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Clearwater, Florida City Council votes 5-0 to buy downtown parcel coveted by Church of Scientology

“The City Council on Thursday voted unanimously to buy a vacant but high-profile downtown lot from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, intercepting a crucial piece of land the Church of Scientology said it needed for its campus. A packed auditorium at City Hall greeted the 5-0 decision with applause. Scientology leader David Miscavige had offered to bankroll a multi-million dollar revitalization of downtown if the city stepped aside and allowed the church to buy the lot, which borders its 13-story Oak Cove religious retreat. He pitched the idea last week to a select group of downtown stakeholders with help from Scientology celebrities like John Travolta, and was willing to pay more than three times what the city was offering. …About 200 people gathered in City Hall for the discussion. While roughly 25 people lined up to speak in favor of the city buying the land, only four spoke against the purchase. ‘I feel the city is slowly losing control of the city’s destiny, and it’s going to the Church of Scientology,’ resident Bob Holsinger said. ‘I feel this issue tonight is also a symbolic issue.’ The city will pay $4.25 million for the property and allow the aquarium to continue using the space for parking while it renovates its facility across the Intracoastal on Island Estates. That project could take two years. …In a letter to the Tampa Bay Times on Monday, [Scientology spokesman] Shaw blasted the city as ‘arrogant’ for wanting to keep the aquarium land out of the church’s hands, calling it ‘manifest obstruction’ and a statement by City Hall that Scientologists are second-class citizens. …Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates has said the nonprofit has always been committed to selling to the city because the two are partners in the community. ‘I think everybody's hope and desire is the city can move ahead with a strong master plan to really revitalize downtown,’ Yates said. ‘It’s an amazing area, beautiful area, so I think this is a good first step.’” (Tampa Bay Times, 04/20/17) [8.3]

Church of Scientology takes aim at Clearwater Marine Aquarium after being denied land

“The Church of Scientology has launched a statewide campaign blasting the ethics and financial practices of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a move that follows the aquarium’s recent decision not to sell the church a prized downtown property. On Monday, one day before the Pinellas County Commission gave initial approval to the aquarium’s request for $26 million of bed tax dollars, the church delivered to the board a scathing, seven-page letter and more than 250 pages of supporting documentation questioning the nonprofit’s economic impact and financial responsibility. …The church’s move came two business days after the Clearwater City Council voted unanimously to buy a 1.4-acre vacant property from the aquarium. The $4.25 million sale closed the next day. The aquarium, which is in the midst of a fundraising campaign for a $50 million renovation of its facility on Island Estates, rejected the church’s $15 million offer for the property three weeks earlier in favor of selling to the city. …In her letter to the county, Monique Yingling, a top church attorney who assisted Scientology in securing its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 1993, said the aquarium is ‘essentially asking to recoup’ from taxpayers the millions it turned down from the church’s offer. Yingling said the aquarium has repeatedly depended on public funding despite bringing in $8.8 [sic] million in revenue over the past five years. She cited $8.8 million in ‘in-kind property, grants and other funding from the city of Clearwater.’ But Yates said that number is unfounded. Other than a $750,000 contribution in 2008, ‘we do not get any routine grants from the city,’ Yates said. …Commissioner Ken Welch said he still hasn’t had time to review the hundreds of pages of documents that were hand delivered 24 hours before Tuesday’s vote. Yates said the sale of the aquarium’s land to the city was a show of commitment to a long-standing partnership rather than an affront to the church. The church's reaction, he said, was unwarranted. ‘We didn’t get into this to have an argument with anybody,’ Yates said. ‘When we had property to sell, we sold the property to our partner. That's it. … We’re very disappointed in the approach the church has taken in this regard. It didn’t need to be done, and it’s unfortunate, but our desire is we do our work and we do our mission and we move on.’” (Tampa Bay Times, 04/27/17) [8.3]

School accidentally hired Church of Scientology-backed group to teach drug education

“After a drug-related tragedy, administrators at California’s Santa Monica High School decided the school needed a drug education program. But the school went cold turkey on its new drug education program after just three seminars when parents realized the program was actually run by the Church of Scientology. …The Foundation [for a Drug Free World]-reportedly led three seminars for students over several weeks, before hosting a workshop with approximately 200 parents on May 9. It was during this meet-up that parents reportedly began questioning the group that was leading regular seminars in the public school. While the Foundation does not advertise its affiliation with Scientology, its connections with the church are evident in its publicly available tax documents, and have drawn significant media attention since the Foundation was launched in 2006. A number of parents, made newly aware of the group’s Scientology ties, reportedly complained to the school’s principal, who decided to cut short the drug program this month. The school district did not return a requests for comment on Sunday. …A school district spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter that the school’s principal had ‘fully vetted this organization and felt that it would be excellent for our students.’ Despite being sponsored by the religious organization, ‘the presentations and materials do not have any reference or mention of Scientology.’ …The Foundation has previously been ousted from public schools in New York City, where it administered a similar anti-drug program until its ties to Scientology were revealed. In 2015, the Foundation boasted of lecturing at 30 New York City public schools, as well as with the New York City Police Department’s youth programs, where it reportedly led anti-drug training for school safety officers.” (Daily Beast, 05/14/17) [8.3]

Court orders Scientology church leader and members detained in St. Petersburg, Russia

“A court in St. Petersburg on June 8 ordered the spiritual leader of the city’s branch of the Church of Scientology held in detention for two months. …Ivan Matsitsky, the church leader, was among five members of the church arrested on June 6 during a raid on the organization's offices in St. Petersburg. …A Federal Security Service (FSB) investigator told the court that the church’s business activities, including offering commercial courses and scientology programs, had netted 276 million rubles ($4.84 million), which he called ‘a massive scale.’ In 2015, a court ordered the Church of Scientology’s Moscow operation to be dissolved, saying it could not be considered a religious organization.” (RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 06/09/17) [8.3]

Scientologists blast “hypocritical” A&E for canceling KKK docuseries

“Scientologists demanded ‘fair and equal treatment’ from the A&E cable channel this week after company executives canceled plans to broadcast a controversial documentary series devoted to the Ku Klux Klan while continuing to air a program critical of their church. The channel’s decision to pull the plug on its planned KKK series in light of recent complaints is hypocritical, an attorney for the Church said in a letter sent Tuesday to A&E, particularly given its reluctance to take similar action against the program Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. … Ms. Remini and others who appear in Aftermath have either received monetary compensation or ‘in-kind payments in the form of free advertising and promotion for anti-Scientology books they have published,’ Church attorney Gary Soter said in Tuesday’s letter. ‘This quid pro quo aimed at gaining access to these individuals is similar in effect—although more substantial—to the ‘nominal’ payments made to the Ku Klux Klan members which [sic] caused A&E to pull that series,’ Mr. Soter wrote. ‘A&E has applied its policies and practices in an invidious and discriminatory manner. We can think of no justification for A&E’s hypocrisy.’” (The Washington Times, 12/29/16) [IT 8.2]

In Russia, some Scientology files have been included in the federal list of extremism-related materials

“Police are carrying out a search at a Scientology center located to the northeast of Moscow, a law enforcement source told TASS on Wednesday. …The investigation is underway as part of a criminal case into illegal entrepreneurship launched by the Federal Security Service in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. …In Russia, some Scientology files have been included in the federal list of extremism-related materials, and their storage and dissemination is prohibited in the country.” (Tass, 3/29/17) [IT 8.2]

Church of Scientology defends use of Sydney school children in advertising

“The children, from Newtown’s [Australia] Athena School, appeared in advertisement for the church alongside their principal Fiona Milne in July’s I’m a Scientologist promotional video. Schools associated with the Church of Scientology are receiving large portions of state funding in comparison with state schools. In this promotional video produced by the church, Sydney school principal Fiona talks about what Scientology means for her and her students. ...The church has strenuously maintained the school and the church are separate organizations. The school teaches the ‘Way to Happiness’ philosophy of Scientology leader L. Ron Hubbard, but does not disclose that philosophy’s link to the church on any promotional material. ...‘It’s very weird, the ANZO buses come and they all march down the street in black at 8:30 in the morning before leaving at 11:30 at night,’ said a neighbor who asked only to be referred to as Karen. ‘They are entitled to their beliefs, they’ve been very welcoming, knocked on doors and invited us over,’ she said. ‘My partner is worried about house prices, but I think maybe rich Scientologists might buy in the area instead, so we might be lucky,’ she said.” (The Sydney Morning Herald, 10/30/16) [IT 8.1]

Leah Remini reportedly suing Church of Scientology for $1.5M

Leah Remini has reportedly demanded the Church of Scientology pay her $1.5 million after it tried to persuade a TV network to shut down her new docuseries, Scientology and the Aftermath. ...The actress was blacklisted after she left the church in 2013 (she joined as a child), and she claims the purpose of the series is to give a voice to others who’ve fled the religion and have allegedly been harassed because of it. ...A spokesman for the church publicly responded to Remini’s lawyer, calling the demand for compensation, ‘nothing more than a provocative ploy to generate publicity for what will no doubt be another failed program by a failed ‘celebrity’ seeking to make a buck off of her former religion,’ and added that ‘the Church will freely exercise its constitutional rights.’…Remini says what draws people to the religion is the idea they can better themselves. ‘They claim that they have the technology to get you to the highest enlightenment of that spiritual side of you and to be the best part of you,’ she says, adding, ‘what Scientology offers is a bigger game. You’re part of an elite group saving the planet.’ …Remini is producing the new TV series, which comes a year after she penned an autobiography titled Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, an eight-episode docuseries about the religion and its effects on her life, …[premiered] Nov. 29 at 10 p.m. ET on A&E.” (Smart Living & Entertainment Global News, 10/23/16) [IT 8.1]

Russia arrests Scientologist for stealing $2M and giving to church

“Authorities in Russia say a woman stole money given to her for dream homes and donated it to the Church of Scientology. Ekaterina Zaborskikh allegedly stole 130 million rubles ($2 million) between 2012 and 2014 by selling Russians apartments that were never built by her construction company, an indictment in St. Petersburg alleged last week, as reported by Komsomolskaya Pravda. Part of that money was funneled to her church, prosecutors say.  . . . In January 2015, authorities raided the Moscow church to analyze financial documents.  . . . The raid, however, was only the start of Scientology’s problems in Russia. A Moscow court banned the church in November over its American trademark of its name. ‘The representatives of the Church of Scientology themselves have created many legal conflicts by restricting the religious freedom through the use of trademarks,’ Russia’s Ministry of Justice said, according to RT [TV network]. ‘So it turns out a commercial partnership was spreading the religion, while religion can only be spread by religious organizations.’ But not to be deterred, the Church vowed to appeal and said its trademarks were no different from those appearing on copies of the Bible or the Quran. The European Court of Human Rights has, in fact, ruled in favor of Scientology several times.” (Daily Beast, 04/25/16) [IT 7.3 2016]

Scientologist must pay damages for “vitriolic” personal attack

“A chiropractor [Zabrina Collins] was ordered by a judge on Monday to pay €5,000 damages for a ‘vitriolic and personalized’ attack on the character of a Co Mayo [County Mayo, Ireland] man who opposes the beliefs and teachings of the Church of Scientology, of which she is a leading member. Judge James O’Donohoe in the Circuit Civil Court said that allegations by Zabrina Collins against Peter Griffiths of criminal activity, hate-mongering and links to gay pornographic movies of teenage boys ‘were largely untrue and grossly defamatory.’ . . . The judge said on Monday that the claim of qualified privilege regarding Ms Collins’s remarks could not extend to protect such ‘a vile attack’ on Mr. Griffiths’s good name. He said there had been a good deal of history and animus between the two parties that accounted for the tone of the email, which he described as ‘malicious in the extreme.’ He said publication of the defamatory remarks had not been extensive and had been directed to the school principal.

Judge O’Donohoe also gave judgment in a second, related case in which Ms. Collins . . . and Scientologist Michael O’Donell . . . sued Mr. Griffiths and embalmer John McGhee, of Armstrong Grove, Clara, Co Offaly, for assault and battery.  . . . The judge awarded Ms. Collins and Mr. O’Donnell a total of €3,500 against Mr. McGhee for assault and battery. Mr. Griffiths, he said, had played a lesser role by videoing the assault, but had nevertheless consorted with Mr. McGhee. For harassment and assault he awarded Ms. Collins and Mr. O’Donnell €2,000 damages against Mr. Griffiths. Mr. Beatty and Mr. O’Tuathail agreed that the question of costs could be dealt with by the court at a later date.” (Irish Times, 04/25/16) [IT 7.3 2016]

Russia’s Supreme Court dismisses complaint filed by Church of Scientology

 “Russia’s Supreme Court has dismissed a complaint the Moscow Church of Scientology had lodged in connection to the Russian Justice Ministry refusal to register this organization’s charter, a court representative told RAPSI on Thursday.  . . . The Moscow Regional Court ruled in 2012 that some of [L. Ron] Hubbard’s books be included on the Federal List of Extremist Literature and prohibited from distribution in Russia.” (RAPSI, 5/5/16) [IT 7.3 2016]

Woman drops lawsuit against Scientology

 “A Texas woman embroiled in a years-long legal battle with the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige filed a motion Tuesday to voluntarily dismiss her harassment lawsuit against the church and some of its top officials. The legal move came as the Texas Supreme Court was poised to review arguments in the case, and months after Monique Rathbun, the wife of a former high-ranking Scientologist, fired her attorneys without explanation. Rathbun claimed in a 2013 lawsuit that the church mounted a three-year campaign of dirty tricks, including surveillance, harassment and ‘ruthlessly aggressive misconduct’ that drove her from her South Texas home and into seclusion in the Hill Country, where she was found again by Scientology operatives.  . . . In what turned out to be their last legal maneuver, church attorneys in February filed a 92-page petition for review to the state supreme court, asking it to take up the First Amendment arguments that had been rejected by the lower court. Rathbun waived the filing of a response, but when the justices requested that she produce one, she filed a motion to end the legal battle instead. ‘I do not have the resources, the time, nor the motivation to litigate in the Supreme Court of Texas against Scientology’s army of lawyers,’ she said in the motion.  . . . Rathbun also blamed her former attorneys for ‘defects’ in her lawsuit that she says Scientology attorneys used to create further delays.” (Courthouse News Service, 05/13/16) [IT 7.3 2016]

Scientology opens state-of-the-art communications headquarters in Hollywood

“Soaring 45 meters above Sunset Boulevard in the center of Hollywood stands a communications tower adorned with two triangles and a stylized ‘S.’ The logo belongs to the controversial Church of Scientology and is being used as branding for the religion’s new hi-tech media complex known as Scientology Media Productions (SMP), which has been created to act as an ‘uncorrupted communication line to the billions.’ Speaking to more than 10,000 Scientologists at the unveiling of the complex, church leader David Miscavige said the global media center would be used to combat biased media reports and allow for the delivery of ‘unadulterated and pure’ teachings of the religion. ‘As the saying goes, if you don’t write your own story, someone else will,’ he said. ‘We’re now going to be writing our story like no other religion in history. And it’s all going to happen right here from Scientology Media Productions.’ Originally built in 1912 and situated on a five-acre complex near the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood boulevards, the motion picture and television studio has been restored for Scientology to create and deliver content across print, broadcast and online media.” (News.com, 05/30/16) [IT 7.3 2016]

Russia’s feud with Scientology leads to arrests

“The Russian branch of the Church of Scientology has denounced the raids carried out by the Russian police in its Moscow and St. Petersburg locations earlier this week, The Moscow Times reports. Ten church members were arrested in St. Petersburg on allegations of ‘illegal business activity.’ And in Moscow, eyewitnesses said that police officers were not letting people in or out of the Scientology church. ‘It is a disease of our society when government agencies charged with protecting the people and enforcing the law, use the name of the law to persecute the practice of religion,’ the Church said in a statement on Wednesday, saying the authorities had violated the concept of religious freedom enshrined in Russian law. The arrests were made in the wake of a long-running conflict between the Russian government and the Russian Church of Scientology, which the authorities view as an extremist organization. In November 2015 the Moscow City Court ruled to dissolve the Moscow church because the term ‘Scientology’ is an American trademark, Kremlin-controlled RT reported. As a result, the ministry said that the group should be subjected to consumer protection laws.” (Transitions Online, 06/23/16) [IT 7.3 2016]

Scientology leader threatens UK publisher with legal action

“British independent publisher Silvertail Books has been threatened with legal action by lawyers representing Scientology leader David Miscavige. Silvertail is due to publish an account by Miscavige’s father Ron on 3rd May titled Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me in the UK and Ireland. However, the publisher has received a letter from Johnsons law firm, seen by The Bookseller, warning that if the book is published next week then the company will be sued for defamation. (The Bookseller, 04/27/16) [IT 7.3 2016]

Public funding revealed for schools associated with Church of Scientology

“Schools associated with the Church of Scientology are receiving more government funding per student than hundreds of Australian public schools, new data has revealed, despite benefiting from generous private donations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in school fees. The Athena and Yarralinda schools receive a combined amount of up to $475,000 in recurrent public funding every year to educate fewer than 60 students. The schools . . . maintain they are a secular part of the tax-exempt Applied Scholastics group of schools worldwide, which has strong public links to the church.  . . .

At the inner-west based Athena school, . . . students are funded through a combination of public funding, fees, and tax-free donations, . . . benefiting from up to $20,000 in funding [per student] per year. According to MySchool data, the school . . . receives just $2,000 less per student in public funding than the nearby Newtown Public School, which has been forced to restrict its enrollment boundaries to stem overflowing classrooms.

At the same time, the Yarralinda school outside Melbourne receives up to $11,000 in public funding for each [student,] . . . more than the amount received by up to 800 NSW and Victorian public schools, and $2,700 more per student than the nearby Rolling Hills school in Mooroolbark.  . . . A spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology said the church does not manage the schools, nor are they a front group for the church.

In a statement, the federal Department of Education declined to comment specifically on the schools but said Productivity Commission data shows that, on average, total government funding for a student going to a public school is over $16,000 per year, while the support for a student attending a non-government school is $9,300.  . . . ‘Under the Australian constitution, the Commonwealth has no specific power in relation to schooling and does not have a direct role in the registration, administration and operation of schools,’ the statement said. The Athena school was contacted for comment.” (The Sydney Morning Herald, 7/12/16) [IT 7.3 2016]

Man denied security clearance at work for being Scientologist

“A Berlin court ruled that it was okay to deny a man security clearance due to concerns about him being a Scientologist. The man was working for a company that produces helicopter parts, often for the German military.  . . . the court on Tuesday ruled that denying him security clearance for classified materials was justifiable, in particular because Scientologists are required to go through auditing—a sort of confessional counseling in which their thoughts and experiences are kept on record. The court explained that this practice rightly leaves doubt about Scientologists’ trustworthiness with classified materials and their loyalty to the constitution. The court further said that this decision did not violate the man’s right to freedom of religion. The German government does not recognize Scientology as a religion, unlike in the United States, and tends to view the organization with a high level of skepticism. Courts have ruled in the past that the group is engaged in activities that are subversive to freedom and democracy and should be subject to closer surveillance.” (The Local, 7/13/16)

http://www.thelocal.de/20160713/man-denied-security-clearance-at-work-for-being-a-scientologist[IT 7.3 2016]

Woman says refusal to learn Scientology got her fired

Annie R. Lee is suing her former Pasadena, California-based employer, Lusida Rubber Products Inc., and two company executives, Wayne Chin and William Johonnesson. Annie worked with the company from June through December 2015 as a customer-service representative. Her lawsuit claims religious discrimination, failure to prevent religious discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination. Annie alleges that she was forced to take a required 30-minute class based on the Church of Scientology teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. The courses were initially given three times a week and then became almost daily. Annie says she began feeling pressured and brainwashed. She was fired on December 18, 2015, for poor performance reviews. Later on, other employees who had the same complaints as she did were fired, as well. “Interestingly, most, if not all, employees who have replaced the terminated employees have been members of the Church of Scientology,” the suit says. (Pasadena Star-News, 12/09/15) [IT 7.2 2016]

Man accused of threatening to kill Scientology leader, members

Andre Barkanov of Illinois is accused of making threatening phone calls to the Church of Scientology in California, stating that he would kill David Miscavige and every single church member. David Miscavige took over the Church of Scientology after L. Ron Hubbard’s death in 1986. Barkanov called several different times with threats, and the Church started recording the calls. Several calls made to the Church were from a blocked number, but LAPD police were able to track down the number through Barkanov’s Skype account, which led them to the house of a woman in Wisconsin whose wireless Internet account he had been using. The woman lived next to a bar and had no protection on her Wi-Fi, so anyone could use it. The bartender recognized Barkanov as the Russian who lived next door to him in Chicago, and gave the police his apartment address. Barkanov was charged with 12 felony counts of making criminal threats and one count of stalking, according to the complaint filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office; he was extradited and is being held in an LA County jail in lieu of $600,000 bail. Barkanov’s motives are still unclear, although it has been suggested that his actions appear to have been incited by anti-Scientology propaganda. (Los Angeles Times, 01/6/16) [IT 7.2 2016]

Scientologists Appeal to Texas Supreme Court

“The Church of Scientology asked the Texas Supreme Court to review a judge’s rejection of its First Amendment argument in a lawsuit from a woman they filmed, surveilled and outside of whose home they protested for 199 days . . . Monique Rathbun sued the Church of Scientology International, its leader David Miscavige, and four people she accused of harassing her, in 2013. Her husband, Marty Rathbun, was known as Scientology's number two executive behind Miscavige, before he walked away in 2004 after 27 years on the inside, according to court records . . . The church acknowledges that it conducted surveillance of the Rathbuns via private investigators who are not Scientologists. It claims it did this to collect information for pre-litigation investigation of the Rathbuns’ alleged trademark infringements . . . The church claims Marty Rathbun defamed it in an attempt to create his own version of ‘Independent Scientology’ using Scientology intellectual property . . . The state Supreme Court is under no obligation to take up the interlocutory appeal for consideration; the nine justices will vote on whether to grant or deny the petition for review . . . A response is due March 21. Rathbun fired her attorneys in January and is representing herself . . . Miscavige did not file a motion to dismiss and is not a party to the appeal.” (Courthouse News Service, 02/24/16) [IT 7.2 2016]

Watchdog bans Scientology TV ad for misleading viewers

A TV aid aired by the Church of Scientology was banned for misleading viewers into believing that the church has helped 24 million people. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ad because the ASA had not been provided with suitable evidence to back up Scientology’s claim of helping 24 million people. “We concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and was likely to mislead viewers,” the ASA said. “We told the Church of Scientology International to ensure they held adequate evidence for any claims that viewers were likely to regard as objective and capable of substantiation.” (The Guardian, 03/02/16) [IT 7.2 2016]

Belgian court acquits Church of Scientology of organized-crime charges

Prosecutors accused Scientology’s Belgian branch and European headquarters, and also a number of church members, of forming a criminal organization involving alleged fraud, unlawful medical practice, extortion, and invasion of privacy. However, presiding judge Yves Regimont dismissed all the charges against the Church, criticizing the investigators “for what he said was prejudice, and prosecutors for being vague in their case.” (ABC Online, 04/11/16) [IT 7.2 2016]

Google gave Church of Scientology nearly $6 million in free advertising

Google has approved advertising grants totaling $5.7 million for the Church of Scientology, according to a spokesperson for Scientology. Google works with more than 20,000 nonprofits in more than 50 countries. The Church of Scientology was officially recognized as a tax-exempt religion by the IRS in 1993. Because of this decision, Google “may have felt it was not appropriate to distinguish between one officially recognized church and another.” (Business Insider, 01/06/16) [IT 7.2 2016]

Scientology detox program being tested by US government on Gulf War veterans

A US government research team is testing L. Ron Hubbard’s controversial “purification” theories on Gulf War veterans suffering from Golf War Syndrome. An article in The Daily Beast states that “Beyond Scientologists, for whom the Purification Rundown is part of their religious practice, the Church credits the program with helping ‘hundreds of thousands’ of others over the past 30 years.” The belief at the heart of the process is that toxins, “which can be anything from LSD to meth fumes or biochemical weapons, slow not only the body, but also weigh down the soul.” The Daily Beast says, “Colored towels are just one of the interesting yet controversial aspects of this study, to which the Department of Defense awarded $633,677 in 2009. The project has faced major delays, but now is finally reaching its home stretch—the researchers say results are expected next year, and [Dr. Crystal] Grant [coordinator of the project] says some 90 percent of the Gulf War vets are reporting health gains. But critics say the soldiers are merely reaping the benefits of plain old exercise and perspiration, and that Scientologists plan to use the skewed results to validate Hubbard’s quack theories—and even push for a Nobel Prize.” The article also says that “Just where the $633,677 from the Department of Defense is going isn’t entirely clear. ‘Budget information is not releasable due to the terms of confidentiality provided in the federal acquisition regulations,’ Ellen Crown, the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s deputy of public affairs, wrote in an email. Severna Park Health and Wellness Center, the Scientologist-led group that provides the therapy, charges $2,000 per participant, a substantial discount from the $3,000 price tag for regular folks that was quoted by Grant, the project coordinator… The dosages of niacin and other vitamins are determined by a non-medically trained administrator—in this case, a man named Joe, whom Carpenter describes as a ‘die-hard Scientologist.’ Joe decides, based on the participant’s feedback, just how much of each vitamin and mineral is needed to produce a physical reaction that indicates the treatment is working.” (The Daily Beast, 8/12/15) [IT 7.1 2016]

Florida theater drops Scientology film Going Clear after pressure from church

In Clearwater, Florida a movie theater has decided not to show Alex Gibney’s film, Going Clear, after being pressured by the Church of Scientology. The film was released in only a few theaters before being aired on HBO, which plans to rerelease the film. Cobb Countryside 12 Theater didn’t release the film either because, according to sources, it had allegedly received threats from the church. “The Church of Scientology responded vehemently to the film, complaining to film critics about their reviews and denouncing the filmmakers and their interviewees.” (The Hollywood Reporter, 09/18/15) [IT 7.1 2016]

Leah Remini says Scientology is about “us against them”

Former Scientology member Leah Remini says leaving the Church of Scientology after more than 30 years wasn’t easy. She tells interviewer Dan Harris, “The decision to leave is you’re giving up everything you have worked for your whole life. I feel that people need to understand this has been my whole life and I want them to understand how it happens.” She said that one loses touch with the real world as one advances in Scientology. and that the “mindset becomes us against them.” (New York Post, 10/26/15) [IT 7.1 2016]

Court rejects Scientology motion

In November 2015, a Texas appeals court rejected an attempt by the Church of Scientology to challenge a lawsuit made by Monique Rathbun, wife of church dissident Marty Rathbun. Ms. Rathbun had alleged that the Church relentlessly harassed her. The Church claimed that what it did to Ms. Rathbun was an exercise of its rights of free speech, association, and petition. Marty Rathbun was Scientology’s second-highest ranking official when he left the organization in 2004 and has been an outspoken critic since then. Court documents indicate that Ms. Rathbun alleged the following: (a) Scientologists appeared at Rathbun’s Comal County home after dark to “interrograte her aggressively” and fled when she called police; (b) Scientology operatives approached Rathbun and her husband in a golf cart with up to six cameras, “filming them and shout(ing) insults and rude questions”; (c) the church sent a sex toy to Rathbun at her workplace and published claims on websites that she was a transgender male and a “sexual pervert”; (d) a Scientology private investigator leased a residence across from the Rathbuns’ Ingleside on the Bay home and “installed high-powered still and video cameras pointed at and into” their home; and (e) after the Rathbuns moved to a wooded lot in Comal County, a Scientologist leased undeveloped property next to their home and installed a surveillance camera directed at their property. (San Antonio Express-News, 11/9/15) [IT 7.1 2016]

Scientology ramps up Going Clear smear campaign, targets academy members

It appears that the Church of Scientology doesn’t want Alex Gibney, the director and producer of the HBO documentary Going Clear, to win an Oscar. Since the film aired, Gibney says that “Scientology has dramatically ratcheted up its corporate campaign against me and those in the film.” The Church has approached a number of Gibney’s peers as they begin to make a film about Gibney. A Scientology magazine will also do a profile on Gibney. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/7/15) [IT 7.1 2016]

Russian court bans Moscow branch of the Church of Scientology

The Moscow City Court has supported a justice ministry request to close the Church of Scientology in Moscow. Authorities argued that the Church has registered its name as a US trademark and therefore cannot be considered a religious organization. “In August, Moscow investigators said separately that they had opened a criminal probe after finding hidden microphones and cameras on the Moscow Church’s premises.” These decisions come despite rulings favoring the Church by The European Court of Human Rights, which has accused Russia of violating the Church’s “rights by refusing to register its churches in various regions.” (The Guardian, 11/23/15) [IT 7.1 2016]

Court records link Scientology to convicted email hacker

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York gave Eric Saldarriaga a 3-month prison sentence for conspiring to engage in computer hacking. The Scientology connection was discovered when Mike Rinder, a former spokesman for the organization, and journalist Tony Ortega said they were both victims of Saldarriaga. Prosecutors had asked both men for victims’ statements in the case. Ortega wrote to the court, “It would strain credulity to accept that Mr. Saldarriaga’s targeting of Michael Rinder and myself was coincidental, given that we are both high-profile targets of Scientology’s surveillance and harassment campaigns.” The Church of Scientology did not respond to interview requests or emailed questions from the newspaper. (Tampa Bay Times, 6/26/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

How much does scientology pocket from its tax-exempt status?

Jeffrey Augustine, author of the blog The Scientology Money Project, says that the church has a book value of $1.75 billion. Real estate, mostly at the church’s headquarters in Clearwater, Florida and in Hollywood, California, accounts for about $1.5 billion of that value. Augustine estimates that church income is about $200 million, with about $125 million coming from auditing services. Currently, that income is tax-exempt, as are most of the church’s real estate holdings. (Fortune, 4/8/15) [IT 6.3 2016]

Meet Scientology’s lobbyist who works the halls of Congress

US Senate and House disclosure documents reveal that Scientology paid more than $1 million to Greg Mitchell for lobbying services since 2003. The disclosure documents indicate that Mitchell has focused on “pursuing federal funding for Scientology’s educational programs and disaster-relief efforts, promoting efforts to help prisoners reenter society, working to promote programs to help religious workers immigrate to the US, and working to make ‘international religious freedom’ a priority for the government.” Mitchell is a member of the church and founder and CEO of The Mitchell Firm. Religious freedom is the current focus on his lobbying efforts. (Business Insider, 4/8/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

Parliament member requests inspection of Scientology churches

Following numerous inquiries from residents of St. Petersburg, Russia concerned about the Church of Scientology center in that city, Vitaly Milonov, a member of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, sent a letter to Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov.  The letter requested an in-depth inspection of Scientology churches in St. Petersburg and other Russian regions. Milonov claims that Scientology poses a threat to the state and Russian citizens, and that this organization must be banned. (Rapsinews.com, 2/19/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

Report: Scientology spy pretending to be a Time reporter tries to interview Paul Haggis

Filmmaker Paul Haggis, whose story was central to the documentary Going Clear, alleges that a spy from the Church of Scientology pretended to be a reporter from Time seeking an interview. When Haggis’s staff researched the man, who gave the name Mark Webber, they discovered that nobody with that name works for Time. Further investigation found that an email had been sent from a building owned by the church. (Salon, 4/17/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

Federal judge sides with Scientology on refund issue

In Tampa, Florida, U.S. District Judge James D Whittemore ruled in favor of the Church of Scientology, saying two former church attendees, Luis and Rocio Garcia, must go through the Church’s internal arbitration process to get a refund from more than $1.3 million they donated to the church. Judge Whittemore issued an order stating that the Garcias are bound by contracts they signed during their 28 years with the Church that requires them to use the arbitration process. However, the judge sided with the Garcias in acknowledgement that the Church “failed to provide any convincing evidence” that a Church “Committee of Evidence” is the process in place to oversee arbitration. (Tampa Bay Times, 3/16/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

Church of Scientology’s statement in response to Going Clear documentary

The Church of Scientology released a response to the allegations made by Alex Gibney, the filmmaker of the HBO documentary Going Clear. The church sent more than a dozen letters to Mr. Gibney asking for an opportunity to address the allegations made in the film.  Mr. Gibney, they say, refused to answer and shunned 25 people who worked with Gibney’s sources, including children, colleagues, former spouses, and superiors who traveled to New York to meet with him. The Church says it has evidence on a website it has set up (freedommag.org) to debunk claims made in Going Clear. (Las Vegas Fox 5, 4/2/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

Six “insane” ways the Church of Scientology has tried to silence its critics

After discussing Scientology’s “fair game” strategy, L. Ron Hubbard’s 1966 policy letter on handling investigations, and the expected reaction to the HBO documentary, Going Clear, Harmon Leon in an article for AlterNet has identified the following notable instances of Scientology’s response to critics:

  • Scientology vs. South Park: In 2005, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the Comedy Central show South Park, take on Tom Cruise and John Travolta and the entire philosophy behind the planet Xenu cult. Corporate Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs (OSA) operations searched for “vulnerabilities” in the pair’s personal and business lives to get back at them. Isaac Hayes, who played the character Chef on the show, quit over the controversy and stated that he couldn’t support a show that disrespects religion. In true South Park fashion, Matt and Trey responded by brutally killing off Hayes’ character.
  • Scientology vs. Los Angeles Times: In 1990, Joel Sappell and Robert Welkos wrote a series on Scientology for the Los Angeles Times. After the series appeared, the church fought back. “The Sea Org-ers bought space on 120 billboards and 1,000 bus placards around Los Angeles, publishing ads featuring the journalists’ bylines, the newspaper’s name, and context-free quotes from their articles that made it seem as if their series was endorsing Scientology.” The Church hired private investigators to get information on Sappell and Welko’s financial records, phone records, and other data. Welkos also received an envelope that had information about planning your funeral before you die.
  • Scientology vs. Time Magazine: In 1991, Time Magazine published a cover story about Scientology called “The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power.” According to Associate Editor Richard Behar, Scientology and its followers sent several attorneys and private detectives to harass and discredit him. Scientology’s investigators contacted Behar’s acquaintances and neighbors to look for negative information about him. According to the author, Behar’s home mortgage, home address, credit-card transactions, and Social Security number were illegally taken from a national credit bureau. Furthermore, the organization tried to correct the “falsehoods” in the Time article by spending more than $3 million to run daily ads in USA Today.
  • Scientology vs. St. Petersburg Times: In 1998, Stephen Koff investigated L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology for Florida’s St. Petersburg Times. While he was working on his story in Los Angeles, Koff received calls from people who said they worked for credit-card companies, and they asked for his personal information. His wife also received obscene late-night calls from strangers. A week after his series appeared, he noticed a man in a parked car watching his home. Koff learned through police that the car had been rented by a private investigator. When the St. Petersburg Times planned to run a review of a biography critical of Hubbard, the publication received a letter from a Church attorney threatening a lawsuit. The newspaper published both the review and the threatening letter.
  • Scientology vs. Newkirk Herald Journal: From 1989 to 1992, the publisher of the Newkirk Herald Journal (in Oklahoma), Robert W. Lobsinger, wrote biting editorials criticizing Scientology. Lobsinger reports that, as a result, private investigators went to the sheriff’s office to get “the goods” on him and his family. Scientology put an ad in another paper attacking Lobsinger. Then the organization sent that ad to all of Newkirk’s 2,500 residents.
  • Scientology vs. Paulette Cooper: In 1972, New York author Paulette Cooper wrote The Scandal of Scientology, a scathing book on the church. Cooper subsequently became the object of an intensive harassment campaign known as Operation Freakout. The end goal of the campaign was to have Cooper institutionalized or to ruin her reputation. Cooper also was framed by the Church, using paper with her fingerprints on it and using her typewriter, for a forged bomb threat. On May 9, 1973, she was indicted on charges of making bomb threats against the Church. The Church’s scheme was exposed when the FBI raided the Church’s office and found documents related to Cooper’s framing.

(Salon, 3/15/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

Church of Scientology revenues slump

Loans from abroad appear to be keeping afloat the Irish branch of the Church of Scientology. News accounts suggest that the Dublin branch experienced a revenue drop from about €73,000 to just under €50,000 last year. And these figures pale in comparison to 2006 revenue of €603,000. (Irish Independent, 5/5/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

Police reports reveal how Scientology leader's father was spied upon

According to police records, private detectives tracked every move made for 18 months by Ronald Miscavige Sr., the father of David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology. The Church paid two detectives $10,000 a week through an intermediary.  The two investigators were hired out of a concern that David’s father, Ronald, who is now an ex-member of the Church, would talk about the Church’s activities.

Dwayne Powell, one of the investigators, was approached by the police while he was spying on Ronald because of a report of suspicious activity in the neighborhood. At the police station, the records state that Powell told Detective Nicholas Pye that he was hired by the Church of Scientology to conduct full-time surveillance of the elder Miscavige, now 79, who lived in a nearby town. Powell told police the church paid him through another Florida investigations firm, Terry Roffler and Associates. Although he reported directly to that firm, “the main client is a David Miscavige, who is the son of Ronald Miscavige,” the records note. The Church of Scientology denies hiring Powell or having any knowledge of him. (Los Angeles Times, 4/9/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

Narconon setbacks

A Church of Scientology drug and rehabilitation center linked to the Church of Scientology has lost a bid to operate in central Warburton, Australia in the face of more than a year of intense community opposition. The Association for Better Living and Education has appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. (Sydney Morning Herald, 2/9/15)

A class-action suit filed against Narconon of South Santa Cruze County in northern California alleges that its drug-treatment center near Mount Madonna gave participants a path to joining the Church of Scientology rather than a way out of drug and alcohol abuse. (Santa Cruz Sentinel, 5/5/15)

Two years ago, local opposition stymied Narconon’s attempt to open a facility in Hockley Village near Orangeville in Ontario, Canada. Narconon is now trying to open in Milton, where Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw 144-2003.led the town committee to declare that the proposed facility did not fit the town’s definition of a group home. The decision is being appealed. (Toronto Star, 2/9/15)

A drug-rehab center linked to the Church of Scientology has been “fined and ordered to remove unsubstantiated claims made online about ‘curing’ patients.” Narconon owns the program’s site in East Warburton, Australia. (News.com.au, 5/11/15)

The Frederick County Council in Maryland voted against rezoning a fishing retreat that some wanted to use for a Narconon drug-rehabilitation program. Narconon is expected to appeal. (The New York Times, 6/2/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

The Church of Scientology buys land for $37 million to build new headquarters

The Church of Scientology has quietly purchased a large tract of land on Sydney, Australia’s North Shore where it hopes to build a new base for the religion in the southern hemisphere. The land will be the site of a sprawling new facility called the Ideal Advanced Organization and Continental Base for Australia and the Asiatic region.

