Apologetics Index
News about religious cults, sects, and alternative religions
An Apologetics Index research resource


Religion News Report

February 8, 2001 (Vol. 5, Issue 322) - 1/2

See Religion News Blog for the Latest news about cults,
religious sects, world religions, and related issues

=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. Prosecutors demand life imprisonment for ex-AUM follower
2. Terrorism readiness assailed

=== Falun Gong
3. Rights group attributes 7 more deaths to crackdown on sect
4. Hong Kong Leader: Sect To Be Watched
5. Hong Kong Leader Zings Falun Gong
6. Hong Kong Lawmakers Seek Tung's Assurance on Falun Gong Freedom
7. Dutch Move Raises Falun Gong Stakes for China
8. Falun Gong war escalates as Dutch officials postpone trips
9. Dutch Member of Parliament Urges Tough EU Stance on Human Rights in China
10. Falun Gong not a reason for denying Olympic bid, Beijing says
11. Chinese Papers Accuse Foreign Press
12. China Mulls Murder Charges for Foreign Journalists

=== Falun Gong - China's Government-Controlled Media
13. Reports from China's government-controlled media

=== Scientology
14. Cruise files for divorce after war of religion
15. Tom & Nicole's Holy War
16. Scientology - help or hindrance?
17. Scientology not behind Cruise and Kidman split
18. 15 Scientologists on Trial in Spain
19. Executive Presidium vs. Scientology

» Part 2 === Mungiki
20. Mungiki Officials Call For A Truce

=== Mormonism
21. Olympic kingdom Games provide opportunity for Mormons
22. Local writer delves into why LDS members become inactive

=== Jehovah's Witnesses
23. Jehovah's Witnesses' trial in Russia said to be legally unsound

=== Hate Groups
24. Pair in Aryan Nations suit sole bidders for compound

=== Other News
25. Death of teen in sect probed (Gen. Assembly Church of the First Born)
26 Faith healer parents probed in child death
27. Prayed-over girl died of untreated diabetes

=== Noted
28. Churches find believers in Silicon Valley

=== Aum Shinrikyo

1. Prosecutors demand life imprisonment for ex-AUM follower
Kyodo (Japan), Feb. 8, 2001
http://home.kyodo.co.jp/Off-site Link

TOKYO Feb. 8 Kyodo - Prosecutors on Thursday asked the Tokyo High Court to sentence a former AUM Shinrikyo follower to life in prison for his involvement in a nerve-gas attack that killed seven people in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1994.

At the first appeal hearing, prosecutors said a lower court ruling on the case overlooked Takashi Tomita, 42, who they claim played a crucial role in executing indiscriminate mass murder.

Tomita's sentence -- 17 years in jail -- was ''too lenient'' in comparison to the punishment meted out to other AUM followers in previous rulings, they said.

Lawyers representing Tomita claimed he was not guilty, saying he ''was not aware that gas was poisonous.''

2. Terrorism readiness assailed
Security Management, Jan. 1, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

It's no longer a matter of if, but when. That commonly expressed sentiment is becoming the conventional wisdom for chemical or biological terrorism. Since Aum Shinrikyo gassed the Tokyo subway in 1995, many terrorism authorities, government officials, and other experts have prophesied a wave of chemical and biological terrorism causing mass casualties. But a new report prepared by Amy E. Smithson and Leslie Anne Levy of the Henry L. Stimson Center, an independent public policy institute, calls that conventional thinking into question.

In ''Ataxia: The Chemical and Biological Threat and the U.S. Response,'' Smithson and Levy acknowledge a significant threat but argue that it has been inflated by hyperbole. `''Taken together, the technical realities, actual case histories, and statistical records of terrorist behavior with chemical and biological substances undercut the rhetoric considerably and point not to catastrophic terrorism but to small attacks where a few, not thousands, would be harmed,'' they contend.

They point to the largely failed experience of Aum Shinrikyo, an organization endowed with vast wealth and technical expertise, whose weapons program they call ''a serial flop from start to finish,'' In the last 25 years, they add, ''no individual or group approached the replication of Aum's constellation of technical skill, intent, and resources directed toward a viable mass casualty threat.''

Smithson and Levy say that Aum, far from being a bellwether, may actually discourage other groups from mass casualty terrorism. That's because they had such a difficult experience with acquiring and using chemical and biological weapons and because their attack resulted in a police clamp-down and domestic reform, which stymied Aum's objectives.

