Subject: Question and answer session with Bob Minton and Steve Hassan at CULTinfo, 3/17/2000, Part 2
Transcribed by Xenubat (Sue M.)
BOB MINTON: Just, weíre remodeling our building down in Clearwater and weíre gonna have an all-glass front. On both sides of the building thereís a central hallway and both sides will be all glass. One of the purposes of that is to allow particularly on one side for people to, to be able to see anybody who walks by the building. Weíll have--weíll have a real L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibit (scattered laughter)--I donít know if anybodyís ever seen the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibit in Los Angeles. But weíll tell the true story. Weíll have original material from the Church of Scientology there. We are already building a substantial archive. If somebody wants to see a real document in L. Ron Hubbardís handwriting, weíve got them. They can come look at them, they can find out what the truth is about this man that they so revere. Um, on the other side, you know, weíll have a whole multimedia room where weíll have every video, every Real Video thatís been on the Internet, every television show thatís ever been produced anywhere in the world available for anybody to come in and see. Weíll have books to lend out to people in the community; we already have a sizable library and itís growing, and weíve got--we were fortunate enough to acquire 2,000 copies (holds up a copy of Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves by Steve Hassan) of this book right off the bat for our library (applause) and for--
STEVE HASSAN: And also for-- (laughter)
BOB MINTON: And for selling, too, even! But, you know, I can tell you, I had the pleasure of reading this book back in September, I think it was, and it was just--I was just overwhelmed by it and, you know, especially for a layperson like me who has, is learning, having never having been in a cult, and learning a lot about it and [???] learning stuff about it--this is a real, real help for me and it, it gave me a real insight into how people like Bill and Lauren, Bill and Lauren Goldberg, how they do their job, how Steve does his job and so many others who are out there, you know, extracting people from these organizations that--
STEVE HASSAN: Empowering people.
BOB MINTON: Empowering people, thatís right. And in case, there are some more questions here. It says, "Can you elaborate on the circumstances of Lisa McPhersonís death?" Um, I assume that--you know, I do make the assumption, maybe Steve is right, that people do know about, that I think that people do know about her death and the circumstances, but maybe some of you donít. Basically, what happened with Lisa McPherson was that, uh, she had--she went Clear in Scientology, I believe it was in, um, July of 1995. And this, of course, is sort of the ultimate, itís one of the ultimate steps in Scientology.
Thereís always another ultimate step and of course each step costs money and therefore youíve gotta keep the treadmill going. But this is a very important one within the organization.
And Lisa continued to have lots of problems from July 1995 through November. And the week before she was--on November 18, she was actually taken in to the Fort Harrison Hotel for a 17-day stay, but in the week before that, Iíll tell you a little story that may give you some insight into how desperate this woman was and how potentially--and how clearly she was in Scientology as a major public relations risk Lisa went with four other people--three other people from the AMC Publishing Company, which is run by one of the most Nazi-like women Iíve ever seen, a woman named Bennetta Slaughter. And (clears throat) Bennetta runs and owns this company and she sent Lisa and these other three people down to a trade show in Orlando.
And Lisa was having all kinds of emotional problems during the drive down there, during the stay, she couldnít sleep at night.
She was, uh--she was saying weird things to people that she never knew, she was talking about, you know, the world coming to an end and, uh, that, you know, you had to read Dianetics:
The Modern Science of Mental Health, you know, just walking up to people that she never met at this trade show. One night she was so desperate, uh, that at 3 oíclock in the morning she jumped on a friend of hers who she was staying in a room with--about 20 years, a girl that she knew from Dallas from the time she was like 16 years old. And she, she jumps on top of her at 3 oíclock in the morning and sheís holding the girlís hands with her hands, holding her down on the bed--"Please help me, please help me, youíve gotta help me get through this! Iím not going to make it!" Well, this girl decided with her two colleagues the next morning that they had to take Lisa back to Clearwater, that (clears throat) that she couldnít stay in Orlando for the weekend because she was--she was not in present time. She was--she was losing it; she was having some psychological problems, she was an embarrassment, they couldnít let her stay there. They drove her back, her friends, supposed friends--drove her back to Clearwater and delivered her into the hands of her Ethics Officer at AMC Publishing.
