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Please send questions, comments, problems, and letters to the editor to All editorial correspondence becomes the property of -- unless requested otherwise -- and may be edited for purposes of clarity and space. Except where noted, entire contents Copyright ©1995,1996,1997 Society. trancenet.netTM is a trademark of Society, an unincorporated nonprofit organization. The opinions and viewpoints of contributors do not necessarily reflect those of, its editorial staff, nor Society, its board, officers, employees, volunteers. Neither Society nor its editorial staff conclude that any group discussed on this site is necessarily cultic in nature. We provide suppressed and alternative information so that you may make informed decisions for yourself. Copyrighted works are reprinted with permission as noted or are made available under the "fair use" exception of U.S. copyright law, for research and educational purposes only.
News Archive for December, 1997

Families: Church isolated members, The Tampa Tribune, 12/20/97
TAMPA - Relatives say Deeper Life Christian Church members had to beg for donations and work for the church without pay. Five members of the church, including three pastors, have been charged in a scheme investigators say allowed felons to get credit for court-ordered community service by giving the church food stamps. The stamps, in turn, were redeemed at church- owned stores for full face value, investigators say. After news of the church's problems surfaced, those with family in the congregation told stories of a church they say grants them visits by permission only - and always under the cold-eyed stares of special church ``security.'' Members, they said, are encouraged to rid themselves of worldly possessions and spend their days praying, collecting donations and working in church-owned stores - all for no pay. Gloria and Rose Ellison, former members of the church, said their dislike of the church has isolated them from their 59-year-old mother, Ethyl, a staunch member. ``My mama can't ever come and visit,'' Rose said. ``If we say we're going out of town somewhere, she says, `Let me check with the pastor,' and if he says no, she can't go. Jefferson is a powerful figure in the church, they said, with bodyguards and strict rules against approaching him without permission. Another woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she fears retaliation, said her husband was church member most of his life, leaving in 1989. If someone leaves the ministry, she said, ``the other people are told that something tragic happened to them, like they went to jail.'' Efforts to reach Jefferson and his attorney, Pedro Velez, were unsuccessful Friday.
Deeper Life Christian Church has rigid rules, The Tampa Tribune, 12/20/97
A random sampling of Deeper Life Christian Church Rules. Everyone must be on the grounds at least 30 days before being allowed to leave. After that, members must have an escort to leave the grounds for appointments. No one is to touch Bishop Melvin Jefferson ``for any reason,'' and no one may approach, call out to, or pass notes to him or Pastor Calvin Lanier Jr. unless requested to by them. Members must also stay at least 8 feet from the gate when Jefferson leaves the property. Women, especially, are singled out for special restrictions. They must also be in their ``place of residence'' by midnight, unless dinner is served late, in which case ``one hour is permitted for eating.'' Women also must have an escort at night - preferably a church pastor. Attendance at noon and 6 p.m. Bible classes is mandatory, and no one may walk or talk during the seven-minute prayer time. After class or services, everyone must stay in the building unless otherwise directed by Jefferson ``or his security.'' Members are forbidden hats, baseball caps, shorts, mini- skirts, tight or low-cut dresses, radios, cassettes or headphones. The rules are spiced with homilies and scripture passages leaving no doubt that disobedience is frowned upon: ``God honors obedience more than sacrifice,'' members are told, while ``rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.''
Report: Scientologists settled with IRS for $12.5 million, 6:46 a.m. PST Tuesday, December 30, 1997
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Church of Scientology paid the Internal Revenue Service $12.5 million as part of a settlement of a long-standing dispute with the tax agency, The Wall Street Journal reported today. The church agreed to drop thousands of lawsuits against the IRS and to stop assisting others in other lawsuits against the agency based on claims before the Oct. 1, 1993, settlement date, the Journal said. The IRS canceled payroll taxes and penalties it had assessed against certain church entities and seven officials, and dropped audits of 13 Scientology organizations.
Scientology Building Crumbles Near Times Square, New York Times, December 30, 1997
A chunk of concrete the size of a dining table crumbled from a Church of Scieintology building on West 46th Street yesterday and fell seven stories to the sidewalk, demolishing part of a restaurant awning and sending pedestrians scrambling. Ilyse Fink, a spokeswoman for the Buildings Department, said the city had issued a summons to the Church of Scientology earlier this year for failing to file an engineer's report on the condition of the 72-year-old building's facade. The reports are required every five years for buildings seven stories and taller. Fire Department inspectors, who secured other loose parts of the parapet yesterday with wooden beams, said it appeared that part of the building's cornice had been removed recently and that the work might have contributed to the collapse. But the Rev. John Carmichael, president of the Church of Scientology of New York, said work on the cornice was completed at least seven years ago.
Evidence Against Taiwan UFO Cult Mounts, Special to, by Terry Walker, 12/30/97
(TAIWAN) -- The news from Taiwan points to a tragedy-in-the-making. The two English-language newspapers, The China Post and the China News, are covering the Chen Tao UFO cult in Garland on a regular basis and gathering more and more evidence against the cult. Full on-site report from Taiwan.
Evidence against Taiwan cult leader surfaces, China News, 25 December 1997
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office received a package Tuesday that apparently contained evidence against the leader of a Taiwanese cult that left for the US recently. Prosecutor Chu promised to look further into allegations that Chen had urged believers to commit mass suicide. The package of evidence included cassettes, videotapes and printed materials. Police also found that believers had to sign a contract for their "trip." One of 16 families participating in the cult being examined by the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) confessed to having signed the contract with Chen. It stipulated they could not return to Taiwan before March 31, they said. Taiwan police have also received a letter from one of the cult believers, accusing Chen of fraudulently obtaining money from sect members. The letter also said that cult members were set to die in a horrible manner if they believed Chen's teachings.
'Saucer' cultists reportedly paid huge membership fees, China News, 23 December 1997
The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), Taiwan, interviewed a family belonging to the "God Save the Earth Flying Saucer Foundation" (also known as "God Salvation Church," "True Way," and "Chen Tao") and found that the leader of the cult, Chen Heng-ming, had requested US$60,000 as a fee for joining the sect. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been called on to assist in the investigation, according to a report in the China Times Express. Members of the foundation are said to be planning a mass suicide to take place in Texas. Chou Lin Yue-li, the mother of the family, said that Chen requested that her daughter pay NT$60,000 to become a member, and between US$30,000 and US$60,000 more for the privilege of securing a "lift" on the flying saucer. Prosecutor Chu Fu-mei investigated four areas where the cult apparently held meetings: Hsinchu County, Taichung City, Tainan City and Kaohsiung County. He said that he is working to find information which could show that Chen had collected fees from members illegally. Chu said that the leader of the cult may have used deceptive methods to obtain funds, or solicited money in a way that is inconsistent with the legal channels afforded mainstream religions.
blackball.GIFCult Weekly Newsletter Editor David D. Roger's editorial, 12/26/1997