=== Falun Gong

3. Rights group attributes 7 more deaths to crackdown on sect
Chicago Tribune, Feb. 8, 2001
http://www.chicagotribune.com/Off-site Link

BEIJING, CHINA -- A rights group Wednesday said seven more members of the outlawed Falun Gong meditation sect have died in Chinese custody, raising the death toll to 112 in the government crackdown on the group.

Four reportedly died in labor camps, including two who apparently were injured during force feeding, according to the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. The family of a 28-year-old woman who had served 8 months at a camp said she appeared to have been beaten, the Hong Kong-based center reported.

Another fell from the balcony at his home and died while trying to escape police who had come to arrest him, the center said. Two more were beaten at jails, the center reported.

The death reports come amid a government campaign against Falun Gong, which Beijing considers an evil cult that cheats followers and has led some 1,600 to their deaths by discouraging modern medicine and driving them to insane self-destructive acts.

4. Hong Kong Leader: Sect To Be Watched
AP, Feb. 8, 2001
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link

HONG KONG -- Moving closer to Beijing's party line on Falun Gong, Hong Kong's political leader on Thursday called the group a cult that has shown ''evil'' characteristics and must be closely monitored.

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa stopped short of saying whether he would act against the Falun Gong meditation sect, whose activities here have angered China's leaders.

But Tung infuriated sect members by citing an incident last month in Beijing, where five purported followers of the sect set themselves on fire in what was described as an attempt to get to heaven. Two others were prevented from immolating themselves.

Falun Gong says the people who tried to kill themselves could not have been true believers, since the group opposes any killing, including suicide. It accuses Beijing of using the story to vilify followers who are subjected to an often-violent crackdown in mainland China.

''I certainly hope that such incidents will not happen in Hong Kong and I believe the people of Hong Kong share this view,'' Tung said during a question-and-answer-session with lawmakers. ''We will have to monitor them very carefully.''

Pro-Beijing forces accuse Falun Gong of trying to subvert China's government and are urging Tung's government to clamp down.

Opposition leader Martin Lee of the Democratic Party said Tung was ''exactly toeing the Beijing line'' on Falun Gong.

''We are worried,'' Lee told reporters. ''If we carry on like this - and the central government isn't nice to the Catholics, or Protestants, or the Buddhists, either - if these are all branded as cults, will Hong Kong call them cults, too?''

Speaking in the Cantonese dialect, Tung said Falun Gong had shown characteristics that might be attributed to an ''evil religion'' or ''evil cult,'' depending on the translation.

Falun Gong said the message was ominous.
''I'm afraid Mr. Tung's comments on Falun Gong will incite hatred against us,'' Falun Gong spokeswoman Hui Yee-han.

5. Hong Kong Leader Zings Falun Gong
Associated Press, Feb. 8, 2001
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link

HONG KONG -- Largely adopting Beijing's line on Falun Gong but stopping short of action, Hong Kong's leader on Thursday called the group a cult whose members set themselves ablaze in China and must be closely monitored.

Tung did not announce any sort of clampdown on Falun Gong, despite Beijing's recent demands that the group be stopped from using Hong Kong as a base.

Tung finds himself caught between Beijing's demands that Falun Gong be stifled and equally vigorous arguments from pro-democracy and human rights campaigners who say Hong Kong's cherished freedoms are under threat.

The issue is one of the biggest tests yet of the ''one country, two systems'' government put in place when Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

The system gives Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and citizens enjoy Western-style personal liberties unheard of on the mainland.

Despite Tung's harsh language, he said Hong Kong will deal with the group according to the rule of law and he avoided any mention of alleged subversion of China by the group.

He sought to allay concerns the controversy would prompt Hong Kong to swiftly enact an anti-subversion law, which it must do at some point now that it has returned to China.

Tung did say that Falun Gong has shown characteristics of an ''evil religion'' or ''evil cult,'' depending on what translation from the Cantonese dialect is used. Beijing refers to Falun Gong as an ''evil cult'' and Tung's aides said later that Tung was calling the group a ''cult.''

6. Hong Kong Lawmakers Seek Tung's Assurance on Falun Gong Freedom
Bloomberg, Feb. 8, 2001
http://www.bloomberg.com/Off-site Link

Hong Kong, Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong's legislators will seek assurance today from Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa that the Falun Gong spiritual movement won't be banned in the city as it is in the rest of China.

