Scientologists besiege the Internet

From: "Tages-Anzeiger"
August 20, 1998

13,000 Adherents flood the internet with advertisement for the sect

by Hugo Stamm

Ten thousands of private web pages of Scientologists from all over the world lure surfers into an internet labyrinth which leads to the gigantic net of Scientology propaganda. The controversial organization itself has over 35,000 pages loaded on the internet.

"Most Brilliant Technology"

The approximately 13,000 private homepages of the sect adherents are fashioned after a uniform model page, but begin with a personal message. "What most impresses me is that the most brilliant technology in life for each and every person is here," announces a Swiss Scientologist.

The path then leads from the page "My Favorite Quote from L. Ron Hubbard" to "Groups I Support" (which mentions only Scientology sub-organizations or cover companies) to "My Favorite Links." These links direct the surfer to the main pages of Scientology, which offer recruitment material. Anybody who lets his address be known is, as a rule, contacted.

Scientology places a ready-made program ("Scientology Web Kit") at the disposal of its surfing adherents for the creation of their web pages. This has been a worthwhile investment: "The official site of the Scientology Church is called up over 700,000 times per week," states Scientology speaker Jurg Stettler.

The private web pages of the Scientologists are not only a huge portal for the sect's site, but also suppress critics' text. Anybody looking for critical material that includes "Scientology" as a keyword necessarily runs into the flood of propaganda. It is very difficult to find the needle in the web's haystack.

Scientology uses a license agreement so that its adherents cannot chance upon "incorrect" web pages. A software filter is used "which allows you freedom to view other sites on Dianetics, Scientology and its principals without threat of accessing sites deemed to be using the Marks or the Works in an unauthorized fashion or deemed to be improper or discreditable to the Scientology religion."

Black Lists

What is being written [in this agreement] using so many words can also be interpreted as a type of censorship: the adherents are not to call up web pages with material critical of Scientology. The black list contains not only critics, but also magazines and newspapers which have published articles about the sect. The filter software permits "avoiding sites which have pages containing information which is known to be incorrect," said the Scientology spokesperson.

Jurg Stettler gives the reason for the many Scientologist web pages as a steadily growing worldwide interest in Scientology. Surfers are said to be be able to learn first hand from the members.