Damages for AUM gas attack victims set at 1.1 bil. yen, 10:02 p.m. PST Wednesday, December 24, 1997
TOKYO, Dec. 25 (Kyodo) -- The court-appointed trustee of the bankrupt religious cult AUM Shinrikyo agreed Thursday to raise the amount of damages payable to victims of the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack by 27 million yen to 1,119 million yen. The victims, however, are unlikely to receive the full amount as the assets left by the religious cult are substantially lower than the settlement amount reached Thursday during a hearing at the Tokyo District Court. The accord, the result of a series of compensation lawsuits filed by 42 survivors and the families of the 12 people killed in the subway attack in March 1995, assigns damages ranging from 720,000 yen to 143 million yen per plaintiff, the plaintiffs' lawyer said.
CAN, the Cult Awareness Network, 60 Minutes, Sunday 28 December 1997
LESLEY STAHL-- There was a time if you were worried about your son or daughter being in a cult, you could get help from a small, non-profit organization called the Cult Awareness Network, or CAN, for 20 years the nation's best-known resource for information and advice about groups it considered dangerous. Among them was Scientology, a church not known for turning the other cheek. But recently, the Cult Awareness Network [Important Note: We do not recommend contacting the Cult Awareness Network, or CAN. An extraordinarily courageous and useful organization in the past, CAN was recently forced into bankruptcy with the help of the Church of Scientology, who now owns their records and mans their phones.] was forced into bankruptcy, and its leaders blame the Church of Scientology. CAN is under new management. Now, when you call looking for information about a cult, chances are the person you're talking to is a Scientologist. Last year, a member of the church bought CAN's name, logo, and hotline number in bankruptcy court for $20,000. A church directive, the "Fair Game" law, says a person or group that publicly criticizes the church is "fair game," and can be "destroyed." Cynthia Kisser, CAN's former executive director, says a Fair Game attack on CAN started in the 1980's, and Stacy Young says she was part of it. To do it, she says the church used picketers at CAN's conventions and waged smear campaigns. Cynthia Kisser says the church's final assault on CAN began when hundreds of Scientologists from around the country wrote virtually identical letters asking to become members of CAN. Fearing, she says, the church was out to take control of CAN, Kisser denied their applications to join. CAN was then hit with a barrage of lawsuits by individual Scientologists, claiming religious discrimination. In all, CAN was hit with more than 50 lawsuits. Even though most of the suits were eventually dropped or won by CAN, she says the cost of defending them, nearly $2 million, drove CAN to the brink of bankruptcy. For the full transcript see: For one mother's experience with the new, Scieintology-affiliated CAN, see
GSC cult leader urged to let followers return to Taiwan, December 29, 1997
Taipei, Dec. 21 (CNA -- Central News Agency) Taipei City Councilor Chin Hui-chu on Sunday urged Chen Heng-ming, a cult leader from Taiwan with a group of followers now staying in the United States, to let cult members return to Taiwan. Chin urged Taipei Mayor Chen Shui-bian to help resolve the matter. Since Taipei is a sister city of Dallas, Chen should find channels through that relationship to help the government bring the followers back to Taiwan, she said. Some of cult members complained about reports by the Taiwan press that they plan to commit mass suicide. They also expressed the desire to stay in the United States to wait for the arrival of God and flying saucers to take them to heaven on March 31 and said they will return to Taiwan if God does not appear by then.
Number of AUM cult followers at 2,200, on rise, 1:01 a.m. PST Monday, December 29, 1997
TOKYO, Dec. 29 (Kyodo) -- The number of followers of the religious cult AUM Shinrikyo, accused of organizing the gas attack on Tokyo subways in March 1995, currently stands at around 2,200, and the cult is actively recruiting, police said Monday. Following the decision in January by the Public Security Commission not to outlaw the cult under the Antisubversive Activities Law, saying AUM is no longer a threat to society, the cult has been both asking former followers to rejoin and seeking new recruits, police said.
Judge won't move murder trial of vampire cult leader, The Miami Herald, Thursday, December 25, 1997
TAVARES -- (AP) -- A judge has refused to move the murder trial of vampire cult leader Rod Ferrell outside Lake County and denied a defense request to close the proceedings to the public. The 17-year-old is one of four youths charged in the bludgeoning deaths of Richard and Ruth Wendorf in their Eustis home Nov. 25, 1996. Ferrell is charged with first-degree murder.
Police retrieve girl from apocalyptic sect, Group's leaders deny future plans of mass suicide, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Wednesday, December 24, 1997
SAN DIMAS, CALIF. (L.A. Times) Deputies retrieved a 16-year-old girl from the branch of an apocalyptic sect after the mother expressed fears the girl would join a pilgrimage to the group's home in Texas, authorities said Tuesday. Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said the mother alleged that the girl might have been held against her will at God's Salvation Church, but authorities found no sign of kidnapping. The girl, Nan Hua Chiang, rejoined her mother without incident after deputies showed up at the San Dimas church, said Lt. Roosevelt Blow. The mother who summoned deputies feared she would never see her daughter again, said sheriff Deputy Joe Lomonaco. Members of the San Dimas group who left for Texas on Tuesday told reporters they were inspired by a sign that appeared in the heavens on Dec. 13. That portent was the numerals "007" emblazoned in the sky -- an airborne advertisement for the new James Bond movie.
World Saucer cult prepares for God's arrival, BBC, 12/24/97
Wearing white coats and cowboy hats, cult members prepare for a press conference Members of a Taiwanese cult which moved to America to prepare for the arrival of God have denied that they are planning a mass suicide. More than 2,000 followers have moved from Taiwan to Garland, Texas, where they say God will appear to them after travelling to Earth in a spaceship. Speaking in Garland, the group's leader, calling his cult The True Way Church, denied he was planning a copycat suicide. Hon Ming Chen said: "Two thousand years ago I was the father of Jesus Christ. God can appear in a human body but he comes not to judge people but to save them. But if God does not land in Garland next March most members of the group, which preaches a mix of Christianity and Buddhism, say they will simply return home to Taiwan. Chen even used that as a reason for why they would not kill themselves. He said: "There's no reason to be concerned that they would commit suicide. They've got return plane tickets."
Last cult members leave Calif. for end-of-world rendezvous in Texas, 6:41 p.m. PST Tuesday, December 23, 1997
SAN DIMAS, Calif. (AP) -- A family of four wearing white emerged from the God's Salvation Church on Tuesday, saying they were headed for Texas to join fellow congregants waiting for God to appear so they could board a spaceship. About 140 other followers of the Taiwan-based church -- also dressed in white and wearing sunglasses and white cowboy hats -- left earlier this week for Garland, Texas, for what they expect to be a March 31 arrival of God. Although its practices seem similar to the Heaven's Gate cult, right down to the uniforms and sneakers that followers wear, God's Salvation members said they have no plans to kill themselves. "We don't die," Pi Feng Chiang, mother of the family of four, said in halting English. "We believe God. God like life." Sheriff's detectives, who investigated a Taiwanese woman's claim that her teen-age daughter was kidnapped by the cult, said they did not believe God's Salvation followers would kill themselves. Taiwanese media reports last week said the group's leader, Hon-Ming Chen, was encouraging newcomers to kill themselves so their bodies could be picked up by flying saucers. Chen told reporters Tuesday that he had no such plans. Although Chen, a father of two in his 40s, denied any suicide plans Tuesday, the former Taiwanese sociology teacher did claim to be the father of Jesus Christ and that God will assume his body at 10 a.m. on March 31.
New Age Spiritualism in Europe, Thursday, The Miami Herald, December 25
VALENCIA, Spain -- (Washington Post Service) Europe no less than the United States has cottoned to New Age spiritualism, Hinduism, Transcendental Meditation, the Unification Church, Krishna Consciousness, occultism, faith healing. The Church of Scientology is locked in a struggle with the German government to enhance its tax status as a certified religion. Cults also have made a mark in Europe, most recently with the self-immolation of members of the Order of the Solar Temple. Many young people exhibit a phenomenon familiar to American sociologists of contemporary religion: "zapping" among religions, surfing for faiths that appeal to them. A French term for it is bricolage, loosely translated as do-it-yourselfism. "Religion, like so many other things, has entered the world of options, lifestyles and preferences," Davie said.
Scientology sponsored suit against opponent, St. Petersburg Times, December 23, 1997
LOS ANGELES -- The Church of Scientology is complaining loudly about a Boston banker's effort to finance anti-Scientology activities, including a wrongful death lawsuit against the church in Tampa. Scientology has blasted Robert S. Minton Jr. for donating more than $1.25-million to its critics, calling his actions "nefarious" and underhanded. The church contends he is illegally interfering with lawsuits involving Scientology. Minton's donations include $100,000 to Tampa lawyer Ken Dandar, who represents the estate of Lisa McPherson in a wrongful death lawsuit against the church.n an effort to get more information about Minton, the church is using a bankruptcy case involving a church critic to subpoena records of Minton's donations. At a hearing scheduled today in Tampa, Dandar is expected to argue against the church's effort. He said he inquired about Minton over the Internet and Minton responded, offering financial aid in the McPherson case. But Minton's contributions are a fraction of the money and effort Scientology poured into lawsuits that bankrupted CAN, according to a lawyer who has defended the group. Attorney Daniel Leipold puts CAN's legal expenses at roughly $2-million, and "for every nickel we spent, they spent at least a dollar."
A scion falls short of sinless, The Boston Globe, 12/20/97
Nansook Hong smiled all the way to the dentist's office the other day. Even the prospect of a root canal looked good next to the marriage she had just dissolved in Concord probate court. She went into Judge Edward Ginsburg's courtroom Nansook Hong Moon and came out Nansook Hong, freed from her ties to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in name and in law. None of the cameras that recorded the elaborately staged mass wedding of the Rev. Moon's followers in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago were on hand to document the end of her 14-year marriage to Hyo Jin Moon, the eldest son of the self-proclaimed messiah. One divorce for cruel and abusive treatment can hardly compete as television or as theater with the blessing of a football stadium full of passive brides in identical white gowns marching alongside awkward grooms in standard-issue black suits. Nansook Hong was a 15-year-old Korean schoolgirl when the Rev. Moon chose her to be the bride of his 19-year-old son. The Rev. Moon's own wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, was only 16 herself when she married the then-40-year-old preacher in 1960. Sun Myung Moon promptly declared himself and his wife ''True Parents'' who would establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth by bringing sinless children into the world and by uniting believers in arranged marriages. Court papers detailing Nansook Hong's allegations of a marriage plagued by her husband's drug addiction and violence suggest that Hyo Jin Moon came up a little short of sinless. Nansook Hong will retain sole legal and physical custody of their five children, three girls and two little boys who have not seen their father for almost two years because of his failure to meet the court's sole requirement for visitation: a clean drug test. It is an odd obstacle for the scion of a sect that mandates that members abstain from the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. By contrast, Hyo Jin Moon spent the 30 minutes prior to his divorce proceedings outside the Concord courthouse, chain-smoking a pack of Marlboros.
Submitted by Steven Hassan.
Taiwan cult guru given seven-year sentence for fraud, Taiwan Central News Agency, Thursday, October 30, 1997
Taipei District Judge Tsay Kun-hu sentenced both Sung Chi-li, the spiritual leader of the "Sung Chi-li Association" and his head disciple Chen Cheng-dung to seven year prison terms, declaring that the two should be punished for swindling hundreds of millions of NT dollars from the followers of the association. Sung, born Sung Gan-lin, was arrested last October on charges of fraud. According to court documents, Sung conspired with Chen and some other defendants to pretend to be a religious guru with seven supernatural powers in order to swindle money from followers.
Security agency says AUM cult could still be dangerous, 3:21 a.m. PST Saturday, December 20, 1997
TOKYO, Dec. 20 (Kyodo) -- The government's security agency said Saturday there is a danger that there could be a rapid resurgence of the religious cult AUM Shinrikyo, which is accused of organizing the poison gas attack on Tokyo subways in March 1995. In an annual review of the activities of terrorist and right-wing movements, the Public Security Investigation Agency stressed the need to keep a strict watch on AUM, despite the fact that in January the Public Security Commission decided not to outlaw the cult under the Antisubversive Activities Law on the grounds that it no longer posed a threat to society.
Famed Japan film director Itami kills self - police, 6:46 p.m. PST Saturday, December 20, 1997
TOKYO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Famed Japanese director Juzo Itami, maker of films such as "Tampopo" and "Ososhiki" (The Funeral), died on Saturday after committing suicide, a police spokesman said. The spokesman told Reuters that Itami, 64, was found badly injured on a street outside his office at 6.40 p.m. (0940 GMT) and died in hospital shortly later. Itami, whose real name was Yoshihiro Ikeuchi, earlier this year released his 10th film, "Marutai no Onna" (Woman of the Police Protection Programme), to critical and commercial success. The film was about an actress who witnesses a murder and is then threatened by members of a religious cult who committed the crime. She is placed in a witness-protection program. The film is loosely based on the Japanese doomsday cult, Aum Shinrikyo, whose members are on trial for the March 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subways that left 11 people dead and thousands injured.
Two Iowa teens sentenced in cat slaughter, 4:08 p.m. PST Friday, December 19, 1997
BLOOMFIELD, Iowa (Reuters) - Two teen-agers who killed 16 cats and maimed seven others in an attack on an animal shelter were sentenced to 23 days each in jail Friday, one day for each of the animals they clubbed. "There needs to be some punishment here. You need to understand how serious this was," said Judge Dan Wilson of Davis County District Court. He also fined the two $2,500 each and put them on probation for three years. The incident took place last March at the Noah's Ark Animal Shelter in Fairfield, a home for animals run by followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. His followers bought the former Parsons College in Fairfield several years ago, renamed it Maharishi International University and turned the area into a center for transcendental meditation. A third teen involved in the attack, Justin Toben, also 18, agreed to testify against the other two and was sentenced earlier to three year's probation.