David Miscavige, the chairman of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) and former best man of Scientology poster boy Tom Cruise, spoke publicly last October about the organization’s plans to kick-start a “golden age” in Sydney.

The vast new facility will overlook Lane Cove National Park and be open 7 days a week as both an administrative and theological operation and a place for public worship. (The Daily Telegraph/Sunday Telegraph, 11/2/14) [IT 6.2 2015]

Expert contends that Scientology membership numbers are dwindling

In November, several thousand foreign Scientologists took part in courses and received guidance in Copenhagen, while another 2,000 or so work permanently in Copenhagen, according to the organization. Peter B. Andersen, a professor in religion sociology at the University of Copenhagen, says this stream of foreigners into the organization’s European Headquarters in Denmark is essential.

Yet according to Peter Åkerbäck, a religion historian at the University of Stockholm, Scientology’s membership numbers are in decline even as the organization applies more pressure on its members than before. “My impression is that Scientology is experiencing problems because a lot of high-profile members have left the organization over the last 5 years,” Åkerbäck said. “It’s happening in all countries, but especially in the US.”

The head of communication at Scientology Denmark, Anette Refstrup, doesn’t agree with the experts’ opinions. She says Scientology memberships numbers “are actually on the rise.” (The Copenhagen Post, 11/24/14) [IT 6.2 2015]

Drug rehab center based on Scientology teachings to open in Heathfield, UK

Narcanon, the drug-rehabilitation group that offers counseling based on the controversial teachings of the Church of Scientology and up until now has operated mainly out of the United States, is to move its UK base to The Grange in Maynards Green Road, Heathfield. Project director Sheila MacLean said work has already started on the center to provide 18 beds, but no date had been set for its opening.

Michael Bustard, a local resident said: “My view is there are people who have drug problems and anything that can be done to help them out of that situation is good. But as a local resident one is worried about what it is going to be. Let’s keep our minds open, but they need to communicate … to tell the community what it is Narconon wants to do, not make a secret of it.” (Kent and Sussex Courier, 10/23/14) [IT 6.2 2015]

Top Scientology leaders caught in videotaped verbal assault At LAX

A former executive of the Church of Scientology said three members of the church’s top management, Marc Yager, Dave Bloomberg, and Jennifer Linson Devocht, who report to church president David Miscavige, ambushed him at Los Angeles International Airport last October, and that he has video footage to prove it. In the video, the first public glimpse of the secretive church’s top management in 4 years, the leaders are seen yelling obscenities.

Mark Rathbun, a former senior executive and outspoken critic of the Church since he quit in 2004, said he had just cleared security at the airport when the three ambushed him. The footage reportedly shows them yelling at Rathbun to “get a life,” that his criticism of the church has had “no effect,” and “nobody gives a f*** about you.”

Rathbun said a recent lawsuit by his wife against Miscavige charging that she was harassed by the church for 4 years may have been the trigger for the latest incident. He said this wasn’t the first time he had experienced intimidation tactics by church executives, who “…know how to discern our travel plans in advance … we have been confronted by or … overtly tailed … nearly every time we arrive in another city at the airport.” (International Business Times, 10/21/14) [IT 6.2 2015]

Documentary draws ire from the Church of Scientology

Alex Gibney’s new documentary about the Church of Scientology and renegades who left it behind, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, became available on HBO on March 16. In describing the film to the International Business Times, Mark “Marty” Rathbun, former senior executive of the Church of Scientology who participated in the documentary, said “that America's most accomplished modern documentarian has now weighed in raises the stakes against Scientology continuing to carry on business as usual. We are hopeful … that the light's increasing intensity causes Scientology to cease their domestic terrorism operations.”

The documentary is based on the 2013 book of the same name written by Lawrence Wright, a producer of the film Going Clear…, a movie built heavily around on-camera interviews with Paul Haggis, Marty Rathbun, Michael Rinder, Jason Beghe and other former adherents who have painted a picture of declining membership and abusive practices within the church.

The film also describes the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, including a first-person account from his late second wife Sara Northrup. It provides personal details about some Church celebrity members, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta. It also contains rare photographic and historical film footage such as the Church’s Sea Organization aboard the Flagship Apollo, the home of L. Ron Hubbard; Miscavige in his office with Rathbun; and extended cuts from the Church’s announcement that its “war” with the federal government was over after it received tax-exempt status in 1993.

The Church of Scientology attacked the film before its premiere in an ad campaign in The New York Times. And in a statement released after the screening, the church reiterated its stance, saying the accusations made in the film “are entirely false” and “alleged without ever asking the Church.”

Mr. Wright engaged extensively with Scientology officials while writing his book, partially in response to the organization’s scathing 2011 How Laurence Wright Got it So Wrong documentation of what it called “falsehoods” (www.lawrencewrightgoingclear.com/) in his accounting. Like the book, the documentary relies on interviews with Scientology dropouts whose filmed accounts mostly track with Wright’s earlier descriptions of claimed abuse, both physical and emotional. (The New York Times, 1/15/15; International Business Times, 1/26/15) [IT 6.2 2015]

Feds fund Scientology-backed detox program for vets

A detoxification program in Annapolis, Maryland supported by the Church of Scientology is treating veterans suffering from chronic Gulf War-related conditions. Funding is by the US Department of Defense through a $633,677 grant issued in September 2010, according to Pentagon officials. The money was awarded to researchers at the University of Albany in New York state, with David O. Carpenter, the director of the school’s Institute for Health and the Environment, as the chief applicant and investigator. Carpenter described the program as a “preliminary study” to find out whether a scientific basis exists for the therapy L. Ron Hubbard developed for the Church’s detoxification program. He said the study is the first of its kind to be done by “independent people ... in a fashion that’s rigorous and objective.”

The program gets additional help from the Heroes Health Fund (a nonprofit organization chaired by actor and Scientologist John Travolta), which has funded similar programs for public-safety officials nationwide who responded to the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. The Heroes Health Fund website gives estimates of more than 1,000 men and women who became ill during 9/11 rescue and recovery operations who have received such services since 2002.

Veterans and public safety workers interviewed by The Capital who completed the program said it did not encourage them to take an interest in Scientology as a religion. Many said they were unaware of the program’s origins when they learned the treatment was available. Participants have said the connection to Scientology did not deter them, even if that was not made apparent at the start.

Carpenter said no one involved in conducting the study is a Scientologist, and that the Annapolis program’s goal is simply to find out whether it works. The grant will cover treatments for 30 Gulf War veterans with the chronic illness. Carpenter said, “If there isn’t [scientific evidence of long-term benefits], then [the program is] dead in the water.” (CapitalGazette.com, 12/14/14) [IT 6.2 2015]

Scientology group offers antidrug programs at city schools

The Foundation for a Drug-Free World (FDFW), a group backed by the Scientology church, has announced on its Facebook page that it’s offering “free drug education events” to elementary, middle-, and high-school students in all five boroughs of New York’s city schools. Megan Fialkoff, Spokesperson for the group, said they don’t push religion on the kids. Individual schools can partner with outside organizations as long as it does not violate any laws or department regulations, a school official said. They’re in the clear, as long as there’s no religious instruction. Sources said the Scientologists likely were invited by the principals. But some parents were still outraged.

Fialkoff, who says she is both Jewish and a Scientologist, said they have nothing to hide and “any person can view or order our full curriculum online. The program is sponsored by many different organizations including the Church of Scientology,” she said. “It’s a secular, nonprofit program. Anything that anyone says about it is just someone trying to make this into something that it’s not, and that’s just unfortunate.”

FDFW claims on its website that there’s an urgent need for its services. “Young people today are exposed earlier than ever to drugs,” the website reads. “You probably know someone who has been affected by drugs, directly or indirectly.”

The foundation also boasted it has worked with NYPD youth programs and has even trained school safety agents. But a high-ranking NYPD source said that the department has no direct relationship with the group, which has asked police to come to various dinners and events to speak about drug-prevention programs. The source told the Daily News they have done this “for many years … for any group that asks for it.” (New York Daily News, 1/28/15) [IT 6.2 2015]

The Church of Scientology South Africa has been hit with a R5.8-million lawsuit by two former members, who allegedly provided millions to the church over the past 40 years. Wealthy Johannesburg couple Gaye and Ernest Corbett are behind Century Property Developments, whose portfolio includes the luxurious Waterfall Estate in Gauteng and the five-star Tintswalo Safari Lodge bordering the Kruger National Park. 

The Corbetts have taken their former church to the high court in Johannesburg, demanding it repay R5,850,000, which they claim they loaned the church 7 years ago; they also want interest dating back to December 2007 at 15.5% annually, to bring the figure closer to R16 million. They say the loan was to allow the church to buy a former Durban hotel for church activities. In court papers, the Corbetts claim that church director Alex Faust negotiated the oral loan agreement in October 2007, including a promise that the church would repay the amount by the end of the following month. That date came and went, but the Corbetts had agreed not to sue the church as long as they were members.

By the end of October 2013, the couple had left the church, which opened the door for them to sue. In May 2014, they issued summons to demand the capital amount plus interest.

In September 2014, the church, registered as a nonprofit company, defended the lawsuit and denied it owed the Corbetts a cent. In the church’s response to the suit, Faust denied any part in a loan agreement and said that the Corbetts or one of their entities lent approximately R5 million to church member Peter Cooke. Faust admits the money was paid into the account of the attorneys dealing with the transfer of the Durban property, but he denies this meant the loan was for the church. Further, he said that even if such a loan had been made, the debt would have prescribed by now, that the couple’s claim “lacks a foundation in fact,” and they should be hit with a punitive-costs order.

The Corbetts refused to comment on the case but claim in a November 2013 letter published on a blog that while they belonged to the church certain fellow members, including Faust, were “constantly hammering and begging for money.” A spokesperson for the church also refused to comment on the case, and the matter is set to return to court in 2015. (Times LIVE, 10/13/14) [IT 6.1 2015] 

In the latest ruling related to an ongoing multiagency investigation of Narconon Arrowhead, associated with the Church of Scientology, a Pittsburg (Pennsylvania) County judge has found that a “compelling” interest exists and has ordered the state to turn over an investigative report that allegedly recommends a shutdown of the Narconon drug rehabilitation center (located northeast of McAlester, Oklahoma) following three patient deaths at the facility during 2011 and 2012.

The order requires that the report be provided only to attorneys for the plaintiffs who are suing Narconon and to the rehab center, not to the public. Narconon’s attorney asked for a 10-day delay before the Department of Mental Health surrenders the report, in case the defendants want to appeal. (Tulsa World, 9/24/14) [IT 6.1 2015] 

Robert Dietz no longer wanted to be a member of the Church of Scientology of Portland and had requested a refund of $30,340 that he had prepaid toward his future religious education at the church. The church has not refunded his money, and he is suing to get it back. The lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court states that in 2013 Dietz “decided to cease membership in the Church for personal reasons which are not germane to this suit.” According to his Portland attorney, Dietz had been a member of the church for 23 years.

The suit states that “…to advance within the Church of Scientology organization, members are required and encouraged to purchase various training packages, products, and counseling services from the Church. Plaintiff was encouraged by the Church to prepay for the Church’s goods and services by placing funds on deposit with the local organization, on the understanding and agreement that any such funds not used would be returned to plaintiff should he decide to forgo further offerings by the Church pursuant to longstanding Church policy.” It also asserts that the money was separate from any charitable donations Dietz might have made to the church. (The Oregonian, 10/1–2/14) [IT 6.1 2015] 

According to the police authority for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region of Florida, police have searched the premises of the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology as part of an investigation into suspected large-scale fraud by the chief executive of a construction company. The searches resulted in “evidence confirming the existence of financial relations” between the suspect and the Scientologist church, the authority said in a statement. Investigators claim that the chief executive handed over to the church about 9 million rubles that were allegedly investments from customers. According to the statement, “Documents were seized in the course of the searches that confirm the transfer of about 17 million rubles to the religious group via a commercial organization controlled by them for donations and instruction,” and the investigation is continuing. (Interfax-Religion, 9/29/14) [IT 6.1 2015]

Armed with a court order, the Church of Scientology has begun collecting a $1.07 million court judgment from one of its chief challengers, Tampa lawyer Ken Dandar, who has waged high-profile legal fights against Scientology off and on for 17 years. The recent move caps a long and bitter court battle, highlighted by a senior Pinellas Circuit Judge’s ruling in March 2014 that Dandar had formally agreed in 2004 never to sue Scientology again (covered in detail in previous IT news items), which Dandar continues to deny.

The total bill, including legal fees and other costs, is $1,068,156.50. In papers recently filed in federal court, Dandar said the garnishment via the bank account of the law firm where he and his brother Thomas have practiced together for years is “effectively shutting down the law firm.”

Dandar had previously forestalled the church’s efforts to collect by filing a flurry of appeals and other actions in state and federal court. He said the church erred in garnishing his firm’s account because it impacts his brother’s ability to practice law, and that his brother was not a party in the second wrongful-death suit. If he opens a new account at another bank, the church can garnish it; and according to Farnell’s order, he can be jailed if he doesn’t comply. (Tampa Bay Times, 10/3/14) [IT 6.1 2015]

The European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled to officially recognize the Church of Scientology as a legal entity, over strong opposition by Russian authorities. The church had applied for such recognition six times between 1995 and 2003, but St. Petersburg authorities either rejected or ignored the applications. The church had been deemed a legal entity by a district court in St. Petersburg in 2003, and the decision was upheld on appeal in 2006. The church then contested the rejections by St. Petersburg authorities before the ECHR in November 2006. Confirming that the rejections of recognition violated freedom of religion, the ECHR ruled to legally recognize Scientology and awarded the church €7,500 in compensation for moral damages. In 2009, the ECHR found that Russia discriminated against the Church of Scientology by barring the church’s attempts to re-register as an organized religion; then in 2011, Russia banned the main texts of Scientology. (JURIST, 10/2/14) [IT 6.1 2015]

Narconon’s Caliente, Nevada drug-and-alcohol rehab facility is considered the last hope for some families, with its promise of a 76% success rate to get addicts off drugs. But several federal lawsuits now target the unlicensed Narconon program, whose patients and families say the rehab center isn’t curing addictions but instead trying to recruit people into Scientology.

Patients say they were exposed to mold, lice, and treatments that forced them to try to lift objects with their mind, while Narconon’s own unverified videos show a clean, safe rehab center. Current Nevada law considers private facilities exempt from inspection, and an effort the health department made to state lawmakers through Senate Bill 501 to close what they called a loophole in the law would have allowed state inspections inside Narconon. But the bill did not pass before the session ended.

Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton now is taking Narconon to federal court on behalf of multiple families nationwide in a series of federal lawsuits, with “the fraud claim being that we were promised drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment, but instead … received Scientology.” So far, the families suing Narconon are from Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, and Virginia.

Narconon recently changed its name by adding “Fresh Start” or simply calling itself Rainbow Canyon Retreat. Narconon’s advertisements mention nothing about Scientology, and families claim in the federal lawsuits that recruiters never mentioned the word Narconon, even though Scientology’s own guidebook devotes an entire chapter to its controlling role in Narconon. In legal filings, Narcanon claims the federal lawsuits should be dismissed, saying through its attorneys that the complaints against it were not “simple” and “direct” enough. Hamilton has filed two new federal lawsuits against Narconon Fresh Start. These lawsuits focus on facilities in Colorado. (KLAS-TV, 5/12/14) [IT 5.3]
Narconon Faces Federal Lawsuit

In the latest update, a federal lawsuit against Narconon and the Church of Scientology seeks an immediate injunction to prevent unauthorized use of counseling certifications, trademarks, and logos along with compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees. The lawsuit filed by the National Association of Forensic Counselors (NAFC) at the Eastern District Court of Oklahoma in Muskogee names Narconon International, the Church of Scientology International, and 80 other Narconon-related defendants. NAFC is the only organization to offer an accredited Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor certification on a national level and has never delegated the authority to provide such certifications to any of the named defendants, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that NAFC has suffered by the “repeated abuse and misuse of the NAFC logos, trademarks, and certifications,” and that more than “400 Narconon-associated websites contained the purported certifications of staff members that, in reality, have had certifications that have been suspended, revoked, or never existed.” The lawsuit also alleges that a Narconon facility advertised affiliation with an NAFC board that is no longer in existence.

Among other allegations, the lawsuit charges that “as recently as March 2013 Narconon Arrowhead falsely advertised that the National Board of Addiction Examiners recognized Narconon Arrowhead for their facility location and for their world class staff… Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that the misuse was calculated to increase the credibility of the Narconon Treatment Centers and the affiliated counselors, and to expand the reach and profitability of the Church of Scientology International to Plaintiffs’ detriment.”

The Oklahoma Arrowhead facility has been under investigation following the deaths of three Narconon clients, all found dead at the facility within a 9-month span. A fourth died while at a local hospital. The deaths spurred legislation that was signed into law in 2013. Since then, several wrongful-death lawsuits, along with a number of other lawsuits alleging that Narconon’s counselors traded drug for sex and other allegations, have been filed in Pittsburg County (Oklahoma) District Court. The County Sheriff’s Office, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the District 18 District Attorneys continue to investigate the four deaths, according to Sheriff Joel Kerns. (McAlester News-Capital, 5/22/14) [IT 5.3]
Lawsuits Allege State Suppressed Narconon Report, Fired Investigators

Two lawsuits against the state of Oklahoma’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) claim the agency “buried” an inspector general’s report recommending that Narconon Arrowhead be shut down after three patients died there. The lawsuits state that Department fired Kim Poff, it’s inspector general, and Michael DeLong, an investigator, last year after they objected to the agency withholding the Narconon report.

A multiagency investigation of Narconon Arrowhead, the flagship branch of an international drug-rehabilitation organization, began after a patient died from a drug overdose at the facility in July 2012. Her death followed the deaths of two other patients in 2011 and 2012.

Following these deaths, state lawmakers passed legislation to give the state more regulatory authority over the facility. Then Narconon Arrowhead sought certification as a residential substance-abuse treatment center but withdrew its application before Department of Mental Health site visits. The facility has now applied for certification as a substance-abuse halfway house, defined by state law as one that provides “low intensity substance abuse treatment in a supportive living environment to facilitate the individual’s reintegration into the community.”

Poff sued the agency for wrongful termination, civil conspiracy, and other claims in Oklahoma County District Court on August 4. DeLong filed a similar suit on July 30. Both lawsuits name the department’s CEO, COO, general counsel, and HR director, in addition to the state and board of directors for the Department of Mental Health, as defendants.

An attorney representing Poff and DeLong “…were retaliated against for speaking out about wrongdoing.” Ms. Poff’s lawsuit states that she “…and her investigators determined that Narconon violated numerous state laws and recommended that the facility be shut down by ODMHSAS. … Despite this recommendation and the finalization of the reports, leadership at ODMHSAS … repeatedly” took the position “that the investigation was still pending...” and thus “…failed to protect the interest of Oklahomans at the facilities…” and also was key in their decision to terminate Poff and DeLong’s employment.

The World reported that a multicounty grand jury is investigating the facility and has called state officials and at least one former Narconon Arrowhead executive, Eric Tenorio, to testify. The investigation reportedly revolves around insurance fraud. The Department of Mental Health did not respond to a request from the World for comment on the lawsuits’ allegations. (Tulsa World, 8/20/14) [IT 5.3]

Commissioners Approve Mediated Settlement Over Narconon Expansion Plans 

Hernando County, Florida commissioners on Tuesday accepted a mediated settlement awarding $1.97 million to Narconon, the operator of a Scientology-affiliated drug treatment center in Spring Hill. The settlement apparently ends the legal fight that erupted when the commission turned down the Suncoast Rehabilitation Center’s proposal to expand from 22 to 54 beds in 2009. However, several commissioners then indicated they had further questions and concerns about a story published almost simultaneously with the mediation settlement in the Tampa Bay Times. According to that story, Narconon had expanded anyway after being turned down by the county, renting three properties elsewhere in Spring Hill. None of the sites was licensed, as state law requires, until after the Times sought comment from operators about their licensing status. The Center director subsequently applied for one site license, which the DCF issued on a probationary basis.

Narconon and Toucan Partners, owner of the Cessna Drive property, had sued the county in June 2011 for more than $6 million, alleging it intentionally discriminated against the facility, violating the federal Fair Housing Act. The jury found the county liable for discriminating against Narconon and awarded $74,490 in damages. Narconon appealed and won a new trial. The parties went to mediation several weeks ago and reached the settlement. The county’s insurance will pay all but a $5,000 deductible, which the county paid some time ago.

The Florida Department of Children and Families, which has licensed the center at 8231 Cessna Drive since it opened in 2008, has not decided whether to conduct a formal investigation into Narconon’s leasing of off-site properties. (Tampa Bay Times, 8/26/14) [IT 5.3]
Lawyer Clobbered on Verdict for Scientology

Issues of state vs. federal jurisdiction continue to influence ongoing litigation between Florida attorney Kennan Dandar and the Church of Scientology. In May, a federal judge refused to enjoin the $1 million judgment against Florida attorney Kennan Dandar, who represented the estate of Lisa McPherson in a suit against the Church of Scientology in federal court in 2009, despite a 2004 settlement agreement in a related civil suit that barred Dandar from pursuing any other claims against Scientology.

Dandar first sued Scientology’s Flag Service Organization in state court in 1997 for damages on behalf of McPherson, a member of the Church of Scientology, who died of a pulmonary embolism in 1995 while under the care of the Flag Service Organization in Clearwater, Florida. First ruled a negligent homicide, the cause of McPherson’s death was later changed from “undetermined” to an accident. Subsequently, criminal charges against Scientology were dropped.

McPherson’s family pursued civil claims against the church. Attorney Dandar alleged that Scientology’s attorneys had used their political connections to influence the outcome of the proceedings in state court. In 2004, Dandar agreed to a settlement that dismissed the McPherson lawsuit and barred him from pursuing any other claims against Scientology.

But Dandar filed another wrongful-death lawsuit against the organization in 2009, this time in federal court, and Scientology sought to enforce the settlement agreement against him. A Pinellas County judge ordered Dandar to withdraw from the new wrongful-death lawsuit, and a state appellate court affirmed his decision.

Dandar failed to withdraw from the action, and the state court held him in civil contempt and ordered him to pay damages to Scientology. The federal court presiding over the new wrongful-death lawsuit enjoined the state-court proceedings, but the 11th Circuit (federal) Court reversed and vacated that injunction in July 2011. A few months later, Dandar withdrew from the wrongful-death action.

Conflicting jurisdictional rulings between state and federal courts, new suits by Dandar against Scientology and its legal representatives, and appeals of related decisions against Dander had been ongoing up to the May 28 ruling by U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington. In her ruling, Covington included various findings related to the complexities of the related state and federal rulings and unresolved issues.

Covington ruled that federal courts could not interfere with state-court proceedings where the state court had not yet entered a final judgment, and that Scientology’s state-court action was a civil proceeding involving “orders uniquely in furtherance of the state court’s ability to perform its judicial functions,” which warranted abstention under principles of federalism. The May 28 order states that interfering with a state court’s ability to impose sanctions and fees for a party’s failure to comply with court-ordered mediation agreements is an exceptional circumstance that bars federal courts from interfering. She also ruled that, given Dandar’s attempt to enjoin the execution of the March 2014 final judgment, the state matter remains pending despite the entry of that judgment.

The court again stayed Dandar’s claim for damages under Section 1983 pending the resolution of the state-court action, noting that federal courts have a duty to assume jurisdiction where it properly exists. (Further details regarding the actions and counteractions between Dandar and Scientology and its legal representatives leading up to this recent judicial decision are available online at courthousenews.com/2014/06/04/68449.htm). (Courthouse News Service, 6/4/14) [IT 5.3]
Judge Rules Scientology Leader Not Required to Give Deposition

Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige has sidestepped giving a deposition in a high-profile harassment lawsuit filed in Texas by Monique Rathbun, wife of vocal church critic Marty Rathbun. A Texas appeals court this week overturned December’s ruling by Comal County, Texas District Judge Dib Waldrip, who had ordered Miscavige to submit to questioning.

Church attorneys argued from the outset that Waldrip’s court had no jurisdiction over Miscavige because he lives in California and has no connection to church activities in Texas. Miscavige has guided the church since founder L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986 and has testified a handful of times.

Monique Rathbun alleges in her 2013 suit that Miscavige directed a 3-year campaign of harassment, spying, and intimidation aimed at her and her husband that began soon after Marty Rathbun, who had worked closely with Miscavige before leaving the church in 2004, spoke critically of Miscavige to the Tampa Bay Times and national media in 2009. The suit also names as defendants the Church of Scientology International, three private investigators, and a Scientology parishioner.

Church officers and attorneys do not contest that the Rathbuns were targets, suggesting that those who watched and confronted the couple were investigating Marty Rathbun’s antichurch activities and delivery of Scientology services without church authorization.

In its latest ruling, Texas’ 3rd District Appeals Court agreed that Miscavige is protected by Texas “apex deposition doctrine,” which shields high-ranking executives from being pulled into burdensome, harassing depositions. However, with additional questioning of church representatives and further review of church records, Rathbun’s team could demonstrate that a Miscavige deposition is necessary, the court said.

Rathbun’s lead attorney, Ray Jeffrey, said striking the deposition was a blow. Likely next in the case, he said, is a decision on the church’s appeal of Waldrip’s order in March that denies Scientology’s motion to dismiss the suit altogether, which could come by year’s end.

Church officers in Los Angeles did not respond to a request for comment. (Tampa Bay Times, 7/18/14) [IT 5.3]

Hollywood writer Skip Press, while detailing his long-term and high-achieving membership in Scientology, recommends John Atack’s new book, Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky. Press says the book is better than Lawrence Wright’s recent fine book on the church because ”Atack was actually involved with the cult and lived it.” (Morton Report, 11/7/13) [IT 5.2]

Comal County (TX) District Judge Dib Waldrip has ruled that Scientology leader David Miscavige must submit to a deposition in a lawsuit filed against him and two church entities by Monique Rathbun, the wife of prominent church critic Murray Rathbun. The suit describes an alleged 3-year campaign of surveillance and harassment of the Rathbuns. The issue is whether or not Miscavige supervised these actions. The reclusive leader has testified in only a few cases during his 27 years as head of Scientology. (Tampa Bay Times, 12/13/13) [IT 5.2]

Monique Rathbun sued the Church of Scientology for harassment last August, but she says they’re still making her life a living hell. The wife of former high-ranking Scientologist Marty Rathbun has filed a motion asking the judge in her ongoing case to hold the Church and its leader, David Miscavige, in contempt for what she calls a campaign of “abuse” meant to delay justice. In addition, she’s also requesting sanctions.

According to the motion, obtained by Radar, Scientology and Miscavige “have engaged in a pattern of intentional abuse of the discovery process” and that the Church of Scientology, together with Miscavige and Scientology legal counsel Allan Cartwright “have disobeyed and/or caused CSI to disobey a direct order from this Court.” (Radar Online, 2/26/14) [IT 5.2]

The recent decision by the UK Supreme Court that Scientology is a religion, and that its services are an act of worship also declared that the term religion should no longer be confined to “religions that recognize a supreme deity.” (National Law Review, 12/25/13) [IT 5.2]

Following the judge’s ruling in a landmark Supreme Court legal battle, Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli, both 25, were married in late February in the first wedding in a Scientology chapel in England. Miss Hodkin had taken legal action after the registrar general of births, deaths, and marriages refused to register a central London Scientology chapel under the 1855 Places of Worship Registration Act because it was not a place for “religious worship” because Scientology does not believe in a supreme deity. In 1970, the Church of Scientology launched a similar case. At that time, the Court of Appeal ruled that Scientology did not involve religious worship because there was no “veneration of God or of a Supreme Being.” Miss Hodkin argued that the 1970 ruling should not be binding because Scientologist beliefs and services had evolved during the past four decades. She said services were “ones of religious worship,” and she likened Scientology to Buddhism and Jainism. David Hodkin, the bride’s brother, had been married at the Church of Scientology in Edinburgh after Scientology ministers were authorized to perform wedding ceremonies by the Scottish registrar general in 2007.

Five Supreme Court Justices, who considered the issue at a hearing in London in July, upheld Miss Hodkin’s challenge. They said religion should not be confined to faiths involving a “supreme deity” and that the Church of Scientology was a “place of meeting for religious worship” because it held religious services. A government source stated at the time of the Supreme Court ruling in December that it could “open the floodgates” to other groups that claim to be religions for tax purposes.

After what the couple described as “a long, five-year battle to achieve a simple freedom—the right to marry in our own church,” the Church of Scientology said it was “delighted” and that this would be “the first of many weddings,” and that people living out of the country were planning to come to London to get married. “This is an historic day for religious equality and freedom for all in the UK.” (The Independent, 2/23/14) [IT 5.2]

After more than thirty years as a member of the Church of Scientology, Leah Remini made headlines last year with her decision to leave the religious organization behind. Now Remini has revealed that her 9-year-old daughter, Sofia, was her motivation for the move. “She was getting to the age where the acclimation into the Church would have to start,” she explained, and memories of her own early years in Scientology made facing that prospect difficult. “We were working from morning until night with barely any schooling,” she said of her experience. “There was no saying no. …There was only ‘Get it done,’” whatever the size of the task. Those tough times damaged Remini’s relationship with her own mother, who was often too busy with her role in the Church to be there for her child. “…But my mom thought she was doing something good; she thought she was helping the planet. That’s what the Church tells you.”

Ultimately “The Exes” actress didn’t want history to repeat itself. “In my house, it’s family first — but I was spending most of my time at the Church,” she said. “So, I was saying ‘family first,’ but I wasn’t showing that. I didn’t like the message that sent my daughter.”

Remini ended her affiliation with Scientology and inadvertently with many longtime Church members. But her relationship with her mother just got stronger. “The fact my mother stood by me after all her years in the Church totally took away any resentment I may have been harboring,” she said. “When it mattered the most, my mother was there for me.” (Today.com, 2/27/14) [IT 5.2]

Scientologists Accused of Brainwashing French Company’s Employees

French prosecutors are investigating the Church of Scientology for alleged harassment of employees of a company whose boss had joined the organization. The 12 employees of Arcadia, based near Paris, claim that Scientologists became “omnipresent” in the business after their boss turned to the cult in 2000. In 2008 he restructured the company following the advice of alleged Scientologist trainers.

The plaintiffs say they were forced to undergo a “training routine” by Scientologists that amounted to psychological harassment and an effort to brainwash them. The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Olivier Morice, also told the AFP news agency that “the Scientologist trainers infiltrated the company with the sole intention of financially pillaging it for their personal profit and that of Scientology.” He estimated that between one and two million euros had been embezzled. Sources confirmed that prosecutors in Versailles are investigating the charges.

Scientology claims to be a religion but is classified as a cult in France, where an appeals court confirmed fines of 200,000 and 400,000 euros in 2013 on the organization’s bookshop and “Celebrity Centre” in Paris for organized fraud. (RFI, 7/24/14) [IT 5.3]
A Texas judge has issued Scientology a restraining order to stop it from harassing Monique Rathbun, the wife of church critic Marty Rathbun. Her lawsuit, filed last week in Comal County, alleges Scientology leader David Miscavige and church operatives have waged a campaign [detailed here] of surveillance, dirty tricks, intimidation, and harassment against her. (Tampa Bay Times, 8/21/13) [IT 5.1, 2014] 

Former high-level Scientologist Geir Isene says that church leaders asked Google head Sergei Brin if it were possible to search for and filter results so that only positive information about Scientology would be returned when the word Scientology was queried. Brin apparently refused, as did the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which kept the Church of Scientology in its Takedown Hall of Fame. In his book, From Independent Scientologist to Just Me, Isene explains how he tried his best to explain to Scientology how the Internet works. (Techeye.net, 6/27/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

Actress Leah Remini recently left the Church of Scientology, according to the New York Post (citing an unnamed source), after “being subjected to years of interrogations and thought modification for questioning David Miscavige’s leadership. (Toronto Sun, 7/13/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

Scientology’s Freedom magazine, which is known for attacking journalists who write negatively about the church, is advertising on the website journalismjobs.com for “experienced investigative reporters.” Former Scientologist Mike Rinder, now a leading critic of the organization, says recent attacks on the New Yorker, following a prominent ex-member’s expose of Scientology in the magazine, was orchestrated personally by church leader David Miscavige and is a measure of the depths of desperation that they have, and Miscavige in particular has [gone to], because all he can do is try, through twisting and distorting photographs and distorting facts, to make the people that are exposing him seem like they’re unreliable. (Independent, 7/24/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

The British Supreme Court has ruled that Scientology’s London Church Chapel is “a place of meeting for religious worship.” The decision means that the marriage of Scientologists Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli, when it is celebrated, will be recognized by the state. A lower court, relying on the 1855 Places of Worship Act, had held that the Scientology facility was not a place for religious worship. The Supreme Court also said that religion should not be confined to faiths involving “a supreme deity.” The local government minister and certain members of Parliament are concerned that the decision may make Scientology eligible for tax relief. (Belfast Telegraph, 12/11/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

King of Queens actress Leah Remini has reportedly left the Church of Scientology because of “corrupt management.” Remini expressed her views in a “Knowledge Report”—the kind of report Scientologists are told to make when they see something that goes against church rules—to Scientology following her return from the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes wedding in Rome. Following her complaints, Rimini was ordered to Scientology headquarters in Clearwater for “thought modification,” interrogation, the “Truth Rundown,” and “security checking”; the latter process becomes brutal as the questioner digs into the member’s private life in an attempt to learn whether the subject has negative thoughts about Miscavige or Scientology. Former Scientologist Mark Bunker, a filmmaker, says the Truth Rundown aims to persuade the subject that any unethical or bad behavior she witnessed was simply a delusional product of her own evil intentions. Remini rescinded her report and remained a church member, but continued to criticize it, asking questions about reports of mistreatment of members and refusing to “disconnect” from family and friends. Friends in the church dropped her, but her family—her mother and father are high-achieving Scientologists—have stood by her. (Underground Bunker, 7/8/13) [IT 4.3 2013] 

Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill giving the state oversight of all drug-rehab facilities, including Scientology’s Narconon Arrowhead establishment. One of the bill’s sponsors said he wrote it because of deaths at Narconon Arrowhead. (McAlester News Capital, 5/7/13 [IT 4.3 2013]) 

The Offices for the Protection of the Constitution continue to monitor Scientology. The Nordrhein-Westfalen Office warned that Scientology tries to recruit young people via Facebook. Strangely enough, another such Office engaged Scientology lawyers for support. When Ursula Caberta, an employee of the Ministry of the Interior for the State of Hamburg, and who for years had led a state-sponsored attempt to curb Scientology, ended her contract, the media again warned against Scientology. Scientology even sent PR material to the parliament of Thüringen. Scientology infiltrates public libraries with its books. The media have commented on the book by Jenna Miscavige, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape. [IT 4.3 2013] 

In April 2013, Austrian ex-Scientologist Wilfried Handl, accused by Scientology for commenting in his blog about their emails, which had been hacked by Anonymous, obtained an agreement in which Scientology had to pay all the expenses related to the charges. Handl voluntarily was ready to blacken the names in his blog. [IT 4.3 2013] 

The press is taking more seriously allegations of Scientology’s abuse of members, thanks to accounts that have appeared on the Web site “Ex-Scientology Kids.” The contributors speak about the organization’s control and interrogation practices as well as the policy of “disconnection.” Astra Woodcraft tells how she began Scientology auditing at the age of six and signed a “billion-year” employment contract at 14. Some ex-Scientology kids have alleged that whenever they were ill they had to report someone who was against Scientology, for that person must have been the one who made them sick. Indeed, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard created a “security” interrogation check sheet for children as young as 6 years, the first question being “What has somebody told you not to tell?” Jenna Miscavige Hill, the daughter of current Scientology leader David Miscavige, has written a memoir, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape. (The New York Times, 1/9/13) [IT 4.2 2013] 

A California couple in late January filed a lawsuit accusing five Church of Scientology corporations of fraud, deception, and high-pressure practices employed to inveigle millions of dollars from followers. Plaintiffs Luis and Rocio Garcia, who say that several similar suits by other former church members are planned, allege they gave Scientology more than $420,000 for the “Super Power” building in Clearwater that has not yet opened, church services they never received, and humanitarian projects that never materialized. They say that the deception included phony videos of church earthquake-relief efforts calculated to induce parishioners to donate. The Garcias add that Scientology leader David Miscavige controls the “interdependent network of entities” and uses donated funds improperly to support a “lavish lifestyle” while employing private investigators and lawyers to suppress critics. The Garcias’ attorney, Theodore Babbitt, says Scientology’s typical First Amendment defense against investigations of its operations will not prevent inquiry in this case. I’ve sued just about every large corporation in the United States in the past 40 some-odd years and the Church of Scientology—I think its power is overblown. The corporations I’ve sued are some of the wealthiest in the United States, and I’m not any more worried about taking on the church than I was taking on them. Luis Gracia, who joined the church in 1982 after he had read Scientology’s Dianetics, eventually became an “Operating Thetan VIII,” the highest spiritual level in the organization. (Tampa Bay Times, 1/24/13)
[IT 4.2 2013]

Concluding his lengthy review of Lawrence Wright’s study of Scientology, Going Clear, Paul Elie says, "The book’s power lies not so much in the presentation of appalling revelations (though there are dozens of them) as in our awed recognition that Mr. Wright spent years of his life on this story—that he interviewed dozens of odd or compromised or fearful people, assembled the intricate edifice of Scientology’s beliefs, mapped the territory of its empire, and traced its ill effects, even though the organization and its people aren’t particularly interesting... Going Clear is sometimes hard going on account of its subject matter. But it is an utterly necessary story even so. As In Cold Blood [by Truman Capote] is now a monument to the age of New Journalism, Going Clear may wind up a monument to an age of enlightened corporate journalism, a time when powerful magazine editors and their book-publishing counterparts had the wherewithal to devote resources to vital stories of scant direct pertinence to their readers—stories told by full-time, expenses-paid writers backstopped by researchers, fact checkers, lawyers and insurance companies. (The Wall Street Journal, 1/11/13) [IT 4.2 2013] 