Legislative Council members, concerned about erosion of free speech in the former British colony, said they will quiz Tung about Falun Gong at a scheduled question period. China's central government calls the movement an ``evil cult.''
Last week, Secretary for Security Regina Ip cast a cloud over the movement's future in Hong Kong, saying members would come under tighter scrutiny in the city because it had become more high profile in recent weeks and had ``targeted'' China.

``Tung should come out and state quite categorically that these people are free to conduct their activities so long as they stay within the law,'' said Emily Lau, a legislator.

The Falun Gong issue may become a major embarrassment for the Hong Kong government. Yesterday, Dutch Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen and Human Rights Ambassador Renee Jones-Bos canceled a planned visit to Hong Kong and Beijing after China's government objected to their meeting with Falun Gong members.

Falun Gong said it will change its strategy to avoid further confrontation Hong Kong authorities, newspapers reported, citing the local branch convener, Kan Hung-cheung.

7. Dutch Move Raises Falun Gong Stakes for China
Reuters, Feb. 7, 2001
http://www.insidechina.com/Off-site Link

BEIJING, Feb 7, 2001 -- (Reuters) A last-minute decision by the Dutch foreign minister to scrap a trip to China after Chinese lecturing over Falun Gong has set a precedent that could come back to haunt Beijing, diplomats and analysts say.

China played down the decision, saying it stemmed from a ''scheduling conflict''. Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan invited Jozias Van Aartsen to reschedule his trip.

But Van Aartsen's spokesman said the scheduled February 7-13 visit was postponed because Beijing publicly opposed a planned meeting between Dutch diplomats and members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement in Hong Kong.

Beijing-based diplomats said the Dutch case could backfire on the Chinese if other foreign leaders follow suit and rejected Chinese efforts to dictate their itineraries.

''The Netherlands made a strong statement and the Chinese may be happy that they prevented official foreign contact with Falun Gong,'' said one Western diplomat on Wednesday. ''But what happens if others follow the Dutch example?''

The diplomat cited the example of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled leader who regularly meets world leaders ''despite, if not because of'' Chinese hectoring.

The row was the second clash of perceptions over the Falun Gong crackdown in 24 hours between China and outsiders and comes as Beijing is trying to win the right to host the 2008 Olympics and avoid censure by the UN Human Rights Commission.

A representative of the United Nations Human Rights Commission told reporters in Hong Kong on Tuesday the territory's government had no case against a legal body which obeyed the law.

''So long as they are acting within the law, there can be no objection and I don't think any government can take objection to them,'' said former Indian chief justice P.N. Bhagwati.

Beijing's increasingly vocal charges that Falun Gong is turning the territory into an anti-China base have raised fears that China might soon curb Hong Kong's freedoms in violation of a pledge to maintain them for 50 years after the handover.

But analysts said failing a Hong Kong litmus test was only one risk China ran with a crackdown which has intensified since a fiery suicide attempt by five purported Falun Gong followers at Tiananmen Square on January 23.

Far more is at stake this year, beginning with Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Olympics. International Olympic Committee officials will visit the Chinese capital in just two weeks and some voting members have already raised human rights concerns.

China's tactics could work against its annual human rights diplomacy, sapping any goodwill it gets from concessions timed to escape criticism of its record next month, when the UN Human Rights Commission opens its annual session in Geneva.

This year, China has indicated its parliament might soon ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Beijing was applauded for signing in 1997.

''Often with these kinds of concessions, domestic priorities still come first and the government has already made clear its hard-line position against Falun Gong,'' said Sophia Woodman, research director for Human Rights in China.

8. Falun Gong war escalates as Dutch officials postpone trips
AP, Feb. 8, 2001
http://www.timesofindia.com/Off-site Link

HONG KONG: The fight over Falun Gong's activities here intensified on Wednesday, as sect members accused mainland China of heavy-handed tactics that prompted two Dutch officials to scrap visits to Beijing and Hong Kong.

The Dutch consulate issued a statement saying the ''commotion'' surrounding plans by its human rights ambassador, Renee Jones-Bos, to meet with Falun Gong followers here persuaded Dutch Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen to put off plans to visit Beijing at the same time.

