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About the Church of Scientology®

News from the media 2009-JAN to SEP

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Media news:

bullet2009-FEB-01: CA: Voice of Bart Simpson promotes Scientology tour: Nancy Cartwright, 51, who has provided the voice of Bart Simpson in "The Simpsons" animated TV show since it was created in 1987, recorded a promotion of the Scientology Flag World Tour. She begins the message: Yo, what's happenin? man. This is Bart Simpson. Haha! Just kidding, don't hang up, this is Nancy Cartwright." Al Jean, the show's executive producer commented: "The Simpsons does not, and never has, endorsed any religion, philosophy or system of beliefs any more profound than Butterfinger bars."

Ms Cartwright earns about $400,000 per episode. She is an Operating Thetan VII, the second highest rating in the Church. According to the Church's web site, persons at this level can operate independently of her body. She received Scientology's Patron Laureate Award after reportedly donating $10 million dollars.

The Times Online, an Internet news service, comments:

"Critics accuse the Church of Scientology of being secretive, profit-motivated and cult-like. In the 1970s, a series of FBI raids found that Scientologists had infiltrated and wiretapped the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies; several members, including Mary, Hubbard's wife, were jailed. The organization says that it has reformed itself." 1

bullet2009-FEB-04: CA: Son helps father, critic of Scientology, commit suicide: Attorney and author John West revealed in his memoir called "The Last Goodnights: Assisting my parents with their suicides" 2 that he had helped his terminally ill parents commit suicide in 1999. His father was suffering from cancer; his mother from Alzheimer's. It is a crime in California, as in most jurisdictions worldwide, to help a person commit suicide. 3

Attorney John West was interviewed on ABC's program "Good Morning America." He commented on the possibility that he might be charged with an offense. He said:

"I'm hopeful that that won't occur, but there is the possibility. The statute of limitations for assisted suicide has run [out] but the prosecutors can charge you with just about anything. There is no statute of limitation for murder, for manslaughter, probably certain drug offenses. ... I really didn't have sleepless nights over it because to me, it seemed right. It was the right thing to do. It was what my parents wanted."


His mother was a respected psychologist. His father was a famous psychiatrist specializing in alcoholism, drug addiction, brainwashing and cult activities. He experienced conflicts with the Church of Scientology in 1991. Wikipedia reports:

"According to West, the problems started after he published a textbook in 1980, in which he called Scientology a cult.

On one APA [American Psychiatric Association] panel on cults where every speaker had received a long letter threatening a lawsuit if Scientology would be mentioned, no one mentioned Scientology except West, who was the last speaker: 'I read parts of the letter to the 1,000-plus psychiatrists and then told any Scientologists in the crowd to pay attention. I said I would like to advise my colleagues that I consider Scientology a cult and L. Ron Hubbard a quack and a fake. I wasn't about to let them intimidate me.' (Psychiatric Times, 1991)"

"Scientology's 'Freedom Magazine' interpreted [his] anti-apartheid trips to South Africa as pro-apartheid (Psychiatric Times, 1991)." 4

bullet2009-FEB-18: Scientology accused of influencing man to commit suicide: A young man, Kyle Brennan, committed suicide two years ago. His mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three Scientologists and the Flag Service Organization -- a branch of the Church of Scientology in Clearwater FL. The lawsuit claims that they had taken away his Lexapro medication before his death. The police have released 200 pages of documents. They found that he had not been taking the medication regularly, having consumed only 14 pills over a 3 month period. Kyles father, Thomas Brennan, is a defendant in the case. He told police that he didn't approve of psychoactive medication because it clashes with his Scientology religious beliefs. He told police that Kyle agreed to go off the medication because he didn't like taking it anyway. Kyle's mother and her attorney reject this claim. 5

bullet2009-MAR: ARIS survey estimates the number of Scientologists in the U.S.: An American Religious Identification Survey is conducted every 9 years or so among U.S. adults. These are massive surveys, typically involving over 50,000 subjects canvassed by phone and asked to say how they identify themselves by religion. They are quite important surveys, because data supplied by religious groups tend to be inaccurate. The ARIS study estimates the number of Scientologists at:
bullet1990 45,000
bullet2001 55,000
bullet2008 25,000