In a long letter, Scientology reviewed and rebutted, point-by-point, the contents of the Tampa Bay Tribune report on Scientology of January 14, 2013. The church argued that any problems with its operations were resolved long ago, extolled Scientology’s virtues, and listed new locations worldwide that indicated Scientology’s popular appeal. (Tampa Bay Times, 1/15/13) [IT 4.2 2013] 

Jenna Miscavige Hill, a niece of Scientology leader David Miscavige, tells in her new book how she tried to commit suicide at the age of 17 by jumping off a roof because “Scientology had destroyed my life and taken away everyone that I cared about—my parents, my brother, my friends.” In Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, she details her experience growing up as an elite member of the church, noting along the way that Scientologist Tom Cruise’s 6-year-old daughter Suri was fortunate to escape when mother Katie Homes filed for divorce. “Looking back, and with children of my own now, it [growing up in Scientology] was terribly cruel, but I didn’t know any different.” Her reminiscences include the nature of work, education, punishment, and “auditing” for young people in Scientology, as well as attitudes toward sex and child bearing—no sex before marriage and no children even for married couples. The book also includes a glossary of Scientology jargon. (The Sun, 2/16/13) [IT 4.2 2013] 

Nevada state health agencies want to inspect the Scientology-run Narconon drug treatment center in Lincoln County, 150 miles north of Las Vegas. The initiative follows an I-Team investigation that highlights years of complaints by patients and allegations of dangerous conditions. State databases indicate that none of the Narconon employees identified by the I-Team have licenses or certification for drug counseling. Current law prevents inspection of the Scientology facility because it does not receive any state funding, but the State Senate Health Committee will soon vote on a bill to allow state oversight of all drug and alcohol rehab centers. (KLAS TV, 4/9/13) [IT 4.2 2013] 

The family of a man who died while in Narconon’s Arrowhead drug treatment center in Oklahoma has sued the [Scientology-associated] facility, alleging negligence and wrongful death. It is the third such suit against Arrowhead. Three other deaths at the center spurred a multiagency investigation, which continues. (Tulsa World, 10/24/12) [IT 4.1 2013] 

Private investigators Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold, who sued Scientology for unpaid work, which included investigating former high Scientology official Marty Rathbun, have dropped their legal action against the church. Rathbun said it’s likely the two reached an out-of-court-settlement, and that this follows a pattern in lawsuits between the church and its critics. It has usually been the case that Scientology uses litigation as a club to force a settlement that includes an agreement to criticize no longer. In this case, however, it was the critics who sued Scientology and got a settlement. (Corpus Christie Caller Times, 11/29/12) [IT 4.1 2013] 

Clearwater Beauty Salon owner Travis Wilkinson has put a sign up in his window reading, “Notice: This is one of the only spas in downtown Clearwater not owned by a Scientologist.” He says he thinks many potential customers are avoiding his shop thinking he must be a Scientologist because Scientology’s headquarters is nearby and many surrounding salons are, indeed, owned by Scientologists. He reports that his business is up since the sign went up, and he’s encouraging other businesses to follow his example. The President of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce says, “I don’t think, in this day and age, that this type of comment is appropriate. It really doesn’t serve the business community well. The Church of Scientology is not going to go away.” (Tampa Bay Times, 11/30/12) [IT 4.1 2013] 

Attorney Kenneth Dandar in Clearwater has failed to block a hearing to determine if he will pay more than $1 million to the Church of Scientology for violating a settlement agreement. Dandar originally sued Scientology in 1997 on behalf of the estate of Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist who died in 1995 while in the church’s care. Criminal charges were dropped, but McPherson’s family, assisted by Dandar, pursued a civil suit against the church that was eventually settled, with a proviso that barred future claims against Scientology by the litigants. But in 2009, Dandar brought a wrongful death suit against the church, an action that has led to the hearing to determine what he must pay. (Courthouse News Service, 12/7/12) [IT 4.1 2013] 

The Australian Federal Magistrates Court has ordered a grandfather not to treat his developmentally delayed grandson using Scientology methods. His daughter, the boy’s mother, said she suffered an “intrusive and abusive” upbringing, that she was bullied at school and underwent 2 years of “emotional release therapy” from her father, who employed Scientology techniques, including “reliving her birth.” Her father said he did not treat his grandson until the lad was 14, and that he cured his son-in-law of perspiration. A doctor said the grandfather had poor personal boundaries and an idiosyncratic belief system that he “imposed on the mother in the past, to the detriment of her mental health.” Magistrate Robyn Sexton said she did not believe that either the mother or grandmother was able to stand up to the grandfather to prevent him from “practicing his treatment,” so she banned the grandparents from having the boy in their sole care. (Herald Sun, 12/17/12) [IT 4.1 2013] 

The Georgia Department of Community Health has notified Narconon, the Scientology-associated drug treatment program, that it intends to revoke the license of the program’s Norcross clinic for misrepresentation and functioning as a residential facility. The state action came following the fourth probe of the facility this year. Narconon told an out-of-state drug court manager that its services included 24-hour supervision, false information that harmed the “health and well-being” of the client the court was placing; he died of a drug overdose. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/26/12) [IT 4.1 2013] 

Media reported critically about Scientology on behalf of the movie The Master, the divorce of Tom Cruise, and the death of Alexander Jentzsch. Nevertheless, Scientologists present themselves publicly. Their number in Germany is believed to have shrunk to about four thousand currently, and recently they have been looking for an advertising agency. [IT 4.1 2013]
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution also monitors Scientology. Ursula Caberta, the main enemy of Scientology in Germany, has quit her work at the Ministry of the Interior in Hamburg because she said her budget is too small for effective work. Austrian ex-Scientologist Wilfried Handl is actively fighting against the organization. [IT 4.1 2013] 

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution announced that it will discontinue the observation of Scientology, or at least reduce it to a minimum because of its decreasing importance. The estimated number of current Scientology adherents in Germany is only 4,000. The corresponding offices of some of the Bundeslaender are not happy about this pending change. [IT 4.1 2013] 

According to REIS, the Argentinian daily newspaper Página 12 carried a storyrevealing that the government in Buenos Aires has financed courses on drugs and addictions which were given by the Church of Scientology. A representative from the health department confirmed that the theories of Scientology on drug use are “crazy.” [IT 4.1 2013] 

On May 18, 2013, the Church of Scientology opened a new, 600-square-meter office in Barcelona, where it already has another office. Now the group has 14 locations all over Spain to offer services to the 11,000 members it claims to have in the country. [IT 4.1 2013] 

Scientology, called “creepy, maybe even evil” by Rupert Murdoch, is still battling psychiatry, using classic propaganda techniques, despite the defections of its leader’s father and the founder’s granddaughter. Scientology’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) undermines public support for mental health treatment, “especially in countries with unsophisticated [elected] representatives, gullible media, and admittedly deficient mental health facilities.” An example of an unjustified attack on the mental health profession in the United States concerns psychologist Allen Childs. CCHR accused him—as reported in a four-part series in the Austin American Statesman—of conducting research using what Scientology termed a “dangerous” form of electrotherapy without proper certification from his hospital’s review board. The reporter and readers believed the accusation, although “all public evidence suggests nothing of the sort occurred,” albeit Dr. Childs made real errors of judgment and practice. Despite Scientology’s fanatical opposition to the use of electricity in mental health treatment, it is expanding. (Atlantic, 7/2/12) [IT 3.3 2012] 

At the opening of Scientology’s Washington lobbying office in September, Rep. Danny Davis, D-IL, praised the church for its work on criminal justice reform issues. Rep. Dan Burton, R-IN, and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-TX, also attended the event. In 2004, Rep. Davis carried a pillow upon which rested a crown that was placed on the head of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who in his address called himself “humanity’s [IT 3.3 2012]Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.” (Washington Examiner, 9/13/12) [IT 3.3 2012] 

Scientology lawyers say that the exposé in the August issue of Vanity Fair, claiming that Scientologist Tom Cruise took part in a wife-auditioning process, exhibited “shoddy journalism, religious bigotry, and potential legal liability.” The magazine says it stands by the story. (Huffington Post, 9/17/12) [IT 3.3 2012] 

Scientology-related Applied Scholastics International, having won Colorado state approval 6 years ago, is now tutoring low-income students from struggling public schools. Since 2008, three districts have paid more than $150,000 in federal money for Applied Scholastics to tutor nearly one hundred twenty students. A recent state review of all providers found that Applied Scholastics failed to improve student performance. A professor at the University of Colorado School of Education says Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s theory of barriers to study has “no scientific or empirical foundation,” and that evidence of student growth provided by the organization “does not appear to have been compiled by an independent entity or have any record of publication or peer review.” (Denver Post, 8/8/12) [IT 3.3 2012] 

Martin Padfield tells the story of his recruitment into Scientology as a 19-year-old and his experiences during 31 years as a member. Now 50 and married with two children, he wants rank-and-file Scientologists to know that their movement is “a dangerous, corrupt and sinister cult” so that others can escape it, as he has done. (London Evening Standard, 10/19/12) [IT 3.3 2012] 

Oregon labor officials have ordered Bend dentist Andrew W. Engle to pay nearly $348,000 to settle allegations that he threatened to fire a dental assistant unless she attended a Scientology-related training session. She felt that attendance would conflict with her Christian religious beliefs. He also refused her request to be allowed to attend secular training. (The Oregonian, 10/4/12) [IT 3.3 2012] 

Scientology leader David Miscavige, referring to the Holocaust, says that “The bureaucracy, the methodology, even the ideology of mass murder, sprang fully-armed from the forehead of German psychiatry,” and that “psychiatric euthanasia centers had already claimed 70,000 lives by 1939.” He was speaking to 3,000 who attended the organization’s 28th International Anniversary Event in East Grinstead. Former Scientologists demonstrating outside told of their destructive experiences in the cult. (The Sun, 11/1/12) [IT 3.3 2012] 

Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard appears to have inspired the character of the central figure in a recently released film. “Beautiful to look at, strangely hypnotic and utterly original,” The Master—starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams—examines cult dynamics through the ‘50s-era misadventures of a violent ex-sailor with horrible posture and zero impulse control. ... Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s film hits home as a period-perfect examination of a perpetually recurring truth: When people hanker for a know-it-all authority figure who will tell them what to think, self-appointed “masters” will be more than happy to oblige. (Wired, 9/20/12) [IT 3.3 2012] 

The Spanish Royal Academy (RAE) has just included in its fifth virtual-edition dictionary the words scientology, scientologic, and scientologist. The definition of the first word mentioned is “a religious movement of USA origin whose goal is to promote an introspective awareness through certain techniques.” Spanish Scientologists and those from other countries have congratulated Spain for its initiative. [IT 3.3 2012] 

British libraries have been warned by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to be wary after the discovery that one quarter of the books on religion in some British libraries are about Scientology and are donated by Scientology. (Daily Telegraph via FAIR News, 12/20/11) [IT 3.2 2012] 

A French appeals court imposed suspended sentences and fines on five Scientologists who had been convicted of pressuring recruits to pay a great deal of money for questionable [health] remedies. American Scientology leaders said the ruling was “a miscarriage of justice.” (The Independent via FAIR News, 2/4/12) [IT 3.2 2012] 

The daughter of the famous British World War II-era singer Dame Vera Lynn said neither she nor her 94-year-old mother knew that Scientology had organized the concert the elder Lynn attended as an honored guest in October 2011. The event, held at Scientology’s Sussex establishment, was hosted by Scientologist Kirstie Alley, the American actress. (The Daily Mail via FAIR News, 10/21/11) [IT 3.2 2012] 

Former long-time Scientology administrator Marty Rathbun says he believes church officials employed Scientology doctrine to turn Nicole Kidman’s children against her while she was married to Tom Cruise. Rathbun told Brian Williams on NBC’s Rock Center (on the episode that was scheduled to air July 17), “It was more than implied ... [Kidman] was somebody that they [the children] shouldn’t open up to, they shouldn’t communicate with, and they shouldn’t spend much time with.” He says officials suggested to the children, 6 and 9 years old, that their mother was a “suppressive” person, the kind of person whom Scientologists are advised to shun. (Rock Center, 7/11/12) [IT 3.2 2012] 

Former high Scientology official Debbie Cook, who greatly disturbed the church earlier this year when she sent an email to thousands of members urging them to protest certain Scientology practices, is set to move with her husband to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. The couple took $50,000 each from the church in 2007 when they left the organization, in return for a promise to say nothing about its operations. Following the recent emails, Scientology sued, asking for $300,000 in damages and for the nondisclosure contracts to be enforced. But following a hearing at which Cook described being physically abused and held against her will by church staff—at Scientology leader David Miscavige’s direction, and the threat of additional damning testimony, the parties agreed on a settlement that includes the couple recommitting to the 2007 nondisclosure contracts. (Tampa Bay Times, 6/120/12) [IT 3.2 2012] 

Several press reports criticize Scientology for extreme fundraising, while another news article says that the Scientology-backed Citizens’ Commission for Human Rights criticizes psychiatry for “torturing” clients with Malaria therapy. Other news articles deal with Scientology’s free online courses; brochures that Scientology sends to schools in Nordrhein-Westfalen; a video about the Office of Special Affaires; anonymous fights against Scientology; and, of course, the divorce between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. [IT 3.2 2012] 

Press accounts in Austria have criticized Scientology for extreme fundraising techniques and advertising in schools; have described how Anonymous hacked emails from Scientology Austria between 2010 and 2011; and have reported on a live chat with ex-Scientologist Wilfried Handl, who has been a member of the organization for 28 years. [IT 3.2 2012] 

Scientology’s Blitz in Turin (Turin, January 2012). When the investigation against Scientology headquarters began in Turin in May 2012, on the presumption of violation of the law on privacy, the court seized documents and archives to be examined. At the heart of the matter were the “personal” cards that Scientology people who were asking to join the religious organization had submitted after preliminary talks (so-called “auditing”) with the organization: Once these personal cards had been recorded in special files, they could be viewed by the organization’s top managers. The prosecutor Stefano Castellani, after examining the material collected by the police during the search, concluded that “there was no dissemination of data to third parties, nor has the action caused actual harm to holders of the data.” The court has closed the file. (See http://www.blitzquotidiano.it/cronaca-italia/gip-torino-dossier-scientology-privacy-1074772/ for further information.) [IT 3.2 2012] 

Discussing his painful experience of Scientology’s Narconon drug treatment program, David Love says he was forced to say, on the 25th consecutive day of 5-hour saunas, “Stand up, ashtray! Thank you. Sit back down, ashtray!”, which left him confused and frustrated. It was then he realized the treatment was a health risk and decided to end it. He went on to lead a crusade to shut down the facility, located in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, and now argues in a lawsuit that Narconon and Scientology exploit the disabled—alcoholics and the drug addicted. This April, public health officials said they would not certify the facility—they consider it a health risk—and ordered Narconon to relocate its 32 residents, who have now been sent to Narconon centers in the United States. The first step in Narconon’s treatment program, according to Love, places the patient in a withdrawal room, followed by personality and IQ tests administered at regular intervals, and interrogation by an Ethics Officer to make sure the patient—“student”—is not an undercover reporter. Then the Purification Rundown begins. (Montreal Gazette, 4/20/12) [IT 3.1 2012] 

Scientology. Most inquiries about Scientology relate to individuals or companies whose behavior raises suspicions about a relationship to Scientology. On behalf of the 100th birthday of L. Ron Hubbard, articles appeared in newspapers revealing the truth about him while Scientology celebrated him as a hero. Scientology published reports about the “assistance” given by “voluntary ministers”to earthquake victims in Japan. The Service for the Protection of the Constitution warned that Scientology tries to influence minors through social networks. One news report says that Scientology makes propaganda at schools in Berlin. Another discusses Scientology’s recruitment failures and calls the organization a “dying octopus.” Discussions in the German Bundestag (parliament) indicate that Scientology’s membership has shrunk to about 4,500, but the organization continues to try to enlarge its branches. Some local authorities have tried to counter Scientologists’ propaganda by administrative means. Scientology won a court case against the Federal Administration Office, which was forced to disclose the material it had collected about Scientology. Scientology promoted “Youth for Human Rights International.” Scientology defector Mark Janicello was interviewed and defector Mark Rathburn was a guest at the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Hamburg. The organization Anonymous blocked bookshop Web sites for Scientology. The Constitution Protection Service had to pay indemnity to a member of Scientology. Another report said that Scientology members were not welcome in a new political party. [IT 3.1 2012] 

As in Germany, questionable groups or methods are also more and more accepted or at least tolerated by serious institutions in Austria. From March 14 to 26, 2011, the “Citizens Commission on Human Rights” organized an exposition, “Psychiatry—Death Instead of Help,” in Vienna. On March 28, 2011, the TV station PULS4 (not available outside Austria) presented the talk show Austria Undercover—Right Religions, including esotericism, Satanism, and Scientology. Martin Felinger of the Austrian Association Against the Dangers of Sects and Cults participated in the panel. On April 4, 2011, the same TV station presented Austria Undercover—Dangerous Beliefs, including some Far Eastern guru movements, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Smith’s Friends. Martin Felinger, German Müller of the Federal Office for Sectarian Questions, and I participated on the panel. Of course the Forum for Religious Freedom used this opportunity to “reveal the dark past of Mr. Griess.” [IT 3.1 2012] 

One news report dealt with how Scientology tries to recruit students by a free stress test. Scientology issued a press release in commemoration of the anniversary of Dianetics. [IT 3.1 2012] 

The charges of libel against Simonetta Po have been dismissed. Dr. Po has a PhD in science and education and founded the first and only Web site of critical information on the Church of Scientology in Italian (www.allarmescientology.it). The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, or Citizens Human Rights Commission (CCHR), and other promoters of the campaign “Perchè non accada anche in Italia”[“Because it shouldn’t happen, even in Italy”] filed the lawsuit. The grounds for the lawsuit were based on Simonetta Po’s October 14, 2006, posting of the following sentence to the newsgroup free.it.religion.scientology: “The Church of Scientology, through CCHR, is raising funds through the distribution of its campaign booklets.” On October 7, 2010, the judge ruled there was “no case”against Simonetta Po because there were no grounds for conducting a trial. The judgment, which also invoked Article 21 of the Constitution and its guarantee of freedom of thought, states that “[...] the absolute truth of the subject of her complaint is shown (i.e., that the activists of the CCHR association closely linked to Scientology proceeded to raise funds also through the distribution of the booklet ‘perchènonaccada’)[...].”In November 2010, the CCHR appealed to the Supreme Court against the judgment of the GUP [Judge of the Preliminary Hearing (Giudice per l'Udienza Preliminare, GUP)], also asking for damages of 100,000 Euros. On April 1, 2011, the Court of Cassation rejected the CCHR appeal. The judgment of the GUP is therefore final. [IT 3.1 2012] 

The Church of Scientology opened a multimillion-dollar facility in Melbourne, Australia on January 29, 2011, saying it marked a new era for the Scientology religion in Australia. Scientology was banned in Victoria from 1965 until 1982 because of concerns about the organisation’s control over its members. The organisation registered/renamed itself as the Church of Scientology and, as such, it was able to reenter Victoria under the state’s religious-tolerance laws. Now a massive compound, the facility, which was bought from the Catholic Church for $7 million in 2005, has been renovated at an estimated cost of $20 million and includes a large chapel, a public auditorium, course rooms, and a multimedia public information centre. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, gave an opening speech, but he has told reporters that his attendance shouldn’t be seen as a sign of approval of the movement. The Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and the Independent Senator Nick Xenophon have both condemned Doyle’s attendance at the event. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has been forced to defend his role at the opening of the new Church of Scientology, saying he was just there as a favour to his friend, the celebrity Scientologist Kate Ceberano. Senator Nick Xenophon has been campaigning for an end to the Church of Scientology’s tax-free status. Senator Xenophon has written to Robert Doyle and asked him to meet with former members and victims of the Church of Scientology, hoping he will see the other side of the coin. [IT 3.1 2012] 

A Scientology video creates the impression that the church’s $42,000 per year Delphian boarding school—enrolling children from kindergarten through high school—is a magical but real-life Hogwarts, set on 800 acres in Oregon. Former Delphian students have begun to speak about life at the school—one of seven run by Scientology around the country. They say the institution is characterized by dizzying jargon, unorthodox approaches to learning [many detailed in this article], and an intense, complex disciplinary system based partly on peer monitoring. Student watchdogs called “rovers” report fellow students who break one of the myriad school rules. “It was a fear-oriented student life,” says one-time student Paul Cisge. “Students could be questioned by others for yawning or having blank looks,” which are signs of cognitive problems according to the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, whose methods, applied, are reviewed in this article. Many former students, nonetheless, express great satisfaction with their Delphian educations, which include typical public school subjects as well as what is recognizable Scientology indoctrination. Although Delphian is not mentioned in the Scientology web page, it is apparently a pipeline to the church’s Sea Org, the Scientology religious order. Some former members call their involvement in the Sea Org “slavery.” (According to The New Yorker magazine, the FBI was investigating the Sea Org for activities related to human trafficking.) A former member discussed his 27 years in the Sea Org, including seven years in a “Rehabilitative Force” group, which defectors have described as “punitive re-education camps.” Though Delphian is secluded and not open to the press or visitors, its athletic teams compete against other independent schools in the region, and Delphian’s application for accreditation by the Northwest Association of Independent Schools seems likely. (Daily, 9/27/11) [IT 2.3 2011] 

The Church of Scientology was involved in a controversy in Mexico, when the Public Education Secretary of the State of Puebla distributed educational material of the sect (two books and a video) to schools: “Learning to learn” and “Path to Happiness.” The initiative was led by the organization Understand More, Achieve More, a Mexican version of Scientology’s Applied Scholastics. The story generated considerable political controversy. [IT 2.3 2011] 

The Church of Scientology is build­ing a massive retreat center near Toronto—in five buildings totaling 160,000 square feet on almost 200 acres of land—where followers will “journey through the advanced realms” of the faith. Former member Adam Holland, 22, says it will be dif­ficult for any of the planned 200 staff Scientologists living in the isolated spot to leave, if they wish to, and that he wants “to educate local resi­dents to be ready to help out anyone who does escape.” Holland, who has picketed the site, explained: “They did everything within the threshold of the law” to prevent him from leav­ing the Scientology Toronto center, where he was made to work 12 hours a day. The pressure to remain was never physical, he added, but rather intensely psychological. (Toronto Star, 3/15/11) [IT 2.2 2011] 

Following 34 years of failing to do so, Scientology has succumbed to pres­sure from the Pinellas County Tax Col­lector and begun to charge the thou­sands of members who stay in its Clearwater hotels the five percent tourist tax that visitors pay at Pinellas County commercial hotels. The local collector had learned through research that the general exemption from certain taxes on religious activi­ties—granted by the state—did not mention hotel rooms. Scientology has five downtown hotels with 600–700 rooms total, mostly luxury accommo­dations that charge as much as or more than the area’s leading hotels. Despite its $58.5 million in property tax exemptions, Scientology is taxed on holdings valued at $31.9 million that are not used for religious purpos­es. The question is now: Is the church collecting the seven percent sales tax that guests at other hotels pay? A church spokesman says: “The church is generally exempt from sales tax.” (St. Petersburg Times, 12/19/10) [IT 2.2 2011] 

The budget cutting Pinellas County (Florida) Commission voted in May to sell two acres of county property in downtown Clearwater to Scientology for $6.7 million. Clearwa­ter officials were not informed of the decision to sell the property to the church—the sole bidder. Mayor Frank Hibbard said he was disappointed that the properties weren’t sold to a tax-paying business. About two-thirds of Scientology property is not taxed because it’s used for religious purpos­es. Scientology now owns 30 proper­ties in downtown Clearwater, which it calls its “spiritual mecca.” (St. Petersburg Times, 5/25/11) [IT 2.2 2011] 

Although Sonny Bono may be the only Scientologist ever to have served in Congress, many current and former members have taken money from church followers or friends of the church. One was former Rep. Ben Gilman, of New York, who complained on several occasions, when he was chairman of the International Relations Committee—and not long after he received such a donation—that European countries were discriminating against Scientology. Two currently serving representatives, Brad Sherman, D-Calif., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., were both honored at a 2004 Scientology Centre gala. Others who got money include former Cali­ornia congressman James Rogan, who received thousands of dollars from prominent Scientologists throughout the 1990s; Ron Paul, because he supports Scientology’s tax-exempt status and opposes mental health screening for children; and a number of members of congress who received donations from a Scientology PAC called Citizens for Social Reform.” (Salon, 2/10/11) [IT 2.2 2011] 

Scientology held a street party in late May to celebrate the opening of its new Mission in downtown Ocala, Florida. Some 1,000 attended, includ­ing local residents and dignitaries as well star Scientologists John Travolta, Kelly Preston, and Chick Corea. Travol­ta thanked residents of Marion Coun­ty for their support following the loss of his young son, in 2009, and spoke of the value of Scientology in helping followers deal with their problems. After the speeches, attendees were invited to tour the new facility, which is a public information, counseling, and social services resource center. Ocala police Maj. Dennis Yonce has praised Scientology’s anti-drug pro­gram, while former fire Chief Dan Gentry says that Scientology’s detox program—which he and 14 other firefighters went through in order to deal with exposure to smoke, fumes and other toxins—helped him regain a “normal life.” (Ocala.com, 5/30/11) [IT 2.2 2011] 

A federal court judge in the Central District of California in August dismissed two lawsuits against the Church of Scientology that charged the organization with labor law violations, human trafficking, and forced abortions. Judge Dale Fischer ruled Scientology’s Sea Org is protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion. He said complainants Claire and Marc Headley performed religious duties, and that the Sea Org falls within the “ministerial exception” commonly granted to religious groups in employment cases. This exception prevents the court from prying into the church’s internal workings in order to evaluate the Headleys’ accusations; to continue the case, Judge Fischer said, would require the court to analyze “the reasonableness of the methods” used to discipline Sea Org members and to prevent them from leaving. As to Mrs. Headley’s accusation that she was forced to have abortions, the judge said that to evaluate this charge the court would have to review Scientology’s doctrine prohibiting Sea Org members from raising children. “Inquiry into these allegations would entangle the court in the religious doctrine of Scientology and the doctrinally motivated practices of the Sea Org.” [IT 2.1 2011] 

“It’s a big win for Scientology” said Stephen A. Kent, a University of Alberta sociologist who closely follows Scientology. He believes that the ruling will help cement the Sea Org as a religious order despite practices that set it apart from traditional orders. “I think it’s a major blow for people who want the IRS to re-examine Scientology’s status,” he added. The long-debated issue of workplace laws remains: how do the courts protect an accuser’s individual rights without violating a church’s right to freely practice religion? [IT 2.1 2011] 

Scientology is not considered to be a religion in Germany, but a commercial enterprise, and it continues to be observed by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Scientology continuously tries to attract attention through making public appearances, by recruiting youngsters for Youth for Human Rights International, by offering its expositions about the “crimes” of psychiatrists, by sending its material to schools, and by establishing new centers. The Bavarian Ministry of the Interior has published a brochure about Scientology (with about 5,500 adherents). [IT 2.1 2011] 

A relief for Scientology certainly must be that, in Hamburg, the Working Group on Scientology headed by Ursula Caberta has been dissolved. Caberta still works for the Hamburg Ministry of the Interior, but the public consulting service has been taken over by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. [IT 2.1 2011

Until Nothing Remains (German: Bis nichts mehr bleibt) is a German fictional film that depicts a story about Scientology and its effects upon converts. In the film, a young couple is brought into Scientology by means of manipulation. “Eventually, the husband decides to leave the group, losing not only his wife in the process, but also his young child and a big portion of his family’s inheritance, which his wife has donated to the church.” (Quotation from Wikipedia.) The film is reportedly based on the real-life experiences of a German man named Heiner von Rönn. [IT 2.1 2011] 

Scarlet Hanna, the daughter of the president of the Church of Scientology of Australia, describes Scientology as a toxic organization and says many of the children raised in the church are damaged. As the child of elite Scientology Sea Org members, she reports that she and other children in the “Cadet Org” lived in homes separate from their parents, whom they saw for only 20 minutes, in the evening. “It was just an incredibly lonely childhood. I had no one to talk to or look after me or to ask me how I was after school or, you know, any of those things that most of us take for granted.” Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard “didn’t believe parents were good for children,” says former member Sheila Huber, who was nanny for 30 infants crammed into a one-bedroom apartment. “They never got outside. Actually, they got out once—in eight months, they got out once. . . and that took three months to get that approved. . . We took them in a van . . . to the park, and they spent so much time in their cribs, day after day, night after night, that they wouldn’t go in any space larger than the size of their cribs. . . They were terrified of sunlight.” Hanna says children did not receive adequate food or medical care, and when Community Services said they would visit, the church dismantled the wall-to-wall furniture and sent the children away for the day.” A current Scientologist who grew up with Hanna says: “What she [Hanna] is saying, I did not experience . . . and I think people are giving her things to say.” Sheila Huber reports she was separated from her son for a year while she underwent Scientology rehabilitation for having sex with someone to whom she was not married (although she herself wasn’t married at the time). While she was away, her son was “illegally taken from me and given to my ex-husband because he was a Sea Org member in good standing.” Hanna related how she was thrown out of the Cadet Org at the age of 13 and sent to live with Sea Org adults, where she was unsupervised from 9:00 am until midnight. She eventually dropped out of a rough public school and into social isolation. But she doesn’t blame her parents, even though her father threatened to sue her if she told her story. “I think they’re part of the organization, they were part of the machine.” [IT 1.2 2010] 

Scientology denies allegations made in an Adelaide Channel 7 report in June that the Church of Scientology Religious Education College, Inc., was registered in South Australia in order to avoid paying corporate tax under Britain’s foreign company law. According to the report, “SA [South Australia] has the most liberal laws regarding compliance in setting up and running an association.” Scientology denies that any tax advantage has been received by registering in South Australia. . . Former Scientologists said in June that they were interrogated, isolated, and forced to perform manual labor until they agreed to have abortions, according to a two-part St. Petersburg Times investigation printed in June. Laura Diekman tells how her parents allowed her to move from Albuquerque to Los Angeles to join Scientology’s Sea Org, at age 12, on the organization’s promise of free education. But she was simply put to work and got no schooling, she now reports. She eventually married a fellow member, and when she became pregnant, at age 17, her husband reluctantly conformed to the Scientology policy that allegedly does not allow members to have children; he was afraid to leave the organization and all that it provided. “With no education and no real work experience, no money, and potentially no husband, Diekman began to feel like having a baby was not an option.” . . . Brian Thomas Mettenbrink, of Grand Island, NE, has been sentenced to a year in federal prison and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution for his part in the cyber attack on Scientology websites orchestrated in 2008 by [the informal Internet group] Anonymous, which accuses Scientology of Internet censorship. The judge said the attack had “the sense of a hate crime.” [IT 1.2 2010] 

Former Scientologists told a New South Wales, Australia, Senate committee in June that the Church of Scientology maintains a ruthless judicial system and should not be tax-exempt. “Australian tax payers should not be funding systematic, organized abuse,” said Janette Vonthenhoff, who reported that the church took away her passport and forcibly prevented her from returning to Australia from the U.S. when she was eight weeks pregnant, saying she had to remain to finish “training.” She also told of two coerced abortions. Senator Xenophon has introduced a private member’s bill seeking a tax amendment that would require religious and charitable organizations to meet a public benefits test. Xenophon said Scientology “auditing” was regarded by some as a cross between personal counseling and Maoist self-criticism, and had been a factor in the British Charity Commission’s decision not to grant tax-free status to Scientology there. The panel learned that Scientology income in New Zealand fell from $2.6 million to $374,000 in the year following the New Zealand charities commission’s requirement that Scientology publish financial statements. [IT 1.2 2010] 

The Church of Scientology in Italy says it’s going to sue, for libel, the Daughters of St. Paul, as well as Pia Gardini, a former Scientologist now returned to the Catholic Church, who has written two books critical of Scientology published by the Daughters: My Years in Scientology and The Courage to Speak Out–Stories of Ex-Scientologists. The former is based on Gardini’s years as a member; the latter includes stories told by 14 former members. The Daughters of St. Paul, dedicated to providing resources to counter threats to Catholic families, including cults, say Gardini’s book “does not contain unfounded or defamatory news, so we decided to publish it.” [IT 1.1 2010] 

Scientology recently commissioned a 20-page study by three investigative journalists, one of them a Pulitzer Prize winner, to critique the St. Petersburg Times’ reporting of the church and its activities. The newspaper refused to cooperate, saying that the study is “bought and paid for by the Church of Scientology.” One of the investigators says his agreement requires the church to publish the study in full if it decides to make the report public, but that Scientology retains the right to keep it private—which the church has done thus far. [IT 1.1 2010]

Three high-level Scientologists—“Operating Thetans”—have left the organization, all of them citing strong disagreements with church management policies. At the same time, they note their continuing belief in Scientology. [IT 1.1 2010] 

Geir Isene, a Norwegian, and Americans Mary Jo Leavitt and Sherry Katz, said they hoped their Internet statements would resonate with other Scientologists. Indeed, 41-year member Jack Airey, recently featured in a Scientology infomercial, was encouraged by their public statements to announce that he, too, has decided to leave. He said: “Tomorrow I join the worldwide group called 'Independent Scientologists,' where honest, on- source LRH [L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology founder] technology, and exposing the ‘out tech’ of current Church of Scientology management, is the order of the day. (This past summer, former Scientology executives Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder publicly alleged that there was abuse in the church’s management ranks. A church attorney replied that it was “astonishing” that the [St. Petersburg] Times is giving “a public platform for the views of disgruntled and biased former members.” [IT 1.1 2010] 

Geir Isene said that he was profoundly introverted until, beginning at age 18, Scientology helped him, at a cost of $200,000 in courses over the years—to develop such confidence and communications skills that he came to host a popular radio show and start and run his own software company. Several years ago, Isene recounted, Scientology head David Miscavige asked him to search the Internet and identify the Norwegian journalists who alleged that Miscavige physically abused staff. Isene found none, but he was shocked, while surfing the Internet, to read many allegations that Miscavige did, indeed, strike staffers. Finally persuaded by an expose in the St. Petersburg Tines, Isene and his wife decided to break with the church. Now he says, "I want to stop the abuses. . . "I want the Human Rights Watch. . . breathing down their neck." [IT 1.1 2010] 

Mary Jo Leavitt, who was an outstanding Scientology recruiter and missionary to her native Latin America, said she left principally because of the church’s pressure for members’ money. She also described the “completely Gestapo” interrogation she received when she complained about abuse of staff members. When officials asked her to use her credit card to donate to Scientology expansion efforts, “I just walked out.” She then posted on the Internet an eight-page report she had sent to top church officials revealing that managers were redirecting field staff to fundraise at the expense of religious work. Leavitt’s children have also left. [IT 1.1 2010]

Thirty-six-year Scientologist Sherry Katz, disobeying Scientology rules, searched “Scientology” on the Internet last year and was shocked to learn about the destructive experiences of many who had already left the church. She had begun to question the church in 2008 when, as a paid church executive in Pasadena, she had to deal with staffing shortages, incomplete projects, and directives for impossible new projects. When Scientology launched a campaign to get members to pay $3,000 for a re-release of founder Hubbard’s teachings: "It was absolutely insane," Katz says. "You had staff members calling (parishioners) at 1 o'clock in the morning and 2 o'clock in the morning. Staff not getting any sleep. It was complete insanity. And it went on month, after month, after month, after month." She eventually told her supervisor: "I can't support this … I consider it to be a squirrel organization”—church usage for a group improperly applying Scientology practices. As a result of the great stress this induced, “I can say, honestly, I was pretty suicidal. I don't know if I would have actually carried it out. But I was really at that point where I felt like I had nothing to live for and I would be much better off dead.” These feelings were especially shocking to her because, she says, the highest achieving Scientologists—OT VIIIs—are supposed to be “completely able to make whatever they want to have happen in life.” She said that when she was away from the church, she felt in control, as an OT VIII should, but that when she had to deal with the “church agenda,” she felt a loss of control. “It was like having two different lives.” [IT 1.1 2010] 

Scientology wants to prevent the showing of a German feature film, “Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt” (Until Nothing Remains”), which characterizes Scientology, through the story of a family torn by its connections with the organization, as dangerous and unethical. Scientology says the film is propaganda, demands to see it before it’s broadcast, and threatens legal action to prevent public release. A representative of German state broadcasting has dismissed Scientology’s allegations, saying that the drama aims to reveal the truth about the organization. The dispute mirrors growing concern in Germany over Scientology’s influence. [IT 1.1 2010]

A French court in October convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud and fined it almost $900,000, although the judges did not accede to the prosecution’s demand to ban the church. The court said that a change in the law prevented such an action based on a fraud conviction. Former members who paid large sums for Scientology courses provided the decisive evidence in the case. This was the first time the church itself, rather than individual members, has been tried and convicted, and the first time it was indicted for some of the ways it operates. The fines were levied against the Scientology Celebrity Center in Paris and a bookstore there. Six group leaders were convicted of fraud, with four given suspended sentences of 10 months to two years. One of them, the group’s leader in France, Alain Rosenberg, was given a two-year suspended sentence and fined $44,700. Two others were given only fines, of $1,490 and $2,980.

