Scientology Amicus curiae Brief
in McPherson criminal case

State of Florida vs. Scientology's FLAG

29 March 2000





CRC 98·20377 CFANO·S


Filed MAR 29 2000


Proposed amicus curiae is a member of the Board of Directors of the Church
of Scientology International, the Mother Church of the Scientology religion,
and is joined by the ecclesiastical leaders of the churches of Scientology
in the United States and in more than 100 other countries. Our religion,
our churches, and our congregants have been directly and adversely affected
by a great injustice brought about by the charges filed in this case. Our
churches have been vandalized, our parishioners assaulted, our reputations
defiled, and our, faith vilified because the State of Florida has chosen
to target our religion in an unprecedented prosecution. Criminal acts are
committed against us and our congregants every day by ignorant people who
have been inflamed by lies and


reassured by a perceived alliance with authority that these charges have
That a nation founded on the very principle of freedom from government
oppression of minority religions has chosen this church · in fact, this religion
· to prosecute, is an outrage to its heritage. The prejudice has spread
far beyond Pinellas County, the State of Florida or even the borders of the
United States and fosters the violence and bigotry our churches and adherents
are enduring around the world.
The profound and damaging impact addressed below is not a mere collection
of allegations such as those proffered by the prosecutor against our religion.
Rather, we submit numerous sworn affidavits that reflect the scope of the
hatred unleashed by this prosecution in many locations in the United States,
as well as in Australia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, France,
England, Canada, and in other nations around the world where our members
seek peacefully to practice our faith.
A great deal of time and effort has been expended just to maintain relations
with our local communities in the face of these charges. Creating and
an environment where our churches can conduct their activities in peace and
without constant rebuke and the threat of physical violence, has been an
enormous task not just in the local area, but as a result of the State's
charges, in virtually every land around the globe.
We file this amici curiae brief to inform the Court of the repercussions
of this prosecution and the harm it has engendered around the world, and
to petition the Court to restore justice and reason to these proceedings
through dismissal of this action.



The executives of churches of Scientology other than the defendant, Flag
Service Org, submit the instant memorandum for the Court's consideration,
addressing the effects upon our congregations around the world.
The Scientology religion has been called the fastest·growing religion
in the world. This is not surprising, because Scientologists take their religion
seriously and they take very seriously their responsibility for what happens
to our world. We are not engaged in the promulgation of our religion as
and ministers of our churches for lack of other employment or because we
were necessarily born into this faith. Each of us has a duty and a trust
to help create a sane, happy and productive civilization through application
of the principles of our religion. We are totally committed to our mission
and assisting our parishioners to achieve the spiritual enlightenment and
the freedom we know is available through Scientology.
However, this prosecution attempts to place us in fear of the consequences
of the very practice of our religion. In the face of these charges, can we
be sure that providing any of our religious services to the members of our
faith will not result in prosecution because some zealot in a government
agency disagrees with our beliefs? Can any of us be sure that if one of our
parishioners in the future needs an Introspection Rundown, it will not result
in our Church being charged? The answer is, of course, no. And that is an
intolerable result.
The allegations of the prosecutors, now spread around the world, have made
our religious endeavors increasingly difficult. Haters and bigots have rallied
around the false allegations regarding Lisa McPherson in an unsettling and
often dangerous way. Criminal charges against a church have seemingly


galvanized the latent hostility all young religious movements confront, and
liberated the prejudices of people with nothing in common other than wishing
to harm members of our religion. It has resulted in the promulgation of 55
Internet sites concerning Lisa McPherson, proclaiming "Scientology kills."
It has resulted in death threats against the ecclesiastical leader of the
religion and other church officials.
In nearly all instances, those attacking our churches and parishioners have
no firsthand knowledge concerning our religion, its precepts, or its activities.
They know nothing about Lisa McPherson other than what they have read in
alarming media accounts mimicking irrational protestors or Internet hate
pages. The vile allegations thus spread are given great credence by others
inclined to distrust, intolerance or hate, as seen in our accompanying
Day after day, media in our local cities and countries have attacked us and
the entirety of our religion because of allegations against a church in Florida,
regarding a parishioner we never knew or had even heard of prior to the filing
of criminal charges. For example:
· At the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C., there
have been many demonstrations by hate·mongers holding large signs
with photographs of Lisa McPherson, stating, in part, "Scientology's Cure
for Mental Illness · Murder." The pickets have attracted violent groups
who have joined the fray including members of the "Utopian Anarchist Party."
This fanatical organization has included a section on Scientology on its
Internet web page, next to instructions on how to build bombs and suggestions
on killing police and bombing schools. The Washington, D.C. demonstrators
also include members of an anti·Semitic, neo·Nazi organization
called Liberty Lobby, whose newsletter, The Spotlight, has published more
than 50 stories regarding Lisa McPherson and Scientology. (Ex. A, Affidavit
of Susan Lee Taylor.)

