The Secret War Against Beliefs

Omar V. Garrison


Copyright © 1980 by Omar V. Garrison
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
First Edition
ISBN 0-931116-04-X



Note: The figures behind the title (: : 17) are the original page numbers of  the book. 

Author's Statement

A deep-felt concern with several serious problems now  confronting the American people prompted me to write this book.

All of them involve and grow out of a single, overriding  dilemma: what to do about the federal government's centralized power and its  abuses. This is the foremost imperative of our day.

This central issue, in turn, begets another critical  question, one that a growing number of people on all levels of our society are  facing for the first time:

What non-violent recourse has a citizenry against total govĀ­

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ernment, when functionaries of that government act  oppressively, and when the courts sanction their lawless acts? Is an individual  or group whose life, liberty or pursuit of happiness is gravely threatened by  the state, justified in taking action that is technically illegal, in order to  survive?

Historically, the answer has been in the affirmative. Indeed,  the American Republic came into existence, based on that premise.

Today, the political situation in the United States is once  again a revolutionary situation.

Recent opinion polls have shown that an overwhelming majority  of the American people fear and distrust their government. President Carter  called it a "crisis of confidence," but that, it seems to me, was an  understatement. The public attitude goes deeper than mere loss of confidence. It  is, rather, a positive contempt for the leadership in Washington, and a  smoldering resentment against governmental misconduct.

The multiplicity of laws, mindlessly enacted by the Congress in response to  political pressure or special interests, have added fuel to the fire, by setting  up bureaus and agencies with almost unlimited power to intervene - often  illegally - in the most intimate affairs of our daily lives.

The pandect of regulatory codes, now spread across every  aspect of national life, is so complex and all-encompassing that equitable  administration is impossible. Furthermore, the system has bred a whole legion of  little Hitlers, commanding their own gestapos.

Meanwhile, the ranks of these petty dictators increase each  year, as more and more people evade, defy, or violate laws they view as unjust.  The disgraceful history of the Internal Revenue Service provides a vast file of  perfect examples.

It is in the development of this theme that I have chosen to  detail in these pages the continuing story of the Church of Scientology and its  endless struggle against official oppression - a story which I began in a  previous book, The Hidden Story of Scientology.

Even though I am not now, and never have been, a Scien-

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tologist, I have researched that church's history in great  depth because I believe their experience is the forerunner, the testing ground  for abuses that in the immediate future will involve greater and greater areas  of our society.

As any writer who has challenged the malfeasance of official  mandarins corrupted by power (and often money), and in return has been the  victim of official harassment, I can easily empathise with the Scientologists.  I know from personal experience their fury and frustration each time they  receive first-class mail with one corner of the envelope torn open in regulation  form, where the contents have been scrutinized in violation of Public Law 89-44,  Section 812.

I have myself relived their dark mood of helpless rage each  time my telephone conversations have been monitored, my notes and manuscripts  stolen from my car, my home illegally entered and my files searched.

I have shared their just indignation with each Freedom of  Information request denied or circumvented; with each violation of the Privacy  Act, in which personal, non-criminal information about me has been passed to  various agencies and individuals, here and abroad.

Like the Scientologists, I have recoiled at each sordid  revelation of crimes and blunders by officials of our government elected and  unelected - who go unpunished and who seek to cover up their wrongdoing by  silencing their critics under the guise of protecting the "public  interest," "national security;" or by some other specious  pleading.

1, too, deplore the arrogance of today's judiciary in  America, where political appointees are placed on the bench of higher courts,  often by shrewd crooks endowed with the gift of gab and a con man's instinct for  fooling the voters. Too many of these "honorable" judges seem to  believe that the government owns the law and can use it as they see fit, to  maintain the machinery of oppression.

While I thus admit to a personal attunement with the  Scientologists in their struggle, the account presented here is based upon  documented evidence, not upon subjective feelings. I

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have had an unbelievable mass of material to draw upon.

The evidentiary record of the U.S. Government's conspiracy  against the Church of Scientology - extending, as it does, over more than two  decades - has no parallel in American legal history.

There have been previous cases of official persecution of new  religious sects (that of the Mormons, for example), but never before have so  many agencies of the federal government joined forces in a dedicated - yes, a  fanatical - scheme to destroy a legally constituted religious community.

That destruction of the church was the ultimate objective of  the cabal there can be no doubt. The internal memoranda passed among the various  agencies and departments involved, say so, clearly and emphatically.

After analyzing hundreds of governmental documents relating  to the Scientology case, Rodney A. Austin, an expert on Constitutional and  Administrative law, affirmed unequivocally that the U.S. Justice Department had  directed "an allagency effort to malign, oppress, criminally prosecute and  ultimately end the practice of Scientology."