The next day sheís taken into the Fort Harrison Hotel and stays for 17 days. Sheís held against her will. Well, hereís the key thing--what happened is, the first--what happened is that Lisa got into a minor traffic accident. The theory is that Lisa escaped from the Fort Harrison Hotel after she was taken in earlier in the day. She got into this minor traffic accident.
She wasnít hurt. The medics, you know, examined her but they wouldnít take her to the hospital even though she said she wanted to go to the hospital, and the reason she wanted to go was she needed to talk to somebody. But she wasnít hurt so they didnít, they wouldnít do it. So they get back in their ambulance and she begins to take off her clothes and starts walking down the street naked. Now this is a Scientology Clear doing this in Clearwater, Florida. Now can you imagine for the Church of Scientology how somebody who achieved the state of Clear going down a street naked in Clearwater must look as an embarrassment to this organization? Well, thatís really what it was all about, and thatís why she ended up staying for 17 days, or being put into the Fort Harrison Hotel again.
Now, one good question I get asked a lot is, "Okay, well she went to the hospital, they did take her to the hospital finally, but she voluntarily agreed to go back to the Fort Harrison with her friends from Scientology." Well, have you ever heard of an abused wife who gets the police on her husband, they come and "Oh, everything is fine", you know, "Oh, no, thereís no problem, thereís no problem." You know, itís this type of total control that, that an abusive organization has over an individual, that caused Lisa McPherson to voluntarily, without raising any objections whatsoever, to go back to the Fort Harrison Hotel and be held against her will for 17 days, to be dehydrated, to have cockroach bites all over her body. I mean, the, the medical experts now call these places on her body "cockroach feeding sites". Now imagine that this girl had to be in a coma while this was going on. I mean, how do you allow cockroaches to feed on your skin unless youíre severely incapacitated? So those are the only things that I can elaborate on. There are a lot of autopsy photographs that have not been released. Um, they have been seen--there are people even in this room, or at least one person in this room who has actually seen those photographs, the ones that havenít been released. Uh, thereís at least two other people I know of who have seen Ďem going back two years ago. But they show some pretty grim conditions of this womanís body that, that Scientology does not want the public to see.
STEVE HASSAN: And she repeatedly asked to leave, did she not, at the beginning of her stay there?
BOB MINTON: She--
STEVE HASSAN: It was written in the records.
BOB MINTON: Yeah, she--not only at the beginning, but in the middle of her stay. But by the end of her stay, you know, they did lose the last three days worth of records. Um, they just--Scientology did some meticulous document keeping but they lose the last three days of records for her stay at the Fort Harrison Hotel. And itís just ludicrous.
(reading question)It says, "What kinds of threats did Scientology make to members of the Lisa McPherson Trust?" No, no direct threats, um, but they make it really clear that weíre not welcome in their town. Um, I think it was in the paper, one of the interesting quotes--one day I came to Clearwater and these Scientology girls met me at the airport, "What are you doing in our town?" And I said, uh, "Maybe this used to be your town but weíre here to help liberate it." (laughter)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Robert, you should tell them about what happened to Mark.
BOB MINTON: Well, yeah. Now, there are some--yes, Iím sorry.
(pointing to camera Mark Bunker, who is the man behind that big camera there. Uh, Mark is--Mark really deserves some recog--special recognition here because Mark has been a leader on the Internet in putting video material on the Internet for all to see. Um, www.xenutv.com is his site.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: X-e-n-u TV.