The Dutch consulate quoted Van Aartsen as saying ''it cannot be that part of the program is changed under pressure from the Chinese government,'' so neither official will come right now.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong had lashed out Monday at the Dutch for ''interfering in China's internal affairs by making use of the Falun Gong issue.''

Falun Gong and local human rights activists were furious at Beijing's approach.

Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung had planned to meet next week with Jones-Bos in Hong Kong to discuss China's crackdown on Falun Gong on the mainland as well as the local controversy.

''It's very regrettable that the Chinese government put it in such high profile and put pressure on the Dutch government,'' Kan said Wednesday.

With the Dutch staying away, Falun Gong hopes to make its case in person over the next few days to two U.N. Human Rights Committee representatives in town for meetings with government and opposition figures, as well as local activists of various stripes.

9. Dutch Member of Parliament Urges Tough EU Stance on Human Rights in China
AFP, Feb. 7, 2001
http://www.insidechina.com/Off-site Link

THE HAGUE, Feb 7, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) The European Union should take a tough stance to protest China's refusal to allow western officials to meet with members of the Falun Gong sect, a member of the ruling coalition in the Netherlands said Wednesday.

Dutch Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen cancelled a scheduled visit to Beijing and Hong Kong where the Dutch human rights envoy had planned to meet with 11 Chinese human rights activists including a representative of the Falun Gong sect.

''I call on Mr. van Aartsen to get the European Union to adopt the same kind of stance,'' Social Democrat MP Bert Koenders told the ANP news agency.

The minister informed both the Swedish EU presidency and the European foreign affairs commissioner, Chris Patten, of his decision, the foreign ministry said.

Both the press and parliament commented favorably on the decision to cancel the visit, but the Dutch employers' organization expressed concern about possible repercussions on trade relations between China and the Netherlands.

China's official Xinhua news agency cited the Dutch government as saying the visit had been postponed ''owing to a time factor.''

But the foreign ministry in The Hague made clear late Tuesday that the visit was being cancelled due to pressure from Beijing.

''It is unthinkable that a part of the program would be suppressed under pressure from China,'' a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Xinhua is China's government-run news agency. Enough said.

10. Falun Gong not a reason for denying Olympic bid, Beijing says
Associated Press, Feb. 8, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

BEIJING (AP) -- With a visit by an Olympic delegation pressing upon them, Beijing officials on Thursday said China's repression of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement should not be a reason for denying their city the Games.

With Olympic enthusiasm building in sports-crazy China, the government is trying to avoid a repeat of 1993, when concern about human rights helped foil Beijing's bid to hold the 2000 Games. U.S. and British legislators have cited China's repression of dissent as reason for denying Beijing the Olympics in 2008.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Beijing Vice Mayor Liu Jingmin said opposing Beijing because of the crackdown would be unfairly singling the city out for criticism.

``I can't say that the human rights situation in China is excellent,'' Liu said. But choosing Beijing ``will also promote the human rights movement of China and the world.''

Liu said the U.S. government's deadly 1993 attack on the Branch Davidian compound didn't affect the Atlanta Games three years later, and the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, took place despite a manhunt for leaders of the Aum Shinri Kyo cult following the 1995 gas attack on Tokyo subways. U.S. and Japanese government action against those groups are cited by Chinese media to justify the crackdown on Falun Gong.

11. Chinese Papers Accuse Foreign Press
Associated Press, Feb. 8, 2001
Thursday, Feb. 8, 2001; 3:32 p.m. EST
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link

BEIJING -- In an apparent effort to discredit foreign reporting on the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, two Chinese state-run newspapers said Western reporters knew in advance of a group suicide attempt and did nothing to stop it.

The Associated Press, Cable News Network and Agence France-Presse - named in the newspapers' accounts - denied they had prior warning of the Jan. 23 suicide attempt on Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

The widely circulated newspapers also said this week that as many as seven journalists from the news organizations were detained after the self-immolations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said Thursday two reporters were detained, and they had been present without prior permission as required.

A producer and cameraman with CNN who witnessed the protest were detained for 90 minutes and police confiscated their videotape. No AP reporters or photographers were on Tiananmen Square when the protest took place. AFP also denied that its journalists were on the square and said none were detained.

CNN said in a statement that it had received no advance notice of the protest and that its crew had been ''routinely checking the square over the course of the day.''

