US Millionaire Fights Sect --
Crusade against Scientology
Transcript of SAT-1
Broadcast featuring Bob Minton
SAT-1 / 24 Special --
Moderator: Any visitor to the former pirate haven of Clearwater
on Florida's west coast quickly realizes who is fighting for power today.
Scientologists have taken over the street scene, predominantly in the
downtown area. In Clearwater they are a great deal closer to their dream
of having their own Scientology city. Of the 100,000 inhabitants today,
6,000 are said to belong to the sect. On top of that, Scientology tourists
come here from all over the world.
They make the pilgrimage to this former luxury hotel and pay thousands
of dollars for courses which promise them a higher level of enlightenment.
Fort Harrison is their religious center. Whoever approaches it is under
observation. The sect's security service accompanies our team step by
step. Scientology sheriffs report every enemy movement by radio to their
On this particular morning the lookouts would be even more nervous if
they knew who was en route to Clearwater: the man whom the Scientology
management probably fears the most today. Bob Minton is a millionaire
banker, who does not want to stand by idly while the sect tries to intimidate
Minton (driving his car):
It's a little bit like going into the lion's den. Former sect members
have warned me, "no matter what you do, don't go into the Fort Harrison
Hotel. The Scientologists could arrange for something to happen there."
My friends tell me, "You're not paranoid. The Scientologists are out to
Moderator: Mr. Minton is driving to Clearwater because he believes in
the democratic saying, "If you want something done, don't wait for the
government. Do it yourself."
"Scientology wants your money and your life," warns the home-made picket
sign. As the sect mobilizes against its critics on the internet, the 51
year old computer fan begins his own crusade.
Bob Minton: As you can see, the Scientologists are mobilizing quite a
few people. Apparently our little protest operation is upsetting them.
Moderator: The speaker for the Scientologists in Clearwater, Brian Anderson,
launches his counter-attack.
Brian Anderson: Bob Minton's attack on us, that is as if a Nazi was supporting
an anti-Jewish organization. Giving money to someone so that he can attack
a religious minority, that is, that is simply EVIL.
Moderator: The evil, Bob Minton believes, lies on the other side of the
Bob Minton: So many people must suffer terribly, only because they were
once Scientologists. I think it's especially bad that the church seeks
to destroy former members who express themselves in a critical manner.
These ex-members are financially ruined, or overwhelmed with endless lawsuits.
I want to use my money to even up the playing field, so that former members
can defend themselves.
Moderator: To the annoyance of the Scientologists, Minton is quite well
off. (To Minton:) How much have you given so far?
Bob Minton: About $1.4 million so far. And I still have a couple of hundred
thousand I haven't given yet. If I have to, I'll give more.
Moderator: 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) from Clearwater, Bob Minton
bought two sect ex-members an island house, because Scientology demonstrators
regularly appeared in their former neighborhood.
A safe haven for a half a million marks ($250,000). Stacy Young does not
feel safe here any more. A short time ago, her neighbors received anonymous
warnings, "The cats in the Youngs' animal refuge are infected with dangerous,
contagious diseases." This came as no surprise for the former sect member.
Stacy Young: Where we used to live, it was becoming unbearable. One evening
two employees from the mental institution stood at our front door. Anonymous
callers had told them that I was crazy. Both of them were surprised when
they found out who I was, and I told them that the whole thing was an
operation by the Scientologists. Bob Minton heard about our problem, simply
called us up and said, "I'll help you." The man saved our lives when we
were at a loss as to what to do.
Moderator: In American commercials, Scientology advertises itself as a
"religious philosophy." Expensive, newly generated courses promise life
assistance and a better world. Stars such as John Travolta openly admit
to Scientology and do what they can to drum up business for the sect.
His message is, "Look how far I've gotten with Scientology!"
John Travolta: Most people just don't understand what Scientology is all
says the superstar at a book party.
John Travolta: Scientology has given me answers to so many questions.
I have waited for a long time for this help.
Moderator: Each Scientologist is supposed to believe in the pure teachings
which come from L. Ron Hubbard. The deceased science fiction author took
elements of traditional religions and mixed them with a generous dose
of psycho-analysis and space fantasy into a new ideology.
