Signing the Pledge
L. Ron Hubbard seemed oblivious to the drubbing he was receiving in the courts, and as the Armstrong trial was nearing its conclusion bulletins relating to a new "Rundown" started to appear. However, the "False Purpose Rundown" did show some awareness that all was not well in the Scientology world. Added to the usual list of items preventing gain in counselling - "overts" (transgressions), "evil purposes" and connection to real or imagined Suppressives - were "false purposes." These were defined as "non-survival purposes." In the first Bulletin Hubbard took one of his perennial swipes at psychiatry. By now the association between the "implanters" who created OT3, seventy-five million years ago, and the modern day psychiatrists was complete. He also said that "psychs" and "priests" are "the same crew," so dismissing all mental therapy and all religion (with the exception of Scientology, of course) in the same breath.
In the wake of their resounding defeat in the Armstrong case in California, and the damning decision in the English child custody case, the Church published an Executive Directive called simply "Squirrels,'' naming Armstrong, two former members of Hubbard's Personal staff who had given evidence during the Armstrong case, and David Mayo along with two of his associates. The Directive contained the usual hyperbole about enemies of humanity, and accused the named individuals of retailing insanity. 1
A few days later, on September 24, 1984, the Church of Scientology lost an appeal against the Internal Revenue Service. In a 222-page decision, the Tax Court judge gave a remarkably detailed account of the Church's financial dealings from 1970-1972, showing the movement of huge sums out of Scientology and into Hubbard' s control. The judge also described the tactics of evasion ordered by Hubbard, for example, the deliberate jumbling of two million pages of tax related material, so that IRS officials would have to sort it out, at the expense of the U.S. tax-payer.
On October 9, a group of Scientology dignitaries, including David Miscavige, flew to Saint Hill by helicopter, to sign the "Pledge to Mankind" and to form the "International Association of Scientologists." The Pledge contained the usual rhetoric, clumsily written out by an inexperienced calligrapher:
New religions have been born in blood at the cost of great sacrifice and suffering by adherents .... Scientology has survived and expanded because... it is a force for goodness and freedom... which is easily recognized by men of goodwill; despite the vicious lies which are spawned by those who would enslave mankind and which are carried by the media ....
In the United States... we are the targets of unprincipled attacks in the court system by those who would line their pockets from our hard won coffers. Bigots in all branches of government... are bent on our destruction through taxation and repressive legislation.
We have been subjected to illegal heresy trials in two countries before prejudiced and malinformed judges who are not qualified or inclined to perceive the truth ....
The detractors of Scientology know full well that it is a proven, effective and workable system for freeing mankind from spiritual bondage. That is why they attack. They fear that they will somehow be threatened by a society which is more ethical, productive and humane.
Scientologists paid $2,000 to become lifetime members of the Association.
In addition to the Pledge, the Church filed yet another law suit against attorney Michael Flynn, this time demanding $20,600,000 in damages. In the Complaint, it was alleged that Flynn had engineered the forgery of a $2 million check presented to a New York bank in 1982, to be drawn on the account of L. Ron Hubbard. Obviously, they had failed to find evidence which would interest the FBI or a District Attorney. Undeterred, the Scientologists published an issue of its Freedom magazine, which is handed out by the thousand on the streets. They quoted from affidavits made by the two brothers who had perpetrated the check fraud, in which Flynn was accused of setting up the whole operation. After months of such libels, one of the brothers, who was being held in custody by German police, signed another affidavit, in which he claimed the Scientologists had paid him for the first affidavit. Eventually, the Church withdrew their ill-founded Complaint.
In December 1984, came another bombshell. Following the massive raid on the Toronto Scientology Church of March 1983, charges were finally brought against eighteen high-ranking Church officials and former members, and the Church of Scientology itself. Among the charges was one of conspiracy to attempt murder, though this was dropped a few months later.
On the last day of January 1985, the Scientologists filed a lawsuit against the Advanced Ability Centers in Santa Barbara, Aberdeen and East Grinstead, along with several of these Centers' principals, including David Mayo, Robin Scott, Morag Bellmaine and Ron Lawley. Jon Zegel, whose tapes recounting the CMO takeover were so popular, was also included. The Complaint was for "racketeering; false description of origin; common law unfair competition; statutory unfair competition; receipt and concealment of stolen property; breach of trust; breach of contract; trade secret misappropriation; injunctive relief and damages." Scientology attorneys were invoking the Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, enacted to curtail the activities of organized crime.
