April 19, 1998
German network ARD aired this profile of
show was dubbed into English by ARD for
a showing at the National Press Club in
Original German Language Version
US Millionaire Fights Sect --
Crusade against Scientology
Moderator: Any visitor to the former pirate haven
of Clearwater on Florida's west coast quickly
realizes who is fighting for power today. Scientologists
have taken over the street scene, predominantly
in the downtown area. In Clearwater they are a
great deal closer to their dream of having their
own Scientology city. Of the 100,000 inhabitants
today, 6,000 are said to belong to the sect. On
top of that, Scientology tourists come here from
all over the world.
make the pilgrimage to this former luxury hotel
and pay thousands of dollars for courses which
promise them a higher level of enlightenment.
Fort Harrison is their religious center. Whoever
approaches it is under observation. The sect's
security service accompanies our team step by
step. Scientology sheriffs report every enemy
movement by radio to their center.
this particular morning the lookouts would be
even more nervous if they knew who was en route
to Clearwater: the man whom the Scientology management
probably fears the most today. Bob Minton is a
millionaire banker, who does not want to stand
by idly while the sect tries to intimidate their
Minton (driving his car): It's a little bit like
going into the lion's den. Former sect members
have warned me, "no matter what you do, don't
go into the Fort Harrison Hotel. The Scientologists
could arrange for something to happen there."
My friends tell me, "You're not paranoid.
The Scientologists are out to get you."
Mr. Minton is driving to Clearwater because he
believes in the democratic saying, "If you
want something done, don't wait for the government.
Do it yourself."
wants your money and your life," warns the
home-made picket sign. As the sect mobilizes against
its critics on the internet, the 51 year old computer
fan begins his own crusade.
Minton: As you can see, the Scientologists are
mobilizing quite a few people. Apparently our
little protest operation is upsetting them.
The speaker for the Scientologists in Clearwater,
Brian Anderson, launches his counter-attack.
Anderson: Bob Minton's attack on us, that is as
if a Nazi was supporting an anti-Jewish organization.
Giving money to someone so that he can attack
a religious minority, that is, that is simply
The evil, Bob Minton believes, lies on the other
side of the street.
Minton: So many people must suffer terribly, only
because they were once Scientologists. I think
it's especially bad that the church seeks to destroy
former members who express themselves in a critical
manner. These ex-members are financially ruined,
or overwhelmed with endless lawsuits. I want to
use my money to even up the playing field, so
that former members can defend themselves.
To the annoyance of the Scientologists, Minton
is quite well off.
Minton) How much have you given so far?
Minton: About $1.4 million so far. And I still
have a couple of hundred thousand I haven't given
yet. If I have to, I'll give more.
4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) from Clearwater,
Bob Minton bought two sect ex-members an island
house, because Scientology demonstrators regularly
appeared in their former neighborhood.
safe haven for a half a million marks ($350,000).
Stacy Young does not feel safe here any more.
A short time ago, her neighbors received anonymous
warnings, "The cats in the Youngs' animal
refuge are infected with dangerous, contagious
diseases." This came as no surprise for the
former sect member.
Young: Where we used to live, it was becoming
unbearable. One evening two employees from the
mental institution stood at our front door. Anonymous
callers had told them that I was crazy. Both of
them were surprised when they found out who I
was, and I told them that the whole thing was
an operation by the Scientologists. Bob Minton
heard about our problem, simply called us up and
said, "I'll help you." The man saved
our lives when we were at a loss as to what to
In American commercials, Scientology advertises
itself as a "religious philosophy."
Expensive, newly generated courses promise life
assistance and a better world. Stars such as John
Travolta openly admit to Scientology and do what
they can to drum up business for the sect. His
message is, "Look how far I've gotten with
Travolta: Most people just don't understand what
Scientology is all about,
Says the superstar at a book party.
Travolta: Scientology has given me answers to
so many questions. I have waited for a long time
for this help.
Each Scientologist is supposed to believe in the
pure teachings which come from L. Ron Hubbard.
