<%@ Language=JavaScript %> pickets

Picket Trends 


This page is a mix of commentary and dialogues I've had with critics. As such, the structure is somewhat weak. I suggest skimming to find anything interesting.    

I am convinced that the best policy with pickets is to follow our creed which states:

We of the Church believe: . . .

That all men have inalienable rights to think freely, to talk freely, to write freely their own opinions and to counter or utter or write upon the opinions of others;


Now have the people who have represented the church ~always~ followed that?

No, they haven't. By mentioning it, I  open myself up to those people who can sneer and say, 'Hey, the church didn't follow that precept in such and such a case!'

But it's not only a sensible philosophy, it's our creed.

As Scientologists, it should be at the heart of any decisions we make about how to handle people who are saying things we don't like.

Two other references are of of value here.

One is from Ron Hubbard who stated:

'No effort should be made by HCO to censor opinion or comment on policy or technology; the whole effort is to be directed to the dissemination and use of correct Scientology technical and policy materials only. '

Tech and Policy Distribution, HCOPL 4 March 65RA II, Rev 7 July 1983

The other is a 1996 letter from a church lawyer to the owner of a critical website.

It shows the church's long time legal position on criticism:


Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 23:15:44 0800 (PST)
From: Helena Kobrin ...
Subject: Re: Official letter to Kobrin
To: Andreas Heldal-Lund ...

Dear Mr. Heldal-Lund:

     Your e-mail indicates to me that you are confusing two issues. You
state that you want certain things in order to stop your criticism of
the Church of Scientology.

     We have not asked that you stop your criticism, and do not do so.
Our objection is to infringement of copyrights in unpublished works as
to which my client, Religious Technology Center, and not you, holds the
rights.  Those rights have been recognized in multiple lawsuits by
judges in three separate countries.


Here is some sage comment from Russ Shaw:


Russell Shaw 4/29/2000: Most of the pickets - that now are somewhat internationally organized - would have just died a natural death.  If *totally ignored*.  Example; Ted and his non-stop Las Vegas pickets.  A few years ago, he picketed almost every day.  He has now "taken a break" from ARS (and his pickets).  But he would not have "taken his break" if he was getting resistance.

That makes good sense to me.

Magoo (Dec 2)>>>> It has been amazing to watch Scientology hide.  ... Whatever the reason, it is amazing to see them bus people in, and have the windows all blocked, and the people running inside as Arnie and I yell from the designated Street . . ."

Roland (Dec 3) >>> Where is "hiding" on the Tone Scale?

Freddie (Dec3)>> I would imagine it's a tricky thing dealing with the picketers. I think that deciding not to communicate with them is actually fairly sensible.

>>As I have said before I might also favor bringing them cups of tea or chatting with them. It would depend on the nature of the picketers.

>>However if I was in charge I would certainly favor limiting the interactions between them and the Scientologists going about their business. It's particularly important as some of the picketers are rather fixated on the OT levels and tend to talk about them to Scientologists who aren't up to that point on the Bridge (something we consider a bad thing).

>>I very much doubt that covering the windows, etc, is done because the staff at Flag are 'hiding.'

>>I imagine that they have simply decided to block an entheta communication line (a sensible trait which comes higher on the tone scale). If anyone is interested there is a chapter on the subject in Ron Hubbard's book, Science of Survival.

>>If an angry and bitter stranger starts shouting at me on the street, I generally don't feel that it is necessarily in my best interests to listen to his complaints and start a conversation with him. I could possibly help him out if I was interested, but usually I have better things to do.

Yduzitmatter (Dec 4)> In my experience from watching videos and talking to other picketers - the only ones shouting in peoples' faces are scientologists.

It probably depends on whose videos you watch.  Magoo, in her post above, was complaining about them not reacting.

Take a look at the following picket report posted on Dec 3 from London. The Scientologist involved just got on with giving out leaflets as usual.

Notice the difference between his behavior and the way that Dave Bird taunts and mocks him.


From: "Dave Bird"
Sent: Sunday, December 03, 2000
Subject: Re: Picket Report - London

DB> At 13:00 on the dot we pitched up in front of the Org with a shout of "Carol Singers" and launched into "On the First Day of Christmas Scientology Gave Me... A Dog Drowned In a Garden Pool." For or five songs later MartinP did the microphone for slogans and text.  Roland and John were in good voice too.  It took 20 minutes to get the first clam out against us leafleting.

