20 Nov 2010

Was Scientology's efforts to suppress online revelations of the Xenu story the beginning of the end for sci-fi cult?

The Sydney Morning Herald - January 23, 2010

Trouble in the house of Hubbard


As pressure builds for a government inquiry into the Church of Scientology, Nick O'Malley investigates the group's increasingly troubled operations.

It should have been one of Scientology's greatest moments. One of Tom Cruise's, too. But the day he accepted Scientology's greatest honour, the Freedom Medal of Valour (for Achievement in the Field of Excellence), Cruise might just have crippled the church.

The award ceremony was held in 2004 and before Scientology's charismatic leader, David Miscavige, introduced Cruise, a video interview of the actor was played to an enraptured audience.

''Being a Scientologist, if you drive past an accident it's not like anyone else … you know you have to stop because you know you are the only one who can really help,'' Cruise said against a pounding Mission: Impossible soundtrack.

''We are the authorities on getting people off drugs, we are the authorities on the mind, we are the authorities on improving conditions … we can rehabilitate criminals … we can bring peace and unite communities.''

The statements would have raised few eyebrows among those in the glittering auditorium - they outline some of the basic beliefs of the church. But in 2008 the film leaked onto YouTube and Cruise was widely ridiculed, not only for the content of his speech, but for his wild-eyed delivery and for the odd bursts of laughter that punctuated it.

The notoriously litigious church responded typically, threatening to sue, and YouTube removed the clip.

The incident outraged the fiercely pro-freedom of speech online community and Anonymous was quickly formed - a loose, leaderless movement dedicated to attacking Scientology.

Within days of its creation in January 2008 hundreds of protests had been staged in front of church buildings around the world. Among the first were those in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Many Scientologists suddenly discovered there was a widespread opposition to the church for the first time. One was Sydneysider Kevin Mackey. ''I began researching online. A lot of what Anonymous said was wrong, they mixed up fact and rumour, but it was enough to get me looking. ''I went home and read and read and read.''

Within two weeks Mackey had decided he would never enter a Scientology building again. He knows he will never see the $1.1 million he says he and his wife spent and donated.

Mackey is one of the complainants the independent senator Nick Xenophon referred to when he made a damning speech attacking the church in Federal Parliament last November.

''Scientology is not a religious organisation. It is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs,'' he told Parliament.

He catalogued the allegations made by Mackey and his friends, including that the church committed fraud, that it was party to perjury and forced labour, that it broke priest-penitent privilege to manipulate members and that it pressured employees to have abortions.

The church's Australian president, Vicki Dunstan, denies the allegations, describing the complainants, including Mackey, as disgruntled apostates, bent on damaging the church.

She believes the church is under constant attack by Anonymous, which she described as a misinformed ''hate group'' dedicated to total freedom of speech.

Raphael Aron, who heads Cult Counselling Australia, told The Age he believed Xenophon's speech had dealt the Australian church ''a mortal blow - the most serious since their beginning in Australia''.

This progression from online criticism to defection is common around the world, says Stephen Kent, a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta in Canada and a leading expert on Scientology.

''Scientology is based upon a growth model,'' he told the Herald. ''Its policy is to reward upstats [increases in membership and revenue] and punish downstats.

''So in a period where the internet is filled with hostile information, in the context of a global economic downturn and probably with declining membership, the likelihood is great that the organisation is experiencing severe financial pressure.''

It is impossible to accurately gauge the church's membership. Dunstan says there were about 250,000 members in the Australasian region. The most recent Australian census reveals only 2513 identified themselves as Scientologists.

With an official presence in at least 30 countries, the church claims it has 10 million members worldwide, but Kent believes the true figure could be less than a tenth of that number.

An American church official, Tracie Morrow, who is visiting Australia at the moment, denied it had suffered any decline, saying that in the past five years it had expanded more than ever before, but she was unable to offer any figures.

In August last year Scientology's most senior Norwegian member, Geir Isene, very publicly defected. He published online a paper condemning current church management. He called the church's global building campaign, known as the Ideal Org crusade, a ''scam'' designed to ''add to the value of its assets by pressuring its public for money''.

To put his defection into context, Isene had reached Scientology's highest level, Operating Thetan VIII. When Cruise won his medal he was OTVII. The church's founder, Ron L. Hubbard, had estimated Gandhi and Jesus Christ to have been somewhere below OTI.