· Churches of Scientology in Australia have been besieged by violence
and propaganda regarding allegations concerning Lisa McPherson. In Canberra,
demonstrators carry the typical "Scientology Kills" signs and leaflet the
area around the church with commentary on "how the Church of Scientology
killed Lisa McPherson." (Ex. B, Affidavit of Sue McClintock.) Similar
occurred in Melbourne, Sydney and other Australian cities. (Id.) Following
one of the demonstrations in Melbourne, passers·by yelled obscenities
in the door and the 62 year old female Executive Director of the Church was
physically assaulted by one of the hoodlums who came into the church. (Id.)
Thereafter, the Melbourne church experienced repeated acts of vandalism,
anti·Scientology graffiti, damage to book stocks, smashed windows,
other property damage and physical assaults on church staff. (Id.) In Perth,
in Western Australia, a man demonstrating regarding Ms. McPherson publicly
posted on the Internet threats of violence against the Church, including
an intention to shoot Scientologists. He also confessed to the local police
that he had been engaging in acts of vandalism against the churches. (Id.)
· In Austin, Texas, the local church has been the target of picketers
and graffiti regarding Lisa McPherson, including accusations that "Scientology
Kills" and providing the address of an anti·Scientology web site regarding
Lisa McPherson. The graffiti has been accompanied by vandalism at the church
and eggs thrown at the church windows. (Ex. C, Affidavit of Daniel L.
· In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, numerous articles and public commentaries
were made regarding Ms. McPherson, including leafleting at bus stops with
false and disgusting allegations regarding her death. Protestors have disrupted
meetings, blocked the church entrance, upset family relationships and disrupted
public events. On Christmas Eve, 1999, a vandal scratched the words, "Lisa
McPherson", on the front window of the church. (Ex. D, Affidavit of


Deborah Jurt.)
· In Copenhagen, Denmark, there have been several TV shows and articles
in the local papers regarding the allegations that the church killed Ms.
McPherson, as well as numerous anti·Scientology demonstrations at
the local church. A member of parliament with jurisdiction over the local
church's pending application for permission to perform marriages, attacked
in Parliament the treatment by the Church of Scientology of sick members,
based on these allegations. (Ex. E, Kama Jensen.)
· In Brussels, Belgium, the false statements regarding Ms. McPherson
were expanded even beyond the allegations of the prosecutors in this case,
through a television broadcast that called Ms. McPherson's death a homicide.
(Ex. F, Affidavit of Marc Bromberg.) This sort of exaggeration of the
is both predictable and prevalent in foreign countries where the Pinellas
County prosecutor's allegations · scurrilous and inflammatory enough
in their own right · are intentionally or carelessly mistranslated.
· Boston, Massachusetts is the home of Robert Minton, the financier
and investor in the civil case arising out of Ms. McPherson's death with
which the prosecutor here is apparently coordinating his efforts. The Boston
church has been the target of many demonstrations, derogatory media, and
acts of violence. The night after an appearance by Minton on a local radio
show in 1998 repeating the false allegations of this case, a five·pound
rock was thrown through the local church's front window. The window was repaired
and another rock thrown through the same window the next day. Thereafter,
an Associated Press article datelined Clearwater in November of 1999, was
republished in Boston, announcing the establishment of the "Lisa McPherson
Trust," a for·profit corporation owned by Minton and repeating the
most lurid of the allegations regarding Ms. McPherson. That week, a bullet
was fired into the church.

