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Frank K. Flinn , adjunct professor of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., was online Tuesday, July 5, at 3 p.m. ET to discuss Scientology.
The transcript of the discussion with Richard Leiby follows. [...]
"I can't confront force . . . I need my auditor . . . I want to take a toothbrush and brush the floor until I have a cognition."
The jargon of Scientology was instantly familiar to anyone who entered the room in the Fort Harrison Hotel, part of an elite training center and retreat established here by Hubbard, the science fiction writer and self-styled religious leader. It was also obvious to her fellow Scientologists that Lisa McPherson had cracked up.
"Out of control," one wrote.
Beginning Nov. 18, 1995, Scientology staffers -- following
Hubbard's regimen for dealing with psychotic members -- kept
McPherson isolated in that room 24 hours a day, refusing to
speak to her, trying to force-feed her, plying her with vitamins
and herbal concoctions and injecting her with sedatives,
according to several accounts that are now part of court
records. She furiously resisted: She pounded the walls, tried to
escape, attacked a staffer with a potted plant. In her delirium,
records say, she defecated on herself and drank her own urine.
So say top-secret Scientology documents spelling out the highest level of training available to church members. It is training that costs thousands of dollars and, according to church defectors who provided the documents, amounts to nothing but a swindle dreamed up by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
The goal of the training is to reach "OT"- the level of "operating thetan." At this level, Scientologists gain the power to control "thought, life, matter, energy, space and time," says Hubbard. But first they must free themselves of damaging spirits acquired when Earth was reduced to a nuclear wasteland 75 million years ago, he says.
Last week, a Pinellas Circuit Court judge committed a former Scientologist to a state mental hospital after he claimed that the thetans - or spirits-of other Scientologists had invaded his body. Francis Diamond, a former downtown Clearwater businessman, insisted thetans were real; he brought a Hubbard book to his hearing to prove it. [...]
Francis G. Diamond, 45, a successful antique dealer before his breakdown, told Circuit Judge William Walker that other Scientologists' "thetans," or spirits, had invaded his body during counseling sessions and now control him.
"It's not something out of Star Trek-it happens," insisted Diamond, who brought a book by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to corroborate his defense.
The book states that "Operating thetans" - advanced - level Scientologists can leave their bodies and "control or operate thought, life, matter, energy, space and time."
The commitment hearing was at Horizon Hospital, a psychiatric facility on U.S. 19 where Diamond was taken by police after friends grew concerned about his behavior. [...]
Vannier is remembered as a mild-mannered and likeable man by those who know him as an attorney and local Jaycee member in 1976 and 1977. He is described as outgoing when it came to making new friends but curiously protective of his personal life.
Last week Merrell George Vannier, now 32, was accused of being a Church of Scientology spy in a lawsuit filed -by former mayor Gabriel Cazares, whom Vannier represented in battles with the church. [...]
They obtained jobs with The Clearwater Sun and the Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, filed comprehensive reports about the sect's purported " enemies"' and, when necessary, spread scandalous rumors to discredit their employers.
But somehow, June and Jodie became "blown agents." In the tightly knit Scientology espionage network, that designation meant trouble.
Once a spy was unmasked, top sect officers began to worry. And federal court documents released Monday show that when these two spies came in from the cold, the heat was put on Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. [...]
High-level Scientology "Guardians," carrying out plans to "take control" of the city of Clearwater in November 1975, planted spies in the Sun's news and advertising departments to gather information that might be incriminating to the paper's finances and employes.
The Scientologists also collected data on Clearwater residents whose letters to the Sun were critical of the sect. The names, addresses and phone numbers of about 50 readers were compiled in April 1976, and documents show' cult leaders believe the writers' backgrounds should be investigated.
Hundreds of pages of secret correspondence on the plot --- termed "China Shop" --- were released by a U.S. District Court Judge who presided at a trial of nine Scientology leaders found guilty last month of conspiring to steal federal documents. The three-inch-thick file on schemes against the Sun also contained reports about activities against former Clearwater mayor Gabriel Cazares and radio broadcaster Bob Snyder. [...]
In essence, the sect wanted to control the city's politicians, media And religious groups.
To that end, the Scientologists have evidently failed. Hardly any Clearwater resident is not skeptical of the sect's proclaimed goals and "reform" activities.
Nevertheless, the church has purchased $8 million in Clearwater buildings and land and continues to work for the potential to exert the political pressure it needs to gain acceptance.
Documents released here, as well as activities of Clearwater Scientology groups, indicate the sect has no intention of letting up in its quest to somehow "take control." [...]
Scientology attorneys had argued strenuously that the papers should be sealed because they would cause "irreparable injury" to the church.
The public availability of the dozen cartons of government-seized documents - the basis of last week's conspiracy conviction of nine top chruch officials - was in doubt until U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey issued his ruling.
Scientologists sought to reclaim the papers, or at least block their release to the media on grounds they no longer were crucial to the government's case. [...]