blackball.GIFCult Weekly Newsletter Editor David D. Roger's editorial, 12/19/1997

TM's Natural Law Party fields candidates in violence-marked Jamaican elections, 7:44 p.m. PST Tuesday, December 16, 1997
KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) - The Natural Law Party -- an affiliate of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement -- is contesting its first elections this year with a slate of eight candidates in Jamaican national elections. A party spokesman said that "even if we lose, we have won." The Natural Law Party proposes placing full-time meditators across the country to raise the consciousness of the nation. Former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday to head a 60-member observer mission that will monitor general elections this week.
Clarification, Landmark Education Corporation, Dec. 16, 1997
CHICAGO and SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE) It has come to the attention of Landmark Education Corporation that there is some confusion regarding the settlement of its lawsuit against the Cult Awareness Network announced Nov. 10, 1997. This is to clarify that the Settlement Agreement was reached with the Board of Directors of the original Cult Awareness Network (the organization against which Landmark's suit was brought) and not with the new organization holding itself out as the Cult Awareness Network Hotline operated by the Foundation for Religious Freedom and in some way related to the Church of Scientology, according to Art Schreiber, general counsel, Landmark Education Corporation. CONTACT: Morrison, Cohen, Singer & Weinstein, Martin K. Leaf, 212/735-8600.
Priscilla throws a party for Memphis Scientology "Mission," St. Paul Pioneer Press,12/14/97
Flanked by her two children, Presley spent about two hours greeting and giving presents to about 100 children at the Church of Scientology's Memphis mission. Church officials said the party was the idea of Presley's, the daughter of the late Elvis Presley.
Trial on sex allegations pits woman against church guru Suit, San Jose Mercury News, 12/14/97
A civil trial, being heard in a Redwood City courtroom, has pitted former member Anne Marie Bertolucci against the Ananda Church of Self-Realization, its founder J. Donald Walters -- known as Swami Kriyananda to his flock -- senior minister Danny Levin and Crystal Clarity Publishing, the church-owned former employer of Bertolucci. Lawyers and witnesses have referred in court to the church as cultlike, with private communities, rules of conduct and philosophies that worldly possessions -- from homes to children -- belong to the church. Ford Greene, one of Bertolucci's lawyers, said the "brainwashing" of members when they first join led his client to believe that any attention by Walters and church leaders was a blessing because it came from those closer to God than she. It wasn't until the end of her relationship with the church that she realized the alleged abuse -- and became more vocal about it. That led to her removal from the Ananda community, into therapy and eventually into the courtroom. On the witness stand, Walters, 71 -- a swami who preached meditation as a method of channeling sexual urges into spiritual energy -- testified that he was "weak" for breaking his vow of celibacy and engaging in sexual acts with female members of the church. But the swami, a title of respect for a Hindu religious teacher, said his accusers "thrust their company" on him and interrupted his meditations by taking advantage of his "weaknesses." The trial, which began in October and could extend into 1998, has created curiosity about the Ananda Church, which has come into the spotlight on the Peninsula over the years with its extensive real estate acquisitions. The religion is based on the beliefs of Paramhansa Yogananda, a Hindu spiritual leader who brought his Self-Realization Fellowship to the United States from India in 1920. Walters became a disciple of Yogananda in 1948. In 1962, four years after the death of Yogananda, he was separated from the fellowship because "the Master now wanted me to do the task for which he prepared me," he wrote in his autobiography, "The Path." Bertolucci's complaint alleges fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful termination. It originally alleged sexual harassment, though that charge was dismissed because churches are exempt from harassment charges, Greene said. She is asking for a settlement of "several million dollars," Greene said. An exact amount must be decided by a jury, he said.
Church of Scientology hits back at its critics, 12/13/97Philedelphia Inquirer,
Rod Keller was shocked when he arrived home Sunday night. But he wasn't surprised. He had spent the weekend at a demonstration in Clearwater, Fla., marking the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson, who died there after 17 days in the custody of the Church of Scientology. And Scientology is not a church that turns the other cheek. When he got home from Clearwater, Keller discovered a flier had been posted in his Roxborough apartment building. 'THE FACE OF RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY" read the headline. Below it was his photograph. "Your neighbor Rod Keller is not all that he seems," read the text. "This weekend he is leading a KKK-style rally against peaceful members of a religion." The flier was unsigned, but he soon discovered that other demonstrators had returned from Clearwater to find nearly identical fliers, bearing their names and photographs, near their homes in Boston, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. John Carmichael, president of the New York office of the Church of Scientology and its regional spokesman, acknowledged yesterday that Scientologists had posted the flier in Keller's apartment house. Keller, a designer of World Wide Web sites who also publishes a Web newsletter critical of Scientology, insists he is "not opposed to them because of their beliefs, but because of their medical quackery and the ways they abuse their people." His Web newsletter can be found by searching for Alt.Religion.Scientology Week in Review.
Scientology Decoded, LAWeekly, 12/19/97
OffBeat readers, take heart. The cryptic Scientology notation described here last week has been decoded. The notation, as many readers kindly alerted us, comes from the late L. Ron Hubbard's mental Tone Scale, which ranges from 40 (serenity of beingness) to negative 40 (total failure). According to the online Scientology handbook (, 1.1, "the most dangerous and wicked level," means "covert hostility" - a common designation bestowed on the Church's perceived enemies. Applied Scholastics president Ian Lyons confirmed the notation's meaning, saying, "There is no secret about it." Also, due to an editing error, OffBeat last week stated that the Church of Scientology won a Supreme Court case limiting the right of critics to reprint internal Church documents (on the Internet, for instance). In fact, the ruling came from a Federal District Court Judge in Alexandria, Virginia. Back at the Weekly, we are holding out for an upgrade to 1.9, just plain "hostility.
Doral's Lakeside cemetery vandalized, ashes stolen, The Miami Herald, Thursday, December 18, 1997,
Three times this year at the Lakeside Memorial Park cemetery, thieves have smashed or unscrewed the marbleized headstones on a wall of niches and stolen funeral urns containing human ashes. The latest theft occurred after-hours last week, when vandals broke into three niches and stole the remains. In May and June incidents, five other urns were stolen and an additional two headstones damaged. Lately, the vandalism has escalated, say police. Last Friday, a skull was found on the grounds. After a fruitless search of the cemetery for desecrated graves, workers and police concluded the skull was brought into Lakeside. Cemetery workers have found bags containing animal parts and coins. Det. Rico Rivas, who is handling the latest case, said all the events may be the work of ritual cults.
Police recommend criminal charges in Scientologist death, 5:47 p.m. PST Tuesday, December 16, 1997
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) -- Police have recommended criminal charges in the case of a Scientologist who died in 1995 after spending 17 days at a church retreat. McPherson's family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the church last February. They claim she was held in isolation against her will because she wanted to leave the church. According to an autopsy by the office of Medical Examiner Joan Wood, McPherson died of a blood vessel blockage in her left lung caused by severe dehydration and bed rest. Wood said McPherson went without fluids for at least five to 10 days and possibly her entire stay at the hotel. Church officials said she grew weak, lost weight and fell ill on Dec. 5, 1995. Church staffers said they drove her in a van to a hospital 45 minutes away in Pasco County so she could see an emergency room doctor who is a Scientologist. She was pronounced dead 20 minutes later.
L. Ron Hubbard Strikes Back, LA Weekly, 12/10/97