Fortunately no one was injured. (Ex. G, Affidavit of Suellen Burkey.)
· In Orange County, California, an article ran in late 1997 in the
local newspaper regarding Ms. McPherson and engendered the ensuing hate 
crimes against the local church. Picketers at that time and since have carried 
hate messages such as "Scientology Kills" and "On Trial for Murder in Florida."
Immediately thereafter, the church received anonymous calls stating that
the church would be set on fire. (Ex. H, Affidavit of Edwin Dearborn.)
· The Los Angeles area has been a particular target of these hate
crimes, as it contains the largest population of Scientologists in the world.
Frequent pickets have been staged there at events and church holiday gatherings,
causing upset to Scientologists and their families and disruption of activities.
The demonstrations arose out of the allegations in this case and were organized
by anti·Scientology hate groups via the Internet. Those demonstrations,
which include taunting of parishioners and at least one "hanging in effigy,"
then generate news articles in a vicious circle which expands the allegations
even further. For example, one local LA "radical" paper published photographs
of a demonstrator with a sign stating, "Scientology Hurt Lisa McPherson .
 . Who Will Be Next?" and new demonstrations immediately followed. As is
typical of nearly all of the churches outside Clearwater, the staff and its
members in Los Angeles did not even know Ms. McPherson or know any of the
details of this case. Nevertheless, they have been harassed and threatened
by the protestors as if all Scientologists had some personal responsibility
for an unproved "crime." (Ex. I, Affidavit of Jeanie Ibert.)
· Our churches in Northern California have also been the repeated
targets of malicious demonstrations and media reports concerning the allegations
of this case, which have caused numerous upsets among Scientologists, their
friends and relatives. Picketers have positioned themselves outside one church
where they have sought to dissuade members or interested persons from entering.

J, Affidavit of Sandra Jesse·Figueroa)
· The church in San Jose, California has been located in the same
building for 20 years, and has established very good relations with its
neighbors over that period. However, after the publication of scurrilous allegations
regarding this prosecution in 1997, haters sought to damage this relationship
with the persistent display of "Scientology Kills" picket signs, and repeated
harassment of church staff and the neighbors of the local church. Immediately
following one of the demonstrations, a church staff member ate at the restaurant
next door to the church and received in his change, a dollar bill with the
phrase, "Scientology Kills" stamped on it. (Ex. K, Affidavit of Janice Silber.)
· The Church in Toronto, Canada has also been the target of a particularly
large number of hate crimes and harassment since the McPherson allegations
were made public and disseminated in the media. These acts of harassment
included photographing children at Church charitable events which were later
posted to the Internet, photographing and posting pictures of staff on the
Internet, bursting into the church premises and loudly shouting to keep the
staff "edgy," spray painting "Scientology kills" in the neighborhood, posting
the same statement on neighborhood bulletin boards, and making threats of
violence. (Ex. L, Affidavit of Janet Kenyon Laveau.) Some haters have posted
statements on the Internet relating to the Toronto Church following these
demonstrations, stating, "You pieces of shit have got to go. GET OUT OF
(Id.) Another stated, "I won’t shed a tear if someone does a 'Columbine High'
on these people. Why did it have to be KIDS and not some filth like Scientology.
The world would be a nicer place." (Id.) Disgusting and inflammatory articles
ran in the media following these events denigrating Scientology. (Id.)
Many other incidents of a similar or identical nature occurred throughout
the world, including in Nevada (Ex. M, Affidavit of Mary Gay); Munich,

