The "Scientology Church" and Lisa McPherson
December 5, 1997
On December 5, 1997, in various cities in various countries of the world, there are memorial vigils in the name of Lisa McPherson. She died on this day in 1995, one more victim of the so-called "Church of Scientology." Lisa McPherson was drawn into the Scientology organization in 1982. She was an exemplary member of the cult. In the last five years of her life, she paid Scientology more than 175,000 dollars. On the 18th of November, 1995, Lisa was involved in a rather minor automobile accident. Her reaction to the incident was erratic enough that the emergency stretcher-bearer wrote that she needed to be checked in to the psychiatric ward. Before long there appeared in the ward a group of cult members who, despite the doctor's objection, took Lisa away, asserting that it was safe for her to rest in the favorable surroundings that were available in the Fort Harrison (one of the worldwide staff quarters of Scientology is in this hotel, situated in Clearwater, Florida.) In the words of the Scientologists, in this hotel Lisa would be able to avoid the unfavorable influence of the "psychs" (as Scientology calls psychiatrists and psychologists, whom they frantically detest.) After 17 days, Lisa McPherson died. She was 36 years old. She died on the way to the clinic. She turned up more than 50 km from the Fort Harrison hotel, although a hospital with emergency care is located in the same district as the hotel. But in the hospital where Lisa was delivered, one of the emergency care doctors was a Scientologist. This obviously was the choice of the cult members. Their choice was made at the cost of a human life. The autopsy indicated that death was caused by a blood clot, which had formed as a result of a lack of movement and severe body dehydration: the anatomical pathologist communicated that Lisa McPherson had not received any liquids in the course of 5-10 days, and the length of the period of the coma in which she was found may have been up to 48 hours. Her hands were covered with bruises and insect bites, to all appearances, cockroaches. The Scientology organization, its lawyers and some of the members did everything possible to make the investigation difficult, leading on the police, Lisa's family and the mass media. But documents collected, thanks to a civil court suit filed by Lisa's relatives, incontrovertibly demonstrate that she had undergone a serious ordeal: against her will she was held in seclusion and unlawfully, without medical supervision, pumped full of sedatives -- and all this time the Scientology staff, who did not have the essential medical education, looked on as she lost her faculties and her life. After Lisa's death, her "friends" in the cult forged checks and emptied her bank account. We publish excerpts from Thomas Tobin's report, which was published on the internet October 31, 1997, into the financial payments made by Lisa to the accounts of the "Church of Scientology." (see http://www.lisamcpherson.org/spt10-31.htm for original English. The following is interpreted back from Russian.)
Lisa McPherson became a member of the "Church of Scientology" when she was not much older than 20, in the hope that "she would acquire emotional stability" after a highly tempestuous youth. At 36 years old, not long before she died, she was making quite good wages working as a business representative for one of the companies in Clearwater, Florida.
The "Church of Scientology" would have us believe that not only was it without culpability for Lisa, but quite the opposite, it was the author of the success that Lisa had enjoyed in life. However, all the changes in McPherson's life had their price.
From 1991 to December 1995, when she died, McPherson, according to financial records, spent more than 175,000 dollars on Scientology courses, counseling and materials. In three years, her "donations" to the "church" totaled from 29 to 55 percent of her income. In the last year of her life, which ended with her 17-day incarceration in Scientology's Fort Harrison hotel in downtown Clearwater, she had given 57,000 dollars to Scientology. The investigation into those last 17 days, in the course of which she was under constant observation by members of Scientology, also revealed that huge donations were being made to the "church" as its parishioner was dying.
Although the Scientology organization would have us believe that the services she obtained were inexpensive, McPherson regularly gave much more than Americans usually donated to traditional religions or charitable organizations. Her financial records also showed how much the decisions of the Internal Revenue Service in 1993 to grant the "Church of Scientology" tax-exempt status benefitted the organization.
In an interview, Scientology representatives and their lawyers stated that nobody forced Lisa McPherson to spend money on the "church." All that she did was only testimony to how much she valued Scientology. "Why is it necessary to give this a negative slant?" said Brian Anderson, representative of the "church" in Clearwater. "If this figure is high, I am proud of it. It is a barometer of how well we are doing and how necessary our work is for the whole world."