DB> They had this new guy, all he could do over again robotically was say "hello, would you like one thank-YEW".  I quickly launched into parodying HelloWoudYaLikeoneThankYEW  HelloWouldYouLikeONeThankYEW (like the record "Ello John Gotta New Mota?").  Flunk for giggling, begin again, now: START. Flunk for non-confront.  "Laydeez and gennnulmun, roll up rollup to see that Sceintology mark one idiot.  Two months ago this was a standard model human being. Now after just fifteen hundred quid's worth of Scientology training, his vocabulary is reduced to just 7 words, HelloWouldYouLikeOneThank-YEWWWW."

DB> Now, why would this person say just those seven words? Well, first he has paid a lot of money not to communicate and this is what scientology does to you.  Why doesn't he say like I do ''hello, would you like a LEAFLET about SCIENTOLOGY the CULT which is trying to RIP YOU OFF.'' It seems that would enter into discussing the content of what he's handing out.   From time to time I would try to increase his vocabulary by standing opposite and saying "it's not 'one'  it is a 'leaflet'.  Ayyy.... LeeeFlutt.  Lee-Flutt. Repeat after me: Leeeflutt."



And here's a dialogue between us about my comment above.

FT:>> Particularly notice the difference between his behavior and the way that Dave Bird taunts and mocks him.

DB>  Well, I have had Scientologists set out to mock and annoy me at various locations, and I am not above giving them some of the same back.

But this guy wasn't setting out to mock and annoy you was he Dave?

He just ignored you and carried on with his job.

DB> Note that I never used or threatened force, or got personally unpleasant:

Well done. I'm sure that wouldn't have been a good idea.

DB> I merely pointed out (with the aid of a bit of street theatre) that the guy was carrying out his public role in a somewhat robotic way.

It's difficult to know what ~would~ have gotten your approval really.

At one point he laughed at something you said - so you proceeded to taunt him about that as well ('flunk for giggling' you said).

From the photograph of the guy posted on alt.binaries.scientology he looked quite jolly and cheerful. Rather more so than the picketers in fact.


Now Dave said above that he'd had ~other~ Scientologists on ~other~ occasions attempt to mock and annoy him.

There have certainly been some rather too strenuous (and in my opinion) counter-productive responses to criticism in the past. It's mostly in the far past however. Notice for example that the leaflet which caused the Bonnie Woods case in the UK was distributed nine years ago (in 1993).

And let's look at the recent situation.

Are we seeing signs that greater experience with the pickets has brought a more relaxed and mature attitude on the part of the Scientologists who deal with them?

Yes we do.

Have a look at the jocular and analytical attitude displayed by the guys at Toronto org to a picket in the year 2000:

From: "Velcro Kitty"
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2000

VK> Anyway, there we were, confronted by two "picketers" - Mike Argue and Gregg.

VK>Now, believe it or not, the morning's activities were quite funny for all concerned.  All except Gregg, that is.  Mike Argue got into some good-natured banter with the Scientologists on the street.  There was only about five minutes of this back-and-forth before everyone was laughing, including Mike. Well, everyone except Gregg.  Gregg stayed, for the most part, stoically silent throughout the day.  Actually, "catatonic" might be a better choice of words." . . .

VK>'It's much nicer having someone there to laugh WITH, rather than AT.


Things are apparently changing for the better. I'm sure some Scientologists will still react with anger to being taunted (which is presumably the objective), but I think that as we get more experience we will see more and more responses like the three pickets I cite above (in Clearwater, London and Toronto).

It's important to remember that we do have strong religious beliefs against revealing data from the OT levels to people before they are on those levels. Obviously when bigots come along with bullhorns and start shouting out this information, it's pretty upsetting to many Scientologists.

Instead of harassing the church and constantly harping on any kind of nastiness that can be dredged up or invented, it would be more productive for the critics to start being ~nicer~. They might try to find some positive things to say about LRH, Scientology and the church. (Actually not a hard thing to do.)

It's a radical idea, but there are some obvious benefits:

The staff and management would be likely to feel more relaxed about uncircling the wagons (even further), and thereby providing an easier environment for Scientologists. Legal budgets would come way down; there'd be no need for strenuous and sometimes misguided responses to criticism; and at some point they might be sufficiently pleased  to declare another unconditional amnesty.