German courts have decided that the sect in involved, for the most part,
in making money. In the USA, however, Scientology is recognized as a religion.
Because of this, Sabine Haag has moved to Clearwater, with her four
children, from a village outside of Stuttgart.
We were not permitted to film a Scientology church service. What was permitted
was an interview in the administrative center.
Sabine Haag: I used to live in a small village with about 1,500 inhabitants.
Whenever I came into a building, people fell all over themselves trying
to leave because they knew that I was a Scientologist. It was as if I
had leprosy. My children were beaten up every day on their way back from
school. They were afraid to go to school. Every morning I had to bring
them to the classroom door, then pick them up there in the afternoon or
evening. They never went out by themselves. My children didn't have any
more friends. We have our Sunday services here. We have marriages here.
When someone dies, we have the funeral here. We have baptisms here. We
have all the normal serv... all the normal things which a normal church
has. Only... we ... have ... much more enjoyment in them.
Moderator: Apparently Sabine does not know that ex-Scientologists from
her sect have been put under undue pressure.
Sabine Haag: I am 100 percent positive that if they wanted out of the
church, no one would hold them back. Because, we are taught, or, Scientology
is a teaching which they learn... teaches them to be free. And freedom
means that they are self-determined, so ... that would be the exact opposite
to the teachings, if they were to hold someone back.
Moderator: But that is exactly what happened in the Fort Harrison hotel,
according to the reports of ex-Scientologists. This is why Bob Minton
demonstrates in front of the so-called religious headquarters. After speaking
with former sect member from many parts of the USA, Minton is convinced:
Bob Minton: There is a long list of former cult victims who have come
to great harm in this hotel.
Moderator: What has been confirmed is that in Fort Harrison a 36 year
old woman spent the last days of her life. The police have been working
on Lisa McPherson's case for over two years. In 1994, the Scientologist
had given half of her income for sect courses. One year later, she celebrated
her "clear" status. This is a Scientology level of enlightenment which
promises particular happiness. Only two months later, she pulled off all
her clothes after a minor auto accident and said, "I need help." An ambulance
brought her to the emergency room. Then several Scientologists showed
up. Lisa went with them back to Fort Harrison. What happened there has
still not been explained.
However, Scientologists did note down, in detail, how her condition was
From Scientology notes: "Tried to feed her. She ate nothing. Needs two
liters of liquid, when she wakes up. Has scratches and sores all over
Moderator: On the seventeenth day, the Scientologists finally decided
to bring Lisa McPherson to the hospital. However, they drove her past
a nearby hospital. They did not stop at the next one, or the hospital
after that. They brought her on a 45 minute ride to the New Port Ritchie
Hospital, because that is where a Scientology doctor was working. Too
late for Lisa McPherson. She died emaciated and almost without liquid
in her body. The next step is for the district attorney in Clearwater
to decide whether any charges will be brought against the Scientologists.
The medical examiner has confirmed the existence of bleeding and skin
wounds which look like insect bites. The autopsy report named the cause
of death as a blood clot in the lung, combined with excessive bed rest
and severe dehydration.
Lisa's Aunt Dell Liebreich is the next of kin of the deceased. She is
suing Scientology for 144 million marks ($100 million) damages. This is
not about money, she says. She wants to obtain a judgment against those
who, in her opinion, are responsible for Lisa McPherson's death.
Lisa's Aunt: I think it's terrible. How could they just sit there and
watch somebody die? They didn't help her. They watched Lisa die.
Moderator: On the second anniversary of Lisa McPherson's death, Scientology
critics held a memorial service in front of Fort Harrison. Bob Minton
was there, too.
Three thousand counter-demonstrators accused Clearwater's police chief
of conducting a witch hunt against the church. What does Sandy Weinberg,
Scientology attorney, say to the medical examiner's conclusion that Lisa
died of dehydration?
Weinberg: That is what the medical examiner said in her autopsy report,
but this woman is mistaken, and she has a strong prejudice against Scientology.
Interviewer: Would you say that the test results were tainted?
