Headed off at the Pass

"My name is Arnie Lerma and I am a victim of Scientology"

The former member says that only one out of ten are enslaved by the cult, and he knows why many former members do not raise the alarm about the sect by Cornel Faltin The Hamburg Parliamentary Representative Freimut Duve really had nothing planned except to give a press conference at the renowned "National Press Club" in the center of Washington, the U.S. capitol. The SPD politician wanted to explain to American journalists why the German Federal Republic did not see the U.S.

association of Scientology as a religion, but as a dangerous sect and commercial enterprise, and why one battled it in "good old Germany."

Duve let the people in the packed Murrow Room know that Scientology can not be a church in the German sense of the word "because it sells products at exact prices" and "its members cannot leave the association if they would want to."

On this Friday morning, the representatives of the media also received information that the often misunderstood national position here at home is justified by Germany's problematic past.

Deluded Accusations and no Facts The social democrat answered questions about religious discrimination autonomously and made it clear that in his home city of Hamburg alone there were 46 religious congregations, all of which had state recognition. Duve adroitly countered the question by one correspondent as to whether it was painful for Germany to be branded anew as "religiously discriminatory" in the US State Department's Human Rights Report by stating, "Our country does not publish a human rights report, but if we did, the USA would surely be mentioned for its death penalty, which we despise, and for the numerous cases of arson carried out upon black churches."

As if by a secret signal, a woman and a man suddenly grabbed both microphones in the hall. They explained to the puzzled journalists that they were victims of the German government and, due to being members of Scientology, had lost high-paying jobs in Germany. They said they had had to flee with their families to the USA practically under the cover of darkness.

Another Scientology pair followed them. The men, both German citizens, showed thick file folders which allegedly contained the truth about the persecution of Scientologists in Germany. This was followed by deluded accusations and no facts. "Fortunately there are democracies like the USA where one can practice his religion in peace and nobody has problems with Scientology," ended one of the Germans.

The attack was followed by a further surprise. Apparently out of nowhere, a slim, well-groomed man with his hair tied tightly back suddenly stepped up to the microphone and spoke in a trembling, staccato voice:

"My name is Arnie Lerma. I was a member of Scientology for a long time in the USA. After I left, the sect had my residence searched. They sued me in court and I have paid $1.3 million in court costs so far. They want to ruin me. I am a victim of Scientology. You can find out all about it on my internet pages. Thank you." Then the man was gone again.

Presumably Arnie Lerma was no longer listening when the German politician thanked him for his courage and promised to advocate to his American colleagues that the U.S.

victims of Scientology be helped. That such help was urgently needed was later confirmed by the ex-Scientologist at a meeting at his home in Arlington, not far from Washington.

In Arnie Lerma's estimate, there are, presumably, tens of thousands of former members of the Hubbard sect in the United States who are persecuted today similar to the way he is.

The electronics technician first came into contact with the religious cult in 1966 through his mother, who was herself a Scientologist at that time. He ended up working in the Treasury Department, where he collected money from members and transmitted sums of six figures to secret accounts held by Scientology founder Ron Hubbard in Luxemburg.

Lerma told of his break with the sect, "When I found out the so-called facts about Hubbard were all lies, I secretly packed my bags at night in 1977 and disappeared from the New York office, where I had lived for years with 15 others in a hall."

The man was next found out about by Scientology in 1994, when he sought out and found former Scientology friends over the internet. When he heard their stories, Arnie Lerma decided to illuminate the criminal practices of Scientology by using the Information Highway.

It was not long before sheriffs with a search warrant stood at his door in Arlington, a dozen Scientologists in tow. Charge: possession of stolen goods.

The agents searched his house from top to bottom, and took his computer with four gigabytes of information, 400 diskettes and all his e-mail addresses. "I didn't even have telephone directory left so I could call my attorney," recalls Lerma.

Scientology illicitly copied, in a way which is not known, many of the diskettes. Lengthy proceedings followed which cost Scientology $1.7 million and its ex-member $1.3 million, and in which everything was decided in favor of the former member. Fortunately, Lerma had good liability insurance, otherwise he would be bankrupt today.

The most intimate secrets are taken down in writing "That is precisely the goal which the organization wants to achieve," said the electronics technician, and added, "then they make you sign a paper that you will never say anything against Scientology, or else they will ruin you."

Lerma believes that of every ten members recruited, only one is really enslaved by the cult and does not make it out. The 46 year old can plausibly explain why this army of former members does not raise the alarm about Scientology, "Who would like to admit that he was so dumb as to have paid $20, 50 or 300 thousand for Ron Hubbard's nonsense?" Besides that, there are detailed records on all members which contain, in writing, their darkest secrets.

Of course, that makes them easy to blackmail. Lerma said, "Scientology could destroy the careers of stars like John Travolta and Tom Cruise within one week if they let their files be given to the "National Enquirer" (America's largest gossip magazine). It is precisely this capability of blackmail which makes it easy for the sect to control its members.

They ruthlessly exploit this, according to Arnie Lerma's information, and have an incredibly good information network in the USA. An FBI agent recently asserted that the Scientology secret service is much better organized than the federal police or even the CIA. "Every department of the U.S. government has been infiltrated by Scientology members. Scientology is the most subversive organization in the world," is how the former member very clearly wrapped up the extent of the danger.

