As my own college years are now a distant memory, I must admit I'm not a regular reader of campus newspapers. However, my attention was drawn to the Intercampus edition for 1995 by some concerned citizens and parishioners of my Church who had taken exception to an article by a David Gerard.
David Gerard states that he has "nothing against Scientology as a religion per se. You can do what you want. Not my business," but as he follows this disclaimer with a full page attack, it appears that Mr Gerard is far from unbiased and does not understand what Scientology is and what it practices. He can have his prejudices, but he is not entitled to spread disinformation.
L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology wrote: the "attack on the practice of Scientology by indentifying it with all its research notes is a completely aberrated action ... the practice of Scientology today is a very routine action. It consists of drills which:
Scientology is a great success. Along with Buddhism it is one of the fastest growing religions in the world today. Why? Because Scientology is an applied religious philosophy which addresses the individual spirit - and it is workable.
Billy Sheehan, internationally renowned Rock Bassist, in the book: What is Scientology? states:
"I have been in Scientology for over 21 years. In those years I have worked very hard to make my dreams a reality. Very few dreams have escaped me and I am extremely thankful now for my successes both professionally and personally.
"The role Scientology has played in my life has been vital. Without it I simply cannot imagine where I would be right now. It has been the source of answers and resolution for every conceivable problem, upset, fear and obstacle life has thrown at me. I have found amazingly that the answers were simple yet totally effective, the resolutions easy and completely workable.
"Life is not easy. Sometimes life is cruel - even vicious - I've been there, I've felt it. But I've also felt hatred, anger, upset and pain lift off me and go away forever with Scientology auditing [counselling]. I've seen the worst possible dilemmas evaporate with the application of Scientology technology - just like magic. But it's not magic - it's Scientology. Easy to understand and apply by anybody, anywhere, anytime.
In regard to copyrights and trade secrets; yes, the Church does protect its legal rights and will continue to do so.
And yes, this does apply to unauthorised publication on the Internet as well as other forms of publication: the net does not encompass a parallel universe with different laws.
Church of Scientology organizations have filed suit against a number of individuals and organizations for copyright and trade secrets violations on the Internet. Trade secret and copyright laws are the secular vehicle to protect the core religious precepts of the Church. When these trade secret rights and copyrights are violated, so are the rights of all Scientologists.
To work for freedom of speech in the world is a part of the Church's Creed. And it does have to be worked for. Unless free speech and other basic liberties are constantly fought for and made real, they exist only on paper and will eventually be trampled by vested interests.
But the Church also recognises that with freedom comes responsibility: these rights were not developed to protect wrongdoers from the consequences of their unlawful actions. Otherwise an extortionist could hide behind "freedom of speech," an obscene phone caller could hide behind "freedom of speech." People phoning in bomb threats could hide behind "freedom of speech," to give but a few examples.
The advanced scriptures of the Church have been confidential scriptures from the moment the information they contain was discovered and recorded in writing by Mr. Hubbard. He created these works for religious use by a few advanced Scientology churches and their parishioners, only when those parishioners had attained a specific level of spiritual progress.
"The Net does not encompass a parallel universe with different laws."
It is not at all uncommon for religious organizations to copyright their texts in order to protect them from alterations and misuse. For example, the Gideon Bible commonly found in hotel rooms carries a copyright notice. In the preface to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, you will find the following:
Because of unhappy exerience with unauthorised publication in the two decades between 1881 and 1901, which tampered with the text of the English Revised version in the supposed interest of the American public, the American Standard Version was copyrighted, to protect the text from unauthorised changes.
The Church of Scientology has the same motive for copyrighting its own religious works: to safeguard the integrity of its scriptures.
It is a central belief of all Scientologists that people must be properly prepared - spiritually and ethically - to receive these materials and that premature exposure would impede the spiritual development of individuals so exposed; an outcome that is inimical to the goal of Scientology: the achievement of spiritual freedom for everyone living on this planet.
To gain access to these materials, more is expected of a Scientologist than spiritual advancement. Access is not automatic, nor is it dependent solely upon donations. It is by invitation only. That invitation is extended to parishioners who have demonstrated a high level of ethical responsibility as well as completed certain prior steps of spiritual attainment. This is so that people of ill-will with motives antipathetic to Scientology cannot use the materials for purposes contrary to the goal of spiritual freedom which proper use of these religious works brings about.
