Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

Discussion in 'Marc Headley v. Church of Scientology Internationa' started by Anonymous, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. themadhair Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Nope. The law covers groups and how those groups employ people, which is different than the personal exercise of religion. This is the distinction I think is missing from the first amendment. Look at how freedom of speech (at a personal level) doesn’t cover the press (the group level), and had to be explicitly stated.
    Note the distinction above.
    But, and this goes to why your reasoning and that of current precedent is ad-hoc, this clearly does not apply to all laws. Why not? Because the first amendment does not imply what you claim.
    No, I distinguished between personal belief and GROUP operations. This is why you mischaracterised what I wrote. Note how in the first amendment the press had to specifically mentioned because it wasn’t covered under mere freedom of speech.

    The fact that murder laws, traffic laws, etc. apply while only a subsection of others do not would seem to indicate to me that there is a lot of ad-hoc reasoning going on here, and arguments surrounding the ministerial exception simply do not follow from the first amendment as written.

    To take a concrete example, I don’t think anyone would doubt the last rites as a genuine religious ritual. Having to obey traffic laws such as the speed limit directly interferes with a priest’s ability to administer this sacrament (the patient has a greater chance of being dead before they can administer it). Why is there no exception for this law like with the labour laws? The truth is that there is constitutional justification for this difference. If there is I would love to hear it. Because so far it seems to me that the first amendment is being misread in an attempt to justify a perceived ideal of how things should be.

    I should also note that ‘religion’ can mean ‘a body of beliefs and practices’ or it can mean ‘a group of people practicing a common body of beliefs and practices’. If the first amendment is read solely in light of the first definition here then a distinction needs to be drawn between a person and a group. Under this a person can live in self-imposed poverty, but a group entity cannot demand poverty of people who work for them. Does my reading of this make sense? Because the alternative reading, as favoured by the courts, is both inconsistent (traffic v labour example) and undesirable (it legally raises groups professing to be religious above non-religious groups, and would in its extreme reading allow religious groups to commit crimes like murder and the like).
  2. Lorelei Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    There are a number of practices, past and present, which conflict with the law. You cited polygamy.

    There are also sects / religions who disbelieve in providing modern medical care for their underaged children / dependents. IIRC, Christian Scientists prefer to pray than seek medical intervention (though seeking medical intervention is not specifically forbidden) and Jehovah's Witnesses dislike blood transfusions.

    You can bet that, along with polygamy, any so-called primitive belief systems / religions advocating child or virgin sacrifice would not be allowed to practice their religious ceremonies without intervention.

    So the law will bend if you wish to marry more than one person (you certainly can't do so legally), or if your child or dependent is harmed or killed by your refusal to allow them medical care, or if your "religion" dictates that you murder someone. There are obviously areas where the law feels free to interpret the 1st Amendment more "loosely."

    Apparently the law distinguishes between legal complications such as marrying two wives and between actual harm done to someone else physically via omission of care and, of course, depriving someone of his/her life AND depriving someone of their liberty (RPF gulags, indentured servitude, human trafficking) or psychiatric care (and some medical care, i.e., medicines for seizures), or unequal hiring practices (only men or only women or only members of the same sect can fulfill certain jobs), or child labor, or coerced abortions, or ignoring minimum wage guidelines for employees.

    It would be interesting if the lines were more clearly drawn, but I don't see that happening. Prosecution of a particular religion's or "religion's" human rights abuses is going to continue to be tricky precisely because everyone is so afraid of stepping on anyone's "freedom of religion."

    One could argue that, at least for men in a particular sect, multiple spouses cause little harm beyond social stigma, so why is THIS not covered by "freedom of religion"?

    One could also argue that more than one Christian Scientist has been tried for not providing basic medical care to a gravely ill child, so why aren't Scientologists similarly punished for substituting quackery for proper medical care, or for encouraging adherents to stop taking prescribed medications, or for encouraging them to prevent their underaged wards from taking prescribed medications?

    The UK appears to be on the right track with (what I understand their guideline to be about) "religions" having to provide a quantifiable charitable benefit to the community in order to receive benefits in return from the government, and to be exempt from labor laws guiding who you can hire and what you can pay them.