If the USA were as rigorous as Germany, then the Scientologists could hardly run, unpunished, re-education camps for its members who doubt the peculiar instructions of Ron Hubbard, said Lerma. There are only two alternatives in the camps, he believes, "Either you go crazy or you die."

In 1993 the American IRS tax agency, in a surprise move, agreed to acknowledge Scientology as a religious association, thereby giving it tax-exemption, after it had vehemently opposed this idea for decades. The agreement between the IRS and Scientology was never published and remains under seal.

The "New York Times" just described, several days ago in a multi-page report, the peculiar conditions under which the U.S. revenue agency gave Scientology the stamp of tax-exemption in 1993.

The Scientologists are said to have employed private detectives on the tax officials. Further, they allegedly overwhelmed the agency with 50 lawsuits in accordance with the saying by sect founder Ron Hubbard, "The purpose of a lawsuit is to harass and discourage (opponents). Of course, you should ruin them utterly, if possible." This strategy produced success. As the New York Times revealed, the Washington revenue agency surrendered to Scientology on October 13, 1993.

(c) Berliner Morgenpost 1997

The following were scanned in. They supplement the above.

3 March 1997 TO: ARNIE LERMA FROM: SYLVIA STANARD Dear Arnie, I've been trying to reach you all day but the phone's been busy. Guess you've been on-line.

I am finally getting time to follow up from the Germany press conference. want to get together and talk about Germany and what is happening there.

Despite our differences I th~\ink you should know what is really going on in Germany. There's a lot of undercover political issues and really scary sociological changes happening in Germany. I think you might think differently about the issue if you knew all the data.

Give me a call and let's talk. We could go out to lunch or coffee in Arlington sometime. Call me at 202-667-6404, Sincerely, Sylvia Stanard

Arnie Lerma 6 March, 1997 Dear Arnie, Did you get my earlier fax???

I would like to get in com with you. You were quoted in some German press which urged further discrimination against Scientologists just because of their beliefs.

While you and I strongly disagree about Scientology -- I don't think you are a bigot and would support firing law abiding German citizens from jobs just because they are Scientologists. Maybe I'm wrong.

Let's talk. Call me at 202-667-6404.

Sincerely, Sylvia stanard

Church of Scientology International Office of Special Affairs March 5, 1997 Aroaldo L, rma 6045 N, 26 Road Arlington, Va, 22207 Re: Hamburger Abendblatt Dear Mr, Lerma;

I am writing to you on behalf of the Church of Scientology International, the Mother Church of the Scientology religion, and the Church of Scientotogy in Hamburg, regarding statements publithed in the March 1-2, 1997 edition of the Hamburger Abendblatt attributed to you.

For example, the article quotes you as stating that the suit brought against you by the Religous Technology Center was decided in your favor, The statement is verifiably false as Judge Brinkema found for the plaintiff in issuing a permanent injunction prohibiting any furthor copyrighht violations and in assessing statutory. damages~against you for thre copyright violations, According to the article, you claim that the Church is persecuting you, The fact is, as you well know, that no one from the Church, took any notice of you for 17 years, until you choose to post portions of the Church scriptures .- which you had vowed to keep confidential while a member of the Church, You were subsequently sued for copyright violation and lost. If any persecution has occurred, It has been by you.

March 5, 1997 Pall~ 2 The article also quotes you as stating that the Church blackmails its members through files of their personal experiences. If this were so, and you know it is not, you could have been blackmailed into silence. You clearly have not been, and you've (correctly) not even tried to allege that any attempt was made.

You are also quoted as alleging that each department of the U.S. Government has been infiltrated by members of the Church of Scientology. Furthermore, you claim that the Church has an information network used for the purpose of blackmailing Its own members, These statements are utterly false and defamatory on their face.

According to the article, you also claimed that the Church operatel a gulag or concentration camp in California called "Gold," at that many members there have been driven into suicide. Golden Era Studios holds regular open houses and its conference facilities are available to members of the local public. Your statement is wholly without merit.

While the above aro not the only statements attributed to you in the article, they illustrate the complete lack of truth or ability to substantiate any of your statements.

The purpuse of this letter is to provide you with an opportunity to publicly condemn the newpaper, if you were misquoted, or to publicly retract your statements and apologize if you did utter these false and defamatory statements.

The Church in Germany has a very strong record of prevailing in libel actions brought against the media and others who have publicized falsehoods about the Church, I have already Spoken with German counsel for the Church and they are prepared to extend their winning record by bringing action regarding your defamation if required.

You have until March 12, 1997, in which to respond. If you fail to do so, or if you refuse to correct or retract your statements, I will have no option but to advise the Church both in the United States and in Gerrnany, where the statemonts were

Ran in Hamburg on 1st, In Berlin in 7th, (likely ran in newspapers all over) [Snipped the German language article as it originally appeared in the Hamburger Abendblatt. It is translated above. -- translator] For more information please see Mr. Lerma's "Truth about $cientology Website" :

http://www.lermanet.com/cos/ "secrets are the mortar, binding lies as bricks together, into prisons for the mind"

Background: Washington Post story of Christmas day 1994 - about contact before the 'raid'.


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