IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA
STATE OF FLORIDA,
Case No. CRC 98-20377CFANO-S
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY FLAG
AFFIDAVIT OF REVEREND MICHAEL J. RINDER
Reverend Michael J. Rinder, being duly sworn, deposes
1. I have personal knowledge of the facts set forth in this affidavit,
and if called upon as a witness, I could and would competently testify
2. I am a director of the Church of Scientology International
("CSI"). CSI is the "mother church" of the
Scientology religion. CSI provides guidance and assistance to
Scientology churches around the world, and is directly concerned with
their stability and vitality, their ability to continue to propagate the
religion, and the spiritual well-being of the parishioners they serve.
3. In my capacity as a CSI director and in furtherance of the purposes
and functions of CSI as set forth in the preceding paragraph of this
Affidavit, I became concerned about the
impact that the charges brought in this case would have on the
Scientology religion, on Scientology churches, including defendant
Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization
("FSO"), and on individual Scientologists throughout the
world. I have witnessed the results of media coverage which has
persistently labeled these proceedings as the prosecution of the entire
religion itself, and the disturbing reactions such characterizations
4. In charging the Church, the impact was predictable and has now been
demonstrated. That impact has stigmatized all Scientology churches
and all Scientologists because of the
widespread perception generated that the entire Scientology religion has
been charged. Literally no Scientologist anywhere in the world is free
from or immune to the public impression that those who practice the
Scientology religion are suspect by association.
5. The statistics vividly illustrate my point. Articles characterizing
the scope of these charges and labeling the accused as
"Scientology," "Scientologists," or the generic
"Church of Scientology" have appeared in over 255 newspapers
in the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, France,
Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain. Analysis of the international
media coverage reveals that 31 percent reported that
"Scientology" was charged with the crime, 66 percent reported
that the generalized "Church of Scientology" was charged, and
only 3 percent accurately reported that FSO was the target of the
charges. To illustrate just how broadly this has been disseminated, a
list of the newspapers and wire services where such articles have been
published is annexed to this Affidavit as Exhibit A, and a
representative sampling of such coverage is annexed as Exhibit B.
6. Together, the newspapers and magazines identified in Exhibit A to
this Affidavit have circulation of more than 48,650,000. The wire
services identified in Exhibit A to this Affidavit supply news coverage
to well over 500,000 subscribing media outlets, and even accounting for
overlapping subscribers to such wire services, their reports reach
millions of additional readers around the world.
7. Similarly, radio and television broadcasts generally stigmatizing
"Scientology" or the "Church of Scientology" with
suggestions of culpability in Ms. McPherson ' s death and the resulting
criminal charges have reached well over 50,000,000 viewers and
listeners. A list of the radio and television stations which have
broadcast such stories is annexed to this Affidavit as Exhibit C.
8. Another tangible result of the entire church being
charged is anti-Scientologists have used the case as a springboard for
more attacks on Scientology churches and their parishioners worldwide.
Anti-Scientology hate groups have organized picketing that has occurred
around the world. These "protests" are not orderly
demonstrations. Instead, they are raucous and provocative assemblages,
marked by taunts, insults, and even threats of violence. Since few, if
any, of the "protestors" are disaffected former
Scientologists, there is no other purported "cause" for their
rallies, apart from the case of State of Florida v. Church of
Scientology. Moreover, the vast majority of such "protests"
have taken place at premises other than FSO, although some of the most
provocative have been in Clearwater.
9. The following is a representative example to illustrate my point. The
Information in this case was filed on November 13,1998. Widespread media
coverage followed. On December 4, 1998, a group of
"protestors" -none of whom even lived in Clearwater- began
their demonstration in Clearwater by convening a press conference which
they commenced by announcing, "Welcome to occupied
Clearwater." Then, having obtained a permit from the Chief M-Police
of Clearwater in an extraordinarily abbreviated application/approval
process -of approximately one business day's duration -these
"protestors" occupied the entire public sidewalk in front of
FSO. During the course of that "protest," they:
blocked the path of parishioners arriving for, and
leaving after, religious services with, among other things, a coffin
with "Scientology Kills" painted on it;
shouted anti-Scientology epithets through a
bullhorn, disrupting religious services inside the building;
chased the vans which FSO was forced to provide for
the safe transportation of its parishioners;
vilified those same parishioners with personal
barbs, taunted them and waved hateful, demeaning placards about
their religion, with slogans such as the following:
"Blood on $cientology Hands" with an
autopsy photograph of Ms. McPherson's hand
"Scientology, The Church With A Body
"Scientology: Doctors of Death!"
