In the United States, many of us take our inalienable rights for granted, because by definition they cannot be taken away. But ask your own sons and daughters who have experienced Scientology's orgy of thought reform or Paulette Cooper from New York, Larry Wollersheim from Colorado, Stacy Young from Washington, Arnie Lerma from Virginia, or Frank Oliver in Florida if their inalienable rights were in any way protected while in Scientology, or if Scientology has shown any respect whatsoever for any of their rights since they departed.
Ask Lisa McPherson and Noah Lottick if their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were sacred to Scientology.
A little known fact in our society is that we have no rights under our constitution unless we are willing to stand up and affirmatively assert them. This is a price that all cults and litigious entities like Scientology force us to pay in our society because they are so willing to strip their members and critics alike of as many of our rights as we will cede them…
As for myself, I do not intend to surrender my rights to Scientology without an armed struggle. I will be armed with the stories of abuse, betrayal, harassment, intimidation, fear, broken families, neglected children, financial ruin, and the personal and emotional devastation that so many ex-Scientologists have suffered...
Given the current level of harassment, intimidation and abuse dished out by this organization, my crystal ball sees Scientology's future as filled with more negative consequences in response to their actions, including:
- More press, more media and more public speaking against Scientology's anti-social policies, abuse of the legal system, and total disregard for the rights of others,
- More organized and concentrated efforts to educate celebrity victims being used and manipulated by Scientology...
- More specific efforts to reach individual members with the truth about Scientology's lies and hypocrisy, and
- More fund-raising from an expanding array of talented and capable people who will no longer tolerate the bullying policies and tactics used by Scientology management.
Standing up to the Church of Scientology has been an incredibly enlightening and enriching personal experience--a test of my character at every step of the way. I've gotten to know many former Scientologists, and clearly they are some of the nicest people I've ever known. While in Scientology, these very same people were taught to lie and betray and acquiesce to having their own rights taken away from them. This proves to me that even an organization as totalitarian as Scientology cannot strip away innate human goodness, and gives me hope that we will get to know many more former Scientologists as our actions continue in the coming weeks and months.
Freemen. Despite death threats, attorney Nicholas C. Murnion prosecuted members of the Freemen militia group for felony charges. On May 11th, Murnion was honored with the ninth John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award, including a $25,000 prize from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. According to the Miami Herald [May 12, 1998], "Murnion prosecuted Freemen members on felony charges including `criminal syndicalism,' a state law making it a felony to belong to a group that promotes violence or terrorism for political ends. He won convictions in the three Freemen cases he prosecuted, including the first conviction under the syndicalism law."
Heaven's Gate. Belongings of the 39 deceased members of the Heaven's Gate cult are ready for auction by San Diego County, but the auction is being delayed by claims from the Telah Foundation that it has rights to the property. A hearing is set for June 25th to decide whether the county or Telah - a group with former business ties to the cult - owns the furniture, computers and artwork in question. If the county is able to auction the goods, it will use proceeds to pay for cult debts. Cult members died in March 1997 by taking barbiturates and vodka, convinced by their leader that they would be picked up by a spaceship flying in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet.
International Church of Christ. Under the name of the Arts and Media Professionals (AMP) Ministry, ICC is targeting New York-based models, actors and performers. Despite having been banned from numerous college campuses for its aggressive recruiting techniques which some label mind control, the ICC's newest venture has attracted about 200 members.
Frederick Lenz. Frederick Lenz, guru to up to 5,000, was found deceased April 15th floating in the waters off his Long Island home. Test found over 150 sedative pills in his body. Lenz's female companion Lacy Brinn and his three dogs had also been drugged, but were alive. According to Brinn, Lenz fell off a dock and could not be rescued. Lenz had long been accused of using mind control on his disciples, pushing his own form of Buddhism. But even over the past year he sought credibility, teaching college Shakespeare courses and launching a Westchester-base software company.
Unification Church. Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church, may speak at the National Baptist Convention in September, which up to 20,000 Baptists may attend. Unification Church leaders and Convention president Rev. Lyons met in January to discuss the possibility.
Courts Rule for Cults
Ananda Church. According to the San Jose Mercury News [April 29, 1998], "The San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Stevens ruled the Ananda Church of Self-Realization won't have to pay $1 million in punitive damages assessed against its former leader, J. Donald Walters." Ex-Ananda member Ann-Marie Bertolucci charged church leaders of sexual exploitation, and a jury awarded her $330,00 from the church, $265,000 from Walters and $30,000 from another minister. The News reported, "The church has said it is worth only about $1 million and that trial-related costs have brought it to the brink of financial collapse."
Scientology. Keith Henson was found guilty of copyright infringement by a California jury in the Religious Technology Center [an arm of Scientology] v. Kieth Henson suit. The jury awarded Scientology $75,000. According to Wired Magazine, "Depending on whom you ask, last week's verdict in Religious Technology Center v. Keith Henson is either a vote for intellectual property rights or a vote against freedom of information."
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Other News Briefs: Headlines on the FACTNet Website
- Will IRS abuse investigations probe the IRS Scientology fiasco? [April 30, 1998] abuseprobe.html
- Scientology: A banker brings his financial means to bear against the sect [April 28, 1998] intrepidrep.html
- Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman caught again in cult backlash [April 24, 1998] cruisekidmanbacklash.html