The folks at Scientology-affiliated textbook publisher Applied Scholastics think pretty highly of their L. Ron Hubbard-inspired pedagogy. In their push to qualify a series of five Applied Scholastics texts for public school use statewide, the company has touted the books' ability to help students think, speak and write for themselves. It seems odd, then, that the honchos at Applied Scholastics apparently don't trust their own followers' expressive abilities. A misrouted fax rolled into our offices the other day, from one Margaret McCarthy at Applied Scholastics headquarters to one "Daryl at Player's Choice," a trophy shop in Santa Ana. By all appearances, Ms. McCarthy is directing Daryl on what to write in a letter to the editor of the Weekly. We'd like to print the entire five-sentence fax, but we can't. So, by way of summary, McCarthy opens the missive to "Daryl" with instructions for her to re-type an enclosed letter to the editor on her own company letterhead. McCarthy uses some secret symbolic notation - two vertical lines alternating with two dots - to warn Daryl against making mistakes in the letter. As in: "Be careful of typos, etc. This is a [secret symbol] publication and you know they'll nail us for any boo boos." We called McCarthy and asked if she was orchestrating a letter-writing campaign against the Weekly, but she wouldn't say. McCarthy said it was "impossible" that her fax to Daryl arrived here mistakenly, and demanded to see a copy of it before she would answer any questions. So we sent it back and waited for her call. We're still waiting.
Europeans move to outlaw even well-known religions, The Washington Times, 12/14/97
A network of psychiatric, legal, media and socialist groups are pressuring European governments to outlaw or curtail the activities of well-known religious organizations, a new report states. With groups such as Catholic charismatics, Hasidic Jews, Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Quakers, Buddhists -- and the YWCA -- now being listed as "dangerous sects" by state panels, American human rights groups are raising concerns. In Philadelphia on Dec. 5, the Helsinki Commission, headed by U.S. lawmakers as a monitor of European affairs, held a hearing on religious liberty of religious minorities in Europe. On Dec. 7, the European Parliament began debate and then vote on a Europe-wide document identifying "dangerous sects." Mr. Introvigne, who works with hundreds of scholars in Europe, issued a report on religious liberty at a Washington press conference last week. "We don't claim it is a real persecution," he said, but added that "these things are escalating to a kind of avalanche." The European trend was reported at time when religious persecution around the world is getting more attention in America, and Congress had threatened to limit aid to the Russian government if it enacts tough new laws curtailing all but a few historic religions. Mr. Introvigne said that in several countries anti-sect lists or reports are being compiled, with a German report citing 800 groups, Belgium listing 187 and France 172, including Baptists. "The notion of cults keeps growing," said Mr. Introvigne, quipping that under France's commission report a Southern Baptist such as President Clinton "is a cultist, but not a dangerous cultist." Anti-sect groups propose laws to list groups, outlaw "mind control" by sects, bar them from opening bank accounts or renting meeting halls and to set up government bureaus to monitor groups. "We have been getting reports of a live intolerance in Europe, especially under the sect commissions," said Karen Lord, legal counsel for religious freedom at the Helsinki Commission. "Some of the groups they list are Opus Dei, which is blessed by the pope, and Campus Crusade for Christ." She said that during meetings in Europe last month of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, German officials assured U.S. staff that it will not create a list of "dangerous cults" like Belgium has done. The Belgian list includes four Catholic organizations, Hasidic Jews and the YWCA. A French official said religion is freely expressed in Europe, and that in France "we don't regard Mormons or Quakers or all the small groups as sects." Mr. Introvigne said the European courts are the only obstacle to anti-sect activity of private groups, publishers, lawyers, psychiatrists and some socialist parties. The Catholic bishops in France and Italy have criticized the lists, and "alarm bells went off in Vatican circles" when Belgium's list came out, he said. Gordon Melton, an American scholar of religions, said that many East European leaders have said they will adopt the Greek legal model, which virtually bans public religious events except for the Orthodox Church. The Council of Europe -- which differs from the European Parliament by including East European governments -- also has an anti-sect commission headed by Romania's former communist ministry of religious affairs director. The new trend in Europe, the two scholars said, was sparked by the Solar Temple suicides and homicides in Switzerland in 1994 and 1995, much as the Jonestown suicides in Guyana in 1978 spawned congressional hearings, media alarms and cult listing in America. [Editor's Note: Critics assert that the Washington Times has been bought and financed by interests closely allied with Moon and the Unification Church and may report the news from a perspective friendly to them. Gordon Melton is often criticized by cult awareness experts for his close relationships with the Unification Church and similar groups.]
Man resembling AUM member videotaped before shooting, 6:54 a.m. PST Friday, December 12, 1997
TOKYO, Dec. 12 (Kyodo) -- A video camera installed in front of the apartment block of the then head of the National Police Agency (NPA) recorded a young man resembling a key member of the religious cult AUM Shinrikyo 20 days before the police head was shot and seriously injured in March 1995, police sources said Friday. The Minamisenju Police Station of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), which monitored videotaped images from the camera, immediately dispatched two officers to the condominium in the Minamisenju district in Tokyo's Arakawa Ward, where former NPA chief Takaji Kunimatsu lived at the time, but the man had already disappeared, the sources said. Kunimatsu, now 60, was shot by a masked man in the morning of March 30, 1995, while the video camera incident took place late at night March 10. The MPD suspects that those involved in the matter at the police station had abandoned the tape to keep the incident secret and prevent senior officers at the station from being forced to take responsibility of the dubious man's escape, they said. A 32-year-old MPD policeman who had belonged to AUM confessed to shooting Kunimatsu but the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office decided in June this year not to indict him, saying his confession was doubtful. The shooting took place 10 days after AUM allegedly mounted an attack on Tokyo subways with the nerve gas sarin March 20, 1995, killing 12 and injuring thousands.
Austrian Parliament puts faiths in limbo, The Washington Times, 12/10/97
The Austrian Parliament yesterday passed Western Europe's strictest law regarding religious minorities, designating a group of second-class faiths that may gain legal status only after a 10- to 20-year probation period.      The two majority parties that passed the Austrian law -- the Socialists and the conservative People's Party -- said it gives groups such as Baptists, Adventists or Jehovah's Witnesses a path to public acceptance and social benefits.      In more than five hours of debate, Austrian lawmakers backing the law said it would clarify for the public and the courts the legal status of a growing number of "religious communities" and beliefs.      But Austria's three smaller parties, along with religious liberty advocates and some U.S. officials, have criticized the law as restrictive. They say it is Western Europe's strongest step so far in a new trend toward curtailing religious minorities.      The Seventh-day Adventists, with 10,000 members in Austria, have tried for 20 years to gain legal recognition, but now face another decade of scrutiny in that attempt, its leaders said.      The Austrian law states that official religions must have at least 16,000 members -- even though only four of the 12 official religions recognized by the 1945 Constitution have that number. There are, for example, only 8,000 officially registered Jews, though perhaps twice that many in the Austrian population.      The official religions have tax exemption, state funding, five minutes a week on government television, a religion teacher in state schools and a minister to counsel soldiers of that faith.      Faiths seeking the second-class category of "public corporation" must have 300 members, the law stipulates. They must wait 10 years for possible approval if they had applied before the new law, and 20 years if they make a first application.      Though Austria is the first to pass a law on minority faiths, several European countries have established state-funded commissions to develop reports or lists of "dangerous sects." The lists include many faiths widely accepted in America, such as Pentecostals, Witnesses, Baptists, Buddhists, Hasidic Jews and even the YWCA.      The new Austrian law is considered the strictest religious limitation in Western Europe, even more so than Greece, which does not monitor groups but outlaws proselytizing by any faith except the Greek Orthodox Church. [Editor's Note: Critics assert that the Washington Times has been bought and financed by interests closely allied with Moon and the Unification Church and may report the news from a perspective friendly to them.]