Germany (Ex. N, Affidavit of Johann Altendorfer); Milano, Italy (Ex. O,
Affidavit of Bruno Cestari); Brescia, Italy (Ex. P, Affidavit of Maria Luisa Franchi);
Vienna, Austria (Ex. Q, Affidavits of Johannes Silli and Elfriede Fasching);
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Ex. R, Affidavit of Anne Byrne); New
York City (Ex. S, Affidavit of John Carmichael); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
(Ex. T, Affidavit of Bonnie DiMartino); Salt Lake City, Utah (EX. U, Affidavit
of Judy Steed); San Jose, California (Ex. V, Affidavit of Joy Botelho) and
Sussex, England (Ex. W, Affidavit of Graeme Wilson).
There are many more affidavits which have been collected recently from other
churches in the United States not mentioned above, including Ann Arbor,
Michigan; Phoenix, Arizona; Honolulu, Hawaii; Boulder, Colorado; Buffalo, New York;
Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Coral Gables, Florida; Dallas, Texas;
Los Gatos, California; Nashville, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Santa Barbara,
California; St. Louis, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; Denver, Colorado; Detroit,
Michigan; New Haven, Connecticut; Palo Alto, California; San Diego, California;
San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington (see collected Ex. X),
as well as other countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Australia,
Sweden and France. These additional affidavits recount similar horror stories
of hatred and bigotry arising from the allegations of this case which are
repeated throughout the world.
The snippets and summaries of information above cannot do justice to the
extent of actual harm and disruption caused to Scientologists around the
world by the broad and inflammatory dissemination of allegations of the
and their civil co·conspirators concerning Lisa McPherson. We do not
address here the base lies that our religion would ever harm or condone harming
a member. But they are base lies. Our religion has the sole purpose of helping
our civilization, including every man, woman, and child on this planet,


Scientologists and even those who attack us.


Perhaps most disturbing is the effort of the prosecutor to justify his action
by attempting to portray our religion as something it is not. In fact, he
argues Scientology is not a religion, and among other things, that we do
not believe in God, we do not carry out the traditional role and duties of
other mainline faiths, and we should not be afforded the same treatment as
his religion. All of the Prosecutor's assertions are false. Apart from the
myriad of precedents in courts and with governmental agencies around the
world that highlight the absurdity of his assertions, we also attach for
the Court's information and review, The Background, Ministry, Ceremonies
and Sermons of the Scientology Religion.
Our belief in an ultimate creator and necessity for all to reach toward God
are evident in the words of our Founder:

When a culture has fallen totally away from spiritual pursuits into materialism,
one must begin by demonstrating they are each a soul, not a material animal.

From this realization of their own religious nature individuals can again
come to an awareness of God and become more themselves.

See quote at forward and also see The Scientology Prayer For Total Freedom,
pages 46 and 47.
•        The prosecutor offers a distorted picture of Scientology while then
attempting to distinguish it from religions he considers "valid." What is
clear is the prosecutor lacks anything but a shallow knowledge of religions across
this planet         and throughout history. See The Religious Background of Scientology,
page 7.

•        The prosecutor gives a distorted account of the history of the formation
of the Scientology religion itself. Born in the 20th century, Scientology has
evolved from its earliest days to what it is today. There is nothing unusual 
about that. Mr. Hubbard's life's work was the search for the ultimate answers to 
life, with many        discoveries throughout the years. The prosecutor misinterprets 
this evolution by pulling individual writings out of context, giving his interpretation 
as to our beliefs and practices and even suggesting he is attempting to make
us comply with our own religious policies. Yet when understood in context, one
sees the evolution of the religion with each new discovery building upon
the previous, from the publication of Dianetics in 1950, to the end of Mr. Hubbard's
life in        1986. See Fundamentals of tire Scientology Religion, page 15.
•        As for our sincerity in our beliefs, Scientologists consider their
much        greater part of their life than those who merely worship on Sunday.
In fact, we believe that the decline of civilization can be traced to the loss
of spiritual and religious values across the world. Unlike many other religions, we 
believe all religions, even those with different beliefs than ours, are vital to
planetary salvation, since the decline of all civilization can be traced to times when
God and spirituality have been undermined. See Religious Influence in Society, page
•        While the full route one travels up the Bridge to Total Freedom is
through participation in training and one on one auditing, we also provide these
Scientology services in a group congregational setting. Sermons covering
fundamental Scientology beliefs as well as group auditing are both a part
of our Sunday services, held each week in churches and missions across the globe
in 139 countries. See Scientology Congregational Services, page 35.
•        As with all mainline religions, we have our own ceremonies and services.
These         include Naming Ceremonies (for the newborn), pages 52·63, Weddings,
pages 70·107, Funerals (which reflect our belief in life after life), pages 113·129 and
Ordinations for new ministers, page 134·137.
•        As for our beliefs, although the materials of Dianetics and Scientology
are voluminous including 139 separate volumes, containing over 40 million words
and more than 2,000 tape·recorded lectures, one can find the fundamentals
in our congregational sermons, and that these relate to the ultimate answers to
life. Yes, we believe Scientology is a practical religion, providing practical
answers, but they are premised upon the underlying discoveries of the spiritual
nature of man and the source of life itself. Examples can be seen in Invitation
to Freedom 
· Man Can Save His Soul, page 152; The Supreme Being, page 154; Man's Search for
His Soul, page 156; Handling Life With Scientology, page 158; as well as any
of the many        others encompassing Scientology and Spiritual Freedom, The
Nature of Life, Freedom and Happiness, Marriage and the Family, Ethics and
Survival, and Making A Better        World.