The judges said they didn’t mete out jail terms because the church has tried “to change its practices.” A plaintiffs’ lawyer said the tribunal “expressed its will to maintain the structure of Scientology in order to make it easier to control. . . it gave this decision a national and international dimension so that potential victims can be warned of the methods of Scientology.” The head of a cult victims’ assistance association said the verdict was “subtle and intelligent” and that it would help control Scientology. “Scientology can no longer hide behind freedom of conscience.” A Scientology spokeswoman called the decision “an inquisition for modern times.” [csr 8.3 2009)

While the French convictions are unlikely to hamper Scientology recruitment and public relations efforts, the defection of 35-year Scientologist and Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis may be damaging because he was a credible and highly visible member. Haggis says he left mainly because of the church’s failure to keep a promise he alleges it made him to oppose California’s anti-gay marriage ballot question. Moreover, in his letter of resignation, Haggis says the church ordered his wife to shun family and friends, which caused her “terrible personal pain.” In spite of his criticism, “Haggis may be more of a reformer who wishes to see his church live up to its true calling rather than a defector who wants to pull the temple down around him. . . Perhaps Haggis needs to start his own branch of Scientology. It’s a model that has worked before.” [csr 8.3 2009)

The continuing conflict between the informal Internet network called Anonymous and the Church of Scientology is detailed at length by Julian Dibbell in the October issue of Wired. He tells how Anoymous coalesced to harass and even “take down” Scientology when the church squelched a video on the Internet that featured Tom Cruise unflatteringly; how Anonymous cyber attacks on Scientology communications and offices have provoked legal and extra-legal retaliation by Scientologists in order to stop the harassment, which is often crude and bizarre; and how elements of Anonymous, protesting the nature and practices of Scientology—rather than simply punishing the organization for attempting to control Internet speech—may be inaugurating an era of Internet “troll” activism that rises above prankish nihilism. [csr 8.3 2009)

Las Vegas police arrested Anonymous participant Colby Schoolcraft in October, seized a cache of weapons, including an AK-47, and said they believe—based on an Anonymous website call for violence—that he planned to attack the 37,000 square foot center Scientology is building to cater to celebrities. Scientology lawyer Kendrick Moxon told the police about threats Schoolcraft had made earlier on an Anonymous website that included a photo of Scientology leader David Miscavige with bullet holes in it. A video on the Anonymous website accuses Moxon of working with the Metro Police to frame Schoolcraft and thus “neutralize” a church opponent. [csr 8.3 2009)

Dmitriy [sic] Guzner, 19, of Veerona, NJ, was sentenced to a year in prison in November for his part in a series of “distributed denial of service” attacks that took down Scientology’s website for several days. The attack was attributed to Anonymous. Guzner was also ordered to pay $37,500 in restitution to the church and remain on probation for two years following his release from prison. [csr 8.3 2009)

Wikipedia has banned people who use Church of Scientology computers from changing Wikipidia articles that are critical of Scientology. Wikipedia says, “The church and some of its vocal critics are engaged in ‘edit wars’—aggressively adding or removing complimentary or disparaging material from articles related to Scientology.” Wikipedia has also banned some church critics from editing articles. [csr 8.3 2009)

Former Scientology officials Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder recently told the St. Petersburg Times about some of the legal and illegal tactics they employed to defame, discredit, and silence Robert Minton, one of the church’s most prominent and dangerous critics from the late 1990s to the early years of this century. Their revelations are highlighted by an account of how Scientology forced Minton, the major financial supporter of the suit against the church brought by the family of the late Lisa McPherson, to turn against the prosecution that his money had until then sustained. Although none of the parties is able to speak on the record about the matter, it seems that Scientology likely found evidence of financial misdeeds in Minton’s past and threatened him with exposure if he did not end his support of the suit. [csr 8.3 2009)

Earl Cooley, Scientology’s head lawyer for a quarter-century, has died. Church leader David Miscavige delivered the eulogy at a memorial service. [csr 8.3 2009)

Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of the Church of Scientology, by Marc Headley, an employee of the church's Los Angeles headquarters for 15 years, details allegations of systematic Scientology abuses and bizarre episodes, including three weeks of instruction given by Tom Cruise on how to move bottles and other objects by mentally concentrating on them. [csr 8.3 2009)

Nick Xenophon, in the Australian parliament, denounced Scientology, claiming that it “abuses its followers, viciously targets its critics, and seems largely driven by paranoia.” He wants to challenge the church’s tax-exempt status. Xenophon’s “long, impassioned” speech included case studies of Scientology abuses of individuals as well as a detailed exposition of the allegations of Aaron Sexton, who was born into Scientology and “rose to a position of influence in Sydney and the United States.” [csr 8.3 2009)

Malcolm Knox, in the September Monthly, online, reviews the history, style, and current status of Scientology in Australia, where the organization has some 14 establishments in the country’s capital cities. He quotes the report of the 1963 commission of inquiry into Scientology by the state of Victoria: “There are some features of Scientology which are so ludicrous that there may be a tendency to regard Scientology as silly and its practitioners as harmless. To do so would be to gravely misunderstand the tenor of the board [of inquiry]’s conclusions . . .Scientology is evil; it’s techniques evil; it’s practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially; and its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill.” [csr 8.3 2009)

Knox says that although bans against Scientology by the states of Victoria, South Australia, and West Australia—under the Psychological Practices Act of 1965—were lifted in 1973, the psychiatric profession still believes that Scientology’s claim to cure mental illness involves a kind of brainwashing by unqualified practitioners, risks driving patients into deeper mental disorder, and is predatorily costly. [csr 8.3 2009)

Knox attended a Scientology religious service, which included a sermon that was “as blandly agreeable as most of what is said on any low-church Sunday. He [the speaker] told a story about a couple he had counseled, quoted Hubbard three or four times, proclaimed that ‘the great discovery of Scientology is to define life,’ and stressed that the purpose of family life is to “get on well together.” [csr 8.3 2009)

Knox stresses what he sees on Scientology’s emphasis on proselytizing. “To get a ‘Diamond and Two Sapphires’ stickpin, one must recruit 1,000 annual or lifetime members. At a cost of US$500 (annual) to US$5000 (lifetime) each, recipients of this stickpin have individually raised anywhere between US$500,000 and US$5 million for Scientology.” He reports that Scientology counts as members anyone who has taken its personality test and put his or her name on a mailing list. Scientology claims 250,000 adherents in Australia and New Zealand and nine million worldwide, but 2006 Australian census figures indicate only 2,513 who say they are Scientologists. “To an astonishing degree,” he remarks, “Scientologists are engaged with the media. Whenever an article is published, a church spokesperson wirites a letter in response, usually containing boilerplate declarations about Scientology being a recognized religion that believes man has an eternal soul, as well as denials of whatever whakiness the article attributed to the church.” [csr 8.3 2009)

The Church of Scientology in Italy says it’s going to sue, for libel, the Daughters of St. Paul, as well as Catholic author Pia Gardini, a former Scientologist now returned to the Catholic Church, who has written two books critical of Scientology published by the Daughters—My Years in Scientology and The Courage to Speak Out–Stories of Ex-Scientologists. The Daughters of St. Paul is dedicated to providing resources to counter threats to Catholic families, including cults. . . . [csr 8.3 2009)

Three high-level Scientologists—“Operating Thetans”—have left the organization, all of them citing strong disagreements with church management policies. At the same time, they note their continuing belief in Scientology. [csr 8.3 2009)

Geir Isene, a Norwegian, and Americans Mary Jo Leavitt and Sherry Katz, said they hoped their Internet statements would resonate with other Scientologists. Indeed, 41-year member Jack Airey, recently featured in a Scientology infomercial, was encouraged by their public statements to announce that he, too, has decided to leave. He said: “Tomorrow I join the worldwide group called 'Independent Scientologists,' where honest, on- source LRH [L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology founder] technology, and exposing the ‘out tech’ of current Church of Scientology management, is the order of the day. (This past summer, former Scientology executives Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder publicly alleged that there was abuse in the church’s management ranks. A church attorney replied that it was “astonishing” that the [St. Petersburg] Times is giving “a public platform for the views of disgruntled and biased former members.”[csr 8.3 2009)

Geir Isene said that he was profoundly introverted until, beginning at age 18, Scientology helped him, at a cost of $200,000 in courses over the years—to develop such confidence and communications skills that he came to host a popular radio show and start and run his own software company. Several years ago, Isene recounted, Scientology head David Miscavige asked him to search the Internet and identify the Norwegian journalists who alleged that Miscavige physically abused staff. Isene found none, but he was shocked, while surfing the Internt, to read many allegations that Miscavige did, indeed, strike staffers. Finally persuaded by an expose in the St. Petersburg Tines, Isene and his wife decided to break with the church. Now he says, "I want to stop the abuses. . . "I want the Human Rights Watch. . . breathing down their neck." [csr 8.3 2009)

Mary Jo Leavitt, who was an outstanding Scientology recruiter and missionary to her native Latin America, said she left principally because of the church’s pressure for members’ money. She also described the “completely Gestapo” interrogation she received when she complained about abuse of staff members. When officials asked her to use her credit card to donate to Scientology expansion efforts, “I just walked out.” She then posted on the Internet an eight-page report she had sent to top church officials revealing that managers were redirecting field staff to fundraise at the expense of religious work. Leavitt’s children have also left.[csr 8.3 2009)

Thirty-six-year Scientologist Sherry Katz, disobeying Scientology rules, searched “Scientology” on the Internet last year and was shocked to learn about the destructive experiences of many who had already left the church. She had begun to question the church in 2008 when, as a paid church executive in Pasadena, she had to deal with staffing shortages, incomplete projects, and directives for new projects that she thought unattainable. When Scientology launched a campaign to get members each to pay $3,000 for a re-release of founder Hubbard’s teachings. "It was absolutely insane," Katz says. "You had staff members calling (parishioners) at 1 o'clock in the morning and 2 o'clock in the morning. Staff not getting any sleep. It was complete insanity. And it went on month, after month, after month, after month." She eventually told her supervisor, "I can't support this … I consider it to be a squirrel organization”—church usage for a group improperly applying Scientology practices. As a result of the great stress this induced, “I can say, honestly, I was pretty suicidal. I don't know if I would have actually carried it out. But I was really at that point where I felt like I had nothing to live for and I would be much better off dead.” These feelings were especially shocking to her because, she says, the highest achieving Scientologists—OT VIIIs—are supposed to be “completely able to make whatever they want to have happen in life.” She said that when she was away from the church, she felt in control, as an OT VIII should, but that when she had to deal with the “church agenda,” she felt a loss of control. “It was like having two different lives.” [csr 8.3 2009)

In “fiercely secular” France, the government has struggled to strike a balance between maintaining church-state separation and honoring the right of citizens to express their faith. But in the current case against Scientology,” says Time Magazine writer Bruce Crumley, “authorities have abandoned their usual attempts at fine-tuning religion’s standing in French society—instead, they want to ban Scientology from France altogether.”[csr 8.2, 2009)

A contractor in rural Sweetwater County, Wyoming, reports that he has been hired by Scientology to build a 22,000 square foot underground storage vault in which to store documents and perhaps other items. . . .[csr 8.2, 2009)

Scientologist Marion Whitta, who came to India as director of a Scientology tour in 2005, intending to stay three months, has remained four years. She says she’s trained “thousands of civil defense personnel in Maharashtra, police in Bangalore, Delhi and Mysore, and the Border Security Force in Kilkata [Calcutta],” as well as “hundreds of personnel in the corporate world who’ve received Scientology training under the aegis of their company. In all, we must have trained 20,000 to 30,000 Indians so far,” including Delhi-based actress Sheena Chohan.[csr 8.2, 2009)

Scientology mounted a huge and controversial anti-psychiatry display at Concordia University, in Montreal, in late April. The presentation, employing Gothic imagery, suggested that declining education standards, the Columbine shootings, 9/11, and the death of Kurt Cobain, were caused by psychiatry’s pernicious influence. “You see these black panels with big, red scary letters. It looks like a dungeon,” said a student, who refused to give his name because he feared Scientology reprisals. “This is Scientology. I knew it right away.” [csr 8.2, 2009)

Wikipedia said in May that it would ban entries originating from Scientology IP addresses because of the church’s self-serving Wiki-revisionism. In response to the bad PR its activities have generated over the past couple of years, the church has launched a series of brilliant, new, non-threatening commercials, suffused with a tonal waveform of celestial bliss, that invite fellow seekers on a journey of self-discovery. “One ad [among several analyzed in this LA Times article of 7/28/09) is a direct co-opting of Christianity’s language of resurrection and eternal life, which is of a slightly different spiritual chemistry than Scientology’s usual promise of millions of reincarnations. In a stroke, Scientology positions itself as Mac in the Mac-versus-PC rivalry.” [csr 8.2, 2009)

Scientology “escapee” Paul Grosswald gave a talk at the Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library in August telling how the organization deceptively recruited, psychologically manipulated, and emotionally tortured him during his six-month involvement. Grosswald’s parents threatened Scientology’s New York leader with “fair game” treatment—the phrase Scientology itself uses [for its policy toward “enemies”] if he were not released. Allowed 45 minutes with their son, the Grosswalds spirited him away for successful “exit counseling.” [csr 8.2, 2009)

The children and former husband of Gloria Lopez have filed a complaint against Scientology, in France, claiming that her experience in the church played a significant role in her 2006 suicide. The family cites, among other issues, Lopez’s payment of several hundred thousand dollars for church courses over a period of 10 years, despite an income of less than $3,000 a month when she died. Scientology financial advisors, they say, counseled her to sell property she had inherited in Spain in order to free up capital for more courses. The family and her former boyfriend finally stepped in and persuaded her to quit Scientology when the organization asked her to move into its Celebrity Center to cut her costs; she could receive courses as part of her pay. [csr 8.2, 2009)

Also in France, 48-year-old Martine Boublilhas filed a complaint alleging that her brother—an ex-doctor and prominent Scientologist—had kidnapped her and tried to treat her psychological problems himself. She is said to have been found, half-naked, on a vermin-infested mattress in a house in Sardinia in 2008. [csr 8.2, 2009)

Meanwhile, in the government’s trial of six important French Scientologists on charges of fraud, Aude-Clairwe Malton, a former hotel housekeeper, detailed the process by which she was persuaded by Scientology to empty her savings accounts and life insurance policy, and take out loans to pay for courses, all on the advice of her Scientology personal financial advisor. The state prosecutor referred to Scientology’s “universe of secret rules” as well as its “deliberate, planned, fraudulent maneuvers.” Malton said that the church’s personality tests and electrometers were designed to deceive members. Just before the trial began, former Scientologist Alain Stoffen published a book, “Voyage to the Heart of Scientology,” which tells of his “descent to hell” during a decade as a member. He says he was recruited at a music school — he called it a Scientology recruiting ground—and was inspired to join because his jazz hero, Chick Corea, is a Scientologist. . [csr 8.2, 2009)

Recently released United Kingdom Department of Health files show that British diplomats investigating L. Ron Hubbard’s qualifications some 30 years ago found that his claim to have received a legitimate doctorate was fraudulent. . .The British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dismissed as “misleading” and “inaccurate” claims by senior correspondents of The Mail on Sunday newspaper that it has recognized Scientology as a religion for the purposes of the new religious hatred law. The journalists say they relied on a credible leak from within the CPS for their report, and that one or more senior CPS officials had joined or come under the influence of Scientology. [csr 8.2, 2009)

John Duignan, a 22-year Scientologist who recounts his experience in the The Complex, asserts that the volume was taken off Amazon because Tom Cruise objected to it. . . Scientology, according to the European cult watchdog FECRIS association, has sent 60,000 books about Scientology to 3,800 libraries in Poland. . . An automated telephone invitation to the Scientology Flag World Tour in Hollywood recently began with the voice of Bart Simpson. It said: “Yo, what’s happening man. This is Bart Simpson. Haha, just kidding. Don’t hang up. This is Nancy Cartwright.” A Scientologist, Cartwright has been the voice of Bart Simpson since 1987 and has reportedly donated $10 million to the organization. [csr 8.2, 2009)

Leaflets delivered to homes in a London suburb earlier this year asking, “Do you have a loved one or a friend on Drugs or Alcohol,” and claiming that Narconon [Scientology’s drug treatment program] “has been saving lives for over 40 years in the fight against addiction with more than 200,000 drug free.” The leaflet also asks recipients to contribute money, through a secure web page, to support Narconon’s work. The pamphlet does not explicitly identify Narconon with Scientology. [csr 8.2, 2009)

In a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission, Scientology argues that churches and individuals who have been “defamed” should be able to sue for damages. “The Church of Scientology,” it protested, “has regularly been subject to relentless ridicule and misinformation by the media,” and that police should have the power to identify anti-Scientology activists associated with the loosely organized Internet group called Anonymous. Serious vilification should be made a crime, the submission maintains, “the subject of fine, imprisonment, or both.” The appeal reveals Scientology’s concern that its tax-free status, established by a 1983 High Court judgment, would be threatened if the Federal Government imposed “unduly difficult taxation compliance measures” on religions.[csr 8.2, 2009)

According to an October Swedish TV documentary, taxpayers have been indirectly supporting Scientology through government contracts worth $1.4 million given to “front organizations tied to the organization.” Most of the funds have gone to Narconon, which gives ten percent of its earnings to Scientology. Social Democratic council member Cecilia Lund, who reports that her Eslöv constituency has bought Narconon services for the past five years, says: “I don’t actually think that politics can dictate what they do with their profits.” . . . [csr 8.1]

Dmitri Guzner, 18, a student from Verona, NJ, has agreed to plead guilty to participating in a cyber attack on Scientology that took the organization’s website offline. His action earlier this year, part of the Anonymous informal coalition’s campaign against Scientology, could bring Guzner, who has agreed to pay $37,500 in restitution, 10 years in federal prison. [csr 8.1, 2009)

Scientology’s Narconon drug rehab home in Newport Beach, CA, whose neighbors have long protested noise and frequent deliveries associated with the facility, has agreed to close in 2010. Other rehab homes in town are similarly confronted with the newly legislated restrictions on recovery housing. [csr 8.1, 2009)

Mario Majorski, 48, was shot fatally in November by a guard as he tried to attack guests arriving at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Hollywood. Police said Majorski had been associated with Scientology in the “distant past.” [csr 8.1, 2009)

Germany will stop trying to ban the Church of Scientology, saying there is a lack of evidence that the group is engaged in illegal activity. The head of Berlin security stated that Scientology “is a lousy organization, but it is not an organization that we have to take a hammer to.” [csr 8.1, 2009) 

French wariness of Scientology probably arises from a culture skeptical of religious organizations that require members to pay for services. Says Jean-Michel Roulet, head of the government agency charged to protect the public from cults: “This [money-making religion] does not fit with the French mentality.” [csr 8.1, 2009)

Scientologists hold senior positions in Prodata, a flourishing Denmark- based IT company that gives “a substantial 400-page manual of the [Scientology] founder L. Ron Hubbard to the numerous consultants engages for projects in Europe. [This according to Politiken DK, May 9 and 17, 2008.] [csr 8.1, 2009)

Officers of the Metropolitan Police in London and West Sussex are handing out Scientology anti-drug literature and attending community meetings hosted by Scientology to discuss the drug problem. The literature recommends Scientology’s Narconon drug treatment program. . . Actor Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, have founded New Village Academy, a private school, in Calabases, near Los Angeles, which will use teaching methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and employ some Scientologists among its faculty. Responding to sensational press reports, the Smiths said they are not Scientologists, and that they want to “Create an educational environment in which children have fun learning.” An experienced private school administrator hired by the Smiths says it will be a secular school employing many methods, including Montesori, Bruner, and Gardner as well as some Scientology modes, but that it will have no Scientology content. Scientology critic David Touretsky, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, calls the program religion disguised as education. [csr 7.3 2008)

The informal coalition of individuals called “Anonymous” continued in August its attacks against Scientology on the Internet and in street demonstrations. An Anonymous lawyer says the New York City police find the picketing “fun,” but asserts that police in Los Angeles have infringed on the protestors’ freedom of speech. [csr 7.3 2008)

The ten-year-old case of a 33-year-old French woman [name not given], who charges that Scientology ruined her financially through fees she was pressured to pay for its courses, has finally come to court. The judge agreed that Scientology’s “sole aim” was to “claim her fortune” by “exercising a psychological hold” over her. France’s professional pharmaceutical association has also filed charges — the woman says Scientology illegally prescribed drugs it gave her. Unlike most previous cases, the charges, which allege “organized fraud,” are against the church as well as certain individual members. Judicial sources believe that the main Scientology establishment in France — where it is not recognized as a religion — could be shut down if convictions are obtained. [csr 7.3 2008)

The German Department of Interior Affairs invited TV actor Jason Beghe and several other American former Scientologists to be part of a three-hour September seminar in Hamburg entitled, “That is Scientology! Reports from the USA. The session was organized by Ursula Caberta, “Head of Working Group, Scientology, Office for Domestic Affairs, Hamburg.” [csr 7.3 2008)

Scientology critic Keith Henson was recently released from a U.S. prison after serving four months of a six-month sentence in California for anti-Scientology activities that included criminal threats, picketing Scientology facilities, and posting copyrighted Scientology material on the Internet. Henson fled to Canada when charged and asked for permanent residence there on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. But Canada refused and he was deported to face U.S. law. His three-year probation agreement forbids him to annoy, harass, or come within a thousand feet of a Scientologist. “I still fear for my life,” he says. “My problem is that I haven’t been paranoid enough in the past.” [csr 7.2 2008)

Invoking eBay rules, Scientology has prevailed upon the trading site to stop hosting auctions for second hand “e-meters” — Scientology spiritual counseling devices — because the church says it owns the trademark and patent rights to the device. The church’s legal right to demand this is being contested. [csr 7.2 2008)

Three women raised in Scientology, including leader David Miscavige’s niece, have launched a Website, ExScientology Kids.com, that accuses the church of physical abuse, denying some children a proper education, and alienating members from their families. Meanwhile, the popular Internet culture blog “BoingBoing” says that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard plagiarized a 1934 German book and turned it into the church’s basic text. These and other Web-based attacks on Scientology threaten the organization’s traditional ability to control its image. Web-based criticism of Scientology may be increasing because the aggrieved, whom Scientology has typically attacked personally for their complaints, find a certain safety in anonymity and numbers on the Internet. [csr 7.2 2008)

With 1.7 million square feet of office and residential space in Clearwater, and between 5,000 and 12,000 members living and working in town, Scientology is “turning the city center into a virtual Scientology campus.” [csr 7.2 2008)

Judges on a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in California, now hearing an appeal that questions a 1993 settlement between Scientology and the Internal Revenue Service, “appeared sympathetic to a couple’s claim that the agency isn’t treating members of all religious groups fairly concerning charitable deductions for educational expenses” — this according to a recent report in the American Bar Association Journal. The suit was initiated when the IRS refused to allow Orthodox Jews Michael and Marla Sklar to deduct some of their children’s private religious school tuition. The Sklar’s now want access to the Scientology-IRS agreement that they say will show Scientologists have been allowed to take substantial deductions for “religious training and services.” They want the same benefit. The IRS says that the private agreement with Scientology involves religious training rather than the kinds of religious education the Sklar children get. The law journal report cites one of the judges saying that the issue “does intrude into the Establishment Clause,” and that the “bottom line” is whether the IRS has, in fact, agreed to treat members of one religious group differently from members of another group. The report concludes, however, that, “Even if the IRS did discriminate by allowing Scientology training deductions, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Sklars will get to take similar education deductions. The proper course of action is a lawsuit to [put a stop] to that policy,” a concurring judge said in the 9th Circuit’s 2002 written opinion on an earlier case brought by the Sklars. [csr 7.2 2008)

Three Scientology kindergartens are operating in Tel Aviv without licenses and “without the ministry [of Education] being aware of their principles,” according to YNet (Israel), 3/21/08. A ministry official says, “The pedagogical aspect will be examined this year and we will then make a final decision whether to grant [one of the kindergartens] a permanent license.” [csr 7.2 2008)

Scientology in March failed to get a court order in Clearwater to restrain further protests by the Internet-based anti-Scientology group Anonymous. The judge said Scientology had failed to link individuals named in the church’s recent lawsuit with alleged harassing phone calls, obscene emails, and bomb and death threats. The suit also says that the alleged vandalizing of Scientology churches around the world has been encouraged by videos on YouTube. A statement sent to the St. Petersburg Times, purportedly from Anonymous, denied and condemned such acts or threats of violence. [csr 7.2 2008)

In January, St. Martin’s Press published Andrew Morton’s Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography, which paints “a scathing portrait of the actor’s chosen religion as a money-making, fascist, mind-control sect led by Cruise’s closest friend, David Miscavige, a gun-loving high-school dropout with a Napoleon complex who runs a religion like a paramilitary group.” A Scientology video of the presentation of its 2004 Freedom Medal of Valor to Cruise features a “manic” Cruise urging his co-religionists to commit themselves to Scientology. “Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident, it’s not like anyone else,” he said. “As you drive past, you know you have to do something about it. Because you’re the only one who can help.” Scientology’s attempt to keep the Cruise video off the Internet — on the ground that showing it infringes copyright laws — is failing. It’s still showing on YouTube as well as on the Manhattan-based media site Gawker, where segments have been viewed more than 2.7 million times. A journalist researching Scientology calls the production “a brilliant work of agitprop.” [csr 7.2 2008)

Thanks to the Internet, says a former Scientology official, “Members of the general public know more about Scientology than decades-long members do. (Scientologists are forbidden to access anti-Scientology Websites.) High-level Scientology defector Robert Vaughn Young once said that the Internet was going to be Scientology’s “Waterloo.” Former members say Scientology is now targeting for recruitment regions that are statistically less likely to have Web access, like Central America or where relevant Web material is not available in English, as well as African Americans. [csr 7.2 2008)

An Anonymous member says that its anti-Scientology campaign isn’t against “their people or religion. We respect the right for them to believe what they want. We oppose their lawsuits and their bully tactics. Every religion goes through its stages of infancy. The Catholics had the Crusades, but for the first time in history, the common people have enough power to stop Scientology before it gets to that. [csr 7.2 2008)

Former members, especially highly ranking ones, are leaving the church. One who worked in the Office of Special Affairs for 20 years, and spent more than $200,000 on Scientology courses, left because she was not allowed to take her epilepsy medication, even when Scientology methods couldn’t cure her. She says members remain for a very long time because there’s always another level in the organization to reach for. “You don’t want to give up. It’s a group fantasy.” The departure of chief spokesman Mike Rinder, the Australian baritone — who told 20/20 in 1998 that Hubbard was one of the great men of world history — is like Goebbels leaving the Nazis,” says another defector. [csr 7.2 2008)

To keep high-level members active and striving, president David Miscavige announced in 1995 “the golden age of tech,” which was “essentially a claim that Scientology’s auditors had been doing everything all wrong.” “We just discovered a treasure trove of L. Ron Hubbard,” Miscavige said, meaning that everyone needed to do his or her courses over. “And pay for them, naturally.” In another move to retain commitment, Scientology will soon introduce a “super power rundown” course at the massive high tech, office-residential facility it’s building in Clearwater. Billionaire hedge fund manager and Scientologist Matt Feshbach, who has piloted the new program, now says, “I am not [any longer] dependent on my physical body to perceive things,” adding that he saved the life of a young boy with his new abilities by stopping him from running into the street. [csr 7.2 2008)

The rising profile of Scientology in Germany in recent years has led to renewed efforts by the 16 state governments’ interior ministries to collect evidence that would lead to banning the organization. The new initiative may have been spurred by a national furor that arose when the Defense Ministry temporarily barred a film company from access to a key location because Scientologist Tom Cruise had the title role. Those supporting the current effort feel prospects improved following a court decision to allow continued surveillance of the organization on the grounds that its activities were a threat to German constitutional protections and the right of Germans to exercise their political will, the right to equal treatment, and guarantees against bodily harm. The judge said that Scientology brainwashes members. (A judge in 1995 ruled that Scientology did not deserve the legal protections accorded to religions and that it was not, in fact, a religious group but rather “masquerading as a religion in order to make a profit.”) German analysts, and some government officials speaking anonymously, do not believe that Scientology will be banned. One says that if illegal activities of some Scientologists were a criterion for banning, priestly pedophilia should lead to calls for outlawing the Catholic Church. Another pointed to the high political costs of a ban — the U.S. has already criticized Germany for restricting Scientology. Others say banning might make the Scientologists into martyrs for religious freedom, even as the church seems to be declining — according to the Suddeutsche Zeitung — thanks to anti-Scientology monitoring and educational efforts by the state, political parties, the established church, and trade unions. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeble seems to be leaning toward education rather than banning, even as he acknowledges Scientology’s “unconstitutionality.” [csr 7.1 2008)

Scientology in December concluded a $4.75 million deal to purchase the 78-year-old former Ramona hotel in Sacramento, which they’ll renovate. . . Scientology is trying to remove from the Internet a video of Tom Cruise passionately promoting the organization as if he were “the character he played in the film Magnolia, a twisted and yet extremely charismatic motivational speaker.” Scientology says the video’s content is copyrighted. YouTube has acceded to the demand, but Gawker Media, which has recorded an astounding jump in hits thanks to its posting of the video, says it will not take the video down, on free speech grounds. . . Following Scientology’s recent attack on writer Andrew Morton’s book critical of Scientology (“Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography”), the niece of Scientology head David Miscavige, Jenna Micavige Hill, wrote an open letter to a senior official of the church saying: “Hell, if Scientology can’t keep his [Cruise’s] family together, then why on earth should anyone believe the church helps bring families together.” She says her own family was broken up by Scientology policies. Scientology characterized the Morton book as a “bigoted inflammatory assault replete with lies.” Jenna Hill, referring to her own experience, challenges the church’s denial that it pressures members to “disconnect” from relatives who don’t support the church. [csr 7.1 2008)

An organization called “Anonymous” is attacking Scientology websites in order, it says, to safeguard freedom of speech. (Scientology tries to prevent its copyrighted material from being spread over the Internet.) Anonymous says it also wants to “systematically dismantle” Scientology and curtail the organization’s financial exploitation of its members. Anonymous directs sympathizers not only to download and spread copyrighted material, but to employ denial-of-service software, make nuisance calls, and fax black pages to church fax machines in an effort to waste ink. Some Scientology critics say the Anonymous tactics are hypocritical, amounting to an attempt to uphold free speech while denying it to Scientology. “Attacking Scientology like that,” said one, “will just make them play the religious persecution card.” [csr 7.1 2008)

More than 100 people representing the anti-Scientology organization “Anonymous” picketed in front of the Church of Scientology in Dallas on February 10, the birthday of Lisa McPherson, a Dallas native who died in the care of Scientology staff members at a church facility in Clearwater, FL, in 1995. The current protest was one of a number of similar demonstrations by some 7,000 persons in front of Scientology establishments in 90 cities worldwide planned by Anonymous. Many of the demonstrators in Clearwater, Scientology’s spiritual headquarters, some in their late teens and early twenties, wore wigs, sunglasses, bandanas, and hats to disguise themselves — as did protestors in Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Sydney, Dublin, Montreal and many other cities — saying they feared Scientology retribution if recognized. A masked demonstrator in London said, “We are here to raise awareness of the blatant exploitation [by Scientology] of its members.” The Dublin protestors said, “Anonymous is a group of genuinely concerned citizens that wish to educate the Irish public on the real danger of this purely money-driven cult and to prevent Scientology from taking root in Ireland as it has in America, Spain, and even in the UK.” Scientology spokesmen generally responded to the demonstrators by calling them terrorists who incited religious hatred [csr 7.1 2008)

Anonymous is apparently a recently formed group of computer-savvy young people who found each other through videos and message boards online and organized the day of protest through the Internet. They accuse Scientology of — among other things — stifling free speech by trying to keep a revealing Tom Cruise video out of circulation. The stated goal of Anonymous, broadcast on YouTube, is “To expel you [sic] Scientology from the Internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology.” Orlando’s Arnie Lerma, a longtime Scientology critic, said he was impressed by the potential of the new cadre of youthful protestors. “I’ve never seen anything like that before. This is incredible.” Asked to explain the “groundswell” of opposition to Scientology, a former long-time member said, “It’s just reaching a critical mass. People just aren’t scared anymore. They try to make people shut up, and I’m not shutting up anymore.” [csr 7.1 2008)

A Belgian prosecutor, following a ten-year investigation that concluded the Church of Scientology is a criminal organization, recommended that the church stand trial for fraud and extortion. Jean-Claude Van Espen said Scientology’s Brussels office and its missions conducted unlawful practices in medicine, violated privacy laws, and employed illegal business contracts. . . Several Scientology volunteers were in Samoa in September to provide “disaster response specialist courses” for government and local church council personnel. Reporting on the training, Radio New Zealand said, “The followers of Scientology are fighting problems such as disaster management, manmade, natural or personal disasters, communication problems, violence, and drug or alcohol abuse.” . . . The Rev. Charles Kennedy, whose Glorious Church of God in Christ, in Tampa, is among a number of churches around the U.S. that have adopted certain Scientology programs, travels the country touting the wisdom of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. And in St. Petersburg, FL, Imam Sadiki’s mosque has participated in a Scientology-sponsored human rights campaign built on a Hubbard text. In Houston, meanwhile, a church drug treatment program based on Scientology principles refers addicts to Scientology’s Narconon rehabilitation arm. Some clergy have complained that Scientology has tried to use them to suggest to the public that they favor the program, when they do not. . . A Russian court in July ordered the Scientology center in St. Petersburg to close because it allegedly violated its charter by engaging in “auditing” and “purification” activities and gave visitors tests aimed to recruit them as members. [csr 6.3 2007]

Scientology’s “Youth for Human Rights in Australia” organized a youth forum at Parliament House in Sydney that featured a picture of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard placed more prominently than the pictures of recognized human rights heroes Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Thomas Jefferson. One high school student who attended said she felt exploited because the forum’s link to Scientology had not been disclosed in promotional material. The students were asked to pay $10 to join Youth for Human Rights. The state Department of Education said it was disappointed that the “full nature” of the youth forum was not disclosed to students. . .[csr 6.2 2007] 

BBC Panorama program journalist John Sweeney has apologized for losing his temper and screaming with rage at a Scientologist while filming an investigative report on Scientology. Scientology actually filmed the outburst — an example of so-called “video ambushing,” in which organizations being investigated turn the camera on the film makers — and posted the footage on YouTube and distributed 100,000 DVDs containing the incident to MPs, civil servants, religious groups, media organizations and business leaders. Panorama then posted a clip on YouTube showing a Scientologist losing his temper at Sweeney’s use of the term “sinister cult.” Actress Ann Archer, also a Scientologist, is said to have snapped at Sweeny when he asked her if she might have been brainwashed. [csr 6.2 2007]

Sweeny says his outburst — which came as he was filming a segment on a Scientology anti-psychiatry exhibit — came after a Scientologist had hounded him for six days about what he was doing. “I felt like I was being brainwashed, and if people see the full clip I think they will have more sympathy with me.” The outburst “was like an animal reaction to a series of images and pressures. I felt they were trying to control my mind. I can’t wait to get back to Zimbabwe [where] hiding in the backs of cars from Robert Mugabe’s goons is a damn sight easier.” The incident is not the first time Scientology has been accused of “bull baiting,” a technique members use to remain calm even when extremely provoked. BBC says Sweeney did nothing, apart from his shouting, to violate its guidelines. . . [csr 6.2 2007]

Scientologists in Pasadena, CA, complain that their free speech rights are being violated by code-enforcement officials who cited them for setting up sidewalk tables — in front of a building they are renovating — to distribute literature and sign up passers-by for “stress tests.” The CEO of the Old Pasadena Management District said: “Mostly it’s people complaining they [the Scientologists] are quite aggressive in trying to pitch their beliefs, or sell some product . . . and are relentless in pursuit of an opportunity — they don’t just ask and let it go.” The head of Pasadena Heritage, calling Scientology “complete phony baloney,” said: “What’s going to happen is they’re going to go across the street, make offers that can’t be refused, and it will become a whole enclave like the huge complex at the corner of Sunset and Vermont.” . . . [csr 6.2 2007]

A study skills curriculum written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is being taught in Prescott Middle School, in Baton Rouge, one of the poorest performing middle schools in Louisiana. Celebrity Scientologists John Travolta and Isaac Hayes met with the Baton Rouge mayor during the chaotic period following hurricane Katrina to promote the program. The school’s principle, aware of both favorable and unfavorable reports about the program, now says she’s sure it’s not teaching Scientology, and that historically low test scores have improved since the program began. A Scientologist teaches five 90-minute classes a day using Hubbard’s method, assisted by another full-time teacher and six unpaid teacher aids, mostly teenagers drawn from a private school in Oregon that uses the system. This allows a student-teacher ratio of five to one. The program — propagated by [Scientology-linked] Applied Scholastics — is used in hundreds of schools around the country for after-school tutoring, but has been slow to expand into the core curriculum; some districts have shunned it when faced with concerns expressed by parents and educators. [csr 6.2 2007]

Diola Bagayako, a professor at nearby Southern University, and head of the Timbuktu Institute, a think-tank on teaching practices, says the Hubbard program is the best he has seen and “I would like to see this in many more schools.” Also endorsing the program is University of Missouri professor Venetta Whitaker, former assistant superintendent for the Los Angeles school district. On the other hand, Linda Behar-Horenstein, a professor and distinguished teaching scholar in the department of educational administration at the University of Florida, says: “I’m a little stunned. It ignores everything we know about brain-based learning.” She criticizes the program’s concepts as overly simplistic and characterizes the activities as “moronic.” Both she and an academic at the University of Central Florida said the low teacher-student ratio and quality of the instructor could explain the modest rise in test scores. David Touretsky, a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who has studied Scientology and written extensively on the organization, claims that the so-called “study tech” employed in the program is “covert religious instruction.” This can be seen, he says, in its texts, which echo the language of Scientology. He believes that, while the program does not aim to convert people, it can make them more receptive to Scientology approaches later, as it did with Tom Cruise, who joined the organization after the program helped him, he says, improve his reading and writing.[csr 6.2 2007]

Scientology has bought, for $10 million, an historic Auckland, New Zealand, building that it will use to give courses and provide space for 100 staff members and 200 students. . . [csr 6.2 2007]

Some 120 students ages 12–17 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, have taken a workshop run by the Scientology-linked Youth for Human Rights International organization, which now awaits government approval to take the program province-wide. A government representative said: “We chose YHRI — rather than continue with the YMCA as facilitator of the program — because of this year’s theme: morals and values. They had the content that we wanted. This isn’t a religious program but a government-run program . . . the content was discussed by the premier’s office and [the YHRI] crafted it to our specific needs: the regeneration of morals and values among the youth.” But evidence of Scientology and founder Hubbard “permeate” the course. . . [csr 6.2 2007]

Scientology has been accused of trying to “infiltrate” British politics through payments of between £3,500 and £13,500 — from the Scientology-linked Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) —for booths at both Labor and Tory annual conventions. MPs are concerned that the payments were part of an extensive lobbying operation to promote the Scientology drug and criminal rehab programs, Narconon and Criminon. Evidence provided under the Freedom of Information Act indicates that the chief British Scientology spokesman met with then Home Office minister, Baroness Scotland [sic] and then invited other ministers to the opening of the new Scientology headquarters in London. While a Liberal Democrat MP called Scientology “a dubious cult at best,” and said, “It only goes to show that some politicians are prepared to take money from anyone,” a Labor spokesman said that the decision to let Scientology show at its conference followed a policy of having exhibitions that represent a “range of views and opinions.” In 2001, London Mayor Ken Livingstone refused to let Scientology promote its treatment program, saying it is “a medically unproven policy which I am advised could be dangerous,” and “a spurious medical program which many drugs professionals are concerned about.” . . . [csr 6.1 2007]