Former banker gives $1.25 million to critics of Church of Scientology, 8:11 a.m. PST Tuesday, December 9, 1997
BOSTON (AP) -- Members of the Church of Scientology say a retired investment banker is using "KKK-style" tactics to discredit the church. Robert Minton, a retired banker from Beacon Hill, said he decided to give $1.25 million to critics of the church because he believes it abuses some of its members and uses strong-arm tactics to intimidate detractors. Minton told The Boston Globe, "I'm trying, in a rather helpful way, to force this organization to reform." Minton's tangle with the church began more than two years ago after the church took legal action against several people who were posting internal church documents on the Internet. The church charged that the postings violated copyright laws. Minton, who says he viewed the struggle as a free speech issue, said he said he decided to "put my money where my mouth was and help individuals and organizations who were having problems with the church." Minton said he will give an additional $250,000 to help finance the suit against the church. He said he has also purchased a $260,000 home in Seattle for two former Scientology members -- Vaughn and Stacy Young -- who run a cat shelter in west Seattle. In addition, he said, he has given money to former church members in Washington and an anti-Scientology activist in California. Church officials say they are conducting their own investigation into Minton's funding practices. [Editor's Note: The Boston Globe also reports on Minton's gifts.}
New Age Cult Sues Professor Over His Website, David Lane, 12/8/97
On September 8, 1997, the Church Of The Movement Of Spiritual Inner Awareness filed a lawsuit against David Lane (a philosophy professor at Mount San Antonio College) in the United States District Court for the Central District of California (Western Division). The suit stems over David Lane's inclusion of Peter McWilliams famous book, Life 102: What To Do When Your Guru Sues You (Prelude Press, 1994) on his website, the NEURAL SURFER ( (The text is also available at In 1996, two years after McWilliams gave irrevocable permission to David Lane and to countless others, Peter McWilliams signed over his copyright of Life 102 over to MSIA as part of a legal agreement (McWilliams received close to 2 million dollars as well). On October 14, 1997, David Lane "answered" the MSIA complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California (Western Division). No trial date has yet been set, but both parties are preparing for an intense legal battle.
Concerned About Campus Cults, Colleges Arm Students With Facts, Washington Post, Tuesday, December 9, 1997
At the University of Maryland's College Park campus, a push is underway to alert students that they are not immune to cult recruitment. It's the latest example of a recognition by several universities across the country that their campuses offer prime hunting ground for destructive cults. Torn between a commitment to respect pluralism and a desire to protect students, the schools are trying to make students aware of the questionable tactics some groups use to lure and hold young members. Several Washington area universities have produced cult awareness campaigns in recent years. New students at Georgetown University receive a pamphlet titled "High Pressure Religious Groups" that describes the groups as using "persistent, manipulative and often dishonest persuasion" to recruit. Incoming students at George Washington University get a similar pamphlet, mailed to their homes. The push to raise awareness in College Park came after months of complaints from parents who said their children were recruited into cults while attending the state's flagship educational institution. To blunt recruiting drives, administrators at several campuses nationwide have stripped some student groups of official recognition after they were found to be using deceptive approaches. In most cases, that means the groups are forbidden to use campus facilities for meetings. In other instances, schools have banned adult members of certain groups from entering residence halls.
Nation stunned by 'Satanists' trial, Tuesday December 9 1:26 PM EST
ATHENS, Dec. 9 (UPI) _ Cult leaders Asimakis Katsoulis and Manolis Dimitrokalis are contesting life sentences for slaying a 15-year-old female student and a 30-year-old hotel chambermaid. Arguing before a prison court, both convicts _ now in their mid-20s said their 1993 acts of abduction, rape and murder were all part of sacrificial rituals and offerings to Satan. Katsoulis told the court, ``We're not stars, just cold-blooded murderers.'' It was an apparent bid to persuade the court to reduce his life sentence.
Unification Church High School Criticized -- Facility Is Opened At Conn. University, The Boston Globe, December 7, 1997
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The recent opening of a high school by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church at the University of Bridgeport has reopened old wounds in the continuing debate over whether the university is controlled by the church. Some students and church critics point to the opening this fall of New Eden Academy International, a Unification Church boarding high school for children of church members, in a university dormitory as an indication of Moon's increasing influence at the university. Some students also say they have recently been harassed by campus officials for criticizing the church, or for not going to church functions. Lee Morrero, 21, a junior, says he was thrown off the school paper last year after writing articles about the growing church presence on campus. According to Morrero, he was also harassed by students and administrators for trying to hold meetings and workshops to warn students about the church. ``We had a club, The Alternative Thinkers, which tried to explore all kinds of present-day issues like pre-marital sex, and the existence and impact of cults, and the administration forced us to disband the club,'' said Morrero. University administrators, he said, would not let club members use campus facilities to hold meetings or workshops. University officials and faculty strongly deny these allegations. Donna J. Marino, vice president for development and university relations, says she knows of no complaints about harassment on campus or attempts by the church to influence students or curriculum in any way. The university, which has 2,700 students from more than 60 countries, was saved from closing by the $100 million it has received from the church in the last five years. While the church gained the right to appoint a majority of the 34 trustees and two top administrators in exchange for its financial assistance, Marino says there are no ulterior motives behind its rescue mission.
Hawaiian estate offered for Heaven's Gate suicide site, December 2, 1997
RANCHO SANTA FE, California (CNN) -- A prospective buyer offered to swap a Hawaiian estate for the mansion where 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide last spring. The offer for an "even swap" of an Oahu estate for the 9,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom house where the UFO cultists killed themselves.
As Empire Thrives, Guru Seeks Credibility Amid Fears He is a Dangerous Cult Leader, Westchester (NY) Gannett Suburban Newspapers, November 3, 1997
For a few weeks in September, it looked as if Westchester-based guru Frederick P. Lenz III finally had achieved a measure of the respectability he craves. "Rama," as he is known by his disciples, was linked in a Barnes & Noble Inc. promotion with literary giants Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck. Barnes & Noble included Lenz, as the author of "Surfing the Himalayas" and "Snowboarding to Nirvana," in a contest that awarded winners a trip to the settings of novels by Lenz (Nepal), Dickens (London) or Steinbeck (Monterrey, Calif.). Then, as often happens with Lenz, a troubling question intruded: is the 46-year-old author a savvy computer software entrepreneur with Buddhist trappings or a dangerous cult leader? Barnes & Noble received several letters of protest from people who believe Lenz is nothing more than a flimflam man whose mind-control techniques compel his followers to pay huge sums of money for his lectures and computer classes. Lenz was quietly dropped from the promotion. Full text.
Church says 'nothing mysterious' about deaths, St. Petersburg Times, December 7, 1997
CLEARWATER -- The Church of Scientology vehemently protested any attempt by law enforcement officials or the news media to draw conclusions from deaths of church members in Pinellas County. In interviews and in a letter from its New York legal counsel, the church outlined its criticism of the Times investigation. "For your newspaper even to suggest that somehow the Church may have been responsible for these rare and unfortunate events would be false and defamatory, would cast the church and its management in a false light and would be outrageous in the extreme," wrote New York lawyer Eric M. Lieberman in a letter to the Times after reporters questioned the deaths. Scientologists die at no greater rate than Catholics or Lutherans or staffers at the St. Petersburg Times, Scientology spokesmen insisted.
Police say youth "Vampire" case still open, Contra Costa Times, December 7, 1997
