33 Bond Street
New York, NY 10012
Re: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Dear Mr. Gibney:
In the recent televised interviews or discussions about Going Clear, you and Lawrence Wright called out Scientologist celebrities Tom Cruise and John Travolta to get Scientology head David Miscavige to answer his accusers for his actions. From the TimesTalks discussion:
LW: And the reason we’re calling out Cruise and Travolta is that they have the capacity–
AG: –they have the power
LW: — to change it. You know, there are only two ways that you can address the abuses that are going on inside Scientology:
One is to re-examine the tax exemption. And the IRS was so thoroughly whipped in 1993 by the Church of Scientology that it may not have the nerve to go back and do that again.
But ah, some of those celebrity megaphones, if they were turned around in the other direction, they can make a difference. And they should make a difference.
Logan Hill: What do you think that they could do? What would you like to specifically hear them say?
LW: I’d like to hear Tom Cruise stand up and say it’s time for David Miscavige to answer his accusers.
Calling out Cruise and Travolta to stand up and say it’s time for Miscavige to answer his accusers is logical because Cruise and Travolta are celebs, and they have contact and influence with him. Now I am urging you, and Wright and Paul Haggis, to call out Mark Rathbun and Mike Rinder to answer their accuser, me. What I am accusing them of includes, most crucially, crimes and torts they committed against me personally to unlawfully obtain the IRS tax exemption, which is clearly a focus of your film.
Rathbun and Rinder, under L. Ron Hubbard and Miscavige, fair gamed me more than they fair gamed any other person during their time as fair gamers for Scientology. If they fair gamed someone else more than me, they have never said, and I have never heard of that person. The one person they fair gamed somewhat equivalently was my attorney Michael Flynn. See, e.g., http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/cult/
Since Rathbun and Rinder have apparently left the Scientology cult, and portray themselves as exposers of the Scientologists’ abuses and crimes, I have many times asked them to come forward and tell the truth about fair gaming me. I have asked them many times to come forward and tell the truth about what they did to me to obtain their cult’s unmerited tax exemption. 1. See, e.g., this 2009 letter to Rathbun regarding black propaganda to the IRS. http://gerryarmstrong.ca/archives/304
Yet neither of them has answered me, their accuser, other than with contempt and further fair gaming.
You, Wright and Haggis are celebrities. You used Rathbun and Rinder for your film. You three celebs have contact and influence with them. You have the power and the capacity to make a difference, and you should, and not just to make these victimizers media stars. I would like to hear you, Wright and Haggis stand up and say it’s time for Rathbun and Rinder to answer their accuser, the person they most victimized, Gerry Armstrong.
My wife Caroline and I have assembled a lot material about the Scientologists’ deal with the IRS on our site called the “The Armstrong Op.” The op is a decades-long covert campaign against me, which reached to the top of the US Government and foreign governments, and underlies the IRS’s grant of tax exemption in 1993. http://armstrong-op.gerryarmstrong.ca/documents/irs
The op continues to this day, and Rathbun and Rinder have been operating to keep it working. They black PRed me in Rathbun’s book Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior, which Rinder edited, and continued the criminal frame-ups of Flynn and me, which are key to the “negotiations” with the IRS.
Please read my introduction to the Armstrong op, which goes into these negotiations, and touches on the “public policy” issue, which is essential to understanding the IRS deal, and remedying it. http://armstrong-op.gerryarmstrong.ca/about
Also please read this article I wrote recently on public policy as it applies in the Scientologists’ obtaining of tax exemption. http://gerryarmstrong.ca/archives/1298
From what you and others have said about your film being based on Wright’s book, and from what is in the book about the IRS deal, I assume that you do not address the public policy issue in the film. (I have not seen it, and because of the Scientologists’ actions I cannot safely enter the US at this time.) Wright does not address the issue in the book. He writes that “Rathbun and Miscavige commuted to Washington nearly every week, toting banker’s boxes stuffed with responses to the government’s queries.” (p. 231) Wright does not, however, say anything about what the responses were. He does not mention Flynn in the book, or anything about the Scientologists ever fair gaming me, or the connection between the Scientology v. Armstrong litigations and the IRS deal.