''There has been a history of Falun Gong protests during holiday periods, particularly in Tiananmen Square, and it was therefore a logical place to be on the day before Chinese New Year,'' CNN said.

The reports critical of the Western coverage were carried in the Yangcheng Evening News on Wednesday and Reference News, published by the government's Xinhua News Agency. Reference News reprinted on Tuesday an almost identical report from a Hong Kong newspaper.

The reports also appeared on Chinese Web sites. Together, they appeared aimed at intensifying pressure on foreign journalists and discrediting their coverage of the government's often brutal 18-month crackdown on Falun Gong. Authorities have summoned journalists for questioning about their coverage and had some of them followed.

China's wholly state-run media have seized on the suicide attempt to whip up public backing for the government crackdown and its claims that Falun Gong, which had millions of adherents before it was banned in July 1999, is an evil cult in league with Western enemies of China.

12 China Mulls Murder Charges for Foreign Journalists
Washington Post, Feb. 8, 2001
http://washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link

BEIJING, Feb. 8 - Chinese police may seek homicide charges against CNN journalists and other foreign reporters who they allege knew in advance that five members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group were going to set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square last month, according to an article published in two state-run newspapers.

The article in the Yangcheng Evening News and the Southern Daily said police will consider charging the reporters with ''abetting and assisting other people in committing suicide'' if they can prove they were involved in planning the Jan. 23 incident, which left one woman dead and four more people hospitalized in critical condition, including a 12-year-old girl.

It is the latest salvo in the government's escalating campaign to discredit Falun Gong as a dangerous cult supported by ''Western anti-China forces'' and win support for its 18-month effort to crush it.

Chinese officials have expressed frustration with foreign journalists who report on the government's repression of Falun Gong, and the article about the investigation into their role in the self-immolations could be seen as an attempt to intimidate them.

Displayed prominently on many Chinese Internet sites, the report claimed surveillance video showed six or seven reporters from CNN, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse arriving just 10 minutes before the self-immolations took place and positioning themselves near the sect members.

It also said the harrowing, close-up shots of the incident broadcast on China Central Television were taken from videotape confiscated from CNN, addressing for the first time questions by overseas Falun Gong leaders about why the government happened to have a camera crew in place to film the incident.

But CNN, AP and AFP denied having any advance knowledge the self-immolations were going to take place. AP and AFP said their reporters weren't even in the square at the time.

Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive and president for newsgathering, said a producer and cameraman witnessed the self-immolations, but only because they were making a routine check of the square for Falun Gong protests on the day before Chinese New Year, which was marked by protests a year ago. He said the footage used in the Chinese television reports could not have come from CNN videotape because the CNN cameraman was arrested almost immediately after the incident began.

The close-up shots shown on Chinese television appear to have been taken without any interference from police. In some, the camera is clearly behind police barricades and positioned directly above the apparent sect members. In addition, footage from overhead surveillance cameras in Tiananmen Square appears to show a man using a small handheld video camera to film the scene, not a large TV news camera.

Articles in the Chinese press, particularly those regarding sensitive subjects, are generally approved by several party officials before publication. The newspapers that published this one declined to comment, and a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security did not respond to questions faxed to him.

=== Falun Gong - China's Government-Controlled Media

13. Reports from China's government-controlled media

* China's government-controlled media has, in recent days, published dozens of items denouncing Falun Gong. As these items are essentially press releases meant as propaganda rather than news reporting, there is little to be gained by including them in RNR. Those interested may access the reports via this Falun Gong news page.

=== Scientology

14. Cruise files for divorce after war of religion
The Times (England), Feb. 8, 2001
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/Off-site Link

Tom Cruise last night filed for divorce from Nicole Kidman, his wife of more than a decade.

Just two days after the surprise announcement that the couple were separating, the actor began formal proceedings in court in Los Angeles.

Reports yesterday suggested the break-up of the marriage may have occurred because of the growing religious, rather than physical, chasm between them; that they disagreed over the extent to which the Church of Scientology should govern their family.

Kidman, a Roman Catholic, is said to be increasingly angry that Scientology, an organisation started by L. Ron Hubbard, the writer, is winning the battle.

Cruise is intractably dedicated to the organisation, which believes that in the past billions of surplus beings from other planets were herded to earth and slaughtered by an evil alien called Xenu. These dead beings are supposed to haunt us and are the cause of all ills.