I reached a similar conclusion in my earlier work, already  alluded to, which also carefully examines the role of such vested interests as  the American Medical Association, World Federation of Mental Health, Better  Business Bureaus, and others, in initiating the government's offensive against  the church throughout the world.

At that time, I did not have available to me the copious  documentation which has recently been obtained by using the Freedom of  Information Act. The church has been able thus far to acquire or to gain access  to a mind-boggling 100,000 pages through administrative action, and another  100,000 pages through costly litigation.

Well-informed sources estimate that the various federal  agencies and government departments are still withholding another hundred  thousand documents pertaining to the church, its founder and/or its members. The  Internal Revenue Service alone is said to have 33 linear feet of files, most of

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which that agency has refused to disclose, employing various  obstructive tactics to avoid compliance with the law.

It doesn't require the deductive acumen of a Sherlock Holmes  to discern the reason agency officials resist the lawful disclosure of their  records. They would reveal too much.

Rodney Austin noted:

"Given the history of government misconduct so far  documented, it may be inferred that the crucial evidence relevant to the  church's allegations of bad faith, selectivity, illegal searches and seizures,  entrapment and provocation has yet to be revealed."

To prevent the release of documents, some agencies classified  them Confidential, Secret, and even Top Secret.

In their legal responses to the church's FOI suits, charging  unlawful withholding of public records, some of the agencies not only claimed  exemption to disclosure of their files, but introduced into the court action  defamatory material wholly unrelated to the issue at bar, which was solely an  appeal from their refusal to divulge records under the FOIA. Instead, they took  the occasion to impugn the validity of the denomination as a bona fide religion.

During the course of one litigation, the government lawyers  submitted a series of totally irrelevant arguments describing the corporate  structure of the church, citing the church's legal strategy, and alleging that  Scientologists had "infiltrated" government offices. All of these  inapposite arguments, meant to prejudice the court and to damage the church's  reputation, were based upon internal church memoranda and correspondence seized  by the U.S. Customs Service in a high-handed action of the kind that is the  hallmark of all totalitarian regimes.

Again, during a civil action brought by the church against  the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. attorneys sought to take depositions from  officials of the church, an action unheard of in FOI litigation, and one  undertaken for the sole purpose of intimidating the church and possibly of  obtaining further information unrelated to the instant case, but which

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might be used against the church in future proceedings. The  immateriality of such depositions was so glaringly apparent that the court  issued protective orders forbidding them.

It is unfortunate - for all people who would preserve their  fundamental liberties, as well as for the Church of Scientology - that from the  beginning of the church's troubles with the government, the media generally have  focused upon the alleged evils of the church. They have uncritically accepted  from government sources news releases filled with outrageous lies and  innuendoes. They have meagerly reported and often misrepresented the lawful,  reform-directed activities of the church. They have cooperated with federal and  state officials who have leaked derogatory information and have tried their  legal cases in the press before they ever reached the courtroom.

In their coverage of the church's difficulties, they have  used the warmed-over accumulation of a bad press dating back a quarter of a  century.

As a result of this misdirection, the principal issue  involved in Scientology's troubles has been minimised or overlooked.

Let me proceed, then, to the implications the Scientology  case has for all religious institutions in America.

Since the first government moves against the Church of  Scientology, attacks on other religious bodies - independent sects and, later,  major denominations - have steadily increased. At this writing, the clash  between the First Amendment right to a free exercise of religion and the  despotic power of an omnipresent government is approaching a decisive showdown  in the courts. George Cornell, religion editor of the Associated Press, has  taken note of the struggle:

"In a time of growing strain between the church and  state, some churches are launching unprecedented court challenges to new  government inroads on their lives.

"U.S. Catholic bishops have filed their first lawsuit in  history against the federal government. Lutherans are laying grounds for another  key case, and United Methodists are fighting a landmark dispute.

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"In each of the actions, the issues are different, but  they all claim government infringements on the constitutionally guaranteed right  of free exercise of religion."

It may be difficult for an orthodox denomination to see in  their own situation vis-a-vis Washington any similarity to the Scientology  struggle against the same machinery of oppression. The central issue, however,  is the same. Both conventional and unconventional churches are concerned with  the same important question: has any agency or department of the federal  government the legal right to define religion -any religion; or to dictate its  practices?