Public policy violations comprised one of two principal reasons for the IRS’s refusal of tax exemption until the 1993 deal, the other reason being inurement. The Scientologists “cured” their public policy problem with the IRS by, among other things, framing me and then lying about me, and other similarly placed Scientology victims. Lying to the US has to be against public policy, but it is what the IRS negotiated with the Scientologists. The IRS never gave me an opportunity to answer my Scientologist accusers, or victimizers. Tax exemption, religion status, and the new ally relationship with the US Government then enabled the Scientologists to commit public policy violations against more citizens with relative immunity.
Wright had to have known about the public policy issue and the content of the Scientologists responses to the IRS. In 2010, while he was working on his New Yorker article, I sent him an email, which stated:
When we talked yesterday, I mentioned the black PR on me in Scientology’s submissions to the IRS on which its 1993 tax exemption was granted. http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/cult/irs/index.html
This email is pasted below for your reference.
During his researching and writing the article, I sent Wright a great amount of information and documents and spoke to him and New Yorker fact checkers several times. I made myself and my information available, and withheld nothing in any areas they asked about. Despite this, he treated me dishonestly in the article, and forwarded the Scientologists’ black PR and lies on me. He and The New Yorker would not correct the published untrue statements about me, but handed me and my request for correction off to the magazine’s attorney, who also dealt with me dishonestly. Obviously I do not have the resources to take on Condé Nast legally, and they knew it. It was heart-breaking. I have no doubt that his unfriendly attitude toward me continued through his book, and into his participation in your film.
More than a year ago, Spanky Taylor told me that you would be contacting me about the film. This made sense because of my long, intense relationship with Hubbard and the Scientologists, all their litigation with me, their fair gaming, the way my situation and legal cases fit in the Scientologists’ human rights issues, my victimization and present standing in the IRS deal, and the quantity of my material Wright used in his book. I expect that you too have been influenced against me by black propaganda, not because I wasn’t contacted about the film, but because of the apparent omission of the public policy violations issue in your treatment of the IRS deal, which, of course concerns my victimization. I have never seen the black PR on me that the Scientologists provided to Wright, which I am sure he provided to you. You are also obviously close to Rathbun and Rinder who had a hand in this black PR, and who still hate me and are protecting the IRS deal by not telling the truth about the public policy issue and their victimizing me.
If you, Wright and Haggis really want to get the US Government to re-examine the Scientologists’ tax exemption, get Rathbun and Rinder to tell the truth. I will know when they tell it because they have to tell it about me. The Scientologists did not make the IRS’s knees buckle. The IRS was not thoroughly whipped in 1993. The IRS and the involved Justice Department officials collaborated with the Scientologists, and they did so with full knowledge that they were victimizing the Scientologists’ victims, which cannot but be a grotesque violation of public policy.
Paul Haggis has stated in a number of places that he fights for the underdog, doesn’t like bullies, “The bigger the bully, the more I want to take them down.” The bullies here are the Scientologists, their lawyers, PIs, etc., and the US Government, and Rathbun and Rinder and their supporters. That is about as big a bunch of bullies as you can find. Against them, my wife and I are virtually alone, the most marginalized underdogs imaginable.
I hope he will take this to heart, and you, Wright and he will stand up to these bullies. Please study the materials relating to the IRS deal and the public policy issues that I have made available, and use your power, capacity and megaphones so Rathbun and Rinder know it’s time to answer their accusers, including, most immediately, me.
[address and phone number]
cc: Lawrence Wright
cc: Paul Haggis
cc: Mark Rathbun
cc: Mike Rinder
From: Gerry Armstrong
Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 2010 10:58 AM
To: ‘Lawrence Wright’
Cc: ‘Jennifer Stahl’
Subject: A few other things
When we talked yesterday, I mentioned the black PR on me in Scientology’s submissions to the IRS on which its 1993 tax exemption was granted.
Also, if you have questions about my legal cases and status, here’s my archive: http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/archives/category/legal
I mentioned this injunction: http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50k/legal/a4/2623.php
and the Breckenridge decision: http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50k/legal/a1/283.php
which was affirmed on appeal: http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50k/legal/a1/3112.php
A sample communication to Scientologists providing my position regarding their contract and injunction against me: http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/archives/14
And this is interesting. An “independent,” who appears to copy posts and party line from Rathbun’s blog, just quoted a 1996 post to that contained Prouty’s 1987 letter to Michael Joseph, publishers of Bare-Faced Messiah. http://mylrh.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/lrh-military-info/
I mentioned that Prouty hadn’t been used in some years. But Tommy Davis I guess brings him up with you, and a Scientologist posts this on his blog.