    As is, it appears that all you need is the chutzpah to insist, loudly, that you and your group of friends are a "for realz" religion and deserving of tax breaks and special favours from the government. If your group of friends are popular enough, rich enough, well-known (celebrities) enough, or media-savvy enough, you will probably get what you want, and all because you made a claim you were a "religious" group without actually DOING anything "religious."

    Cynically donning white collars, pretending to have regular Sunday services, calling yourselves "ministers", etc., does not make you a religion...except to the IRS and certain judges, apparently. Again, forcing so-called "religions" to provide a tangible charitable presence in communities would not cause hardship for any legitimate religious orders I have heard of, as most if not all of them already DO provide charitable outreach to their neighbors and communities. Only Scientology, with its anti-charitable "laws of exchange" and hard-sell tactics and abusive policies would find this guidelines difficult to adhere to. Vulture Ministers would be required to bring their own supplies and not to interfere with other, legitimate, aid groups, perhaps.

    Again, I don't see anyone being able to get the defining line between "is a religion" and "is not a religion" nor the line between "a religion can bend THESE laws a bit in certain areas" and "not even by saying you are a religion can you ignore, flout or break THESE laws."

    It does seem as if there should be some measure of accountability, however. And, again, no one can or should tell you WHAT you can believe; but the WAY you EXPRESS those beliefs really should be legal and non-abusive. No one should be above the law, even if they think their adherence to a particular sect should be a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card.

    Obviously, IANAL. Maybe--MAYBE--the defining lines I am talking about would be more clear to me if I were.
  3. Anonymous Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    the US government CAN NOT and SHOULD not make laws that would change the canon of a religion.
    It should not require the catholic church to omit it's vow of poverty. Government should not legislate religion. There is a HUGE difference between breaking the speed limit to go give final rites to a parishoner, and forcing a religion to violate part of it's creed. and if for some reason that is hard for you to understand.. You really need to study up on Constitutional law. Please, please read the link tikk posted. I think it will clear up much of what you don't understand about this matter.
  4. Anonymous Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    So, the only reason al qaida can be stopped from committing terrorist acts is because they don't understand the qur'an or the muslim creed correctly. If they did it was part of their creed and you must never interfere with religion. As long as fair game is part of the creed there's nothing that can be done?

    Also, who's talking about changing a canon? This is about practices.
  5. Major Boyle Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    This is why I asked where in Hubbard's scrawlings it says it's OK not to pay people minimum wage. Did the cult simply say "we don't want to pay, therefore we don't have to?" Or did the cult hand the judge a policy letter from Hubbard?
    I ask because if the cult has to prove that not paying is part of its religion, then it has to offer evidence. Also note that Headley's rights are being violated by the church by refusing to pay him the money he's owed. Does the church's religious rights trump Headley's property rights?
  6. Major Boyle Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    SCOTUS has held that religious freedom ends when you causes substantial harm to someone. Thus, blowing people up with bombs is not protected by the first amendment.
    Fair Gaming may not be protected. Disconnection probably is protected. Tax Evasion is not protected.

    Any ruling limiting the cult's religious exemptions is a win, so we need to attack them with as many different legal strategies as possible.
  7. Anonymous Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Thanks for explaining, I didn't know that. If it's not too much of a derail, why would tax evasion not be protected? Where's the "substantial harm" in tax evasion?
    Seriously, can the first amendment really trump any laws if these laws aren't inherently unconstitutional to begin with? I would be very surprised, but then I'm not from the US, so no surprise I don't understand some customs and laws.
  8. tikk Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    The short answer to this is that religious groups are run by religious adherents whose free exercise rights extend to their being able to make express those rights through their chosen entity. And to the extent that a law effectively forces the entity to alter its doctrine in order to comply, an entity's adherents' free exercise rights are violated. This is known as the religious-group autonomy doctrine, and there's limited case law on the subject (likely because the government has always generally not sought to push against it).