A Washington, DC, judge signed an order on March 13, 1985 (the Commodore's 74th birthday), requiring L. Ron Hubbard to appear in the long-standing case of the Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, DCA" versus the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The judge deemed Hubbard a "managing agent" of the church despite all protestations that Hubbard had resigned from management in the 1960s. Hubbard failed to appear, and the case was dismissed. One of the Church's suits against Michael Flynn was also dismissed for Hubbard's failure to obey a court order to appear.
Also in March, Julie Christofferson-Tichbourne's case against Hubbard, the Church of Scientology of California, and the Scientology Mission of Davis came back into court in Portland, Oregon. The suit had originally been filed in 1977, and arose out of a claim for a refund of some $3,000 dollars. Julie Christofferson had become involved with Scientology in 1975, when she was seventeen. She had taken Scientology courses in place of a college course in engineering, and had spent her college money in doing so. She claimed that fraudulent representations had been made to her about the value of Scientology qualifications, and the benefits that Scientology counselling and training would bring to her. Her original Complaint charged outrageous conduct, the infliction of severe emotional distress and fraud. 2
It was the third time that the case had been brought to trial. In 1979, Christofferson-Tichbourne had been awarded $2.1 million. In 1982, the ruling had been overturned by the appellate court, dismissing the claim of outrageous conduct, but also striking the evidence of several Scientology witnesses.
The 1980s rift in Scientology had started after the appellate decision. Thousands had either left or been expelled from the Church. Among them were many valuable witnesses, and since the Armstrong case there was a greater willingness to go on record. Bill Franks, who had been Executive Director International in 1981, and had controlled the purge of the Guardian's Office, took the stand and when asked by the Church's attorney whether he had thought Scientology created "mindless robots," he responded, "not at the outset." When asked his current opinion he replied, "Absolutely." He complained about the manipulation of members, and the ludicrously high cost of Scientology. Franks said abandoning Scientology had been the hardest move of his whole life. He maintained that most Scientology staff members are decent people, but added, "Scientology plays on decency. That's the whole hook."
The details of a Guardian's Office operation were put into evidence. "Operation Christo" had been aimed at Julie Christofferson-Tichbourne, her family and even a Lutheran minister.
In an attempt to discredit Armstrong's testimony, the Church produced surreptitiously made videotapes. One of Armstrong's former friends had been ordered to see him, claiming to have left the Church. He encouraged Armstrong to talk about potential methods of taking over and reforming the Scientology Church. The conversations were recorded. Judge Donald Londer refused to admit them as evidence, and said, "I think they are devastating, devastating against the church." He expressed doubts that the tapes were made with proper legal authority, and added that the method used to make the tapes "borders more on entrapment than anything else."
However, a few days later, Londer allowed the jury to see the entire 108 minutes of videotape, so the context could be seen, rather than allowing cross-examination based upon excerpts. He overruled Tichbourne's attorney, Garry McMurry, who said the tapes had been made in violation of civil and criminal laws in both Oregon and California (where they were actually recorded). During the taped conversations Armstrong had admitted that he was capable of "creating documents" relating to the actions of the current management, and placing them in Church files. There was no evidence that he had ever undertaken such a project.
Three more hours of tape were submitted by the Church, and viewed by the jury. In a twist of fate, the day after the last tape was played, the Internal Revenue Service was given authorization to use the tapes in its case against Scientology.
Martin Samuels gave devastating testimony. As the head of the Mission involved in the case, he had been a principal witness in the original trial. His life had been torn apart after the San Francisco Mission Holders' Conference in 1982. By the time of the new trial, he had brought his own case against Hubbard, also in Portland, for $72 million. Before testifying, he was denied immunity from criminal prosecution for committing perjury at the 1979 Christofferson trial. On the stand, he said representations made by him that his Portland Mission had not been connected to the national Scientology organization were false. He also said that Scientology witnesses had been coached to lie before the original trial, in what he called a "witness college." In the original trial, the Church had carefully constructed a fabric of lies, just as they had proposed to do in the Guardian's Office trial before Meisner's surrender to the FBI.
Defense witnesses testified to the benefits of Scientology on their lives. The Church claimed that their First Amendment rights were being violated, and that religion was being put on trial. On May 18, 1985, after two days of deliberation, the jury awarded $39 million dollars in damages: $20 million against Hubbard, $17.5 million against the Church of Scientology of California, and $1.5 million against the Church of Scientology Mission of Davis.
