Saturday, January 18, 2014

Garry Lynn Scarff,

October 6, 1991, Declaration of Garry Lynn Scarff,
November 19, 1991, Los Angeles Times, Made Up Jonestown Story to Aid Group, Man Says,
September, 1992, Affidavit, Date Garry L. Scarff Left Scientology,
July / August, 1993, Over 17 days, Deposition of Garry L. ScarffCopy,
September 20, 1993, Grays Harbor Court Record, Declaration of Garry Scarff,
July 12, 2000,, Re: Garry Scarff: Taking It Like a Man,
May 19, 2009 [1st web capture], Garry Scarff,
October 23, 2009, Google Groups, soc.genealogy.ireland, Be warned of Garry or Gary Scarff who lies he is a Jew that his father died in Jonestown. He runs hundreds of abusive socks!,
January 18, 2012, [1st web capture], The History of Smurf,


November 19, 1991, Los Angeles Times, Made Up Jonestown Story to Aid Group, Man Says,

A man who called a news conference Monday in Los Angeles on the 13th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre told reporters that he had falsely claimed to be a survivor of the Guyana tragedy in order to raise "hundreds of thousands of dollars" for the Cult Awareness Network in Chicago.

Gary Scarff said that network personnel encouraged him to tell untrue stories about surviving the blood bath that claimed 914 lives in order to finance their cult deprogramming work.

Cynthia Kisser, executive director of the network, denied Scarff's claims, saying in a telephone interview that when she and her associates began to doubt his increasingly "wild" stories about being at Jonestown, he complained bitterly and left the organization.

Kisser said that Scarff is currently being supported by the Church of Scientology, a group that has been the target of ongoing investigations by the Cult Awareness Network. Scarff said he is not affiliated with Scientology.

September 20, 1993, Grays Harbor Court Record, Declaration of Garry Scarff,

Note: Jason Scott acknowledged Scientologists he knew under oath for the Court record. (Find Jason Scott's Sworn testimony under 'Jason Scott trial')

I, Garry L. Scarff, declare as follows:
  1. All the facts contained within this Declaration are within my personal knowledge and if called to testify - thereto, I could and would be competently able to do so.
  2. I personally acted as an agent for the Church of Scientology's Office of Special Affairs in covert and overt operations directed against the Cult Awareness Network for a number of years while a longtime member of the Church of Scientology.

    • [Note: WARNING! The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) was recently bankrupted and bought up by Scientology. We strongly recommend you do not contact them for assistance.]
  3. Several of these operations were coordinated under the guise of a Scientology-funded front group called the Friends of Freedom network, which promotes itself as a national, interfaith coalition of pastors and laymen fighting got religious freedom and preserving the First Amendment's right to religious practices.
  4. The so-called director of the Friends of Freedom is Rev. George Robertson, a pastor of a Maryland-based cult group who maintains the organization is overseen by a Board of Directors, which in fact, do not exist, and an Advisory Committee.
  5. In fact, Rev. George Robertson, who refuses to identify his credentials as a minister, seminary professor and holder of a Ph.D., whereby some associates refer to him as Dr. Robertson, said Robertson coordinates his activities with officials of the Church of Scientology and Eugene Ingram, the long-time private investigator for Bowles & Moxon, the in-house law firm for the Church of Scientology, International.
  6. As an agent for the Church of Scientology, I first met Jason Scott, a 19-year-old member of the United Pentecostal Church in November 1991, at the Oklahoma City site of the annual conference of the National Cult Awareness Network Conference (CAN). The role myself, the other Scientology officials present, George Robertson, and Jason Scott, at this site was to take overt opportunities to disrupt this conference a s part of the Church of Scientology's longtime scheme to destroy the Cult Awareness organization.
  7. My superior, David Butterworth, Director of the National Office of Special Affairs, based in Los Angeles, advised me, at that time, that the Church was paying to fly Jason Scott in to Oklahoma City from Sacramento, California, where he was attending a United Pentecostal Church camp. Butterworth advised me that Jason Scott's personal agenda at the Conference, which Jason had agreed to prior to flying to Oklahoma City, was to confront and ridicule exit-counselor Rick Ross, who earlier in the year had attempted to deprogram him from the United Pentecostal Church.
  8. Butterworth advised me that Rick Ross had successfully deprogrammed Jason Scott's brothers, Thysen and Matthew, both whom later recanted their faith in the United Pentecostal Church.
  9. During our disruption operation in Oklahoma City, Jason Scott and I shared the same hotel room for the weekend.
  10. All of Jason Scott's expenses during this disruption operation were paid by the Church of Scientology's Office of Special Affairs, under the guise of the Friends of Freedom.
  11. I am aware that prior to this disruption operation, Jason Scott had appeared with George Robertson in media forums denouncing his deprogramming at the hands of Rick Ross and to denigrate his the Cult Awareness Network, which he alleged, as coached by the Church of Scientology, endorsed and helped coordinate his deprogramming.
  12. At the Oklahoma City site, Jason Scott advised me that his confidante, whom he openly referred to as "mom" was Ann Laws, the Director of the Office of Special Affairs, Church of Scientology, in Dallas, Texas. Jason claimed, and it was confirmed to me by Ann Laws, that they had been in continuous contact with one another by telephone since Jason first worked with George Robertson and Scientology officials.
  13. Activities which Jason Scott was involved in, included denouncing Rick Ross in a press conference attended by Oklahoma media, wearing a concealed tape recorder in his coat jacket and inducing members of the Cult Awareness Network into casual conversation never advising the respondents that they were being recorded, deliberately disrupting the Conference by walking directly through the mezzanine site of the Conference leading Jason and other Scientologists, including myself, to be escorted out of the area by security officials, taking conference materials out of the mezzanine without the consent of its owners and turning said materials over to Scientology officials; and, deliberately confronting Rick Ross in the company of George Robertson, myself, and other Scientology officials.
  14. While Jason Scott was physically present in our hotel room, I, under the directive of my superior, David Butterworth, telephoned Rick Ross in his room and threatened to kill him.
  15. Throughout the duration of this operation, I observed Jason Scott giving different individuals varied interpretations of what occurred in his deprogramming by Rick Ross. Both George Robertson and David Butterworth prodded Jason to embellish his story so he would be seen as a "victim" of a malicious crime.
  16. I have, in my possession, photographs of Jason Scott in the company of Scientology official's in Oklahoma City, which have been entered into evidence in numerous civil cases where the Church of Scientology is the opposing party. The substantive facts of this declaration is also basis of evidence introduced into these state and federal cases.
  17. Following the operation in Oklahoma City, Jason Scott and myself remained in contact with one another by letter and telephone. In the Spring of 1992, Jason was married to his wife Kathleen. I received a wedding invitation, but could not attend. I sent Jason a wedding gift. I am aware that an official of the Church of Scientology in Seattle did attend Jason's wedding.
  18. In May 1992, Jason Scott, his wife Kathleen, his pastor Harold Kern and wife, and other members of the United Pentecostal Church cooperated in a Scientology scheme to disrupt a cult education forum, open to the public, where media had announced that Jason's brother, Thysen Scott, would be a guest speaker to talk about the positive effect that Rick Ross provided him as an exit-counselor. Also slated to speak was Susan Landa, a Seattle-based attorney who represented Thysen as a client.
  19. At this forum, held in McMinnville, Oregon, I, and another Scientology member, Sam Demeter, verbally interrupted Ms. Landa on numerous occasions as she attempted to give her speech.
  20. At one point, during Ms. Landa's presentation, Jason Scott stood up from his seat and challenged Ms. Landa, leading a forum official to approach Jason and threaten to physically eject him from the building and seek his arrest.
  21. I, personally, paid for the gas and meal expenses her Jason and Kathleen Scott during this operation. These expenses were reimbursed to me by Eugene Ingram, an employee of Bowles & Moxon, the in-house law firm for the Church of Scientology, Int'l.
  22. The disruptions caused by Scientologists and Jason Scott were successful enough that forum coordinators canceled Thysen Scott's appearance as a speaker.
  23. At one point, during the forum, Thysen Scott was observed by Harold Kern, Jason Scott and myself, speaking on a pay telephone to his mother. I observed Jason's pastor prodding him to go over to Thysen and stand next to him as he spoke on the telephone, so to intimidate Thysen. Later, Jason called his mother and heatedly challenged her.
  24. Following the forum, I traveled with Jason & Kathleen Scott to the Seattle, Washington, area, where they lived, and where I had business to attend to the following day. During the 5-hour road trip to Seattle, Jason and I discussed many personal issues affecting him, including the persistent and unwanted pressure he was receiving from Scientology officials wanting him to demand Grays Harbor County prosecutors to reinstate criminal charges against Rick Ross.
  25. Jason expressed very clearly, at that time, that he wished to put his deprogramming behind him, and seek some mental, financial, and familial stability in his life, and expressed interest in being a father. Jason, however, expressed fears of losing his friendships with Scientology officials if he did not follow through on their directives.
  26. During the duration of the period that I communicated with Jason, prior to my leaving the Church of Scientology in September, 1992, I observed Scientology officials coaching Jason to deliberately embellish his rendition of the events of his deprogramming. Initially, Jason spoke of his being physically kidnapped and detained against his will, renouncing his membership in the United Pentecostal Church, attending a celebrative pizza party at the Ocean Shores restaurant with Rick Ross, then fleeing the restaurant and calling the police. Jason claimed initially, that no physical violence occurred. However, after coaching by George Robertson and Scientology officials, Jason reported the physical violence, torture and mental abuse he endured at the hands of Rick Ross.
  27. Jason Scott advised me in Oklahoma City that Scientology officials sought to have Jason embellish his story to include charges that Rick Ross had sexually abused him during the deprogramming. Jason was adamant in refusing to do this, citing his personal displeasure of events surrounding the sexual abuse of Thysen Scott by a United Pentecostal Church pastor.
  28. Jason Scott's coaching was result of official, internal Scientology practice of "hatting the witness", whereby, a witness is coached to "lie convincingly" to law enforcement and judicial authorities in order to bring about the desired result.
  29. I have observed a copy of a July 3, 1993 letter to Grays Harbor Prosecutor H. Stuart Manafee from an attorney with the Scientology law firm of Bowles & Moxon. The letter encourages Manafee to contact U.S. Attorney Larry Leiser in Virginia to corroborate facts about "deprogramming". Allegations persist, for which an investigation is currently taking place, that U.S. Attorney Larry Leiser has direct ties to the Church of Scientology, thereby placing his credibility for providing objective information in doubt.
  30. I am aware that excerpts of testimony I provided in a civil case last month in Los Angeles, which was adverse to the Church of Scientology, and of which Scientology attorneys said they would seek to have stricken in it's entirety, have ironically provided, out of context, to Grays Harbor County prosecutors to support their position against Rick Ross.
  31. I am not, nor have I ever been an employee or an associate of Rick Ross, and our relationship is of a casual acquaintance. In fact, I first met Rick Ross in Oklahoma City, in November 1991, during the Scientology operation discussed in the body of this declaration.
I declare under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed this 20thday of September 1993 in Los Angeles, California.
Garry L. Scarff, Declarant