BERKELEY -- Elijah Louis Jacobs was 14. His body was found in the Bay near the Berkeley Marina on Sept. 24. His signature black coat, without which he rarely went out, has not been found. While the cause of his death has not been determined, no one who knew Eli believes his death was an accident. Some fellow students say it could be related to a fight Eli was involved in a day or two earlier, while others think he died of a drug overdose and his body was dumped in the Bay. Some others believe Eli's death was linked to the shadowy world of witchcraft, vampire games and late night performances of "Rocky" that he inhabited while he was alive. At Games of Berkeley, one of Eli's favorite hangouts, employees say police vigorously investigated this theory: City homicide inspectors reasoned that Eli could have been waylaid by an assassin clan of "vampires" opposed to Eli's ascension. The last time anyone reported seeing Eli alive was early in the morning of Sept. 21, after "Rocky," which begins Saturdays at midnight at the UC Theatre. Alameda County coroner's officials say only that the case is still open. Berkeley police say they found "no signs of foul play," but homicide inspectors say they have questioned more than 20 people. About two years ago, Eli's father remembered, he took his son and a few friends to a game convention, where Eli was introduced to "Vampire -- The Masquerade." "He was hooked," said Jacobs. "He found what he wanted. He fit in immediately." "Vampire," a live-action role-playing game invented in 1990, is a form of improvisational theater with its own elaborate mythology and history. In the game, vampires roam the Earth, searching for blood, wary of being unmasked by the mortals who would destroy them, in perpetual struggle against each other and the beast within themselves. Within the limits of the rules, "Vampire" allows you to reinvent yourself as whatever you want to be. Eli and his friends played the game in secluded areas of the UC-Berkeley campus.
Thousands turn out for Scientology, St. Petersburg Times, December 6, 1997
CLEARWATER -- Thousands of Scientologists chanted and marched by candlelight Friday night in downtown Clearwater in a surprise demonstration against the city Police Department and the St. Petersburg Times. Friday's activities included dueling candlelight vigils and news conferences, with church members on one side and a group of about 25 anti-Scientology protesters on the other. Scientology staff members wore street clothes all day instead of the military uniforms that have made their presence so obvious during the church's 22-year presence in downtown Clearwater. Church spokesman Brian Anderson said the measure was to protect staffers from being singled out for violence by the anti-Scientolgy protesters. Also Friday, church officials pulled two other parties into the controversy. They accused Clearwater police of helping the anti-Scientology protesters and thereby violating the rights of Scientologists. They said they were preparing to take legal action against the police to protect their civil rights. They also charged that the Times had printed lies concerning the death of Lisa McPherson. A handful of Scientologists took pictures and video of the demonstrators and of reporters. Anti-Scientology protesters cradled candles against the cool air as a bagpiper played Amazing Grace. They huddled quietly in front of the Fort Harrison to protest what they said were abusive Scientology practices that can lead to deaths like McPherson's. Two blocks away, meanwhile, thousands of church members marched around police headquarters chanting slogans such as "Sid Klein, what's your crime?" Klein is the Clearwater police chief. When the Scientologists reached the Times building, they began chanting "St. Pete Times. Truth, not lies!" The church and its attorneys have criticized the newspaper's coverage of the McPherson case since her death was made public a year ago. Times executive editor Paul Tash said Friday: "Over the years, the Church of Scientology has objected in this way to what we consider vigorous journalism. We think we have an obligation to our readers and our community, and we will fulfill that obligation despite this sort of reaction." Police estimated the number of Scientologists protesting at 1,500. The church estimated 4,000.
Paducah bids farewell to slain teens, 12/05/97- Updated 12:16 AM ET
WEST PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) --The 14-year-old boy charged with killing three classmates after a prayer meeting told investigators he had seen it done before in a movie that features a teen-ager dreaming about gunning down students in a Catholic high school, a prosecutor said Thursday. After Monday's shooting, Principal Bill Bond said Carneal told a teacher who watched him until police arrived: "It was like I was in a dream, and I woke up." Carneal then made a passing reference to the movie under questioning by investigators. Carneal told investigators he talked with friends about taking control of his school and shooting students as long ago as a year. Sheriff Frank Augustus said Wednesday he had a "gut feeling" the shooter didn't act alone. He questioned why the boy brought to the school a pistol, two rifles, two shotguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition believed stolen from a neighbor's garage. The rifles were wrapped in a quilt, a bundle he explained were props for a science experiment.
Third Annual Protest against Scientology December 5, 6 1997 In Clearwater, Florida
Contact (local), Arnie Lerma, or Jeff Jacobsen The third annual peaceful demonstration against the Church of Scientology will be held in Clearwater Florida this December 5 and 6, 1997. Clearwater is the spiritual world headquarters of Scientology. Critics point out the harmful and dangerous practices of the church, their exorbitant and aggressive monetary requirements, their policy of attacking anyone they consider an "enemy," and their own incarceration of members deemed problematic to the church. Lisa McPherson, a 36-year-old Scientologist, died December 5, 1995 at Scientology's Ft. Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater. After a 17-day stay while under the care of fellow Scientologists, Lisa lost approximately 40 pounds, had scabs and bruises all over her body, was severely dehydrated, and was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital many miles from the hotel but with a Scientologist doctor on duty. On Friday December 5 there will be a press conference during the day including several ex-Scientologists who will explain the cruel treatment inside Scientology. There will also be a candlelight vigil in Lisa McPherson's memory that evening at 6:30pm in front of the Ft. Harrison Hotel where Lisa died, on the second anniversary of her death. On Saturday December 6 there will be a peaceful demonstration across from the Ft. Harrison Hotel at 210 S. Ft. Harrison. The protest is designed to inform the public about Scientology's harmful practices and actions. For further information:,,,
The Way moving to Colorado, The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette, December 2, 1997
ROME CITY (IN) - The Way International plans to sell its 197-acre, biblical research college north of Rome City, moving about 50 students and their families to another campus in Colorado. The Way International, based in New Knoxville, Ohio, used the college to teach leadership of its Way Corps to students with children. The Way International will help cover costs of their moves this summer, said Vice President Emeritus Donald Wierwille, who is overseeing the move. Wierwille said the sale is necessary to reduce organization costs during the transition. The campus has 25 buildings and about 230 bedrooms, plus a farm, physical plant for heating and electricity, and recreation areas. Enrollment has declined from a high of 350 students to the 50 this year, said Wierwille. The decline resulted from tougher admission policies and a two-year service requirement begun in September, Wierwille said. The new policy requires students to study and experience The Way beliefs before being admitted to school. "(The policy) certainly had an effect," he said. "And since we have raised our standards somewhat . . . we have weeded out by ourselves." Wierwille said officials plan to meet with the public to discuss future uses for the campus. For a full story see:
TWI Rome City Indiana Campus for sale,, December 3, 1997
According to records filed with Rome City city hall, The Way College of Biblical Research, Indiana Campus has been put up for sale. There will be a public meeting to discuss the sale at the Rome City Indiana Campus, 7:30 p.m., Monday. The Way International formerly held their Advanced Classes there as well as it being the home for the Family Corps in training. Some speculate The Way International may be in financial trouble after deciding to "employ" their middle leadership, Way Corps -- or that current TWI leader L. Craig Martindale may be gathering his faithful in the face of increasing media scrutiny and criticism.
The Maharishi offers "solution" to violence in Jamaica, 4:34 p.m. PST Tuesday, December 2, 1997
KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) - At least 12 people were wounded by pre-election gunfire Tuesday when motorcades from two major parties traveled through August Town, a volatile area on the eastern fringe of this capital city. A ruling Peoples National Party motorcade led by Member of Parliament Colin Campbell was fired upon Tuesday morning as it traveled through August Town. Four bystanders suffered gunshot wounds. One 15-year-old girl shot in the neck, was listed in critical condition. A motorcade for the opposition Jamaica Labor Party attempted to travel through the same area three hours later, despite pleas from senior police officials. The Natural Law Party -- an affiliate of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement -- was contesting its first elections this year with a slate of eight candidates. A party spokesman said that "even if we lose, we have won." The National Law Party proposes placing full-time meditators across the country to raise the consciousness of the nation. The electoral office said the full list of all nominated candidates would be announced Wednesday.
Report on the Protest Against Moon Mass Wedding Festival, Steven Hassan, 12/4/97
On November 28th and 29th, 1997, John Stacey, Steven Hassan, Cathryn Mazer and her mother, Cynthia Lilley, Craig Maxim and his wife Rosa, and Councilman Bill Finch from Bridgeport, Connecticut joined together for a press conference and picket outside the RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.. Camilia Anwar Sadat canceled her appearance as well as Whitney Houston (she notified the Moonies 2 hours before her performance, it wasn't announced until after the concluding fireworks), Lou Dobbs- CNN, Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, a former congressional delegate for the District, Ralph Reed, Coalition, Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani prime minister, DC Mayor Marion Barry. None of them chose to speak out except Ms. Sadat. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as well as Maureen Reagan, daughter of the former president, appeared for Moon. The press conference on Friday, November 28th was covered well by the mainstream media. Comments focused on two main issues. One, how the Moon group is anti-family (except his own "True Family") and second, on mind control. For further details see:
Japan to speed up murder trials of cult guru, 7:20 a.m. PST Tuesday, December 2, 1997
TOKYO, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Japanese prosecutors said on Tuesday they would take the extremely rare step of speeding up the snail-paced murder trials of the doomsday cult guru accused of masterminding the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing. "The prolongation of Asahara's trials would sharply amplify public distrust in Japan's criminal justice," deputy chief prosecutor Kunihiro Matsuo told a news conference. "This is also an extremely serious issue in terms of maintaining order. Shoko Asahara, leader of Aum Shinri Kyo (Aum Supreme Truth Sect), stands accused of the March 20, 1995, gas attack, which killed 12 people and made thousands ill. Asahara, 42, also faces 16 other charges, including the masterminding of a separate nerve gas attack in the central Japanese city of Matsumoto in July 1994 that killed seven people and hurt 144. More than 120 of Asahara's followers, including his wife, his personal physician and close aides, have also been indicted for the subway attack and on other criminal charges. Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, has not entered a plea and the trial has often been marred by his outbursts against the judges, prosecutors, witnesses and even his own lawyers. If he is found guilty on the murder charges he faces a mandatory death sentence by hanging.
Owner to consider bids on Rancho Santa Fe mansion where cult members died, 1:47 a.m. PST Tuesday, December 2, 1997
RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. (AP) -- The Heaven's Gate mansion where 39 cultists committed suicide last spring could be off the market as early as this week. Three potential buyers reportedly have made offers on the Mediterranean-style villa where cult members killed themselves in March using a lethal mix of vodka and Barbiturates. The secluded property has been owned by Sam Koutchesfahani since 1994. One potential deal involves "an even swap" for an estate on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, Sveine said. Another offer is from a buyer in Texas who specializes in purchasing distressed properties and a third bid is from a Rancho Santa Fe resident, said Sveine, of SIMCAL Properties in Mission Valley. The buyers have asked to remain anonymous until a deal is finalized.
Trial date set in Mississippi slayings, 8:37 p.m. PST Monday, December 1, 1997
PEARL, Miss. (Reuters) - A February trial date was set Monday for seven teen-agers charged in an October killing spree authorities said was tied to a satanic cult. Luke Woodham, 16, was ordered to stand trial Feb. 9 on charges of slitting his mother's throat Oct. 1 before going to school and fatally shooting his former girlfriend and another girl. He also wounded seven other people. Authorities said the teen-agers were members of a satanic cult called "The Kroth" and had planned the three killings and a number of others that were not carried out.
Scientology Faces Glare of Scrutiny After Florida Parishioner's Death, New York Times, 12/2/97
Editor's note: In a 5-part article concerning Scientology and the wrongful death of Lisa McPherson case, the New York Times reports the details leading up to her death. CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Two years ago, a 36-year-old Scientologist named Lisa McPherson was involved in a minor traffic accident. She was not injured, but she inexplicably stripped off her clothes and began to walk naked down the street. A paramedic rushed her into an ambulance and asked why she had taken off her clothes. Ms. McPherson replied: "I wanted help. I wanted help." Bonita Ann Portolano, one of the paramedics, helped her into the ambulance. Mrs. Portolano said Ms. McPherson was muttering about not needing a body to live and said she had taken off her clothes because she wanted help. She was taken to a nearby hospital for a psychiatric examination, but several Scientologists arrived and explained that their religion opposes psychiatry. Ms. McPherson asked to leave and, against medical advice, she was released into the care of the Scientologists. Seventeen days later, after being kept under 24-hour watch at a Scientology-owned hotel in downtown Clearwater, Ms. McPherson was dead. Because it was an unattended death, an autopsy was done. It found that Ms. McPherson, was 5-foot-9, weighed 108 pounds and that she had scratches and bruises on her hands and arms. The cause of death was listed as a thromboembolism, or blood clot, in her left pulmonary artery. In January, Dr. Joan Wood, the county medical examiner said the autopsy indicated that Ms. McPherson had gone without water for at least 5 to 10 days, and possibly longer. She also said Ms. McPherson had been unconscious for the last 24 to 48 hours of her life and that the scratches on her arms were cockroach bites. For a more detailed account search for Lisa McPherson.
Probe of Scientologist's death near end, 12/1/97
CLEARWATER, Fla., Dec. 1 (UPI) Clearwater, Fla., police are wrapping up their criminal investigation of the 1995 death of a Church of Scientology member. Lisa McPherson, 36, was physically healthy when she entered the church's Fort Harrison Hotel Nov. 18, 1995, to recover from psychological problems. Seventeen days later, doctors pronounced her dead. Results of the criminal investigation are expected to be released before the end of December. Meanwhile, critics who contend Scientologists played a role in McPherson's death are planning demonstrations outside the church's Clearwater headquarters on Friday and Saturday.
In Clearwater, Fla., Grudges Against Scientology Are Slow to Die, New York Times, December 1, 1997
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- In 1975, L. Ron Hubbard was intent on finding a home base for Scientology, which had come under criticism in several countries. The United Churches of Florida, an unknown organization, paid $2.3 million in cash to buy the Fort Harrison Hotel, a historic building in downtown Clearwater. A reporter for The St. Petersburg Times discovered the true owner was Scientology, starting a battle that echoes today in the suspicion surrounding the death of Lisa McPherson. Records seized by the FBI in the late 70s showed Scientology had come to Clearwater to take control of the city. Scientology infiltrated government and community organizations. They tried to discredit and silence critics. They staged a fake hit-and-run accident to try to ruin mayor Gabriel Cazares. A Scientologist infiltrated the local newspaper. In 1982, the City Commission held televised hearings on Scientology tactics and imposed stiff record-keeping and disclosure requirements on charitable and religious groups. Scientology sued, and in 1993 a federal appeals court overturned the ordinance as unconstitutional. Many candidates still refuse to attend Scientology's political forums and some businesspeople blame the church for downtown's sluggish economy. Others argue for more pragmatism. "They are not going to go away," said Elise K. Winters, former chairwoman of the Downtown Development Board. "You've got to decide if you want downtown to succeed or you want to nurse old grudges."
Moon 'Blessing 97' Site
Up-to-the-minute news and press releases on Moon's planned November 29th "wedding" of 3.6 million.

