US Court rules Orthodox Jews cannot use the same tax deductions as Scientologists

16 12 2008

An American court ruled this week that an Orthodox Jewish couple could not use tax deductions that Scientologists can use (deductions they obtained by way of a secret 1993 agreement with the Internal Revenue Service). In the case Sklar v. Commissioner of the IRS, Michael and Marla Sklar tried to claim their childrens’ tuition for their Jewish day school as a tax deduction but their argument was rejected by the US Ninth Circuit Court because it violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states in the first sentence that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”.

The Sklars’ main argument was that section 170(f)(8) and 6115 of the IRS code authorized deductions for donations made to religious institutions if they provided “intangible religious benefits”. Scientologists can claim deductions for “religious” services provided by the “Church”, and the Sklars argued that they too should be allowed to utilize this benefit. If the “Church” of Scientology is allowed to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, then they should be able to do the same thing in the name of consistency. The Ninth Circuit Court rejected this argument because “[t]o conclude otherwise would be tantamount to rewriting the Tax Code, disregarding Supreme Court precedent, only to reach a conclusion directly at odds with the Establishment Clause — all in the name of the Establishment Clause.”.

The court ruled wisely in favor of not violating the First Amendment, which unequivocally states that no religion should have an advantage over the other. But what to say about the “Church” of Scientology’s special privilege, which they allegedly obtained by shady means. Three years after the “Church” was established by L. Ron Hubbard in 1953, the IRS gave it tax-exempt status. However, in 1967, their tax-exempt status was stripped away because it was determined that the activities of the “Church” were commercial, and several US courts agreed. This meant war between the IRS and the “Church”, which continued for 25 years.

In 1973, L. Ron Hubbard initiated Operation Snow White against the governments of several countries, including the United States. The main target of “Project Hunter”, he American branch of Snow White was the IRS. Operation Snow White called for the infiltration of the IRS and other US government agencies in order to steal documents related to L. Ron Hubbard and the “Church” of Scientology. Eventually, several Scientologists, including L. Ron Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue, were caught, and the FBI invaded Scientology offices in Los Angeles and Washington DC. In 1979, eleven Scientologists, including Mary Sue Hubbard, were sentenced to five years in prison. That did not stop the war against the IRS. Private investigators were hired by the cult to dig up dirt on various IRS officials, and in many cases, they found enough damning evidence to blackmail these officials.

Finally, in 1993, then IRS Comissioner Fred Goldberg met with current “Church” leader David Miscavige and reached an agreement that would end all lawsuits against the IRS by the “Church” of Scientology: the war was finally over. Attempts by various IRS watchdogs to get the IRS to disclose this agreement were unsuccessful, even though by law the IRS has to release it.

The question to ask is: why is a pseudo-religion started by a charlatan solely to make money allowed these special privileges, while legitimate religions are not? This IRS agreement violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by making it a de facto “established” religion. It was wise on the part of the Ninth Circuit Court to reject Michael and Marla Sklar’s argument, but the “Church” of Scientology must be called out for this circumvention of the US Constitution.

Let me leave you with a quote from L. Ron Hubbard:

“Somebody some day will say ‘this is illegal’. By then be sure the orgs say what is legal or not.”

Advertisements




Church of Scientology loses to First Amendment

14 12 2008

Crossposted at Counterknowledge.com

Recently, the “Church” of Scientology pushed an ordinance in Riverside County, California, to keep “members” of the group Anonymous away from their fortress-like Gold Base, and it was passed almost unanimously by Riverside County supervisors. But today, Riverside County decided to back away from that decision, at least for now because of the inevitable fall-out from such a restrictive ordinance.

The ordinance pushed by the “Church” would restrict picketers by prohibiting them from protesting within 300 feet of Gold Base. The “Church” and their friend inside Riverside County, Supervisor Jeff Stone, argued that Gold Base is a residential area, and there is already a law that prohibits picketers from picketing a person’s home. During the hearings, proponents tried to argue that Anonymous is a hate group by pulling images from imageboard 4chan, which is regarded as the “birthplace” of Anonymous. 4chan is an image board which has spawned many internet inside jokes and memes such as the Rick Roll. Its humour is often explicit, and, admittedly, sometimes offensive.

