- Tampa, FL
November 30, 2000
Alexander and Jeff
Jacobsen appear on this Public Radio
show to discuss the LMT, Scientology and
the Clearwater picket in memory of Lisa
LOREI: Good afternoon, welcome to "Radioactivity".
I'm Robert Lorei. We're going to talk about the
Church of Scientology today. There's an annual
protest that takes place in Clearwater. We're
gonna meet some ex-members of the Church of Scientology
and also some critics of the Church of Scientology
in just a little bit. But first, some listener
comments about yesterday's show. Yesterday we
were talking about the elections and whether or
not people had trust in the voting system and
also what people thought about the various challenges
to the election results. Here's what some listeners
had to say following yesterday's show:
LOREI: There you had some listener comments about
yesterday's show. Well, we're joined now by two
people in the studio and we may get a third person
on line. Jeff Jacobsen is here and Peter Alexander
is here. Peter is the filmmaker. Jeff is on the
staff at the Lisa McPherson Trust and Peter is
on the board of the Lisa McPherson Trust. Peter
is a former member of the Church of Scientology
and we're gonna talk about that church today here
on WMNF from the perspective of the people that
we have here in the studio. Peter and Jeff, welcome
to WMNF. Um, let me start by asking you, first
of all, the Lisa McPherson Trust--what is it?
ALEXANDER: Well, we're a group that's, uh, that's
set up to expose the deceptive and abusive practices
of Scientology, the Church of Scientology.
LOREI: And how long has it been around?
ALEXANDER: We've been here for basically a year.
LOREI: Uh, now Lisa McPherson is a, was a member
and, and until her death was still a member of
the Church of Scientology. She died while staying
at a church building there in Clearwater. Recount
for us the, the story of Lisa McPherson.
ALEXANDER: Well, she was on a program called the
Introspection Rundown. Uh, she had first escaped
from the church and was driving through downtown
Clearwater when she got into a very minor traffic
accident and, in order to get recognition of the
fact that she wanted to escape from Scientology,
she took off all of her clothes and was walking
down the street. So the police picked her up and
took her to Morton Plant Hospital, whereupon,
I believe 8-12 Scientologists showed up and convinced
her not to go into the mental health program there
and to come back to the church. Making a long
story, an unfortunate story, short, 17 days later
she was dead, uh, on arrival in Palm Harbor Hospital.
LOREI: Now, there, there was a conflict in, in
Pinellas County over this and, uh, the medical
examiner, examiner in Pinellas County initially
said that she died of dehydration, I believe,
and then subsequently changed that determination,
um, and said that her first, uh, her first attribution
of the cause of death was wrong.
ALEXANDER: Uh, yeah, Scientology is able to place
a lot of pressure on these people. I don't know
everything that happened in that regard but, uh,
the medical examiner changed her testimony and
the prosecutors said that they couldn't proceed
with their case; however, there is a case by the
family for wrongful death and that is proceeding,
and I think it will be successful.
LOREI: Um, the pros--um, the Pinellas-Pasco prosecutor's
office, the state attorney's office, they decided
not to bring charges against the church, but that
was, the church was under that cloud for, for
several years as the investigation continued.
ALEXANDER: That's correct, it was, uh, a charge
that was placed and was investigated for several
years, and they felt they had a pretty good case
until the medical examiner, um, changed her testimony
for whatever reason.
LOREI: Well, what do you think happened to Lisa
ALEXANDER: Well, she was, um, improperly cared
for. She was mentally ill. She had had a mental
breakdown, and she was kept in isolation. She
was force-fed various drugs by people other than
doctors. She was, um, refused any regular medical
attention. And apparently she finally died of
dehydration, I believe that's the case, and, you
know, they tried to cover it up and pretend it
was something else.
LOREI: Now, Peter, as a, as a former member of
the Church, do you have any other rea--any reason
to believe that other people have been treated
in a similar fashion within the Church? That is,
treated the same way that Lisa was treated?
ALEXANDER: Uh, yes, we know of a, a person who,
who escaped that process, from Denmark, who doesn't
want their name revealed, but, yeah, I've known
LOREI: Uh, the Lisa McPherson Trust was founded
by critics of the Church of Scientology. Um, that's
a pretty unusual step, isn't it? To set up a separate,
non-profit group to fight an organization?
ALEXANDER: Well, we felt that if Lisa had had
an opportunity to run to a nearby safe house,
she might still be alive today. And so we went
looking for an office in downtown Clearwater,
uh, last year and we did eventually find one after
being refused by most of the office buildings
LOREI: Um, why do you think that was? Why do you
think that most of the office buildings refused
ALEXANDER: Well, as Stacy Brooks, Patricia Greenway
and I went looking for the office space, we were
pursued by up to three carloads of Scientology
hired private investigators and, uh, they would
take down the, um, address of every place we went
to, and then they would go talk to the landlords
and tell them that, um, if they rented to the
Lisa McPherson Trust they would have nothing but
trouble. Now, it was interesting that each and
every building down there has 20 to 30 to 40 percent
vacancy rates. I mean, they're not full by any
stretch of the imagination, and they all agreed
to rent to us, um, and then changed their minds.
LOREI: Hmm. The, the Lisa McPherson Trust, as
I understand it, is funded by a businessman, a
millionaire businessman from New Hampshire, Bob
Minton; made his money in, among other things,
the automobile dealership business. Um, but would
this organization exist if Minton wasn't around?
If Minton didn't fund it?
ALEXANDER: Um, I don't know if the Lisa McPherson
Trust itself would exist. Um, I think it might,
but, um, certainly Bob has helped to make it stronger
than it otherwise would have been. I will say
this, though, that the protest movement against
Scientology will exist and carry on despite any
LOREI: Um, Scientology, um, people inside say
it's a church that has helped them, um, helped
them achieve success beyond their wildest imaginations.
Um, the critics on the outside say it's a cult.
Um, would you say it's a cult?
ALEXANDER: It's definitely a cult. Um, when I
was in there, there was no mention of religion.