Scientology has been refused the status of a religion in Britain by the Charity Commissioners, which decided that it did not benefit the public.

Despite Cruise's secrecy about his beliefs, Kidman has repeatedly aired her down-to-earth Australian attitude to her husband's spiritual life. ''I believe in a bit of Scientology, Catholicism, Judaism and the Eastern philosophies. I take a bit of each, I am a hybrid,'' she has said.

''I would never have married Tom if he had insisted I become an out-and-out Scientologist, that would have been forcing me to do something I didn't want to do.''

She often states that she was raised a Catholic and that a ''big part'' of her is still Catholic.

Asked by Sue Lawley, on Desert Island Discs, whether Scientology would help her to survive as a castaway, she replied: ''No . . . Catholicism will keep me going. I'm a Catholic girl. It will always stay with you.''

What little Scientology and Catholicism share is probably an abhorrence of divorce. Marriage is held sacred in Scientology and adherents say that Cruise would have been under considerable peer pressure to involve his wife in their labyrinthine marriage counselling process.

15. Tom & Nicole's Holy War
New York Post, Feb. 7, 2001
http://www.nypost.com/mOff-site Link

Superstar Scientologist Tom Cruise tried desperately to save his marriage to Nicole Kidman by undergoing bizarre and grueling counseling with a senior Hollywood member of the church, insiders say.

But there was nothing Scientology could do to solve the central issue between the two. Kidman, 34, is disenchanted with the controversial religion and wants their two children raised as Catholics.

Marriage is held as sacred in Scientology, and it is a matter of dogma that any marriage can be saved.

''Marriage is central,'' said Janet Reed, a former member of the Church of Scientology. ''Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, wrote in one of his books that a man who destroys marriage destroys civilization. He believed that all marriages can be put back together.

''So Tom, like anyone else in Scientology, would be under a lot of peer pressure to solve his issues with his wife.''

Marriage counseling in Scientology is a labyrinthine and intrusive affair.

Members give themselves and their partners written citations for infractions.

Acts that damage the relationship are known as ''overts,'' and passive behavior that causes conflict in the relationship are known as ''withholds.''

If the counseling does not change the couple's behavior toward each other, the written records of the ''overts'' and ''withholds'' may be sent to an ''auditor'' or counselor who will analyze them with the couple. ''The goal is to reduce the number of arguments, or as they call them 'ARC breaks' between the couple,'' said another Scientology insider. An ARC break - Affinity, Reality and Communication break - is a total relationship breakdown. ''A couple's compatibility is often judged by what is called the 'communication lag.' A communication lag is basically how long someone thinks before answering a question.

''Someone who answers quickly and someone who doesn't are judged to be incompatible and there is an effort to get the slower one to speed up.

''Sometimes couples are given security checks. They will have to answer intimate questions about their sex lives while holding a device called an e-meter. The auditor judges the frankness of the answers by how the needle on the device floats. It can get very bizarre.''

But no amount of counseling could resolve the fact that Kidman did not want the couple's adopted children, Isabella, 8, and Connor, 6, to be raised as Scientologists.

16. Scientology - help or hindrance?
Evening Standard (England), Feb. 8, 2001
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/Off-site Link

The office is non-descript and functional - reception desk, sofa, table,
private booths for one-to-one interviews, bookshelves.

It might be a DSS office, or a down-at-heel travel agency. Were it not
for the large poster of John Travolta on the wall - and the fact that
the bookshelves contain dozens of copies of just one book - it would be
possible to pass through this office without feeling remotely uneasy.

But that didn't happen to me. This is the Tottenham Court Road branch of
the Church of Scientology; the book is called Dianetics by L Ron Hubbard
- and I left feeling guiltily paranoid.

For non-believers, Scientology is a jargon-heavy enigma; not a religion,
a cult. It demands complete dedication to its highly prescriptive
teachings, as Nicole Kidman has perhaps discovered to her distaste. News
that Scientology might have driven a wedge between Kidman and her
husband Tom Cruise has fuelled curiosity about the ''Church'' and its
high-profile devotees, Travolta and Kirstie Alley among them.