During the trial, the Scientologists had waged an advertising blitz in newspapers and on local radio and television stations, and this continued with the "Crusade for Religious Freedom." Two jurors told the press that the advertising had not influenced their decision. Jurors also claimed that they had not been influenced by threatening phone calls they had received during the trial from callers claiming to be Scientologists.
A Church spokeswoman told the press, "This is a bizarre plot to destroy the Church. They [the jurors] decided that religion as practiced by Scientology is not protected by the Constitution. Throughout the case we demonstrated beyond a doubt the government's involvement in a conspiracy against the Church." 3
Scientology attorneys immediately moved for a mistrial. Within a few days, busloads of Scientologists were arriving in Portland to protest the decision. A candlelit parade was arranged, and Scientologist celebrities, including John Travolta, gave talks. A Church spokesman' s estimate that half a million protesters would turn up proved to be grossly exaggerated: Chick Corea performed to a crowd of about 2,000 Scientologists in Portland. For weeks, protesters marched in front of the Courthouse, calling themselves the "Crusade for Religious Freedom," and carrying banners proclaiming "Save Freedom of Religion'' and "Restore the Bill of Rights." The protesters listened to vehement speeches given by Scientology officials, and punctuated them with choruses of "We shall overcome." The rhetoric of Church spokespeople was strident: "This is akin to burning a witch, to nailing somebody to a cross - an outright attempt to exterminate a religious group," for example. It was said that deprogrammers had turned Julie Christofferson-Tichbourne into a "mindless robot."
The Scientologists kept up what seemed to be senseless pressure. Nonetheless, trial Judge Donald Londer's decision, given two months after the jury ruling, came as a surprise. He declared a mistrial, on the grounds that he had failed to strike remarks made by Christofferson-Tichbourne's attorney that Scientology was not a religion from the record. Consequently, it had been represented to the jury that they could punish Scientology for purely religious beliefs. He also criticized the attorney's characterization of Scientology as a terrorist group and of Hubbard as a sociopath. 4
The Church was triumphant. In October 1985, the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) celebrated its first anniversary with a rally in Copenhagen. It was announced that the Church had an international staff of over 8,500, many of whom were members of the Association; the Association's total membership numbered 12,000. Even before the rift the Church probably had less than 50,000 members, despite its claims of seven million. As membership of the IAS is the official membership of the Church of Scientology, the figures are very revealing. They had probably lost at least half of their membership in the schism. 5
In November, the Scientologists named David Mayo in another suit. Larry Wollersheim, a former member, had brought litigation against the Church in Los Angeles. In the case, the Judge had ruled that the OT3 materials should go into evidence. In the United States, documents put into evidence generally become publicly available, and on the morning of November 4, about 1,500 Church Scientologists crammed three floors of the Courthouse in an attempt to block public access to their confidential "scriptures."
The Los Angeles Times managed to thwart the blockade, obtained the materials, and published a brief account of OT3, which was enthusiastically taken up by newspapers throughout the U.S. The Church filed suit against Wollersheim and Mayo in the U.S. District Court to prevent further distribution of "confidential" materials.
On November 23, 1985, to the amazement of many, the Court issued a temporary injunction enjoining defendants from the use or distribution of any of the OT levels beyond OT3, in any way whatsoever. It meant little to Larry Wollersheim, who had no use for materials which he asserted were brainwashing, but Mayo's Advanced Ability Center relied upon his version of these levels for a fair proportion of its income. The Santa Barbara AAC was thus prevented from practicing what the Church had insisted was the "religion of Scientology." Ironically, Mayo had pioneered the development of these particular forbidden scriptures in an attempt to save Hubbard's life. It took almost a year for the injunction to be removed, by which time Mayo's group had been driven out of business. In Hubbard's words, "the purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win." When the injunction was finally overturned, the Appeal Judges ruled that "the Church's contention that the disputed materials are 'religious scripture' was not reconciled with the California statute's reference to 'economic value' as an element of a protectable trade secret." 6 In other words, the Church could not have it both ways, religious scriptures are not business trade secrets. Subsequently, however, a judge has ruled that even this issue can be tried in a court of law.
Source for Christofferson Titchbourne case - Oregonian 12, 21 & 22 March, 5, 11, 13, 17, 20, 23 April, 18 & 20 May 1985.
1. Office of Special Affairs Executive Directive 19, 20 September 1984
2. Oregon Journal, 3 May 1982
3. Los Angeles Times, 19 May 1985
4. Clearwater Sun, 17 July 1985
5. lmpact 4, p.12, December 1985; Impact 13
6. Appeal opinion, 8 August 1986, p.36