I didn't come from a religious background so that
may have been just the pitch that they gave to
me in, when I said when I first joined it that,
uh, you know, I wasn't a church member or interested
in joining a church, they said, "No, no,
no, no. It's not a church, it's just a self-help
group." What it is is a mind control cult.
They'll tell you whatever you want to hear, but
it is what it is. And it involves hypnotism and
LOREI: How did you get into the church?
ALEXANDER: Well, I was an unsuspecting soul walking
down the street in Santa Barbara, California on
September the 2nd, 1976, and I met my [clears
throat], uh, soon--future wife, who was a Scientologist
at the time--she was not my wife then. And she
was out in the street, um, trolling for members.
And she, um, was using Scientology, she was doing
a drill called the Obnosis Drill, which is Scientology
talk, you know, they made up their own language.
And, uh, I fell prey to her and I liked her and
she liked Scientology.
LOREI: How long were you in the church?
ALEXANDER: I was in the church for, uh, just about
LOREI: Uh, at what--now, now Scientology has all
sorts of levels, but how far up in the church
did you go?
ALEXANDER: I reached the auditing level--that's
the counseling level--of OT-7. There is only one
higher, that is OT-8. But it seems that no one
really ever reaches OT-8; they always get bounced
back to OT-7. So I guess I reached the top.
LOREI: Hmm. Well, did you find that the church
helped you when, in those early years when you
were first, first in?
ALEXANDER: Uh, the hypnotism is, um, temporarily
beneficial and you'll think you're getting something
out of it, and it lasts for a while, uh, and you
think that, um, whatever problem you have is taken
care of. But I talked to a, a psychiatrist after
I left the church and described the Scientology
process, and he said that, um, it was a form of
hypnotism that he didn't recommend called "implanting",
and that it had dangerous side effects.
LOREI: Well, talk about that for a moment.
ALEXANDER: Sure. I talked to Dr. Klein, who's
here in Tampa, and, um, I described the, the,
what they call "auditing process" in
which you ask a person to go earlier similar what
their problem is. It's similar to Freudian regression,
which is the same kind of process, and normally
people will go and remember things as early as
when they're two years old.The difference is,
in Scientology, when they don't resolve a problem,
they are caused to go back even earlier and sometimes
go back before their birth into these past lives,
which, unfortunately, generates quite a bit of
false memory syndrome and, um, appears to, uh,
solve your problems but it's really only a temporary
LOREI: When you were undergoing, uh, Scientology
counseling or training, did you go experience
ALEXANDER: Oh, I thought I experienced all kinds
of things. I mean, you know, you could run back
to the beginning of time if you're, if you let
your mind run, you know, you've got a vivid imagination
and who knows what you'll come up with. Uh, you
don't really think it's that because there's a
lot of random thoughts in your, in your mind that
you can't connect up with your own thoughts, so--yeah,
I, I did and I fully believed in them and, um,
I thought that, uh, this made me a very special
person, as do most of the Scientologists, that
I could remember all this good stuff.
LOREI: Where, where were you living during these
years that you were in Scientology?
ALEXANDER: Uh, most of the time I was in Los Angeles.
I was an executive at Universal Studios and a
crea--creative director at Universal Tours, so,
um, Scientology wasn't that big a part of my life.
I might go in for a couple of weeks of brainwashing
and hypnotism, you know, once a year, something
LOREI: Uh, was, was the counseling--was the training
you received in Scientology free?
ALEXANDER: Oh, gosh, was it not free! [laughs]What
happens is that, um, you know, whatever hypnotic
effect that they induce in you lasts for a while,
and then whatever problems you have in life come
back, and they'll tell you, "You know, it's
the next level that you need." And of course
the next level might cost another 5, 10, 15, 20,
25, 30 thousand dollars. And after 20 years I
had put a million dollars into Scientology for
my ex-wife and I and even my kids, I hesitate
to say. Uh, and, uh, I don't think, uh, we were
any better than what we started; in fact, I think
we were a little worse.
LOREI: How so?
ALEXANDER: Well, it--too much of that hypnotic,
um, induction produces some pretty strange, uh,
reactions and, um, without getting into the specifics,
it seemed like my wife was ill most of the time,
uh, and, uh, I couldn't find out what the source
of it was other than the auditing on OT-7 seemed
to be making her sick.
LOREI: Uh, is your wife still in Scientology?
ALEXANDER: Uh, she is. She, she left Clearwater
saying that she was, quote, PTS to the Church
of Scientology--PTS is one of their words that
means that, uh, she was connected to a suppressive
source and it was the Church of Scientology. So
she ran off to, um, to, uh, Marin County, California.
And I think she still feels she's a Scientologist
but she won't come back here, I'll tell you that.
LOREI: What, what about your kids?
ALEXANDER: Uh, one of my sons is a Scientologist
and in fact, as a result of my criticism of the
Church of Scientology, he has been forced to disconnect
from me. Disconnection is a policy that they have
where a family member who is in Scientology will
send a letter to another family member saying
that they can never talk to them. In this case,
I got a letter from my son saying that he admired
me, he thought I was the greatest dad in the world,
he thought I was the coolest guy in the world,
he was always bragging to his friends about me,
but because, you know, whether he's right or wrong
about that, but because I was a critic of the
Church of Scientology, he could never speak to
me again and since then I've never been able to
get him on the phone and he hasn't returned any
of my e-mail.
LOREI: Well, we're talking with Peter Howard--or
Peter Alexander, rather, I'm sorry, Peter. Peter
Alexander is, uh, is in the film industry, and
he is an ex-member of the Church of Scientology.
He recently produced an independent full-length
feature film called "The Profit". We're
gonna talk about that, his experiences doing that
here in the Tampa Bay area. And also here is Jeff
Jacobsen, who is a critic of Scientology. Our
phone number is 813-239-9663. Um, at what point
did you begin to have doubts, Peter, about the
Church of Scientology?