A string of high-profile defections followed in the United States, including the multi-Oscar winning writer and director Paul Haggis, who wrote to the church's chief spokesman, Tommy Davis, and accused him of lying by claiming the church had no policy of ''disconnection'' or banning certain members from contacting family members or friends outside the church. Haggis's wife had been forced to disconnect her parents, he wrote. The letter was leaked.

Then the St Petersburg Times in Florida wrote a damning series of stories about the church using the testimony of the most senior of its defectors - former second-in-command Marty Rathbun and former spokesman Mike Rinder.

In France the church and six of its members were convicted of fraud, fined and forced to publish the findings in French and English language newspapers.

Kent believes the internet landed its first blow on Scientology in 1995 when the story of Xenu was first published on the newsgroup alt.religion. scientology, and the church launched a copyright infringement action to have it removed.

Xenu is crucial to Scientology's cosmology but the church has always been reluctant to publicly acknowledge it.

The story of Xenu came to light when a former member, Lawrence Wollersheim, successfully sued the church for ''infliction of emotional distress" in 1985. He was awarded $US30 million in damages, a sum reduced on appeal.

Xenu, it turns out, was the evil ruler of an intergalactic federation that was struck with overpopulation problems. He lured billions of aliens to Earth on spaceships shaped like DC-8s, but without engines, and stuck them in volcanoes and then dropped hydrogen bombs on them.

Their souls, known as thetans, linger on Earth causing serious mental health problems, which the Church of Scientology can cure, for a price, through its auditing process.

The story of Xenu is only made available to Scientologists who have ''cleared'' themselves through auditing and then progressed up the rungs of church teaching to the level of Operating Thetan III.

When the story was entered into evidence the church sought and failed to have it sealed. Kent believes its widespread dissemination online has caused a permanent decline in church numbers and a resulting cut in its revenue.

The Wollersheim case was also instrumental in revealing Scientology's doctrine of Fair Game, by which enemies of the church, Suppressive Persons or SPs in internal jargon, may be attacked.

The founder Hubbard, a science-fiction writer, revoked the policy in 1968 due to bad publicity, but the church's aggressive stance towards perceived enemies remains and former members have told the Herald they believe they are now being ''Fair Gamed''.

The policy also appears to justify the church's espionage against the US government. In the 1970s agents of Scientology infiltrated a string of government offices and private organisations with orders to remove any documents about the organisation. In 1979, 11 senior members, including Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue, were convicted or pleaded guilty to a range of charges, including obstruction of justice, burglary and theft of government documents.

Isene's departure prompted two American OTVIIIs, Mary Jo Leavitt and Sherry Katz, to leave.

All three say they maintain their belief in Hubbard's teaching, but not in the church. This type of split with the Scientology is becoming increasingly common - many dissatisfied with the church have affiliated with the so-called Free Zone and continued their study of Hubbard's teachings.

The Australian church members who came forward to Xenophon say they have gathered online information and passed it on to hundreds of church members, prompting more defections.

According to Kent, the free availability of information like this online is enough to dissuade many of those who might have a casual interest in the church from pursuing it. But he believes the church's reaction to its decline has been far more dangerous to it than the bad publicity.

Rather than tighten its belt the church has launched a campaign to build new churches and centres around the world in a bid to draw in newcomers. The new centres are known as Ideal Orgs.

''The Ideal Org is probably a reaction to global decline, and if so then it is a very dangerous business strategy,'' Kent says. ''It well may be that some of the deviance we are hearing about in the organisation, including embezzlement and fraud, have to do with the severe financial pressures the organisation is under at the moment because of the Ideal Org.''

The Herald has obtained an newsletter sent to Melbourne members shortly before Christmas demanding Ideal Org donations.

Its tone is light but its message is clear. ''All Melbourne field need to be alert, and possibly even alarmed! We have detected a new syndrome that may affect up to 97.5% of all Scientologists in Victoria: Obsessive Compulsive Donation Disorder Denial Syndrome,'' it begins.

The only cure for the syndrome is for all members, except those who have donated that very day, to ''come to the org with cash, cheque or your credit card''.

Unlike many of its critics, Kent does not dispute that Scientology is, at least in part, a religion.

