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Local critic of Scientology no longer 'Anonymous'

Title: Local critic of Scientology no longer 'Anonymous'
Date: Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Publisher: TheDoings-ClarendonHills
Author: Rob Siebert
Main source: pioneerlocal.com

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Eric Szulczewski has taken off his mask.

A month ago, the 43-year-old food safety consultant from Clarendon Hills gave his name to the media, revealing that he's a member of Anonymous, a group dedicated to exposing alleged misdeeds by the Church of Scientology.
"Calling them a criminal cult doesn't cover it," said Szulczewski, one of the few members in Chicago willing to reveal his identity.

An Internet-based group with members across the world, Anonymous says it does not protest Scientology as a religion, but rather organizes public protests to raise awareness about Scientology's "abusive" actions toward its members.

During their protests, Anonymous members wear masks to protect themselves from retribution by the church.

Szulczewski said the church's "fair game" policy allows them to harass anyone who is antagonistic toward Scientology.

Anonymous publicly accuses Scientologists of ruining the lives and reputations of those who speak out against the church or choose to leave it. Group members allege the church's policies allow it to hold individuals against their will, purposefully disconnect members from their family and friends and withhold medicines from those in need.

By going public, Szulczewksi said he has potentially made himself vulnerable to attacks by angry Scientologists. But he isn't afraid of being threatened.

"I know what they can do," he said. "But I don't fear them. That's what they want. "

During past protests, Szulczewski and his fellow "anons" have dressed as pirates, spies and hospital workers. Their attire often draws strange looks and inquiries from the public – exactly the reaction they want.

"The moment that happens, that's when we deliver our message," Szulczewski said.

Previous protests have taken place in front of the Church of Scientology building in Chicago, as well as at Millennium Park.

Szulczewski said a Scientologist is always present during protests to monitor them, and if possible, discover the identities of any of the people involved.
Protesters are often wary of even lifting up their masks to take a drink, for fear of being seen and subsequently targeted by the church.

"You do have to be wary of these people," Szulczewski said.

In spite of their criticisms, Anonymous encourages people to do their own research.

"I would advise people to read what we've got about it, then read what Scientologists have to say and then make up your own mind," Szulczewski said.