ALEXANDER: Well, uh, when it actually started
to backfire on me. Um, I got to the point where,
uh, with enough of this hypnosis, I couldn't tell
what I was remembering that was true and that
which was false. I, I finally tested myself by
asking my mom about some things that I had remembered
in this lifetime, and, uh, she said, "No,
that didn't happen." And I said, "Oh,
my gosh", you know, "my memory is so
messed up now I can't tell what's going on."
And at that point in time, one of my employees,
Patricia Greenway, got on the Internet, because
she was interested about this. And she dug out
the true story of Scientology, which I was horrified
LOREI: What, uh, where did she find this on the
ALEXANDER: Uh, various Internet sites. Um, you
can certainly get it--one of the key links would
be the Lisa site, which Jeff can describe. Uh,
Arnie Lerma has a site. Um, there's xenu, dot,
JACOBSEN: Um, xenu.net xenu, dot, net is one of
the good ones. Lerma--Lerma, dot, com is Arnie's.
ALEXANDER: Right, lermanet.comLermanet dot, com.
You can find a lot of information there, and when
you find the real court records about the truth
about Scientology, uh, it's not a good story.
LOREI: Well, so what, what did you find out, what
did you find out about the church that you hadn't
ALEXANDER: Well, they described L. Ron Hubbard
as a World War II naval hero who had been injured
in combat and then recovered by using Dianetics
on himself from being crippled and blinded. I
found out that he was not a naval hero. He had
never served in combat. He was relieved of command
of every command he was given, um, and that he
was not a scientist--he flunked out of college.
And that the whole thing was a, a sham and a con.
LOREI: Uh, L. Ron Hubbard, of course, is the science
fiction writer whose writings were quite popular
in the 1950s. Many of his books, uh, "Dianetics",
were sold around the country. Many of his science
fiction books, I guess--I guess he was more popular,
though, as a, as the writer of the "Dianetics"
series than he was of, of science fiction.
ALEXANDER: Well, I, uh, when I first got into
Scientology, had read L. Ron Hubbard's science
fiction. I was a science fiction fan, and I think
a lot of people who are in Scientology are; that's
why they probably fall for that past life stuff
so easily. But in any event, uh, I didn't really
know anything about Dianetics, and most people
don't. It's not a well known subject and anybody
can come up to you on the street and, uh, you
know, it seems like it's a very friendly, very
nice group of people, and you just don't know
what you're getting into.
LOREI: Uh, how did you eventually leave the church?
ALEXANDER: Well, after I learned, uh, the truth
both about L. Ron Hubbard and then the nefarious
acts of the Church of Scientology, where they
did things like, um, actually set up this one
lady, Paulette Cooper, by stealing her stationery
with her fingerprints on it and sending a bomb
threat on it and then having her arrested for
that, when I found out that they did that kind
of thing, which came out, uh, after the FBI raided
them a little later, then I wanted nothing to
do with that group, because I saw that it was
pure evil masquerading as a self-help group.
LOREI: Hmm. Did you do anything in Scientology
that you are ashamed of now?
ALEXANDER: Uh, I did help a little bit with the
CCHR, which is the Citizens Commission on Human
Rights. Um, they asked me to do some things that
I wouldn't do; for example, call up to radio shows
just like this pretending I wasn't a Scientologist
in order to say something positive about L. Ron
Hubbard. They call that safe-pointing, and they
give each other good statistical atta-boy points
for that, and we'll probably get some of those
calls here today.
LOREI: Atta-boy points?
LOREI: Uh, what, what kind of points do you get
for calling up radio shows?--
ALEXANDER: Well, you get good stat points for
that, and then if you get enough stat points then
you might get some free services in Scientology
or some beneficial treatment from Scientology
if you're--that's what's called being an upstat
LOREI: Did they--did they ask you to lie when
you called in to radio shows?
ALEXANDER: Yeah. I said, you know, "I don't
know anything about the show". They asked
me to--for example, I was in Clearwater; they
asked me to call a show in Pittsburgh, uh, and
this was back in, uh, '94, '95, I think it was.
And, uh, I said, you know, "But I don't get
Pittsburgh radio" and I didn't have the Internet
at that time. And they said, "It doesn't
matter. Just call up and, and, and say that you
want to talk about Scientology and say something
positive, and if they ask you if you're a Scientologist,
LOREI: Hmm. Well, we're talking with Peter Alexander,
and he is in the film industry. And also here
is Jeff, Jeff Jacobsen. Peter is a former member
of the Church of Scientology. If, if--Peter, if
the church is a cult, though, you were able to
leave on your own. You didn't have to get deprogrammed
or anything like that. You chose to leave and
ALEXANDER: It is a very powerful mind control
cult, and the walls and bars are in your mind.
Now, typically we associate a cult with some sort
of a, a prison-like setting, where the people
have to physically escape. Scientology isn't like
that. While it doesn't make you any better, the
mind control is so strong, and you begin to shift
off into this alternate universe of Scientology
think, that the prison is your own mind.
LOREI: Tell us about the film, "The Profit".
Is it about Scientology?
ALEXANDER: Well, I can't say what it's about yet.
They're dying to find out, they're just dying
to find out, and they've used every underhanded
trick they can to find out. But suffice it to
say, "The Profit" is made by myself
and Patricia Greenway and we're two critics of
the Church of Scientology. There is a web site,
it's www.theprofit.org. And you can go to that
web site and check it out.
LOREI: Did, did you make it here in the Bay area?
ALEXANDER: Yes, we shot the film in Tampa and,
uh, we were successful for about the first, oh,
three, four weeks in avoiding the Scientologists.
And then one day they found us and, um, began
their campaign of harassment. And in that campaign,
the first thing they did was, uh, they passed
out flyers that asked the questions if Patricia
Greenway and I were neo-Nazis or KKK members because
we were against the Church of Scientology. Now,
while I didn't have much of a religious background,
um, I am Jewish, so, uh, this was not good news
for me. Fortunately, also, most of the crew knew
that I was Jewish and then they really got a good
laugh out of that. Uh, but they did pass those
flyers out to any passersby on our shooting locations.
They came to our office, um--
LOREI: Do you have any of those flyers around?
