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News Watch


by William M. Alnor

from the Christian Research Journal, Fall 1991, page 5. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.

Church of Scientology Spends Millions Defending Itself

The Church of Scientology, reeling from recent media pressure and government prosecution around the globe, is spending millions of dollars fighting back.

But some say the church's recent campaigns against the media, and Time magazine in particular, are backfiring due to a variety of reasons. The chief of these appear to be (1) the sect's own history and (2) the lack of documentation for accusations made in the counter attack.

The church, founded in 1955 by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, has been embroiled in controversy since its earliest days. But the recent wave of criticism and legal troubles may be the most serious threat it has had to face.

According to a May 6, 1991 article in the foreign edition of Time, the Los Angeles-based church in recent years has faced extensive trouble overseas, including:

But perhaps this foreign legal opposition is not as troubling to the church as recent negative articles. Last year the Los Angeles Times ran a damaging series on the sect and in May of this year critical stories on Scientology ran in Time and the influential German magazine, Der Spiegel. These were followed by a less critical, but probing article on Scientology's influence in Hollywood in California magazine.

According to media reports, Scientology has spent an estimated $1 million fighting the Los Angeles Times with its own media campaign. And, so far, about $3 million has been spent fighting Time.

Time's article was the most hard-hitting and likely the most damaging one. The May 6 cover story by Richard Behar was called "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power." The cover of Time portrayed octopus tentacles reaching out from the base of an exploding volcano (which is a play on the exploding volcano on the cover of Hubbard's book, Dianetics, the main text of Scientology) along with a bold headline, "SCIENTOLOGY: THE CULT OF GREED: How the Growing Dianetics Empire Squeezes Millions from Believers Worldwide." The article alleged that:

The story also detailed how litigious the church is. It has "71 active lawsuits against the IRS alone." One lawyer who has acted on behalf of alleged victims of Scientology, Michael Flynn of Boston, has "endured 14 frivolous lawsuits, all of them dismissed."

Scientology has reacted with anger to the article and has enlisted the support of clerics such as Dean Kelley of the National Council of Churches, Father William Cenkner, Dean of Religious Studies at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and others in condemning the article. And the following month Scientology unleashed its own media campaign that featured full-page ads in USA Today that ran every day for a month (at $74,000 a day, according to the paper's rate card). These either condemned Time or explained the virtues of the church.

Part of the $3 million campaign included a 27-page full color advertising supplement in the June 14 edition of USA Today, and another 80-page report called Fact vs. Fiction that dubbed itself as "a correction of falsehoods contained" in the Time article.

Scientology's response, which focuses on an alleged conspiracy between Time and a drug manufacturing company to "plant" an article in the magazine to destroy the church, has mystified many. Some are calling it bizarre. In Joanne Lipman's column on the advertising industry in the June 20 issue of the Wall Street Journal she wrote that "almost no one in the ad business takes the Scientologists" accusations seriously. They only wish they had the kind of power to "plant" articles that the Scientologists ascribe to Mr. [Martin] Sorrell..."

The Scientologists argue that Sorrell, a Briton who runs one of the world's largest advertising and public relations companies, was pressured by the Eli Lilly company, manufacturer of the antidepressant drug Prozac, to force Time into attacking Scientology or lose a great deal of advertising revenue. Scientology, which has a history of opposing the use of psychiatric drugs, has been battling the Lilly firm.

Lipman noted that Scientology cites "no evidence to back up their claim," and that Time calls the accusations "patently absurd."

The church's 80-page Fact vs. Fiction booklet takes personal issue with Time's reporter Behar and claims he deliberately set out to destroy the church. The booklet gives its own explanation of various allegations brought out by the magazine.

Roy Masters-linked "New Dimensions" Magazine Draws Fire

A conservative news magazine is under fire across the U.S. due to its links with controversial religious leader Roy Masters.

The monthly magazine, New Dimensions, is also increasingly finding its way into the hands of politically conservative evangelical Christians, as its publishers have been giving away free ads to conservative groups, according to the January 1991 Cult Awareness Network News. In an apparent push to thrust the magazine into the mainstream, thousands of free copies are being regularly passed out, with many evangelical pastors receiving them.

What many don't yet know is that the magazine is loaded with advertisements and propaganda for Masters's Foundation of Human Understanding, which has long been considered a pseudo-Christian sect by experts, including the Christian Research Institute (CRI).

Walter Martin's The New Cults, published in 1980 in collaboration with the CRI research staff, concludes: "The basic doctrines and many of the practices of Roy Masters and the Foundation of Human Understanding are decidedly not Christian. They are certainly not in harmony with what God has revealed to us in the Bible" (p. 317).

A recent issue of the magazine had three full-page ads either promoting Masters's nationwide radio program, "How Your Mind Can Keep You Well," or booklets his organization sells.

Spokesmen for New Dimensions have claimed no official connection with Masters or the Foundation. However, Masters is listed in the magazine's "staffbox" as a "contributing writer" along with conservatives Cal Thomas and Patrick Buchanan. Editor-in-chief is Mark Masters and the art director is David Masters, both sons of Roy Masters.