According to a London Sunday Times reporter sent undercover to investigate Scientology at its new headquarters, near St. Paul’s Cathedral, “My experience shook me. What I had expected to find was an eccentric but largely harmless organization. What I discovered was a paranoid and dogmatic group which — through a mixture of pyramid selling techniques and subtle intimidation — preys on the vulnerable to expand and enrich itself.” The experience included being escorted into the establishment by “body routers or greeters,” and a “personality test” that “marked the start of a common theme: a constant digging to establish and mark out my insecurities and character flaws. I was told the test revealed that I had problems with ‘concentration’, ‘depression’, and ‘confidence’, but that work with Scientology would solve the problems.” In the following weeks, he went through various courses at a cost of £200 and was recruited to be an “expeditor — the first step in becoming a full-time employee.” He was to be part of a team paid according to how much money the organization made each week, which partly depended on how many recruits they brought in. During this time, “I witnessed a number of highly unorthodox tactics and practices” — the use of lie detector-like e-meter to probe for vulnerabilities; pressure on new members to detail their sex lives, including the names of people they’d slept with; encouragement to identify “suppressive persons” in their lives (those who’d had a negative impact), including parents and other family members; and “perhaps the most troubling,” four e-meter tests concerning his background, his views on Scientology, and his past employment. “It felt as if I was being turned inside out so that they could assess the potential for me to become a compliant member.” . . . [csr 6.1 2007]

Following an “expansion summit” last year, Scientology has opened new centers in a number of major European cities and begun a propaganda “offensive” [according to this lengthy report in Der Spiegel, March 27, 2007, summarized here]. A Scientology document states: “If we are to implement our planetary campaigns for salvation, then we have to reach the top levels of the German government in Berlin,” adding that the Berlin headquarters is responsible for “building the necessary in-roads to the German parliament in order to ensure that our solutions are genuinely introduced to the whole of German society.” In response to this initiative, German federal and state intelligence agencies want to increase surveillance of Scientology. The director of one such agency, in the state of Baden-Wütemberg, said, “This is a dangerous group that uses psychological manipulation and has an anti-democratic self-image, a group that wants to break the will of each of its members. That’s why we have to take massive counter-action.” Authorities, therefore, have mounted an information campaign to warn citizens about Scientology. Responses to Scientology’s outreach have been more relaxed in many other German states. . . [csr 6.1 2007]

The creators of the “South Park” TV series, who have caricatured Scientology in the past, lampooned the group once again, this time in a Rolling Stone article celebrating the show’s 10th anniversary. A group of characters from “South Park” is shown spray-painting “Scientology is dumb” and “Hi Tom” on the church’s Los Angeles headquarters sign. . . The Mirimar Beach, FL, community is still opposing establishment by Scientology’s Narconon of a drug and alcohol rehab facility, concerned that it would destroy the neighborhood. . . New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has criticized as “inappropriate” official proclamations drafted by city councilman Hiram Monserrate — “Scientology’s new cheerleader” — honoring Tom Cruise and founder Hubbard for promoting a detoxification program for 9/11 rescue workers. “I think that reputable Scientists do not think Scientology has any basis in Science. It may be a cult, it may be a religion, it may be beliefs,” the mayor said. “It’s other things, but it’s not science, and we should only fund those programs that reputable scientists believe will stand the light of day and the scientific method.” Fire Department leaders do not endorse the Scientology-connected program and warn their rank and file to avoid it. “I’m hearing stories [says the Fox News reporter on which this summary is based] of firemen who accepted free treatment, only to be swallowed into Scientology. And while tonight’s event is billed as a ‘fundraiser,’ I’m also told that firemen and their families aren’t paying for their own tickets.” [csr 6.1 2007]

A Baden-Würtemberg politician has asked that Scientologist John Travolta’s scheduled appearance on a prominent TV show be canceled because by inviting him “you’re offering this organization a platform to address millions of viewers . . . and many people, parents in particular, are concerned about Scientologists and their aims.” But the producers have refused the demand. . . The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay a fine of 10,000 Euros and 15,000 more for costs and expenses for refusing to register Scientology as a church. . . In light of a recent decision by the European Court ruling that the Russia should recognize Scientology as a religious organization, it may be that Britain will have to reverse it’s own long-standing ruling that Scientology is not, in fact, a tax-exempt religion. The European Court ruled that Scientology had been “discriminated against as a religious minority” and “restricted in exercising the full range of its religious activities.” [csr 6.1 2007]

The recruitment and exploitation of young people by traveling door-to-door magazine subscription sales organizations continues. This seems clear from interviews with more than 50 current and former members about their lives “on the road” in a lengthy account of the current state of the “industry” responsible for 2–3 percent of all magazine subscriptions nationwide, worth $147 million in 2005. One recent high school graduate tells how he and his crew worked 10–14 hours a day, six days a week, living three to a room in cheap motels, with the lowest ‘producer’ for the day sleeping on the floor. They survived some days on less than $10 in food money, while their earnings were kept ‘on the books’ for later payment, which often amounted to very little, thanks to expenses they incurred in the course of their service. Former and current members of such crews tell similar stories that include accounts of violence, drug use, indebtedness, cheating of customers, travel in unsafe vehicles, and more. They relate how work in the group can become more a lifestyle than a job, that fellow crew members come to be ‘family’, and that ‘negativity’ is punished. A young saleswoman tells how she remained with the group for months after she was raped because, she says, “I believed my manager when he said he would never let that happen again, and I believe him when he said my mom had told him she didn’t care about me.” In some groups, ‘enforcers’ beat those who complain, and even those who do not meet their quotas. The number of door-to-door magazine subscription sales crews seems to be increasing nationwide, thanks to the decline in phone solicitations. [csr 6.1 2007]

Maia Szalavitz, writing in STATS (George Mason University, 1/22/07), says that a recent Wall Street Journal article on Scientology’s Second Chance Program (SCP) for drug offenders in New Mexico — which received a $350,000 federal grant — failed to deliver on the Journal’s editorial wish that reader’s “experience the increased focus [of Journal stories] on interpretation, insight, and ideas.” Szalavitz says the article contained nothing about the enormous body of literature from which one can infer that Scientology methods are not those typically found successful in treating drug addiction, and that by neglecting these modalities, Scientology and Second Chance therapies may be harmful. . . Chief Albuquerque district judge William Lang, a member of AA who supports traditional treatment, does not want his subordinate judges to sentence inmates to the Scientology-linked Second Chance drug treatment program. His predecessor, W. John Brennan, who Judge Lang tried unsuccessfully to have unseated in 2002, and who resigned after pleading guilty to drunk driving and cocaine possession in 2004, was hired by Second Chance to persuade fellow judges to order prisoners into the program. Brennan took some of the Second Chance treatments himself. One of the world’s leading experts on addiction treatment, William Miller, a retired University of New Mexico professor, says: “The components of SCP do not correspond to what we know from science about the nature of addiction and its effective treatment.” He also said, replying to a question about whether or not the program works: “We just don’t know.” [csr 6.1 2007]

Scientology
The German government has ordered security services to increase scrutiny of Scientology because it believes that the organization, which it considers a cult, is recruiting schoolchildren through its tutoring programs, which have tripled in number to at least 30 in the past year . . . Mark Foley, who recently resigned from the House of Representatives because he sent sexually suggestive email to teenage male House pages, was the beneficiary in May 2003 of a Scientology fund-raising event when he was considering running for the Senate. Scientology is vociferously anti-gay, and the fact that Foley is gay was well known in Washington. . . Scientology is set to open its largest center in Britain soon — a 50,000 square-foot City of London building it bought for £23 million, a testimony to the group’s growing wealth. The event is likely to feature famous Scientologists like John Travolta and Tom Cruise. . . Experts say paranoid schizophrenic Jeremy Perkins’ brutal 2003 murder of his mother might not have occurred if he had gotten proper treatment. But his parents, strict Scientologists, opposed psychiatric treatment because it is against their religion. Actor Tom Cruise, a Scientologist, has called psychiatry a pseudoscience. . . Brussels, Belgium, has refused to evict squatters from a property recently purchased by Scientology for its European headquarters. The mayor says the “only activity” of the church is to raise money from “idle people who can be tempted by their message,” and he says he’ll do anything he can to prevent Scientology from making Brussels its headquarters city. Said a Scientology representative: “It’s like something from the last century. It doesn’t fit with Brussels’s image as the capital of Europe.”[csr 5.3 2006]

Clearwater, FL, police arrested Scientologist Michael Fitzgerald in July on battery charges after he got into a fight with Shawn Lonsdale, who was filming a documentary about the group in front of its church. Now, posters have appeared in neighboring shop windows alleging that Lonsdale was once arrested for sex crimes. Lonsdale, admitting he was once charged with misdemeanors, says that Scientology is using this to frighten him and thus prevent completion of the documentary. . . Scientologists attached to the church’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights, carrying signs saying “Psychiatry Kills,” picketed the annual Comprehensive Review of Psychiatry meeting, in Niagara Falls, NY. The head of the University of Buffalo department of psychiatry said the picketers “have the same credibility as people who say they’ve been kidnapped by aliens in flying saucers.” . . . Narconon plans to open a 66-bed facility on 30 acres at a rural site in upper Bouquet Canyon the formerly housed a boarding school. Critics have questioned the efficacy of Scientology drug detoxification treatments. Scientology representatives say there will be no religious indoctrination. . . Scientology’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights in July protested a suicide prevention program at Littleton, MA, High School, saying it placed students on drugs unnecessarily and that drug companies stood to benefit from increased prescription drug use.[csr 5.3 2006]

The Fiji State Minister for Sports has welcomed a group of Scientology volunteers on a good will tour of the Pacific to help combat social ills that plague today’s world . . . Tom Cruise’s fiancé, Katie Holmes, was accompanied by a Scientology handler when she attended a “girls-only” party held by In Style magazine in August. According to a woman who was there, “Kate’s minder kept a watchful eye and a close distance at all times. It was so creepy! You really couldn’t talk to her openly and honestly. Katie looked dead in the eyes. She was not the same person she was before she met Tom.” . . . Scientology’s conversion of a 107-unit apartment building in Clearwater, FL, to serve as housing for church staff is moving forward. The plan is to add 500 additional staffers to the 1,400 currently residing in Clearwater, mostly members of Scientology’s elite Sea Org, who dedicate their lives to the organization, working long hours each day for a stipend of $75 a week, with a day off every two weeks.[csr 5.3 2006]

The British Value Added Tax (VAT) Tribunal has ruled, following a recent test case involving a car dealership, that the government Revenue and Customs department must pay £4.1 million to Scientology, money the group has overpaid since 1973. Scientology has fought for the last decade to gain charitable status, and therefore certain tax exemptions. The Charities Commission has always refused to recognize Scientology as a religion — it said it saw “no public benefit arising out of the practice of Scientology” — but tax authorities declared in 2000 that the church is a not-for-profit organization that does not have to pay the VAT. . . Scientology says that a pre-Katrina membership of 25 in its Lafayette, LA, church has more than doubled in the storm’s wake. Members, wearing trademark yellow T-shirts, helped victims with shelter, food, supplies, and counseling. . . A Scientologist accused of assaulting a church critic who was videotaping Scientologists on a sidewalk in Clearwater, FL, will not be prosecuted. The State Attorney says the evidence shows “pretty much mutual aggression.”[csr 5.3 2006]

A federal judge in Nebraska has ruled constitutional the state’s law mandating newborn blood screening, thus denying a suit brought by a couple saying the test would violate their Scientology religious beliefs. Nebraska, Montana, Michigan, and South Dakota are the only states that do not allow a religious belief exemption. Nebraska says the test is needed to prevent several diseases that can cause severe mental retardation or death if undetected — and because treatment of the diseases would impose a great burden of care on taxpayers. Scientologists believe that babies should simply have seven days of silence following birth. . . Scientology’s Narconon drug treatment program, operating in Nepal, says that 70 percent of drug addicts in the country are school children and that the drug sharing involved in teenage romance is central to the spread of addiction. . . Shawn Lonsdale continues to videotape the entrance to the church’s Clearwater headquarters, sometimes for ten hours a day, as he makes what he calls a “pseudo-documentary” about Scientology and its effect on downtown Clearwater for a local cable access program. Lonsdale, who once wanted to make a coffee table book on homeless people in the downtown area, first came into conflict with Scientology at a City Council meeting discussing redevelopment issues. When Scientologists followed him home and staked out his house, he became an implacable foe. Among other public displays, he has taped to the side of his nearby car, for all passersby, and entering Scientologists, to see, a sign reading, “OT I-VIII for free at xenu.net,” referring to paid Scientology study courses. Lonsdale logs daily onto anti-Scientology websites — where he is thought to be a hero — to share his daily experiences with the church . . . A study to determine whether Scientology’s Criminon program helps reform prisoners in the Oklahoma prison system claims that two-thirds of inmates at Mack Alford Prison who completed the program were not arrested for any crime within five years of release. . . Georgia State Senator Nancy Schaeffer, longtime opponent of mental health screening in schools, joined Scientology’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights at the ribbon cutting for an exhibition in Atlanta denouncing psychiatry as “an industry of death.” [csr 5.3 2006]

Scientology
Scientology has produced a set of six DVDs, three CDs, and several books presenting six lectures delivered by founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1958 at the Shoreham Hotel, in Washington, DC. The publication, said to have taken a million man hours to complete, has been translated into 15 languages, using subtitles, and includes an English interpretation for the deaf. . . . Scientologist Priscilla Presley will speak at the inauguration of the 120-bed Narconon Stone Hawk East residential drug treatment center in Albion, MI. . . . Scientology’s basic text, Dianetics, will sponsor a NASCAR racing team named “Ignite Your Potential.” Driver Kenton Gray says, “Through Dianetics I’ve handled stress and increased my performance and ability to compete — both on the track and in life.” [csr 5.2 2006]

Quebec advocates for the learning disabled are worried that Scientology — which condemns both psychiatry and the use of psychotropic drugs — may take over the current debate concerning a proposed class action suit challenging the use of Ritalin to treat attention deficit disorder among school children. Scientologist George Mentis is the head of an organization that is spearheading a separate $11 million lawsuit of a parent who says her son was harmed by Ritalin and Risperdal and alleges that his school virtually required him to take the drugs in order to be allowed to attend class. [csr 5.2 2006]

A Nebraska Scientology couple has filed a suit aimed to overturn the state law requiring the screening of a newborn’s blood for possible disease. They say the mandatory test would violate their freedom of religion. Scientologists believe that infants should have seven days of silence after birth, without pain or trauma that might affect the child’s mental and physical health later in life. All states have screening statutes, but only four, including Nebraska, do not allow an exemption based on religious beliefs. Officials say that later treatment of diseases not detected at birth strain families as well as taxpayers who must often pay for long-term care of the disabled.[csr 5.2 2006]

Scientology in Ireland, financially pressed to maintain defense of a suit against it brought by a former member, is being kept afloat by a 400,000 Euro interest-free loan from overseas members of the international organization. The debt of the Irish branch, which has drawn only a few hundred members in 18 years of operation, is now one million Euros.[csr 5.2 2006]

Milton James, executive director of the Florida chapter of Ebony Awakenings, a group of African-American Scientologists, has opened up a Church of Scientology Mission in Tampa, saying, “people need help,” and “the old stuff is not working.” He believes people become criminals because they “feel stupid or ignorant,” and Scientology can help them “see they have in their own grasp the ability to understand.” He wants to communicate his ideas especially to African-Americans. The President of the Southeast Seminole Heights Civic Association says, “I’m hearing a lot of grumbling. They [neighboring businesses] don’t want them [Scientologists] there.”[csr 5.2 2006]

Scientology plans to buy a historic building containing upscale shops and relocate its Pasadena establishment there to accommodate a bookstore, information center, classrooms, and a 250-seat chapel and meeting room.[csr 5.2 2006]

Scientologist Meier Ezra and Dr. Haim Mell, head of the Israeli government’s Anti-Drug Authority, are in Oklahoma to tour Scientology’s Narconon drug treatment center to evaluate its programs for possible use in Israel. Ezra says Narconon is already working well in Israeli prisons to end drug dependency.[csr 5.2 2006]

Today, more than three decades after it arrived to make the city it’s international headquarters, Scientology has become an “indelible, if still mysterious, part of Clearwater.” Some say the organization has cleaned up the once-decrepit downtown but others believe retail merchants who aren’t Scientologists, and people going through Clearwater, avoid downtown because of the church’s dominance there, where “masses of uniformed people [Scientologists] walk the streets, wearing belted green, navy, or russet pants and crisp white or pale blue shirts,” and move “in purposeful strides, with the quickened footsteps of people with a mission.” [csr 5.2 2006]

Scientology has received approval to open one of its Narconon drug treatment facilities in Leona Valley, in Southern California, on condition that the organization hold open houses and meet with the Town Council regularly to provide information about the center to residents. Some are opposed to the facility, fearing it would change Leona Valley’s small town atmosphere. . . Tel Aviv municipal authorities, impressed by their recent visit to Narconon facilities in the U.S., are enthusiastic about Scientology’s plan to establish one in the city, but the Health Ministry and the Israel Antidrug Authority have not yet approved the program. The head of the Authority says he sees nothing in the program indicating spiritual goals even though it was developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology’s related Criminon program has been established in Israeli prisons for five years. . . Scientology is now seeking legal recognition in Bulgaria. . . Following a nurse’s successful employment of the Scientology “Touch Assist” to relieve pain, learned at a Scientology workshop, the Vivekananda Polyclinic, in India, has introduced Scientology training at its nursing school. Lucknow University, meanwhile, has introduced Scientology’s “Technology of Study” to improve student learning.[csr 5.1 2006]

The creators of TV’s “South Park” have accused Scientologist Tom Cruise of instigating the producer’s yanking of a controversial episode that mocks him. Internet bloggers say Cruise told Paramount, which controls the series, that he would not promote his latest movie, “Mission Impossible 3,” a Paramount film, if the episode was aired. Scientologist Isaac Hayes, one of the cartoon show’s voices, quit recently, saying “South Park’s” view of Scientology was bigoted and intolerant. The creators responded, “This is 100 percent having to do with his faith in Scientology. He has no problem — and he’s cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians.” . . . Scientology’s seven-story block-long international headquarters “Flag Building” in Clearwater, FL, begun in 1999, remains unfinished, a virtual shell. The build-out is planned for his year. Scientology says it will also renovate other properties in town and build a 3,600-seat auditorium — L. Ron Hubbard Hall, named for the Scientology founder — adjacent to the Flag Building. . . . Officials say that the renewed effort at home comes naturally after a period of worldwide growth. . . . Scientology will soon open a “Life Improvement Center” in a downtown landmark building in upscale Plant City, FL. Some residents and businesses are upset at the prospect. Many say they don’t want Plant City to become another Clearwater. A local minister told his 3,000-member congregation to evangelize the Scientologists. The person who sold the property to Scientology, vilified by some for doing so, said he hadn’t known who the buyer was, since Scientology, as it often does, bought though an agent in order to avoid an inflated price.[csr 5.1 2006]

Scientology’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has developed close relationships with several Arizona legislators, through whom the organization is pursuing its national fight against the mental-health establishment. The CCHR, now supporting a bill to add more state oversight of clinical trials involving psychotropic drugs, has spent thousands on Hollywood trips for local legislators to attend Scientology galas. The head of psychiatry at Phoenix Children’s Hospital says the CCHR uses “fear and misunderstanding” that may deter people from getting psychiatric help. . . Neighbors in San Francisco’s Bohemian North Beach are supporting an ordinance that would prevent Scientology — or any religious group — from buying a historic building. Some locals fear that Scientology would aggressively sell religious material and disrupt the neighborhood’s “easy-going ways.” . . . Some Leona Valley, CA, residents are extremely upset at the prospect of a 66-bed drug rehab clinic proposed by Scientology’s Narconon organization. . . Scientology is opening a mission on the Gulf Coast, in Biloxi, MS, because, says a representative, “There have been so many Scientology volunteer ministers down here for Katrina relief work there was a reach [sic] to open a mission.” . . . Scientology is among critics of a Columbia University-developed program called TeenScreen, which is based on a voluntary questionnaire aimed to help identify youngsters with undiagnosed mental health problems. The program is now used at 44 sites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and in 460 schools in 42 states. Critics argue that the program leads to psychiatric care, including drug treatment. . . John T. Conway, who says that he is not a Scientologist but likes Scientology and the Scientology courses he has taken, is running for mayor of Dunedin, FL. [csr 5.1 2006]

Recruiting in New Orleans
Scientology volunteers have set up a tent in downtown New Orleans and are providing massages to disaster workers, and soldiers who are providing security, in the wake of hurricane Katrina. The “nerve assist,” as Scientology calls the treatment, “did me a lot of good,” said one soldier. “I’m not a member of the church, but I took some of the literature and I’ll look it over later.” (Thomas Hofnung, Liberation, France, Internet, 9/13/05) [csr 4.3 2005]

Critic Deported from Canada
Anti-Scientology electronics engineer Keith Henson, who fled a 2001 conviction and one-year prison sentence in the U.S. for interfering with a religion — among other things, he picketed Scientology for years — has been deported from Canada. Scientology, which allegedly hired private detectives to spy on Henson and his wife Ariel Lucas while they lived in Ontario, are suing her for her half of the Henson’s former home in the U.S. as part of bankruptcy proceedings that stemmed from their crushing litigation with the organization. [csr 4.3 2005]

Henson, whose request for refugee status Canada turned down in 2004, says that Scientologists, having falsely characterized him as a child molester and bomb expert, tipped Toronto-area police about a “dangerous fugitive” seen at a local mall. Authorities sent a SWAT team to arrest Henson and held him in maximum security for 12 days. [csr 4.3 2005]

“This fight [with Scientology over the years] has ruined us financially,” Lucas says. “They have made it as tough for us as they possibly could.” Yet, “I feel we should be standing up to (them) because, when you talk to former members who have lost everything, we know they’re the people we’re fighting for.” Henson thinks he may go to Arizona, where the law makes it difficult for bounty hunters [who might help Scientology enforce court decisions rendered elsewhere]. (Susan Gamble, Brantford Expositor, Ontario, Internet, 9/16/05) [csr 4.3 2005]

Scientology Name Removed as Co-sponsor of School Program
The Church of Scientology in Los Angeles has agreed to the request of school officials to remove its name from promotional material for a program on human rights at Jordan High School, in Watts, organized by the Scientology-affiliated Youth for Human Rights International. The officials had been unaware of the Scientology connection, a potential violation of the separation of church and state. (AP in San Jose Mercury News, Internet, 10/1/05) [csr 4.3 2005]

Paris Won’t Honor Cruise
The Paris municipal assembly has approved a resolution “never to welcome Tom Cruise, spokesman for Scientology and self-declared militant for this organization.” Last month, Cruise was made an honorary citizen of Marseilles. French authorities view Scientology as a dangerous cult. (AFP in Tahoo! News, Internet, 7/12/05) [csr 4.3 2005]

Harvard Professor Refuses Scientology Film Interview
Harvard Medical School clinical professor Dr. John Abramson refused a filmmaker’s request to interview him for a documentary focused on human rights abuses of the mental health system. He demurred when he learned that Scientology was behind the effort. Abramson, author of Overdosed America, said: “I have nothing against Tom Cruise. It’s the absolute position against the drugs that I don’t want to be associated with.” He added that drugs benefit some people. (Jessica Heslam, Boston Herald, Internet, 7/19/05) [csr 4.3 2005]

Belgian Minister Refuses Recognition
Laurette Onkelinx, the Belgian justice minister, has refused to consider recognizing Scientology as an official religion and therefore eligible for the government subsidy enjoyed by Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican churches, as well as Islamic and Jewish religious institutions. She is, however, considering Buddhism and the Armenian Church. (La Libre Belgique, Internet, 7/19/05) [csr 4.3 2005]

Allegedly Financing NYC Candidate
The New York Post alleges that Scientology members have donated almost $100,000 to Councilmember Margarita Lopez, who is running for the Lower East Side (New York City) seat now held by C. Virginia Fields. The Post says an e-mail sent in August stated that the contributions would “pay dividends.” Another candidate’s campaign manager called on Lopez, who is openly gay, to explain her relationship to Scientology, “an organization,” he said, “founded in part on a hateful, anti-gay philosophy whose founder wrote that gays and lesbians should be ‘taken from the society as rapidly as possible and uniformly institutionalized.’ ”[csr 4.3 2005]

The Post article also suggested that Lopez earmarked money for Scientology’s New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, which Lopez says helped her after 9/11. (James Withers, New York Blade, Internet, 8/5/05) [csr 4.3 2005]

Spotlight on Cruise Spikes Interest in Scientology
The Internet search engine company Lycos says that ‘Scientology’ became one of the top 50 search terms in June, reflecting a 260 percent increase in interest, which Lycos attributes to Tom Cruise’s highly publicized relationship with actress Katie Holmes. (Kari Huus, MSNBC, Internet, 6/24/05) [csr 4.3 2005] 

Cruise Allegedly Harming Mental Health Delivery
The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) charges that Tom Cruise’s “destructive, anti-mental health comments [he is a spokesman for the virulently anti-psychiatry Church of Scientology] . . . fuel an already intense stigma associated with mental illness that can force people with real needs to go without care. . . The gap between the number of adults and children with mental health needs and those receiving treatment will certainly widen if people are dissuaded from seeking treatment because of such visible misinformation. (NMHA News Release, Internet, 6/24/05) [csr 4.3 2005]

Copyright Case Dropped
Just before the Dutch Supreme Court was to deliver a verdict, Scientology settled its complaint that Karin Spaink illegally hyperlinked to copyrighted church material. Spink wants the case to continue in order to establish a freedom of speech precedent for the Internet and Internet service providers. Scientology has since 1995 pushed legally to prevent its material from being published, but courts have consistently ruled in favor of Spaink and other Internet providers. (Jan Libbenga, The Register, UK, Internet, 7/8/05) [csr 4.3 2005]

“Enlightenment’s Dark Side”
The Buffalo News has published a four-part report on the Church of Scientology entitled “Enlightenment’s Dark Side,” which reviews the philosophy, practices, and local activities of the organization. The series includes stories of individuals in the Buffalo area who say they, or people they know, have been harmed by Scientology.

One account relates how Scientology parents, conforming to Scientology’s anti-psychiatry policy, rejected the use of psychotropic drugs to treat their schizophrenic son, who grew to share their medical views and in the end murdered his mother because he felt the vitamins she prescribed were harmful.[csr 4.2 2005]

The News report also tells how Rich and Anne-Marie Dunning became high-level church staff members before concluding that Scientology was an authoritarian, money making cult that brainwashes its followers. They say the church demanded absolute obedience to its policies and controlled members through a security system that included use of personal files, a lie detector-like device, and a system for informing on others, even spouses.[csr 4.2 2005]

The investigative report includes comments from Scientology critics explaining how the organization used the law, and other means, to harass and silence them. (Mark Sommer, Buffalo News, Internet, 1/30, 1/31, 2/1, 2/2/, 05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Community Acceptance
Scientology is slowly gaining acceptance in Clearwater, FL, the spiritual base of an organization that has had a contentious history with the local community since establishing there in the 1970s. Scientology now owns much of the downtown area, which it is developing, and is involved in many local organizations. “It has been a long, grueling road for them,” says Mary Repper, a retired political consultant and lobbyist hired by Scientology to help improve its image. “But I think the stigma is gone.” [csr 4.2 2005]

The Rev. William Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, says, however: “Most people in Clearwater look at it in a cult-like fashion. Certainly, those of us who are evangelical Christians view it as a big, worldwide cult. . . They have a very soft, clever, subtle approach.”[csr 4.2 2005]

Clearwater’s mayor says the shift from rejection to acceptance has gone from zero or one to four or five on a scale of ten. (Paul Nussbaum, KRN via Philadelphia Inquirer, Internet, 3/13/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Medical Association Supports Dropping Narconon from Schools
Speaking of the California Medical Association’s support for state school districts that have dropped Scientology’s Narconon drug education course, Dr. Charles Wibblesman, chief of the teenage clinic for Kaiser Permanente, in San Francisco, says: ”The idea is to remove any agency that goes into our schools to teach without evidence for what they are teaching—this cannot be allowed.” (Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, Internet, 3/27/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Scientology Supported Mental Services Bill Diluted
A bill being considered by a committee of the Florida House of Representatives to limit the use of psychotropic drugs to treat children has been made less stringent than it was when first introduced despite testimony from “star” Scientologists Kirstie Alley and Kelly Preston, who vehemently argued Scientology’s hostility toward psychiatry and psychotropic drugs. The bill would have required a school to tell parents that there are no medical tests to diagnose mental illness and that a mental disorder diagnosis would go on a student’s permanent record. The bill now simply prohibits schools from denying services to children who refuse psychotropic drugs, thus mirroring a federal law passed last year. (Alisa Ulferts, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 4/20/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Narconon Buys Hospital
The two-year-old Stone Hawk rehabilitation center, run by Scientology’s Narconon drug treatment program, near Battle Creek, MI, has purchased the bankrupt former Trillium Hospital, in Albion, for use as a 100-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. The CEO of Foote Hospital, which earlier took over the failed Trillium, said Stone Hawk has “proven to be a tremendous neighbor and business partner in the Battle Creek community.” (Bradley Flory, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Internet, 4/26/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

End of Surveillance
A court in Germany’s Saarland has, on appeal, ordered an end to seven years’ surveillance of the 20 Scientologists in the state, saying wiretaps and infiltrators had found no significant evidence of subversion or bullying of former members who renounced the group. (Expatica, Internet, 4/27/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Narconon in State Prison
Hundreds of inmates with mental illness at California’s high-security Corcoran State Prison have participated in the Criminon International rehabilitation program, which is affiliated with Scientology, an organization that rejects traditional mental health care. Experts both inside and outside the prison system worry that Criminon, which seems to have been operating at Corcoran State for 15 years, as well as in other state prisons, might undermine the work of licensed clinicians working with inmates. (Sharon Waxman, New York Times News Service, in San Diego Union-Tribune, Internet, 5/1/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Prison officials are reviewing the program, which opens with readings from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s book, “The Way to Happiness,” and includes the advice to presenters to get prisoners off psychiatric drugs. “Most of the time this is a ploy to keep the inmates sedated so that they don’t cause trouble,” according to the manual. One official involved in prison mental health said Criminon has operated without any oversight by mental health experts. He emphasized that state treatment “is based on research and empirical data . . . [and] subjected to the rigors of the scientific standard . . . Theirs is not. The more that is being uncovered, the more disturbing it is.”[csr 4.2 2005]

Scientology’s aim, according to professor Stephen Kent, of the University of Alberta, “is to destroy psychiatry and replace it with Scientology’s own treatments. If inmates, through Criminon . . . adopt Scientology’s rigid ideological stance against psychiatry, then mental health professionals within the prison and parole system are at risk.” (Dan Morainbe, Los Angeles Times, Internet, 5/29/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Cruise’s Promotion of Scientology Overshadows Film
Tom Cruise’s promotion of Scientology programs, during public appearances ostensibly aimed to promote his new film, “War of the Worlds,” may be eclipsing his Hollywood career, and studio heads are concerned. The poster for the film clearly resembles the cover of a book written by [Scientology founder] L. Ron Hubbard. [csr 4.2 2005]

Cruise’s recent preoccupation with publicizing Scientology coincided with the firing of his long-time publicist and replacing her with his sister, Lee Ann De Vette [also a Scientologist].[csr 4.2 2005]

According to members of the church, Cruise has reached the sixth of Scientology’s eight Operating Thetan levels, and is therefore trusted enough to know almost all of the “secret truth of the universe.” (Andrew Gumbel, The Independent, UK, Internet, 6/3/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Anti-Psychiatry Campaign in Germany
Scientology in Germany has launched a campaign against psychiatry, blaming the Holocaust on psychiatrists and saying that Freud was a drug-abusing promoter of promiscuity whose theories “have been largely disproved.” Abraham Foxman, of the U.S. Anti-Defamation League, echoed the sentiments of German Jewish leaders when he said that by “accusing psychiatry of utilizing the techniques and tactics of Nazism during the Shoa [Holocaust],” they “are abusing it for their own purposes. It’s offensive, insensitive, and inappropriate.” (Toby Axelrod, JTA, Internet, 6/4/05)[csr 4.2 2005]

Schools Superintendent Asks Scientologists for Help
Speaking to a gathering convened by the Scientology-inspired Florida Citizens for Social Reform, at the church’s Fort Harrison Hotel, Pinellas County, FL, schools superintendent Clayton Wilcox called on Scientologists to join in helping the district solve its problems. Members of the local political elite who attended the meeting included three school board members, two state representatives, the sheriff, a judge, and a Clearwater City counselor.