ALEXANDER: Oh, yeah, we've got a whole bunch of
them. There's a radi--there's a television show,
as a matter of fact, a television news program
on Channel 28 here locally in which Kelly Swope
had some of those flyers, and I think we've gotten
them back from her, yeah.
LOREI: Um-hmm. Uh, so, so did, did any of the
public react strongly when, when they saw these
flyers linking you to the KKK and the Nazis? Did,
did public members scream at you or anything like
ALEXANDER: Um, the members of Scientology screamed
at us plenty. But, you know, people are too smart
for that. I think here locally, a lot of people
are intimidated by the Church of Scientology.
It seems like a dark, ominous presence. And there's,
there's some knowledge that they use private investigators
and smear tactics. But the truth of the matter
is, you know, that they're so ridiculous, they
can't really hurt you. I mean, who's gonna believe
a flyer that says a guy who's making a film is
automatically a member of the KKK and a neo-Nazi
when they don't even know what the film is about?
LOREI: Hmm. Well, we're talking about the Church
of Scientology today with, uh, a former member
and a critic of the church. Peter Alexander, whose
voice you just heard there, is in the film industry.
He runs, runs something called Purge Productions.
Jeff Jacobsen is here. He's with the Lisa McPherson
Trust, he's the librarian on staff there. Um,
when is the film gonna be out?
ALEXANDER: Uh, we hope to have the film out in
the spring and, um, again we have to--you know,
this is the problem with, uh, a film that is made
by critics of Scientology; we have to keep the
entire distribution plan secret, too. They've
already gone to the trouble of sending an anonymous
letter to our insurance company trying to get
us cancelled, and you can't get distribution without
the right insurance. And fortunately, our insurance
company just looked at that and when we said it
was from Scientology, they ignored it. But, uh,
they'll go to any length to destroy anyone who
points out the truth about the Church of Scientology.
LOREI: Now, with, with all the people in Hollywood
who, whom we hear are involved in the Church of
Scientology--John Travolta and other stars, musicians
and that sort of thing--is it hard to, to make
a film that, that might be critical of the church?
ALEXANDER: Well, you know, I wouldn't go to Hollywood
to make that, this, this film, and I'm not saying
that it is even critical of the church, but I
wouldn't go to Hollywood to make a film. Uh, one
of the reasons we made it in Tampa Bay was that
we felt that, um, the local people are hip to
this Scientology jazz and, uh, you know, they're
not gonna, uh, put up with too much. Clearwater,
the city itself, is a little different matter,
and we've had a lot of problems over there, so
we avoided shooting in Clearwater itself. But
St. Pete, Tampa, that's our territory.
LOREI: Clearwater, of course, is where the spiritual
headquarters of the church is, the Church of Scientology.
Paul writes on the Internet, he says, "I
saw mention of this film on Channel 28, 'The Profit'.
The news broadcast mentioned trouble with unions.
Do you consider this the same dirty tactics as
the infiltration of Pinellas County's medical
director's office? Just how far does the dirty
hands of Scientology stretch and what can Clearwater
residents do about this?" That's from Paul
out there in cyberspace.
ALEXANDER: Well, uh, I think that there probably
is a connection, but I don't know because it's
all done under cover. I will only say this: We
did have a partly union group and, um, they were
great guys and ladies and we loved them and they
loved us. Uh, however, out of the blue, the union
came in and demanded that they strike, so we had
a strike. And they had--they couldn't cross the
picket line, they had to quit. Uh, it is never
done according to, um, the members of the union
that we talked to, and they had all asked if they
could work this non-union shoot. So the union
knew about it the whole time. But the last week,
they decided that they would strike. Uh, we talked
to a reporter in Hollywood who said that Tommy
Short, who's head of the, that particular union,
uh, has a connection--and I don't know if this
is true or not--with a group of individuals in
Cleveland that are also represented by one of
the Scientology lawyers. So that could have been
a, a contact. The Scientology lawyer, I think
his name is Elliot Abelson, but I'm not sure.
Um, in any event, um, there could be a connection
there that, you know, through people that they
both knew, um, who have a certain dark connection,
uh, that, that might have happened, uh, but you
can't prove that kind of stuff.
LOREI: Hmm. Jeff Jacobsen, let me bring you into
this. Um, the protests have been going on now
since Lisa McPherson's death. Year after year,
you folks, the critics, come out and protest in
December the Church of Scientology. Do you think
it has had any impact on the church?
JACOBSEN: Yeah, but, uh, actually we started picketing
here before we learned about Lisa McPherson. Uh,
we first picketed here in March of '96, and that
was just like three months after she had died.
Um, and the first year after Lisa died, most people
just thought that, uh, what the church said was
true, that she had died from some strange, fast-acting
disease. [clears throat] Excuse me. That's even
what they told Lisa's family. But now a year later,
after a Tampa Tribune reporter, Cheryl Waldrip,
became interested, she dug around and discovered
it was much different than that. And then we discovered,
through Cheryl's reporting, what really happened
to Lisa. Uh, and then we sort of dedicated the
next pickets from then on to Lisa.
LOREI: Um-hmm. Uh, what--now that you have the
Lisa McPherson Trust office in Clearwater, do
people come in to your office? Do Scientologists
come in to your office or, or has anybody come
in to your office and said, "You know, I've
been in the church a few years. I, I don't trust
it any more. I want to get out." Have people
asked for help getting out?
JACOBSEN: Well, I'm not the person that deals
with the individuals that come in. I'm, I'm upstairs
kind of by myself! [laughs]
ALEXANDER: Well, the answer to that is "yes",
Rob. Almost every day at the Lisa Trust we get
calls from people who have been abused, who've
lost all their money in Scientology, who now have
either marital or mental problems as a result
of being in Scientology. And that's what we're
there for; we're there to help them. Uh, we've
had people who were so embarrassed about their,
um, their history in Scientology, that they would
deny to anyone that they were ever in it. But
finally they found out about us and, and contacted
us, and we've been able to help.
