Scientologists fighting to keep files secret

The church cites a new state law in its effort to keep counseling notes out of the hands of Lisa McPherson's family, which has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.


? St. Petersburg Times, published August 6, 1998


TAMPA -- For 13 years, Lisa McPherson took courses and counseling from the Church of Scientology, and all the while the church kept records of what

she said.

Scientology's strong belief that those records should remain private was at issue Wednesday in a hearing concerning the wrongful death lawsuit filed against the church by McPherson's family...

...Scientology contends McPherson's records are strictly confidential and says its credibility would be "lost forever" with other parishioners if the records were released.

Attorneys for the church argue Scientology counseling or "auditing" sessions often contain sensitive information about people other than the parishioner. They say Dandar has access to plenty of other evidence and that McPherson's files are irrelevant to how she died.

They also say they have a new Florida law on their side -- the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998. The act became law in June. It mandates that governments, including the courts, should not "substantially burden the free exercise of religion" without a compelling governmental interest...


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