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Radio Broadcast


WMNF - Tampa, FL
November 30, 2000

Peter Alexander and Jeff Jacobsen appear on this Public Radio show to discuss the LMT, Scientology and the Clearwater picket in memory of Lisa McPherson.


Part One

Part One


ROBERT 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:

[snip listener comments]

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: And how long has it been around?

PETER ALEXANDER: We've been here for basically a year.

ROBERT 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.

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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.

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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.

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Well, what do you think happened to Lisa McPherson?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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 other people.

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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 down there.

ROBERT LOREI: Um, why do you think that was? Why do you think that most of the office buildings refused you?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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 one individual.

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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 brainwashing.

ROBERT LOREI: How did you get into the church?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: How long were you in the church?

PETER ALEXANDER: I was in the church for, uh, just about 20 years.

ROBERT LOREI: Uh, at what--now, now Scientology has all sorts of levels, but how far up in the church did you go?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Hmm. Well, did you find that the church helped you when, in those early years when you were first, first in?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Well, talk about that for a moment.

PETER 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 solution.

ROBERT LOREI: When you were undergoing, uh, Scientology counseling or training, did you go experience past lives?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Where, where were you living during these years that you were in Scientology?

PETER 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 like that.

ROBERT LOREI: Uh, was, was the counseling--was the training you received in Scientology free?

PETER 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.


PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Uh, is your wife still in Scientology?

PETER 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. [laughs]

ROBERT LOREI: What, what about your kids?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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 to see.

ROBERT LOREI: What, uh, where did she find this on the Internet?

PETER 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, net.

JEFF JACOBSEN: Um, xenu.net xenu, dot, net is one of the good ones. Lerma--Lerma, dot, com is Arnie's.

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Well, so what, what did you find out, what did you find out about the church that you hadn't known before?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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.

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Uh, how did you eventually leave the church?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Hmm. Did you do anything in Scientology that you are ashamed of now?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Atta-boy points?


ROBERT LOREI: Uh, what, what kind of points do you get for calling up radio shows?--

PETER 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 Scientologist.

ROBERT LOREI: Did they--did they ask you to lie when you called in to radio shows?

PETER 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, say, 'no.'"

ROBERT 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 you left.

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Tell us about the film, "The Profit". Is it about Scientology?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Did, did you make it here in the Bay area?

PETER 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--

ROBERT LOREI: Do you have any of those flyers around?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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 that?

PETER 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? It's ridiculous!

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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.

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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?

JEFF 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.

ROBERT 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?

JEFF 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]

PETER 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.

JEFF 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 us directly.

PETER 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--

ROBERT LOREI: Well, how do you make that claim?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: Well, do you--how do you view that? Is this an infringement on your ability to come and go and assemble and speak?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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 dj@wmnf.org. Let's take the first call. Hi, you're on the air.

CALLER #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.

ROBERT LOREI: Okay, and, and beyond the use of the word "cult", what--I mean, what word would you suggest in, in dealing with--

CALLER #1: Oh, I, I, I--

ROBERT LOREI: --an organization?--

CALLER #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--

ROBERT LOREI: All right, well--

CALLER #1: --I'll never join them, I don't have to.

ROBERT LOREI: All right. Well, thanks a lot for your call. We're glad you called. Um, Peter, Jeff, you want to respond to him?

PETER 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 to.

ROBERT 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.

JEFF 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.


JEFF JACOBSEN: So what happened in 1998 when Roberto came in, I don't know.

ROBERT LOREI: All right--

JEFF JACOBSEN: --I don't understand.

ROBERT 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."

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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?

JEFF 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.

ROBERT LOREI: All right, let's take some more phone calls. Our phone number is 813-239-9663. Thanks for calling in.

CALLER #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.

ROBERT 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?

CALLER #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.


PETER 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]--

CALLER #2: Well, maybe--

PETER ALEXANDER: Why would I hate it?

CALLER #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.