''The bottom line with Scientology is that it is a multi-faceted transnational organisation, only part of which is religious. Many other parts have evolved. Business management, pseudo drug treatment, pseudo psychiatry, education systems.''

He believes a Senate inquiry into the church's activities in Australia would be appropriate.

''I suppose the people supporting the inquiry would say it is not about religion; it is about [alleged] crimes and malfeasance being committed by an organisation that has charitable status.''

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St. Petersburg Times - Florida January 23, 2010

Larry Anderson, star of Scientology's 'Orientation' film, wants his money back

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin | Times Staff Writers

If you watched TV in the past three decades, you probably saw Larry Anderson. He appeared on more than 30 shows, including Charlie's Angels, Mork and Mindy, Desperate Housewives and Mad Men. He hosted three game shows and had bit parts in eight movies.

He got lots of parts but isn't well known. Except to Scientologists.

Anderson starred in the Church of Scientology's 1996 film Orientation, a 40-minute promotion central to church recruiting efforts. Translated into 15 languages, it has been shown at church facilities worldwide not only to potential recruits but also to parishioners and staffers, to get them more involved in Scientology.

At the film's dramatic climax, Anderson is a portrait of rectitude as the background music swells and the camera zooms in:

"If you leave this room after seeing this film and walk out and never mention Scientology again, you are perfectly free to do so. It would be stupid. But you can do it. You can also dive off a bridge or blow your brains out. That is your choice.

"But, if you don't walk out that way, if you continue with Scientology, we will be very happy with you. And you will be very happy with you.''

Now, after 33 years as a Scientologist, the past 13 as the voice extolling the virtues of Scientology and the perils of walking away, Anderson is walking away. He says the church failed to deliver the spiritual gains it promised.

He also wants his money back, nearly $120,000 he says he prepaid for services never taken. A church policy says parishioners can get repayments, but if they do, they cannot come back.

Eleven months ago, Anderson met with Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis to discuss his request for repayment. Anderson, 58, put a tape recorder on the table between them.

The 90-minute tape affords a rare look at how the church dealt with a high-profile defector and his demand for his money.

Davis pressed Anderson for assurance he would not broadcast his decision to leave Scientology or join the ranks of its critics. Anderson refused, saying he was entitled to his money without conditions.

Anderson said the church was just holding it on account. "I want that money back.''

In a written response to the St. Petersburg Times, Davis repeated what he told Anderson: The payments were charitable donations.

"The church is under no obligation to return any donations received,'' he said. "And any refund of donations lies within the sole discretion of the church.''

It's "offensive and reprehensible,'' Davis wrote, that Anderson "apparently feels he must punctuate his departure with a public attack.'' Anderson himself is to blame for not getting back his money, Davis said. "None of Mr. Anderson's donations have been returned solely because he declined to follow the prescribed policy and procedures.''

That's "unbelievable,'' Anderson said. The church calls prepayments for services "donations'' because "it serves their purposes down the line, should you ask for a repayment.''

He did follow procedure, he said. It was Davis who insisted they meet to discuss his accounts and request for repayment. Davis gave no further instructions, except to wait for a reply, Anderson said. "It's just evasive techniques to try to make it look like I'm the one who didn't follow procedure.''


Anderson's story begins June 24, 1976, at a Beverly Hills party said to have cost $75,000, serious money back then for a night of fun.

The night before, Paul McCartney's band Wings had played the Los Angeles Forum, the final concert of their U.S. tour. He and his wife, Linda, threw a "wrap party'' at the rented estate of silent film star Harold Lloyd. The guest list was a who's who of music and film stars.

And there was entertainment. The lineup included a 24-year-old magician, Larry Anderson, whose agent got him on the playbill. He shared a dressing room with Chuck Norris and watched John Belushi do a hilarious impersonation of Joe Cocker.

Anderson bounded on stage and performed three illusions. He tore a newspaper into tiny pieces and, with a wave of the arms, restored it whole. He levitated a young woman on the tips of three swords. For his finale, he locked her in a wooden crate, climbed atop it and raised a curtain to conceal himself from the audience. He counted to three, dropped the curtain, and, behold: He and the woman had traded places, he inside the crate, she standing on top.

Milling about afterward, he struck up a conversation with a woman who asked him his professional goals. He liked magic, he told her, but he really wanted to be an actor. She gave him an address on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood. Go, she said, this place teaches aspiring actors the skills to be stars.

