Alternative Religions And Their Academic Supporters
When Scholars Know Sin - Continued
Alternative Religions and Their Academic Supporters
by Stephen A. Kent and Theresa Krebs
Start of article Previous page Credits and Copyright Bibliography Rebuttals and Rejoinder
In the 1995 deposition, Shupe was scathing in his condemnation of CAN. He stated that CAN's (asserted) deprogramming involved "an unmistakable profit motive" (Scott v. Ross, et. al.,, 1995a, 92). Shupe also claimed that he personally considered the organization to be "a hate group" (Scott v. Ross, et. al., 1995a, 127). He repeated this determination several times throughout his pre-trial deposition, likening CAN to the Ku Klux Klan, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic groups, and, on a small scale, the Branch Davidians (Scott v. Ross, et.al., 1995a, 127-132). He did not, however, repeat those statements during trial testimony (Scott v. Ross, et.al., 1995b, 18-79). Interestingly, like Shupe, a Scientology-produced "Freedom" magazine entitled "The Cult Awareness Network: An Anatomy of a Hate Group" also states that "[l]ike the Ku Klux Klan, the Cult Awareness Network generates violence and hated against religious and other organizations, creating a climate in which even murder is possible" (Church of Scientology International, [1994/1995?], 10). When asked about how he gathered his evidence against CAN, Shupe admitted that he had never attended a CAN meeting, did not know the names of its officers, had not conducted formal research on the organization since 1987, and had not formally interviewed anyone on the "countercult" movement since 1979. Moreover, he had never subscribed to CAN's newsletter, although he "was able to obtain copies now and then from various people around the country" (Scott v. Ross, et.al., 1995a, 83-87). Shupe claimed, however, that he had kept informed about CAN's activities -- through contact with his colleagues, one of whom was J. Gordon Melton, through mailings that he received from Robertson's Friends of Freedom and publications from the "countercult" organization called American Family Foundation. He also claimed that he kept informed about CAN through "miscellaneous newspaper articles". Shupe also mentioned that he had belonged for a period to the Friends of Freedom and currently was on AWARE's board of directors. In deposition he stated that he thought Friends of Freedom "was a good source of information," but in trial testimony indicated that he had "a certain amount of skepticism" about its material because he realized that its director, George Robertson, "was not what I would call a neutral party in all this." CAN portrayed the sources upon which Shupe relied as "inadmissible hearsay" evidence, and challenged unsuccessfully his admissibility as a CAN expert by stating that "Dr. Shupe has admitted that he has no personal knowledge that would allow him to testify factually one way or the other" on the allegation that CAN was involved in violent deprogramming (passim, (Scott v. Ross, et.al., 1995b, 56-57; 1995c, 2-3). Although Shupe's testimony may have provided information beyond the general knowledge of jurors, Shupe did not read the full statements of the plaintiffs and defendants when formulating his opinions for deposition about the events in the case. Instead, he read excerpts from them supplied by the prosecuting lawyer, Kendrick Moxon. When asked if he had considered whether the depositions "may have been taken out of context" Shupe answered that he "trusted Mr. Moxon" to provide a "pretty good sample of the depositions" (Scott v. Ross, et.al., 1995a, 109). As a result of the trial, the court ruled that Ross and CAN had violated Scott's civil rights, and CAN, Ross, and Ross's hired accomplices owed Scott in excess of $4 million in damages. CAN went into bankruptcy. Scientologist Steve Hayes purchased the rights to use CAN's name, logo, and phone number, and soon Scientologists were answering CAN phone calls (Goodstein, 1996, A22). Former CAN critic George Robertson became the new CAN's Chairman (The Board and Officers, 1997). The Jason Scott trial was a vehicle for Scientology to attack its avowed enemy (Bjorhus, 1995, A6), even though the national CAN office had not been involved in any of the conversations between Ross and the mother who hired him.