Unfortunately, the margin of error on these data points may be ±40 percent. So, it is impossible to be absolutely certain that the numbers of Scientologists are actually in decline.

bullet2009-MAY-28: Wikipedia bans editing by Scientology members: Wikipedia has banned the Church of Scientology and its members from editing its website. Normally, essays on Wikipedia are open to be edited by anyone. However they believe that members of the church were editing articles in order to improve the church's coverage.

This is the fourth dispute on Wikipedia in four years that is related to the Church. The Wikipedia arbitration committee voted unanimously to block IP addresses associated with the Church from editing the site.

The decision read, in part:

"The purpose of Wikipedia is to create a high-quality, free-content encyclopedia in an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual respect among contributors. Use of the encyclopedia to advance personal agendas -- such as advocacy or propaganda and philosophical, ideological or religious dispute -- or to publish or promote original research is prohibited." 6,7

The ban appears to have symbolic value only. It will probably not be successful. All Church members have to do to avoid the ban is to work from home or at a location that has public access to the Internet, like a public library.

bullet2009-AUG-03: Church defectors charge abuse: The St. Petersburg Times newspaper has published a series of articles on the Church, including allegations of physical abuse by leader David Miscavige. The Times states:

"Former executives of the Church of Scientology, including two of the former top lieutenants to Miscavige, have come forward to describe a culture of intimidation and violence under David Miscavige.  These former Scientology leaders served for years with Miscavige."

According to the Church, the articles are "total lies." See: http://www.tampabay.com/
 

bullet2009-SEP-07: Australia: Scientology calls for censorship in Australia: An anti-Scientology group called "Anonymous" has mounted a campaign against Scientology in Australia. 8 The church has fled a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission asking that:
bulletWebsites that discuss the church be not allowed to use domain name registration anonymity tools such as WhoisGuard to hide their identity.
bullet"Vilification of religion" be made a crime with the potential for jail time.
bulletThe use of masks to conceal a person's identity be banned  during anti-religious demonstrations.
bullet"... a law be enacted to prevent the dissemination of antireligious propaganda in the media, which is based on unfounded hearsay and either known or reasonably known to be untruthful. Such dissemination shall be the subject of a civil penalty provision in favor of the defamed Church, and/or its individual parishioners if they are individually named or otherwise identified."
bulletA bill of rights be added to the Australian Constitution that would prohibit the Federal Government from making any law, which directly, indirectly or incidentally prohibits the free exercise of religion. 9

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Simpsons producers 'have a cow' as Bart lends his voice to Scientologists," Times Online, 2009-JAN-30, at: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/
  2. John West, "The Last Goodnights: Assisting My Parents with Their Suicides,"  Counterpoint, (2009). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  3. "Son helps his parents die," ABC News at KFSN-TV, 2009-FEB-04, at: http://abclocal.go.com/
  4. "Louis Jolyon West," Wikipedia, 2009-FEB-04, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  5. Jonathan Abel, "Police report found no Scientology role in suicide." St Petersburg Times, 2009-FEB-18, at: http://www.tampabay.com/
  6. "Wikipedia: Requests for arbitration/Scientology," Wikipedia, 2009-MAY-28, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  7. "Wikipedia Bans Scientology From Site," The Huffington Post, 2009-MAY-29, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  8. "Anonymous" has a home page titled "Why We Protest" at: http://www.whyweprotest.net/
  9. "Scientology calls for Internet and Media censorship in Australia," The Inquisitr [sic], 2009-SEP-07, at: http://www.inquisitr.com/
  10. "American Religious Identification Survey [ARIS 2008]," Trinity College, 2009-MAR, at: http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/
  11. "plocton," "2008 ARIS study on Scn membership..." Operation Clambake, 2009-MAR-28, at: http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/

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Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-FEB-05
Latest update: 2009-NOV-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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