The deceased science fiction author took elements
of traditional religions and mixed them with a
generous dose of psycho-analysis and space fantasy
into a new ideology.
courts have decided that the sect in involved,
for the most part, in making money. In the USA,
however, Scientology is recognized as a religion.
Because of this, Sabine Haag has moved to Clearwater,
with her four children, from a village outside
were not permitted to film a Scientology church
service. What was permitted was an interview in
the administrative center.
Haag: I used to live in a small village with about
1,500 inhabitants. Whenever I came into a building,
people fell all over themselves trying to leave
because they knew that I was a Scientologist.
It was as if I had leprosy. My children were beaten
up every day on their way back from school. They
were afraid to go to school. Every morning I had
to bring them to the classroom door, then pick
them up there in the afternoon or evening. They
never went out by themselves. My children didn't
have any more friends. We have our Sunday services
here. We have marriages here. When someone dies,
we have the funeral here. We have baptisms here.
We have all the normal serv... all the normal
things which a normal church has. Only... we ...
have ... much more enjoyment in them.
Apparently Sabine does not know that ex-Scientologists
from her sect have been put under undue pressure.
Haag: I am 100 percent positive that if they wanted
out of the church, no one would hold them back.
Because, we are taught, or, Scientology is a teaching
which they learn... teaches them to be free. And
freedom means that they are self-determined, so
... that would be the exact opposite to the teachings,
if they were to hold someone back.
But that is exactly what happened in the Fort
Harrison hotel, according to the reports of ex-Scientologists.
This is why Bob Minton demonstrates in front of
the so-called religious headquarters. After speaking
with former sect member from many parts of the
USA, Minton is convinced:
Minton: There is a long list of former cult victims
who have come to great harm in this hotel.
What has been confirmed is that in Fort Harrison
a 36 year old woman spent the last days of her
life. The police have been working on Lisa McPherson's
case for over two years. In 1994, the Scientologist
had given half of her income for sect courses.
One year later, she celebrated her "clear"
status. This is a Scientology level of enlightenment
which promises particular happiness. Only two
months later, she pulled off all her clothes after
a minor auto accident and said, "I need help."
An ambulance brought her to the emergency room.
Then several Scientologists showed up. Lisa went
with them back to Fort Harrison. What happened
there has still not been explained.
Scientologists did note down, in detail, how her
condition was rapidly deteriorating.
Scientology notes: "Tried to feed her. She
ate nothing. Needs two liters of liquid, when
she wakes up. Has scratches and sores all over
On the seventeenth day, the Scientologists finally
decided to bring Lisa McPherson to the hospital.
However, they drove her past a nearby hospital.
They did not stop at the next one, or the hospital
after that. They brought her on a 45 minute ride
to the New Port Ritchie Hospital, because that
is where a Scientology doctor was working. Too
late for Lisa McPherson. She died emaciated and
almost without liquid in her body. The next step
is for the district attorney in Clearwater to
decide whether any charges will be brought against
the Scientologists. The medical examiner has confirmed
the existence of bleeding and skin wounds which
look like insect bites. The autopsy report named
the cause of death as a blood clot in the lung,
combined with excessive bed rest and severe dehydration.
Aunt Dell Liebreich is the next of kin of the
deceased. She is suing Scientology for 144 million
marks ($100 million) damages. This is not about
money, she says. She wants to obtain a judgment
against those who, in her opinion, are responsible
for Lisa McPherson's death.
Aunt: I think it's terrible. How could they just
sit there and watch somebody die? They didn't
help her. They watched Lisa die.
On the second anniversary of Lisa McPherson's
death, Scientology critics held a memorial service
in front of Fort Harrison. Bob Minton was there,
thousand counter-demonstrators accused Clearwater's
police chief of conducting a witch hunt against
the church. What does Sandy Weinberg, Scientology
attorney, say to the medical examiner's conclusion
that Lisa died of dehydration?
That is what the medical examiner said in her
autopsy report, but this woman is mistaken, and
she has a strong prejudice against Scientology.