The address turned out to be the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Centre. Entertainers, artists and leaders in any field can study Scientology there and receive counseling called "auditing,'' in which emotional reactions are monitored on an electronic device called an ''e-meter.''

That first visit Anderson paid $30 for a communications course. He liked it, signed up for another course and soon became a Scientologist.

Three years later, in 1979, he got his break in Hollywood, playing fraternity president Harlan Ramsey in the NBC sitcom Brothers and Sisters. He was featured on the cover of Celebrity, the church magazine that focuses on notable Scientologists. Five nights a week he reported to church facilities in Hollywood for study sessions, he said, and other than extended breaks for acting jobs, he maintained his study pace "every bit of 10 years.''

In 1986, he got a regular role on another TV series, playing Lucille Ball's son-in-law in Life with Lucy. He was on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for eight minutes — long enough to catch the eye of TV producer Ralph Edwards, who was watching from home. He hired Anderson to host Truth or Consequences.

Anderson also auditioned for parts in Scientology films. Casting directors from the church's Golden Era Productions film studios east of Los Angeles held auditions at the Celebrity Centre. They chose finalists and sent clips for final selection to David Miscavige, Scientology's leader.

Anderson said the church cast him in about 10 training films. His first starring role was in an auditing tutorial, E-meter drills, No. 5: How to set up a session.

In 1995, the church sent out a casting call, through customary Hollywood channels, for the lead role in Orientation.

Anderson auditioned against dozens of actors, many of them non-Scientologists. Several church executives also read for the part. When cast, Anderson negotiated his pay: $750 for a full day of shooting, lesser amounts for part-day shoots. Over two years of filming and production, he said the role paid him about $35,000.

The film exudes a message of pride, promise and opportunity. It's a mix of testimonials and an Anderson-narrated introduction to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard — his philosophies, writings and lectures — and to auditing, which a church official in the film says can raise a person's IQ.

Miscavige sent Anderson a note congratulating him on his "brilliant'' performance in which "you WERE the part ...

"There isn't another person on Earth who could have performed it as you did. I know you did justice to what LRH envisioned. As a result, millions have you to thank for putting them on the path that leads up!''

Orientation premiered in 1996, Anderson's 20th year in Scientology.

"I believed every word, and I had to believe it'' to be convincing, he says now. "But the operative word is 'believe.' For me, this was faith.''

That's because Anderson's own counseling experiences had not gone well. "I had a lot of what you would call disappointing auditing,'' he said.

After 20 years and hundreds of hours of courses and auditing sessions, Anderson was dissatisfied with his lack of progress up Scientology's Bridge to Total Freedom. Hubbard's grade chart outlines the sequential steps one must take to advance through the Bridge's "Operating Thetan'' levels to total spiritual awareness.

Church supervisors helped Anderson past his discouragement. He said he told himself: "Well, the level that is going to crack your case is always the next one you are going to do. …

"For me it was like, 'Wait until you get to the OT levels.' This carrot was always dangled.'' He said he had faith that "a panoply of wonders'' was ahead, in the higher spiritual levels.

To be believable pitching spiritual rewards he had not experienced, Anderson says now, he drew on faith alone. "It was a little bit weird without having a personal, subjective reality that I know the words I'm saying are true. …

"But everybody who watches me is going to believe that I do know what I'm saying is true. So, therefore, to some degree, I'm a charlatan.''


As was his custom for administrative matters, Hubbard wrote a "policy letter'' to set down Scientology's rules for "Refunds and Repayments.''

"A refund is a return of money after service,'' it says. A parishioner dissatisfied with a service has 90 days to apply for a refund.

A repayment is different. For someone who prepays, it is "a return of money without the service being taken.'' There is no time limit to seek a repayment.

The policy was among many the Internal Revenue Service reviewed before it granted the church tax exempt status in 1993. The church told the IRS its policy was "exceedingly fair'' and said a dissatisfied parishioner "simply has to make a proper request for his donations back, agree to forgo further services and his donations will be returned.''

The policy pays off for Scientology as well, the church told the IRS. It allows "parishioners who are very happy with Scientology to carry on without the unhappy few in their midst.''

For each of the eight years after the IRS granted Scientology tax-exempt status, Anderson put thousands of dollars into church accounts, prepaying for services he anticipated taking. Anderson claimed annual tax deductions for money spent on services, as the IRS allows Scientologists to do. Church members are not allowed to deduct money spent on tangible items, including books, e-meters and DVDs.

