By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
About the only thing your reporter did right in the article about the Church of Scientology ("Picket Fencing," Tony Ortega, January 21) was correctly position himself and New Times amongst the shameful ranks of yellow journalism.
Your vicious article against my church is simply another clustering of lies and pure garbage recycled in the media from time to time. What's the matter? Slow news week, so it must be time to bash a religion? I'm sure your article will appeal to the more base people of society. Intelligent people will recognize it for what it truly is--lazy, slanted and irresponsible reporting.
You've also got to wonder why a paper would glorify someone who admittedly attacks a religion because he thinks it is fun!!?! One of the other religious bigots who pickets here says he does it for the exercise! Yet the critics say they are really afraid of us? Come on--dig a little deeper here. The real story is what or who do they have to hide.
You also neglected to mention that the injunction against Bruce Pettycrew was necessary for the protection of the public, or parishioners and staff. This man has for two years now yelled and screamed at passing public, yelled at and insulted our staff and parishioners, and generally disrupted church services from the sidewalk in front of our church. He has even gone so far as to cowardly picket our church two hours before we open our doors in the morning! Jeff Jacobsen and his ilk are doing nothing but sowing the seeds of their own death harvest. I pity their cold black hearts.
The other thing you got right was showing clearly what caliber of people attack our church. It is obvious the real, underlying basis for all the attacks is to undermine our faith's right to its own copyrighted scriptures. And that is a crime.
It is not uncommon for new religions to be subjected to discriminatory attacks and to have to defend themselves. In the United States, suits may be filed for absurd or no reasons, and like many others, we were sued in the Eighties by people trying to make a quick buck. We earned a reputation for aggressively litigating to defend our rights. In addition, it became apparent early in the church history that government files contained false reports about Scientology, which were being used as the basis for unjustified actions against the church. When the government agencies refused to release the files, we had to sue under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain access to them in order to locate the false reports. Our FOIA litigation has set precedents which have helped other groups.
As a result of our copyright litigation on the Internet, copyright protection in that forum has been greatly strengthened for artists, publishers and other owners of intellectual properties.
Completely aside from the inherent right of the members of a religion to call their own faith a religion, Scientology has been granted full religious recognition by the IRS and by courts around the world. Legitimate religious scholars who have studied our religion say we are undoubtedly a religion.
Scientology is a religion in the most traditional sense. It deals with man as a spirit, and is distinguishable from material and nonreligious philosophies, which hold man to be a product of material circumstances. Scientology does not demand blind faith, but endeavors to help the individual discover past experiences and shed the trauma and guilt (sin) which encumber him.
We have ordained ministers who perform the same function as other clergy. We celebrate our own unique and joyous religious holidays.
In a perfect world, our religious services would be free. Until that day, however, we need to sustain ourselves just like any other church. Do not all churches have and are entitled to their own means of support for their services and activities? I doubt seriously anyone would tolerate your questioning of any other church that tithes or passes around a collection plate each week. The donations for services that our parishioners wish to contribute are our primary sources of financial support. These same donations also fund our social betterment activities in the areas of literacy, and drug and crime rehabilitation.
Scientology books are widely available in libraries and bookstores as well as in our churches and missions around the world. We have just released a new edition of the best-selling What Is Scientology? book, which has the true information about the religion available in it, and which is specially designed to answer any questions people may have about our church. We have also released a scholarly work on the religion called Scientology: Theology and Practice of a Contemporary Religion. We invite anyone who cares to know the truth about our religion to read these books, or to come into our church to see and find out for themselves.
Reverend Leslie Durhman
director of special affairs
Church of Scientology of Arizona
Regarding your recent article on Scientology critic Jeff Jacobsen, I've read some of L. Ron Hubbard's books, as well as books about him, and quickly came to the conclusion that the man had some serious mental problems. However, I found it ironic that Mr. Jacobsen, a Christian, would carry a sign reading "Scientology Kills," when you consider the countless millions of victims killed over the past 2,000 years in the name of Christianity. Lisa McPherson's death was a travesty brought on by the paranoia of secretive cult worshipers, but Mr. Jacobsen might want to look within the history of his own religion before looking outside at others.