Curiously, I had the same post on my site in the black PR section: http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/cult/usenet/ars-milne-1996-03-19.html
This 1999 post to a.r.s. is a Prouty oddity: http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/legal/a7/breaches-exhibit30.html That is one of 201 “breaches” of Scientology’s contract for which the cult sought $50,000 each in a 2002 lawsuit.
And a Freedom article from Fletch on me: http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/cult/freedom-1985-04-2.html
I hope all of this is making sense to you. I’m assuming that you know a lot about what’s happening in Scientologyland.
By JOSEPH MALLIA
Date of Publication:3/1/98 1
MIT student Carlos Covarrubias had signed a contract to serve the Church of Scientology for the next billion years – in effect, pledging his eternal soul.
Now two Scientologists were helping him stuff underwear and socks into a suitcase at his Back Bay fraternity house while others sat outside on Beacon Street in a car with its engine running.
They were preparing to take the 19-year-old to Logan Airport, and from there to the church’s Los Angeles headquarters.
“His parents were coming up from Florida to save him, so the Scientologists were rushing to get him out of here,” said Marcus Ottaviano, president of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity, recalling the May 1995 events.
Covarrubias’s interest in the church was first piqued by “Dianetics,” the Scientology book advertised on late-night TV and at national events like the Boston Marathon.
It wasn’t long before Covarrubias began skipping his MIT classes to spend the day studying at the church, Scientology’s four-story stone building on Beacon Street, a block from the Charles River and next door to his fraternity.
The church recruiters befriended him, promising that one day he would become “clear” – with a perfect memory and a higher IQ. Covarrubias paid for the Purification Rundown, a $ 1,200 detoxification program that required him to drink vegetable oil, take vitamin megadoses, and sweat in a sauna for several hours a day.
He also took a course that required him to talk to inanimate objects like dolls and ashtrays. “You had an ashtray, and you’d say, ‘Stand up.’ You’d lift it up and say, ‘Thank you.’ And then you’d say, ‘Sit down,’ and ‘Thank you.’ You’d try to have the intention for it to move on its own,” Covarrubias said.
Altogether, he paid about $ 2,000 to the Church of Scientology. But they wanted more.
“They asked me about student loans, bank loans, and they asked me, ‘What’s the limit on your credit cards? What’s your overdraft protection?’ “Covarrubias said. “They said, ‘There’s always a way to get money.’ ”
It is just such tactics that cause critics to call the church – founded in 1953 – a cult and a money-grabbing machine that separates thousands of ordinary church members like Covarrubias from their free will and their money.
It is also just such tactics that have the church in the midst of an international and highly public feud with the German government – which steadfastly refuses to grant Scientology the tax-exempt status of a religion – a status the church holds in this country.
While high-profile celebrity members, including John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley and others, earn goodwill for the church, ex-members and critics say there is a dark underside to Scientology.
Some of that underside was allegedly laid bare in the 1995 death in Clearwater, Fla., of church member Lisa McPherson, 36, according to Florida state police, who recommended in December that Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe bring criminal charges against the church. The county medical examiner said she died of a blood clot due to dehydration, after being denied water for at least her last five to 10 days.
The church says McPherson died accidentally of a pulmonary embolism and denies that its members caused the death.
McPherson’s family filed a wrongful-death suit against the Church of Scientology last year, saying she wanted to leave the church but was held against her will during a 17-day church “retreat.”
Former insiders told the Herald that the Church of Scientology is a wealthy and powerful organization strictly controlled by its reclusive leaders at the Religious Technology Center in California.
In 1993 – the last year the church had to declare its income for federal tax purposes – it had $ 398 million in assets and took in $ 300 million a year. It claims to have 8 million members, though opponents put that number at only 200,000 or so – with about 40,000 in the United States.
In Massachusetts, there are several groups – an Everett drug-rehab office, a Brighton literacy program, private schools in Milton and Somerville and an anti-psychiatry group in Boston – that deny they are controlled by the Church of Scientology.
