Scientology Petition Going to the Wire: Will Obama Be Forced to Say Something?

Categories: Scientology

WhiteHouse.jpg
Will Obama be made to speak on Scientology?
For the last few weeks, we've been inundated here at the underground bunker with our tipsters urging us to write about an online petition that would force the Obama Administration to say something publicly about the federal government's apparent inaction in the face of hundreds of complaints about the behavior of the Church of Scientology.

We did mention the petition earlier, but now things are coming down to the wire: with 6 days left to go, the petition is still about 1,500 signatures short of its goal of 5,000. That's a lot of ground to make up.

After the jump: We ask Graham Berry, who started the petition back on September 24, what he's hoping the White House will say if enough signatures are gathered.

Berry is an attorney who has experienced extreme harassment by Scientology over the years, something we wrote about quite a few years ago.

On September 24, he started the petition at WhiteHouse.gov, which had started a program that allows anyone to submit a question it wants the Obama administration to address. Gather 5000 signatures in 30 days, and the administration will make an official statement.

Berry was frustrated that the FBI's investigation into Scientology's practices -- which we first learned about in Lawrence Wright's New Yorker profile on Paul Haggis in February -- seems to have fizzled out. What happened, Berry wants to know. But with only a few days left, will enough people go to the petition page and sign it?

I asked him that today. His response:

I believe the petition will make it. When it does, it is out of hope that the Obama Administration will examine how the FBI investigation of Scientology's human trafficking and civil rights violations was terminated, and at whose instigation. We are informed that the extensive two year FBI investigation was terminated after the "church" of Scientology hired a former very senior Department of Justice official to intervene and ensure that the investigation was terminated. As Mike Rinder has written on Marty Rathbun's website, former senior Scientology executives had provided the FBI with enough information and documents to support a major RICO prosecution, but the church's influence at the Department of Justice was able to spike it. If the White House does not respond satisfactorily then we will take the matter to Congress, where some of the President's political foes have an interest in pursuing the matter.

Interesting! We'll be keeping an eye on that number of signatures as Monday's deadline nears.



The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] | [Commenters of the Week] [Thursday 2pm Stats!]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"

[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]

JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]

HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]

My Voice Nation Help
80 comments
Random Asian Dude
Random Asian Dude

Petition Signed, Even i'm not an american citizen.

Also for Great Justice

SignedRandom Asian Dude

Judson Wallace
Judson Wallace

What about Catholicism? They are equally abusive.

Leslie Hope
Leslie Hope

5221! Well done, Graham. Well done, all!

and thanks, Tony!

O. Lallieberry
O. Lallieberry like.author.displayName 1 Like

Sure, but you're also complicating the debate unnecessarily yourself by side-tracking it from "World against Scientology corporation" to "World against Scientology corporation AND ALSO.against people who believe in Scientology principles, even when they also oppose the Scientology corporation."

The "tech" doesn't do harm. It does nothing. It has no effect.

Even so, I don't mind if people think it has an effect. Millions of people in the world organize their lives and thought-processes with theories and ideas that millions of other people might believe are silly or wrong.

On the other hand, the Scientology corporation has a range of harmful effects.

If you want to RAEG against a philosophy followed by a few thousand people, that doesn't really help to systematically dismantle the Scientology organization. "Systematically dismantle" means to get the organization's IRS tax exemption revoked and to have the organization's criminality investigated fully and appropriately by relevant government agencies.

Scientia
Scientia

But how? What have I been "brainwashed" to think/believe/do? I study a philosophy (along with various others) and use it to make things a little better in life. Auditing, when I do it, helps me get over myself and all my marvellous hang-ups, and helps me be a better person. I don't give a shit about war records or Xenu. I do what I find of interest and what I feel brings benefit. I don't worship Hubbard (I have mixed feelings about the guy, despite what I have found to be workable within his writings). I'm no longer the black-and-white absolutist I once was in the CoS and see things perhaps a little differently than the image of me you've created within that pigeonhole of yours. Diversity, man. Gotta love it. :)

O. Lallieberry
O. Lallieberry

Miles, I should think a better goal would be to systematically dismantle corporate Scientology. "Scientia" is also in favor of that. It's fine to disagree strongly with what someone believes, but why, in a context when "we're on the same side," attack that person's beliefs? Scientia would no doubt love to see Miscavige in handcuffs and for the cult to lose its tax exemption. You're barking up the wrong tree.