JACOBSEN: I know most of that goes on by phone
pretty much. I have a friend who's an ex-member,
uh, and I invited that person to come and, uh,
she wore a hood and tried to disguise herself
on the way in because the church has video cameras
that point toward our doors. They have security
guys that walk around all the time with their
phones and video cameras. So a lot of people,
ex-members are intimidated from, from visiting
ALEXANDER: And the city is actively engaged in
helping Scientology isolate us and keep us away
from the, uh, the members of the Church of Scientology--
LOREI: Well, how do you make that claim?
ALEXANDER: Well, what they did is, after, uh,
we moved into--as I said, we couldn't find a space
to rent, so we ended up buying a building which
is located on Waterson Street, has an entrance
on Waterson Street which is a small alley. And
as soon as we moved in and staged some of our,
uh, pickets in basically talking distance from
the members of the church, the city officials,
including the then-city manager Roberto, came
out and decided that what they would do is, they
would place these white lines across Waterson
Street. And these white lines would prevent any
of us, particularly, from coming into that area
whenever the Scientologists were coming to and
from their--actually it was their mess hall, that's
what's right next to us. And, uh, so basically
those are like, uh, you know, the Berlin Wall
of Clearwater. And the Berlin Wall of Clearwater
has been set up by the city of Clearwater, and
indeed is protected every day by off-duty police
officers who make well above their going rate
with the police department because it's all overtime,
working for the Church of Scientology.
LOREI: Well, do you--how do you view that? Is
this an infringement on your ability to come and
go and assemble and speak?
ALEXANDER: It certainly is. It certainly is an
infringement on our First Amendment right, and
furthermore, it is a compromise of the police
office in Clearwater. How can you be objective
between two groups when one group is paying you?
I'm thinking about a documentary I saw that, you
know, showed one police officer that received--I
don't know how many thousands of dollars it was,
but, you know, uh, it's, it's not a fair situation.
LOREI: Well, let's take some calls from listeners.
Our phone number is 813-239-9663. We're talking
with Peter Alexander and Jeff Jacobsen. We're
talking about the Church of Scientology. And you
can also e-mail us a comment or question at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's take the first call. Hi, you're on the air.
#1: Hi. I'm acutely sensitive to the issue of
freedom of association, and I think that the word
"cult" is a homicide-inciting word.
Uh, it sets up different groups or organizations,
either a religious, political or other type, for
homicide in exactly and precisely the same way
that the current lapdogs for the Republican party
and the mainstream press in their violence-inciting
assaults on Jesse Jackson are setting up black
people and Jackson in particular for violence
against him. Now, I am not a Scientologist. I
have no use for them. But [clears throat] I've
been a member of many different groups and organizations
in my life to unions, through socialist political
parties, through civil rights organizations. And
I believe in freedom of association and the strict
separation of church and state. And I dislike
the use of the word "cult", because
I think it's a homicide-inciting word.
LOREI: Okay, and, and beyond the use of the word
"cult", what--I mean, what word would
you suggest in, in dealing with--
#1: Oh, I, I, I--
LOREI: --an organization?--
#1: --I think that these people are practicing
what they consider to be religion, and I don't
think anybody other than, uh, people involved
have the right to call that. It's a voluntary
association. You join it voluntarily or you don't.
They put literature on my lawn. They've never
tried to coerce me to join. I've read their literature
and I have no use for them. But, uh, they've never
tried to come to my house and try to coerce me
to join their organization--
LOREI: All right, well--
#1: --I'll never join them, I don't have to.
LOREI: All right. Well, thanks a lot for your
call. We're glad you called. Um, Peter, Jeff,
you want to respond to him?
ALEXANDER: Well, a cult is a little bit different
than a religion in that there's an attempt on
the part of a cult to control the person's mind,
which takes away their individual ability to make
their own judgments and, you know, as I discussed
previously, a lot of cults, uh, like, you know,
are away from the rest of society, and that's
how they do it. In Scientology, the mind control
is so strong that I'm not sure that everyone has
a free will there. I don't know what to do about
that. I don't think that you can abridge their
First Amendment rights because they're in a cult
and get them out of it. But if they do want to
leave, then you should be able to help them. And
if you don't identify the group properly, then
it will pass some people's muster as a, as a regular,
free, voluntary religion. And I think that that's
a misnomer here. This is not a group that, uh,
you would want anyone that you know to belong
LOREI: Here's another e-mail. A person writes,
"I read somewhere that the police chief,
Chief Sid Klein of Clearwater, said publicly that
they are no longer going to actively cover reports
about Scientology. Does that give them free rein
to do as they will, and do Pinellas residents
really understand the ramifications of this, the
right to be protected from endangering entities
taking away their rights, what is happening to
our town?" That's from Paul in Clearwater.
JACOBSEN: Uh, Chief, Chief Klein, after Mike Roberto
became city manager, said that they're not gonna
keep an active investigation of Scientology going,
which had been going since I think the early '80s,
at least. Um, so that was stopped. The, um--it
seems strange to me; the reason that it happened
in the first place was in the '70s, when Scientology
came in, they snuck into town under an assumed
name. They had projects that were designed to
take over the city. This was discovered from the
FBI raids. They tried to set up the mayor of the
city, uh, you know, to get him in trouble. They
tried to ruin his political campaigns. Uh, all
of these things were going on, and the police
had a legitimate right to investigate and keep
an eye on this organization.
JACOBSEN: So what happened in 1998 when Roberto
came in, I don't know.
LOREI: All right--
JACOBSEN: --I don't understand.
LOREI: But, but couldn't it be said that, uh,
Scientology did, and I think by its own admission,
um, tried to break the law, tried to undermine,
um, the, the situation in Clearwater, tried to
set up the mayor Gabe Cazares. Uh, but, uh, the,
the church would now say, "But we're--that's
the past. That's not what we're doing now. We're
not engaged in lawbreaking at this point."
ALEXANDER: The Church of Scientology is not able
to change policy. All policy of the Church of
Scientology was created by L. Ron Hubbard, and
he's no longer with us. It cannot change, and
every single policy that L. Ron Hubbard ever wrote,
including all the ones about undermining government
and undermining the American system, are in place
today and are acted upon today in exactly the
same way, but maybe more underhanded, maybe more
secretly. They cannot change. It's called the
tech. It's revered by Scientologists and followed
to the letter.