The prosecutor alleges we seek to avoid responsibility by "merely attaching
the word "religion"" to our activities and "by blending references to religion"
into our activities to "change essentially commercial or secular undertakings
into religious ones." His conceit is startling and incredibly offensive.
The effects of this prosecution are known to the prosecutors. They were,
or should have been, aware of how these charges would be perceived and
interpreted by the news media and those who, out of hate, target Scientology. 
This case improperly supports the pending civil case, which had been filed nearly 
two years before the criminal charges were brought, by distant relatives of

Lisa McPherson who never even really knew Lisa, disagreed with her choice
of religion and had not communicated with her at all for many years before
her death. The prosecutors brought their charges in the midst of a vicious
media barrage based on the outrageous and unsupported allegations made in
that case. Though the prosecutor's charges did not repeat all the lurid
made by anti·Scientologists and the inflamed media; the clear implication
in bringing these charges was that they supported those allegations in bringing
these charges, and the prosecutor knew full well what the result would be:
charging "the Church" over the death of one of its members would be interpreted
as Scientology (the religion) "kills," we "murdered Lisa." It was predictable
based on the previous media coverage and statements made by hate groups that
the prosecutor's charges would then seem to say "the State agrees."
The fact that the prosecutor has not seen fit to discontinue his criminal
prosecution in the face of the amended death certificate only reinforces
this view. An accidental death by pulmonary embolism would not even give
rise to an investigation, let alone a criminal prosecution, had it been anybody
other than a Scientologist in Clearwater. The magnitude of these assaults
demonstrate several things to us, and we submit they should so demonstrate
to anyone who steps back from these events and views them in context of our
numerous and widespread good works, the unproven nature of the charges, the
large number of happy and active Scientologists, and the discriminatory nature
of the prosecution.
First, the harms which are addressed above result from the dissemination
of the prosecutor's mere allegations far and wide, to cause disruption to
our entire religion.
Second, even if the false allegations were true, the demonstrations and media
are far out of proportion to the alleged wrong for the very reason the State


has charged an entire church. One need not look far to find actual crimes
of religious persons of other faiths. Yet, the state has never prosecuted
an entire church in its history nor has there been such a prosecution in
the history of this country. The media have never, to our knowledge, remotely
displayed the fervor of persecution it has embraced regarding this case.
Third, while our religion has experienced its growing pains vis a vis acceptance
in a world of persons necessarily espousing other religious views, the type
of criminal acts and harassment against our churches described above were
virtually non·existent prior to the broad dissemination of the allegations
in this case.
These acts against our churches are directed, throughout the world, at who
we are, not what any of our members did. We strongly believe that by holding
up the hope and reality of spiritual freedom and true solutions for the world's
travails, we have incurred the wrath and become the enemy of those who intend
the opposite. We are serious about our desire to help mankind rise above
the insanity revealed only too clearly by how viciously we have been attacked.


When agents of a branch of government inflicts damage to a group because
of disparity of religious beliefs, those agents have strayed far from the
trust endowed by public office.
As a result of the actions of the prosecutors in this case, acts of prejudice
have been committed not only against this State's own citizens, but also
against all those associated with the target of their action. The destructive
effects of this wild fire of anti·religious sentiment have reached
around the world. For the


foregoing reasons, amici request the Court dismiss all charges against our

Respectfully Submitted,

[signed by Mike Rinder]
Michael Rinder
Church of Scientology International, 
Amicus in pro per, 
And the executives of the 
Churches of Scientology 
throughout the world

Dated: March 29, 2000

To Life and Death of Lisa McPherson