Mike
Mike

Sign the petition to support religous bigotry!

Synthia Elizabeth Fagen
Synthia Elizabeth Fagen like.author.displayName 1 Like

@ScientologyAdvocateMarkMiglioDude, this is actually sweet and one of the better comments from a Scientologist. It's a much better strategy than the usual hackneyed statements full of venom and vitriol.

Sadly though, most people here know more about your religion than you do. You, sir, are the one that needs to understand why your religion is being so heavily protested instead of just buying the reasons the church tells you - hook, line and sinker.

Until you know ALL there is to know, you will never be able to get the majority of people to do anything else but laugh at your comments because they know that you don't know and that they do know. It's that simple.

You are in the dark. No, not about your scriptures or your technology but about the voluminous documentation about the abuses of your religion. Don't just turn a blind eye and robotically dismiss others as suppressives that just want to keep mankind from going free. LEARN.

Tye Solaris
Tye Solaris like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am not a Scientologist ... or connected to the COS in any way.

This Petition is about much more than the issue at hand....

Our Department of Justice is corrupt.  We need to bring them to account.

WE are the 99%.

Draconis Zeneca
Draconis Zeneca

Stay on topic. One problem at a time. And whenever a post begins with "I'm not a Scientologist" you can be pretty sure that it's from a Scientologist.

Marcotai
Marcotai

The Obama administration has been informed who Graham Berry (the starter of this ridiculous petion) really is. Also they are fully aware that almost the total amount of the signatures obtained are coming from the infamous hate cult called "Anonymous" and they are fully aware that many anons have signed that petition dozens of times using different nicknames.Anyway here is who originated that petition out of a severe hangover:

GRAHAM E. BERRY is an unemployed attorney. He stated under oath, in a court of law, that his psychiatric problems, alcohol dependency and heavy drugs treatments prevent him from practicing law.A California State Court has declared Berry to be a vexatious litigant because he has filed so many frivolous and harassing lawsuits.Berry has been ordered to pay approximately $100,000 in sanctions and attorneys’ fees to Scientologists as a direct result of the frivolous lawsuits he has filed. Berry lost a copyright case for infringement of a work by L. Ron Hubbard. His client, Keith Henson, lost a jury verdict for what is  believed to be the largest award in US history for infringement of a single work, and then conveniently filed for bankruptcy to avoid paying this judgment.

*“The Court having read and considered the moving papers of Petitioners Church of Scientology International, Isadore  Chait and Glenn Barton, opposing papers of Graham E. Berry and  supplemental papers filed by the parties and having heard oral argument thereon, the Court hereby finds Graham E. Berry to be a vexatious litigant within the meaning of C.C.P.§§ 391 (b)(1)(3)(4). Effective immediately!(signed)Alexander H. Williams III

In Bad Faith“The above-described conduct of plaintiff’s counsel in this case supports a finding of bad faith.”UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA MINUTE ORDERCase No.: CV-98-3985 CAS (Shx) April 15, 1999

Yeppir
Yeppir like.author.displayName 1 Like

And the whole thing, in deposition, was proven to be based on perjured testimony, to wit:

MOXON: You lied to me, you're saying, for a period of two years, telling me allegations about Mr. Berry because you thought that that's what I wanted to hear?CIPRIANO:  That is what you wanted to hear.  That is what you coached me to do. That is what I was threatened and intimidated to to. And that's what I was paid to do. Appendix 1 Part 5 - Cipriano Deposition Extracts

And Marky-Marcotai, your command of the English language miraculously improved in a day. Kudos.

Anon A
Anon A

I'm sure that the lowest-level staffer at the Obama administration would take one look at Scientology's "Religious Freedom Watch" smear site and crack up laughing at the unprofessional, vindictive, biased nature of the whole site.