I want Scientology to become more mainstream (as frequently happens to maturing new religions). 

Some of the critics are well-intentioned, and as long as they remember that, they could help to bring about some positive change on ars and to make it a much effective and interesting discussion forum. I believe that many of the problems currently under discussion would disappear. Other problems would then come to light, but they would be more truthful and interesting ones than the kind of fake sensationalism we see so much of right now.

M.C.DiPietra (Nov 16, 2000):> What if they have legitimate questions or problems? How would you know?

Well I've been reading ars since 93/94 and various books and materials containing critical data about the church since way before that, so I ought to know.

MCDP> It only shows you don't care if they have legitimate concerns or not, by pretending to "know" that they don't.

Huh? No it doesn't. I've also stated in previous posts that some people definitely do have legitimate reasons to complain.

Magoo (Jan 30, 2001):> You believe all of these critics are very bad people, and you have every right to badger them and if possible, get rid of them. OK..use a different term or phrase. I can hear a few of you as I write "noooo, I don't think they are all very bad people".

I certainly don't think that they are all very bad people. I think most of them are trying to help.

However I think that we would all benefit from less in the way of 'badgering'.

I just looked it up to get the exact meaning.

According to the American Heritage dictionary, 'to badger is to nag or tease persistently:
~The child badgered his parents to buy him a new bicycle.~'

As I see it, many of the critics badger the church and Scientologists. And believe they are just in doing so.

This is for a very wide range of issues.

Some of the points they make are true; some are false; some were once true but are now false; many are combinations of the three.

Those categories could also be divided into the substantive and non-substantive.

There are two additional factors: 1.We have confidential teachings which we believe shouldn't be distributed to people who aren't ready for those teachings. And the church, being responsible for their safeguard, legally attempts to prevent such distribution. 2. We have copyrighted and trademarked material which is also legally protected.

Over the years the church has tried various methods of dealing with criticism and the unauthorized distribution/use of its materials. Some of these methods have been misguided.

However it seems to me that over the past decade they have become far more sensible about what ~can~ be done and what ~should~ be done.

Strenuously resisting something is philosophically not a very good idea. And I think we've seen the church do far, far less of this recently.

It's partly to do with experience. At first the pickets were vigorously verbally attacked (and in 1997 Roland got punched) but more recently we've mostly seen them ignored.

And it's interesting that the picket numbers have actually been falling quite dramatically.

In 1979 there were two pickets which had 3,000 and 2,500 people protesting in Clearwater. This was to do with public anger over the scandals connected to the old GO. However nowadays in 2002 it seems rare for a picket to reach double figures.

I once briefly analysed the drop in picket statistics during the 90's:

In 1995 there were 25-27 people protesting outside London org. By December 2000 there were only 8-9.

When I pointed this out, Hartley Patterson explained the higher figure in 1995 with the following:

HP> This was at a time when a number of concerned relatives were active. Once their relatives are either out of the CoS or have permanently disconnected, such people tend to become inactive.

Two possible explanations:

1. If the church were smaller, there would be less concerned relatives protesting.

2. The church might well have looked at the fact that there were 25-27 people shouting on the pavement outside and have decided that they had better get their act together a bit more and stop doing whatever it was that was causing the problem.

To me the second looks more plausible. I'm prepared to believe London org hasn't grown much, but I don't think it's shrunk either. One indication that the second is more likely came from Dave Bird. On Jan 15 2001 he said the following about the current picketers:

DB>  It's noticeable that the picketers tend to be postgrad students, or middle aged people without families to look after

This would indicate that the demographic makeup of the picketers has changed (no concerned families) and that something in London org has changed as well.

The org nearest me is doing very well and expanding. That doesn't mean everything is doing well internationally though. It's a difficult thing to assess.

There haven't been any Class 5 orgs opened for a fair old while - but on the other hand I've heard of missions with ~very~ large numbers of staff. In the old days they would certainly have been upgraded into orgs. However one problem in the 70's was that missions, excited about becoming orgs, grew quickly and were upgraded quickly - but they then collapsed. This was because they weren't stable, and that particular upgrade game was over. The other necessary factors for success weren't in place.  So if that has been recognized as a bad thing, then that might well be a reason why.

[Note: Since writing the above, a new Class V org has been opened in Moscow.]



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