The audience, mostly Scientologists, responded very favorably to Wilcox’s espousal of educational philosophies that seemed congruent with the teaching of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. (Thomas C. Tobin, St. Petersburg Times, 6/5/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Evaluating Scientology Detox
If most experts in the field state that Scientology’s detoxification program is ineffective, why do many participants, including some firefighters affected by fallout from the World Trade Center collapse, feel that it has helped them? A psychological argument rather than a physiological one may explain the program’s successes. This is so because there is a similarity between the Scientology program and purification rituals found in many religious and cultural traditions in which cleansing the body helps achieve spiritual renewal.[csr 4.1 2005]

The language used by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who developed Scientology’s program, seems related to the language of psychotherapy, as when, for example: detox patients are said to experience “manifestations of old traumas, or toxins; when they taste or smell long-forgotten chemicals or drugs; or when they re-experience symptoms, allergies, and wounds that “turn off” again when toxins are “flushed” from the body. “Hubbard himself was notoriously hostile to psychiatry; but what his method seems to offer is a potent physiological analogue to talk therapy.” (Amanda Schaffer, Slate, Internet, 10/21/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Moving in on Tragedy Town
Twenty Scientologists have been ordered out of Beslan, Republic of North Ossetia, and forbidden to offer their religious and psychological services in the region. They arrived in the wake of the terrorist carnage at an elementary school, saying they were psychologists, and advertised for people to come to their “spiritual aid centre.” Beslan leaders, as well as doctors, mainline clergy, and law enforcement officials were wary of the arrival of Scientology and other new sects in town following the tragedy. [csr 4.1 2005]

Specialists from the Serbski Institute, who have been working with Beslan residents, say that under Scientology influence “people develop an increased sense of aggression, an inadequate reaction to the surrounding world, and people and children are subject to negative emotional outbursts. People become uncontrollable.” (ITAR-TASS from BBC Monitoring the Former Soviet Union, Internet, 10/16/04; Moscow News, Internet, 10/22/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Active in Hungary
The political opposition warns that Scientology, registered as a church but known worldwide as a business that resembles a cult, is at least indirectly involved in a number of Hungarian companies, including several working on a residential park in Nagyknizsa. Some of the firms apparently employ the WISE business management system, developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. In addition, the local railway headquarters used a Scientology course and test for its workers, which caused a “scandal.” Scientology also advertised language courses in local schools until the mayor banned the activity. (Magyar Menzet, Internet, 10/26/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Subway Celebration Poster Promotes Scientology
A poster celebrating the 100th anniversary of the New York subway seems mainly to promote Scientology programs. The poster, depicting a crowded Times Square subway station, contains a call to visit the Scientology Purification Center, and the addresses of a variety of Scientology websites festoon T-shirts and shopping bags in the picture. The poster is the work of author-artist Kathy Jakobson, a Scientologist, who also has included in the poster a plug for her new children’s book. A spokesman for the New York Transit Authority said the poster depicts the “actuality of Times Square and what is going on there. We have no reason to believe she tried to work in Scientology references.” (Gwen Moritz, Daily News, 10/29/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Surveillance to Continue
A German court has rejected an appeal from the Church of Scientology to end surveillance of its activities by domestic security services. The court said that some Scientology activities were “contrary to the foundations of democracy” and went against human rights. In its last report, in 2003, security services said Scientology influenced members in a way “hostile to the constitution.” (AFP, Internet, 11/11/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Treating Norwegian Addicts
The Norwegian government has spent a great deal of money sending drug addicts to Scientology’s Narconon treatment center in Denmark. A consultant at Norway’s Health West said his office was honoring existing agreements with Narconon but has no current relationship with the organization. The head of the Narconon Denmark office says Narconon, which cured him, is non-religious and independent of the church. “We have clients that become Scientologists when they complete treatment. Maybe they think like I do, that if just a tiny part of Hubbard’s technology can free them of addiction, what could all of his teaching do?” (Jonathan Tisdall, Aftenposten [Norway], Internet, 12/1/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Growth Claimed in Copenhagen
Scientology says that an average of 560 people a week during November attended films and lectures introducing them to the new age religious movement. Most of the activity took place in Copenhagen, the organization’s European headquarters. [csr 4.1 2005]

The Copenhagen Bishop, Erik Norman Svendsen, criticizes Scientology, saying: “Their entire mythology is so absurd that even a bishop has to object. You can debate whether Scientology is a religion or a business — but it’s the latter, in any event. This sect has resisted all attempts to submit to any regulation or control, which is the very reason why it has not been formally recognized (in Denmark) as a religious denomination. So for that reason, I’m highly skeptical of their new numbers [of attendance].” (Copenhagen Post, Internet, 12/3/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Scientology is able to recruit public school students in Copenhagen because teachers are taking them to the group’s centers as part of their required religious education curriculum. A Scientology spokesman says one class per week now attends, compared to one per month five years ago. “Schools are no longer as anxious about dealing with us, and they’re much more curious.” She said that every school in Denmark receives the Scientology periodical Freedom, and that many smaller groups of students visit Scientology centers on their own to work on school projects. [csr 4.1 2005]

Jens Faerk, chairman of the Danish Teachers Association’s headmasters’ section, criticized the teachers for visiting the centers. “Seeking out Scientology is a temptation to weak souls, and it’s these same weak souls that Scientology targets.” Jens Linderoth, Chairman of the Dialogcentret, which provides information to the public on new religious movements, says: “Teachers need to make clear that this [Scientology] is a movement with secrets that they won’t tell you about until you’ve climbed high in the hierarchy. Members risk losing all contact with their relatives and loved ones, and end up giving all of their money to Scientology.” (Copenhagen Post, Internet, December 2004) [csr 4.1 2005]

“Volunteer Ministers” Rejected
A group of Scientologists wearing coats bearing the words “Volunteer Minister” were told to go back behind police lines at the site of a still raging fire in downtown Chicago recently. A spokesman for the group, which critics call a cult, said the interlopers were looking for someone in charge “to find out what was needed and wanted.” A fire department chaplain said: “I threw ‘em out. If they want to minister to the people on the sidelines, that’s great . . . but they were standing in the triage and treatment areas and they were making total chaos in there.”[csr 4.1 2005]

One of the volunteers said Scientology would dispatch people to other fires and disasters, as they had to Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, to “assist” the injured or traumatized with special techniques. (Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times, Internet, 12/9/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Praying with Victims
Scientologists set up a tent and prayed with the relatives of missing children as authorities searched for the youngsters’ bodies following a flash flood near Johannesburg, South Africa. (Jonathan Ancer, Lee Rondaganger, and Shaun Smillie, The Star, Internet, 12/10/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Cruise Promotes Nobel Concert
Tom Cruise referred with pride to his being a Scientologist as he co-hosted a Nobel Peace Prize Concert with Oprah Winfrey in Norway in December. “One of the things that we [Scientologists] believe is peace, freedom. I’m just proud to be here, and very proud to be a Scientologist here and to be part of this.” (Jeanette Walls, MSNBC News, Internet, 12/14/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Teaching Tibetan Monks
American Scientologist Agnes Barton and several of her co-religionists have conducted a series of workshops in Mysore, India, teaching Tibetan Buddhist monks easy techniques developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to help the body heal from injuries and accidents. She also held a series of workshops for students at colleges and universities in Mysore in conjunction with the Indo-Tibetan Friendship Society. (Star of Mysore, Internet, 12/21/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Scientology-Trained Monks Aid Victims
Tibetan Buddhist monks living in exile in India have arrived in the town of Nagapattinam to counsel victims of the tsunami, using the “Assist,” a method learned from Scientology and based on persuading people not to focus on a particular event. (AFP, Internet, 1/7/05) [csr 4.1 2005]

Assisting Australians
Scientology volunteers from the US have been assisting Australian efforts to preserve bodies of tsunami victims in Thailand. The leader of the Scientology team, Patrick Bundock, says his group has formed close bonds with the Australian police on the scene, and that they have counseled relief workers as well as victims. (AAP in The Australian, Internet, 1/2/05) [csr 4.1 2005]

Helping Psychiatric Patient
Rodney Yoder, who spent almost 15 years in an institution for the criminally insane after beating his wife, has gained his freedom thanks partly to the support of Scientology and Chicago attorney Randy Kretchmar, a Scientologist. They supported Yoder’s claim — he studied psychiatry while in confinement and mounted a campaign to gain his freedom — that he was a “psychiatric prisoner” who had been subjected to “forced psychiatry.”[csr 4.1 2005]

Prison officials argued that Yoder be admitted to a regular penal institution, and not simply released, because of his alleged violent outbursts. While in prison, Yoder wrote to judges and famous people, including Playboy’s Hugh Hefner, threatening to kill them. (Scott Moyers, Southeast Missourian, Internet, 1/16/05) [csr 4.1 2005]

Weight Loss Credit
Actress Kirstie Alley credits Scientology and Oprah Winfrey for giving her the fortitude to lose weight in 2005. Winfrey’s own diet, calculated to deal with heart palpitations, according to Alley, stimulated the actress, “so I went over to my Scientology center and did a little program.” Alley has become a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig and will try to lose 50 pounds by this summer. (Contactmusic.com, Internet, 1/13/05) [csr 4.1 2005]

Growing Presence in Downtown Clearwater
A St. Petersburg Times’ survey finds that Scientologists own more than 200 restaurants, shops, service outlets, and small businesses in and around downtown Clearwater, FL, the church’s international headquarters. In addition, some 900 condos and townhouses are to be developed in the area, mostly by Scientologists. (St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 9/9/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Prominent Clearwater Scientologists
Scientology lead spokesman Ben Shaw, son of a career Army officer, joined in 1971 and became a minister in 1978. His wife heads the church’s Flag Service Organization. Benetta Slaughter, one of the first Scientologists to gain acceptance among Clearwater civic leaders, and active in civic and social groups, is head of her own local publishing company and chief executive of Applied Scholastics International, in St. Louis, a learning program that uses teaching methods of L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s founder. Mary Storym from New Zealand, is a board member of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Boys & Girls Club while serving on the city’s Main Street Design and Promotions Committee, the Homeless Task Force, and the Economic Development Task Force of the Clearwater Arts Foundation. Elias Jafif, a native of Mexico, heads a private investment group planning a high-rise residential and retail project in downtown Clearwater. (St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 7/19/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Don’t Let them Take Over Clearwater
Church of Scientology documents seized by the FBI in 1977 outlined a plan to take over Clearwater, discredit enemies, and make the town the world’s first ‘Scientology city’ by 2000. A recent series of articles in the St. Petersburg Times indicate that the church is well on its way to achieving “domination” in Clearwater’s core, where there has been little investment by others.[csr 3.3 2004]

The population of Scientologists in the city is growing by 1,000 annually and members are “stitching themselves into the city’s civic and cultural fabric with volunteer work and memberships in non-Scientology organizations.[csr 3.3 2004]

“Clearwater could benefit from Scientology's energy and investment, but residents should not let the controversial organization take over downtown.” (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 7/25/05) [csr 3.3 2004]

Negative Downtown Image
The presence of the Church of Scientology establishment in downtown Clearwater, FL [the church’s international headquarters], is one reason voters have consistently rejected government plans to redevelop the city center, according to a recent survey. (Adrienne P. Samuels, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 6/9/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Consultants Help Build Community Connection
Scientology has hired a lawyer and public relations expert to help break down barriers to the acceptance of the organization in Clearwater, FL, site of Scientology’s international headquarters. Benetta Slaughter, a charismatic businesswoman deeply involved in the community, was recently elected to the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors following an appeal by board member Ed Armstrong, a prominent citizen and attorney who represents Scientology. [csr 3.3 2004]

Board members were concerned that some rank and file members might quit, protesting Slaughter’s nomination — as one of them had when Armstrong himself was nominated two years ago. But Armstrong told them: “Think if there is a legitimate reason for opposing her or if it’s only because of religion. Think about that.”[csr 3.3 2004]

For Scientology, “it was yet another step in its long march toward acceptance in Clearwater. It also was another successful negotiation by the deft Armstrong, a noted real estate lawyer [Scientology is heavily invested in downtown real estate] who, along with former political consultant Mary Repper, opened many doors for the church.”[csr 3.3 2004] 

The church’s use of Armstrong and the other consultants is part of Scientology’s “safe pointing” strategy, developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, to woo community leaders. (Robert Farley, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 7/19/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Summer School Course at UW Based on Scientology Methods
A five-day summer course for children at the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac, entitled Study Technology, is based on the educational writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Experts who monitor Scientology say the course promotes Scientology religious beliefs and methods. One child says she found the course — which includes a section on how to use a dictionary effectively — boring. Her mother, who looked into Scientology on the Internet, called it junk science, and says that the methods did not make sense. Nonetheless, she allowed her daughter to finish the course. “This is the best time she’s had all summer. . . . You wouldn’t believe how much she learned from this class.”[csr 3.3 2004]

The teacher, who declined to state her religious background, said: “I’m teaching a study skills class — it’s a totally secular class.” The head of continuing education at the college is aware that the course is based on Hubbard’s methods, but said she observed the class and does not believe it promoted the church. [csr 3.3 2004]

Carnegie Mellon University professor David Touretzky, who has studied Scientology, said that course concepts are central to Scientology teachings, and that teaching them in public schools violates church-state separation. (Nahal Toosi, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Internet, 7/30/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

French President Turns Down Cruise
French President Jacques Chirac has refused Tom Cruise’s offer to visit the Elyseé Palace [the French White House]. Chirac was afraid Cruise would use the visit to promote his Scientology beliefs. But Chirac’s great rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, received Cruise, which occasioned great publicity. (The Times, London, from FAIR News, Britain, 2/2004, p. 7)[csr 3.3 2004]

Play About Founder Hubbard
Maureen FitzGerald has written Moonchild, a “quasi-historical living-room comedy” based on the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. According to press releases, the production, which was to have run from August 14–28 this year at the Access Theater, on lower Broadway, “examines the relationship between a young, broke, and struggling Hubbard and the brilliant, half-crazed rocket scientist Jack Parsons, a Satanist and disciple of the infamous Aleister Crowley.” The playwright “speculates on how a meeting between two of the twentieth century’s most controversial figures led to the birth of a multi-billion dollar empire. (Robert Simonson, Playbill, Internet, 8/4/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Whenever the Hubbard character is by himself he practices his mantras, written on index cards, and chants to himself: “You are courageous,” “You are charismatic.” Ultimately, Moonchild “is a smart (and given the Scientologists’ legal department, brave) farce betraying a real affection for shallow, power-hungry flakes up to no good.” (Ada Calhoun, New York Times, Internet, 8/15/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Google Scrutinizes Scientology Ads
Internet search engine Google’s recently disclosed advertising policy tells employees to make sure Scientology ads clearly say they come from the church, presumably so named in the policy. Also rejected: ads “bashing” politicians, abortion ads that refer to religion, hacker sites and spam software, and uncertified online pharmacies. (Verne Kopytoff, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/9/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Detox Program Charges
Scientology says it’s planning to charge $5,000 for its heretofore free detoxification program offered to people officially involved in the 9/11 rescue effort. The group’s New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project — partly funded by Scientologist Tom Cruise — wants to get a $1 million government grant to test whether or not the program works. Experts in such matters say it doesn’t. (Heather Gilmore, New York Post, Internet, 8/15, 04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Film Critical of Scientology
Infernal Bridegroom Productions has released a film entitled Me-sci-ah, by Troy Schulze, a “merciless ribbing” of actor Tom Cruise’s involvement in Scientology. The movie is based on “found” materials — interviews given by Cruise, Scientology materials, and other sources — that “debunk” Scientology and founder L. Ron Hubbard. The film suggests that Cruise was Scientology’s savior in the 1980s, when it was [allegedly] deep in debt and besieged by lawsuits. (Everett Evans, Houston Chronicle, 10/15/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Warns of Scientology Recruiting
The Jerusalem-based cult-watching group Yad L’Achim warns residents that Scientology is attracting religious women from the Shaarei Hessed neighborhood to an office nearby that offers a course entitled “Scientology.” Although she denies any connection to Scientology, the director, according to the Scientology main office in Tel Aviv, represents the organization.

Yad L’Achim says Scientology tells those who respond to its ads for secretaries that if they want to be hired they have to take a course in “dianetics,” which is central to the belief and practice of Scientology. A justice of the Victoria, Australia, Supreme Court called Scientology “evil,” and a former British Minister of Health said it was socially harmful. (Israel National News, Internet, 8/25/05) [csr 3.3 2004]

Narconon Banned
Scientology’s anti-drug program, Narconon, has been banned from the San Francisco school system, despite revisions in content, due to continuing concerns about its scientific accuracy. Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has, however, commissioned an outside scientific appraisal and might reverse her decision if the report is positive. [csr 3.3 2004]

Ackerman became concerned when she learned that Narconon lectures reflected Scientology beliefs about drugs and anatomy. Five addiction specialists told the Chronicle that Narconon introduced students to some of the beliefs and methods of Scientology without their knowledge. The unrevised program directed the Narconon speaker to lead students in thanking Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard for the program. (Nanette Asmov, San Francisco Chronicle, Internet, 8/25/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Narconon Program Threatened
The San Francisco school system is threatening to end the Scientology-linked Narconon anti-drug program unless it stops teaching inaccurate and misleading information. The system’s health education staff does not want the program to continue to make sweeping generalizations that all drugs are bad, or to claim that drugs are stored in body fat for years, where they allegedly cause repeated flashbacks and drug cravings until “sweated out.” [Scientology offers the public a program to achieve this.] Addiction physicians say there is no scientific evidence to support such claims. Indeed, the concepts in the program are straight out of the Church of Scientology, including medical theories that some addiction experts describe as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘pseudoscience.’ ”[csr 3.3 2004]

Superintendent Arlene Ackerman says: “The fact that (Narconon) is addressing drugs is a positive. But some of the facts that they were teaching the kids support a philosophical or religious belief, as opposed to science, so we had to say ‘no.’ ” Ackerman became interested in the issue when the San Francisco Chronicle asked her questions about the program.[csr 3.3 2004]

Scientology has replied to the demand for change by saying: “There is sound science behind the basic truths we present to children,” and, “Let’s be frank. Do you seriously think we will do better (with students) if we just parrot what others are saying and do not offer a fresh point of view?” (Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, Internet, 6/9,10/04; Mitch Earleywine, San Francisco Chronicle, Internet, 6/14/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Workshop in Nigeria
The Education Tax Fund of Nigeria organized a six-day workshop in Lagos in August on “Applied Scholastics Teaching Technology Training.” [Applied Scholastics is a Scientology program.] Attendees at the workshop, organized by the consulting firm of McCrae & Co. and addressed by the Nigerian Minister of State for Education, included directors of education, senior school administrators, and classroom teachers. One of the goals of the workshop training was “to expose participants to modern pedagogical skills developed by the Association for Better Living and Education, a non-governmental organization based in the United States of America.” (Bukola Ogunnowo, The Day [Lagos], Internet, 8/25/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Against Mental Health Funds
Proposition 63 on the November ballot in Santa Cruz, CA, asked for approval of a one percent tax on taxable personal income in order to prevent mental health services from further deteriorating. Scientology’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights [known for its campaigns against traditional mental health delivery systems] loudly opposed the measure, on the ground that passage would cause tax increases in other areas. (Brian Seals, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Internet, 8/25/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Cruise Seems Out of Control
Tom Cruise was so vehemently opposed to psychiatry and drug therapy when he expressed his Scientologist’s hostility to traditional mental health treatment that “I start to feel nervous [during a long interview] and not a little agitated; no examples from me and my friends who have benefited from therapy or Prozac will be allowed in discussion here.” [Mike Goodridge, Evening Standard [UK], 8/19/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Wins Claim against Former Member for Public Disclosures
A Marin County, CA, judge has agreed with Scientology that former member Gerry Armstrong breached a 1986 settlement — he received $800,000 to drop a harassment suit against the organization — by continuing to make public information he gained as a Scientology insider and by speaking out against the church. [csr 3.3 2004]

Armstrong is now ordered to pay Scientology $500,000 in restitution. This, added to $300,000 previously awarded the church from Armstrong, equals the amount Scientology paid in its original settlement with him. Armstrong, who now lives in Canada, says he will never pay the judgment. “I will outlast them, he added” (Nancy Isles Nation, Marin Independent Journal, Internet, 4/10/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Call for Tax Agreement with IRS to Be Made Public
“The Church of Scientology may routinely operate by shrouding its practices, but its interactions with the government should be a matter of public record. Taxpayers need to know if they are being treated fairly and whether the IRS, as Judge Silverman queried, has made Scientologists its ‘chosen people.’ ” [csr 3.3 2004]

In 1993 the Church of Scientology came to an agreement in a tax dispute with the Internal Revenue Service that revolved around the issue of tax exemption for certain activities of religious organizations. A Jewish couple sued the IRS to get the same kind of tax deduction for the religious education of its children that Scientologists get for “training” and “auditing” costs paid to Scientology. Two years ago, the suit was denied, although the court criticized the secrecy of the Scientology-IRS agreement and one judge encouraged litigation of Scientology’s special tax exempt status, which seems to give preferential treatment to one religion. The couple is now back in court challenging the apparent disparity. [csr 3.3 2004]

“The response to this disparity should not be an expansion of tax deductibility for religious training but closer scrutiny of ‘auditing’ sessions with counselors.[csr 3.3 2004]

“As to the ‘secret’ agreement between the IRS and Scientologists, it is time to open that document to the public. The law demands special disclosures by tax-exempt organizations such as churches; and the public has a right to know the details of any agreement relative to a church’s tax exemption.” (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 3/25/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Establishing in Boston Neighborhood
Scientology has set up a storefront outlet in Boston’s [largely black] Codman Square neighborhood saying it will offer free adult and child literacy tutoring, drug education and prevention programs, and training for other clergy who want to help in the community. [csr 3.3 2004]

The director of a local health care center worries about Scientology’s “aggressive proselytizing,” while a caretaker at the nearby Church of the Nazarene says: “It bothers and scares me because I don’t think a lot of people here know what they are. They don’t tell the whole story when they recruit. They appeal to the needs of the community. But it’s just a way for them to get new members and more money.” (Jimmy Cronin, Boston Globe, 3/28/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Use of Public Space Draws Criticism
The Catholic Church in Birmingham, England, has criticized the city council’s decision to let Scientology use Centenary Square to launch its volunteer ministers’ center. The diocese said Scientology was “regarded by many as little more than a cult,” and noted the government had refused to accord the group charitable status. But the council said Scientology could use the square because it was not a banned or illegal organization. (James Cartledge, Evening Mail, Internet, 4/24/04)

Shock Therapy Trial
Officials at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital say that a civil trial to determine if shock therapy patient Victor Akkerman suffered permanent memory loss is an attempt by the Church of Scientology to shut down the electroshock therapy treatment center, the only one in several counties. [Scientology has long carried out a campaign against psychiatry and electroshock treatment.] Akkerman now lives alone, his wife having left him and his children saying they feel alienated from their father. (Chuck Schultz, Santa Barbara News-Press, 4/29/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Stars Open Scientology Center
Entertainment personalities David Pomeranz and Ernie Reyes recently visited Manila to open the new Hubbard Dianetics Center and Church of Scientology. Both stars say Scientology has helped their professional and personal lives greatly. (Shirley Pizarro, Manila Bulletin, Internet, 5/14/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Settlement in McPherson Case
Scientology recently settled out of court — on terms undisclosed — the wrongful death suit brought by the estate of former member Lisa McPherson, who died in 1995 in the church’s custody while receiving medical treatment. The suit generated “nightmarish” publicity for the church for a number of years, and a lengthy trial would have drawn international media attention. “It’s over,” said a church spokesman. “We look forward to the future and carrying out our mission of helping people attain spiritual freedom.” (Robert Farley, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 5/29/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

What Was Nature of McPherson Settlement?
Regarding the recent settlement of the bitter and protracted suit brought against Scientology by the estate of Lisa McPherson, the Scientologist who died while in the church’s care: “At one point the church is reported to have agreed to settle for $20,000, and the estate wanted $80 million. Where on that scale did the settlement fall? With the church’s spiritual headquarters in Clearwater and with its presence in Tampa expanding, that is a question of legitimate public interest.” (Editorial, Tampa Tribune, Internet, 6/4/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

To some, the settlement is the result of Scientology wearing down a critic in the course of litigation. To others, it was the church’s way of avoiding an embarrassing trial. California attorney Ford Green, who accused the church of mental abuse on behalf of a client for whom he won an $8 million settlement, said: “The church bought silence.” A trial would have given the public “a copious education of what Scientology is and how it operates. The millions of dollars that go out [in a settlement] aren’t nearly as much as the millions that don’t come in if they get bad press.” (Robert Farley, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 6/6/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

“The McPherson case and the avalanche of negative publicity it brought down on Scientology may be over, but the questions her death raised remain. How did she die? Was she kept in the Fort Harrison [building, Scientology headquarters] against her will? Why wasn’t she in a hospital? What doctrines and procedures of the Church of Scientology came into play during those 17 days [she was in its care]? (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 6/15/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Tom Cruise Opens Narconon Center
Scientologist Tom Cruise in June opened up a Scientology “detoxification” center in New York City dedicated to treating rescue workers exposed to toxic materials following the September 11 attack. Declaring that thousands are still suffering, he claimed the Scientology treatment is so effective that a center he opened in 2002 has been inundated with patients. (Agence France Presse, Internet 6/10/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Deficit in Ireland
Scientology in Ireland has a massive debt of 1.1 million Irish pounds, a rise from 17,755 pounds in a little over a year. The increase is due, according to a church director in Ireland, to settlement of suit brought by businesswoman Mary Johnson alleging conspiracy, misrepresentation, breach of constitutional right, and deliberate infliction of emotional harm. (Tom Lyons, Irish Independent, Internet, 6/15/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Office Open to Scientology Lobby
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is giving “gubernatorial courtesies and a level of entrée to his administration not even some lawmakers get,” including an audience to Jenna Elfman, co-star of the TV sitcom “Dharma and Greg.” She met with the Governor’s chief of staff to talk about Scientology and “drop off fliers.” Elfman said she wanted to introduce Scientology’s “non-religious” program, Criminon, an alternative for rehabilitating prison inmates based on the work of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. (Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, Internet, 6/20/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Scientology
Wins Claim against Former Member for Public Disclosures
A Marin County, CA, judge has agreed with Scientology that former member Gerry Armstrong breached a 1986 settlement — he received $800,000 to drop a harassment suit against the organization — by continuing to make public information he gained as a Scientology insider and by speaking out against the church. [csr 3.2 2004]

Armstrong is now ordered to pay Scientology $500,000 in restitution. This, added to $300,000 previously awarded the church from Armstrong, equals the amount Scientology paid in its original settlement with him. Armstrong, who now lives in Canada, says he will never pay the judgment. “I will outlast them, he added” (Nancy Isles Nation, Marin Independent Journal, Internet, 4/10/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Call for Tax Agreement with IRS to Be Made Public
“The Church of Scientology may routinely operate by shrouding its practices, but its interactions with the government should be a matter of public record. Taxpayers need to know if they are being treated fairly and whether the IRS, as Judge Silverman queried, has made Scientologists its ‘chosen people.’ ” [csr 3.2 2004]

In 1993 the Church of Scientology came to an agreement in a tax dispute with the Internal Revenue Service that revolved around the issue of tax exemption for certain activities of religious organizations. A Jewish couple sued the IRS to get the same kind of tax deduction for the religious education of its children that Scientologists get for “training” and “auditing” costs paid to Scientology. Two years ago, the suit was denied, although the court criticized the secrecy of the Scientology-IRS agreement and one judge encouraged litigation of Scientology’s special tax exempt status, which seems to give preferential treatment to one religion. The couple is now back in court challenging the apparent disparity. [csr 3.2 2004]

“The response to this disparity should not be an expansion of tax deductibility for religious training but closer scrutiny of ‘auditing’ sessions with counselors.[csr 3.2 2004]

“As to the ‘secret’ agreement between the IRS and Scientologists, it is time to open that document to the public. The law demands special disclosures by tax-exempt organizations such as churches; and the public has a right to know the details of any agreement relative to a church’s tax exemption.” (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 3/25/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Establishing in Boston Neighborhood
Scientology has set up a storefront outlet in Boston’s [largely black] Codman Square neighborhood saying it will offer free adult and child literacy tutoring, drug education and prevention programs, and training for other clergy who want to help in the community.

The director of a local health care center worries about Scientology’s “aggressive proselytizing,” while a caretaker at the nearby Church of the Nazarene says: “It bothers and scares me because I don’t think a lot of people here know what they are. They don’t tell the whole story when they recruit. They appeal to the needs of the community. But it’s just a way for them to get new members and more money.” (Jimmy Cronin, Boston Globe, 3/28/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Use of Public Space Draws Criticism
The Catholic Church in Birmingham, England, has criticized the city council’s decision to let Scientology use Centenary Square to launch its volunteer ministers’ center. The diocese said Scientology was “regarded by many as little more than a cult,” and noted the government had refused to accord the group charitable status. But the council said Scientology could use the square because it was not a banned or illegal organization. (James Cartledge, Evening Mail, Internet, 4/24/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Shock Therapy Trial
Officials at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital say that a civil trial to determine if shock therapy patient Victor Akkerman suffered permanent memory loss is an attempt by the Church of Scientology to shut down the electroshock therapy treatment center, the only one in several counties. [Scientology has long carried out a campaign against psychiatry and electroshock treatment.] Akkerman now lives alone, his wife having left him and his children saying they feel alienated from their father. (Chuck Schultz, Santa Barbara News-Press, 4/29/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Fear Drug Lecture May Lead to Recruiting
Some residents of Markbeech, Kent, England, are concerned that an anti-drug lecture by a person linked to Scientology may have been part of an attempt to recruit new members for the group and its drug rehab program. Graeme Raeburn, a local man who is a vice-president of the Royal College of Art Students’ Union, said: “The rehab involves complete surrender to the controlling people so effectively they [the recruits] are handing over their money and putting their complete belief into the Church of Scientology.” (Ian Read, This is Kent, Internet, 4/30/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Stars Open Scientology Center
Entertainment personalities David Pomeranz and Ernie Reyes recently visited Manila to open the new Hubbard Dianetics Center and Church of Scientology. Both stars say Scientology has helped their professional and personal lives greatly. (Shirley Pizarro, Manila Bulletin, Internet, 5/14/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Settlement in McPherson Case
Scientology recently settled out of court — on terms undisclosed — the wrongful death suit brought by the estate of former member Lisa McPherson, who died in 1995 in the church’s custody while receiving medical treatment. The suit generated “nightmarish” publicity for the church for a number of years, and a lengthy trial would have drawn international media attention. “It’s over,” said a church spokesman. “We look forward to the future and carrying out our mission of helping people attain spiritual freedom.” (Robert Farley, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 5/29/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

What Was Nature of McPherson Settlement?
Regarding the recent settlement of the bitter and protracted suit brought against Scientology by the estate of Lisa McPherson, the Scientologist who died while in the church’s care: “At one point the church is reported to have agreed to settle for $20,000, and the estate wanted $80 million. Where on that scale did the settlement fall? With the church’s spiritual headquarters in Clearwater and with its presence in Tampa expanding, that is a question of legitimate public interest.” (Editorial, Tampa Tribune, Internet, 6/4/04)[csr 3.2 2004]

To some, the settlement is the result of Scientology wearing down a critic in the course of litigation. To others, it was the church’s way of avoiding an embarrassing trial. California attorney Ford Green, who accused the church of mental abuse on behalf of a client for whom he won an $8 million settlement, said: “The church bought silence.” A trial would have given the public “a copious education of what Scientology is and how it operates. The millions of dollars that go out [in a settlement] aren’t nearly as much as the millions that don’t come in if they get bad press.” (Robert Farley, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 6/6/04)[csr 3.2 2004]

“The McPherson case and the avalanche of negative publicity it brought down on Scientology may be over, but the questions her death raised remain. How did she die? Was she kept in the Fort Harrison [building, Scientology headquarters] against her will? Why wasn’t she in a hospital? What doctrines and procedures of the Church of Scientology came into play during those 17 days [she was in its care]? (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 6/15/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Narconon Program Threatened
The San Francisco school system is threatening to end the Scientology-linked Narconon anti-drug program unless it stops teaching inaccurate and misleading information. The system’s health education staff does not want the program to continue to make sweeping generalizations that all drugs are bad, or to claim that drugs are stored in body fat for years, where they allegedly cause repeated flashbacks and drug cravings until “sweated out.” [Scientology offers the public a program to achieve this.] Addiction physicians say there is no scientific evidence to support such claims. Indeed, the concepts in the program are straight out of the Church of Scientology, including medical theories that some addiction experts describe as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘pseudoscience.’ ”[csr 3.2 2004]

Superintendent Arlene Ackerman says: “The fact that (Narconon) is addressing drugs is a positive. But some of the facts that they were teaching the kids support a philosophical or religious belief, as opposed to science, so we had to say ‘no.’ ” Ackerman became interested in the issue when the San Francisco Chronicle asked her questions about the program.[csr 3.2 2004]

Scientology has replied to the demand for change by saying: “There is sound science behind the basic truths we present to children,” and, “Let’s be frank. Do you seriously think we will do better (with students) if we just parrot what others are saying and do not offer a fresh point of view?” (Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, Internet, 6/9,10/04; Mitch Earleywine, San Francisco Chronicle, Internet, 6/14/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Tom Cruise Opens Narconon Center
Scientologist Tom Cruise in June opened up a Scientology “detoxification” center in New York City dedicated to treating rescue workers exposed to toxic materials following the September 11 attack. Declaring that thousands are still suffering, he claimed the Scientology treatment is so effective that a center he opened in 2002 has been inundated with patients. (Agence France Presse, Internet 6/10/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Deficit in Ireland
Scientology in Ireland has a massive debt of 1.1 million Irish pounds, a rise from 17,755 pounds in a little over a year. The increase is due, according to a church director in Ireland, to settlement of suit brought by businesswoman Mary Johnson alleging conspiracy, misrepresentation, breach of constitutional right, and deliberate infliction of emotional harm. (Tom Lyons, Irish Independent, Internet, 6/15/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Negative Downtown Image
The presence of the Church of Scientology establishment in downtown Clearwater, FL [the church’s international headquarters], is one reason voters have consistently rejected government plans to redevelop the city center, according to a recent survey. (Adrienne P. Samuels, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 6/9/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Office Open to Scientology Lobby
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is giving “gubernatorial courtesies and a level of entrée to his administration not even some lawmakers get,” including an audience to Jenna Elfman, co-star of the TV sitcom “Dharma and Greg.” She met with the Governor’s chief of staff to talk about Scientology and “drop off fliers.” Elfman said she wanted to introduce Scientology’s “non-religious” program, Criminon, an alternative for rehabilitating prison inmates based on the work of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. (Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, Internet, 6/20/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Display Dismissed as Unscientific
Scientology’s anti-psychiatry display in Palmerston North (New Zealand), set up outside a K Mart by Scientology’s Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights, was characterized as destructive propaganda by Professor Ian Evans, head of the School of Psychology at Massey University. Responding to the claim that psychiatry had been a failure for the past 300 years, Evans said: “A lot of people are receiving really first-class psychiatric care (in New Zealand). To try to vilify all psychiatry (with a display of this type) is really a mistake.” (Evening Standard (NZ), Internet, 7/2/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Anti-Psychiatry Tour
Scientology’s Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights’ traveling exhibition, “Broken Life: Psychiatry Exposed,” is finishing up a month-long run at St. Petersburg’s Peter and Paul Fortress and will soon move on to Moscow. The exhibition stresses the abusive treatment of children in Russian institutions for the mentally disabled and the mis-classification of many children as mentally ill. Some 10,000 people reportedly visited the exhibition and 600 signed a petition protesting alleged violence in Russian psychiatry. (Vladimir Kovalev, St. Petersburg Times, Russia, Internet, 7/16/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Consultants Help Build Community Connections
Scientology has hired a lawyer and public relations expert to help break down barriers to the acceptance of the organization in Clearwater, FL, site of Scientology’s international headquarters. Bennetta Slaughter, a charismatic businesswoman deeply involved in the community, was recently elected to the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors following an appeal by board member Ed Armstrong, a prominent citizen and attorney who represents Scientology. [csr 3.2 2004]

Board members were concerned that some rank and file members might quit, protesting Slaughter’s nomination — as one of them had when Armstrong himself was nominated two years ago. But Armstrong told them: “Think if there is a legitimate reason for opposing her or if it’s only because of religion. Think about that.”[csr 3.2 2004]

For Scientology, “it was yet another step in its long march toward acceptance in Clearwater. It also was another successful negotiation by the deft Armstrong, a noted real estate lawyer [Scientology is heavily invested in downtown real estate] who, along with former political consultant Mary Repper, opened many doors for the church.”[csr 3.2 2004]

The church’s use of Armstrong and the other consultants is part of Scientology’s “safe pointing” strategy, developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, to woo community leaders. (Robert Farley, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 7/19/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

Scientology
Group’s Program in Schools
Scientology is using fronts called “Drug Free Ambassadors” and “Kids for A Drug Free Future” to dupe Australian city councils in Frankston, Whitehorse, and Yarra into giving them information booths and stage time at family events. Booklets handed out by Scientology at the public Sea Festival look like government publications. A Scientology spokesman said: “I don’t think we need to say we’re Scientologists.” Scientology was outlawed in the state of Victoria in 1965 following an inquiry into its activities but was later allowed to operate again. (Liam Houlihan, Herald Sun, Internet, 1/31/04) [csr 3.1 2004]

Anti-Psychiatry Campaign
Scientology’s anti-psychiatry/anti-drug medication campaign has reached Massachusetts with the introduction of a bill in the State Senate, promoted by Scientology’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), that seeks to require doctors to provide parents with information from the Physician’s Desk Reference Family Guide to Prescription Drugs about a medication’s possible side effects. The bill would require a parent or guardian’s signature before prescribing Ritalin, Prozac, and other common psychotropic medications. The bill’s sponsor said he was unaware that a CCHR official had written it.[csr 3.1 2004]

The bill, which reflects Scientology’s opposition to medical treatment for mental illness, and has been almost unanimously rejected by the medical establishment, could delay treatment and discriminate against mentally ill patients, critics say. They add that the requirements would limit informed consent if doctors rely on an official information sheet rather than a lengthy dialogue with the patient about the medication.