The groups share a primary goal with all other Scientology organizations, critics say: To recruit for the church and sell its programs.
But the president of the Church of Scientology International, the Rev. Heber Jentzsch, objected in a telephone interview from Los Angeles to allegations of abuse or deception.
Church members are sincerely motivated to bring happiness to mankind, Jentzsch said. They work in prisons and among the poor to eradicate gang violence, teen pregnancy and drug abuse, he said.
Scientology is thriving in 115 countries, Jentzsch said, despite the venom of what he said were only a few critics. It thrives, he said, because “it is the path to total freedom.”
And Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s books and lectures are popular, selling more than 140 million copies – including more than 17 million copies of “Dianetics” – in 34 languages, Jentzsch said.
Long before Hubbard died in 1986, he was accused of creating the Church of Scientology only to make money. His lectures and writings – totaling more than 100,000 pages – still generate millions of dollars in income every year. That stream of money is now controlled by Hubbard’s heir, Religious Technology Center board chairman David Miscavige, 37, who has worked for the church since he was a teenager.
Jentzsch said Scientology is attacked – as Mormonism was in its early years – because it is a new religion with a unique and vital message. “A person who is a Scientologist – he wakes up,” he said.
Local Scientologists recruit on college campuses in Boston and on the street.
A favorite spot is outside the front door of the Boston Architectural Center at Newbury and Hereford streets, where church recruiters regularly hand out free tickets for “personality and IQ tests” at the “Hubbard Dianetics Foundation.” The tickets – “a $ 30 value” – list the address and telephone number but not the name of the Church of Scientology at 448 Beacon St.
And for several months there was an outpost in Watertown’s Arsenal Mall where a vendor’s cart offered free stress tests on an an “Electropsychometer” or “E-Meter” – a kind of lie detector used for Scientology training.
Potential members are routed to the Beacon Street church where high-pressure “registrars” sell costly church programs.
In the church’s vocabulary, the recruiter is a “body router,” and potential converts are “wogs” or “raw meat.”
An offer of a free personality test enticed Reem Rahim, 31, who said in a Herald interview that she was recruited to Scientology in 1991.
New to Boston, unhappy with her job as an immunology researcher at Children’s Hospital, Rahim accepted when a man on the street offered the church’s personality test.
Within six weeks she had paid the Boston church $ 82,000 for Scientology courses – money from an insurance settlement she got after nearly losing her legs in a 1987 car accident. Church salespeople promised Scientology would give Rahim happiness and advanced mental powers, including the ability to remove from her legs the scars caused by the auto accident, she said.
Rahim’s family helped her leave Scientology. And she later got all her money refunded, but not before she hired lawyers who threatened to sue the church for fraud.
“I used to feel sorry for them, because there were some nice people there. Now I feel angry with the whole organization. What a bunch of creeps – stealing money from people,” Rahim recalled.
Another Boston resident, John Wall, was recruited when he found a Yellow Pages “career counseling” listing for the Scientology group Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation, according to a fraud complaint he filed against the church on Dec. 8, 1992, in Suffolk County Superior Court.
“The personality test is the gimmick routinely used by Scientology missions, orgs (organizations) and front groups . . . (to) identify the emotional sore spots of the targets for recruitment,” said the lawyers for Wall, who was recruited soon after graduating from college.
In a little more than two years, Wall claimed, he gave $ 17,000 to the church but never got career counseling.
“He was bombarded with contacts” from Scientologists pressuring him to take more courses, Wall’s lawyers said in the court documents. “He was told that Scientology was every bit a scientific discipline as physics or chemistry,” they said.
“Defendants continued to utilize mind control techniques which pervade Scientology pursuant to the boast of (L. Ron) Hubbard, the founder of Scientology,” Wall’s lawyers said in the documents, and then quoted Hubbard as saying: ” ‘We know more about psychiatry than psychiatrists. We can brainwash faster than the Russians.’ ”
After buying courses for 18 months from the Beacon Street church, Wall became a full-time Scientologist and moved to Los Angeles in October 1990.
Seven months after moving to California, Wall quit Scientology. He settled his lawsuit in 1993, and could not be reached for comment.