BOB MINTON: Dot com, right. Mark has digitized every television show you can imagine thatís ever, uh, been on about Scientology, and, and there are many other things on there that donít have anything to do with Scientology. For example, we put "The Wave" on there, too, so everybody could see it, and a few others, a few other classics. But, uh, Scientology has--Mark went up to Chicago about a month or so ago, six weeks ago, to interview two dentists who were scammed out of so much money that you couldnít believe it. And they were upset and they wanted to talk about it on video, in the process of getting their money back from the Church of Scientology. Well, thereís--there are a few things that, you know, there are really a few things that Scientology hates really bad. Number one, getting money out of the organization and number two, getting a human being out of the organization. They go after you in a significant way in either area.
Well, Mark was going out there to get this story on film, along with many other original documentaries that heís done about people in Scientology or experiences in Scientology and let the American Dental Association or anyone else who wanted to see this on Xenu-TV have, have a look at what happened to these two fine people in Chicago. Well, Mark goes with these people to the Chicago org one night when theyíre going inside to collect some checks from Scientology. Markís standing on a public sidewalk with the, the other two people--the two dentists, husband and wife--standing on the sidewalk in front of the Scientology property; Mark was actually back a little bit from the sidewalk. Well, as soon as he gets there and starts filming, these two as it turns out off-duty police officers from the Chicago Police Department, out of uniform, come running out of the Church of Scientology building, grab Markís arms--one grabbed one arm, one grabbed his other arm with the camera in it--and throws him to the ground. And he gets arrested and rough him up! He gets arrested for criminal trespassing. He wasnít--I mean, the dentists have told their story on videotape on what happened there, itís nothing to do with Mark even remotely being on Scientology property.
Well, now you would think that would be something that, uh, that would eventually get dismissed by the prosecutors in Chicago. Mark had a videotape of the whole event of them running out of the place and here is the video and the audio of what happened to him. Well, Mark went to Chicago this week on Wednesday; he went for a pretrial hearing. He gets there and four Scientology attorneys, together with four Scientologists from the Chicago org, are lined up in the courtroom, who have been chewing the prosecutorís ear all morning, and the prose--the Scientology attorneys are lead by Elliott Abelson.
Now, Elliott Abelson, for, for 20 years worked for the Mafia.
He defended the Mafia in New York in the [???] investigation cases. His next client after the Mafia was the Church of Scientology. Well, Elliott is one of the nastiest guys theyíve got because of his connections in organized crime. So now heís in Chicago, all of a sudden heís the attorney helping the Church of Scientology get the prosecutor to add three more charges against Mark. You wonít believe these charges--battery on a police officer is one of the charges. Uh, resisting arrest, causing a public disturbance.
I mean, what Mark has done for the world, really, is he has made--he has shown Scientologists being Scientologists. When I say that, what I mean is he has shown Sea Org people, OSA people being Scientologists. As I said, I would imagine that 90-95% of the Scientologists are good, decent people, but there is this element within Scientology that needs to be ousted, and those are the type of people running the types of operations that they did on Mark Bunker, uh, and others that, you know, cause us some degree of grief. So.
STEVE HASSAN: What Iíd say is, but also just to say that, uh, you know, if you sign a billion-year contract, you know, to work for a group for this lifetime and a billion years ahead, youíre gonna be very committed. And, um, um, I can tell you, I left the Moonies in 1976 but my reference point was 1976, and if I was told that, that, uh, Satan was trying to, you know, destroy the true family and I had to go after, so, I was trained in martial arts in the Moonies; itís the same kind of thinking of the ends justify the means, I think, um, a red flag. Um, I have three questions Iíll try to combine. Um, one question about educating health professionals. The person writes, uh, theyíre very discouraged because theyíve never found a mental health professional who knows about cults. And with managed care, itís impossible to get even more people, mental health professionals, to take on, um, patients. And another question about, um, what if you have any tips on a church with a rigid, closed hierarchy that has abusive situations, how to try to deal with that so that they donít close ranks and it gets worse. And then someone, must be a friend, said, "How can we get the word out about the book"
(laughter) I swear I didnít ask this question! (more laughter) but I had--I had to [???] and I thought, "How can I answer this question?".
