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Scientology tries to mend fences with taped message

Title: Scientology tries to mend fences with taped message
Date: Tuesday, 3 December 1985
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Author: Wilma Norton
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CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology is sending a present to more than 200 Clearwater residents — a cassette tape that asks, "Can We Ever Be Friends?"

The cassette comes with a letter from church spokesman Ludwig Alpers. The tape, he wrote, "is a gift to you so that you can judge for yourself what Scientology really is." Also enclosed is a postage-paid postcard with which to send for more information about Scientology, which has an international headquarters in Clearwater and was founded by L. Ron Hubbard.

Monday, Alpers said that a Clearwater Scientologist came up with the idea to mail 200 to 300 of the tapes to local officials "which the church is acting to better relations with" and to residents selected randomly.

SEVERAL LOCAL Scientologists donated the money to buy the tapes "because they're interested in Clearwater, too," Alpers said, but he said he did not know how much the tapes and mailing cost.

"It's a goodwill gesture to better understand the Church of Scientology and to create (an attitude of), 'Can We Ever Be Friends,' " Alpers said. "We're looking to do that."

The package calls the 90-minute tape "an appeal by Ministers of the Church of Scientology to reconcile former friends and families."

The address is delivered by an unnamed man who identifies himself as a minister in the Church of Scientology. He begins with several rhetorical statements such as, "Life is far too short to spend nursing grief or revenge," and, "Where love and understanding once existed, hate must not exist forever."

FRIENDSHIP AND love can be restored between those who have differed over the church's beliefs, he says, but that reconciliation "cannot be arrived at on a path strewn with falsehoods or misconceptions ... you must be sure you are operating with correct data.

"My talk here is not a defense of Scientology. It needs no defense."

But some "relatively untrained" Scientologists may try to shock friends and families with information that is not technically correct, he says.

"Feeling challenged and invalidated, the relatively untrained Scientologist sometimes tries to make an impact on the 'nonScientologist' by telling him bizarre and sometimes incomplete or incorrect data on the subject instead of some useful material the other could use to better his life," the speaker says.

"THE MATERIALS of Scientology are not very mysterious. When viewed as a whole, not as fragments, they're sensible." But, he says, the subject is best explained through books, not through "verbal attempts."

Such behavior, "makes Scientology seem bizarre, whereas anyone studying it fully would agree that in Scientology, many hitherto strange oddities in life and behavior are easily understood and handled as well."

The narrator says, chuckling:

"Oh, there's nothing as strange in Scientology as the 19th-century psychology fixation that all men are just peculiar animals or, as Freud said in the last century, that all urges are based solely on sex and that there is no more to life than sexual cravings 24 hours a day.

"OR THE fact that psychologists believe that frying their heads with electricity cures all criminals."

He laughs again. "No, Scientology is not as strange as that."

Scientology believes in kindness, understanding and better human relations, the minister adds, "and that this is true is evident in the successes that have carried Scientology forward for a quarter century into the fastest-growing religion on the planet."

Besides, the tape continues, "dishonest" people have circulated false information to the press and others.

THE MAN continues that Scientologists do not live cloistered and monkish lives, do get enough sleep, do not change their names when they join the church and do not beg in the streets or shave their heads.

"In an age where 19th-century psychology and psychiatry fought to degrade man to a decadent animal, in the aftermath ... of Nazi attacks on the basic decency of man, in a time of bloody wars and civil violence, the Scientologist has resurrected faith in the dignity and importance of man."

He asks, "Is your friend or child a dog because he seeks to arrest the decline of civilization? No, I think. not."

The tape also defends Scientology founder Hubbard and the church's financial practices.

"IF YOU care to examine the records, you will find that Scientology is far less costly than other means of helping the mind and spirit," he said.

"Scientology is the only practice of the mind or spirit which gives a refund if the person is not pleased or helped. Do patients ever rise from their coffins to get their doctors fee returned?"