The answer, as everyone knows, is an absolute no. That is a  well-settled fact of law. At least, it was well-settled until the revisionist  judiciary in recent years arrogated to themselves the illegal power to amend the  Constitution. Back in 1943, when the U.S. Supreme Court still regarded the Bill  of Rights as a perfectly lucid and viable instrument, which needs no judicial  gloss nor latter-day re-interpretation, the justices wrote:

"If there is any fixed star in our constitutional  constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall  be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or  force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. "

With these grand words still ringing in our ears, it is  enlightening to place that statement alongside Internal Revenue Service  Publication 557, issued May 14, 1979. In that remarkable document, the IRS  boldly (and unconstitutionally) sets forth 14 criteria which a religious  organization must meet in order to be a church. Among these government-  established characteristics are: (1) "a distinct religious history";  (2) “a recognized creed and form of worship" [recognized by whom?]; (3)  "ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of  study"; (4) "A complete organization of ordained ministers"; (5)  "a literature of its own"; (6) "a definite and distinct  ecclesiastical government"; and (7) "a formal code of doctrine and  discipline."

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As a matter of fact, neither the Internal Revenue Service  (nor, indeed, any other federal entity) has a legal right to set up any kind of  criteria respecting the practice of religion; but in the light of recent rulings  by federal judges, churches can expect little relief in court.

The outrageous set of criteria are aimed, of course,  primarily at unconventional sects, including the Church of Scientology. They are  timed to coincide with the current anti-cult hysteria in the United States. The  schemers at the tax agency hope to establish their unlawful authority by an  appeal to prejudice. They reason that if the major denominations feel that the  regulations except them (for the most part) and put the "cults" out of  business, it would be a good thing. They will not realize that their own necks  will be in the same noose.

Syndicated columnist Nicholas von Hoffmann gave a quick,  thumb-nail analysis of the situation, when he wrote:

"While we like our teenagers to go to church, we also  only like them to go through the motions, so we assume, when they get caught up  in anything, they're being brainwashed, and the full power of the centralized  state may be invoked to stop it. Scientology, of course, makes as much or as  little sense as Presbyterianism, but since it's different and it hasn't been in  business for 300 years, its members can be robbed of the First Amendment rights  and no Congressional investigations are convened."

Under the broad mantle of protection provided by the First  Amendment, the independent congregation meeting in a storefront church or in a  neighborhood bungalow has the same freedom of worship and belief as the most  exalted assemblage forgathered in an orthodox cathedral or temple. They do not  require a "recognized" creed or form of worship. They do not have to  have a minister who has been selected after "prescribed" courses of  study. They do not have to have a "formal code of doctrine."

In short, neither an IRS auditor nor any other minion of the  federal government is empowered by anything but the arrogance of office even to  enquire concerning the citizen's free

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exercise of religion, much less to prescribe doctrinal or  organizational standards.

It is precisely this kind of official impudence, however,  that from the outset has informed the government's dealings with the Church of  Scientology. The FBI, IRS, FDA, and CIA and other agencies sought to justify  their unlawful encroachments by declaring that Scientology is not a  "real" church (even if its several million members think it is) and  even though it is legally chartered as such, and has been declared a bona fide  religion by the courts.

When New Zealand refused to ban Scientology after holding an  official enquiry, U. S. government officials wrote to the authorities down under  that the Church of Scientology "has no status as a church or, indeed, as  anything other than a private organization similar to the Fruit and Nut  Society."

If, at the last, in their long trial of strength against a  criminous regime, some Scientologists broke the law (as justice Brandeis said  people would do in such circumstances), they were merely following the example  set by their official persecutors. Every offense of which the Scientologists  were charged had been committed by federal agents previously. Yet not one of the  sworn officials of the government was held accountable for his illegal acts.

In other words, in their adversary relationship with the  government, the Scientologists were up against a stacked deck. They were faced  with a choice between two evils: they could do as the federal functionaries had  done and flout the law; or, allow their enemies to use their privileged position  to achieve their avowed aim -destruction of the Church of Scientology.

After more than 20 years of persecution and bad faith by the  government, the Scientologists found themselves between a rock and a hard place.  They opted for what they considered the necessary evil: contravention.

At law, such a pleading is known as justification, or the  choice of evils, and in the right circumstances it is a legal defense for  illegal acts, rendering the defendant guiltless,

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even if he is mistaken in fact. All that is necessary to  prove is that he held an honest and reasonable belief in the necessity of his  action.

There is no doubt that most judges sitting today would  interpret such a defense in the narrowest legal construction possible. This  would be especially true in cases involving illegal action against the state,  even though the government had itself been guilty of numerous breaches of the  law. In past decisions, the courts have dealt harshly with defendants who, in  desperation, have defied crushing governmental encroachments they felt  threatened their constitutional liberties.

The judicial system has been heavily weighted in favor of  centralized power and sovereign immunity.

That concept has to be challenged. If it is not, our  founders' idea of freedom and self-rule, based squarely upon the dispersion of  power, will perish. In its place, we will have an autocratic, total government,  exercising full control over our lives. Our system of justice will pass from its  historic form of accusatorial law into governmental absolutism, supported by  inquisitorial procedures.

We will deserve no better.

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