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A Banker brings his financial means to bear against the sect
By Stephan Strothe,
April 23, 1998
Minton appears as an intrepid representative of sect victims: He
wants to uncover the consequences of a religious philosophy
In large, awkward letters
Bob Minton writes his message on a poster: "Scientology wants your money
and your life." Then the 51 year old banker takes a deep breath, crosses
the street with a determined stride, and begins his one-man demonstration
- directly in front of the "spiritual headquarters" of the Scientologists
in Clearwater, on the west coast of Florida. The sect members remain
behind the walls of the former luxury hotel, "Fort Harrison." But outside,
only a few yards from Bob Minton, Scientology's security officers observe
each step of the lone demonstrator. Also the SAT-1 camera, which has
accompanied the crusade of Bob Minton for three weeks, has, since the
arrive in Clearwater, constantly been in the sights of the sect "sheriffs":
armed with cameras and camcorders, they report each movemnet over walkie-talkies
to the sect headquarters. When Bob Minton, the millionaire, starts a
protest demonstration, the Scientology management in Los Angeles and
Clearwater go to first stage alert. The man with the soft voice and
the decisive appearance fights Scientology on multiple fronts: on talkshows
and presentations, on the street and over the internet, above all with
his millions of dollars.
Enlightenment over the Internet
Bob Minton is not only brave and determined; he is also rich. The banker
from the Boston financial elite earned his millions by helping developing
countries in the re-structuring of their billions of dollars of debt.
At 46 years old, he retired, tended to both of his small daughters,
and puttered about his favorite playground, the internet.
That is where computer freak Minton learned how rabidly the Scientology
leadership advances on the virtual battlefield against their critics:
with threats, carrying out searches of homes because of alleged copyright
violations, and costly legal procedures against former members who disseminate
embarassing internal information from the inner life of the sect.
"I thought we lived in a free country. Who really protects our freedom
of speech?" ponders Bob Minton. Because Scientology is recognized as
a church in the USA, and is therefore widely protected from undercover
police investigations, the millionaire decided to take it upon himself,
to see to it that "the odds are evened up a little bit." Up to now he
has paid out almost 3 million marks ($2 million) for his crusade. Checks
for "a couple of hundred thousand more dollars" are ready to be written.
The Robin Hood of the cult opponents supports, in the meanwhile, a dozen
Scientology ex-members who are at their wit's and financial end in their
years-long disputes with the sect. For two high-ranking ex-Scientologists,
Stacy and Vaughn Young, Bob Minton recently provided a house on an island
in the northwestern USA, so that the couple could finally have some
peace and quite from the persecution of the sect. That was supposed
to be a hideaway for a half a million marks (about $300,000), over 4,000
kilometers (2,000 miles) away from Clearwater - but apparently not far
enough. Anonymous fliers warn the neighbors of the Youngs of alleged
"publicly dangerous activities" of the former members of Scientology.
From the material battle against the sect, Bob Minton shifts gears to
a finely-tuned drive in the halls of international diplomacy: at dinner
in New York he meets with Abdelfattah Amor, who, on assignment for the
UN, follows up on the string of accusations of the Scientologists, and
investigates "religious intolerance and discrimination" in Germany.
At least Minton's intervention has not hurt the Scientology opponents.
In his recently released final decision, the diplomat characterized
the Scientology accusation, that the sect was persecuted in Germany
with Nazi methods, as "senseless and childish." True to the simple friend-enemy
scheme of the deceased sect founder, L. Ron Hubbard, Bob Minton's drive
in world politics could only mean one thing: the man has to be an agent
of the German goverment. Nowhere, however, is the deep breath and the
deep pockets of the millionaire feared by the sect so much as on the
battlefield of choice for the sect: in the halls of American justice.
Where the aggressive Scientology attorneys, up until now, have been
able to intimidate through their sheer numbers and a seemingly inexhaustible
war chest, Bob Minton now actually brings about a slightly better balance
in weaponry. His checks help ex-Scientologists who report their painful
experiences, and should have, according to the handbook of the "church",
been silenced. The biggest sin in the eyes of the Scientologists is
the over 200,000 marks ($140,000), which Bob Minton has given, up to
now, to Kennan Dendar's small legal practice in Clearwater. Mr. Dendar
is suing the sect for 144 Million marks ($100 million) punitive damages
in connection with the death of a Scientology member, Lisa McPherson.
The 36 year old woman died two years ago under unexplained circumstances
after a seventeen day "observation" by Scientology sect members in Clearwater's
Fort Harrison Hotel.
Records by Scientologists, taken down during her "observation", prove
that Lisa McPherson, in a state of mental confusion, was repeatedly
refusing food and water. She was first brought to the hospital on the
seventeenth day, where she died shortly after arrival. The autopsy report
cited the cause of death as a blood clot which had been loosened by
"too much bedrest and extreme dehydration." Clearwater's district attorney
is still looking into whether the Scientologists must answer before
The McPherson Case
The death of Lisa McPherson has long been a nightmare for the sect,
which likes to present itself as a beneficial and generally misunderstood
"religious philosophy" in the USA. Because of this, Bob Minton, quite
consciously, shows up in front of the former Fort Harrison Hotel in
Clearwater, where the young lady suffered through her final days. Most
of the time Brian Anderson is waiting there for him. The speaker of
the Clearwater Scientologists compared Bob Minton, in a talk with German
reporters, to a "Nazi who finances anti-Jewish organizations."
American media, which had not published a Scientology story for years,
either out of disinterest, or fear of the suit-happy lawyers of the
sect, have not let the case of Lisa McPherson slip by. The New York
Times, the Wall Street Journal, and several large TV broadcasters have
recently been reporting critically about the methods of the sect and
about the man who fights them so bravely.
Long Arm in the Caribbean
Bob Minton needs courage in this test of power, because the millionaire
and his family have also felt the anger of the Scientologists. Scientology
members demonstrate in front of Minton's city home in Boston's prestigious
Beacon Hill. At a birthday party for one of Minton's daughters, insulting
leaflets with Bob Minton's picture on them were pressed into the hands
of the guests.
Private detectives in the employ of the Scientologists investigate Minton's
relatives and business partners for damaging material. A PI even finds
his way to a secluded country home of the family in the forests of New
Hampshure, where he questioned the town police about the millionaire
in the name of the "church."
The Mintons learned, three weeks ago during a vacation in the Caribbean,
how much money the Scientologists expend in the fight against their
opponents and how long the arm of the sect reaches: upon their return
from the beach, they found leaflets, which accused Bob Minton of financing
"hate and intolerance," on the cars and trees along the boardwalk.
This kind of expenditure only strengthens Bob Minton in his resolve
to lead his battle against Scientology - regardless of how much power,
will, and money this crusade will cost him.
The author, Stephan Strothe, is the SAT-1 America correspondent
German version translated by Joe Cisar