The truth of the matter is, I wrote this book for several core audiences. One of them are family members and friends who have a loved one involved in a cult; but secondarily and primarily, mental health professionals and clergy and people helping, helping professionals, professions as well as academics. And, um, how can you get the word out about the book? Iíd say, start by reading it and, and thinking about it is that Iím saying and what you like about it and what you donít like about it and what you agree with and what you donít agree with. And if you like it--Bob really liked it, Iím happy to say--get some copies, get them to mental health professionals, donate it to your libraries or, you know, start a--an awareness program. Iím certainly gearing up to do media, so if you are aware of places for me to come and speak, Iíll certainly, you know--I wanna go around the country and teach people about this approach, people wanna learn how to be an activist and, and what to say if theyíre on a picket line or whatever, um, and Iíd like to, uh, encourage people, if you like the book, then tell people about it; if youíre on the Internet, tell people on the chat rooms or Amazon.com, whatever. If you have a choice to buy or telling people to buy the book at Amazon or my site, please come to my site, freedomofmind.com, if youíre on the Web. Itíll help to defray some of the costs faster. Um, and, uh, my hope is that we get enough religious leaders to stand up together to say, look, you know, we need to uphold human rights, and we have to uphold additionally that people have a choice to belong to a group or choose not to belong to a group, and that any group, just because they say that theyíre a religion, um, need to be held accountable for their behavior. There needs to be checks and balances. There needs to be some, some organizations that people can, can turn to to say, uh, "Help". And Iím hoping that, after itís said, that Bob and other former members and they can be on the Leo J. Ryan Foundation, "yeah" to [???] (applause) And letís work together to create awareness. And thatís, thatís my response. Because I think that we will be able to, uh, exert pressure on any group that wants to keep their tax-exempt status or wants to have good PR, theyíre gonna have to reform if they hope to, to, uh, gain new members.
Otherwise itíll be like Scientology losing members--losing, losing, losing, losing members.
BOB MINTON: Thereís one final question here that Iíd like to answer. It says, "What help would you like from us? What can we do to help your organization increase awareness in Scientology?" Well, the first thing that I would like to say--and this is specifically aimed at the Leo J. Ryan Educational Foundation--putting on an org--an event like this is a really, really important thing. It is, from my own experience, and maybe some share that, it is sometimes lonely fighting these types of organizations. You, you become isolated and in fact in Scientology, one of their policies is to isolate you as an individual from all possible areas of support--emotional support, human support. Um, and all of us here, um, are kind of in the same type of, quote, business, of helping people. And I think what we can do to help each other best--and I am very bad at this, but, you know, this gives me the opportunity to challenge myself to reform--is that we need to be more in communication with each other. And, you know, I know that I, I think, especially last year when I came here to this conference, you know, all of us who are now with the Lisa McPherson Trust were part of FACTNet then. And, you know, we were in the middle of a long battle with Scientology. Um, we were being bashed on the Internet at that time. Um, we were involved--I, particularly, was involved--in the situation in terms of uncovering the Scientology spy that made the situation very uncomfortable for me, personally. Um, but meeting--or coming here with this group of people really made an incredible difference in my personal perception of how this community of, of people who are concerned about other human beings works. And it, it really recharged me last year, as Iím sure it will this year. And, you know, I, I thank everybody here for, for doing that for each other all the time and I think we just need to be in closer contact as the year goes on. Thank you. (applause).
STEVE HASSAN: Thank you. (more applause
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (on camera): There is absolutely nothing I can say to follow the incredible presentation that we just had. We want to thank both of those people for speaking tonight, tell you that we hope that you are aware that you are not alone. Um, and all the people here I think share that sentiment. Can we have a round of applause for these two? (applause) We appreciate all of you coming, for being here, and, uh, I think weíve got a good lineup for you in the morning and, uh, I think the only thing I can say is we look forward to seeing you at 9 oíclock. Take care. (applause)