PETER ALEXANDER: Well, the only crusade that anyone can get on is when they see something is basically evil. And this is an evil--

CALLER #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--

PETER ALEXANDER: I'm talking about my own former group that I was a member of. I ought to know; I was OT-7--

CALLER #2: That's, that's your opinion, sir, you know--


CALLER #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 it!

PETER 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 doing.

CALLER #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--

ROBERT LOREI: Caller, caller, could I ask you a question? What, what do you think happened to Lisa McPherson?

CALLER #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--

ROBERT LOREI: You, you think that--

CALLER #2: --not the truth--

ROBERT 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?

CALLER #2: Absolutely not! And I, I can say that with total 100% certainty and what I believe and know to be true.

PETER 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?--

CALLER #2: That is--

PETER ALEXANDER: --That's what the court records show!

CALLER #2: --absolutely not true!

PETER ALEXANDER: It's totally true.

CALLER #2: That's what the what records show?

PETER ALEXANDER: That's what the babywatch records show.

ROBERT LOREI: Can I ask you--

CALLER #2: There's no such thing as a babywatch, sir. You're, you're--you made that up.

ROBERT 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?

PETER ALEXANDER: Yes, yes I have.

ROBERT 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?

CALLER #2: I have not seen the autopsy photos.

JEFF JACOBSEN: You can order them from the medical examiner in Pinellas County--

CALLER #2: But, but what--

JEFF JACOBSEN: --there's 35 photos.

ROBERT LOREI: Jeff, what would, what--have you seen the autopsy photos? What--


ROBERT LOREI: --what do, what do they show?

JEFF 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.

ROBERT 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?

CALLER #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--

ROBERT 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.

CALLER #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.

ROBERT LOREI: All right. Well, thank you very much for your call. I'm glad you called.

CALLER #2: Thank you.

ROBERT 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?"

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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.

ROBERT 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.

CALLER #3: Yes, how are you today?

ROBERT LOREI: I'm doing well, how are you?

CALLER #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?

ROBERT LOREI: Well, what, what would you like to see done?

CALLER #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--

ROBERT LOREI: But, but could you--

CALLER #3: --and they're comfortable with that.

ROBERT 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.

CALLER #3: Right, but they're not paying any taxes, are they?

JEFF JACOBSEN: Well, they have--

CALLER #3: --they're a church, they don't have to pay taxes, is that correct?

JEFF JACOBSEN: They own $40 million worth of property in Clearwater and about $28 million of it is tax exempt.

CALLER #3: Yeah.


CALLER #3: --I mean, there's something wrong with that picture.

ROBERT LOREI: Okay. Hey, caller, thanks a lot.

CALLER #3: Okay.

ROBERT 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?

PETER 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.

JEFF 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.

PETER ALEXANDER: And it could happen again today.

ROBERT 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.

CALLER #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.

ROBERT LOREI: So, Debra, what--when you say "smear campaign", what do you mean?

CALLER #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--

ROBERT LOREI: And they, they--

CALLER #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.

ROBERT LOREI: And, and Debra, you're, you're now out of the church?

CALLER #4 (DEBRA BARNES): Oh, oh, I, I--


CALLER #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.

ROBERT 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.

CALLER #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 walk away.

ROBERT LOREI: All right. Debra, thank you very much for your call.

CALLER #4 (DEBRA BARNES): You're welcome.

ROBERT 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.

JEFF 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.

ROBERT LOREI: So the church may seek an injunction against this protest?

JEFF JACOBSEN: Yes. They try every year some bizarre way to get us to not picket.

ROBERT 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?

JEFF JACOBSEN: Uh, we have http://lisatrust.freewinds.cx, and our phone number is 727-467-9335.

ROBERT LOREI: Okay, that's 727-467-9335.


ROBERT LOREI: All right. And Peter, the film is gonna come out maybe next year?

PETER 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.

ROBERT LOREI: All right. Well, Peter Alexander and Jeff Jacobsen, thanks a lot. Good to have you here.


ROBERT 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.

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