July 12, 2000,, Re: Garry Scarff: Taking It Like a Man,

From: (Boudewijn van Ingen)
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 23:19:05 GMT
Message-ID: <396efc8b.174899376@jumbo>

On Wed, 12 Jul 2000 15:55:05 -0400, "ptsc" <> wrote:
"Kaeli" <> wrote:
When did Garry rat to OSA? After he left the CoS? I'm confused as to time  frame here, please explain. I'm still a relative newbie here in comparison.
Here's Garry's own explanation of his various flip-flops:
From: Garry Scarff
Subject: The Real Garry Scarff
I want to thank the people whom have e-mailed me over the last few days and expressed their love and concern, if not exasperation, over the derisive posts on ARS that have been made about me and I have made about others, in kind. It has, indeed, gotten out of hand and I share the blame for it's occurrences. I regret it and I apologize and it will not happen again. I know that I have made promises before and in time, you will know that this time, I am serious.

I have not decided whether to leave ARS and post constructively or leave ARS and try to put the whole Scientology ordeal behind me. I do recognize many things about myself and others on ARS.

First, real recovery whether it be from AIDS, alcoholism, drug addiction or cultic involvement, gives a person the chance to tell the truth about who they are, the whole story, everything that brought them to where they are today. For many of us, being honest about our childhoods and adulthoods is a painful and new experience, and not one that I have considered. But I'm gradually realizing that when we get honest with ourselves, do we begin to see the patterns, the behaviors, and situations that keep repeating themselves in our relationships, jobs, illnesses, accidents, etc. Honesty, IMHO, helps us to break the patterns, learn the lessons, bless and curse the past, and let it go. I, regretfully, have not been able to let it go.

As a product of an abusive and neglected childhood, who was always reminded as a small child by an alcoholic parent that I was a loser, an unwanted child and would get nowhere in life, and another parent who walked out on the family, I sought love, affection, affirmation and compliment from whomever gave it to me as a child, as an adult, as a member of CAN, as an operative for the Church of Scientology, and to the present.

Dennis Erlich and Priscilla Coates have often referred to my using the Jonestown Tragedy as a tool to draw attention to myself. They are absolutely correct. That did happen, at a time I was experiencing family problems and conflicted feelings about Scientology have visited the Mission of Davis and meeting some very nice people, and those whom opposed it, confusing to me because I had relatively no knowledge of either.

So troubled that my college grades dropped and I was suspended for 6 months from college for receiving one credit out of the required 12 for the term. The Unification Church (Moonies) was hot news back then, and it interested me somewhat, until one of it's front groups, CARP appeared on campus to recruit and I was intrigued and attended their meetings. Later, I read about the parents of two Moonies in a book by a former Moonie, that they lived in Portland and I contacted them. I invited them to my college to talk about their references to the Moonies as a "destructive cult". They later invited me to their counseling center, the Positive Action Center, and we eventually drew close to one another. I came to see Anne Greek as a source of encouragement, love and affection, things I never received from my own mother. By coincidence, I later signed up for Kung Fu lessons at the only school of it's kind in Portland at the time, ignoring the fact that it was owned and operated by a devout Scientologist, and warnings by the Greeks to stay away.

My sessions at the Academy were enjoyable until several days later, Fred King called me at home and asked me to drop by the Academy to see him. I did. Mr. King ordered me into his office and accused me of spying for the Greeks and denounced them as enemies of Scientology. Having come to enjoy the attention I received from Mr. King, to see him like a big brother, I denied that I was a spy but would do anything to stay in the academy as I had no other friends. That day I signed my first declaration handed to me by a member of the Guardians Office, that was in such a hurry for me to sign egged on by Fred King's warnings that if I didn't sign, I couldn't come back to his Academy, I signed the declaration. This started my long "flip-flop" association with Scientologists and critics of Scientology.

Striving to gain the friendship of both Fred King and the Greeks, I played to the whims of both parties. In Fred King, I saw a big brother that I could enjoy time with and in Anne Greek and her husband Adrian (a co-founder of the CFF which later became CAN) I saw as parents-of-sorts. I became emotionally & mentally involved with both individuals. I was aware that the Greeks had an ongoing support group at the Center for ex-cult members and their families. My Scientology friends encouraged me to go, but because I had not been a member of a cult, I would not have been admitted. My Scientology friends said to invent one and it was suggested to me that I use the Peoples Temple because it was the news event of the decade during that period. I was given a plethora of books, media articles and 2 videos if I recall on the Peoples Temple tragedy to train me for my "role" as an ex-cult member, visited Anne Greek one day at the Center, told her about my cultic experience, sobbed about losing my father, and was so convincing to her that not only did she invite me to the support group, but I accompanied her on public presentations. I was told by my Scientology friends that the Greeks would never learn the truth because the congregation of the Peoples Temple killed themselves and there were bodies that could not be identified. My public "testimonies", later to become the subject of international media articles, and TV and radio interviews, was a cycle of deceit out of control.

But, I was willing to do it if it meant have the love & affection of both the Greeks and my Scientology friends. To my being a Scientologist, Dennis Erlich and others are correct if that I have not been a Scientologist in comparison to him, the Youngs or Gerry Armstrong. I was persuaded to sell personal items to take a few courses, was given free assists regularly at the org following a bad car accident and in return agreed to hand out personality tests and direct people to the testing center on Salmon Street, and became involved in the life of the Mission of Davis and the org and enjoying their friendships despite the directives given to me to spy on the Greeks. Later, I was induced to sign a mission staff contract by John Carmicheal, but because I was so involved in college, and did not look forward to another suspension, I faltered on the contract.

But, I remained steadfast in my alliance with Scientology, which looking back puzzled me because (1) I was "friends" with Scientology, yet going to cult education forums with the Greeks and trashing Scientology, and (2) I was "friends" with the Greeks warming up to them, spending the holidays at their home and even being invited as "a special friend" by Anne Greek to accompany them to Canada for the purposes of kidnapping their daughter from the Moonies and bringing her back home to the US, and relaying the information back to my Scientology friends. I accompanied the Greeks and another deprogrammer, Diane Benscoter, to Canada, but the effort was unsuccessful. The Greeks found out much later that I had a hand in this failure.

After passing on information to the CofS, I was the one responsible for having Diane (then a fugitive with a Colorado warrant out for her) arrested providing the Denver and Portland Police with her home address (Anne Greek paid her bail out of jail). The sexual incident involving deprogrammer Bob Brandybury did occur though Anne Greek begged me not to report it as a crime because they entrusted Brandyberry as the one that would eventually get their daughter out of the Moonies.

As more and more of the public became interested in my "former Peoples Temple" story, I was compelled to melodramatize the extent of my trauma in the Temple. My story was headline news in the Milwaukee Journal (which the CofS now uses as one of it's DA pack items conveniently excusing themselves from any involvement because they are a church) during a CAN Conference there, I was paid to address a college forum in Milwaukee, and was paid by CAN to speak at the Milwaukee Conference (my picture appearing in the following month's CAN newsletter), my story was published in the Congressional Record after deceiving former CAN President Patricia Ryan into believing my story, spoke on National Radio, was the subject of magazine articles and even wrote a chapter in a book published by the sister of cult leader Jim Jones' nurse.

Following the conference, the Greeks, whom grew suspicious of me asked me to document for them statements I had made about my Peoples Temple experience. I was becoming unraveled and my Scientology allies weren't much help in alleviating my tensions. But, the Greeks permitted me to remain a member of the Positive Action Center (not knowing at the time that they and the CAN Board had hired a private investigator to initiate an investigation on me). I offered to help Anne Greek do the illustrations for a book she was publishing on "Cults". My Scientology contact gave me a cute picture of a bear sitting under a tree with a book in it's hands, to suggest to Anne to illustrate her book. Anne loved it and paid for the printing of several hundred books with "my" illustration. A week or so later, I received a very angry telephone call from Anne demanding to know where I got the illustration of the bear from, as towards the completion of the final printing of the books, someone in Scientology informed the actual artist that the Greeks were violating copyright laws by publishing the picture without the author's consent, and the author threatened to sue Anne Greek. This Scientology-Scarff conspiracy cost the Greeks thousands of dollars in books that had to be discarded. Shortly thereafter, I received a letter from Anne Greek that I was no longer welcome at the Center or in CAN. Cynthia Kisser advised me that the CAN Board decided to end my association with CAN when their private investigator learned I was never in the Peoples Temple. I was not allowed to attend the CAN Conference that was held months later in Portland (and was strongly advised by my Scientology friends to go anyway and make a big scene) which I did not do saying that I had the flu.

Later, with the direct assistance of the Portland/OSA Director and Director of OSA Int., I participated in a number of operations against the Greeks and CAN.

I later joined forces with OSA in Los Angeles after meeting Eugene Ingram and a host of other higher-ups in Scientology, leaving in 1991 when ordered to kill two people. My participation in Scientology ended; however the influence they had over me didn't.

As one compulsively reaching out for affection, attention and acknowledgement that I am a worthwhile person, I strived to do what was right and just after leaving Scientology, but missed and regretted in some ways, my back on my friends in Scientology. I grew to love Sue Taylor, David Butterworth and others, not realizing at the time that I was simply being used as an instrument of their jobs. That habit has carried on to this day.