He put more than $100,000 on account at the Celebrity Centre and the Advanced Org, or church, in Hollywood, where he did all his auditing and course work. He spent about one-third of that money.

He said he put an additional $36,947 into an account at the church's international spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, paying in advance for services he would take there after working his way up the Bridge to OT VI and OT VII. He never tapped into any of that. He came to church facilities in Clearwater only once — to perform, not to take services.

Anderson also put $11,440 on account at the church's cruise ship, the Freewinds, he said, expecting he eventually would ascend to OT VIII, the highest spiritual level. That training is available only aboard the ship.

It was a heady time for Anderson. After Orientation was released, he made the cover of Celebrity again, with the headline "Interview with Actor and Class IV Auditor Larry Anderson.''

Spending the money was a "great feeling,'' he said recently. He viewed it as contributing to his salvation while helping advance the church's broader mission. Acknowledging a bit of an ego boost, he recalled, "You go around saying, 'I got to pay for my Bridge today.' And everybody is patting you on the back.''

In his 33 years in Scientology, Anderson estimates he spent nearly $150,000 on services, apart from the $119,711 that he says remains unused in his accounts.


By late 2008, Anderson was frustrated with more than his auditing.

He brought five recruits to the church but all of them left, weary of pushy supervisors. Some told Anderson they were urged to join the church staff, and others were pressed to work fewer hours at their secular jobs to leave more time for Scientology study.

Anderson also objected to church leaders urging parishioners to repurchase the updated 18-volume set of Hubbard's basic teachings, for $3,000. The church blamed stenographer and editing errors that had to be cleaned up.

"These books were published 20 years before LRH died. How is it we're just discovering that stenographers made mistakes or rearranged pages?''

Through the years, Anderson said, he bought re-released books multiple times. "Each time they said, 'We got it perfect now.' ''

He was among thousands of Scientologists gathered in Los Angeles to hear Miscavige's filmed announcement that the re-edited basic volumes were being released. "I looked around and everybody's in a standing ovation, getting their checkbooks out. I thought, 'Oh, my God, we are sheeple.' Not me. I'm out.''

Davis, the church spokesman, rejects Anderson's reaction as "absurd.'' Hubbard himself launched the re-edit in 1984, two years before he died, Davis said. As part of the project, the church recovered and restored several lectures Hubbard gave in the 1950s that existed only on deteriorated tapes. Translated now into 15 languages, Hubbard's 18 volumes, plus 280 lectures, are available to more people than ever, Davis said. The materials also are available at no charge in church reading rooms.

Anderson told a high-level church executive his concerns about the costs of the re-released books and his frustration with his years "grinding and grinding'' in auditing sessions. He also asked about anti-Scientology material he read on the Internet.

The church responded with one-on-one meetings, question-and-answer sessions and free auditing, he said. At times, he sat in church conference rooms, "tears running down my face,'' confronting what he would lose by leaving the church.

"That's 30 years of my life. It's such a stable part of my life. … My social activities, my spiritual growth, my involvement in the community and the betterment activities that the church would be involved in, the camaraderie, the parties — the church integrates itself into all aspects of your life.''

By the end of 2008, he was ready to give it all up.

On Feb. 3, 2009, Anderson was at the historic production lot on Melrose Avenue, known now as Raleigh Studios, preparing to audition for an episode of ABC's Castle. He bumped into old friend Jason Beghe, who was auditioning for a role on the same show. Beghe, a Scientologist from 1994 to 2007, had become an outspoken church critic.

Anderson told Beghe he was leaving the church. Beghe hugged him, Anderson said.

About two weeks later, the two met in Burbank at the home of Marc Headley, a former member of Scientology's work force, the Sea Org. Headley, another vehement critic, sued the church in 2009, alleging that he was paid unfair wages and that working conditions at the church's 500-acre campus east of Los Angeles violated labor laws. The church denied the allegations, and the case has not been resolved.

At Headley's home, the three speculated on the potential impact of the star of Orientation leaving Scientology. In a "spur-of-the-moment thing,'' Anderson recalled, Beghe phoned Davis.

"Tommy, I'm sitting here with Larry Anderson. …Larry has decided to leave the church and wants all his money he has on account.''