Lisa McPherson had been living in Clearwater for almost two years when she was brought into the Fort Harrison hotel on November 18, 1995. After 17 days, during which time she was kept under observation by members of Scientology staff, she was put on a van to the Pasco County hospital, where her death was recorded. The autopsy later showed that Lisa McPherson died of a blood clot in her left lung, but the police are continuing their investigation on the suspicion that her death was a result of her 17 days of confinement in Fort Harrison.
When, after Lisa's funeral, her mother, Fanny McPherson, and two aunts were collecting her belongings, they discovered a box of financial records in her closet. When this matter was of interest to the pres in December, 1996, Lisa's relatives allowed journalists to copy the documents. Here's what was found:
In January 1995, Lisa gave Scientology 3,000 dollars.
In February 1995, the sum came to over 6,500 dollars.
In March 1995, more than 10,000 dollars.
In June 1995, nearly 9,000 dollars.
In August 1995, over 11,000 dollars.
And this was in spite of the fact that "AMC Publishing" paid her 8.475 dollars in March, 8,800 in June and 5,400 in August.
Besides that, according to records, she put lesser sums into special joint accounts with which her employer supported the "church." Scientology covered its debt by transferring the money from Lisa McPherson's account to an account where it could be withdrawn.
In February, Lisa McPherson put 13,000 dollars on account for auditing on the basic level of Scientology, where she still was after 13 years in the "church." In April, 12,450 dollars were removed from her account for auditing, spent for one large amount of auditing. In the course of 1995, she spent 18,620 dollars on services, which prepared her for crossing into the highest level of Scientology.
Scientology representatives maintain that Lisa had a perfect right to spend her money as she saw fit and that many members paid the "church" much less. However, she did not produce any records that would corroborate this claim.
In 1977 Lisa McPherson finished high school in Dallas with honors. Instead of going on to the university, she went to work with Bell Telephone, where, in the words of her relatives, she was introduced to a supervisor who recruited her into Scientology. In explaining the facts to Lisa McPherson's family in the court statement, the Scientology lawyers characterized Lisa as "a young woman who had pursued a confused life style, used drugs, and also who had psychological trauma as a result of a difficult childhood and an unsuccessful first marriage." They assured them that Lisa had been able to overcome all these problems with Scientology's help. According to records, McPherson began taking Scientology courses in 1982. However, the earliest certain financial documents are from 1991. Therefore, the 176,744 dollars that she spent on Scientology from 1991 to 1995 was only a fraction of the sum she had spent since 1982.
After thirteen years as a member in the "Church of Scientology," McPherson finally got to the middle of the so-called "Bridge to infinite freedom". As it is called in Scientology clearly planned progression of steps for adherents to improve "spiritual perception, confidence in self, mind and ability." The "bridge" was thorough developed for Scientology by L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986. Hubbard "discovered" that people were spiritual beings with the name of "Thetans" who lived before birth and will live after death. Such a view was reflected in the language of the "church's" memorandum that was written the night of Lisa McPherson's death. There it said that she "dropped her body."
The highest level of Scientology promises that the adept will become an "operating thetan" or "OT," which is defined as an individual life form with full self-awareness, memory and ability, which is independent of the physical universe.
In a recent recruitment publication from the "Church of Scientology" to its members, statements appeared signed by "K.C.," who wrote from personal experience. "Taking a walk through the streets of Clearwater," wrote K.C., "I experienced full perception. Now I was able to 'see' a car driving around the corner, or somebody who was walking down the hall, before my body was there. It was staggering! I anticipate further increase of this ability." In other Scientology recruitment material, it is asserted that the OT levels give people priceless immortality.
Two months before Lisa McPherson's death, she reached the state called "clear," immediately preceding the OT levels. According to Scientology teachings, in the state of "clear," Thetans are able to live without interference from painful impressions of the past, which are buried in the subconscious or the "reactive mind." Although "clear" is a high level of Scientology, McPherson still had a long way to go. She had received a letter which was written by Hubbard many years ago. There it said that her responsibility was to reach the OT levels as soon as possible, after which she would be able to render assistance "in clearing this sector of the universe so that it would be safe not only for us, but also for the billions of others who suffered harm."
