All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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Computers have done what years of opposition couldn't do, uniting the handful of former Scientologists who have waged war against the Church of Scientology.
These dissidents are now gathered under the rubric of the Fight Against Coercive Tactics (FACT) network, or FACTnet, a free data base and electronic bulletin board available to the public.
The network, based in Golden, Colo., electronically stockpiles information critical of Scientology, from affidavits to court rulings to federal investigations.
Although fewer than 150 people now use the computer network, Scientology officials have responded to FACTnet's existence with a blitz of legal threats and reams of allegations about its founders.
The church also has tried to derail publicity about FACTnet. The Church of Scientology sent two high-ranking officials from Los Angeles to St. Petersburg to lodge a protest when the Times asked about FACTnet.
Kurt Weiland, who heads Scientology's legal and public relations branch, said FACTnet merely hopes to become a big enough annoyance to force Scientology into a multimillion-dollar settlement.
Linda Simmons Hight, a top church spokeswoman, added: "They have no educational function whatsoever."
Hight and Weiland brought notebooks containing allegations about FACTnet's co-founder, Lawrence Wollersheim, as well as refutations of a FACTnet investigation into suicides and psychoses that FACT members claim could be caused by Scientology counseling.
Scientology officials say that assertion is crazy; they say the members died under normal circumstances or in accidents. FACTnet officials acknowledge making errors in their first listing of the deaths but say many suspicious cases remain.
Since FACTnet's formation last year, Scientology lawyers have threatened a civil lawsuit against the group three times. Scientology has asked local and federal law-enforcement officials in Colorado to investigate FACT for hate crimes and fraud.