Skillful techniques induce even highly educated people like Wall, Covarrubias and Rahim to join groups like the Church of Scientology, said Steve Hassan of Cambridge, author of the book “Combatting Cult Mind Control.” Hassan was hired by Rahim’s family to help persuade her to leave Scientology.
Scientology is clearly a destructive cult, said Hassan, who has established a new local resource center to educate people about coercive religions.
“This group is unlike legitimate religions which tell what their beliefs and practices are in the beginning,” said Hassan, 43,a one-time member of the Unification Church.
“Scientology systematically deceives, hypnotizes, indoctrinates and exploits people for its own purposes,” he said.
First, Scientologists find a new recruit’s “ruin” – the thing that bothers him or her the most, according to Hassan, court documents and former members.
Then they promise to fix it, said former members who sued the church for fraud.
Whether the problem is psychosis or cancer, illiteracy or insanity – or legs scarred from an auto accident – Scientology is the answer. That’s the enticement offered to new recruits by church salespeople who are paid a 10 percent to 35 percent commission on every course they sell, defectors said.
Covarrubias, Rahim and Wall spent far less than the $ 300,000-plus cost of completing Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.”
Former Scientologist Gloria Neumeyer of Glendale, Calif., who owns a solar heating company, told the Herald she spent $ 200,000 for herself and another $300,000 for family members and employees to take Scientology courses.
“I donated $ 500,000 to Scientology. I was the kind (of recruit) who had money and paid for everything,” said Neumeyer, a former Lexington resident who left the church in 1991 and then decided to expose what she says are the church’s destructive practices.
Scientology counseling can create a feeling of well-being or even ecstasy, and that can become addictive, according to cult experts. It can also be expensive, costing up to $ 520 an hour, they said.
For the money, Scientologists are promised extraordinary powers – like controlling the weather and flying without their bodies, according to critics and former members.
Scientologists “claim with confidence that trillions of years ago they knew each other on other planets, that they had the power to see at submicroscopic levels and leave their bodies at will,” said Jim Siegelman and Flo Conway, authors of “Snapping,” a book on personality change in cults.
Like all Scientology churches worldwide, the Boston organization is required to send a percentage of its income to top church groups in California, which own all rights to the use of L. Ron Hubbard’s name, said Robert Vaughn Young, a former high-ranking Scientology official.
Many of Scientology’s more idealistic members sign billion-year contracts with the Sea Organization, the church’s quasi-military corps based in Clearwater, Fla.
Dressed in blue mock-Navy uniforms with gold braid and ribbons, it was two Sea Org officers who visited Boston and convinced Covarrubias that he should wear the same nautical garb while learning to save the world.
Even today, the church still considers Covarrubias a member, because his billion-year contract is irrevocable.
His friends and family disagree.
When his Pi Lambda Phi brothers saw Covarrubias become more and more immersed in Scientology, they alerted his parents in North Palm Beach, Fla.
Using the Internet, they found ex-Scientologists who volunteered to meet Covarrubias face-to-face.
The defectors told Covarrubias that he would sink more and more deeply under the mental control of the church, completely cut off from family and non-Scientology friends.
Meanwhile, on that day in May 1995, his parents’ plane was approaching Boston. The church had learned – from Covarrubias during a counseling session – of the plot to rescue him. That’s when the Scientologists came into the Pi Lambda Phi house to help Covarrubias pack his suitcase, Ottaviano said.
But before the Scientologists could take Covarrubias to Los Angeles, his friends blocked the frat house door, Ottaviano said.
“The only reason they didn’t leave that second is that there were 40 of us and two of them,” he recalled.
After Covarrubias was safe with his parents, the Pi Lambda Phi wanted to alert other college students. So they picketed the church next door.
“All the neighbors came out to support us. We were joined by a common enemy – we all hated Scientology,” Ottaviano said.
After a year with his family in Florida, Covarrubias felt strong enough to come back to Boston, rejoin the fraternity and re-enroll at MIT. He is scheduled to graduate with a philosophy degree this spring. Raised Catholic, he has a deep interest in spiritual matters.
But he said he does not consider Scientology a spiritual group.
“It’s an organization. Any other word, like religion, doesn’t seem to fit. It’s not a religion because they don’t ask for faith,” he said. “I would actually call it a cult.”
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