Addressing the issue of side effects, the president of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society said: “There is a massive body of scientific evidence that shows that these disorders [that the drugs in question treat] have a medical basis and respond to medical treatment.” (Benjamin Gedan, Boston Globe, Internet, 3/4/04) [csr 3.1 2004]

Banned in Bashkortistan
The Supreme Court in the Bashkortistan region of Russia has banned the Scientology Dianetics Center in the city of Ufa because the Scientology “audit” or “confession” [in the words of the report] drives its congregants out of their minds. A psychiatrist at the Ufa Psychiatric and Neurological Clinic said that the Scientology processes led to specific psychiatric disturbances that destabilized mental health. A Scientology spokesman said psychiatrists want to make sure people don’t improve themselves and the world so that they, the psychiatrists, can control everything. The Scientology center remains open pending an appeal of the ban. (Russia TV, BBC Monitoring, Internet, 3/11/04) [csr 3.1 2004]

Court Challenge to Tax Break
In a case with great potential ramifications, a Jewish couple, Michael and Karla Sklar, has sued to deduct the cost of their five children’s religious education using the argument that the federal government has allowed such a tax deduction to Scientologists — and to members of no other religious organization. [csr 3.1 2004]

Scientologists were allowed the deduction under an officially secret 1993 agreement with the IRS [to settle tax claims], even though a 1989 Supreme Court ruling denied tax deductions for money paid as fees set by Scientology for its “auditing” and “training” services.[csr 3.1 2004]

The Sklars lost a similar case a decade ago, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (in Los Angeles) two years later also ruled against them. But in doing so the appeal judges said it appeared to be true that Scientology received preferential tax treatment in violation of the First Amendment. “Why is Scientology training different from all other religious training?” asked Judge Barry Silverman in his opinion. He replied that the question could not be answered immediately because the court was not dealing then with the question of whether or not “members of the Church of Scientology have become the IRS’s chosen people.” He went on to recommend litigation to determine whether the government is improperly favoring one religion.[csr 3.1 2004]

Scientology appears to argue that the activities for which its members are allowed to deduct fees are religious services, or observances, rather than the kind of religious education for which the Sklars have unsuccessfully claimed deductions. (David Cay Johnston, New York Times, 3/24/04) [csr 3.1 2004]

Group’s Program in Schools
Scientology is using fronts called “Drug Free Ambassadors” and “Kids for A Drug Free Future” to dupe Australian city councils in Frankston, Whitehorse, and Yarra into giving them information booths and stage time at family events. Booklets handed out by Scientology at the public Sea Festival look like government publications. A Scientology spokesman said: “I don’t think we need to say we’re Scientologists.” Scientology was outlawed in the state of Victoria in 1965 following an inquiry into its activities but was later allowed to operate again. (Liam Houlihan, Herald Sun, Internet, 1/31/04) [csr 3.1 2004]

Anti-Psychiatry Campaign
Scientology’s anti-psychiatry/anti-drug medication campaign has reached Massachusetts with the introduction of a bill in the State Senate, promoted by Scientology’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), that seeks to require doctors to provide parents with information from the Physician’s Desk Reference Family Guide to Prescription Drugs about a medication’s possible side effects. The bill would require a parent or guardian’s signature before prescribing Ritalin, Prozac, and other common psychotropic medications. The bill’s sponsor said he was unaware that a CCHR official had written it.[csr 3.1 2004]

The bill, which reflects Scientology’s opposition to medical treatment for mental illness, and has been almost unanimously rejected by the medical establishment, could delay treatment and discriminate against mentally ill patients, critics say. They add that the requirements would limit informed consent if doctors rely on an official information sheet rather than a lengthy dialogue with the patient about the medication. [csr 3.1 2004]

Addressing the issue of side effects, the president of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society said: “There is a massive body of scientific evidence that shows that these disorders [that the drugs in question treat] have a medical basis and respond to medical treatment.” (Benjamin Gedan, Boston Globe, Internet, 3/4/04) [csr 3.1 2004]

Banned in Bashkortistan
The Supreme Court in the Bashkortistan region of Russia has banned the Scientology Dianetics Center in the city of Ufa because the Scientology “audit” or “confession” [in the words of the report] drives its congregants out of their minds. A psychiatrist at the Ufa Psychiatric and Neurological Clinic said that the Scientology processes led to specific psychiatric disturbances that destabilized mental health. A Scientology spokesman said psychiatrists want to make sure people don’t improve themselves and the world so that they, the psychiatrists, can control everything. The Scientology center remains open pending an appeal of the ban. (Russia TV, BBC Monitoring, Internet, 3/11/04) [csr 3.1 2004]

Court Challenge to Tax Break
In a case with great potential ramifications, a Jewish couple, Michael and Karla Sklar, has sued to deduct the cost of their five children’s religious education using the argument that the federal government has allowed such a tax deduction to Scientologists — and to members of no other religious organization. [csr 3.1 2004]

Scientologists were allowed the deduction under an officially secret 1993 agreement with the IRS [to settle tax claims], even though a 1989 Supreme Court ruling denied tax deductions for money paid as fees set by Scientology for its “auditing” and “training” services.[csr 3.1 2004]

The Sklars lost a similar case a decade ago, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (in Los Angeles) two years later also ruled against them. But in doing so the appeal judges said it appeared to be true that Scientology received preferential tax treatment in violation of the First Amendment. “Why is Scientology training different from all other religious training?” asked Judge Barry Silverman in his opinion. He replied that the question could not be answered immediately because the court was not dealing then with the question of whether or not “members of the Church of Scientology have become the IRS’s chosen people.” He went on to recommend litigation to determine whether the government is improperly favoring one religion.[csr 3.1 2004]

Scientology appears to argue that the activities for which its members are allowed to deduct fees are religious services, or observances, rather than the kind of religious education for which the Sklars have unsuccessfully claimed deductions. (David Cay Johnston, New York Times, 3/24/04) [csr 3.1 2004] 

Members Release Group from Liability for Spiritual Healing
Scientology requires members who receive the church’s “spiritual assistance” to sign a release form and contract consenting “to participate in Scientology Religious Services and receive Spiritual Assistance under the terms, conditions, covenants, waivers, and releases I agree to by signing this contract.” [csr 2.3 2003]

The release was crafted in response to the wrongful death suit brought against Scientology by the family of Lisa McPherson, who died after 17 days in Church care for psychiatric problems [following her removal from a hospital to which she had been taken for evaluation].[csr 2.3 2003]

The signatory agrees that Scientology is exclusively religious in nature and “unalterably opposed, as a matter of religious belief, to the practice of psychiatry” and that mental problems are spiritual and should not be treated in non-religious ways. The contractor also agrees “to memorialize my desire to be helped exclusively through religious, spiritual means and not through any form of psychiatric treatment,” and not to be denied this no matter what the government, doctors, or family members say. Moreover, if forced to undergo any confinement or treatment, the signatory wants it understood that “I fully desire and expect that the Church or Scientologists will intercede on my behalf to oppose such efforts and/or extricate me from that predicament.”[csr 2.3 2003]

The signatory also agrees that if it is determined he or she should need psychiatric treatment, the treatment should be Scientology-based, which includes “being isolated from all sources of potential spiritual upset, including but not limited to family members, friends, or others with whom I might normally interact.” The signatory also agrees to the 24-hour presence of Scientologists during such treatment, which is indeterminate in length, and “I accept and assume all known and unknown risks of injury, loss, or damage resulting from my decision to participate in the Introspection Rundown and specifically absolve all persons and entities from all liabilities of any kind, without limitation, associated with my participation or their participation in my Introspection Rundown.”[csr 2.3 2003]

Finally: “I fully understand that by signing below, I am forever giving up my right to sue the Church, its staff, and any of the releasees named in the General Release I signed, for any injury or damage suffered in any way connected with Scientology religious services or spiritual assistance.” (Harper’s Magazine, Internet, 11/1/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

Scientology Declared Not Tax-Exempt
The Dutch High Court has ruled that the Church of Scientology is not “an institution for the common good” and is therefore not tax exempt, and payment to Scientology for courses or donations is not tax deductible. “Potential believers as well as full-fledged Scientologists from now on [according to this report] will think twice before they pay tens of thousands of Euros for Scientology courses.” [csr 2.3 2003]

The revenue service considers Scientology a business, regardless of whether or not it is a church, that the high rates charged for Scientology courses demonstrate a commercial intent, and that the way it recruits students can also be considered commercial.[csr 2.3 2003]

But the main reason revenue inspectors gave for the denial of exemption was that the “intent” and “content” of the courses aims mainly to solve “personal problems.” This means the goal is “individual” and for “personal benefit,” rather than the “common good.”[csr 2.3 2003]

Scientology argued that, with 19,000 members in Holland, it served the common good. But recent apostates say the number of active members is around 150.[csr 2.3 2003]

The High Court said further that it was up to Scientology, not government authorities, to prove that it serves the common good. Scientology is appealing the High Court decision to the European Court in the Hague (which rejected a similar appeal in the mid-1980s). (Sladjana Labovic and Bart Middelburg, Het Parool, Internet, 12/11/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

Mongolia Using Hubbard-Inspired Program
Representatives of Applied Scholastics (AS), in response to a request from the Speaker of the Mongolian Parliament, Tumor Ochi, have presented the learning methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard for use in the Asian country. S. Krishnan, the executive director of AS in Malaysia, says his office will work closely with the Mongolian Ministry of Education to develop an implementation strategy. (The Star, Malaysia, Internet, 10/19/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

Exodus from Netherlands Group
Fifty of some 150 core members of the Church of Scientology in the Netherlands have left the group, and high ranking Scientologists from overseas have flown in to deal with what Scientology documents allegedly call a “mutiny.”[csr 2.3 2003]

One cause of the recent exodus is reportedly a split between those who think only Scientology as it is now constituted can properly convey the teachings of founder L. Ron Hubbard, and those who think that Hubbard’s way can be achieved better, more enjoyably, and for less money, outside the church’s constraints. The “Independents” have started a movement with a website named www.ronsorg.nl, which stands for “Ron’s Organization and Network for Standard Tech.”[csr 2.3 2003]

A third group has left because Scientologists in commercial concerns in the Netherlands and elsewhere have allegedly swindled hundreds of thousands of people.[csr 2.3 2003]

Caspar de Rijk, a founder of the Netherlands branch of Scientology, says that Scientology was for a long time able to keep members from communicating among themselves or with family and friends by threat of heavy sanctions. But the Internet has helped change the situation. “What Hubbard one day started is now being reduced again to normal proportions.” Former members who come to a meeting of the independent grouping “realize they can practice the principles but without all that indoctrination and intimidation,” says de Rijk.[csr 2.3 2003]

De Rijk reports that when he refused to take a lie detector test for suspected “bad intentions” — he told them he had none — he was transferred to a “rehabilitation project,” a kind of re-education camp, which he refused to attend. Because he was a ranking member, higher officials saw de Rijk as a threat, so they threw him out of Scientology. Now, a number of Dutch Scientology leavers have been declared “suppressive persons,” which means, according to Scientology protocol, that they can be “tricked, prosecuted or lied to, or destroyed according to internal ethics.” The number of those excommunicated in Holland has been limited, says de Rijk, because it would be difficult to explain to remaining members that more than a third of the active following has suddenly become “suppressive.”[csr 2.3 2003]

The rebel Ronsorg group warns the many ex-members now seeking refunds of money spent on Scientology courses that Scientology “will try to make you change your mind by pushing all of your buttons.” This allegedly includes the threat to use against them personal information — about spousal infidelity or drug use, for example — gleaned in years of Scientology counseling (auditing). (Sladjana Labovic and Bart Middleburg, Het Parool, Internet, 10/25/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

Michael Jackson Raising Money for Group
Michael Jackson has designated Scientology’s HELP program as one of the recipients of money he planned to raise in October through a worldwide download of his charity single, “What More Can I Give?” HELP, which is connected to the Scientology offshoot Applied Scholastics, uses techniques developed by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard. Many well known performers were to have joined in the recording with Jackson, who was married briefly to Scientologist Lisa Marie Presley in the late 1990s. (Roger Friedman, Fox News, Internet, 10/27/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

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. (John Chase, Chicago Tribune, Internet, Dec. 9, 2003)[csr 2.3 2003]

Loses Copyright Case
The Dutch Court of Appeal has rejected Scientology’s claim that writer Karen Spaink, Internet service provider Xs4ALL, and ten other ISPs acted illegally in publishing the church’s copyrighted materials on the web. The material had actually become public in the course of a court case against Scientology in 1994. The Court also denied the contention that linking to material that infringed a copyright was actionable. (Jan Libbenga, The Register, UK, Internet, 9/6/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

Former Member’s Suit Settled
Former member Mary Johnson has settled her suit for damages against Scientology, ending a Dublin, Ireland, trial in which she characterized the organization as a “cult.” It is unclear why Scientology, “probably the most litigious ‘religious philosophy’ in the world” [according to this account] decided to settle (on terms the litigants agreed not to disclose).[csr 2.3 2003]

Johnson, who says Scientology techniques “are extremely coercive, manipulative, and dangerous, and bind people,” graduated from Trinity College Dublin after majoring in languages, played squash for the province of Leinster, and ran a sporting goods store in Dublin. When she was 29, a friend suggested that she try Scientology “auditing” [counseling], and she did, although she says she was not particularly “angst” ridden at the time.[csr 2.3 2003]

In these intense sessions with trained Scientologists, Johnson examined repetitively her past traumas, including deaths in her family, and two abortions which she was forced to reveal in the trial. She says the Scientologists eventually knew more about her personal life than anyone else. After she sued, anonymous letters circulated demeaning her character and asserting the Catholic Church had excommunicated her. A man called her shop asking questions about her, and another photographed her in a pub.[csr 2.3 2003]

Auditing, Johnson says, “created in me a feeling of euphoria, so it became like an escape mechanism after a hard day.” She became so deeply involved that she signed up with Scientology for “a billion years” [sic], became alienated from friends and family — “suppressive” persons to be avoided if they disapproved of her new associations — and eventually lost her critical faculties. Only the continued persistence of her sister, which led to an “epiphany,” freed Johnson from her pathological attachment to Scientology.[csr 2.3 2003]

In the midst of the trial, Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer, but went forward nonetheless, despite the ravages of chemotherapy, to achieve a settlement that seems to her to justify the effort. (Maeve Sheehan, Sunday Times, Irish Edition, Internet, 7/27/03 and News Review 5, 7/28/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

Billionaire Meets with Tom Cruise
Australian media tycoon Jamie Packer, heir to a $7 billion fortune, and wooed by Scientology, had been seeing his “spiritual mentor” Tom Cruise. The star, said to be a highly-ranked “Operating Thetan” in the “cult,” met with Packer in New Zealand, where he is filming “The Last Samurai.” Cruise is believed to have introduced Packer to the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard following the collapse of the Australian’s marriage last year. (Daily Mail, London, Internet, 1/14/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Accused of Packing Polls
Joe Shea, a former Los Angeles mayoral candidate, who edits an Internet newspaper called American Reporter, says that he lost his bid to become a member of the Hollywood Neighborhood Council when Scientologists “descended by the busload” on the polling station to ensure that fellow Scientologists would be elected. A Scientology spokesman criticized Shea for referring to the voters’ religious backgrounds, and denied that there was an official Scientology list of candidates. (Daily News, Los Angeles, Internet, 2/15/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

“Religion” Status Appeal Withdrawn
Scientology in Greece withdrew in December its appeal of court and government decisions that denied the organization recognition as a religious institution. A 1997 court decision that closed a Scientology Center in Athens stated that Scientology "is an organization with totalitarian structures and tendencies, which in essence despises man, though it deceivingly acts freely in order and exclusively to attract members who in turn undergo... brainwashing, so as to render their way of thought controllable... and which some years ago engaged in illegal profit making..." (Ecclesia News, Internet, 2/2/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Critical Testimony in Irish Case Against Scientology
Paul O’ Kelly, the brother of former Dublin Scientologist Mary Johnston, who is suing the organization for breaching her constitutional rights (among other things), told the High Court that between 25 and 40 phone calls were made by a person with an American accent to his clients and to private individuals seeking information about him. According to a businessman associated with O’Kelly, the person who called him said that he was doing “due diligence on O’Kelly for an American company.” O’Kelly has testified that he thinks Scientology is “hogwash,” and that he believes his sister behaved like someone who had been brainwashed when she was a Scientologist.[csr 2.2 2003]

Richard Woods, who with his wife is part of Families Under Scientology Stress, a British group that helps people involved in Scientology, testified that a man photographed while making a “noisy investigation” of Ms. Johnston was similar to a man in another photograph taken outside a meeting of Families Under Scientology Stress. Woods said that the man at the earlier meeting, who said that he was collecting names and addresses, looked like a member of the Church of Scientology because of the way he dressed. [Scientologists sometimes wear naval-looking uniforms.] [csr 2.2 2003]

Scientology’s “purification rundown” course, aimed to rid the body of toxic compounds and radiation, is neither medically safe nor scientifically verified, according to the testimony of Prof. Michael Ryan, head of the pharmacology department at University College Dublin. Ms. Johnston had testified that she felt a burning sensation while undergoing the rundown, but had been told that sunburn caused it. (Irish Times, Internet, 2/1, 2/5, 2/6/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Indictment in Suicide of Scientologist
A Sardinian judge has indicted Giorgio Carta for extortion in connection with the 1997 suicide of his cousin, fellow Scientologist Roberto [last name not given], whose parents say that he jumped out a window because he was “exasperated” by his cousin’s continuous requests for money. The prosecutors say that Carta threatened to reveal private confidences Roberto made during Scientology auditing (counseling) if Roberto did not give him $50,000. Two other defendants, also Scientologists, are charged with disposing of Roberto’s Scientology files. (L’Union Sarda, Internet, 2/13/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Nevada Rep Pushes Scientology-Linked Prison Program
Hoping to gain support for the Second Chance drug treatment program, which is based on the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle has asked 35 of her fellow legislators to tour a Mexican prison to examine the program. She said that philanthropist Russell Suggs was financing the trip, which would cost more than $8,000. Angle is also seeking grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and President Bush’s faith and community-based programs initiative. (AP, Internet, 2/11 and 12/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Says Scientology Gaining Acceptance
Scientologists in Tampa recently held a fundraiser for mayoral candidate Pam Iorio, who had earlier told political consultant Mary Repper that she would be glad to meet Repper’s Scientology “friends” because she doesn’t ask supporters about their religious backgrounds.[csr 2.2 2003]

Repper said that years ago she never would have introduced a mayoral candidate to a group of Scientologists because the Church was too controversial. “But things have changed,” she says. “I work with a lot of elected officials who turn to the church. Everyone goes now and visits. Ten years ago it was a different thing.” (David Karp and Robert Farley, St.Petersburg Times, Internet, 3/22/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Complaint Against Advertising Upheld
The Advertising Standards Authority in Britain has upheld a complaint by the Church of England that Scientology claims to have “saved over 250,000 people from drug abuse” were not true. According to a report from the Diocese of Birmingham, the Diocese complained that a Scientology advertising campaign in 2001 was “both dishonest and misleading by both ambiguity and exaggeration.”[csr 2.2 2003]

“Despite the thousands of pounds spent by Scientology in legal fees trying to delay, bury, and frustrate this complaint,” the Diocese said, “the truth has come out—and the truth is Scientology makes claims for their dangerous cult which they can neither prove nor substantiate.” (Diocese of Birmingham, Internet, 3/25/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

The Birmingham Post has printed a correction of its own recent report of the Advertising Standards Authority ruling:[csr 2.2 2003]

“The [original Post] article [not cited here] made it seem that a Church of England complaint that the ad was dishonest and misleading was the opinion of the Standards Authority. This is not so, although the complaint was upheld and the Authority advised the Church to amend the [promotional] poster so that it also referred to ‘alcohol and other toxins and not [use] just the term drugs.’ A separate complaint, in which a member of the public challenged whether Scientology could help people give up a damaging drug habit, was not upheld.” (Birmingham Post, Internet, 5/28/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Defrauded Investors Want to Recover Funds from Scientology
Investors defrauded of $225 million by EarthLink co-founder Reed Slatkin are trying to recover their money from Scientology and Scientology-related organizations that allegedly now retain millions of dollars from the investment scam.[csr 2.2 2003]

Bankruptcy judge Robin Riblet, in Los Angeles, has refused to block subpoenas ordering the Scientology groups to provide records of money transferred to them by certain Slatkin investors who made money in the process. Scientology says that they will object to release of the material “to the extent that the subpoenas seek to violate religious protections of Slatkin’s plea agreement," which last year allowed him to request a lighter sentence because of “the psychological impact of his association with certain individuals and/or groups,” meaning his membership in Scientology and his long and close relationships with prominent Scientologists. (E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times, 3/26/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Suit against German Government for Alleged Harassment
Scientology has sued the German government to halt and declare illegal alleged surveillance of its activities by security police and observation of church members by the state of Berlin’s Office of the Protection of the Constitution.[csr 2.2 2003]

A U.S. State Department report says that the Germans felt a threat because Scientology allegedly “advocates replacement of parliamentary democracies by an undemocratic system of government based on principles of Scientology.” (SPF, Internet, 4/1/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Courses for Prisoners Proposed
Scientology’s “Criminon” program has proposed a research project to evaluate the effectiveness of its current correspondence courses for inmates in British prisons. The long-term goal is to give the courses within the prison walls. The series of 8 courses, said to involve two-thirds of the prisons in the country, begins with Scientology’s “The Way to Happiness” and includes drug awareness segments linked to Scientology’s related “Narconon” program. (Courier News (UK), Internet, 3/7/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Wants Support for Treatment Center
Scientology’s Narconon drug treatment center in Clearwater, FL—which critics call a recruiting tool for the church—is now looking for state and federal grants and patient referrals from local courts, two of whose judges recently toured the facility. Scientology International says that 10–15 percent of those who complete the treatment become members.[csr 2.2 2003]

Local Scientologist Cheryl Alderman invested $100,000 of her own money to start the venture last year, and Clearwater mayor Brian August issued a “Narconon Day” proclamation. [csr 2.2 2003]

But Dr. Raymond Harbison, of the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida, says that there is no evidence that the Narconon detox program works. Others point out that while 40 percent of drug addicts need psychiatric treatment, sometimes including drugs, Narconon screens out such people because it is against both psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. Nonetheless, a Tampa drug treatment program is referring clients to the Scientology facility. (Robert Farley, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 3/30/03) [csr 2.2 2003] 

Inmates Work at Church
Inmates from the Erie County Prison, in Buffalo, NY, guarded by correction officers, have been working to renovate a Scientology church at Main and Virginia streets. The sheriff, acknowledging that prison crews were allowed to provide labor only to county departments and non-profit organizations, says that he had not considered the separation of church and state in the Scientology case.[csr 2.2 2003]

The prison help came after a Scientologist financed a trip for a jail administrator to attend a trip to inspect Mexican prisons to see a Scientology drug treatment program operating there. (Michael Beebe, Buffalo News, Internet, 4/6/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Mixed Feelings about Scientology Church
Neighbors are concerned about a new Scientology facility opening in West Tampa, FL. Neighbor Susan Tennyson says: “I think they bring down the value of our homes because they have a cult type of stigma. I moved here because it’s a family neighborhood, and that has been taken away.”[csr 2.2 2003]

But neighbor Eulaia Barranco said she is encouraged that a religious group took over a local building, even though she is a Catholic. And City councilwoman Mary Alvarez went to the grand opening and was impressed, although she added that Scientology will probably have a hard time recruiting in a Hispanic and Catholic neighborhood. The West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, however, said: “They could easily buy a whole bunch of property [as they have done in nearby Clearwater],” thus inhibiting diversity. “We don’t want West Tampa known as the Scientology capital.” (Jose Patino Girona, Tampa Tribune, Internet, 4/10/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Protest Anti-depressant Use
Scientology’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights protested at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital in April the use of anti-depressants, saying that the suspected killer of an MGH cardiologist acted under the influence of such a drug. A Harvard Medical School psychiatrist said the allegation was “preposterous.” (Ellen Barry, Boston Globe, Internet, 4/11/03). [csr 2.2 2003]

Richard Johnson and Paula Froelich ask whether Montel Williams was “duped” into promoting Scientology when he featured on his show a segment about how children are “abused” when they are given psychiatric drugs such as Ritalin. The show featured representatives of Scientology’s anti-psychiatry arm, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. (New York Post, Internet, 4/17/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Opposition to “Ritalin” Provision
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) believes that the provision in a House special education bill to prevent schools from requiring students to take medication for attention-deficit disorder “probably had its antecedents in the community that believes that all medication for kids with [attention-deficit disorder] is wrong.” Kennedy and psychiatrists say that the provision—sponsored by Rep. Max Burns (R-GA), and supported by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL)—has been “aggressively backed” by Scientology’s Citizens Commission on Human Rights to help achieve what opponents allege is Scientology’s goal of abolishing psychiatry. (Emily Pierce, Roll Call, Internet, 5/7/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Legislature Refuses to Honor Narconon
The Oklahoma Senate has defeated a resolution, sponsored by Sen. Frank Shurden, to commend the work of the Narconon Arrowhead drug treatment facility. Narconon is a program of Scientology, although this was not mentioned in the resolution. Resolution supporters said that it didn’t matter who owned the facility, as long as it had good results, to which they attested. They also noted that the facility was sustained by private money and that stars like John Travolta are Scientologists. (Tulsa World, Internet, 5/3/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Leaders in France Indicted
Alain Roseberg, the head of Scientology’s Paris Celebrity Center, is being investigated for fraud, and is alleged to have conspired with member Aline Fabre — who is being investigated for illegally practicing pharmacy — to sell high-dosage vitamins. Rosenberg is also suspected of giving the plaintiff in a civil suit personality tests “without scientific basis” and getting paid as if this amounted to psychological counseling. (AFP, Internet, 5/7/03) [csr 2.2 2003]

Marketing Clearwater
Scientology has sent out promotional brochures to national retailers, like the Gap and Banana Republic in a effort to lure upscale business to downtown Clearwater, FL, site of Scientology’s international headquarters, but city officials are upset. [csr 2.2 2003]

City Commissioner Whitney Gray says that there are people who refuse to spend money downtown because they think that would benefit Scientology, which now has a dominating presence there. “If it looks to the public like the Church of Scientology is building downtown, people won’t come,” she said. [csr 2.2 2003]

The Scientology promotional brochure provides information about business incentives offered by the city, and gives names and phone numbers of City employees. This has also annoyed commissioners because it may seem to observers that the city is not heading up its own development effort. (Jennifer Farrell, St. Petersburg Times, 5/29/03)[csr 2.2 2003]

Narconon Rehab Centers
Scientology’s Narconon drug rehab center on St. Mary’s Lake, near Battlecreek, MI, is nearing completion. The $400,000 renovation of a former facility will join a dozen other such Scientology establishments in the U.S., which are based on the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. (Chris Springsteen, Battlecreek Enquirer, Internet, 10/30/02)[csr 2.1 2003]

Scientology has also received planning commission approval for a similar facility in a former motel and two houses in Warner Springs, near San Diego. It would accommodate up to 40 patients between the ages of 18 and 25, and 15 staff, three of whom would live at the center. Patients would pay $22,000 to participate in the six-month “voluntary” [sic] program. (Brian E. Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, Internet, 10/19/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Book on Sept 11
Having spent three weeks helping to feed volunteers at Ground Zero following 9/11, Scientologist Juliet McIntyre has written a book entitled 21 Days at Ground Zero: A Young Volunteer’s Story. “Yet MacIntyre is the central character and Ground Zero the mere backdrop, with cameos by Edward Norton, Susan Sarandon, and Scientologist John Travolta.” (Sarah Gilbert, New York Post, 10/20/02)[csr 2.1 2003]

Hubbard Show at Kremlin
An expo on Scientology’s founder entitled “Ron Hubbard’s Life in Photos” was to have opened within the Kremlin’s walls—at the former Congress Palace—in mid-October. Scientology claims 10,000 members in Russia, where the Ministry of Justice sought unsuccessfully to have the organization banned earlier this year. (Washington Times, Internet, 10/20/02) [csr 2.1 2003] 

Kidman-Cruise Breakup
Actress Nicole Kidman says that Tom Cruise’s being a Scientologist was not at the root of the couple’s divorce last year. (Hello Magazine, Internet, 11/5/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Minton Wants to Probe Makers of Film on Scientology
Robert Minton, the Scientology critic who recently testified in support of Scientology in a court case—perhaps in order to get out of his own costly litigation against the group—now wants to review the books of filmmakers whom he paid $2.44 million to produce The Profit, a thinly disguised movie about Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. [csr 2.1 2003]

The company that Minton formed with writer/filmmaker Peter Alexander to produce The Profit recently sued Minton to stop him and the Lisa McPherson Trust from showing film clips on a web site. The Trust is an organization sustained by Minton that has for several years protested the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson following 17 days in the care of Scientology staffers in Clearwater, FL. (William R. Levesque, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 11/9/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Insert in College Paper Criticized
The Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) has criticized the periodical Cherwel for publishing an 8-page pull-out ad entitled “Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science,” which promotes Scientology theories. OUSU VP [for] Welfare Andrew Copson called the decision to publish the pull-out “profoundly irresponsible” because it goes to students, “not least to freshers, who may be at a most impressionable period in their lives and therefore most open to active recruitment by religious organizations.” (Hugh Rubalgliati, Oxford Student, Internet, 11/14/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Clampdown in Bavaria
The state of Bavaria plans to increase state assistance to what it calls victims of Scientology. Interior Minister Hermann Regensburger proposes to help people who have suffered economic or psychological damage from Scientology membership. He has also called on the government to study the banning of Scientology, arguing that it had contravened core values of the German constitution. The government also plans to continue observation of Scientology. (Allgemeine Zeitung, Internet, 11/15/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Scientology Founder’s Award to First Grader
Sterling Heights, MI first-grader Rachel Hamemeh recently won a gold medal in the “National Children’s Set A Good Example” contest for helping a struggling classmate with his assignments. For the contest, which involved 12,000 school children nationwide, Rachel was required to read The Way to Happiness, by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The local contest sponsor was dentist Abe Gershonowicz. (Anjali J. Sekhar, Detroit News, Internet, 11/13/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Heir to Fortune Said Turning to Scientology
James Packer, chairman of PBL and heir to Australia’s richest fortune is said to be attending Scientology auditing (counseling) sessions in an attempt to regain control of his life following a crisis of confidence after the collapse of his marriage and one of his businesses last year. Packer is reportedly involved in the Scientology C-Org (celebrity organization), which offers exclusive counseling and extra privacy.[csr 2.1 2003]

Actor Tom Cruise is said to have introduced Scientology to his friend Packer, who now travels frequently to the Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles and has hired a Scientologist as his personal assistant; her job is to manage his house. (Annette Sharp, Sun-Herald, Australia, Internet, 11/24/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Woman Alleges She Was Harmed by Membership
Mary Johnson, of Dublin, Ireland has sued Scientology and three of its members, alleging that she was drawn into the organization and subjected to processes and procedures—“brainwashing”—that brought her under its control and influence, causing her psychological injuries and post traumatic stress disorder. She also alleges that Scientology tried to prevent her from leaving, to silence her, and to intimidate her to keep her from suing.[csr 2.1 2003]

Johnson tells how she was introduced to Scientology auditing (Scientology-style counseling) in 1992 by an acquaintance after an emotionally upsetting split with her boyfriend. Under pressure, she says, she signed up for a “purification rundown” at a cost of £1,200. She reports that she was required to take a medical exam and was sent to a Scientologist described as a doctor, and spent long hours in a sauna. She then took Scientology courses in Ireland and Britain, but when she said that she could not afford additional courses, she was told to borrow from her friends or sell her business. Subjected to intimidation over this, she left Scientology in 1994, but continued to suffer from nightmares and anxiety attacks that she says she never had before involvement with Scientology. (Vivion [sic] Kilfeather, Irish Examiner, Internet, 12/4/02; Irish Times, Internet, 12/5/02, 12/12/02)) [csr 2.1 2003]

Spiritual Healing Practiced
Scientology “volunteer ministers” have been trained to offer “assists” which help people “cope with trauma, injuries, and other issues, according to practitioner Lorrie Olsen, of Mound City, MN, who takes a Scientology correspondence course. She says: “You can think of it almost like spiritual first aid, in a way. It’s on the premise that the mind and the spirit are senior to the body.” Instead of directing attention specifically to the physical part of the injury, a volunteer minister directs it first to the spiritual, Olsen said. She added that she aids people dealing with grief, work-related issues, or personal stress. [csr 2.1 2003]

Olsen reports that she performed a volunteer healing “assist” on Michelle Laurenz following an automobile accident, and Laurenz tells how Olsen got into “my subconscious mind” so that she could help Laurenz survive.[csr 2.1 2003]

According to a New York Times article, Scientology critics worry that the group’s volunteering at disasters such as September 11 might mask proselytizing. (Jill Callison, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Internet, 12/1/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Scientology Wants to Be in Schools’ Curriculum
Scientologists in London are calling on the Camden [section of London] standing advisory council for religious education to include information about Scientology and other small religious groups in the public school curriculum. Currently, only Catholicism and Protestantism receive such attention. The request says that religious tolerance calls for the inclusion of groups like Scientology, the Unification Church, the Quakers, and the Paganists. [csr 2.1 2003]

The committee says that it will seek advice from cult experts, and that if it accepts the request to be included in the curriculum, Scientology representatives will be appointed to visit schools and talk about the group. Ian Haworth, of the Cult Information Centre, said that it might be dangerous to let this happen. “The main concerns are not so much their beliefs, but the methods they employ to recruit new members,” he said. (Carmen Lichi, Hampstead & Highgate Express, Internet, 11/22/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Recruiting at Dublin University
Scientologists “posing as health workers” handed out anti-drug pamphlets at University College Dublin in December “in a bid to open contact with thousands of potential members. But the students’ union has now refused to hand out the pamphlets because they are associated with the controversial “cult.” A student welfare officer said that the pamphlets, which provide Scientology contact numbers, were misleading because they stated that the use of drugs such as cannabis could lead to prostitution and “down and out lifestyles.” (Sunday Mirror, Internet, 12/8/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Anti-Psychiatry Marriage
A Scientology minister presided over a marriage in the Chester (IL) Mental Health Center between 12-year patient Rodney Yoder — who officials believe is too dangerous to be released — and Millie Strom, former wife of musician John Lee Hooker. Yoda has written 100 letters to public officials threatening to kill them, and the bride is a member of “the anti-psychiatry movement.” Yoder argued at a commitment hearing in December that there is no such thing as mental illness. [Scientology has carried out a campaign against the psychiatry profession and psychiatric drugs for decades.] (Southeast Missourian, Internet, 12/11/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Tax-Exempt in New Zealand
The Inland Revenue Department [equivalent to the IRS in the U.S.] has declared that the Church of Scientology is a charitable organization dedicated to the advancement of religion and therefore exempt from income tax. The New Zealand branch of Scientology began in 1955. (New Zealand Herald, Internet, 12/27/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

Award to Scientology Watcher
Andreas Heldal-Lund, a Norwegian, has received an award from an international cult watching group for maintaining a website that exposes the fraud and human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by Scientology. In making its 2003 Leipzig Human Rights Award, the European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom cited Heldal-Lund for “years of activism against Scientology human rights abuses,” for “a tremendous quantity of excellent news stories,” and for being a “respected and valuable contributor to the Internet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. Heldal-Lund and his work have survived in the face of heavy Scientology legal attacks aimed to shut him down.[csr 2.1 2003]

Previous winners of the award were Robert Minton, retired American banker and “civil rights activist”; Dr. Norbert Blum, former German Federal Minister of Labor; and Alain Vivien, then President of the Mission Interministerielle pour la Lutte Contre les Sectes [Interministerial Mission for the War Against Cults], which reported to the French prime minister. (Dialog Center, Berlin, press release, Internet, 12/30/02) [csr 2.1 2003]

McPherson Death Suit Can Proceed
Judge Susan Schaeffer has ruled in St. Petersburg, FL, that the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estate of Lisa McPherson against the Church of Scientology should continue. According to the suit, McPherson, a Scientologist, died in 1985 of severe dehydration following 18 days in the church’s care. Scientology says that she died of a pulmonary embolism following a minor traffic accident.[csr 2.1 2003]

Scientology had asked the judge to throw out the civil case (criminal charges were dropped some time ago) because of alleged professional misconduct by Kenneth Dandar, attorney for the estate. Former Scientology critic Robert Minton, who until recently financed the McPherson suit, testified that Dandar urged him [Minton] to lie under oath about the source of the case’s funding and about the influence he [Minton] exercised over it. The judge said, in her ruling that allows the case to go forward, that she believes Dandar’s denial of the charge, and thinks that Minton lied about the source of funding because he did not want, for tax reasons, to disclose his foreign bank account. She wrote: “Robert Minton, without doubt, will lie and cheat when it comes to his money.” But she did not endorse Dandar’s assertion that Scientology found out about Minton’s foreign bank account and used that to extort testimony [that supported the church’s position].[csr 2.1 2003]

Judge Schaeffer also found that there was no proof to support the allegation that Scientology leader David Miscavidge decided to let McPherson die. She concluded by chastizing the church for “far too many cases” in which they have tried to disqualify the opposing attorney.[csr 2.1 2003]

Dandar says: “Scientology now has Minton as a puppet, holding him out for the world to see what happens if you have the guts to go against Scientology. I am evidence that good people with nothing to hide can stand up against Scientology successfully.” (Robert Farley, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 1/14/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Witness Says Scientology Refuses to Discuss Effect of Practices
University of Alberta sociology professor Stephen Kent told the Irish High Court that the Church of Scientology has a deep-rooted objection to conducting a debate in court on the merits of religious practices. He was testifying in the trial of a suit brought by former church member Mary Johnson, who is seeking damages for conspiracy, misrepresentation, and breach of constitutional rights.[csr 2.1 2003]

Scientology attorney Michael Collins said that while many religious practices had the potential for stress, the court could not go into them even if they did cause stress. Kent replied to a question from the judge by saying that there was, indeed, a body of complaints about Scientology’s “auditing” (counseling) policy, and that he was also aware of individual testimony about its harmful effects. (Irish Times, Internet, 1/22/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Fined for Defamation
A Danish court has fined Scientology for publishing defamatory remarks about Danish Journalist Joergen Pederson and German filmmaker Walther Heynowski. The Scientology magazine Freedom said that Henowski, who made a film critical of the church, worked for East Germany’s Stasi [secret police], and had trained Pederson [for the Stasi], who later helped with the film. The two sued for $34,000 each. (AP, Internet, 1/10/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Claims Hypnosis Caused Her Harm
Mary Johnson, 40, whose suit against Scientology is being heard in a Dublin court, says that the church subjected her to hypnosis without her permission and that this caused her problems. She said that the procedures involved prolonged staring for hours to induce a trance, and that she was given no warning that aspects of “mind control” would be involved in her participation in Scientology. (Irish Times, Internet, 1/16/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

University of Alberta sociology professor Stephen Kent told the court that Ms. Johnson’s free will had been compromised because of dependency, intrusion, and pressure which grew from the process of “dianetics” [a Scientology approach to life] which focuses on negative events in a person’s past. (Irish Times, Internet, 1/25/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Rehab Center to Open
The Stone Hawk Rehabilitation Center, a facility run by Scientolgy’s Narconon drug treatment program, was to have opened in Battle Creek, MI, in late January. The treatment will follow the regimen set out by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in his book Clear Body, Clear Mind. The center is one of about a dozen Narconon facilities in the U.S. (Chris Springsteen, Battle Creek Enquirer, Internet, 1/16/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Tom Cruise Campaigns vs. Ritilin
Film star Tom Cruise, in New Zealand to film “The Last Samurai,” says that Ritilin, widely used to treat childhood attention deficit disorder (ADD), is "lethal.” His statement probably stems from his Scientology Church's opposition to drugs being used to treat mental illness. Church spokesman Mike Ferriss said: "We view Ritalin as a form of social control." Other critics accuse parents of using the drug as a quick fix. (Sunday Star-Times, Wellington, Internet, 1/19/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie, also a Scientologist, takes on Ritilin in “To Whom It May Concern,” a track on her latest album. Her website links to the Scientology Citizens Commission on Human Rights, an anti-Psychiatry group, and contains pictures of Scientologists Kirstie Alley and Juliette Lewis protesting psychiatry. (Roger Friedman, Fox News, Internet, 1/22/03)

Hubbard Photos in State Capitol
Some 100 “rare and historic” pictures of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard are on four-day display at the State Capitol Tower, in Phoenix. Actress Jane Archer, a Scientologist, and two legislators, opened the exhibit with Hollywood fanfare. The photographs document Hubbard’s alleged achievements in various fields. Hubbard wrote for a time out of a home in Camelback Mountain, AZ. (Elvia Diaz, Arizona Republic, Internet, 1/24/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Protested in St. Petersburg
Members of the organization Moving Together are living in a tent in front of the Scientology headquarters in Vostaniye Square, in downtown St. Petersburg, and protesting that the church’s facility be closed. A large sign points out the headquarters to passers-by.