In my heart, I want to believe Mike Rinder and my other "friends" in Scientology are human, have a good heart, and can be reformed, and it has been this misguided belief that has kept me under Scientology's influence.

This was made very clear in role in the German documentary. I was not crying out of fear of Scientology; I cried because I offended Mike Rinder, was very confused with his request to help him to know the plans of the German film crew, I cooperated with him, and then he turned on me reporting me to Egmont. I was hurt, confused and as Egmont could attest if he was here, I was wanting to leave the area with Joe Neal where I was prepared to surrender myself to him. In my heart, I have, I guess, fantasized Mike Rinder as the father I never had. As misguided as I may be, I loved and looked up to Mike Rinder. It was however, Joe Neal, that I called at OSA regarding the German crew's plans, not Mike Rinder whom I was told had gone home. Three hours later, Mike Rinder called Egmont & informed him of my call.

My notariety as an "ex-Scientologist" and "expert witness" in court cases gradually faded as did my contacts with Lawrence Wollersheim, Vaughn Young and Graham Berry. No longer having them in my corner, I reached out again to Scientology.

Two years ago, Jeff Jacobsen invited me to be a part of his picket group in Clearwater. I also met Rod Keller there who informed me that there was some concerns that I was a Scientology spy and he was not going to share any information with me. I blew him off saying I didn't need his information. We picketed, later Jeff made an accusation against me that the Tampa Tribune reporter covering the picket, Pam Waldrip, observed me leaving the area and talking to OSA member Joe Neal. Later, Rod Keller posted that he had called Cheryl in Tampa & that she was angry that Jeff posted this observation, as it never happened. THE FACTS: Jeff was correct in his suspicions. I was in comm with Joe Neal and others at FLAG about the activities at the motel. Pam Waldrip was present when I left the picket with Joe Neal and spoke to him in private behind a building, accompanied by Sea Org guards, providing them information, doing all I could to win Mike Rinder's approval and respect.

OSA photographers, in fact, had filmed the altercation I had with the lady Scientologist who hit my face with her sign. Mike Rinder decided to make it a non-issue. I later approached Mike and begged him to talk to me. He was angry that I had turned on Scientology and testified in the Fishman-Geertz and CAN cases causing CofS alot of heartache. After some small talk, Mike told me to write him a letter and he would help me with anything that I asked.

Following the picket, when I left the Howard Johnson's motel, I met Joe Neal and a private investigator down the road who showed me films of the picket and I identified the picketers for him.

I later had conversations with Elliot Abelson telling him that I would do anything to gain back Mike Rinder's respect & friendship. This led to my secret meeting with Elliot, Mike, Ken Long and another Scientologist assigned to "handle" me during a meeting in Los Angeles, which even my own attorney Graham Berry was not informed about. I signed 5-6 declarations (the 5 smaller ones developed from 1 extensive one) for Mike Rinder. I informed him of my contacts, meetings and conversations between the Clearwater Police and the German film crew. Later, after Graham Berry denounced me on ARS as a traitor, I called him, we spoke and I agreed to provide him with a sworn declaration as long as I was able to write it myself versus signing one written by him. He agreed.

During the December 1997 picket, I had some contact with Scientology which has already been addressed on the net. I found Brian Anderson to be a real dweeb and wanted nothing to do with him though we talked briefly several times and he was happy that I intending to carry a picket signing denouncing Dennis Erlich at the McPherson Vigil. After a meeting with Birgitta Dagnell, I dropped the idea. Before the Saturday picket, I was walking down Cleveland to a store to get a Coke when I saw Mike Rinder standing outside the Cleveland Building talking to Sue Taylor. I approached Mike, informed him that I was going to crash the Press Conference and denounce Dennis Erlich.

Mike and I shared small talk about my HIV, my wanting to move to LA and he ended our conversation with a long bear hug. He was aware that I was intending to picket but was not bothered by it. He said "If life is so boring for you in Orlando that you have to come to picket in Clearwater, that is OK. You'll come back to us someday, Garry". I attended the Press Conference and the rest has been documented on ARS.

I've had no further communication with Mike Rinder or Joe Neal since then. I met a very nice gentleman in Clearwater who stuck up for me at the Press Conference and offered to help me. He fulfilled that promise without any strings attached.

With this letter, I have no desire or intention of rehashing or worrying about a past that has caused me great torment. Our worries carry alot of power. If I believe there's nothing to be done except wait and worry, I'll spend all my time thinking about the future and miss the present. By living in the present, we see choices to make that can make life better for us right now. The more energy we put into living in the present, into life-affirming and for me, immune-enhancing behaviors, the more healthy we become.

If some people on ARS want to hold a grudge against me or disparage me, I will ignore them and look to those that support me in positive action whom are also determined to live in the present. I am working on stepping out of a victim role and walking into an active state of taking personal responsibility, free of anyone's malevolent influence. Here's hoping that I can do that....
It's "clear" that Garry can't "do that". Next shore-story, please.
Groeten, Boudewijn.

October 23, 2009, Google Groups, soc.genealogy.ireland, Be warned of Garry or Gary Scarff who lies he is a Jew that his father died in Jonestown. He runs hundreds of abusive socks!,

Be warned of Garry or Gary Scarff who lies that his father died in Jonestown. He runs hundreds of abusive socks!

Who is Garry or Gary Scarff from Los Angeles, CA 90046?

Liar and manipulator who will do anything for money and attention

You can't get much lower than capitalizing on the tragic deaths of hundreds of people to garner attention for your own financial gain, but that is exactly what Garry Scarff did.

While most people were in shock over the deaths of the 900 plus people who were killed in the jungle in Jonestown, Guyana, Garry Scarff used the opportunity to concoct an entirely fabricated story that his father was a member of the People’s Temple and was amongst those who had been killed in Jonestown. Scarff foisted this lie off to hundreds of attendees at conferences held by the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and to the news media to get attention and as a fund raising ploy for CAN. (His father was actually alive and well and living in Florida.)

Notwithstanding the fact that Garry has never been married, claims he is gay and has no children, he later embellished the story even further, saying that his wife and small child were also killed at Jonestown.

Unfortunately Garry's pathological lying did not end there but rather it was just the beginning. Thus it is not surprising that Garry Scarff has once again crawled out from under his rock to become one of the prominent members of the Los Angeles branch of the Internet hate group Anonymous.

Paid to Conduct Kidnappings

Religious Freedom Watch has learned that years before becoming an Anonymous leader Garry Scarff was a "kidnap for hire" deprogrammer for the Cult Awareness Network and worked closely with with various CAN kidnappers who targeted religious minorities from the 1970s to the mid 1990s until the group went bankrupt after being hit with a multi-million dollar judgment in a federal kidnapping case filed by one of its victims.

Apparently to get even and gain attention, Scarff turned on the group after he was blackballed from CAN for testifying against fellow kidnapper Bob Brandyberry in a 1988 Denver kidnapping case. After being ejected from CAN, Scarff executed a series of four declarations detailing the felonies and other crimes in which he and other CAN kidnappers had been involved.

RFW has obtained copies of these signed declarations in which Scarff confesses to the following crimes and religious hate crimes amongst other things:

* Scarff confessed to assisting Adrian and Anne Greek in planning the kidnapping and deprogramming of their daughter.
* Scarff confessed to assisting CAN kidnappers Bob Brandyberry and Diane Benscoter in a kidnapping and subsequent failed deprogramming of a member of the Unification Church by the name of John Abelseth in Canada.
* Scarff claims that he was raped by deprogrammer Bob Brandyberry who he then testified against in Brandyberry’s 1987/1988 kidnapping case.
* Scarff confessed to the kidnapping and attempted deprogramming of a college student around Christmas time in 1983. Another CAN deprogrammer / kidnapper Mary Alice Chronaloger and several others assisted Scarff.
* Scarff dished up detailed knowledge of anti-cult attorney Ford Greene's marijuana cultivation and use.

Unable to remain honest or exhibit social behavior for more than a brief period, Scarff’s life has been punctuated by lies and betrayal of anyone who has been unfortunate enough to become his friend or who has tried to help him or place trust in him. Scarff's modus operandi is to commit all manner of immoral anti-social and/or illegal acts and then in a feigned act of remorse, make a confession in which he freely admits to the most alarming crimes while blaming others, only to then resume his illicit behavior.

Lies in Lawsuit to try and get Money

Scarff's lies and deceit has not been limited to just the subject of the Scientology religion. He has likewise abused other religions, although to a lesser degree. For example, in a lawsuit that Scarff filed in 2001 against his boss and former employer, UCLA, Scarff concocted a story that he had been subjected to discrimination based on his religion, claiming that he was Jewish and his boss, a Syrian, had acted abusively and had him terminated.

Scarff lied in the lawsuit stating, "Ayoub was aware of the fact that Plaintiff's race, ethnicity and religion are Jewish and that Plaintiff's mother was born in Israel. Ayoub, on the other hand, is Syrian." However, Scarff's birth certificate clearly shows that his mother, Estelle Nadine Cox, was born in Missouri, and that Scarff was born in Sacred Heart Hospital, Fort Madison, Iowa, the attending physician a sister in the Church. Scarff's family was Catholic and Scarff later threatened to sue the Catholic Seminary he was rejected from, when he wanted to become a priest.

Scarff's vindictive lawsuit was dismissed in 2002.

Scarff is currently claiming to be disabled in order to obtain Workmen's Compensation yet regularly comes out with members of Anonymous to try and harass and intimidate members of the Church of Scientology. In one instance Scarff and other Anonymous harassed a member of the Church to the point that he reacted physically at which point Scarff hit him over the head with the stick of his picket sign. Scarff has numerous past instances of attempting to incite violence against Scientologists

May  19, 2009 [1st web capture], Garry Scarff,

Liar and manipulator who will do anything for money and attention

You can't get much lower than capitalizing on the tragic deaths of hundreds of people to garner attention for your own financial gain, but that is exactly what Garry Scarff did.

While most people were in shock over the deaths of the 900 plus people who were killed in the jungle in Jonestown, Guyana, Garry Scarff used the opportunity to concoct an entirely fabricated story that his father was a member of the People’s Temple and was amongst those who had been killed in Jonestown. Scarff foisted this lie off to hundreds of attendees at conferences held by the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and to the news media to get attention and as a fund raising ploy for CAN. (His father was actually alive and well and living in Florida.)