Would you say that the test results were tainted?
The blood clot that caused the embolism in the
lungs was not caused by severe dehydration, but
came, quite certainly, from an earlier injury.
Attorney Ken Dandar is suing Scientology on behalf
of Lisa's aunt. His fee is being paid by the millionaire,
Dandar: The Scientologists have absolutely no
medical proof of their blood clot theory. Everything
indicates that Lisa died a slow, painful death.
The clot let blood flow through. Without water
you're dead. Lisa had to die because she did not
want to be subject to the laws of the Scientologists.
She wanted to leave the church. There are several
witnesses to that. She did not want to give in,
and the Scientologists let her die.
For the sake of caution, many residents of Clearwater
would rather not say anything about the Scientologists.
But this man told us:
1: When I grew up, Clearwater was a nice little
town. When you go downtown today, you see Scientologists
all over the place. (imitates robot) Like zombies!
Oh, they don't bother me. They are nice young
people. I don't understand why they are there,
but they are just nice-looking, young people.
2: All I know is that Ron Hubbard wrote this book.
For me that is a religious cult. And I know that
a lot of land here belongs to them.
Most of the Scientologists of Clearwater live
in this well-guarded compound. The appearance
of our camera team was immediately reported. As
was the fact that Gabe Cazares accompanied us.
He was mayor when the sect came to Clearwater
in the 1970's.
Cazares: I don't know if this fence is supposed
to keep people out, or keep the Scientologists
in. Nobody goes in or out without the OK of the
In the middle of the interview, the former mayor
suddenly stops talking. Brian Anderson, the Scientology
speaker, has appeared, and Gabe Cazares, after
a legal battle, does not want to say another word.
to Anderson: Did you just want to say hello to
Anderson: German television shows up here and
brings a few demonstrators with them.
Are we bothering you?
Anderson: Exactly. With your puppets that are
The former mayor would rather hold our interview
a few kilometers away, in Clearwater's downtown.
As we get there, Scientologist Brian Anderson
is there waiting for us.
Scientologist Anderson stayed right on our heels
during the time that former Mayor Cazares told
us how it all began.
In the mid 70's, the Scientologists bought the
first two buildings under false names. Today,
Clearwater is an occupied city. The Scientologists
claim that they have renovated the inner city,
but what they've done here, is brainwashing.
That's not right. We have nothing to hide.
May we go into the Fort Harrison Hotel?
I'd only like to bring upright people with good
hearts in there, not people who are trying to
bother our residents. Let me say something once
and for all: We'll be here ... forever. (Taps
plaque). Our name is on this plaque.
Brian Anderson proudly shows us what Scientologists
are doing for their community, from Boy Scout's
day to the Winter celebration. Ron Hubbard's sect
wants to be respected by everyone, and reacts
aggressively to skepticism.
Why do you accuse all critics of wanting to destroy
That would be silly. I don't have any problem
with critics, whether they're on the internet
or otherwise. Who's worried about critics?
You. You hate critics.
What bothers me are individuals who only want
one thing: to destroy religious minorities. I
saw both of these people outside in front of Fort
Harrison. That was your big demonstration? All
that does is make me laugh, and ask myself, "Don't
they have anything better to do?" Is that
their only goal, to suck like leeches on the nerves
of a church?
Bob Minton knows, up close, what it is like to
be the object of the Scientologists' anger. Private
detectives have visited his business partners
and relatives. Both of his daughters were conspicuously
followed on their way to school. His wife, Therese,
sometimes wishes that her husband had a harmless
Minton: I try to keep our life as normal as possible,
for Bob and the children, at least here inside
of our own four walls. I do not want for the lives
of my children to be dominated by terror. Rather
than talk about the attempts at intimidation,
we see to it that Bob stands by his principles,
and that we support him.
The feisty millionaire is proud of his feisty
Minton: I wouldn't be able to fight both the Scientologists
and my wife. We work as a team.
