Scientology Crime Syndicate

From: heldal@online.no (Andreas Heldal-Lund - www.xenu.net)
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 14:38:16 GMT

This was just posted by James Randi to the JREF Info Mailing
List. I truly hope FACTNet and CULTinfo sorts this out: -------------------------------------------------------------------


In February of this year, I spent three days of my busy professional life at a joint conference of CULTinfo and FACTNet, in Stamford, Connecticut. I was the invited speaker at their Saturday night meeting. The JREF was to be paid our full lecture fee. (CULTinfo's official name is now changed to the Leo J. Ryan Education Foundation, Inc., in honor of Congressman Ryan, who was assassinated in 1978 by the Jonestown cult, known as the Reverend Jim Jones' People's Temple. The CULTinfo website and newsletter will retain the former name.)

CULTinfo and FACTNet are both counter-cult groups. When the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) went bankrupt a few years ago, the courts -- in what has to be one of the single most stupid and disastrous decisions ever -- awarded to the Church of Scientology (CoS), all the computer and printed records of CAN, thus giving the CoS a huge advantage in squelching and going after those who had supported the opposition to their cult. (I refer you to www.CAN-Inc.org and www.factnet.org for up-to-date information on these beleaguered groups, for which we encourage support.)

I began my Saturday night address by warning my audience that I might well offend some of them with what I was about to say. It was well that I so prepared them, for when I volunteered that I saw very little difference between what they referred to as "cults," and organized religions, I noted that several persons arose and left the room, not returning for the rest of my talk. The Q&A period of my talk resulted in little more than a series of denunciations of my attitudes and opinions about religion. Those who know me will not be surprised to learn that I did not back down a bit, and told that audience that I supported fully their right to have any opinion or philosophy, but that I differed with them. Amid shouts of "Jesus rules!" and "You're wrong!" I said my piece and sat down.

Following the talk, I was individually approached by many who had personal arguments to offer me. I will briefly relate one. A bright woman confronted me concerning my statement that there existed only anecdotal evidence concerning miracles related in the Bible. I had specifically mentioned the account of Moses going up a mountain and returning with rocks inscribed with God's ten commandments. I had said, "There are people who actually believe that this is an historical event, but no proof except blind faith exists." I had added that I had no reason to doubt that Moses existed, nor that he was a revered hero and leader of his people. This woman asked me, "Why do you doubt that Moses went up the mountain and returned with the tablets? There were witnesses! There were one-and-a-half million Israelites who stood there and SAW him! How can you say that's not enough witnesses?" I will spare you the response I made -- which did not faze the woman one bit. She is still convinced, I'm sure, that she appropriately responded to my doubts.

On Sunday morning of the conference, I sat transfixed in the audience, hearing horrendous tales from "recovered" cult victims who had lost essentially everything they owned and had held dear. Families, friends, bank accounts, property, emotional security, and employment, have all fallen to the cults, either through simple takeover, or through the courts. Cults can afford to pay lawyers; individuals often cannot. I was profoundly affected by these accounts, and was teary-eyed by the close of the session.

Later that morning, when the conference managers and I met to finish our business prior to my departure, I must say that I had expected polite apologies and perhaps an appeal to me for them to be permitted to pay the JREF fee in installments. These folks just don't have much in the way of funds, and I was prepared, from the beginning, to talk terms. But after sitting through that session of testimony from recovering cult members, I immediately began the brief meeting with the managers by volunteering to forego -- on behalf of the JREF -- the fee that was due. I explained that though the JREF was also a 501(c)3 charitable foundation and depended upon lecture fees for support, I felt that the Leo J. Ryan Education Foundation, Inc. and FACTnet needed our support. My offer was received by the managers with what I perceived as relief.

Now I have before me on my desk both the CULTinfo and the FACTNet current newsletters that deal in detail with this conference. Looking through them for accounts of the event, I find that not only is there no mention of my participation, but even my name does not appear, nor that of the JREF -- let alone any reference to the very generous donation made by the JREF to both groups. Nothing, nada, nichts, rien. I and the JREF have simply been ignored by the editors as if we did not exist and had no part of their conference.

Listen up, CULTinfo and FACTNet: I was there, folks. Not only was I there spending three days of valuable JREF time, but I was there at your invitation and possessed a legal contract that called for the JREF to be paid for my services as a professional speaker. By simply deciding to officially pretend that I did not participate in your conference, you are trying to re-write history -- a fault you attribute to the cults you oppose. I was there, I was an integral part of the conference. You didn't like what I said, and now you are pretending that I didn't say it. This is a head-in-the-sand attitude that I hardly expected from either group.

I find that these groups, rather than trying to discuss with disaffected cult members on a rational, critical, factual basis, have instead a goal of getting them out of the cults and into a Christian church -- of any sort. Now, perhaps these people need some sort of mythology to cling to, and this is the only way it can be done -- though I doubt that. But I simply don't know. I'm sorry, folks, I still can't see much difference between what they referred to as "cults," and organized religions. That's my personal opinion, and not an official stance of the JREF. (I made that very clear in my talk at the conference.) If I offended those folks, I regret that I did so. But I will not withdraw any of my words, nor will I apologize for expressing my sincere opinions.

The least that could be done would be for the managers of this conference to send a letter to the JREF thanking us for our financial gift. Yes, though I personally -- and the JREF in principle -- disagree with the manner in which we were handled by this conference, we supported you financially and actively through our participation. This refusal to recognize us and our contribution, is an insult and an affront. We deserve an apology.

James Randi

James Randi Educational Foundation
201 S.E. 12th Street (Davie Blvd.)
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316-1815

phone: (954) 467 1112
fax: (954) 467 1660
e-mail: randi@randi.org

CULTinfo: help@cultinfo.org

FACTNet: factnet@factnet.org


Best wishes, SP4 & Adm. TOXE CXI
Andreas Heldal-Lund, Normannsgaten 9, N-4013 Stavanger, Norway
Pho: +47 88 00 66 66 Fax: 90 32 35 46 E-mail: heldal@online.no
home.sol.no/~spirous www.xenu.net www.hedning.no/hedning
"The great snare of thought is uncritical acceptance of
irrational assumptions." - Will Durant

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