Free speech has not quite won this battle yet: the Riverside County board of supervisors still think this ordinance is worth “massaging and tweaking” so that a compromise can be reached. But, for now, this is a temporary victory for Anonymous, and a temporary loss for the tyrannical “Church” of Scientology.





Graham Berry Speaks About Scientology’s Use of Lawfare *MUST WATCH*

8 09 2008

Seriously, this is a very important speech given by Graham Berry, an attorney who has been fighting the cult of Scientology in court for years now.  Recently, he gave a speech as part of a presentation by the German government about the cult of Scientology.  His speech details the long list of crimes committed by the cult and how they compromised the US government, and that is why Germany wants to ban it.  I myself discussed this in my first Glosslip piece, which you can find in this blog.

Part 1:

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5





Anonymous declared “hate group” in Santa Clara County, California

3 09 2008

Some very disturbing news has popped up recently from the South Bay Area in California. Anonymous, the internet based collective that is currently fighting the cult of Scientology, has been declared a hate group by Santa Clara County officials. A county organization called Network for a Hate Free Community has started putting fliers on people’s cars warning them about Anonymous. Here is a copy of one flyer in question:

Local Anonymous are already taking care of this by talking directly to county officials, the mayor of San Jose, and others. But this is very disturbing in many ways. Yes, using the “hate group” smear has been a modus operandi of the cult of Scientology for many years, so in that sense, this news is not disturbing. But it shows how easily influenced our government is. Scientologists contacted them first and the Network For a Hate Free Community did not bother looking at the other side. Many of them mean well, but the accusation of hate crimes is damning enough in their eyes that they didn’t feel the need to look deeper.

It’s best to stop at that before I rant against the folly of government anti-hate committees and human rights commissions. But I hope the local Anonymous are able to change minds about Anonymous. If they still keep on putting fliers like the one above even after talking to Anonymous and ex-Scientologists, well then that will be sad.





How the Church of Scientology used, and STILL uses, the American legal system to destroy critics

11 07 2008

Glosslip: How the Church of Scientology used, and still uses, the American legal system to destroy critics

June 30, 2008

What is lawfare and how does this relate to the cult?

In the post 9/11 era, new terms and new ideas to describe how war is currently being fought today have popped up in the media, in the press, in the think tanks and on blogs on all sides of the spectrum. One such term is lawfare. On page 55 of the book Unrestricted Warfare, it calls for the use of “international law warfare (seizing the earliest opportunity to set up regulations)” along with a set of other types of warfare that an enemy with more firepower cannot withstand for long . Since 2001 the term has been used to describe how individual supporters of terrorism have tried to silence people who expose them. Take the case of Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi Arabian billionaire who sued American author Rachel Ehrenfeld for libel in the UK because in her book Funding Evil she named him as a major contributor of money to terrorist organizations. British libel laws place the burden of proof on the defendant, and given Dr. Ehrenfeld’s limited resources even with government documents as proof, she lost. In 2008, Governor George Pataki of New York signed Rachel’s Law, which grants protection to American citizens being sued by what are called libel tourists . The laws of the US and the UK are different when it comes to freedom of speech and the protection of that right.

Lawfare, to give you a tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) definition, is the use of a country’s legal system by an individual or corporation to utterly crush their adversaries. The term is currently used in the context of the War on Terror, but the definition should be broadened to include any other individual or group who tries to ruin an adversary in court. Including the Church of Scientology.

“We are going to sue your ass and your balls!”

Recently, the Canadian magazine Maisonneuve published an an article on long time Scientology critic Gerry Armstrong, detailing the enduring harassment campaign against him. The author of the article goes so far as to call him Scientology’s Salman Rushdie because of the severity of the Church of Scientology’s harassment of him . Armstrong was once in the close inner circle of Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard, and was asked to help author Omar Garrison to compile a biography of Hubbard. When he found out much of Hubbard’s life story had so many discrepancies, to put it lightly, he couldn’t work on the biography project anymore. When he left the cult in 1981, he had boxes of material on L. Ron Hubbard that was embarrassing for him and the cult, and so began the harassment campaign against him. In 1986, Armstrong signed a gag agreement with the Church of Scientology yet he couldn’t remain silent. Because he has broken the agreement, the cult has sued him many times in the state of California and tried to put him in jail. He fled to his hometown of Chilliwack, Canada but even there, Gerry Armstrong gets no rest.