M.: The Scientologists have distributed pamphlets
against us in our neighborhood, and demonstrated
right out in front of our house. They regard that
as their right, and we have to accept it.
As a precautionary measure, Bob Minton stores
pictures of the Scientology members who have demonstrated
against him. On one of the picket signs is, "Minton,
stop using violence against our church."
Even the area surrounding his remote country home
was not too far away for his opponents. Neighbors
found leaflets in their mailboxes. They characterized
Minton as a fanatical, anti-religious hatemonger.
Someone followed him on his short vacation to
the Caribbean, and distributed hate fliers to
the tourists on the beach. The fight has gotten
more personal, and this has taken its toll on
Bob Minton. He has something, however, that many
ex-Scientologists and other critics no longer
have: a family that stands by him and enough money
to enable him to put up with the rich Scientology
organization. There are still moments in which
he asks himself, "Do I really have to carry
out this crusade?"
The Scientologists want to destroy anybody at
cross-purposes with them. That is exactly what
I want to prevent with my crusade.
Do you see any danger of you losing your livelihood
in this battle?
That is a risk that I'll be glad to take, but
I really don't see the danger.
Are the Scientologists trying to sue you?
They have sought a basis, but without success,
because I am a little bit more intelligent, honest
and direct in my dealings that this church is.
As an example, Minton told about the cat, which
was not one which came from this area.
My wife found a dead, black and white cat on our
front doorstep. It did not look like the animal
had died of an illness.
Perhaps an accident. However, leading American
Scientologists have admitted to using private
detectives against critics and journalists. Recently
a PI showed up at the local police state, asking
about Bob Minton. Police Chief Scott Currier recalls:
Currier: The man said that he was on retainer
by Scientology. He wanted to know something about
Minton's background, and why he was interested
Have you ever seen anything concerning Bob Minton?
Currier: He was always a gentleman to me, and
a good citizen.
Fort Myers, Florida. Only a couple of hours by
car from Clearwater. This is where the 57 year
old Hana Whitfield lives with her husband, Jerry.
She belonged to Scientology for twenty years,
and was Ron Hubbard's, the sect founder's, confidante
for a long time. That, by itself, did not protect
her from the Scientology punishment system.
Whitfield: Nobody was safe from random attacks.
The Scientology leadership sent people from the
highest places to the prison camp for so-called
Hana Whitfield was the captain of a ship on which
Hubbard cruised for years. At times she was responsible
for the whole North America organization. Together
with Hubbard's children, Quentin and Diana, she
belonged to the the closest circle of confidantes.
On birthdays she received a personal letter from
the Scientology chief. Hana Whitfield blindly
trusted Ron Hubbard and his teachings.
Whitfield: He had a unbelievable amount of energy,
and was always full of plans for the future. He
had a magical attraction. Yes, he also pulled
me in with his spell.
At 24 years old, Hana Whitfield became a Scientologist,
but it wasn't until two decades later that she
realized that this church made people mentally
Whitfield: At first, I couldn't run away at all,
because two strong men were holding me. They led
me through Fort Harrison, where the prison camp
was. One type of punishment was that we had to
carry heavy buckets with building material up
and down twelve flights of stairs in intense heat.
One Scientology woman was chained to a pipe in
the boiler room. I don't know, for how long.
In the Fort Harrison Hotel?
Whitfield: Yes, in the Fort Harrison Hotel. I
went down to her a couple of times, and begged
her, "Lynn, if you don't obey your orders,
they're going to put me down here, too, and I
don't want that."
Hana Whitfield often though about suicide, but
then she managed to break out.
Whitfield: If the Scientologists ever though that
they could stop me from talking by threatening
me, my husband and my family, then they were wrong.
Hana Whitfield and the other former Scientologists
hope that Bob Minton stays at the forefront of
How long are you going to continue?
Minton: I'm prepared for a long fight, with my
money and my personal pledge. I think it is important
that people understand what is behind a totalitarian
organization like Scientology.
You won't give up?
If need be, Bob Minton will carry on his crusade
against all by himself.