Weinberg: The blood clot that caused the embolism in the lungs was not
caused by severe dehydration, but came, quite certainly, from an earlier
Moderator: Attorney Ken Dandar is suing Scientology on behalf of Lisa's
aunt. His fee is being paid by the millionaire, Bob Minton.
Ken Dandar: The Scientologists have absolutely no medical proof of their
blood clot theory. Everything indicates that Lisa died a slow, painful
death. The clot let blood flow through. Without water you're dead. Lisa
had to die because she did not want to be subject to the laws of the Scientologists.
She wanted to leave the church. There are several witnesses to that. She
did not want to give in, and the Scientologists let her die.
Moderator: For the sake of caution, many residents of Clearwater would
rather not say anything about the Scientologists. But this man told us:
Man 1: When I grew up, Clearwater was a nice little town. When you go
downtown today, you see Scientologists all over the place. (imitates robot)
Woman: Oh, they don't bother me. They are nice young people. I don't understand
why they are there, but they are just nice-looking, young people.
Man 2: All I know is that Ron Hubbard wrote this book. For me that is
a religious cult. And I know that a lot of land here belongs to them.
Moderator: Most of the Scientologists of Clearwater live in this well-guarded
compound. The appearance of our camera team was immediately reported.
As was the fact that Gabe Cazares accompanied us. He was mayor when the
sect came to Clearwater in the 1970's.
Gabe Cazares: I don't know if this fence is supposed to keep people out,
or keep the Scientologists in. Nobody goes in or out without the OK of
Moderator: In the middle of the interview, the former mayor suddenly stops
talking. Brian Anderson, the Scientology speaker, has appeared, and Gabe
Cazares, after a legal battle, does not want to say another word.
Journalist to Anderson: Did you just want to say hello to us?
Brian Anderson: German television shows up here and brings a few demonstrators
Journalist: Are we bothering you?
Brian Anderson: Exactly. With your puppets that are demonstrating here.
Moderator: The former mayor would rather hold our interview a few kilometers
away, in Clearwater's downtown. As we get there, Scientologist Brian Anderson
is there waiting for us.
Moderator: Scientologist Anderson stayed right on our heels during the
time that former Mayor Cazares told us how it all began.
Cazares: In the mid 70's, the Scientologists bought the first two buildings
under false names. Today, Clearwater is an occupied city. The Scientologists
claim that they have renovated the inner city, but what they've done here,
Anderson: That's not right. We have nothing to hide.
Journalist: May we go into the Fort Harrison Hotel?
Anderson: I'd only like to bring upright people with good hearts in there,
not people who are trying to bother our residents. Let me say something
once and for all: We'll be here ... forever. (Taps plaque). Our name is
on this plaque.
Moderator: Brian Anderson proudly shows us what Scientologists are doing
for their community, from Boy Scout's day to the Winter celebration. Ron
Hubbard's sect wants to be respected by everyone, and reacts aggressively
Journalist: Why do you accuse all critics of wanting to destroy your church?
Anderson: That would be silly. I don't have any problem with critics,
whether they're on the internet or otherwise. Who's worried about critics?
Journalist: You. You hate critics.
Anderson: What bothers me are individuals who only want one thing: to
destroy religious minorities. I saw both of these people outside in front
of Fort Harrison. That was your big demonstration? All that does is make
me laugh, and ask myself, "Don't they have anything better to do?" Is
that their only goal, to suck like leeches on the nerves of a church?
Moderator: Bob Minton knows, up close, what it is like to be the object
of the Scientologists' anger. Private detectives have visited his business
partners and relatives. Both of his daughters were conspicuously followed
on their way to school. His wife, Therese, sometimes wishes that her husband
had a harmless hobby.
Therese Minton: I try to keep our life as normal as possible, for Bob
and the children, at least here inside of our own four walls. I do not
want for the lives of my children to be dominated by terror. Rather than
talk about the attempts at intimidation, we see to it that Bob stands
by his principles, and that we support him.
Moderator: The feisty millionaire is proud of his feisty allies.
Bob Minton: I wouldn't be able to fight both the Scientologists and my
wife. We work as a team.
Therese M. : The Scientologists have distributed pamphlets against us
in our neighborhood, and demonstrated right out in front of our house.