Davis requested a meeting, Anderson said, and named the place: the Amarano Hotel in Burbank. Davis brought his colleague, Jessica Feshbach.

Anderson brought a tape recorder. He said he no longer trusted church leaders.

It was Feb. 27, 2009. Anderson spoke first, saying he wanted to leave the church, "amicably as can be done. I'm not looking to make waves. But I've been in the church 33 years. It's not delivering what I expected it to do and be for me.

"I've decided I no longer want to be a Scientologist. And since I put a lot of money on account, I want that money back. And I'll go my merry way.''

They discussed the church's policy; Anderson said he understood he would be expelled once the church returned his money.

"We're under no obligation to do that (return money),'' Davis said. "If you gave donations to any other church and went back and said, 'I went to confession, confession didn't work for me and I'm not happy so I want all my donations back,' they would laugh at you.''

Anderson countered: "There is a set payment for each service. I put that money on account. Those services were not received. They were not donations to the church.''

Davis said he wasn't trying to make the session contentious. "What we are faced with right now is a scenario whereby you are asking for your money back, and you want to leave the church. That's frankly a relatively simple request and one that is fulfilled when it is asked. It happens, albeit rarely, but it does happen.''

Good, Anderson said, "we're on the same page.''

But Davis said he was troubled that Anderson's "opening salvo'' came in the phone call from Beghe, whom Davis had described as "somebody who has made it currently his life's work to not only attack my religion and my church but attack me personally.''

Davis said Beghe had called him with "what was essentially an extortionist type of communication,'' demanding concessions from the church, and also saying, "Larry wants his money.''

Davis added: "So when you have somebody like that as your ambassador and he specifically chooses to call me to communicate it, it reeks of a different agenda.

"I would go so far as to wonder,'' Davis said, "that if, in fact, the agenda is that once you receive your money, you have some other intention or some intention to take your grievances public.''

Anderson: "Why concern ourselves with things that are all speculation?''

Minutes later, Feshbach said, "If you're connected to people who are dedicated to the destruction of the Church of Scientology International, which Marc Headley is, and Jason Beghe is … we just need you to be straight with us so we understand exactly where you're coming from so we can inform you'' of their tactics. "That's where we're coming from.''

Anderson: "I'll tell you where I'm coming from. I'm a guy who's dissatisfied with Scientology, and I want my money back.''

"Of course,'' Feshbach said.

Anderson: "Aside from that or beyond that, my life is my life. And who I associate with is my choice.''

Minutes later, Davis zeroed in on Anderson's prominence within Scientology, what he called "the main crux of the conversation.''

"You're the guy who is Orientation. You're the one who's saying 'we' in it.'' He added: "You have to realize that communicating that, stating you are no longer a Scientologist, to either other Scientologists or to the public at large, has the potential of creating quite an effect.''

It would be "very upsetting,'' Davis said, "to people who are your friends.'' He added: "I think that there has to be some due consideration made to the church and to those Scientologists by you in how you go about this.''

"Such as?'' Anderson asked. "How I go about this?''

"I don't think that's too much to ask,'' Davis said.

"How do I go about it?''

"Well, you mentioned wanting to get your money and disappear,'' Davis said. "Certainly keeping it to yourself and not talking about it would certainly be appropriate and us working out some agreements on that basis.''

Anderson: "Why? Why am I supposed to clam up about how I feel about life? Excuse me: I should disappear and not talk to anybody? Did you just say that?''

Davis: "You just said you wanted to get your money and disappear … ''

Anderson: "You will not see me around the church anymore.''

Davis: "I understand that, Larry.''

Anderson: "But don't talk to anybody? I mean, that's what you just said.''

Davis: "I didn't say, 'Don't talk to anybody.' ''

Anderson: "This is not an extortion. Or is it?''

Davis: "No.''

Anderson: "So what does that mean? You're looking for me to just get my money and disappear and don't talk to anybody. That's bulls---. There's a First Amendment in this country.''

As they talked, Davis kept saying he was concerned Anderson was providing no assurance he wouldn't stir up trouble for the church.

He told Anderson: "There is no effort on your part to say, 'Look, I just want my money back. I have no intention to attack. I won't be doing a YouTube video. I won't be feeding data to Jason and Marc to speak on my behalf. I have no intention to do media.' You are not saying any of those things.''