LOREI: But, but is there any evidence that the
Scientologists today, or, or in the last five
years, have been involved in breaking the law?
JACOBSEN: In Canada, they, they had the highest
libel award ever awarded in Canada against the
Church of Scientology from, um, a guy named Hill.
They libeled a man there. And, uh, in Greece,
uh, the, the country has banned Scientology. In
France they were found guilty of contributing
to a suicide. So there are cases where the church
has been doing illegal things.
LOREI: All right, let's take some more phone calls.
Our phone number is 813-239-9663. Thanks for calling
#2: Hi. I believe that your guests are basically
members of a hate group. They hate Scientology
and they hate all Scientologists, and they'll
do whatever they can to, uh, try and, uh, harm
it in some way because they simply hate it.
LOREI: So what would--what would, what would you,
what would you see--what would you like to see
done to the Lisa McPherson Trust?
#2: Oh, I don't--I don't have a particular opinion
on that either way. I mean, I, I don't want to
see anything done with that. I just, you know,
my, from my personal viewpoint, I've been in Scientology
for over 20 years, and, uh, I--you know, I listen
to--I mean, I'm a daily listener and I love all
the shows, but this particular one I have a problem
with because, you know, the Scientologists, um,
I feel--you know, I get accused of being a devil
worshipper by the religious right. I mean, we
get accused of so much stuff and none of it's
true and I just don't believe that anything these
guys are saying has any basis in fact. I believe
that it comes from hate, and that's the bottom
line. That's what it is.
ALEXANDER: You know, it's difficult to be a member
of a hate group when you were a Scientologist
for 20 years. Why would I, uh, do that? You know,
since I know everything about it? [chuckles]--
#2: Well, maybe--
ALEXANDER: Why would I hate it?
#2: --you had a bad experience and sometimes when
people have a bad experience with something they
turn on it and they hate it and they make it a
life crusade to go after it. I, you can--there's
tons of examples of that.
ALEXANDER: Well, the only crusade that anyone
can get on is when they see something is basically
evil. And this is an evil--
#2: But you have to understand. You're talking
about my religion, sir. You're telling me that
I am brainwashed, I'm used and nothing could--
ALEXANDER: I'm talking about my own former group
that I was a member of. I ought to know; I was
#2: That's, that's your opinion, sir, you know--
ALEXANDER: Yes, it is--
#2: --it's like I really don't care what you,
what your level is or whatever. That's not what's
important. What's important is that you're on
a hate campaign against this church for some reason,
some emotional or mental or whatever problem or
bad experience you had. And you need to get over
ALEXANDER: Well, the important thing to do is
when you find something that's not right--and
we're all American citizens here--you have to
stand up and talk about it. And that's what we're
#2: I understand that and you have the right to
do that. But, I mean, the reason why the city
of Clearwater supports the church is because they're
not doing anything wrong there. They, they actually
have done a lot of really good things for Clearwater.
And if you really look at the religion and what
it does and you don't listen to disaffected ex-members,
but you actually go there and you take a look
for yourself with your own eyes and you think
for yourself and you don't go by other people's
opinions or their bad experiences or whatever,
most people find it to be a good thing and I don't--
LOREI: Caller, caller, could I ask you a question?
What, what do you think happened to Lisa McPherson?
#2: Well, I actually know quite a bit about it.
And she had been involved in a car accident prior
to her death and there was a blood clot, and this
all came out when the actual coroner's report
came out, the truth came out. And these guys aren't--you
know, they're not looking at the truth. They don't
want to see the truth. They don't want to see
what really happened, because they're looking
at it through their eyes of hate--
LOREI: You, you think that--
#2: --not the truth--
LOREI: --caller, can I ask you, do you think that
Lisa McPherson was held against her will or was
dehydrated at the time of her death?
#2: Absolutely not! And I, I can say that with
total 100% certainty and what I believe and know
to be true.
ALEXANDER: But the logs of the people who were
watching her, the babywatchers, showed that she
was tied up, that she was delusional, that she
had to be force-fed. You don't think that that
is not holding her against her will?--
#2: That is--
ALEXANDER: --That's what the court records show!
#2: --absolutely not true!
ALEXANDER: It's totally true.
#2: That's what the what records show?
ALEXANDER: That's what the babywatch records show.
LOREI: Can I ask you--
#2: There's no such thing as a babywatch, sir.
You're, you're--you made that up.
LOREI: Caller, could I ask you in--are there autopsy
photos of Lisa McPherson? Caller, have you seen
the autopsy pho--photos? And let me ask Peter
and Jeff, have you seen the autopsy photos?
ALEXANDER: Yes, yes I have.
LOREI: And, and caller, if you've seen the autopsy
photos, I wonder, could you tell me what they
look like and--Jeff and Peter, you've seen them.
Where can people find them to look at them?
#2: I have not seen the autopsy photos.
JACOBSEN: You can order them from the medical
examiner in Pinellas County--
#2: But, but what--
JACOBSEN: --there's 35 photos.
LOREI: Jeff, what would, what--have you seen the
autopsy photos? What--
LOREI: --what do, what do they show?
JACOBSEN: I've seen them all. She's severely bruised,
deh--very thin person. She has bruises all over
her body, two big gashes on her nose. Um, she,
she looks like she's been through a war.
LOREI: Caller, if, if you know with 100% certainty
that she died from a blood clot, um, you have
any explanation for the bruises on her body?
#2: She was involved in a car accident two weeks
prior to her, um, becoming ill and this is all
covered, as far as I know, in the, you know, the
actual true reports on, on all that information.
I, I'm not an expert on the Lisa McPherson case
by any means--
LOREI: But if, if she was involved in a car accident
and she had bruises on her body, can you--I, I
wonder why the church didn't take her to a hospital
if she had bruises.
#2: That I don't know. I know that they tried,
that somebody tried to put her in a mental ward
and the church did intervene, and I'm glad they
did because she would certainly be all--you know,
she would be dead anyway if she were placed in
a mental ward.