That is lawfare. Because the Church of Scientology breathes down his neck at all times, he has not been able to find a job, and every job he has had in the past he was forced to leave. That is lawfare. Destroying the enemy by any means possible so that he or she cannot have a life.

“To get PC incarcerated in a mental institution or jail, or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks ”

In 1968, a young author from New York wrote an expose about Scientology, which later was expanded into her 1971 release The Scandal of Scientology. Paulette Cooper did not know that this would bring about a long campaign to destroy her entirely. The Church of Scientology even went so far as to frame her for bomb threats the Church of Scientology sent to itself with stationary stolen from Cooper’s apartment. In this day and age of CSI, she may have been let off the hook in no time, but in the 1970s the Scientologists did a pretty good job to frame her for a crime she did not commit. Paulette Cooper faced 15 years in prison because of it. Then in 1977, the FBI raided Scientology offices around the country, and discovered Operation Freakout, a plan that expanded on their success with the previous forged bomb threat. After that discovery, she was finally exonerated of all charges.

Cooper later wrote in an article in 2007: “As for me, I often wish I had never ever heard the word ‘Scientology’. But given the same situation, I would still do it all over again. I would not have been capable of remaining quiet, because I learned too many scary things and talked to too many people who were being hurt.” . She paid a huge price to expose Scientology, not just through her book but also through what happened in her life for more than a decade. That is lawfare. For the entire decade, they did not let her go on with her career or her life, and she paid a price for it.

The wolves in watchmens’ clothing

For a long time if Scientologists wanted to get out of the cult, they could call the hotline for the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and get help from experience anti-cult activists. Since 1996 however, the Church of Scientology operates CAN as another front group. The Church of Scientology launched a massive lawsuit against CAN and its former director Cynthia Kisser, and in 1996 the CAN declared bankruptcy. As part of the ruling against the CAN, it had to turn over boxes of confidential files on all the cults it tracked, including Scientology. Nowadays if one visits the website for the new CAN, one can see how different it is from the old CAN. There is no section on Scientology, and all the sections on other cults blame psychiatry for the actions of those cults. The scapegoating of psychiatry should be a dead give away for those who are familiar with this cult.

This is lawfare. Crippling an adversary through lawsuits and then administering a hostile takeover is an act of war. And other cults that are smaller than Scientology in size and influence have benefited from this lawfare.

Pleading the First in court

The Church of Scientology is well known for always bringing up religious freedom, and the right to practice a religion other than Christianity. The cult claims it has the right to practice certain things because it’s covered by the First Amendment. In 1989, the Church of Scientology appealed the initial ruling for the Wollersheim vs. Church of Scientology of California case, saying the practice of “fair game” against critics and former Scientologists is “a core practice of Scientology and therefore protected as religious expression”.

Now think of what a heinous precedent that would set, especially when dealing with cults. If this appeal was upheld, then cults can later point to this lawsuit and hide behind that. The FLDS in Texas tried that already. And other groups and individuals that wage lawfare on their opponents could easily argue that it’s a “religious practice”. Lawfare would be more prevalent in American courtrooms than ever.

Best example of the worst example

Compared to Khalid bin Mahfouz, the Church of Scientology is a giant when it comes to lawfare. Bin Mahfouz only has power in the UK, but the Church of Scientology has established itself worldwide. It is vital that the Church of Scientology be made an example of. All the lawyers the cult hires should be reported to local Bar associations every time they send ‘cease and desist’ letters to people exercising their free speech rights. The ACLU should be contacted as well as Congressmen and women and Senators. Most of all if there is enough noise, the Church of Scientology may become the subject of a Congressional hearing.

This should be done to make the best example of the worst example of lawfare.