Protest leader Vasily Yakamenka says, “We believe that this sect is a Satanic cult and poses a criminal threat.” He added that Scientology’s “victims” include hundreds of St. Petersburg residents, and that he has collected “tens of thousands” of signatures for a petition asking the governor of St. Petersburg to close the Scientology center. (Interfax, Internet, 1/27/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Christopher Reeve Criticizes Scientology
“Superman” star Christopher Reeve says that he grew skeptical of “expensive” Scientology auditing (counseling) sessions when he was able to fool the e-meter [a lie detector-like device] when he was asked questions about his life and drug history. “The fact that I got away with a blatant fabrication completely devalued my belief in the process.” CultNews.com wrote of Reeve’s statement: “It’s refreshing to find a celebrity that isn’t another annoying Hollywood cliché, constantly promoting some leader, special mentor, or weird group.” (Ashley Person, MSNBC News, Internet, 1/27/03) [csr 2.1 2003]

Suit for Religious Discrimination
Scientology says that one of its German members is suing the U.S.-based Life Plus International, a natural food supplements company, alleging that he was dismissed as a marketing agent for the company’s German subsidiary because he is a Scientologist. (Scientology Press Release, Internet, 7/01/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Involvement in DC Penal System
The Church of Scientology is one among a number of religious groups mentoring offenders recently released from prison in the District of Columbia. The federal government’s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) is overseeing the mentoring program.[csr 1.3 2002]

“One last question [says the author of this article]. Before groups in the religious mainstream and on the right and left reach High C in their protests against the government’s entanglement with Scientology and the District’s violent offenders, how many of your own institutions are on CSOSA’s sign-up sheet to help those returning to become law-abiding and productive citizens?” (Colbert I. King, Washington Post, Internet, 7/27/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Commentary on Scientology Involvement in DC Penal System
The following was sent to The Washington Post on July 30 in response to that newspaper’s story on Scientology involvement in the DC Penal System. The writer is Herbert L. Rosedale, President of AFF, publisher of Cultic Studies Review.[csr 1.3 2002]

The column on Saturday, July 27, 2002, by Colbert King noting that the Church of Scientology is receiving governmental funds to participate in a program to help violators of the criminal law become law abiding citizens, suggests a lack of logic and sense appropriateness.[csr 1.3 2002]

Put aside whether Scientology is a cult, put aside whether its beliefs about past lives, invasion of the planet by aliens, and the need for monitoring of members' mental processes by a trained church member are bizarre. Focus on the fact that the Church of Scientology and its senior members have engaged in criminal activities and espouse a doctrine which stresses that their members owe a primary commitment of obedience to church doctrine above their responsibility to comply with secular law. Both in this country and overseas, senior members have been convicted of criminal activities, in some instances directed against the government. One of their senior legal representatives was an unindicted conspirator in such activities. Recently, a member asked the court to consider the constraints imposed upon him by membership to lessen his responsibility for securities fraud. Do we really believe that this group is an appropriate entity to share in federal funds and to counsel offenders about the course of conduct to be chosen so as to become responsible law abiding citizens? [csr 1.3 2002]

It is not the nature of their beliefs that disqualifies Scientology, it is their past history of actions. They no more qualify to participate in faith based counseling of this nature than other religious organizations dedicated to priority of promotion of their beliefs and growing their membership over conformity to secular law. [csr 1.3 2002] 

Google Pulls Anti-Scientology Links . . . And Redirects Inquiries
In response to Scientology complaints that it was infringing the groups’ copyright, Google removed links that took surfers to confidential Scientology documents. Now, if a user finds one of the links that disturbed Scientology, a Google message encourages a visit to chillingeffects.org, a pro-First Amendment web site, founded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and some law school clinics, which has posted the Scientology cease-and-desist demand. (Margery Gordon, Law.com, Internet, 6/25/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Russian Orthodox Protest Highlights Scientology
Russian Orthodox Church members in Yekaterinburg in July held a demonstration protesting the activities of “unconventional religious organizations.” Father Vladamir Zaitsev, head of the Yekaterinburg diocese’s missionary department, said that they planned to picket the Kosmos movie theater, where Scientologists were going to celebrate the birthday of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.[csr 1.3 2002] 

Zaitsev said that Scientology is “extremely dangerous to society. . . Hubbard himself is known as a Satanist, a paranoiac, and a drug abuser.” He added that Scientologists in Yekaterinburg used a number of “front” organizations, including the Urals Dianetics Center, the Atuden School, a public youth union [sic] and the Narkonon [sic] rehabilitation center for drug addicts. (Daily News Bulletin, Internet, 7/9/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Scientology Lecture to Focus on “Turncoats”
A notice in the Deseret News (Salt Lake City) of July 20, 2002, reads: “The Church of Scientology's lecture Sunday, July 21, at 11 a.m. will focus on ‘What to do when a team member has taken on the colors of enemy?’ The public is welcome to this service at 1931 S. 1100 East.” [Scientology is noted for harsh treatment of apostates.] [csr 1.3 2002]

Scientology Ban Rejected
A Russian appeals court has blocked an attempt by the government to have Scientology banned in Moscow, according to a Scientology lawyer. Scientology, regarded in some countries of Europe as a “sect of dubious legality rather than a religion,” claims 10,000 members in Moscow. (Washington Times, Internet, 7/21/02. The Washington Times is owned by the Unification Church.) [csr 1.3 2002]

Case against Scientology Closed
A Paris judge ruled in late July that a 13-year-old case against Scientology alleging fraud and the illegal practice of medicine cannot be tried because the statute of limitations has expired. The judge said that there was a lack of progress in the probe of 16 Scientology leaders following the 1989 complaint of ex-Scientologist Juan Esteban Cordero, who accused the group of “progressive mental conditioning” that led him to spend more than $167,000 on Scientology-related courses. This was the case in which hundreds of documents to be used as evidence by the prosecution disappeared from the Justice Ministry. (Pierre-Antoine Souchard, AP, Internet, 7/31/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

New Headquarters
The new Scientology international headquarters in downtown Clearwater, FL, still a year away from completion, will have 889 rooms, 31-foot windows in a 1,140-seat dining room, and a two-story lighted cross atop its highest, 150-foot tower. “It’s clearly a landmark building in Clearwater,” said the principal architect. “This is a building which is built for a 100-year life, plus,” he added. The facility will be connected by a 124-foot bridge to the third floor of the Fort Harrison Hotel, which now serves as the Scientology headquarters. [csr 1.3 2002]

Three hundred rooms will reportedly be devoted to “auditing” (counseling) as many as 900 Scientologists a day, while 1,200 staff members will also use the building daily. Scientology, meanwhile, has renovated a number of other properties in Clearwater with several hundred hotel rooms available for visiting Scientologists. [csr 1.3 2002]

Many business people in downtown Clearwater, as well as city officials, look forward to a long-hoped-for increase in economic activity when the complex is finished (Deborah O’Neil, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 7/28/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Science Fiction Writing Award
Drew Morby, of Cherry Hill, NJ, is a second-quarter finalist in the Scientology-sponsored L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. Hubbard was a science fiction writer before he founded the Church of Scientology [which he allegedly said that he started because it paid more than writing]. (Lyford M. Moore, South Jersey Courier-Post, Internet, 8/5/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Scientologists Harness Star Power
The turnout of Hollywood stars to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of Scientology’s Los Angeles Celebrity Centre included Scientologists Tom Cruise, Jenna Elfman, Lisa Marie Presley, Kirstie Alley, Ann Archer, Mimi Rogers, Chick Corea, Karen Black, Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson), and Kelly Preston, the wife of John Travolta (who is also a Scientologist). [csr 1.3 2002]

From the beginning of Scientology in the mid-1950s, founder L. Ron Hubbard made the recruitment of celebrities a high priority. He thought that they could help recruit the public and give credibility to his teachings. The use of celebrities to endorse the church is a marketing tool, especially for reaching young people (another Scientology target group), in a world where celebrity is a very powerful commodity. (Hollywood Star News, Internet, 8/7/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Festival Criticized for Scientology Involvement
Leading city councilors and churches are criticizing an upcoming major anti-drug festival in Edinburgh, Scotland sponsored by Scientology. Scientology, which counts celebrities such as John Travolta and Lisa Marie Presley as members, has been the subject of almost continuous controversy for fifty years. The jive and swing band The Jive Aces, who have toured Europe and the U.S. promoting Scientology, organized the festival at an open air theater in town. They will be joined by well known soccer and rugby players. (John Rutter, The Scotsman, Internet, 8/22/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Medical Examiner in McPherson Case Still Won’t Testify
Dr. Joan Wood, the Pinellas-Pasco (counties, FL) medical examiner who reversed herself in the Lisa McPherson-Scientology case in 2000, and then retired, still tells prosecutors that she is unable to testify in cases where her rulings remain open to contention, although she recently attended a medical examiners conference and plans to launch a pathology consulting business. She says that the stress of her former work — 25 years with 5600 autopsies and “weighty decisions” — still keeps her from testifying in murder cases.[csr 1.3 2002]

Wood ruled in 1995 that Scientologist Lisa McPherson had died of complications from dehydration [she had been taken from a hospital and treated by fellow Scientologists]. But in 2000, Wood ruled the death accidental, and charges of abuse of a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license were dropped. Wood recently said that her decision was based on the facts, not pressure. “Scientology didn’t get to me,” she added, although she admits that Scientology “hounded” her office during the criminal case with paperwork requests and subpoenas. (William R. Levesque, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 8/23/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

She Felt “Violated” by Job Test
Renee Zines, of Melbourne, FL, says: “I felt that I was being violated,” referring to a questionnaire she was asked to fill out when she interviewed for a job at a podiatrist’s office recently. The 200-question “Oxford Capacity Analysis” was created by the Church of Scientology, and employers can use it to screen job applicants. [Some employees have sued employers who have used Scientology management methods on grounds that the system required Scientology practices.][csr 1.3 2002]

Zines was particularly offended by questions about her moods, her eating and spending habits, how many friends she has, whether she likes to gossip or steal things, whether she has contemplated suicide, and the number of children she plans to have. (Tiffini Theisen, Knight-Ritter News Service, Internet, 8/22/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Celebrity Member Helping Philippines
Internationally reputed entertainer David Pomeranz, who is associated with Scientology’s Narconon, a controversial drug treatment organization, is reportedly going to help the newly-formed Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in its campaign against illegal drugs. [csr 1.3 2002]

Narconon has pledged to give the PDEA 20 million copies of its book, The Way to Happiness, and a handout entitled “10 Things Your Friends May Not Know About Drugs” for nationwide distribution. (Jaime Laude, Philippine Star, 8/24/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Critics Web Site Removed
Under pressure from Scientology lawyers, Internet Archive has removed links to archival pages of Xenu.net, a site run by Andreas Heldal-Lund, a critic of Scientology. The Archive also removed the whole Xenu.net site, which contains pages created entirely by Heldal-Lund.[csr 1.3 2002]

Scientlogy takes a very aggressive approach to critical Web sites, pressuring site operators and Internet service providers, even large ones like Google, claiming copyright infringement. Scientologists have to pay to gain access to the material in question.[csr 1.3 2002]

Google has re-linked to the Xenu.net front page, and sends copies of Scientology letters of complaint to ChillingEffects.org, a site run by civil liberties groups educating people about their free-speech rights. (Lisa M. Bowman, CNET News.com, Internet, 9/24/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Elvis Would Have Been A Scientologist
Elvis Presley’s widow Priscilla says that if he were alive today he would be a Scientologist. She believes that Scientology’s anti-drug approach would have “helped Elvis a lot” in fighting his addiction. But his friend Lamar Fike says that Elvis stopped dating “Mod Squad” star Peggy Lipton because she pressed him to join Scientology. And in his book on Elvis, Fike reports that the singer once went to a session at a Scientology center and emerged saying: “F_ _ _ those people! There’s no way I’ll ever get involved with that son-of-a-bitchin’ group. All they want is my money.” (MSNBC News, Internet, 9/30/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Ads in College Paper
Scientology has placed inserts in the University of Houston Daily Cougar promoting the Church of Scientology and glorifying founder L. Ron Hubbard. Guest columnist Ellen Simonson called the inserts “a little more insidious than your average Ikea flyer; they were designed to mimic an actual newspaper, and the first one failed to indicate its status as an advertising supplement, potentially leading some readers to confuse it with actual editorial content.” [Author Simonson, whose guest column is highly critical of the Scientology organization, is an employee of the university’s psychology department.] (Ellen Simonson, Daily Cougar, Internet, 9/5/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

EEOC Suit against Firm that Uses Scientology Techniques
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a suit on behalf of former employees of Harlingen Family Dentistry who refused to attend training courses reportedly containing Scientology doctrine. According to the dictionary, Scientology “teaches immortality and reincarnation and claims a sure psychotherapeutic method for freeing the individual from personal problems, increasing human abilities . . . and speeding recovery from sickness, injury, and mental disorder.”[csr 1.3 2002]

The suit says that employees who did not attend the sessions because of the religious content were subjected to “various adverse employment actions and were ultimately fired.” The suit also alleges that the dentistry practice retaliated against an employee simply for complaining to the EEOC.[csr 1.3 2002]

A defense attorney says that the ex-employees are just greedy, and the head of the clinic, which employs 80 people, stressed how involved the firm was in charitable work in the community. (Allen Essex, Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, TX, Internet, 9/13/02) [The suit is one of a number filed over the past few years against professional practices that employ Scientology-inspired management courses[csr 1.3 2002]

Protest Treatment at Facility
Scientologists protested outside the Judge Rotenberg facility in Canton, MA, in late September against the institution’s residential programs that employ aversive therapy for adults and children with developmental disabilities. The Center uses a legal system of rewards and punishments on physically self-destructive patients — including mild electric shocks, “painful but brief” according to the director. Rewards include hot fudge for normal behavior. [Scientology has traditionally attacked many forms of psychological therapy while promoting its own approach to counseling.] (Mark Fenteccio, Patriot Ledger, Quincy, MA, Internet, 9/25/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Government Action
French Cult Commissioner Honored by Rights Group
Alain Vivien, the commissioner on cults in the French government, has received the 2002 Leipzig Human Rights Award for his work over the years against cultic groups. In his award speech in mid-may, Bavarian Interior Minister Gunther Beckstein characterized Vivien as “one of the most outstanding personalities in French politics.” He said that his ministry had worked extensively with Vivien’s on cults and totalitarian organizations. Beckstein also praised Vivien as a pioneer against Scientology across Europe and beyond. (AP, 5/11/02, Internet) [csr 1.2 2002]

Russian Law on “Religious Extremism” Proposed
A draft of legislation outlawing “propaganda of religious extremism” has been drawn up by the chairman of the Russian parliament’s Committee for Religious and Social Organizations. The six articles of the proposed law, according to the Keston Institute, Oxford, UK, consist mainly of definitions of general extremist activity. While affirming the right to freedom of conscience and creed, the draft seeks to provide “spiritual security” for the state and prevent ‘the dissemination of ideas of religious extremism in any form.’ ”[csr 1.2 2002]

The draft, which is reportedly on the internet site maintained by the Institute for State-Confessional Relations and Law (ISCRL), contains additions to Russia’s 1997 law on religion, and includes, among many others, the following prohibitions against: [csr 1.2 2002]

Forcing a family to disintegrate; violating the rights of the family and its members; infringement of the person, rights, and freedom of a citizen; the use, in connection with religious activities, of hypnosis techniques; the illegal use of medical and pharmaceutical preparations; knowingly providing false information to attract new members or restraining a person who wishes to leave an organization; encouraging suicide, or refusal on religious grounds of medical help to persons in life-endangering or health-endangering conditions; hindering the receiving of compulsory secular education; hindering the lawful activity of state organs, persons in authority or state-recognized political, social, religious, or other organizations, or calls for the unlawful liquidation of the given organizations; inciting citizens to refuse to fulfil their civic obligations established by law, or to perform other disorderly actions. If such activity is “based upon religious ideas, has religious motivation, or utilizes religious slogans and religious attributes,” the provision continues, it constitutes religious extremism.[csr 1.2 2002]

The draft law maintains that the provisions are not aimed at religious convictions, nor would they apply to creative expression, so long as the intent is not to “propagandize religious endeavor.” It also states that “the activity of political, religious and social organizations found to have engaged in propaganda of religious extremism is to be curtailed or prohibited, while such activity performed by organs of the mass media is to be discontinued.” (Keston Institute, Oxford, UK, www.keston.org, taken from the Internet 4/5/02) [csr 1.2 2002]

Slovakia Looks into Unification Church and Scientology
Last year, the Slovakian secret service looked into the activities of the Church of Scientology and the Unification Church. It found a strong Scientology organization, including centers in the northern city of Martin and in the capital, Bratislava, as well as “citizens associations,” language schools, and private enterprises. The “Moonies” concentrate on youth activities, and are involved in primary and high schools. (Novy Cas, 5/30/02) [csr 1.2 2002]

Scientology Settles Suit by Ex-Member Wollersheim with $8.6 Million Check
The Church of Scientology handed over $8.6 million this week to resolve the lawsuit of a former member who charged that the controversial church caused him to develop bipolar disorder and nearly drove him to suicide.[csr 1.2 2002]

The payment came nearly 22 years after Lawrence Wollersheim, 53, filed his 1980 suit, and nearly 16 years after a California jury awarded him $30 million. In the intervening years, the award was reduced on appeal to $2.5 million and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was upheld in 1994. Meanwhile, the $2.5 million collected 10% interest and eventually grew to $8,674,843.[csr 1.2 2002]

Church officials said they paid the money because they wanted to put the matter behind them. But critics of Scientology hailed the payment as a momentous event. “This is an absolute watershed,” said Arnie Lerma, 52, an ex-Scientologist who manages a Web site devoted to critiquing the religion. Lerma said he hopes the award will convince other ex-Scientologists to file their own lawsuits. [csr 1.2 2002]

“Mind Control”
In his case, Wollersheim, who joined the church in 1969 and left it in 1980, charged that Scientology’s courses and rites drove him to a deep depression and stole his ability to think for himself. At one point, according to his lawsuit, he was held on a ship and deprived of food and sleep, which caused him to develop bipolar disorder. Wollersheim said that this was a “mind control” tactic. He also said that Scientology counseling techniques “are designed to either break you or make you a slave. I was on the edge of insanity.’’ [csr 1.2 2002]

Wollersheim, who lives in Nevada, said that after he left the church, Scientologists tried to drive his novelty business into the ground through boycotts and nonpayment on requested merchandise. On his Web site, www.factnet.org, Wollersheim issued a statement: “The cult that vowed it would never pay me one thin dime has now paid over 86 million thin dimes.” (Los Angeles Times, Internet, 5/11/02; AP, Internet, 5/11/02 [csr 1.2 2002])

Lawrence Wollersheim reviews the complex history of his case, and comments on the recent settlement, on his website, FACTNet.org. (May 9). He says, among other things: “I promise that everything that Scientology sought to hide from public scrutiny in my case (by stopping the hearings with their $8,760,000 payment to the court) will go to the proper government authorities. Everything in my case that can be made available to other new cases suing Scientology will be made available as soon as possible.” [csr 1.2 2002]

Scientology Foe Minton Ends His Opposition, Testifies on Scientology’s Behalf
Robert Minton, who has spent an estimated $10 million fighting Scientology and financing lawsuits against the organization, is now supporting Scientology’s appeal to dismiss a wrongful death against the group that Minton’s now defunct Lisa McPherson Trust had brought against them.[csr 1.2 2002]

Prosecutors say that Scientologists took member Lisa McPherson from a hospital to their headquarters so that she could avoid psychiatric treatment, and then force-fed her unprescribed medicine and forcibly restrained her, after which she died. [csr 1.2 2002]

Minton accuses Tampa attorney Ken Dandar, who represents the McPherson estate in the lawsuit, of misconduct in the case. Minton, who said he faced contempt charges, claims Dandar urged him to commit perjury, and he wants to clear the record. Dandar says that Minton is lying and being extorted by the church in an attempt to derail the lawsuit, set for trial in June. (Bradenton (FL) Journal, 5/20/02, Internet)[csr 1.2 2002]

"Here's a man who put in six years and $10-million, and all of a sudden, he's having an about-face?" Dandar said. "All you have to do is apply common sense." Indeed, there is speculation that Scientolgy must have found some skeleton in Minton’s closet. But Minton has said that his withdrawal stems from the legal strain of the McPherson case, the threat of the contempt charge, and a fear of going to jail for perjury.[csr 1.2 2002]

Minton’s close friend Stacy Brooks, a former Scientologist and critic [Minton was never a church member], has also taken a new tack. She said of Minton: “I think he was swept up in the idea he was really fighting evil. Neither he nor I feel that way anymore.”[csr 1.2 2002]

Minton testified that he put $2 million into the Lisa McPherson Trust and put up $2.5 million for The Profit, a film by two Tampa Bay area Scientology critics. He says he also gave $700,000 to Lawrence Wollersheim, a former Scientologist who recently collected an $8.6 million settlement from Scientology, and he has funded lawsuits in Germany and France against Scientology. (Deborah O’Neil, St. Petersburg Times, 5/18/02, Internet)[csr 1.2 2002]

Minton called Dandar “a lying thief,” and said, “I am now of the belief Mr. Dandar is only in this for the money.” He said that his one-time friend, former Scientologist Jesse Prince, was so angry to hear that he was testifying for Scientology that he [Prince] threatened him. Minton says that Prince told him: “You have become a Scientologist.”[csr 1.2 2002]

Dandar testified that he never asked anyone to lie, and that he has not done anything inappropriate with the money Minton gave him. He later said in an interview that he thinks the church is manipulating Minton by threatening him with a racketeering complaint. “This man I adore, he was a saint. It’s like stabbing me in the heart. I’m just sitting there going, ‘What did they do to you?’ ” (Deborah O’Neil, St. Petersburg Times, 4/20/02, Internet)[csr 1.2 2002]

Circuit Jude Susan Schaeffer indicated in early May that the wrongful death suit against Scientology will not be dismissed because of the allegations of legal misconduct. “What does that have to do with the wrongful death case? We’re going to trial.” (Deborah O’Neil, St. Petersburg Times, 5/03/02, Internet)[csr 1.2 2002]

Major Foe Capitulates to Pressure
Longtime critic Robert Minton, who has spent millions fighting Scientology and financing lawsuits against it, has withdrawn from the fray. The move, which follows a series of negotiating sessions with church lawyers, was signaled by Minton’s testimony in a wrongful death suit against Scientology — a suit that he himself funded — which actually supported the Scientology case. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Scientology’s legal onslaught against Minton, and pressure on his family, stimulated his shocking reversal.[csr 1.2 2002]

The proceedings that led up to Minton’s decision to end his crusade against Scientology concerned the case of Lisa McPherson; she died while under the care of fellow Scientologists who had taken her to their headquarters so that she could avoid psychiatric treatment, which is against their teachings. In court, Minton frequently invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to Scientology questions about his financial dealings, including the question of whether he underreported his income to the IRS. The judge ordered him to answer, and threatened him with contempt of court when he did not appear for a deposition.[csr 1.2 2002]

The Times reported that the church used discovery motions and depositions to pry into Minton’s personal and business affairs, using his bank and phone records, and information about guns he owns. “It was like “The Terminator was after you,” Minton said. Delving into his finances, Minton added, Scientology stirred up an allegation that he had helped a Nigerian dictator launder $12 million as part of a business deal 12 years ago, a charge that Minton denies.[csr 1.2 2002]

Former Scientologist Jesse Prince, who befriended Minton, says that Minton showed him a draft of a RICO civil racketeering action prepared by Scientology seeking $110 million in damages. Minton’s former lawyer, Ken Dandar, called the RICO allusion is “an absolute, factual threat.”[csr 1.2 2002]

At one point, Dandar recalls, Minton called him, frantic: “Ken, you have to help me. They’ve got me this time. If you don’t drop the case Monday morning, the blood and death of my daughters, my wife and myself will be on your hands.” Scientology had circulated leaflets about him to his neighbors in New Hampshire and Boston calling him a “hate monger” leading a “KKK-style” attack on a religion, according to a “harassment” timeline maintained by critics and entered into court records. Scientologists picketed him at his home and at airports. He says that a Scientology official sent photographs and a letter to his wife accusing him of adultery.[csr 1.2 2002]

Prince said in a court document that Minton told him: “Scientology had gathered enough information . . . to get him prosecuted, convicted, and jailed. . . . that Scientology had information to also convict his wife.”[csr 1.2 2002]

In the end, Minton testified that lies had been told in the case. He told The Times that he feared Scientology would uncover them in court, and that he would be jailed for perjury. He said that he had lied at Dandar’s direction. Dandar believes that Scientology threatened to reveal something about Minton’s financial past, and that Minton’s self-confessed lies began only after he met with Scientology. “He was coming in claiming to be a perjurer because he was told to do that,” said Dandar.[csr 1.2 2002]

Minton now says that the church did not threaten him at all. He maintains that critics like Prince are making up stories. “The thing that amazes me the most about all of this testimony is that pretty much people are willing to do anything to paint Scientology as completely evil. What it showed me is how deeply seated people’s hatred toward Scientology is.” Steve Hassan, a Boston mind control expert who has known Minton for years, says: “They totally burned him out. They were going to destroy him if he didn’t cooperate.” And Jesse Prince says: “I’ve never seen such a concerted effort to destroy an individual.”[csr 1.2 2002]

Minton says that he is no longer a Scientology critic, and that after he settles his litigation with the church he just wants to go away. “I don’t want my life defined by Scientology anymore.” His only concern is to settle with Scientology. As he told a judge recently, “I just want some peace.” (Deborah O’Neil, St. Petersburg Times, Internet, 7/7/02; AP, Internet, 7/8/02) [csr 1.2 2002]

Management Training Firms Based on Scientology Principles
Sterling Management Company is one of about 100 management consulting firms in the California towns of Glendale, Montrose, La Crescenta and La Canada Flintridge that practice the organizational principles of Scientology. In fact, Sterling Management’s business is to promote and teach the organizational principles of the church to small business owners across the country. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology and a science fiction writer and philosopher, developed what is referred to as his “management technology” for the religion’s expansion.[csr 1.2 2002]

Sterling Management owner Kevin Wilson and the other owners of local companies use the management practices as members of the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises — WISE. Scientology was formed in the 1950s and teaches that people are basically good and can advance themselves to the degree they preserve their spiritual integrity and values. People can also better their lives through detailed self-analysis that leads to problem solving, according to the book, “What is Scientology.” [csr 1.2 2002]

Secular vs Religious
WISE licenses and promotes Hubbard’s work to businesses for the Church of Scientology, WISE President Don Drader said. About 3,200 WISE members around the world pay anywhere from $250 to $36,000 per year for membership. Most WISE members are Scientologists, although membership is not required, Drader added.[csr 1.2 2002]

Considering the emphasis on Hubbard and the prominence of Scientology paraphernalia at Sterling Management, the company appears to walk a tenuous line between the religious and secular worlds. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers are not allowed to discriminate against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing or conditions of employment.[csr 1.2 2002]

Wilson says that he makes sure his company’s clients are aware of the relationship between his business and Scientology, too. All Sterling Management clients — and there have been thousands over the years — sign a waiver before entering into the consulting relationship, Wilson said. The waiver states that the Hubbard management materials imply “no religious affiliation whatsoever.” It also states that a Sterling consultant may recommend that a client see a Scientology practitioner if the client has personal problems beyond the scope of Sterling Management.[csr 1.2 2002]

Promoting Hubbard
There are many other ways Hubbard’s principles are at work at Sterling Management. For instance, the company actively promotes Hubbard, and uses the same language and organizational structure as the church. And while a person doesn’t have to be a Scientologist to work at Sterling, it might help. All of Sterling Management’s executives, and most of its 30-person staff, are Scientologists, Wilson said. “If they’ve had a lot of training in Scientology, it makes them very good executives. They have an one-upmanship on that.” (Marshall Allen, Los Angeles Times, Internet, 3/29/ 02) [csr 1.2 2002]

Scientology Conflict with Critical Website Raises Freedom Issues
Google Inc., the company behind the popular Web search engine, has been playing a complicated game recently that involves the Church of Scientology and a controversial copyright law. Legal specialists say the episode highlights problems with the law, which can make companies or individuals liable for linking to sites they do not control. And it has turned Google, whose business is built around a database of 2 billion Web pages, into a quiet campaigner for the freedom to link. [csr 1.2 2002]

Background
The church first sent a complaint to Google in March saying that its search results for “Scientology” included links to copyrighted church material that appeared on a Web site critical of the church. Under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which was intended to make it easier for copyright holders to fight piracy, the complaint meant that Google was required to remove those links quickly or risk being sued for contributing to copyright infringement. [csr 1.2 2002]

The site in question, Operation Clambake (www.xenu.net), is based in Norway, beyond the reach of the U.S. copyright act. The site portrays the church as a greedy cult that exploits its members and harasses critics. Andreas Heldal-Lund, the site’s owner, says that the posting of church materials, including some internal documents and pictures of church leaders, is allowable under the “fair use” provisions of internationally recognized copyright law. [csr 1.2 2002]

When Google responded to the church’s complaint by removing the links to the Scientology material, techies and free-speech advocates accused Google of censoring its search results. Google also briefly removed the link to Operation Clambake’s home page, but soon restored it, saying the removal had been a mistake. [csr 1.2 2002]

New Policy
At that point, according to Matthew Cutts, a software engineer at Google, it started developing a better way to handle such complaints. “We respond very quickly to challenges, and not just technical challenges but also these sort of interesting, delicate situations,” Cutts said. [csr 1.2 2002]

Under Google’s new policy, when it receives a complaint that causes it to remove links from its index, it will give a copy of the complaint to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse (chillingeffects.org). Chilling Effects is a project of a civil liberties advocacy group called the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several law schools. It offers information about Internet rights issues. [csr 1.2 2002]

Cutts said Google started linking to chillingeffects.org early this month but made no announcement, so it took a while for word to go around online. Meanwhile, Scientology sent Google two more complaints, citing pages within copies of the Operation Clambake site on other servers. All three complaints are now on the Chilling Effects site. [csr 1.2 2002]

Helena Kobrin, a lawyer representing Scientology at the law firm of Moxon Kobrin in Los Angeles, said that Google’s use of the letters of complaint would not discourage the church from pursuing further complaints if necessary and that there was nothing in the letters that needed to be hidden. “I think they show very graphically to people that the only thing we’re trying to do is protect copyrights,” she said. [csr 1.2 2002]

As part of its new process for handling complaints, Cutts said, Google added information to its site explaining how site owners could have their links restored by filing a countercomplaint with Google. If site owners take this step, he said, they accept responsibility for the contents of their pages. Heldal-Lund, a Norwegian citizen, said that he would not file a countercomplaint because it would put him under the jurisdiction of U.S. law. [csr 1.2 2002]

Scientology Critics
The church, which has beliefs based on the idea that people need to release themselves from trauma suffered in past lives, has taken a keen interest in the Internet since 1994, when someone posted secret church teachings on an online discussion group. Critics say that the church guards its teachings closely because it wants its followers to pay for access to higher levels of instruction. The church says that these payments are donations and that it is simply seeking to protect its rights online. With its Chilling Effects partnership, Google is subtly making the point that the right to link is important to its business and to the health of the Web, said David Post, a law professor at Temple University who specializes in Internet issues. “This is an example where copyright law is being used in conflict with free connectivity and free expression on the Net,” he said. Post said Google’s situation highlighted the need for more awareness of copyright issues, including pending legislation that is more restrictive than the 1998 law. [csr 1.2 2002]

The copyright controversy has had an interesting side effect for Operation Clambake. The Google software judges the importance of a page in part by looking at how many other pages link to it. Scientology’s complaint set off a flurry of linking to the critics’ site, pushing it up two spots to No. 2 in the search results for “Scientology” — just below the church’s official site. (David F. Gallagher, The New York Times, Internet, 4/24/02)[csr 1.2 2002]

Scientology Followers Released from Egyptian Jail
An Egyptian court has released two members of the Church of Scientology, a Palestinian woman and her Arab Israeli husband, all of whom were arrested in December on charges of trying to damage the principles of Islam and Christianity by the spread of a new religious doctrine. The court ruled that condemning people for adopting new ideas is a violation of human rights. The couple was also accused of exploiting this new doctrine to propagate ideas contrary to religion with the goal of provoking riots. (Channel Africa, Cairo, Internet, 3/28/02) [csr 1.2 2002]

Head Acquitted in Spain
A Spanish court has acquitted the American leader of the Church of Scientology of conspiracy and other charges, ending a case dating back to 1988. The court said there was no evidence to support prosecutors’ allegations that drug rehabilitation and other programs sponsored by the Church of Scientology in Spain amounted to illicit gatherings aimed at activities such as bilking people of money. (AP, Internet, 04/11/02) [csr 1.2 2002]

Dianetics at Boston Marathon
Church of Scientology members handed out 3,500 helium-filled yellow balloons near the end of the Boston Marathon course this year. “We'll get at least 50 to 100 calls today,'' reported one church disciple, who was manning the hotline number printed on the balloons, which advertised Dianetics, the book by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. (Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa, Boston Herald, 4/16/02, Internet) [csr 1.2 2002]

Financier Slatkin Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charge, Cites Scientology Involvement
Reed Slatkin, the investment advisor who provided start-up funds for Internet service provider EarthLink, has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and conspiracy for bilking almost 800 clients out of nearly $400 million. An unusual provision of Slatkin’s plea agreement allows him to request a lighter sentence because of the “psychological impact of his association with certain individuals and/or groups,” a reference to his long involvement in Scientology, from which he has reportedly been “excommunicated.” (Ben Berkowitz, Arizona Republic, 4/30/02, Internet) [csr 1.2 2002]

Late Comedian Lampooned Her Scientology Experience
Judy Toll, the comedian and writer (“sex and The City”), who lampooned her time as a Scientologist, died in early may at the age of 44. After leaving Scientology, Toll demanded back the money she had spent on Scientology, and when she got it, she took her check to Kinkos and blew it up to poster size, then brought it onstage with her. (Paul Brownfield, Los Angeles Times, 5/4/02, Internet)[csr 1.2 2002]

Scientology Fined in France, but Acquitted on Fraud Charges
A French court has fined the Paris branch of Scientology $7,300 for bombarding a former member with publicity materials, even tough he wished to end his connection to the group, but acquitted the organization of attempted fraud and false advertising in its efforts to recruit and keep members. The president of the Scientology branch was fined $1,800. (CNN News, 5/17/02, Internet). [csr 1.2 2002]

Scientologists “Invade” Hospital After Terrorist Attack in Israel
Scientologists in Tel Aviv gained access to the public information center set up at Ichilov Hospital immediately after the recent terrorist attack in Allenby Street, where they spoke to families of the inured and gave out “propaganda material” on their “cult”, according to Tel Aviv Hebrew Weekly. They wore shirts bearing the message “spiritual advisor Scientologist volunteer,” and one even managed to get into the emergency award before being asked to leave. (Rosalyn Harari, Jerusalem Post, 4/19/02, Internet) [csr 1.2 2002]

Paris Branch Convicted of Sending Unwanted Literature to Ex-Members
The Paris Branch of Scientology has been found guilty of breaching France’s laws on confidentiality after being sued for continuing to send out unwanted literature to former members. Branch head Marc Wolter was personally fined $1800 in the matter. The church was, however, cleared of more serious charges of fraud and “spreading mendacious publicity.” [csr 1.2 2002]

The suit stemmed from a former member’s complaint that the church had retained his personal records against his wishes.[csr 1.2 2002]

The National Union of Associations for the Defense of the Family and the Individual (UNADFI) [the grassroots cult education and monitoring organization in the French-speaking world], which brought the case, said that under the current law on sects passed a year ago, if Scientology is convicted of another infraction, it could be ordered to disband. “The way is open for other cases,” said lawyer Olivier Morice. “UNADFI has an appointment with Scientology in other courts.”[csr 1.2 2002]

A Scientology spokesman said that the conviction was “evidence of the political and judicial conspiracy which sets out to destroy those who dare to think differently.” (AFP, Internet, 5/18/02) [csr 1.2 2002]

Court Fines Scientology Leader for Defamation of Critics
A Paris court has ordered the head of France’s Church of Scientology to pay $19,400 in damages for publishing articles that compared the practices of an anti-sect group to those “practiced under the [Nazi] Third Reich.” Daniele Gounord was found guilty of defamation and ordered to pay damages and court costs to the National Union of Associations for the Defense of the Family and the Individual (UNADFI). (Washington Times, Internet, 6/23/02. The Washington Times is owned by the Unification Church.) [csr 1.2 2002]

Georgian Church Warns against Scientology / Georgia
The office of the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church has issued a statement warning the public not to fall under the influence of the "false doctrine of the totalitarian sect of scientology." The sect, which preaches ridding the individual of "reactive mind" and understanding the "power of personal cognition," has been operating in Georgia for the past three years and poses a danger to the spiritual and physical health of the individual,” the statement issued by the Patriarch's Office said. (BBC Monitoring Newsfile, 12/28/01, Internet) [csr 1.1 2002]

Black Tie Affair in Clearwater
The Church of Scientology, long on the fringe of the Clearwater, FL community [where Scientology has its world headquarters], was expecting a full house on Jan. 26 at its black-tie affair for the area's power elite. The party is another indicator that Scientology is gaining acceptance in a community historically suspicious of the church, if not hostile to it. Politicians and civic leaders who years ago would have had serious reservations about wining and dining with Scientologists are writing checks for the gala dinner. "As recently as ten years ago, I don't think a lot of people would come to the event, or even consider coming," said Clearwater businessman Phil Henderson, who will attend with his wife, Denedin (FL) City Commissioner Janet Henderson, a candidate for state representative. "But they (Scientologists) have changed their ways." Others who reportedly plan to attend include the Pinellas County Sheriff, Everett Rice, the mayor of Clearwater, and leaders of the Clearwater YMCA and NAACP. "The Church is trying to reach into the community and show off their facility. They're just trying to be good citizens," said Assistant City Manager Garry Brumback. It is estimated that the event will cost about $400 per person, and a total of $100–$200,000.[csr 1.1 2002]

Recalling a political forum to which Scientolgy invited local candidates, the wife of State Sen. Jack Latvala said that very few attended. Now, she says, Scientologists belong to the same civic groups she does. "I really don't think of it as the church. They are out in the community being citizens . . . They are involved with nonprofit organizations that do good things. They give money to non-profits and charities." [csr 1.1 2002]

Local officials who sent regrets include Police Chief Sid Klein and the editors of the St. Petersburg Times. Scientology is not allowing the Times to send a reporter and photographer to cover the event. [The Times has for some years criticized Scientology for some of its activities in Clearwater] Assistant City Manager Garry Brumback said of the gala: "I think they're making genuine efforts to reach out and be good citizens. This is but one example. They've got quite a hill to climb. The history of the organization in the city of Clearwater is not all that glowing, but the current folks over there have worked hard to live that down." (Deborah O'Neil, St. Petersburg Times, 1/26/02, Internet) [csr 1.1 2002]

German States to Stop Scientology Scrutiny / Germany
German states plan to end their surveillance of the Church of Scientology after a Berlin court ordered intelligence agencies to stop using spies to monitor the organization, according to Der Spiegel. Germany refuses to recognize Scientology, saying it masquerades as a religion to make money. In some regions, Scientology members are barred from government jobs. [csr 1.1 2002]

Several states should stop telephone surveillance and using inside informers to monitor Scientology's activities. The court said the domestic security service could no longer use paid informers to spy on Scientology. While the judgment applies to the capital, the Church of Scientology is planning to take the case to other regional courts to have the ruling applied nationwide, Spiegel said. An internal report compiled jointly by the states' interior ministries says that Scientology "presents itself as a religion which poses no threat to the safety of the constitution," Spiegel reported. The court said that intelligence services could still use other forms of surveillance. (Reuters, 12/13/01, Internet) [csr 1.1 2002]

Photo Exhibit on Scientology Founder
An exhibition of more than 200 rare photographs that portray the life and work of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard opened in early February at the Amerisia Building, on Broadway, in New York City. Actress Catherine Bell, who portrays Lt. Col. Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie on the CBS television series "JAG," will open the exhibit with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The exhibit is sponsored by the Friends of L. Ron Hubbard Foundation, and titled "Images of a Lifetime." (Deseret News, 2/202, Internet) [csr 1.1 2002]

Tom Cruise lobbies for Scientology in Germany
Actor Tom Cruise, an outspoken adherent of the Church of Scientology, has lobbied the U.S. ambassador to fight for the group's rights in Germany, where it is not recognized, diplomats say. Cruise was in Germany on a promotional tour for his latest film "Vanilla Sky" with his lover and co-star Penelope Cruz.[csr 1.1 2002]

Embassy officials said Cruise had met Ambassador Dan Coats, a former U.S. senator, in Berlin for more than an hour last week during which he made a passionate appeal for his support for improving the organization's status in Germany. [csr 1.1 2002]

The government placed Scientology under official scrutiny in 1997, provoking an outcry among supporters in the United States, including several celebrities. They say Germany's refusal to recognize Scientology undermines their human rights. [csr 1.1 2002]

In the January issue of the U.S.-based magazine Vanity Fair, Cruise credited his 13-year devotion to Scientology with helping him deal with adversities from dyslexia to his estrangement from his late father to persistent rumors that he is gay. (Adam Tanner Reuters, 1/30/02, Internet) [csr 1.1 2002]