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Scientologists march again to protest Portland verdict [exact date unknown]

Title: Scientologists march again to protest Portland verdict [exact date unknown]
Date: Wednesday, 22 May 1985
Publisher: Clearwater Sun (Florida)
Author: Jack Reynolds
Main source: link (132 KiB)

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CLEARWATER — Clearwater Scientologists marched again Tuesday night. Some 400 church members held a 10 p.m., hour-long candlelight procession through the downtown area and out onto Memorial Causeway.

A church spokesman said the action was part of a coordinated worldwide protest against a May 17 Oregon court decision awarding $39 million to ex-church member Julie Titchbourne, who claimed the church had failed to make good on promises to improve her eyesight and intelligence.

"A similar march began at 7 p.m. in Portland, Ore., where the Titchbourne decision was handed down," spokesman Ludwig Alpers said. "Our demonstration here began exactly at the same moment as the one in Portland."

Alpers said similar protests were held simultaneously in major American cities, such as Washington, Boston, Chicago, New York and in 24 other nations. "As we marched here, people were marching in Sidney, Bangkok, Athens, Berlin, Paris and Rome, just to name some of the places."

Vigils would continue through the night, Alpers said Tuesday evening before the local march, "until our motion for mistrial is heard Wednesday morning (today) at 9:30 a.m., Portland time.

Tuesday's orderly march through a nearly deserted downtown area followed a Saturday night Scientology meeting at the church's Sand Castle motel where 300-400 Scientologists endorsed a declaration of religious freedoms drawn up in Portland shortly after the Titchbourne verdict.

Gathered for a barbecue supper on the natural amphitheater lawn of the motel, church members heard an amplified long-distance phone call from the Rev. Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International.

Jentzsch, who said he was in Portland for an emergency meeting with a group of unnamed world religious leaders from various denominations, described the declaration of religious freedoms as a "reaffirmation of the Bill of Rights."

The Scientology leader drew loud applause from the casually dressed diners when he said the religious leaders in Portland were specifically going to concentrate on the banning of psychiatrists and psychologists as expert witnesses in any religious court case. Immediately after the Oregon court decision, Jentzsch had complained that vested interests "such as psychiatric front groups" had been supporting Mrs. Titchbourne. "Since they deny the spirit (of a Creator) they cannot be expert witnesses in a religious case," he said. Jentzsch said, "We will work on this until it is carved in granite."

[Picture / Caption: Scientologists carry candles in cups as protest march begins.]