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When Scholars Know Sin - Continued
Alternative Religions and Their Academic Supporters

by Stephen A. Kent and Theresa Krebs

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Shupe's trust in Moxon's judgement, however, about providing a "pretty good sample" of depositions about CAN may have been misplaced. Years earlier, while acting in a legal capacity for Scientology, Moxon was a member of Scientology's Guardian Office, "working in the very office where massive covert operations against the government were being run at the time" (Horne, 1992, 79). In 1992, Moxon misrepresented his actions on behalf of his organization during the U.S. government's criminal investigation of the Scientologists' burglaries into U.S. government offices, denying (to The American Lawyer "knowledge of the criminal operations being run out of the office" (Horne, 1992, 80). Five years later, the same publication erred when it reported that federal prosecutors never "named him as a party in their case" (Hansen, 1997, 65). Yet the grand jury for the case "had" named him an "unindicted co-conspirator" ([USA] v. Mary Sue Hubbard, et. al., 1979a, 7). Both sides agreed in the "Stipulation of Evidence"Off-site Link that in response to an October 14, 1976, "Grand Jury subpoena for all original known handwriting exemplars of Michael Meisner and the employment application and personnel records of Mr. Meisner in the possession of the Church of Scientology," Moxon had:

submitted an affidavit with nine pages of handwritten material. In the affidavit, he stated that he was unable to locate a personnel file for Mr. Meisner, and that the nine pages of appended handwriting were those of Mr. Meisner. However, as the defendant [Cindy] Raymond stated to Mr. Meisner in a meeting in late September 1976, Mr. Moxon had been directed to supply the government with fake handwriting samples in lieu of Mr. Meisner's true handwriting exemplars
([USA] v. Mary Sue Hubbard, et. al., 1979b, 212-214).

Moxon, therefore, knew about the Guardian Office's illegal activities because he acted on direct orders to participate in the cover-up. Indeed, a 1976 letter from the Guardian Office's District of Columbia Security Office had identified "Rick Moxon" and four others as "either hav[ing] full data or almost all of it" about the government break-ins, and indicated that they were under a "Covenant of Non-Disclosure; 'Doomsday Agreement'" preventing them from disclosing what they knew about such operations (under penalty of a $50,000.00 fine per breach). The Guardian document instructed a Scientology official to inform Moxon and the others that "if they do talk, then they will be expelled forever, hounded by the GO [Guardian Office] until doomsday, and left to rot in the Physical Universe" (Security Off[ice], D.C. 1976, [3.1]).

Shupe, consequently, was unwise to have trusted Moxon to provide accurate information concerning CAN. When, for example, CBS's 60 Minutes did a report on Scientology's takeover of CAN, reporter Lesley Stahl discovered that two affidavits Moxon relied upon (one about Cynthia Kisser and the other about deprogrammer Mark Blocksom) were false (CBS, 1997, 18-20). Likewise, a private investigator whom Scientology had hired to investigate CAN "couldn't find any evidence" that CAN was involved in illegal deprogramming (CBS, 1997, 20). One must wonder, therefore, about the quality of information that attorney Moxon passed along to his academic expert - an academic expert predisposed to accept it because of the filtered information that he had been receiving about CAN from Friends of Freedom, Melton, and probably Lewis. Consequently, when CAN's lawyer got him to read (on the witness stand) a 1988 CAN Board of Directors minute which stated that "[n]o officers, Board Members or paid staff of the Cult Awareness Network or its affiliates may participate in involuntary deprogramming," Shupe remained firm in his "sense" that CAN encouraged illegal deprogramming for interested parties (Scott v. Ross, et. al., 1995b, 49, 63; see Cult Awareness Network Board of Directors, 1988, 12). Unfortunately, a respected academic facilitated Scientology's attack on CAN by becoming an unwitting participant in an information loop, in which he probably received "facts" of dubious quality about the countercult organization from biased sources.

In the Scott case the evidence against CAN actually was very weak, since all discussion about "illegal" deprogramming took place outside the knowledge of CAN members or volunteers. Indeed, it seems highly unlikely that community resource person Landa was acting as a CAN contact person when she passed along Ross' telephone number to Scott's mother. Yet in 1998, a U.S. Court of Appeals supported a lower court's decision to assign vicarious liability on CAN for the actions of Landa because she had acted as its agent. The dissenting judge, however, argued that no trial evidence established that Landa, in referring the mother to deprogrammer Ross, acted as CAN's agent "in respect to the particular transaction out of which the injury arises" (Scott v. Ross, et. al., 1998, 15, 19).

Many scholars of religion were not sorry to see CAN close its doors. The organization almost never referred to scientific findings about controversial groups, except perhaps to some psychological findings that most sociologists ignored or rejected (Dawson, 1996, 141-143; Shupe, [1994/1995?], 64-65). CAN also emphasized the manipulative or abusive aspects of many controversial ideologies that received little attention in social scientific circles.

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