They regard that as their right, and we have to accept it.
Moderator: As a precautionary measure, Bob Minton stores pictures of the
Scientology members who have demonstrated against him. On one of the picket
signs is, "Minton, stop using violence against our church." Even the area
surrounding his remote country home was not too far away for his opponents.
Neighbors found leaflets in their mailboxes. They characterized Minton
as a fanatical, anti-religious hatemonger. Someone followed him on his
short vacation to the Caribbean, and distributed hate fliers to the tourists
on the beach. The fight has gotten more personal, and this has taken its
toll on Bob Minton. He has something, however, that many ex-Scientologists
and other critics no longer have: a family that stands by him and enough
money to enable him to put up with the rich Scientology organization.
There are still moments in which he asks himself, "Do I really have to
carry out this crusade?"
Minton: The Scientologists want to destroy anybody at cross-purposes with
them. That is exactly what I want to prevent with my crusade.
Journalist: Do you see any danger of you losing your livelihood in this
Minton: That is a risk that I'll be glad to take, but I really don't see
Journalist: Are the Scientologists trying to sue you?
Minton: They have sought a basis, but without success, because I am a
little bit more intelligent, honest and direct in my dealings that this
Moderator: As an example, Minton told about the cat, which was not one
which came from this area.
Minton: My wife found a dead, black and white cat on our front doorstep.
It did not look like the animal had died of an illness.
Moderator: Perhaps an accident. However, leading American Scientologists
have admitted to using private detectives against critics and journalists.
Recently a PI showed up at the local police state, asking about Bob Minton.
Police Chief Scott Currier recalls:
Scott Currier: The man said that he was on retainer by Scientology. He
wanted to know something about Minton's background, and why he was interested
Journalist: Have you ever seen anything concerning Bob Minton?
Scott Currier: He was always a gentleman to me, and a good citizen.
Moderator: Fort Myers, Florida. Only a couple of hours by car from Clearwater.
This is where the 57 year old Hana Whitfield lives with her husband, Jerry.
She belonged to Scientology for twenty years, and was Ron Hubbard's, the
sect founder's, confidante for a long time. That, by itself, did not protect
her from the Scientology punishment system.
Hana Whitfield: Nobody was safe from random attacks. The Scientology leadership
sent people from the highest places to the prison camp for so-called "rehabilitation."
Moderator: Hana Whitfield was the captain of a ship on which Hubbard cruised
for years. At times she was responsible for the whole North America organization.
Together with Hubbard's children, Quentin and Diana, she belonged to the
the closest circle of confidantes. On birthdays she received a personal
letter from the Scientology chief. Hana Whitfield blindly trusted Ron
Hubbard and his teachings.
Hana Whitfield: He had a unbelievable amount of energy, and was always
full of plans for the future. He had a magical attraction. Yes, he also
pulled me in with his spell.
Moderator: At 24 years old, Hana Whitfield became a Scientologist, but
it wasn't until two decades later that she realized that this church made
people mentally ill.
Hana Whitfield: At first, I couldn't run away at all, because two strong
men were holding me. They led me through Fort Harrison, where the prison
camp was. One type of punishment was that we had to carry heavy buckets
with building material up and down twelve flights of stairs in intense
heat. One Scientology woman was chained to a pipe in the boiler room.
I don't know, for how long.
Journalist: In the Fort Harrison Hotel?
Hana Whitfield: Yes, in the Fort Harrison Hotel. I went down to her a
couple of times, and begged her, "Lynn, if you don't obey your orders,
they're going to put me down here, too, and I don't want that."
Moderator: Hana Whitfield often though about suicide, but then she managed
to break out.
Hana Whitfield: If the Scientologists ever though that they could stop
me from talking by threatening me, my husband and my family, then they
Moderator: Hana Whitfield and the other former Scientologists hope that
Bob Minton stays at the forefront of the battle.
Journalist: How long are you going to continue?
Bob Minton: I'm prepared for a long fight, with my money and my personal
pledge. I think it is important that people understand what is behind
a totalitarian organization like Scientology.
Journalist: You won't give up?
Bob Minton: No.
Moderator: If need be, Bob Minton will carry on his crusade against all