Despite the denials, the Watchman Fellowship's (a Christian countercult group) Craig Branch has pointed out that prior to 1986 the magazine, under the name the Iconoclast, was the official publication of the Foundation. And as late as the June 1988 issue it was listed as "a monthly publication" of the organization. Moreover, in the mandatory legal notice buried in the back of the December 1990 issue, Masters's Foundation is listed as the "only major stockholder of New Dimensions" (Watchman Expositor 8:6 [1991], pp. 8, 10).

New Dimensions has a listed address in Grants Pass, Oregon (the same community Masters moved to from the Los Angeles area with many members), and according to the November 29, 1990 Washington Post, the magazine is published in a house next to the Foundation's church building.

The magazine regularly features leading conservatives as contributing writers. But now with publicized allegations that New Dimensions is merely a front for Masters's organization, or at best a public relations tool in the same vein as the Unification Church-owned Washington Times, some leading voices have been trying to distance themselves from the magazine.

According to the January 1991 Cult Awareness Network News, after CBS commentator Andy Rooney learned that his column was running in the magazine, he insisted it be withdrawn.

Others have been critical of Christians associating themselves with the magazine due to Masters's heretical view of Christ, and his open antagonism toward Christians. In the previously mentioned issue of the Washington Post, John Lofton of the Conservative Digest criticized Christians promoting New Dimensions because, as he put it, Masters is "a false prophet and theological fraud."

However, in a telephone interview with the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, Christian columnist/commentator Cal Thomas said it was not that simple -- he didn't know he was listed as a "contributing writer" for the magazine.

"I have no special relationship with them and no agreement with them," Thomas said. "In fact, I've never even corresponded with those people."

Thomas said his syndicated column is managed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. Only recently did he find out that New Dimensions is one of many publications that purchases his column. "I saw the name New Dimensions on my royalty statement," he said, adding that he didn't at first know what it was. Thomas added that his listing as a "contributing writer" might be misleading since most "contributing writers" are in steady communication with their publications.

At the core of Masters's sect, which was founded in 1960, is a reliance on meditation, yoga, and hypnotism mixed with many Eastern concepts. Although he claims to be a mystical Christian he rejects the central doctrine of Christianity -- Christ's death on the cross as atonement for sin.

For a short time there was a dialogue between Walter Martin and Masters. CRI continues to offer a two-cassette tape of Martin debating Masters live on the "Bible Answer Man" program.

In Brief...

Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, the founder and former leader of the largest Hare Krishna commune in the U.S., has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for running an illegal business and conspiring to protect it by murder, beatings, and kidnapping. Bhaktipada was the founder of the 4,000-acre New Vrindaban commune in West Virginia. He was convicted on March 29 on six counts of mail fraud, three counts of racketeering, and conspiracy to kill former follower Charles St. Denis.

* * *

The identity of the "channel" (medium) of the 2,000-plus page Urantia Book was Wildred Kellogg, the adopted son of Dr. John Kellogg, founder of the Kellogg Cornflakes Company in Battle Creek, Michigan. That conclusion was published in Martin Gardner's column in the Spring 1991 issue of the Skeptical Inquirer. Gardner wrote that his findings were confirmed by independent witnesses following six months of sleuthing. The Urantia Book, which delves into the nature of the solar system and universe, purports to have been penned (through channeling) by "numerous supermortal (angel-like) beings" working in accord with a small group of people headed by a Chicago psychiatrist in the 1920s. According to Urantia literature the true identity of the person used in the channeling sessions was never to be revealed.

* * *

Huntington House publishers has stopped printing copies of Troy Lawrence's best-selling book, New Age Messiah Identified, due to allegations that Lawrence is really Darrick Evenson, a Mormon. Evenson authored The Gainsayers, a book criticizing Christian ministries that evangelize Mormons. In New Age Messiah Identified Evenson/Lawrence claims he infiltrated the Tara Center of London and smuggled out pictures of the New Age Christ, Lord Maitreya. But the Tara Center said Evenson/Lawrence never infiltrated their organization. "He never told us about The Gainsayers," explained Huntington House executive, Mark A. Trosclair.

* * *

Questions surround best-selling author Betty Malz's testimony that she died, went to heaven for 28 minutes, and returned to tell the world about it. Her best-known book, My Glimpse of Eternity (Chosen Books, 1977), sold about 1 million copies and is printed in 11 languages. The book tells how in 1959, after she had been in a coma for 44 days in a hospital in Terre Haute, Indiana, she went to heaven and witnessed many marvels, but was sent back to earth when her father uttered a one-word prayer. Malz's five subsequent books all make reference to this experience. But recently reporter Lorna Dueck, writing in the June 11 issue of the Canadian publication Christian Week, has investigated her story and reported it to be false. Retracing Malz's steps, Dueck interviewed hospital officials in Terre Haute, who told her Malz never died during her hospital stay for a ruptured appendix as she said she did. Clark Boyd, the doctor Malz referred to in the book, said he was surprised no reporters questioned him on Malz's story before. "I didn't happen," Boyd said. Chosen Book's editors acknowledge that the medical records they examined during their visit to the hospital in 1976 to check on the accuracy of the story did not support Betty Malz's claims. Nevertheless, they believed the story because Malz's father verified that she had a sheet over her head.

End of document, CRJ0144A.TXT (original CRI file name),
"News Watch"
release A, August 31, 1994
R. Poll, CRI

A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.)

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