My own curiosity was aroused, so I paid a casual visit, as an enquiring
punter, to the Tottenham Court Road branch. I was seeking an explanatory
literature, a leaflet or two. Scientology works by inducting its members
into a system of ''audits'', a series of sessions involving the airing of
personal problems and their attempted resolution according to strict
processes laid down by LRH (as Hubbard is fondly known). But instead of
leaflets, the friendly receptionist offered me a ''personality test'' -
and so began a strange exchange designed, as far as I can tell, to
shatter any remaining fragments of self-esteem a genuinely troubled
person might have.

I think I answered pretty truthfully. And that means, according to the
analysis sheet that I am hopelessly unstable, (minus 50), depressed
(minus 65), irresponsible (minus 80) and withdrawn (minus 95). In fact,
only in three of the 10 categories did I appear to be demonstrating any
sign of good mental health (though, how I can be withdrawn and
aggressive at the same time?).

The Scientologists clearly wanted me to think I needed help - and who
better to cure me than the people who had diagnosed my ''problems''? I was
advised to buy an LRH book and think about joining the church. But, to
their credit, I wasn't asked to part with any money at this point, or to
sign up there and then, so I didn't.

Later, as I sat on the Tube thinking about this small taste of
Scientology, I was able to brush it off. Maybe Nicole Kidman has done,
or is doing, something vaguely similar. In truth, though, while I sat in
that office and listened to a total stranger utterly trash my
personality and character - on the basis of no evidence at all - I began
to feel vaguely insecure. Paranoid even.

The Church of Scientology claims to help people attain a deeper, richer
existence - but it clearly does so by erasing all sense of self-respect

To: AR-talk@apologia.org
Subject: [AR-talk] RES: ''$cientology Oxford Capacity Analysis''
From: Anton Hein <ahein@apologeticsindex.org>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 17:48:39 +0100

:===Begin Quote===
From: Zenon Panoussis <oracle@xs4all.nl>
Newsgroups: nl.scientology,alt.religion.scientology
Subject: The OCA test online
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 16:16:56 +0100
Organization: XS4ALL Internet BV

Last week the CoS sent out an invitation to take the personality
test to four million Dutch households, which got them some bad
publicity in the newspapers. We of the ARSCC-NL/Adam-Oost think
that the OCA speaks excellently for both itself and for the CoS,
and should be available to everybody so that they can ''think for
themselves''. Without having to provide the CoS with their name
and address. Therefore, and through the kind co-operation of
the people at hackerheaven, the OCA is now available to the
public at http://www.hackerheaven.org/oca/Off-site Link in English and in
Dutch. Use it and judge for yourselves.

:===End Quote===

The page includes a link to Chris Owen's article, ''The Fallacy of the Oxford Capacity Analysis (OCA).''

17. Scientology not behind Cruise and Kidman split
Ananova, Feb. 8, 2001
http://www.ananova.com/Off-site Link

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's publicist has denied their religion is the reason behind their split.

It was reported that a rift over raising their children as scientologists might be behind the break-up.

But their publicist Pat Kingsley told People magazine: ''Scientology had nothing to do with this. They are not being controlled. They are not being counselled.''

The Superior Court petition filed by attorney Dennis Wasser said the couple will share custody of their two children.

When the couple first revealed their split they blamed ''difficulties inherent in divergent careers'' for keeping them apart.

18. 15 Scientologists on Trial in Spain
AFP, Feb. 8, 2001
http://www.nytimes.com/Off-site Link

MADRID, Feb. 7 - Fifteen Scientologists went on trial in Madrid today on charges ranging from illegal detention to tax fraud, but the United States-based international president of the movement, Heber Jentzsch, failed to show up.
The prosecution has called for jail terms of between three months and eight years for the 15 Spanish defendants, who face charges including the illegal detention of an individual, causing actual bodily harm, threats and tax fraud. The prosecutor has called for a 56-year prison sentence for Mr. Jentzsch.
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19. Executive Presidium vs. Scientology
Stuttgarter Nachrichten (Germany), Feb. 6, 2001
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/010206a.htmOff-site Link

The Executive Presidium [''Regierungspraesidium''] is not giving up its goal of revoking legal capacity for Dianetics Stuttgart, a branch of the Scientology organization which is resident in Stuttgart. The Executive Presidium has stated that it filed an appeal to the negative decision by the Stuttgart Administrative Court in the Mannheim Superior Administrative Court. Presidium President Udo Andriof said, ''We are convinced that Dianetics Stuttgart can be shown to be not a so-called idealist association, but an organization which is active as a business and which pursues commercial goals.'' rd
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