"Lisa Macpherson [sic]: Killed by her
"Thank God L. Ron Hubbard is Dead"
"Honk if you Hate Scientology!"
verbally taunted Church staff with personal insults
regarding such things as their mother's supposed sexual
made profane threats of physical violence against ecclesiastical
leaders of the religion. (A representative sampling of photographs
of the Clearwater demonstrations is annexed to this Affidavit as
10. In December of 1998, anti-Scientologists purchased advertising space
on Pinellas County buses which they used for anonymous signs exhorting
people, "Don't Walk, RUN ! Quit $cientology," and "Find
Out Why So Many People Oppose Dianetics & Scientology."
E.) The bus ads were so offensive that one of the Pinellas Suncoast
Transit Authority ("PSTA ") commissioners demanded they be
taken down immediately. After they were removed, the anti-
Scientologists appeared at several PSTA board meetings, threatening
legal action against the
PSI A for refusing to carry their anti-religious message.
11. During the last six weeks of 1998, following the filing of the
Information in this case, nearly two dozen such "protests"
took place in the United States (including Washington, D.C.;
Atlanta, Georgia; Buffalo, New York; Boston,
Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Tustin, California; Salt Lake City,
Utah; Minneapolis, Minnesota; San Francisco, California; San Jose,
California; and Phoenix, Arizona) and in cities around the world
(including Toronto, Canada; London, England; Copenhagen, Denmark;
Stockholm, Sweden; and Brisbane, Australia). They bore signs imputing
responsibility for Ms. McPherson ' s death to the Scientology religion
such as the following:
"Scientology killed Lisa McPherson"
"Scientology HURTS PEOPLE"
"Scientology Hurts People. Who will be next?"
"Scientology is a Scam"
"Scientology Charged [in] Lisa's Death"
"Lisa McPherson is dead"
Don't forget Lisa McPherson, killed by Scientologists"
"Say No to Scientology -What on Earth do $cientologists Believe
Annexed to this Affidavit as Exhibit F is a representative sampling of
photographs of these protests.
12. In 1999, similar anti-Scientology demonstrations targeting the
religion have been staged throughout the United States (including
Atlanta, Georgia; San Jose, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles,
California; Los Gatos, California; Washington, D.C.; Dallas, Texas; and
Salt Lake City, Utah) and elsewhere in the world (including Amsterdam,
the Netherlands; Sussex, England; and Toronto, Canada). The slogans
printed on protestors' signs in those
"Scientology hurts people. Who will be next?"
"Stop hurting people"
"Scientology indicted in death of Lisa McPherson, December 5,
1995" "Scientology is a Scam"
"Scientology is a cult"
"Scientology didn't believe in God"
"Scientology. Criminal cult of Greed, Fraud, Hate and
"Scientology proud to be evil"
"L. Ron Hubbard is dead but his fraud continues!"
"Scientology, threat to democracy!"
"Scientology should not be tax exempt"
"Lisa McPherson killed by her Church"
"Is Scientology practicing medicine without a license?"
"Scientology, Cult of Greed & Power"
"Scientology boasts of brainwashing"
13. The widespread, international demonstrations described above, which
exploit allegations relating to Ms. McPherson' s death to stigmatize an
international religion and its adherents, establish that the charges in
this case are being interpreted as directed against the entire
Scientology religion rather than against the defendant. It is highly
improbable there is a single Scientologist across the globe who has not
been confronted with the allegation his or her religion killed one of
its own members. Indeed, the false attributions of responsibility to the
religion itself have become so widely publicized that even foreign
governments have raised
inquiries. In December of 1998, a member of the Danish parliament asked
for an investigation into allegations regarding the Church' s treatment
of Ms. McPherson. The questions raised by the Danish parliamentarian
were directed toward the beliefs and practices of the Scientology
religion, and not the conduct of any corporation or individuals.
14. So pervasive is the perception that the religion or the entire
"Church of Scientology" has been charged in connection with
Ms. McPherson' s death, that it even appears to have reached into the
courthouse. Exhibit G to this Affidavit is a true and correct copy of a
notice served upon defendant FSO by the Court in which the caption
identifies the defendant as "Church of Scientology" without
reference to "Flag Service Organization" or "FSO."
15. Although I recognize that the State neither writes the stories nor
the headlines, the fact of charging FSO has been interpreted publicly as
a sound denunciation of the Scientology religion and all its
parishioners as criminally complicit. A March 28, 1999 article in the
St. Petersburg Times encapsulates the essence of this perception. At the
conclusion of a two-and- one-half page front-page article, the Times
reporter wrote: "Cranes over downtown Clearwater stand in testament
to the church' s continued growth as the church and its members change
face of that city. But standing in the way is
Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe, the prosecutor and a fresh
charge that strikes at the heart of Scientology's claim that it helps
its adherents." (Emphasis added.)
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT.
Reverend Michael J. Rinder
STATE OF FLORIDA )
County of Pinellas ) "
The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this 9th day of May,
1999, by Reverend Michael J. Rinder, who is personally known to me and
who did take an oath.
ASHER SAMUEL GHIORA
MY COMMISSION. CC69144S
EXPIRES October 26.2001