This is what he tried to do with Jason Scott. I do not care that Scott's mother was the one who paid Ross or whether she was there. Scott is an adult who can make decisions for himself and who certainly did not need the "intervention" of Ross to "convince" him of anything. Deprogrammers like Ross routinely attempt to hide behind family members whom they "convince" to pay them large sums of money.

It was reported that the bankruptcy judge upheld the decision not to discharge the civil debt against Ross. The judge was right. Ross was wrong in what he did and needs to pay. To everyone but the likes of Ross, this is a free country. Ross is imprisoning people against their will in America, and this needs to stop.

Regarding the confidential family files that New Times says that the Church of Scientology wants, the church wants to get these files for the victims' families, as that is where they belong--not with violent deprogrammers such as Priscilla Coates and Rick Ross.

It's time for New Times to stop bashing religions and stop portraying people like Rick Ross as some sort of saints. People like Ross don't deserve attention from anyone.

Jinny Leason, director of public affairs
Church of Scientology of Arizona

I am writing to respond to Tony Ortega's article about the admitted kidnaper and "deprogrammer" Rick Ross. Ortega's reporting in the beginning of "Cult Expert Must Pay" is admirable in the "matter of fact," rather ho-hum ticking off the truth of the kidnaping and assault on Jason Scott. It leaves one with the conclusion that Ross got exactly what he deserves. Then, of course, the article degenerates into a puff piece in support of this thoroughly discreditable man. That being Ortega's obvious intent, he would have been better advised to skip the factual first part.

This country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. Like all freedoms, it must be continuously protected and assaults on it fought off. Good riddance to the antireligious hate group--the "Cult Awareness Network." To Rick Ross: Why don't you find a decent, honest way of making a living?

Jim Reeves

Playing Favorites
As a fellow theatre reviewer (for The Grapevine newspaper), I, too, lament the ongoing trend of many of the professional and community theatres in the Valley toward mounting the old "war-horse" shows in an attempt to remain profitable and increase their subscription base as described in Robrt L. Pela's article ("Hello Dolly, Goodbye Risk," October 17). Funding for the arts has made such adventurous choices difficult to justify. However, as dramaturg-in-residence for Playwright's Workshop Theatre, I did want to point out that there are a few groups, many running for several years, that have been consistently willing to take the risks that many of the larger companies have begun to avoid.

The two most obvious companies, besides In Mixed Company, are Playwright's Workshop Theatre and Planet Earth Multi-Cultural Theatre. PWT has been mounting original productions by Valley playwrights for nine years, and this year may mount as many as 12 original works by local talent. PET has shown time and again that it is willing to take big risks in presenting original works and plays that would ordinarily go unseen in Phoenix.

In an era of dwindling resources and higher costs for the arts community, it is regrettable that the first casualties are the riskier, more controversial productions that keep the theatre community fresh and invigorated. Pela's mourning for their passing is commendable, but please don't forget to mention that there are some smaller companies that are still willing to go against conventions and take risks in the name of art.

Mark S.P. Turvin

Return to Sender
This letter is in reaction to the letter written by Roger O'Day (October 24). Apparently, O'Day is upset by the influx of move-ins to Arizona. I realize that there are problems involved with the rapid growth the Valley has seen, but look at all the benefits also.

Does O'Day think that everyone who moves here is part of a gang? No sir! Look at the economic growth the Valley has experienced. Would it have been possible without us move-ins? Would the recent professional hockey team be here if it were still a "great little cow town"? Would the City of Phoenix be building a major league baseball stadium, boosting the economy even further, if we weren't here?

Yes, there are problems, but they are not native to the area; they are nationwide. Instead of griping about all the negative things, try thinking of the benefits of living in a major metropolis: a strong economy, freedom to buy what one wants, the major events and the tourism that make the standard of living even higher.

How many people join with O'Day in saying "Welcome to Arizona. Now go home"? I would just like to respond: Thank you for the warm welcome. Now give me back my tax dollars, and I'll consider leaving.

Face it, we are here to stay.
Mark Adam Reese
via Internet

For Art's Sake
Huzzahs for Edward Lebow's piece about forgotten sculptor Lawrence Tenney Stevens ("The Amazing Colossal Sculptor," October 31). There's a certain pathos (or, perhaps, bathos) in the story of an artist who spends a lifetime trying to perfect an art that would educate and inspire--but winds up in great murky pools of bombast and xenophobia. As usual, Lebow masterfully weaves the historical facts with compelling reportage that brings the topic home.

Dan Collins, associate professor of intermedia
School of Art, Arizona State University

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