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Scientologists relieved of answering on tenets

Title: Scientologists relieved of answering on tenets
Date: Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Publisher: The Oregonian (Portland)
Author: Fred Leeson
Main source: link (126 KiB)

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Members of the Church of Scientology who appear as defense witnesses in a fraud case against their church will not have to answer questions about basic tenets of their religion, a Portland judge ruled Tuesday.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Donald H. Londer based his ruling on the constitutional right to religious freedom. "Religious beliefs are of no concern to the court," he said. "Basic tenets of religion will not be made the subject of examination."

The ruling was a victory for the defense because lawyers against the church had planned to question Scientologists about religious beliefs in high levels of the church's complicated course structure.

Although church members cannot be questioned about basic religious tenets, three Scientologists, including a former professional football player, testified Tuesday about benefits they feel they have received as a result of their Scientology training.

Loader ruled earlier that testimonials about the benefits of Scientology would be relevant to the case after several former church members testified during the plaintiff's case that they felt they gained little or nothing from Scientology courses and books.

Robert B. Adams, who said he played tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots between 1969 and 1977, said his involvement in Scientology helped him as a player and as a businessman after he retired from the game.

He said he felt Scientology study increased his concentration as a pass receiver. "I was able to look at the ball and follow it right into my hands," he said.

Adams said Scientology helped him become aware of himself as a spiritual being, as did Dr. Mary J. Pagel, an Aloha physician. Pagel said both she and her husband, who she said have spent an estimated $100,000 taking Scientology courses, believe their lives are better as a result of Scientology.

"I wouldn't change anything I have done," she said when she was asked about her expenditures on Scientology.

Jill M. Crandell, a former stall member of the Portland Scientology mission, said she found Scientology helped her resolve problems in her personal life by getting to the root of them and by learning about herself as a spiritual being.

"You feel like you are bigger than the problem, and then you can get over it," she said.

Crandell also testified she knew Julie Christofferson Titchbourne, the plaintiff in the case, during Titchbourne's involvement with Scientology in 1975 and 1976. She said Titchbourne, came into the church's "ethics office" In January 1976 in a frightened state because her parents had made an unsuccessful attempt to restrain her for deprogramming.

Titchbourne, who testified earlier that she was deprogrammed later in 1976, contends the church and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, defrauded her by making false representations about Scientology as a science, its ability to improve eyesight and personal intelligence and its benefits in helping students learn to communicate and study.

Crandell testified she was not aware during in her years with the church of any instance in which a Scientologist was told to "disconnect" (end all relations) with family members who opposed a person's involvement with Scientology.

Titchbourne testified earlier she was told by a Scientology ethics officer she would have to overcome her mother's objections to Scientology or else break her ties with her mother. "As far as disconnection goes, it never occurred with me," Crandell said.

Crandell said she now works as an office manager in a chiropractic clinic where two of the three chiropractors are Scientologists. She also said her husband is executive director of the Portland Scientology mission.

The trial is nearing the end of its second month and is expected to run about another month before it goes to the jury.