Notwithstanding the fact that Garry has never been married, claims he is gay and has no children, he later embellished the story even further, saying that his wife and small child were also killed at Jonestown.

Unfortunately Garry's pathological lying did not end there but rather it was just the beginning. Thus it is not surprising that Garry Scarff has once again crawled out from under his rock to become one of the prominent members of the Los Angeles branch of the Internet hate group Anonymous.

Paid To Lie to A German TV Crew
Paid to Conduct Kidnappings
Lies in Lawsuit to try and get Money
Letter to German TV
Back to Garry Scarff

May 3, 2010, [1st web capture] Religious Freedom Watch,Paid To Lie to A German TV Crew,

Scarff's long term association with other sociopaths and anti-religious extremists, is well documented. In once such instance, after participating in what could only be described as a one-sided anti-religious hatchet job by a German TV show, Scarff feigned remorse and revealed in a letter to the producers of the show that he had been paid for his on-camera lies to create the show. In Scarff’s own words, he said:
"I lied numerous times and both Mona Botros and you knew I was lying, not credible and not worthy of being relied on. The show creates a completely false impression and I can imagine that Scientologists in fact find it libelous."
"To make the record clear — I was never a Scientologist or a Scientology agent. I have no knowledge of prison camps or "mysterious deaths" or planned assassinations of anyone from 1991 or at any other time. I was never staff of the Office of Special Affairs, nor did I carry out any activities on behalf of that Office. In fact, I was never on staff for any Scientology Church."
"I never saw any prisoners at any Church facilities."
"I was never threatened by anyone from Scientology even though I falsely accused Scientology attorneys of planning to kill persons critical of the church."
Scarff goes on to chastise the producers stating,
"You also knew my history of lying, yet you chose to ignore it. Your anticipated sources for the story refused to co-operate, so you were stuck with me. Even though you caught me lying to you and said you didn’t trust me, you still used me as your 'source.'"
"I feel guilty that I allowed Ms. Botros and you to buy me off with your feigned friendship and money. Your lack of objectivity and journalistic ethics, together with your willingness to subvert the truth has led to a program that gives a totally incorrect, even fraudulent, picture of the Church of Scientology."

Letter to German TV

Egmont R. Koch
Schevemdorer Landstr. 15
28325 Bremen, Germany
Dear Sir:

I was a featured subject in your program "Looking for ... The Dark Side of Scientology," which aired on station ARD/WDR. I have been told by Ms. Botros that it is going to be aired again. Having seen the show and the falsehoods contained in it, I insist you not air the show again.
1. I lied numerous times and both Mona Botros and you knew I was lying, not credible and not worthy of being relied on. The show creates a completely false impression and I can imagine that Scientologists in fact find it libelous.
To make the record clear — I was never a Scientologist or a Scientology agent. I have no knowledge of prison camps or "mysterious deaths" or planned assassinations of anyone from 1991 or at any other time. I was never staff of the Office of Special Affairs, nor did I carry out any activities on behalf of that Office. In fact, I was never on staff for any Scientology Church.

I never saw any prisoners at any Church facilities.

I was never threatened by anyone from Scientology even though I falsely accused Scientology attorneys of planning to kill persons critical of the church.
2. Mona Botros and you knew that I had lied to you when you were filming this piece. You also knew my history of lying, yet you chose to ignore it. Your anticipated sources for the story refused to cooperate, so you were stuck with me. Even though you caught me lying to you and said you didn't trust me, you still used me as your "source."
3. The dramatic opening of the program showing me having a nervous breakdown, crying and physically ill at the Farmers Market was not caused by pressure or fears of Scientologists, but rahter your anger with me for lying to you and co-operating with Scientologists; your holding back the money you had promised to pay me and refusing to give me an airline ticket so I could go home, my not having my medication to for treating me for being H.I.V. positive (which I complained to you about) and your refusual to allow me to return home Sunday as promised.
I demand that you not re-air this previously aired pack of lies. I feel guilty that I allowed Ms. Botros and you to buy me off with your feigned friendship and money. Your lack of objectivity and journalistic ethics, together with your willingness to subvert the truth has led to a program that gives a totally incorrect, even fraudulent, picture of the Church of Scientology.

If you chose to air this program again, I will pursue every legal claim available to me under the laws of every country exposed to this trash.

Do not attempt telephonic communication with me. If you call my home to harass me I will immediately inform law enforcement authorities.

Garry Scarff

cc: Elliot J. Abelson Esq.
Station Manager, WDR


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January 18, 2012, [1st web capture], The History of Smurf,
We begin with Smurf pretending to be a Jonestown survivor. He deceived the Cult Awareness Network about this, hurting CAN's reputation and distorting the history of Jonestown itself.  I believe this video was around 1987.  Smurf was exposed as a liar and CAN repudiated him. Smurf claims he did this as a Scientology operative.

In 1990 through 1992 Smurf claims he was spying on Scientology critic Ford Greene. So once again, he's pretending to be an ex cultist while working for a cult.

In 1991 Smurf claims he was recruited by Scientology to kill CAN director Cynthia Kisser, but he balked at the job because he might get caught. While at times Smurf claims he was being forced into the killing by Scientology pressure, in this article he claims that he had repeatedly done violent acts for Scientology and even laughed about it. He also claims to have broken into a critic's home and poured live rats in it, and smeared dog feces on another critic's home.

Also in 1991 I met Smurf at the CAN conference in Oklahoma City. He was one of Jason Scott's handlers. Jason was suing CAN at the time and Scientology had rented a conference room at the same hotel as the CAN conference.

In July and August of 1993 Smurf in one of his side-switching modes was deposed in the Scientology v. Fishman case. In September 1993 Smurf wrote an affidavit for Rick Ross, who was being sued by Jason Scott, outlining the activities he did on behalf of Scientology.

In 1997 Smurf was protesting with and spying on critics of Scientology during their protest in Clearwater, Florida. He at first denied the spying, then later admitted to it. He also wrote an affidavit in which he claimed Scientology was harassing him. Also in 1997 he "helped" a German TV film crew as they filmed different encounters with Scientology in California. The film crew eventually figured out that Smurf was forwarding their plans surreptitiously to Scientology. Smurf confessed on camera when confronted:

Smurf wrote about his actions at a protest against Scientology in 2010 that "Instead of calling the police on Flyer Guy, I chose to shove back. Anons may not understand this; ex-Scilons will. It has everything to do with the TRs and controlling the environment. I was using LRH Tech in the situation with the handlers." Smurf thus admits to still using Scientology training.

Today and for several years now Smurf has claimed to once again be a critic of Scientology. He attends protests and writes about his exploits as a critic on different forums. Religious Freedom Watch lists him as a critic. It is difficult to say from this history just where his real allegiance lies.

I think in this clip he's on Scientology's side:

For Further Information:

"The Strange Case of Garry Scarff" by Rebecca Moore,

(Rebecca Moore's other articles in this issues include FOIA Lawsuit Results in Release of Thousands of Documents and Katrina and Jonestown. She may be reached through this website.)

In 1989, Fielding McGehee and I published The Need for a Second Look at Jonestown, a collection of essays written by those who had been involved with Peoples Temple. In this retrospective volume, people reflected on their experiences of the previous decade, as well as on their understanding of the Temple. Contributors included former members, relatives, and others who had had connections with the Temple, such as news reporters and social activists.

Shortly after the book appeared, Chris Hatcher, the psychologist hired by the city of San Francisco to counsel those affected by Jonestown, told us that one of the book's contributors, Garry Scarff, was a fraud and that he had never been a member of Peoples Temple. Others said the same thing, and asked, "Who is Garry Scarff?"

The answer to that question remains unclear. Weblogs by Scarff have resurfaced on a number of anti-Scientology websites. On a blog, dated 9 Sept 1998, he described an encounter with some Scientologists on his way to his doctor ( He noted that he visited his "former workplace on L. Ron Hubbard Way," and that some Scientology guards followed him. "Amazing, that such paranoia still reigns when you just want to take a walk. Ho-hum."

Due caution if not paranoia, however, may be the best way to deal with the enigmatic figure who seems to drift from cult to anticult and back again. We have wanted to alert readers to the problems with "A Light at the End of the Tunnel," by Garry Scarff, ever since we learned that the article was probably faked. The history of its publication, and the subsequent reports about its author, are both fascinating and disquieting. They hint at the hidden maneuverings of both cult and anticult factions.

Our plans for The Need for a Second Look included running an essay by someone critical of Peoples Temple. Since many of the essays were sympathetic, we thought fairness required an opposing viewpoint. Patricia Ryan, Leo Ryan's daughter, initially agreed to write an article, but then referred us to Cynthia Kisser, the Executive Director of the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), where Ryan served on the Board of Directors. Kisser expressed interest in the project, as did the late Herbert Rosedale, who signed onto the project. Kisser also guided us to Garry Scarff, who said he had belonged to Peoples Temple. A correspondence began with Scarff, who was persuaded to write his story.

"Over ten years ago, in the summer of 1977, I fled the Peoples Temple," he began his essay in The Need for a Second Look at Jonestown, "leaving behind my beloved father, my girlfriend and our eight month-old son, my "brother' Mike Prokes, and the many whom I sacrificed my soul, my love, my identity and ultimately, my family to-the Rev. Jim Jones." His essay claims that on 14 July 1977, he met with Jones along with his own father. That should have been our initial clue that his story was not credible, since Jones had permanently left California for Guyana by 17 June 1977, according to Hall (204). Scarff says my sister Annie Moore was also present at the July meeting, another impossibility since she was living in Guyana by May (Moore 1986, 173).

Scarff asserts in his essay that he arrived in the Los Angeles Temple in 1975 from an Assembly of God-owned college in Florida where he was pursuing a ministerial career. He wanted to make "Christian-oriented films," but ended up in pornography to support himself. He says that when he left the Temple in 1977, he went to Al and Jeannie Mills, leaders of the Concerned Relatives group who had started the Human Freedom Center to help others who fled Peoples Temple.

