The New York Times, Sunday, August 20, 1995. ("Week in Review" section, p. 2.)
By MIKE ALLEN
Scientology's Expensive Wisdom Now Comes Free
To read what the Church of Scientology calls the seventh level of
spirituality, the church's scriptures instruct followers to go to zoos and
parks and communicate with plants and animals and go to train stations to
put thoughts in the minds of strangers.
Advice like that doesn't come cheap. Scientologists pay tens of thousands
of dollars for such spiritual teachings. Now, to the church's dismay,
they're free with an Internet account.
The scriptures have been entered as an affidavit in a court case in Los
Angeles. Arnaldo P. Lerma of Arlington VA., a former church employee who
is part of a band of on-line dissidents fighting Scientology, posted a
copy of the affidavit on the Internet. Copies of the scriptures were then
downloaded around the world. In China, the operator of a computer bulletin
board said demand for the Scientology documents was slowing network access
for the whole country.
The church sued Mr. Lerma, charging copyright infringement, and United
States marshals seized his computer and 400 discs. Computer experts hired
by the church tried to purge all the bootleg gospels from his system. And
the judge in the Los Angeles case sealed the file. But computer dissidents
say the texts are still available at Internet sites on several continents.
In the purloined scriptures, Scientologists warn that unauthorized readers
can die of pneumonia. No epidemic has been reported.