LOREI: All right. Well, thank you very much for
your call. I'm glad you called.
#2: Thank you.
LOREI: Thank you, good to hear from you. 813-239-9663.
Randy writes, "Have there been acts of violence
or physical attacks on critics or protesters outside
the Church of Scientology in Clearwater?"
ALEXANDER: Yes, there have. Um, most recently
a gentleman assaulted Bob Minton, who was protesting
out in front, and no action has been taken by
the, uh, prosecutor's office. Additionally, Mike
_____, who, uh, is a, um, a private investigator
and, uh, was just filming, was assaulted by another
individual in a parking structure near the Church
of Scientology; again, no action. I was actually
elbowed by the same guy. And another protester
had his picket sign ripped out of his hands and
thrown to the ground.
LOREI: Um, Peter, if you gave, during the course
of your 20 years in the Church of Scientology,
about a million dollars to the church, um, how
typical is that of, of the other members that
you knew? Did many people give that amount of
money to the church? And what does the church
do with, with that kind of money?
ALEXANDER: Well, the church--yes, many other people
I knew, uh, have moved to Clearwater, uh, in order
to finally solve their problems. I knew one couple--uh,
the man had given, uh, $500,000 just since he
had been in Clearwater to help his wife get better.
She never did get better, and they ended up being
basically bankrupt and moved away. That's a typical
story. Uh, so, yes, a number of people have given
large sums of money. What the church does with
that is hire attorneys and private investigators
who harass the critics who expose the church,
so that they can keep the activities of the church
secret so that they can get more suckers in the
door and fleece them.
LOREI: What, what about the staff? How well paid
is the staff? If you're paying a million dollars
over 20 years, uh, does that mean that we see
staff people that are working at the church, that
those people are well paid?
ALEXANDER: The members of the Sea Org will work
70, 80, 90 hours a week, and they, if they are
lucky, if what's called the stats are up, they
might get $40 to $50 a week.
LOREI: Let's take some more phone calls. Our phone
number is 813-239-9663. We're talking about the
Church of Scientology from the perspective of
two critics today. Hi, you're on the air. Go ahead.
#3: Yes, how are you today?
LOREI: I'm doing well, how are you?
#3: Fine, thank you. I'm a resident of Clearwater,
I have been for 42 years, and I was listening
to the program and I was curious about Gabe Cazares
and the smear campaign that the cult had against
him some years ago in the '80s. I definitely remember
the situation. And I'm wondering why we haven't,
um, aggressively pursued anything with the church
since those issues were raised back then, and
then again since Lisa McPherson's death?
LOREI: Well, what, what would you like to see
#3: Well, I'm just wondering why the city is so
controlled with the church world headquarters
here and my only assessment of the situation is
monetary. I'm thinking that they're funneling
so much money into the city that they're taking
advantage of that--
LOREI: But, but could you--
#3: --and they're comfortable with that.
LOREI: But couldn't it be argued that, you know,
it's a church and it has a right to be wherever
it wants to be.
#3: Right, but they're not paying any taxes, are
JACOBSEN: Well, they have--
#3: --they're a church, they don't have to pay
taxes, is that correct?
JACOBSEN: They own $40 million worth of property
in Clearwater and about $28 million of it is tax
JACOBSEN: So, um--
#3: --I mean, there's something wrong with that
LOREI: Okay. Hey, caller, thanks a lot.
LOREI: I'm glad you called. Now I understand that
if I'm a member of the church, that I can take
tax deductions for my religious training; that
if I was a member of the Catholic church or the
Jewish church--or Jewish synagogue--if I was a
Protestant, if I was some other form of, of Christian,
that if I was paying money for my religious training,
the only church that I could deduct from my taxes,
money for religious training, is for the Church
of Scientology. Am I understanding that correctly?
ALEXANDER: It's a very unusual situation. Normally,
you know, one donates to a church as one wishes.
In some cases they have tithes in certain churches
as a percentage. But Scientology is the only place
where services that are supposed to improve you,
which sounds more like a business, are called,
uh, religious improvement, and these hypnotism
and brainwashing services are then tax exempt.
It's the only, uh, organization that I know of
that's like that.
JACOBSEN: There is a ruling from the U.S. Supreme
Court in 1989 called the Hernandez ruling which
said that auditing was not tax deductible. That
was our highest court. And yet in 1993 the IRS
granted tax exemption to the Church of Scientology
in a very bizarre manner with a secret agreement.
And after that, it was just as if the IRS decided
to throw out the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
These are at least partially deductible now, yeah.
And I'd like to make a point, too, about Lisa
McPherson a little bit. Uh, Peter already said
that the church cannot change because the policy
is set in stone, uh, since Hubbard is dead. Also,
in Lisa McPherson's case, the Scientologists have
said they have changed nothing after Lisa's case.
Here is a case where a woman died under, under
extreme hardship in their care at the highest
place of, uh, auditing in the planet, this is
supposed to be the best place to go and to get
the best services in Scientology, they wound up
killing a person essentially, maybe against their
will but--I mean, maybe unintentionally. And yet
the church says that nothing has changed. They
have not changed anything. They have no committee
of evidence over what happened to Lisa, meaning
that they felt nothing was wrong. And this is
the scariest part of the Lisa case to me, is that,
that the church is going to continue as if nothing
was wrong, and not--they did nothing wrong, nothing,
you know, nothing out of the ordinary. Let's just
continue and forget about Lisa. That's the scariest
part to me.
ALEXANDER: And it could happen again today.
LOREI: Let me read another e-mail. Marty writes,
"Webster's first three definitions of the
word 'cult' are as follows: 1) form of religious
veneration; 2) system of religious beliefs and
ritual; 3) a religion regarded as unorthodox or
spurious. I think Scientology fits these definitions.
I also believe this church was responsible for
Lisa McPherson's death." We're gonna take
these calls as they come in. Hi, you're on the
air. Go ahead.