Feshbach told Anderson: "We're willing to give you your money back, to a degree. But we also don't have to give you your money back, and I think you've forgotten that. So we're just trying to work through some of these issues so we can help you get what you want and get what we want.''

Anderson said the church couldn't condition the release of money on who he chooses as friends or what he says in public. "You're just worried that I'm somebody's puppet, and I understand that because that's your job.

"But there is no way for me to tell you what my actions are going to be beyond when I walk out the front door, and I know I'm going to get in my car and I'm going to drive to the gym.''

As the meeting was ending, Davis hinted at resolution. "Obviously there's a few things just to work out in terms of drawing up the paperwork and putting together all the pieces ... to bring this to a close.''

Anderson left thinking the church would get back to him after comparing its records with documents he gave Davis — copies of his own spreadsheets for 1994 through 2000 that detail amounts he put in various accounts and amounts debited when he took services.

But 11 months later, he says he has heard nothing.

Anderson's "donations'' have not been returned, church attorney Anthony Michael Glassman said, because he has not followed clearly spelled-out procedures. Glassman said Anderson is trying to "sidestep and avoid'' church policy by talking to the media.

Anderson said he followed the procedure he was given. "Because of my high profile, Tommy mandated that I meet with him to go through the ramifications of what I am doing and review various references pertaining to repayment. He also instructed me to bring summaries of my church accounts.

"I did precisely what was asked of me and was given no further actions to carry out. … That was 11 months ago. It's convenient for them to now assert that I refused to follow 'standard church procedure' when, in fact, Tommy decreed that I proceed otherwise.''

It's misleading for the church to call money placed on account a "donation,'' he said, because his prepayments were for specific services.

"Should you ever commit the sin of requesting a refund of unused monies, the church now asserts that your money was donated, without reservations, to be used for important humanitarian programs. It's a blatant corruption of the word 'donation.' ''

He acknowledges he has not sent the church so much as a followup e-mail. He said he drafted demand letters but hasn't mailed them.

In their February meeting, Davis told Anderson, "It's going to cost us a couple million dollars'' to re-do the church films he was in.

In April, the church's film studio, Golden Era Productions, sent out casting notices announcing auditions for a series of in-house education and training films.

Among the roles: an on-screen narrator with a "leading man look.''

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1 comment:

  1. Scientology goes on the offensive in Switzerland

    The Local Switzerland, October 31, 2011

    The Church of Scientology is planning to build a temple in Basel as part of a worldwide expansion plan, according to a Swiss newspaper report.

    The church's president in Basel, Patrick Schnidrig, confirmed to Der Sonntag that the organisation is planning to build a new church, although the final location will not be decided until the end of November.

    However, the newspaper reported on Sunday that Schnidrig bought a plot of land in the Hegenheimer district in April, along with Zurich-based member Henry Renggli. The space comprises two adjacent office buildings on Burgfelderstrasse 211 and Kyasersberg 3 that currently house a petrol station, a workshop and an electrical substation.

    The potential location lies close to the French border, a fact that has led some to speculate the organisation is seeking to attract new members from France, a country where the church has often been at odds with the authorities.

    A new temple in Basel would form part of the sect’s worldwide growth plans. The Church of Scientology recently announced at a fund-raising event in the United States that it planned to build 70 new churches, including the one in Basel.

    But one expert on religious sects, Georg Otto Schmid, dismissed the move as a marketing ploy aimed at regaining some of the members lost in recent year. Even though the organisation claims to have 1,200 members in the region of Basel alone, Schmid instead believes the figure to be “around 200”.

    “The church wants to give the impression that it is in full bloom,” he said, noting that membership has in fact been in continuous decline since the 1990s.

    In a report that appeared in the SonntagsZeitung newspaper in July, Schmid said that the sect might “no longer exist in Switzerland in a few years.”

    According to Schmid, the organisation currently has 1,000 active members across Switzerland, a steady decline compared to the 3,000 registered in 1990.

    Another Swiss sect expert Dieter Sträuli from Infosekta, has claimed the Church of Scientology is running out of money, the paper said.

    However, Church of Scientology spokeswoman Annette Klug rejected the experts' analysis, which she dubbed “completely absurd”.

    Spokespeople from the Church of Scientology have argued that the group founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard still has 5,000 “passive and active members in Switzerland.”