The Vancouver Sun, August 15, 1995.
SCIENTOLOGY 'SECRETS' SENT ON INTERNET
LOS ANGELES - The Church of Scientology is fighting a legal battle against a
group of members who have transmitted the church's secret scriptures on the
The Los Angeles-based church, founded by science-fiction write L. Ron
Hubbard in 1954, restricts access to its religious texts until members pay
thousands of dollars - sometimes forfeiting their savings - for the
privilege of spiritual growth.
In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles last week, the organization accused
Arnaldo Lerma, a former missionary of the church, of copyright infringement
and trade-secret misappropriation for electronically posting the 136-page
text. The teachings have become hot property. After Lerma, 44, posted the
teachings July 31 on the Usenet discussion group "alt.religion.scientology,"
the material instantaneously became avaiable all over the world.
In court papers the church said Lerma, who calls himself a "21-st century
blacksmith," had stolen the documents before posting them in cyberspace.
Friday federal marshals confiscated his computer equipment. "They even took
my mouse and modem," said Lerma.
"You have to jump through a lot of expensive hoops to get access to this,"
says Lerma, a member of the church between 1968 and 1997 who says he was
scared off after he nearly eloped with a daughter of Hubbard. "This is the
big secret at the end of the rainbow."
In February another former member in California was sued for posting
material about the church.
According to the texts, the Scientologists, who are estimated to have
anywhere between 50,000 and eight million members, aim "to bring an
individual to an understanding of himself and his life as a spiritual
being." The organization has 12,000 paid staff.
Helena Kobrin, a lawyer for the Religious Technology Center, which holds
the Scientologists copyrights, said that other suits could follow.
The case has caused outrage among Scientology dissidents on the forum that
was set up in 1991 to expose the church.
One critic in Arizona said "A church that won't tell you what they teach
unless you pay them? Most religions are happy to have you spread their
gospel far and wide."