The Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization is trying to override the Florida Baker Act and deny its members access to psychiatric emergency care. It's doing this via a series of legal "release forms" it requires parishioners to sign before they are eligible for major courses or auditing intensives.
A copy of the most egregious of these release forms is available here:
Scientology has already killed one member who suffered a psychotic break while in their custody: Lisa McPherson. Information about that case is included in the URL above. Criminal charges were filed in the case but later dropped after intense harassment by the cult. A wrongful death civil suit is ongoing. This revised release form was instituted as a way of preventing any legal redress in future cases where a person in need of psychiatric care is held against their will by Scientology.
Can a group acting under color of religious authority override the Baker Act and deny someone psychiatric care? Can they pull them out of the hospital, as Scientology did with Lisa McPherson, and lock them up, under 24 hour guard, until they're dead? And then claim, as Scientology tried to do in Judge Susan Schaeffer's court, that their actions are protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?
I'd appreciate some help in publicizing this situation. Write to the Florida papers, the AP News, the New York Times, and anyone else you can think of. There's already a news item about it at Rick Ross's site, cultnews.org:
Let's shine some light on this shameful business before any more Scientologists in distress turn up dead.
-- Dave Touretzky