It is far from unprecendented for religious organizations to go to court to defend the purity of their message and materials. Religions which have done so include the Methodist Church, Church of Christ, Scientist, and the Seventh day Adventist Church. In a 1986 case involving the First Church of Christ, Scientist, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia noted that "Religious works are eligible for protection under general copyright laws, and for decades Science and Health [the central theological text of the Christian Science faith] was unproblematically the beneficiary of that security, as more than thirty editions and translations of the Bible currently are."
"It is the long term ensurance of free speech that the Church is defending."
Although most of Scientology literature is available to be read and studied by anyone, the materials covering the most advanced levels of religious counselling are restricted to those who have already attained certain specified, earlier levels in their spiritual progression.
As religious scholars have pointed out, the Church's practice of keeping a segment of its materials confidential has well established precedents in other religions. In this context Dr. Lonnie Kliever of Southern Methodist University USA cites ancient Judaism, early Christianity, some forms of Hinduism, Zen Buddhism and Gnostic groups. Dr Kliever characterises the Church of Scientology as having "a religious duty and legal right" to keep some of its materials confidential.
Dr. Bryan Wilson, Reader Emeritus in Sociology at Oxford University points to numerous historical examples of religions which maintain scriptures that are accessible only to selected initiates. He interprets this practice as "a broad educational principle of not exposing to advanced ideas those who have not yet demonstrated their mastery of the elemental principles." Dr Wilson concludes that to introduce advanced Scientology materials prematurely to the Scientology student would be "disruptive of his progress in attaining the enlightened consciousness towards which all his endeavours are directed."
Other than its confidential unpublished materials, which comprise a small fraction of the scriptures of the religion, the Church encourages the widest possible dissemination of Scientology publications. It has have donated thousands of copies of Scientology books and material to public libraries. This has been done to make it possible for persons with limited financial means to learn and apply Scientology principles to their lives without having to pay anything. The Church's library donation program has proved extremely successful. In fact, it has been calculated that every 29.5 seconds, somewhere in the world, a reader checks out a Scientology book from a library.
To suggest that copyright and trade secrets violations are best ignored and that critical organisations or individuals should "just keep quiet" is naive to say the least. It is the responsibility of intellectual property owners to enforce their rights or risk losing them and if no action were taken in the face of patently illegal conduct, then crime would soon reach uncontrollable proportions leading eventually to chaos and/or the implementation of unnecessarily harsh controls on the use of the Net.
Failure to pursue copyright violations and other unlawful actions on Internet can only result in the destruction of the very Net itself in the long run and act to the detriment of all. It is the long term ensurance of free speech that the Church is defending.
Violators of copyright and trade secret laws commonly try to hide behind "free speech" and invalid "fair use" claims. The Church of Scientology is a strong proponent of free speech accompanied by responsibility and has defended human rights all over the world. We have been publishing our own investigative magazine, Freedom, since 1968. When in the 1970's we exposed human rights atrocities committed against blacks in South Africa, Freedom was banned by the then white South African government.
However, independent investigation by the World Health organisation (WHO) confirmed what Freedom had reported. In Australia, Scientologists fought for more than a decade to expose atrocious human rights abuses in a psychiatric hospital in Chelmsford NSW. Their dogged persistence in the face of psychiatric opposition and official apathy was the decisive factor in eventually bringing about a Royal Commission into Chelmsford Hospital. The two-year inquiry uncovered the possibility of 183 patient deaths and recommended a thorough shake-up of mental health care in NSW, along with a mental health bill of rights.
The Church has taken no action against critical messages about Scientology posted on the Internet -- it has only taken action where postings have violated its copyrights and trade secrets. There is a tremendous desire among people both on and off the Internet to know more about Scientology. In response to this demand, Leisa Goodman, Media Relations Director for the Church of Scientology International, has put up her own "home page" which contains the basic information about Scientology. This site is located at http://www.theta.com/relfreedom.
Freedom of expression is good and desirable but it must be tempered with responsibility. This includes accurate reporting of facts and respect for others' rights.
Rev. Mary Anderson
Church of Scientology, Melbourne.