Scarff says he founded a group called Students for Personal Freedom and Choice in 1980 in response to organizational efforts by the Unification Church occurring at the college he was attending in Portland, Oregon. His anti-Moon organizing efforts led him to Adrian and Anne Greek, founders of the Positive Action Center, an anti-Unification Church group. At the same time, he also says that he became friends with John Biermans, "an attorney and longtime member of the Unification Church." Scarff says that in Portland he came across a description of an ex-Moonie who was also a deprogrammer: Gary Scharff, "no relation, although we are often mistaken for one another in [CAN] and are said to look identical."

In 1984 he joined the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints, according to the essay. "It was a decision I would later regret," he writes. He states that he was excommunicated in 1986 for not accepting the verdict of church leaders who said that his involvement in the Temple was "a result of a pathology in my personality." He also says that because he used naturopathic and meditative techniques to recover from his Temple experience, some within CAN suspected that he was part of a New Age cult.

A brief epilogue follows Scarff's essay in which he states that he resigned from the national CAN, and its local affiliate the Positive Action Center. He asserts that CAN had attacked him and attempted to discredit him by, "voicing concerns over my credibility and character and labeling me a "cult spy.'"

While there is enough weird stuff in Scarff's account to raise anyone's suspicions, ours were allayed by the fact that he came recommended by CAN. His initial letter to us arrived with a business card marked "C.A.N./OREGON," and which listed his credentials as "Member, National Cult Awareness Network & Former Cult Member Support Network (FOCUS)." A biographical statement, which accompanied information he prepared for the media, said that CAN published his story of life in the Temple in 1987, and that Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), Leo Ryan's successor in Congress, entered it into the Congressional Record that November. His resume indicated that he had a B.S. in Law Enforcement/Pre-Law, and an M.A. in Public Administration and Finance.

In the middle of book production in 1988, however, CAN repudiated Scarff. Cynthia Kisser wrote to tell us that she was withdrawing her endorsement and enthusiasm for our project. She asserted that Herbert Richardson, director of the Edwin Mellen Press, the book's publisher, was supported by the Unification Church. Pat Ryan dropped out the same month, and Herb Rosedale said that time constraints precluded him from writing. Scarff's anticult friends the Greeks denounced him, and in October 1988 told us personally that he was a fraud.

It was not entirely clear if the problem for CAN lay with Scarff, with Edwin Mellen Press, or with the Unification Church. Scarff wrote that he had no problem with the press as long as his criticism of Peoples Temple was not edited "in such a manner by the publisher to "downplay' my thoughts on "destructive cults' (which I consider the Unification Church to be)" (18 March 1988). We assured him that his criticisms would not be edited, and they were not. The essay appeared, and we were criticized by Temple survivors and others.

Eventually we wondered if we had been set up by CAN. I saw Pat Ryan in November 1992 at the Jonestown Memorial Service, and wrote her early in 1993 to ask her what she or Cynthia Kisser knew about Garry Scarff, and to raise the question of our being set up by CAN. She replied, in part:

The short answer to your question about whether we still find him credible is NO! I'm very sorry that you have some friends who think that "CAN" would knowingly promote someone who was fraudulent-particularly given my involvement in the organization. The sad truth is that Garry presented himself to one of our affiliates several years ago as someone who had been a member of the Peoples Temple, and whose son and father were killed there. He told elaborate stories about his experiences, and claimed he was going under an assumed name for safety reasons. Naively, he had many people fooled, including me (he really played me for a fool). After a while he began to embellish his stories, and his behavior was quite erratic at times. When we began to press him for proof of his experiences, he became angry and disappeared, only to surface later with outrageous stories about how we had coerced him into making up his stories in order to raise more money for CAN.

Just recently, Garry said in a sworn statement that Scientology had put him up to all of this, from the beginning. Whether or not that is true is difficult to determine, based on his past history. However, what is clear is that he took advantage of CAN and many good, kind individuals who tried to personally counsel, help and befriend him. Unfortunately, at the time you asked us for someone to write an article for your book, we still believed his story.

I'm truly sorry about your having to "eat crow," but I'm afraid we were both fooled by a very unstable, unethical individual.

In an affidavit dated 3 May 1992, filed in the civil suit Church of Scientology International v. Gerald Armstrong, et al., Scarff says that he was a member of Scientology from 1982-1992, and for two years (1990-1992) he worked as an "operative" to defame Ford Greene, a lawyer for CAN. In that document, Scarff states that

in 1987 I was directed by SCIENTOLOGY to represent myself as a survivor of the People's Temple immolation in Jonestown, Guyana and befriend FORD GREENE in order to perpetrate a Scientology operation on him. During Christmas 1987 FORD invited me to spend the holiday with him. When I was in his office alone during that period of time, I availed myself of his confidential legal records, legal files of his clients, a rolodex of his contacts and photographed his office.

This, undoubtedly, is the sworn statement Ryan refers to, which we uncovered researching this article. As Ryan notes, whether or not it is true is difficult to determine.

If the story of Garry Scarff ended there, it would be interesting enough. But it continues. A 1995 "Special Report" from Freedom, Scientology's investigative news magazine, features an exposé of CAN. An article titled "Jonestown: The Big Lie" attempts to paint Pat Ryan as an exploitative anticultist, linking her to Ted Patrick, Cynthia Kisser, Margaret Singer, Louis West, and others. We think this connection is overdrawn, given Ryan's advisory role in the group. Scarff reappears in this article, however, which claims that

Garry Lynn Scarff stated under oath that he had been used for years by the Cult Awareness Network to lie about Jonestown and the People's Temple. Although he had never been a member of the People's Temple, he wove an elaborate tapestry of falsehoods about his alleged involvement for audiences at CAN conventions-and for the news media.

In his words, "Eventually, my embellished story grew to the extent that I had fathered a son in San Francisco by my girlfriend who was a member of the People's Temple and that my girlfriend had taken my son to the People's Temple in Guyana; that Jim Jones had forced me to orally copulate his penis in front of the People's Temple congregation in San Francisco; that I had appeared in a pornographic movie; that Jim Jones and I attended Fidel Castro's birthday party in Cuba; that my "son,' my son's mother and my father were subsequently murdered during the Jonestown massacred; and many other blatant lies."

According to Scarff, CAN members and deprogrammers, including Adrian and Anne Greek, Bob Brandyberry and Kent Burtner, "praised me for my performance, even though they knew that my stories were totally false and had actually been concocted with their advice and encouragement... The Greeks, Brandyberry, Burtner and I had a good laugh about how the story caused so many persons in the audience to cry."

It seems impossible to know what is true in these claims and counter-claims, although it appears that Scarff worked for Scientology as well as for CAN.

The Unification Church may also have played a role in this strange tale. Scarff was concerned about possible connections between Edwin Mellen Press and the Unification Church. "I am leery of the situation," he wrote us, "because of the Unification Church's knowledge of my participation in CAN, my past in the field of deprogramming which included many Unification Church members, and my current cult education efforts" (18 March 1988). In another letter (5 July 1988) Scarff enclosed copies from the pages of a book by John Biermans, the Unification Church lawyer, who wrote that he had received a personal apology "from former deprogrammer and [Citizens Freedom Foundation] member, Garry L. Scarff, for dozens of instances of deprogramming and other "dirty tricks' performed by Scarff himself and other CFF members" (Biermans 118). Scarff's "confession letter," dated 6 December 1985, included a photo of himself speaking at the fifth annual conference of CFF in October 1983.

According to Scarff, the CAN Board of Directors decided in the summer of 1988 that it would not allow The Need for a Second Look at Jonestown to be sold or distributed at its fall conference on the tenth anniversary of Jonestown. He wrote that he would attend CAN's Jonestown Commemorative Dinner with San Francisco Examiner reporter Tim Reiterman-"who won't appear unless I mutually agree to do so"-and then would officially resign from CAN (22 July 1988). His involvement with the book put him at the center of controversy with CAN, because there were many "who now question my credibility because of my "pro-Mellen, pro-Moonie' stance" (3 August 1988).

Part of CAN's problem with Scarff, and with us, may have been the inclusion of "Reflections on the Human Freedom Center," an essay by Lowell Streiker who noted the similarities between the way Al and Jeannie Mills ran the HFC, and the way Jim Jones ran Peoples Temple. Scarff reported that Anne Greek called Streiker-an ordained minister, psychologist, and scholar-a "cult spy" for the Unification Church and Scientology, who was on Jones' payroll (22 October 1988). In the same letter, he expressed shock that Eric Brazil, a reporter for the Examiner, asked him if he were working for the Moonies. Was Unification Church a part of Scarff's credibility problem? Who knows for sure?

What does seem sure is that he was never a member of Peoples Temple, and thus as scholars and responsible individuals, we do have to "eat crow" and admit that we did not sufficiently investigate Scarff's background. Undoubtedly the real question is why we published Scarff's essay in the first place, knowing what we did at the time.

One reason is that we generally take people at face value: that is to say, we believe that people are sincere and acting out of integrity, and so we respond sincerely. This is a policy which generally serves us well in answering inquiries about Peoples Temple and Jonestown. A second reason is that Scarff's essay provided a different perspective from others in the collection. Its historicity was irrelevant: it was the anticult view and that was sufficient. Moreover, there were sufficient bits and pieces of it that rang true-and have since been verified from other sources (such as a journal kept by Temple member Edith Roller, and personal interviews with Temple members)-that suggest that even if it is a composite picture of life in the Temple, it is nevertheless a factual picture, as far as it goes. The same is true for all discussions of Peoples Temple. Two individuals on the same boat trip on the Kaituma River describe the journey in starkly different terms. The infamous beating of Linda Mertle, as described in New West Magazine in 1977, came as a result of her own request for seventy-five whacks in punishment for her manipulative behavior (Hall, 123-124). In other words, there was truth to what Scarff said, even though it was partial and incomplete.

When The Need for a Second Look finally came out, Scarff sent us a check for some copies of the book we had sent him (29 July 1989). In a P.S. he noted that "the "AKA Lynn Garrett' on the check is my theatrical name on file with the Screen Actors Guild."

The next year he sent us an article from Premiere (February 1990), with Tom Cruise on the cover. The article described a labor action over the $5 per hour wage, without overtime, security guards were paid on the set of Dennis Quaid's film Come See the Paradise. "After noticing that omission in the paychecks, security coordinator Garry Scarff asked a production manager for an explanation. "He said if we made an issue of it,' says Scarff, "he would just remove us.'" The article states that Scarff filed complaints with state and federal labor departments, but that a colleague took more direct action by circulating Quaid's contract to local TV stations. "Shortly after the details of this contract appeared in the Portland media, the guards received their overtime pay."

