Sunday, 27 January 2013

Scientology: 'We Like to Make peace'

On this day

Scientology: 'We like to make peace'

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 28, 1998

"The church has been saddled with a legacy that has taken it some time to overcome," said Monique Yingling, a Washington lawyer who has represented Scientology for 14 years. "What it wants to do is stay out of litigation, resolve what is outstanding and move forward. . . . The church isn't here to be involved in litigation, but to expand Scientology and have it continue to grow around the world."

The "legacy" Yingling mentions dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when 11 Scientologists, including Mary Sue Hubbard, the wife of founder L. Ron Hubbard, were convicted of conspiring to burglarize federal offices and illegally bugging an IRS conference room. The criminal convictions stemmed from an FBI raid on Scientology centers in Washington and Los Angeles. Documents seized during the raids uncovered a well-orchestrated Scientology plot to infiltrate the lives and offices of perceived enemies and steal documents.

Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, two of Scientology's top officials, say they are part of the management team that abolished the old Guardians Office which directed the criminal conduct.
Most of the litigation facing the church in the 1990s stems from events that occurred in the past, they insist. Many of those who filed civil suits against the church in the 1980s and early 1990s were working hand in glove with rogue IRS investigators who wanted to destroy the church, Rinder and Rathbun say.

"History has vindicated us on every front," says Rathbun. "We are at the turn of the millennium. A lot has changed, across the rest of the United States and the rest of the world when you say you're from the Church of Scientology, you immediately get respect."

In 30 years of litigation, Scientology has established valuable legal precedents in First Amendment law, taxpayer rights, freedom of information, privacy rights and intellectual property, the lawyers say.
Among their victories was a 1993 appellate court decision that struck down a Clearwater ordinance aimed at regulating charitable solicitations.

"Our counsel will be the first to tell you that we have to be dragged to court kicking and screaming, it's the last thing in the world we like to do, we like to make peace," Rathbun said.

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