But by all means, keep using RFW as your primary source of copy/paste, Marcotai.  It saves me the effort of having to use a proxy server to personally visit it to read its ridiculousness out of morbid curiosity.

Just signed it
Just signed it

Not to mention marcotai's entire post is a personal attack on the writer of the petition that doesn't address the veracity of the subject of the petition, an ad hominum attack.I started laughing at his post with, "The Obama administration has been informed who ..."Imagine the conversation,"This really crazy guy posted on petition on yer website. He's really insane and unemployed so don't listen to him."

Scientia
Scientia

"You're brainwashed!!" = "I can't believe you don't agree with me! How infuriating!"

Discuss. :)

MarkStark
MarkStark

Scientology has celebrity fangs deep in the necks of high-level politicians.  They are not as enmeshed with government as Wall Street and corporations but politicians feel they have to tread lightly on Scientology not only because of the "religious" issue, but because of its association with a few popular stars.

DavidToronto
DavidToronto

Perhaps the worm has turned. The Kabbalah Centre is being investigated by IRS and people want POTS to take on Scientology. Perhaps the vulnerable and naive people who fall for their guff are going to get some protection. Let's hope!

Peter
Peter

Mayor Bloomberg thinks deliberate actions to keep the court system from working (in regards to Occupy Wall Street) is not what America stands for.

Does this apply to the Church of Scientology, too?

Ex Scieno
Ex Scieno

Any way to link your article on this petition to the Drudge Report?

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Great response Miles. My sentiments exactly.

Marg Mesa
Marg Mesa

Graham Berry said: "If the White House does not respond satisfactorily, then we will take the matter to Congress, where some of the President's political foes have an interest in pursuing the matter."

That sounds interesting.  And promising.  I hope this gets followed up on, independent of how Obama responds.  The more people calling for an investigation -- from either side of the aisle -- the better.

hgc
hgc

Tony and others, Please explain to me why you think this petition, if reaching the designated number of signatures, would lead to Obama saying something about Scientology? I can pretty much guarantee you that Obama will never once publicly mention Scientology in his entire 2 terms in office. It's preposterous. 

Yeppir
Yeppir

Yes. Two terms is exactly right. /end derail

Synthia Elizabeth Fagen
Synthia Elizabeth Fagen

You're being rather literal here. Try to grasp the concept of Obama being the figure head and face of the government, the White House, Congress, etc. which would be way too long of a headline. Get it?

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Over at ESMB, Graham posted previously :Re: WHITE HOUSE PETITION TO INVESTIGATE THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY - PLEASE SIGNIf you are having trouble accessing the Scientology petition at the White House website we have found that this short URL works the best:Short URL: h t t p : // wh . gov /4Os  (without spaces)

Please use and distribute.

Player_1
Player_1

Seems like Scientology would welcome the opportunity to have Obama make a public statement about why the investigation was stopped...assuming it really was dropped andif everything is on the up and up, of course.

dodobird
dodobird

Hi.  Thanks for writing this article.  Yes, it has been tough, no so much getting people who want to sign but getting through the website glitches.  While a few go through with no trouble I find I have to walk some people through the procedure.  Also, just when we start picking up speed, the log in line to the Whitehouse is a "404,"  It was 404 all day Sunday, Monday was fine, today it is dead (at least for me and some others) You can check it out, https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/us...  if that link is working then you probably get through by posting to http://tinyurl.com/62eqyyl  follow simple instructions and get right through.  But it isn't always that way.  I have six potential signups right now that are asking me for help to hand the maze when it doesn't work:)

Thetamag
Thetamag

I want to thank Mr. Ortega for publishing this article about the Petition. What is even more important than a Petition is the fact that 3.500 people right now have united under the banner of Human Rights and Religious Freedom to protest against atrocities of a so called Management basically, who usurped my philosophy and religion. 

to be more specific, this Petition has to do with stopping enforced abortions amongst the members of the Sea Organization who have dedicated their lives to promote Ron Hubbard's technology in regards to the Humanities. 

THis Petition has also to do with various and numerous violations of Human Rights against again the members of staff of the S.O. as well the public of the Church of Scientology (beatings, separation from members of their families, fraud as to the application of the correct teachings which are constantly being altered, financial extortion and many others).