A Google search on "Lynn Garrett" and "Scarff" reveals more details, as does a search on "Jonestown" and "Scarff." The hundreds of sites listed lead into a web of charges and counter-charges, each more bizarre than the next.

One of the last letters we ever received from Garry Scarff reported that he had an application in to Gonzaga University (9 April 1990). This was in response to our announcement of a move to Milwaukee and my entrance into Marquette University. Scarff said he was considering either becoming a diocesan priest or joining the Jesuits. "Do send me details on the move to Marquette. I need a good laugh."

Works Cited

John T. Biermans. The Odyssey of New Religions Today: A Case Study of the Unification Church. Lewiston, N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1988.

John R. Hall. Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History, 2d ed. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 2004.

"Jonestown: The Big Lie." Freedom 27, no. 2 (January 1995): 24-27.

Rebecca Moore. The Jonestown Letters: Correspondence of the Moore Family 1970-1985. Lewiston, N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1986.

Rebecca Moore and Fielding M. McGehee III, eds. The Need for a Second Look at Jonestown. Lewiston, N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1989

October 15, 1992, Chicago Reader, CAN of Worms - Why are Scientologists trying to wriggle their way into the Cult Awareness Network?, by Harold Henderson,

Early in the afternoon of July 1, two members of the Church of Scientology walked into an office building in downtown Barrington and knocked on a locked door. The door, distinguished by no nameplate or number, was the national headquarters of the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), a nonprofit group "dedicated to promoting public awareness of the harmful effects of mind control." Most of CAN's efforts involve distributing information on specific groups that it believes could be "destructive cults."

When a CAN staffer opened the door, the visitors introduced themselves as Larry Miller and Joe Lewis, Scientologists and CAN members. They wanted to volunteer--help out with mailings, telephone inquiries, and other office work. They also offered to "share our experiences and learn from other CAN members' experiences in the realm of religious rights, responsibilities, and freedoms." (The language sounds stilted because it echoes Article II, Section d, of CAN's articles of incorporation--"to educate the general public as to religious rights, freedoms and responsibilities.")

But CAN members don't "share experiences" with people it considers cultists--and it considers Scientology a cult. Miller and Lewis were asked to leave.

They came back the next day, July 2, armed with a cheesecake. Again they offered their services and again they were turned away. They came back twice more, on Monday and Tuesday after the holiday weekend. No luck.

The next day two other Scientologists, Andrew Bagley of Kansas City and Gregory Bashaw of Barrington Hills, introduced themselves to CAN executive director Cynthia Kisser in the building's parking lot. She told them to call for an appointment. Bashaw says that when he did so the following week, she wouldn't give him an appointment because, she said, he had caused a "disturbance" in the past. Bashaw says the only disturbance he had caused was knocking on CAN's door.

Lewis, Miller, and Bashaw have now charged Kisser and CAN with religious discrimination in proceedings before the Illinois Department of Human Rights and in Cook County Circuit Court. (The above account is based on sworn affidavits filed by Lewis, Miller, and Bashaw in the case. The parties are not available for interviews on the matter while litigation is pending.) Their case is one of more than a dozen filed by Scientologists in a bitter nationwide battle between CAN and Scientology.

If you encountered these two groups separately, each would seem pretty normal. CAN is an organization with a cause and never quite enough resources to do everything it wants to; it has five paid staffers and a $250,000 to $300,000 annual budget with which it fields some 18,000 inquiries a year. Scientology's local chapter works out of a storefront at 3011 N. Lincoln (national headquarters is in Los Angeles) full of self-improvement literature. Much of it sounds platitudinous, but not sinister: "A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology."

But if you encounter the two together, you may not know what to think. Each claims the other is a clever, deceptive counterfeit. Kisser has been quoted in Time magazine describing Scientology as "quite likely the most ruthless, the most classically terroristic, the most litigious and the most lucrative cult the country has ever seen." With equal restraint, Scientology, in its house organ Freedom, has described CAN as a "criminal clique . . . a godless mix of fringe professionals and kidnappers for profit." Several of the Scientologists' religious-discrimination suits echo the claim in the one filed by Ray Gonzalez that "CAN's actual activities are to degrade, disestablish and destroy religious organizations with which CAN disagrees."

Each sees the other as a sinister totalitarian island in the democratic sea of American society. Each has focused on the other as nemesis. And each faces the danger implicit in any long-term confrontation: that it will come to resemble its adversary.

The Citizens' Freedom Foundation--as CAN was originally called--was founded in the fall of 1974 by 25 people meeting in Denver. The New York Times quoted cofounder Henrietta Crampton's warning: "5,000 cults registered as non-profit organizations boasting a membership of over two million people . . . [control] children and young adults who are, as a result of sensory deprivation, etc., slowly but surely losing their minds and consequently their sense of right and wrong. They are not, as it has been proven again and again, able to come out of it on their own." (CAN's current estimate of the danger is down to "more than 2,500" cults. It keeps files on about 1,000 "controversial" groups and has information packets ready to send out on 35.) The Times, citing Crampton, added that famous deprogrammer Ted Patrick had been "a prime force in organizing the group."

In case you missed the 1970s, a deprogrammer is someone who, for a price, will undertake to free cult members from "mind control." Often the members are young people who have abruptly left home and family, perhaps undergoing a personality change; usually their parents are the ones who hire the deprogrammer. In his 1976 book Let Our Children Go! Patrick wrote that deprogramming involves "kidnapping at the very least, quite often assault and battery, almost invariably conspiracy to commit a crime, and illegal restraint."

The Patrick connection has been troublesome to CFF/CAN almost from the beginning--partly because kidnapping doesn't look good on the resume of a nonprofit educational organization, and partly because deprogramming as he describes it sounds a lot like cultism. So when the Church of Scientology identified Patrick as CAN's founder in USA Today in June 1991, CAN president Patricia Ryan wrote an angry letter in rebuttal:
"Ted Patrick is not a founder. . . . The incorporation papers of CFF nowhere reflect Patrick's name. Thus, any attempt to link Patrick with the leadership of CAN or CFF is entirely without basis."
Clearly the last three words are an overstatement. Most people would consider the Times article a basis. Cynthia Kisser instead questions the terminology. "Mrs. Crampton said he was a 'prime force.' Well, what is a 'prime force'? You might say that Mother Teresa is a prime force in your life but it wouldn't mean she had actually done anything to further your work.

"Patrick was a prime force for those people because he showed them that they could do something--not necessarily in his way, but something."

Nobody doubts that the Church of Scientology was founded by science fiction writer Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, after his 1950 book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health became an instant best-seller. By a process called "auditing" or "spiritual counseling," Dianetics was said to clear people's minds of "engrams"--detailed memories of traumatic experiences--and thus enable them to realize their full mental powers. (An early sympathizer described auditing as a "method of psychotherapy," a connection Scientologists now vigorously disavow.) Once rid of all your engrams, you became a "clear" (Hubbard loved neologisms) and could heal yourself of many physical and mental ailments, including arthritis, allergies, asthma, "eye trouble," migraines, colds, and ulcers. According to Hubbard, "A clear is to the contemporary norm as the contemporary norm is to a contemporary institutional case."

Skeptical outsiders, most notably Hubbard's British biographer Russell Miller (Bare-Faced Messiah), point out that Hubbard's prominent early supporters, like physician Joseph Winter and science fiction editor John Campbell Jr., soon fell away and that Hubbard's first public presentation of a "clear" in 1950 was a fiasco. According to the Los Angeles Times, Hubbard applied for increased veteran's disability payments at the same time he was promoting Dianetics--which should have enabled him to cure himself. Scientologists contend that these and other allegations are based on inadequate or biased research; but rather than make detailed replies, the church prefers to focus on what one spokesperson calls "this incredible body of materials he gave us to help people change their environment and build a decent society."

Over time, either through dogged research (say Scientologists) or creative fantasizing (say critics), Hubbard added the religion of Scientology to the science of Dianetics. Scientology views human beings as basically good spirits ("thetans") that over aeons are reincarnated in different bodies yet have forgotten their spiritual and extraterrestrial origins.

The church is organized into hierarchical levels of achievement attained by taking courses that are not cheap.

The July issue of Cognition, the magazine of the Church of Scientology of Illinois, contains an insert giving "donation rates" for courses. At the low end is the Hubbard Professional Upper Indoc TR Course offered for $400: "Can you create a positive postulate with no counter-thought expected, anticipated or anything else? That's total control." At the high end are the $6,400 Scientology Academy Levels 0-IV: "Learn some of the most fundamental discoveries regarding life and the human mind that have ever been discovered in the history of this universe." These figures reflect discounts available to members; the full rate is higher. Membership is $300 a year, or $2,000 for a lifetime. According to the church, course lengths vary according to students' ability and application.

Scientology has suffered several blows in recent years. Nine of its officials, including Hubbard's third wife, were convicted in 1979 of conspiracy and burglary, for stealing documents from government agencies in an effort to purge government files of harmful information about Hubbard and the church. (Scientologists say they were renegades who did not and do not represent the faith.) According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a 1984 U.S. Tax Court decision denying tax-exempt status to the Church of Scientology of California for 1970-'72 (then the group's mother church). The court also said that the church had conspired to defraud the government by impeding the IRS. (Other courts in the U.S. and abroad, however, have affirmed Scientology's status as a religion.) Hubbard himself died in January 1986.

But Scientology has not collapsed. It remains as combative as ever. When Time magazine published an unrelentingly negative cover story in May 1991, the church replied with a mammoth publicity campaign in which it described itself as "the most courageous social reform group in the world today." It followed up by suing Time Warner for $416 million.

