
France, says: 'My two sites were attacked three times each, the first with
three attorneys in a row, attacking my ISP too. They even tried to attack
under the guise of 'violation of trade secrets' which is a strong thing
for a 'religion'.'
"'For many years, the Church of Scientology has taken action to protect
its scriptures from abuse,' says a spokesperson. 'It is in pursuit of its
First Amendment right of free religious exercise that the Church has
brought legal action to enforce existing copyright and trade secrets laws
on the internet.'"