Voting the Petition and I strongly urge people here to do this now as we are running out of time will give thousands of people around the globe a chance to protect their rights against a suppressive regime masked as Religion. 

I am not going to argue about the value of L. Ron Hubbard's teachings and applied procedures. This is to be witnessed and experienced individually by each one of us. 

What I am going to say though is The People of Earth give a chance to spiritual people protect what they have been working for for years. Do not let the Suppression shutter the dreams and labors of such people which are now called Independent Scientologists, Freezoners etc. who like you live and work in your countries and contribute to the catholic betterment of Life. 

Only YOU can now give this chance to us. The man or woman who does not even know much about Scientology and Independents. Just because you basically can judge correctly and rightfully as you are basically good. Man is basically good, no doubt about it. Under the influence though of Suppression he tends to take the wrong turn. 

The more Spiritualism is enhanced and strengthened on this planet the more Freedom our children are gonna have. 

We the Independents and the Freezoners are such a group amongst the many on Earth and we want to practice our philosophy unhindered and with no alterations and abuses. 

We just need 1500 votes in about 6 days. That means 255 votes and just yesterday after a long slump we recovered and got up to 240 just because we made a mistake. We hadn't asked our fellow man next to us to help us, as we were much blinded by the poisonous propaganda of the so called fake Leaders of that Church. So we come to you now asking for your help. Thanks very much. 

Yeppir
Yeppir

Now 1000 or fewer. Thanks, tortega!

Elronious
Elronious

he meant The People of Teegeack not earth he is sorry for any confusion.P.S. with the loss of Paul Haggis, $cientology's writing ablities have droped faster then their members.

Carmen
Carmen

If President Inactionman Obama does anything, I will eat my hat.

It is made of delicious bacon.

Heatberd
Heatberd

Can't we just send a drone? Under the "Patriot Act"? David Miscavige and the Scientology cult are enemy combatants;, after all.

Jgg
Jgg

  Let's just occupy the Scientology Orgs.  I mean, they are completely empty.

William Burke
William Burke

I think some Scientologist created the petition website.  It's almost impossible to use.

MarthaWiggins
MarthaWiggins

It definitely took some perseverance to finally get registered and submit my "signature".  But since I'm OT III, I handled the hell out of it.heh heh 

Thetamag
Thetamag

William Burke if you are running into troubles signing let me know at thetamag@yahoo.gr this is Theo Sismanides from Greece an INdependent Scientologist and I will more than glad to help you sign. By the way the site is made by the US government. 

Davescomm
Davescomm

I had no problem with it. Just followed instructions to register, clicked the e-mail link, found the petition.

Scientia
Scientia

Thanks, Tony. If the Feds are able to investigate the finances of the Kabbalah Centre, there is no reason why they shouldn't investigate the decades-long list of abuses of the Church of Miscavige. Religious organisations are not above the law, no matter what people choose to believe in.

Sarah in Zurich
Sarah in Zurich

I think that the feds are not investigating Scientology not because it's a religious organisation, but because of its long history of litigious nature. Rabbi Berg, while a total crook, does not have the same deep pockets not the ability to bully the authorities.

Sarah in Zurich
Sarah in Zurich

I hope that the petition makes it, but somehow I do not believe it is feasible to get 1500 signatures by Monday.

Guest
Guest

Get got baby! Never underestimate the pooning powers of anon!

justASK
justASK

Reading further I found that the change in threshold numbers does not apply to petitions created prior to Oct. 3

From: http://m.whitehouse.gov/blog/2...

So starting now, the threshold a petition has to reach in order to generate an official response is 25,000 signatures in 30 days. This change only affects petitions created from this point forward, and will not be applied to petitions of any signature count already in the system.

So the Scientology Petition isn't affected - nevermind!

justASK
justASK

The signatures required for a response from the President has been increased from 5000 to 25,000 for all topics:

From: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/pe...

AS OF OCTOBER 3, 2011:To cross the second threshold and require a response, a petition must reach 25,000 signatures within 30 days.

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