The Church of Scientology claims eight million members worldwide, five million in the United States. (By comparison, the three major branches of Judaism together claim only 4.3 million U.S. adherents.) It continues to attract devotees. Those who find Scientology beliefs odd or implausible will have difficulty showing that the spiritual offerings of Santeria, Christian Science, or Presbyterianism are any less so when viewed from the outside.
"I have often reflected how grievously I had been deceived. . . . All the holiness of their lives, I saw now, was merely pretended. The appearance of sanctity and heavenly mindedness, which they had shown among us novices, I found was only a disguise to conceal such practices as would not be tolerated in any decent society in the world."
Defectors' autobiographies--how I joined, how I lived, how I got out--are a literary staple of the anticult movement, and the above paragraph could have come from one. It didn't. It's part of a 19th-century tract against Roman Catholicism. In the middle 1800s, as waves of Catholic immigrants seemed about to overwhelm Protestant America, popular writers voiced their fears
  • that this religion was alien and undemocratic and might seek to overthrow the government,
  • that it gained members by coercion and deception, and retained them through control gained by the confessional,
  • that its allegedly abstinent clergy engaged in illicit sex and practiced infanticide on the unfortunate results of same, and
  • that it used elaborate ceremonies to con members out of their money, which went to line the pockets of greedy and ambitious leaders.
Anyone who skims an anticult potboiler from the late 70s or early 80s will recognize these accusations. They are, almost verbatim, the charges now leveled by various detractors at the Moonies, the Scientologists, the Rajneeshis, et many cetera.

Just because the charges are common doesn't mean they are always false. Believers living in isolated, authoritarian situations sometimes do wind up spending money in ways they later regret, or committing acts like beating children for "discipline" to the point of injury or death. No one will forget the mass murder and suicide at Jonestown in 1978. The question is, should we deal with these cases by prosecuting them after the fact as violations of law--or by instituting preventive measures ahead of time? Prevention sounds like a good idea, except that it can go overboard. Historically Americans have reacted to unfamiliar religions in certain standard ways. There would be an anticult movement in this country even if every new religion were as pure as the driven snow.

"If you were in a cult that worshiped Elvis," explains Cynthia Kisser, "and you traveled to Graceland twice a year and sang songs to his portrait or whatever, and didn't cause any harm to society at large, and didn't recruit deceptively, then your cult would not be a destructive cult."

Destructive cults, according to CAN, have two key features: they hide their true agendas (money making, empire building) from newcomers, and they "use mind-control techniques on recruits without their informed consent." The broader anticult movement does include fundamentalist Christians who object to the doctrines espoused by various cults, but CAN itself focuses on how a cult--and it needn't be religious--relates to its members.

Cults should not have to deceive, says Steven Hassan, a former cult member and author whose book is available through CAN. "No legitimate organization needs to lie to people in order to help them." (But in describing his own work, Hassan acknowledges that at times he too uses pretexts to get a cult member to talk with him.)

Destructive cults practice mind control, according to CAN, with some combination of group pressure, isolation, thought-stopping activities (repetitious chanting or meditation), fear, guilt, sleep deprivation, inadequate nutrition, and sensory overload.

But when you think about it, how is cult recruiting different from military recruiting? And is mind control any different from basic training? For that matter, isn't it a lot like commitment to a mainstream religious order?

"From a distance, they may seem similar," says Kisser, who has heard these questions before. "But the more you delve into the facts, the greater the difference really is. With boot camp you know how long it's going to last. You are free to talk to anyone who's been through it, and they'll tell you about it in gory detail. In cults, they won't tell you what's coming up or how long it will last. In boot camp, when you get a weekend pass, your sergeant won't be standing beside you the whole time. Off duty, you have a great deal of personal choice. You can read the Bible or Playboy regardless of your sergeant's views.

"A religious order is more controlling, but you are questioned and informed at every stage. You don't find out after you've taken your vows that there is something here you didn't know about before."

So are there cults that try to trick people that way? "Nowhere do we say which group is a destructive cult," asserts Kisser. She says she sees CAN as a consumer advocate: "We say, 'Here is the information we have on them,' and let you make your own decision. You might conclude that Scientology doesn't fit the criteria for a destructive cult, and that's fine. It's like buying a house: there should be full disclosure, but then it's up to you."

But CAN does name names. It makes available lists of groups about which it has received complaints--without actually calling them destructive cults--among them Alamo Christian Fellowship, Ananda Marga, Church Universal and Triumphant, the Hunger Project, the Hare Krishnas, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lyndon LaRouche organizations, MOVE, Scientology, Synanon, Transcendental Meditation, and the Way International. Kisser herself explicitly condemned Scientology in Richard Behar's 1991 Time story. (She says she explained CAN's reluctance to identify destructive cults by name, but he pressed for her opinion on the Scientologists.)

To her credit, Kisser adds that there are groups she is not sure about, Amway being one. And she is enough of an independent thinker to disagree with one phrase in a piece of CAN literature that seems to imply that mind control should be made illegal. "I've thought about it a lot. I don't see how you could have any legal safeguard that couldn't be abused. The countries that have been hardest on cults are also those with the least religious rights. China has no cults. Zero. The Soviet Union didn't. We think education is the answer."

The connection between cults and religions prompts another familiar question. Isn't a cult really just a religion that somebody doesn't like? Kisser has little use for this notion. "It shows a weak grasp, intellectually and ethically, of what's going on in this country," she says, immediately citing the most gut-wrenching case:

"There was a group called Ecclesia in Oregon in 1988, where a little girl was beaten more than 100 times and killed. All the children in the group were beaten regularly and given inadequate schooling, poor nutrition, and poor medical care. That was 'one man's religion, someone else's cult.' People who take that approach are trying to sweep abuse under the rug. This is one of the least understood human-rights issues in the country."

These days Kisser has less time than ever to make the issue understood. In the past year the Cult Awareness Network has become the target of more than a dozen lawsuits and administrative complaints coming from Scientologists in Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and the District of Columbia. Most of the lawsuits follow the pattern of Bashaw, Miller, and Lewis. They allege that CAN (and, usually, its local affiliate), by not allowing Scientologists to participate, engages in unconstitutional religious discrimination. Scientologists have no trouble joining CAN at the national level--for $30 anyone can receive the group's newsletter and conference information, and around 2,000 people do so every year. But voting rights on CAN policy are vested in its 21 local affiliates. Kisser doubts that the suits have merit, pointing to Judge Ilana Rovner's recent holding in Chicago federal district court that another voluntary organization, the Boy Scouts of America, is not a "place of public accommodation" under federal law.

Meritorious or not, says Kisser, the suits "take up my time every day and some weekends, and sometimes the better part of my day." They also caused CAN to ask its affiliates not to take in any new members during 1992. And they cost money. The group has already spent $30,000 on legal defense. Kisser wrote in an appeal in CAN's July newsletter: "There will never be a more important time to give to CAN than right now. . . . By sending your donation today, you will send a message that CAN will not be destroyed."

"They're saying bad things about my church," says Mary Anne Ahmad. "I want them to stop." Ahmad has been a Scientologist since 1971 and is the Chicago-based public information officer for the Church of Scientology of Illinois. She says the lawsuits do not represent a coordinated attack on CAN--just individuals coincidentally asserting their constitutional rights at the same time. "But what difference does it make? People are suing because they can't get an answer [from CAN] otherwise."

In its publications and in affidavits it circulates, the Church of Scientology has taken three main approaches in attempting to discredit CAN: the low road (sex), the middle road (deprogramming scandals), and the high road (Does "mind control" exist?). The church's portrait of CAN is so negative that it's hard to understand why believing Scientologists would care to join, let alone stuff envelopes on its behalf.

The low road: sex. Scientology publications rarely refer to CAN without mentioning the October 25, 1990, Baltimore Sun story. That story linked Michael Rokos, who was then president of CAN, to a 1982 police report showing that a "Michael Rokas" had propositioned an undercover vice-squad officer and had been arrested, tried, and given probation before judgment. The story claimed that "Rokas" bore a physical resemblance to Rokos, and that Rokos had denied the charge but resigned his CAN presidency and his chaplainship with the Maryland State Police in order to "keep CAN separate from any lawsuit he might file." (CAN officials point out that Rokos was not connected to their group in 1982.)

Another affidavit distributed and publicized in a press release by Scientology representatives comes from a Catherine Lane, who claims to have recognized Cynthia Kisser in a photograph as someone who worked with her as a dancer in a topless bar in Tucson in the middle 1970s. Despite Kisser's vigorous denials and letters requesting retraction, this accusation (often coupled with the "Rokas" mug shot) made its way through the cult press during the summer of 1991 in stories carried by the Religious Freedom Alert (Unification Church), the Chicago Crusader (Scientology), Freedom (Scientology), and the New Federalist (LaRouche).

In July Kisser counterattacked. She sued these publications, their proprietors, and others--including Ahmad and the Church of Scientology in Illinois--for conspiring to publish defamatory statements about her with malice or reckless disregard for the truth. In Cook County Circuit Court she is seeking at least $15,000 in damages from each of 7 defendants resident in Illinois; in federal district court she is seeking unspecified damages from each of 21 defendants not resident in Illinois, as well as an injunction against their publishing the material again.

"This is nasty stuff," says Kisser's attorney in the matter, Edna Selan Epstein--"all the more so because on some level, in the greater scheme of things, it's trivial." I suggested to Ahmad that the topless-dancer allegation seemed to have little bearing on the real problems between CAN and Scientology. "You might be right," she said, "but in the context [of the other allegations] it makes you wonder what these people are really up to. How can people like this set themselves up as judge and jury over religious groups?"

I asked Ahmad if she had called Kisser for comment before publishing the topless-dancer accusation. "I've tried to call her several times. They won't talk to anybody who is a present-time member of the groups they attack." But did she call Kisser about this allegation? "I don't believe I did. But I don't recall." Shortly before Kisser filed her suit, Ahmad did send Kisser a letter offering to consider a retraction--if Kisser would provide a sworn affidavit contradicting Lane's.

The middle road: deprogramming scandals. "You have to understand how CAN works," says Ahmad. "A mom gets worried because her child is involved in something she doesn't understand very well. She learns about CAN and sends in $10 for a packet containing nothing but defamatory material about the group, which naturally instills fear in her." (CAN offers the Time article, which does not say one good thing about the church; a Los Angeles Times series, which though unfavorable to Scientology is somewhat balanced; and a packet of numerous, usually unfavorable newspaper clippings.)

