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OY VEY: Scientology invokes Jewish Law to answer lawsuit by attorney Vance Woodward

MosesIn March, the Church of Scientology was sued by former member Vance Woodward, an attorney in the Los Angeles area. Readers at the Underground Bunker were familiar with Vance — he helped us do a comprehensive and fun series, reading L. Ron Hubbard’s essential text, Dianetics, cover to cover. Over his 22-year career in the church, Vance estimated that he’d spent about $600,000 and about a third of that was for services he never received.

As part of its 1993 agreement with the IRS that gained Scientology tax-exempt status, the church is required to give refunds to members who qualify for them. But Vance is one of many former members who say Scientology’s refund process is a sham. He’s suing because he says there’s no way to get his money back through the church’s own procedures.

Now, Scientology has answered Vance’s lawsuit in a predictable way — the church has filed a motion asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to find that Woodward should subject himself to Scientology’s internal arbitration rules and dismiss his lawsuit.

It’s the usual response Scientology makes to such lawsuits. In Florida, Luis and Rocio Garcia are waiting to hear if Scientology’s attempt to force them into arbitration is going to derail their federal fraud claim.

As we pointed out when Woodward first filed his lawsuit, Vance explained at length that Scientology’s arbitration system is “unconscionable.” But Scientology, in these cases, tries its best to portray itself as a legitimate religion with a sophisticated internal justice apparatus, and argues that its internal disputes should not be the subject of a civil court.

For that reason, the motion filed by the church really lays on thick the notion that Scientology is among the world’s great religions. Attorneys Gary Soter and Kendrick Moxon even invoke Jewish Law to help explain why Woodward’s suit isn’t properly the stuff of civil court…


The Scientology doctrine that any dispute arising from participation in the church or any dispute between Scientologists or between Scientologists and their churches will be submitted to and resolved by the Scientology internal arbitration system and not the civil courts, is hardly unique. Similar provisions apply in many religions….See also Karo, J. Code of Jewish Law: Laws of the Judges…Prevailing view of Jewish Law, codified in the “Code of Jewish Law,” is that Jews must seek resolution of disputes before rabbinical courts applying Jewish law, not a secular court;

The motion then quotes from the New Testament: “1 Corinthians 6:1-7 ‘If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?'”

‘Before the saints.’ Yeah, that’s a good one.

Woodward may want to get a declaration from Marty Rathbun, the former high-ranking Scientology official, who previously declared, under oath, that he was asked by church leader David Miscavige to make sure Scientology’s refund system didn’t actually result in any refunds:

The arbitration clause contained in the Enrollment Agreement was specifically included by staff and counsel in compliance with David Miscavige’s orders that we make it as difficult as possible for people to obtain refunds while also acting as if we did not cancel or undermine Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s original refund policy….Anyone who requests a refund is by definition, “guilty” in the eyes of Scientologists in good standing, no matter what the issue, especially when that person is in conflict with any Scientologist, and even more so the church itself. So, when I worked with others in the church to require that all members of any “arbitration” panel be members in good standing with the church of Scientology, by definition, we obviated the entire “arbitration” process altogether: There is simply nothing for a Scientologist in good standing to arbitrate when dealing with someone requesting a refund.

How’s that for spiritual justice?

By necessity, Soter and Moxon have to pretend that Scientology is a major religion with legitimate arbitration policies, and that Woodward should be pleading before a panel of Scientologists in good standing, not a Los Angeles judge. Vance declined to comment, but we expect he’ll come back with more evidence that Scientology is not actually in the business of giving refunds.

We asked one of our legal experts for her thoughts about Scientology’s motion. She said it didn’t compare well to the work being done by the small army of high-priced lawyers Miscavige has dispatched to Texas for the Monique Rathbun harassment lawsuit.

“Moxon and Soter are the only attorneys for the church on this brief. I am not impressed. They are not good lawyers, and I wonder if Miscavige is getting tired of paying large hourly rates. The brief is tired, it’s written as if it were five or ten years ago. Vance may have a problem because he is an attorney and will be held to a higher standard than the Garcias. The court will probably not buy any argument about the contracts being one-sided. He reviewed them, and signed them. Nonetheless, the First Amendment is a double-edged sword — the court can’t compel someone who is not a member of a church to rejoin the church so he can be in good standing, which is a requirement of Scientology arbitration. It will be interesting to see how an LA judge treats this case.”

Here’s the church’s motion…


Woodward v. Scientology: Motion to Compel Arbitration

Moxon and Soter also filed another motion to strike the causes of action from Woodward’s lawsuit, but in it asked that the motion to compel arbitration be considered first. So think of this as a backup attack.


Scientology needs lawyers!

Another great skit from Karen de la Carriere, featuring Jeffrey Augustine…



Posted by Tony Ortega on June 4, 2014 at 07:00

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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer


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