According to an internal Scientology document, despite McPherson's payments of thousands of dollars, her ascent up the Bridge not was smooth. Three times during the period from 1986 to 1993, she travelled from Dallas to the headquarters of the "Church of Scientology" in Clearwater in the hope that she would officially be declared "clear." Each time she was denied. According to the same document, she once stated that she was already "clear" from her "past life."
In 1989, McPherson entered into the inner elite of the Scientology organization, called the "Sea Org" ("Sea Organization"), but she left after several months.
From 1989 to 1990, she did not resort to the auditing procedure. During this period, Lisa divorced from her second husband, also a Scientologist, and declared bankruptcy in court with total debt of 45,000 dollars.
During 1991, the year after her bankruptcy, Lisa McPherson donated 11,828 dollars to the Dallas branch of Scientology. In this same year, according to a memorandum from the "Church of Scientology," Lisa passed through a special inner Scientology procedure of interrogation called a "security check," because she had left as a member of the organization's full-time staff.
In the course of the entire year, Lisa McPherson was very embroiled emotionally and psychically, despite the fact that the mandatory sequence of Scientology procedures she took were normal. Records do not indicate the specific symptoms of her psychological complications.
In 1993, according to records, Lisa McPherson's donations started to increase. In the winter of that year she gave 6,000 dollars, 5,000 dollars in the spring, 8,000 dollars in the summer and another 8,000 in the fall. The total for the year was 27,000 dollars.
In 1994, the AMC Publishing company, where Lisa worked, transferred from Dallas to Clearwater. The company owners - also Scientologists - wanted to be nearer to the spiritual center of the "church," which is known as the "Flag Organization," or simply "Flag."
At the time, Lisa's expenditures for for services at "Flag" had risen considerably. According to her records for 1994, the "church" presented her with a bill for auditing in the amount of 75,275 dollars. From the same document, Lisa paid 54,667 dollars as partial payment of her debt.
The last year of her life, Lisa McPherson started by happily spending New Year's Eve in Dallas together with relatives she had not seen for more than 15 years.
Then, in June 1995, once again her psychic upset began and did not end, despite attempts by the "Church of Scientology" to help her. During this time her earnings declined sharply. Earlier she was getting from 4 to 6 thousand dollars every two weeks. Now she was receiving all of 600 to 700 dollars.
According to Scientology records, on her work site she went through procedures to improve her "ethics indicators." In these procedures she was required to write daily reports about each of her transgressions.
On September 7, McPherson finally obtained the state of "clear." At the ceremony in the Fort Harrison hotel, she briefly described her Scientology "achievements" and she received a bouquet of flowers. In photographs taken for the ceremony, she radiated with joy. Scientology produced a document in which Lisa McPherson had written, "The state of 'clear' is already more astonishing than anything I had ever imagined. I am so delighted with life and with living that I can barely stand it."
However, after several weeks, Lisa telephoned her mother and tearfully complained that her business at work was going very poorly and that she was always letting her co-workers down.
In November, 1995, she once more began to have psychic upsets. During this time she was locked in a room at the Fort Harrison hotel, where her fellow Scientologists kept her under observation 24 hours a day. The doors of the room were unlocked only after 17 days, when Lisa was about to die. In the last year of her life, Lisa gave the "Church of Scientology" 55 percent of her salary.
Many consider the "Church of Scientology" a wealthy commercial scheme disguised by a religious status. Scientology disputes this, asserting that it, like any other religious organization, lives on donations. However, as the story of Lisa McPherson illustrates, the financial structure of the "Church of Scientology" is unique. For comparison it may be said that in 1994, American Protestants donated an average of 477 dollars per person to their church; during that time frame the average Catholic donated less than 200 dollars for that year.
According to other statistical figures, Americans who earn between 100 and 200 thousand dollars a year donate 2.5 percent of their income to charitable causes, during an equal time period in 1995, Lisa McPherson donated 55 percent.
Scientology uses its tax-exempt status as a marketing device in order to compel Scientologists to transfer large amounts of money to their "church." Much of the material which they send out to their members includes a picture of "Uncle Sam" appealing to Scientologists to buy a large amount of services "right now" so that the sums expended may be written off the payment of the current year's tax. Furthermore it says, "Uncle Same supports You."
Lisa McPherson makes one less person that he can support.
Russian Scientology News
For more information about Lisa McPherson, visit