"That parent is going to be upset--what has her son gotten himself into? Naturally her son is unwilling to listen to all this negative material. So she calls CAN again, and they say, 'Call so-and-so, who knows a lot more about this,' and that person is a professional deprogrammer. The deprogrammer says, just give me $20,000 or whatever, I don't care how you get it"--and then, according to Scientology accounts, he or she kicks back part of it to CAN. This alleged practice is Scientology's excuse for calling CAN a "criminal clique."

Ahmad's description of CAN's practices relies on CAN's alleged connection with Patrick and on critical affidavits sworn by several people, among them former CAN activist Gary Scarff and west-coast counselor and minister Lowell Streiker, author of a book on cults called Mind-Bending.

CAN emphatically denies ever accepting kickbacks or referring anyone to a forcible deprogrammer. "We're constantly being told that we make money off of deprogramming," says CAN first vice president William Rehling, a Chicago attorney formerly with the Cook County state's attorney's office. "If we were, we'd be rich!" (CAN's statement of activity for the year ending December 31, 1991, shows revenues--mostly from contributions and publication sales--of $257,224 and expenses of $330,947, which drew the group's year-end fund balance down to $40,905. The Church of Scientology declines to make its finances public.)

"Whatever deprogramming goes on--and I'm not sure there's that much of it--it's not done through CAN," adds Rehling. "We don't advocate it, and of course it's illegal. We do not in any way work with deprogrammers or in any way condone it. We make information available to people, and we hold our annual conference where people from various professions can discuss cults."

Kisser is a bit more circumspect: "CAN has no special relationship to deprogrammers, any more than it has with anyone else interested in the cult issue. This is an issue only raised by destructive cults. You don't see the town of Barrington in a hue and cry about a criminal ring operating out of here." (Though its office is located in Barrington, CAN's mailing address and phone number are on the north side of Chicago--a circumstance Scientologists find sinister, but which Kisser explains by citing the need to prevent walk-ins, limit harassment, and maintain an easily remembered contact point for long-distance callers.)

What if someone called her up and asked for her help in finding a deprogrammer? "If you wanted someone, say, to talk to your sister over the phone, I might send you to someone. I've offered information to people, and pointed out possible areas of deception.

"I just had a call from a father who is worried about his son, who has been in a cult for about a year and is about to marry and move away. Basically, I made sure that his objections [to the cult] were based on research. They were. And I made sure that he had talked with others who had been involved, ex-members of the group. He had.

"The only other thing I could offer was some suggestions on how to make communication more effective--ways to avoid saying things to his son that might later be magnified into a break. Deprogramming never came up. He was very grateful and asked if he could call again, which of course he can, at no charge.

"What we're doing is something like an Alzheimer's support group. The group can't make it go away, but we can offer you some coping mechanisms. Deprogramming is a dead-end way to solve the problem of cults anyhow. The same amount of money could be used to reach thousands more people before they get involved."

But what about CAN's rank and file? Many are former cult members and relatives--wouldn't they be more likely to approve of deprogramming, even forcible deprogramming? "You have to differentiate," says Kisser, and then she surprises me. "I don't really know the view of the membership on this issue.

"If the corporation is run properly, and its literature and publicity are all in order, then the views of individual members are irrelevant." She compares CAN to a group dedicated to lobbying to get the British out of Northern Ireland. Some of its members' individual enthusiasm for the cause might carry them beyond the law, but that's not the organization's fault. "We don't interfere in our members' private lives."

It is easier to make the case that deprogrammers hang out in CAN's vicinity than to make the stronger case that Scientology alleges. In a 1983 Reader story about deprogramming Robert McClory reported that chapters of CFF (now CAN) acted in part as a referral agency for deprogrammers, and that the distraught parents of one particular cult member had found a deprogrammer "with the advice of CFF members." (The story attracted numerous letters pro and con, none of which questioned these statements.) In addition, in Combatting Cult Mind Control (1988), a book recommended by CAN as "excellent" and offering "sound, practical advice," author Steven Hassan declares himself in favor of voluntary, nonviolent "exit counseling" rather than deprogramming--but adds that "forcible intervention can be kept as a last resort if all other attempts fail."

More problematic for CAN was the September 29 arrest of New York private detective Galen Kelly and three others in what the FBI says was a plot to kidnap and deprogram Du Pont heir and LaRouche backer Lewis Du Pont Smith. "We're aware of [Kelly] and had communications with him," says Kisser, "but we had no part in this alleged incident. He was never an official or an employee of ours." She did acknowledge, however, that CAN had hired Kelly to maintain security at its 1990 and 1991 conventions, where he acted as a liaison with local police and helped in "handling problem cult attendees." "We used his services as an expert in cult issues."

The high road: questioning mind control. The intellectual heart of CAN is the belief that cult members, once attracted by false or misleading promises, are retained by mind control. In unsophisticated accounts this can sound like "brainwashing," an irresistible power that turns clean-cut American kids into zombies. For parents who can't understand why their child would embrace a cult's beliefs and practices, "mind control" provides an explanation. It also conveniently blames the cult, and not the joiners or their parents, for the problem.

The idea of mind control has an academic pedigree going back at least as far as Yale psychologist Robert J. Lifton's 1961 book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. Lifton himself, however, acknowledges in a 1987 article that no mind-control scheme is airtight. Using the less ominous term "thought reform," he describes it as "milieu control . . . often a sequence of events, such as seminars, lectures, and group encounters, which become increasingly intense and increasingly isolated, making it extremely difficult--both physically and psychologically--for one to leave. . . . When successful, and especially when supported by a particular social environment, thought reform can render an individual highly manipulable and susceptible to the demands of those controlling the environment."

Social scientists do not all agree that mind control is a valid or useful concept. And their disagreement has moved out of the academy and into the courtroom. In 1990 northern California federal district court judge D. Lowell Jensen refused to admit the expert testimony of two of CAN's recommended "national experts" on cultism and mind control, psychologist Margaret Singer and sociologist Richard Ofshe. Scientologists are fond of quoting from his ruling:
"Although the record before the Court is replete with declarations, affidavits and letters from reputable psychologists and sociologists who concur with the thought reform theories propounded by Dr. Singer and Dr. Ofshe, the government has submitted an equal number of declarations, affidavits and letters from reputable psychologists and sociologists who disagree with their theories." Judge Jensen added that neither the American Psychological Association (APA) nor the American Sociological Association (ASA) has endorsed the view that the mind can be controlled without physical restraint.
Jensen's decision was placed in a new light August 3, when Singer and Ofshe themselves filed suit against the APA, the ASA, and 13 of their officers and members. Their complaint, which runs to 70 double-spaced typewritten pages, alleges that the defendants conspired, committed frauds, obstructed justice, deceived federal judges, and engaged in racketeering, all in an effort to defame them and destroy their reputations. They did so, according to the lawsuit, in order to impair Singer and Ofshe's ability to function as expert witnesses. The plaintiffs maintain that the conspiracy was "an effort to protect from civil liability the Unification Church, as well as recklessly run so called new religions, and commercial Large Group Awareness Trainings." The suit is based on RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law more often invoked against organized crime than organized social science. Singer and Ofshe's New York attorney, Michael Flomenhaft, says theirs is the first suit of its kind that he knows of.

If such a thing as mind control exists--beyond influence and persuasion--then it's hard to understand why it doesn't work better. In ex-Scientologist Jon Atack's book-length expose of the church available through CAN (A Piece of Blue Sky), he tells how he brought many strangers and most of his friends to the Scientology mission in Birmingham, England. "Several started courses, though most drifted away without finishing." Why did this supposed mind-controlling cult fail to hang onto these recruits?

Toronto psychiatrist Saul Levine interviewed over 800 cult members--both during and after their membership in more than two dozen groups--over 15 years. He found that 90 percent of the young people who joined cults left within two years, and that the recruitment process was remarkably inefficient:

"Approaches are made only to a youth who appears interested. . . . For every 1000 young people so approached, perhaps 250 are at a critical juncture in their lives. And of these 250, only 75 are willing to listen. Of those who stay to listen, a mere eight might feel so attracted to these new friends that they consent to the first visit." In Levine's book Radical Departures (not available through CAN) he writes that "the only kind of brainwashing I have come upon during all my years of studying radical departures [is] that practiced by deprogrammers."

Levine is no fan of cults, but he has found that they often serve young people as "desperate detours to growing up," in the words of his subtitle, and are not often profoundly or permanently damaging experiences. ("As a cult expert, that's not my experience," replies Kisser, but she acknowledges that those cult alumni who contact CAN are not a random sample.) Levine is neither a cult apologist nor a CAN supporter. No organized group has an interest in publicizing his work.

In the past, threatening new religions have often vanished or mellowed, as have their opponents. In 1890--63 years after Joseph Smith Jr. claimed to have had his first revelation--the Mormons finally gave up polygyny, and the U.S. government gave up trying to suppress their faith. Could some such compromise end the current standoff?

Cynthia Kisser says, "If we knew that the Scientologists were sending out an unbiased packet--if they were also giving out a list of critical sources--then we might not send out material on Scientology at all," in effect removing it from the list of destructive cults. (Mary Anne Ahmad dismisses the idea out of hand. "I can't believe she would say something like that. Her purpose is not to send out information, her purpose is to suppress.")

Ironically, the three local Scientologists' attorney John Moran says that he offered to settle their religious-discrimination case against CAN in a similar way: "At first I said we would give CAN a packet [of pro-Scientology material to balance CAN's information] and we'd pay the extra postage. No, they said, that was too intrusive. So then we said, just include a business card with a [Scientology] phone number saying that this is where you can get a different view." (CAN attorney John Beal denies that any substantive discussion of settlement terms has occurred yet.)

Could this pitched battle be settled so easily? Would an alleged "criminal clique" and a purported "ruthless . . . terroristic . . . cult" bury the hatchet in exchange for the distribution of a telephone number or a list of books?

It hardly makes sense--unless you take the long view. Some of the 19th century's cults have survived to become more or less accepted parts of the 20th-century religious landscape. This is not a logical process. It is the slow, painful, and sometimes contradictory evolution of a compromise between the cult and the larger society, like the compromise that allowed Mormonism to survive. What Kisser and Moran say does not fit with today's inflamed rhetoric; it may foreshadow tomorrow's mutual accommodation.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Kurt Mitchell, photo/Steven D. Arazmus.

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