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Creation has two sides: intelligence, which is the cause of everything, and the manifestations of intelligence, which are the physical and psychological features of the everyday world. Because Transcendental Meditation directly approaches intelligence, rather than the manifestations of intelligence, it solves problems by introducing harmony and well-being at the most basic level, and not by dealing with problems themselves. That's why it is so effective.

Consider this example: The gardener supplies water to the root of a tree. That water, that nourishment, then reaches all parts of the tree - leaves, branches, flowers, fruit - through the sap. We can think of the sap as analogous to intelligence and the green leaves or yellow flowers as analogous to the manifestations of the intelligence. The leaves and flowers are the intelligence of the sap, after it has been transformed. So intelligence - like the leaves and flowers of a tree - appears as the many different forms of manifest life. Those manifestations include every aspect of existence, from the material and physiological, through the psychological, intellectual, and spiritual. All of those features of life come from transformations of intelligence. In meditation, we directly meet this essential intelligence. Therefore, we have the possibility of nourishing all of its other levels, and thus all levels of manifestation, in a way that is harmoniously related to the whole universe.

How is Transcendental Meditation different from the various other forms of meditation?

Maharishi: The basic difference is that Transcendental Meditation, in addition to its simplicity, concerns itself only with the mind. Other systems often involve some additional aspects with which the mind is associated, such as breathing or physical exercises. They can be a little complicated because they deal with so many things. But with Transcendental Meditation there is no possibility of any interference. So we say this is the all-simple program, enabling the conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence.

Transcendental Meditation ranges from active mind - or performing mind - to quiet mind - or resting mind. In this resting mind, one has purity and simplicity, uninvolved with anything other than the mind, uninvolved with any other practice. In Transcendental Meditation, because we deal only with the mind, we nourish all expressions of intelligence.

The mind meditates, gains Transcendental Consciousness and brings about transformation in different fields of manifestation. All fields of life, which are the expression of intelligence, are nourished or transformed and made better through experiencing Transcendental Consciousness.

The mind, of course, is always concerned with other aspects, such as the physiology of the body, the environment, and the whole universe for that matter. But since Transcendental Meditation deals only with the performance of the mind, from its active states to its settled state, it remains unconcerned with those other aspects, though it deals with them all, because intelligence deals with them all. -- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, unknown interview, copyright presumablyheld by Maharishi Vedic University, The Maharishi Foundation, or another group within the TM family.

Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Categories of cults that are recruiting successfully today include:

Eastern meditation: characterized by belief in God-consciousness, becoming one with God. The leader usually distorts and Eastern-based philosophy or religion. Members sometimes learn to disregard worldly possessions and may take on an ascetic lifestyle. Techniques used: meditation, repeated mantras, altered states of consciousness, trance states.

Religious: marked by belief in salvation, afterlife, sometimes combined with an apocalyptic view. The leader reinterprets the Scriptures and often claims to be a prophet if not the messiah. Often the group is strict, sometimes using physical punishments such as paddling and birching, especially on children. Members are encouraged to spend a great deal of time proselytizing. (Note: included here are Bible-based neo-Christian and other religious cults, many considered syncretic since they combine beliefs and practices). Techniques used: speaking in tongues, chanting, praying, isolation, lengthy study sessions, many hours spent evangelizing, "struggle" (or criticism) and confession sessions.

Political, racist, terrorist: fueled by belief in changing society, revolution, overthrowing the "enemy" or getting rid of evil forces. The leader professes to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Often the group is armed and meets in secret with coded language, handshakes, and other ritualized practices. Members consider themselves an elite cadre ready to go to battle. Techniques used: paramilitary training, reporting on one another, guilt, fear, struggle sessions, instilled paranoia, long hours of indoctrination. -- Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Lalich and Tobias, Hunter House, 1993.