#4 (DEBRA BARNES): Uh, yes, hi. My name is Debra
Barnes, and I am over 20 year member of the Church
of Scientology. I live in Clearwater, Florida.
And in 1998, I caught my church doing something
that is, um, a huge no-no. They were re-writing
Hubbard's tech. My husband and I then went about
the proper, uh, lines to report to the proper
people about somebody corrupting Hubbard's tech.
Because in 20 years in being in Scientology--and
I was an OT-7, you know, one of the highest levels
in the church--um, you know, you are indoctrinated
that nobody re-writes Hubbard's tech. And that
is a huge, you know, it's a horrible thing to
do, it's very suppressive. And what happened to
me and my husband--when we did this, is we, our
own church, ran a huge smear campaign on us, because
we were well known in the Scientology community.
I mean, we had donated beaucoup money, you know,
over $40,000 to the IAS. We were, you know, at
the top of their Bridge. And, uh, my own church
then went on a huge smear campaign to ruin our
reputation, and they tried to destroy my business
in Clearwater to cover this up.
LOREI: So, Debra, what--when you say "smear
campaign", what do you mean?
#4 (DEBRA BARNES): They, what they did is, they
called people in, they wrote a bunch of bogus
documents about me and my husband, saying that
we had done these things. As a matter of fact,
they went this far as falsifying a session Knowledge
Report, it's a session report from a, from a,
uh, an auditing session, that one we did in the
church, that one is disclosing, um, you know,
uh, harmful things that you may have done. And
they, they made a complete bogus one where, where
it said that my husband admitted doing all these
bad things to the church. And then--
LOREI: And they, they--
#4 (DEBRA BARNES): --then they took this bogus
document, and they called all of our friends in
Clearwater, as well as friends who had come to
Clearwater from around the country, and showed
them this document, to make them think that my
husband and I were very, very bad people in the
Church of Scientology. This occurred, uh, a year
ago last summer.
LOREI: And, and Debra, you're, you're now out
of the church?
#4 (DEBRA BARNES): Oh, oh, I, I--
#4 (DEBRA BARNES): --we left the church. I mean,
what we did when they did that is, we went home,
like that, "What the heck have we been supporting
for 20 years?" We went on a massive investigation
to find out who and what was the Church of Scientology.
And I gotta tell you guys something, it's a, a
very humbling experience to find out that I had
been completely brainwashed and the propaganda
machine that the Church of Scientology has is
to the, to the degree of a Nazi propaganda machine.
LOREI: The, the--I've had church officials on
this radio station before who said that if people
want a refund, uh, if they feel like they, they
didn't get what they wanted out of the church,
they can ask for a refund from the church. Is
that, uh, is that your understanding? Maybe I'm
not quoting them correctly.
#4 (DEBRA BARNES): Oh, no--no, no, they quoted
right. You can ask for a refund. Whether or not
you'll ever get it is another thing. We asked
for--right now, the church is holding $32,000
of my money that I have never used, I will never
use, and they won't even let me use it because
I have been expelled. I've been labeled as a Suppressive
Person and they only do that because they don't
want any of my friends to ever know what I can
prove. Because if my friends knew this, they'd
LOREI: All right. Debra, thank you very much for
#4 (DEBRA BARNES): You're welcome.
LOREI: Uh, let me read one other e-mail--and I'm
not gonna get a chance to take all the phone calls
and e-mails--but let me read this one e-mail that's
just come in: "My name is Michael Krotz.
I've personally been slandered and even assaulted
by them due to my association with the Lisa McPherson
Trust. I play in a local band, and I help--helped
organize a recent benefit concert for the Trust.
Scientologists sent out flyers alleging that I
was part of a hate group, claiming that we were
anti-Christian, and that they even posted my personal
info to the Net anonymously, including where I
work and live. They cannot conceive of the fact
that many people disagree with them and not everyone
who is a critic is being guided by the people
at the Trust. They even called 98 Rock to try
and keep me and our guest MC, L. Ron Hubbard's
great-grandson Jamie Kennedy, from appearing on
'Bubba the Love Sponge' morning show. They feel
that they must attack anyone who disagrees with
them, and I have personally been a victim of those
attacks." That's from Michael out in cyberspace.
Um, I'm sorry to say we're out of time, and I,
and I'm sure that we could go on and talk more
in depth about this. There is gonna be a protest
this weekend, a vigil for Lisa McPherson. Jeff,
tell us about that.
JACOBSEN: The candlelight vigil is 7 p.m. Saturday
night. It will be just north of the Fort Harrison
Hotel, which is 210 S. Fort Harrison in downtown
Clearwater. We're gonna be protesting 10 to 3
on Saturday and Sunday, in front of or near the
Fort Harrison Hotel, depending on some injunction
that's possibly coming down from the court.
LOREI: So the church may seek an injunction against
JACOBSEN: Yes. They try every year some bizarre
way to get us to not picket.
LOREI: Um, if folks want to get in touch with
the Lisa McPherson Trust or find out more about
your side of this issue, how can they do that?
JACOBSEN: Uh, we have http://lisatrust.freewinds.cx,
and our phone number is 727-467-9335.
LOREI: Okay, that's 727-467-9335.
LOREI: All right. And Peter, the film is gonna
come out maybe next year?
ALEXANDER: Uh, it will be out next spring, and
so far from what we've seen, it looks pretty good.
It should be a great film.
LOREI: All right. Well, Peter Alexander and Jeff
Jacobsen, thanks a lot. Good to have you here.
JACOBSEN: Thank you.
LOREI: Thanks for coming by and telling us more
about your experiences. I'm Rob Lorei. If you
would like to comment about today's show, what
you can do is call us at 813-238-8001 and leave
a message on extension 18, and we'll play those
messages back next Monday at 1 o'clock. That's
813-238-8001, leave a message on extension 18.
We'll play those messages back Monday. Tomorrow
here on WMNF, we're gonna give you coverage of
the arguments before the United States Supreme
Court over the dispute between Al Gore and George
W. Bush over the election. That's what's happening
tomorrow in this time slot. This is WMNF in Tampa.
Cheryl Mogul is coming up next.