Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He now has a new edition of the book out, and on Saturdays he’s helping us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet.
We’ve been talking a lot lately about Scientology’s policy of “disconnection,” which church members can face when they leave the fold. But some ex-members can face another wave of retaliation from the church, known as Fair Game. Jon Atack reminded us this week of a particular harassment campaign that backfired badly against the church — the case of Bonnie Woods in England.
Woods was an American living in England who had left Scientology in 1982 and then, ten years later, was running a hotline to help other people who defected. Agents from the church retaliated against her by picketing her house and spreading leaflets with misinformation about her. She sued for libel, and the church hit back with three libel suits of its own. Eventually, however, the church was defeated when it had to apologize for spreading lies about Bonnie and her husband Richard.
JON: In 1999, at the High Court in England, Scientologists had to apologize publicly to Richard and Bonnie Woods, for libeling them in a typically scurrilous leaflet. That leaflet was supposed to ‘unmock’ another leaflet, which Richard and Bonnie had handed out to Scientology street recruiters — ‘body routers’ in church lingo — outside the Dianetics shop in East Grinstead.
Local Christians had asked me to come up with something for them to do as Churches Together, so I suggested that they play ‘tag the body-router’: the Scientology street recruiter was approached by a couple of friendly Christians, who would explain that they were spending the shift with the recruiter and would be giving a leaflet to everyone spoken to, along the way. I soon edited the first version of the leaflet, “What the Scientologists Don’t Tell You” so that it began with the story of Xenu, but the one that is today online is still pretty close to that version: it contains some basic, incontravertible information about the cult and its creator.
Christians in Chichester joined in, and Scientology’s new mission there folded quickly and quietly. The Dianetics shop was the first attempt, as far as I know, to set up in the town, which had long been antagonised by Hubbard’s ‘Public Relations Area Control’ techniques. Declaring 25 high street businesses (including law firm Mason and Beer, still practising) Suppressive was not one of Hubbard’s better fits of pique.
Scientology’s suit against Bonnie and Richard was lost, but it had initiated their own very successful countersuit. The cult had to pay over $70,000 in damages (and a small mountain of donations, in legal costs). But the leaflet lives on, in the hearts and minds of Anonymous … and, as Gerry Armstrong once said to me, half a life time ago, “Too long alone have I borne this burden. You share it with me now.”
Scientology Defends Its Subpoenas, Supreme Court Will Consider Decrescenzo Case in September
We have a couple of legal updates: This week, Scientology defended the subpoenas it issued in the Luis Garcia federal fraud lawsuit. The church is gathering evidence for an evidentiary hearing scheduled for September 26, during which they want to prove that Garcia attorneys Ted Babbitt and Ronald Weil improperly relied on help from attorney Robert Johnson, who had previously done work for the church. To gather evidence for that hearing, the church issued supboenas that Babbitt complained were way too far-reaching. In their answer, the church defends the wide range of their subpoenas.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has relegated to a conference on September 30 the church’s petition for a writ of certiorari that it asked for in the Laura DeCrescenzo forced-abortion lawsuit. The Los Angeles Superior Court Judge handling that case has scheduled for October his hearing on the church’s motion for summary judgment. DeCrescenzo, in the meantime, is poring over 18,000 pages of evidence that the church turned over to her after losing an appeal to the California Supreme Court, and also failing to get an emergency stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although the chances that the U.S. Supremes will, on September 30, accept the church’s petition for further consideration are reportedly fairly low, it’s possible that a writ could keep Laura from using the documents that she spent so long getting her hands on.
For some time, we’ve heard that Narconon — Scientology’s drug rehab network — had given up on the United Kingdom, where it had previously operated at least one facility. But we hadn’t heard definitive information about that, at least until yesterday.
A clever Anon who goes by “Scambaiter” managed to get a lot of information out of a Scientology/Narconon official by posing as a potential client. He confirmed that not only was the facility in Hastings, Sussex closed, but that Narconon has no other facilities operating in the UK. Repeatedly, the official recommended the nearest rehab center in the Netherlands.
Other interesting information came out in this really clever e-mail operation run by Scambaiter.
The Rock-Slamming Recruitment Video Scientology Really Needs
Why did no one notice this mad parody video a year ago when it was first posted to the Internet? Fun stuff.
The Scott Campbell Story Continues
Another great episode in Karen de la Carriere’s series about Scott Campbell, with J. Swift and Angry Gay Pope…
Posted by Tony Ortega on July 27, 2013 at 07:00
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