    The basic rule, however, as expressed in Smith, is that religious groups are not immune from neutral laws of general applicability--that is, laws which do not target religion. There was no discussion in Smith about the ministerial exception, but it wasn't the issue before the court. There's a good essay here discussing the disconnect between Smith and the ministerial exception, and attempts to reconcile it.
  9. sci and tell Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Major Boyle,

    There are many Hubbard writings about how to pay your staff. He described the "unit system" whereby approximately 30% of the weekly corrected-gross-income goes towards staff. Each staff has a weighted unit number. For example executives get a higher number of units; new staff get the lowest. All the staff units are added up. The amount allocated to staff is divided by the total number of units. Your pay is the per-unit-amount multiplied by your number of units.

    Find some posts by "OTBT" here on WWP on the subject of "employ". He did an extensive series of posts or leaked something related to ALL the Hubbard writings on the subject of "employee", "employment", etc. Use WWP's "advanced search", use "OTBT" as the author, and search for "employ". You'll probably find it.

    There's also a leak/thread:
    which includes all the Hubbard "admin" writings. These, too, would include many of Hubbard's writings on the subject of wages for his staff/employees. Hubbard never said the org should pay a minimum wage.

    Huh? Property rights?
  10. ScudMuffin Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Also not having a coded constitution means that public opinion and mood is the constitution. It also means we don't have all the malarky that the the USA does with constitution related problems.

    We did have something similar, the Magna Carta, back in 1215 ad. So the US only has to wait 800 years or so till they're on a similar playing field to us.
  11. sci and tell Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Ok... I started reading the Smith case and I find it ludicrous. (I admit to quit reading before reading the whole thing.)

    There is much discussion in "Smith" about the religiosity of "peyote use" by these Native Americans (their religion) but not one mention that Oregon is an "at will employment" state and these dudes were employed at a drug rehabilitation organization.

    I can understand if they'd been working at Wal-Mart and were fired, or on a construction site or other non-anti-drug related workplace... but come on! They were working for a drug rehab organization and they took drugs.

    I'd fire them too.

    Why in the hell should they get unemployment benefits. (ultimately paid for by their previous employer who usually has to foot the bill for unemployment claims against them) Where in the hell is the "at will employment" idea now?

    If "Smith" is a case that would help me/us understand the US courts penchant for allowing all things religious to go on no matter what, then fuck it. This makes no sense in the real world. All it does is anger me that the courts would twist this crap around until it eats from its own asshole.

    I quit on the US law and religion. That's it! It's one thing "academically understanding" the decisions (which are based on earlier decisions, ad infinitum). It's another thing when these decisions just don't make any fucking sense in the REAL world.
  12. Anonymous Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Oh do please clarify.
    Sotomayor shows she's no Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court opens | McClatchy
    No justice on the court is such a non-entity as Clarence Thomas is. He just does what Scalia tells him to do.
  13. themadhair Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    My head is hurting on all of this, but I really am appreciating the education I am receiving.
    This seems to be much more consistent. Question becomes what prospecto f success would this type of argument have if applied to Claire’s case? Admittedly it overturn a wealth of precedent, but I wouldn’t be too unhappy with that.
  14. tikk Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    I don't think you understood the case; Smith put the brakes on religious accommodations. Until Smith, the controlling free exercise case had been Sherbert v. Verner, which interpreted the first amendment as requiring "strict scrutiny" -- meaning that any law burdening religion is unconstitutional absent a "compelling state interest."

    Smith did away with this regime, and instituted a test wherein "neutral laws of general applicability" (laws which don't target religious practice) would only be unconstitutional if they had no "rational basis" (a much easier test for the government to satisfy than "strict scrutiny").

    Smith was a very unpopular decision with religious groups and Congress, which responded by enacting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which attempted to reinstitute the strict scrutiny test in free exercise cases. In the City of Boerne case, the Supreme Court invalidated RFRA because because Congress had attempted to effectively overturn Smith, and interpret the first amendment in the process, which is a separation of powers violation--it's the court's role to interpret the Constitution.

    Congress then responded by enacting the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which sought to achieve many of the same objectives as RFRA, except limited to land use and prisoner free exercise cases. Like RFRA, it instituted a strict scrutiny test. Perhaps Congress finally wore the Court down, because the Court has not overturned RLUIPA, despite that it's clearly as unconstitutional as RFRA (in my opinion and others'). RLUIPA is suddenly relevant in a Scientology context, since Scientology is suing a Georgia city under it; I've written about the case and RLUIPA in this WWP thread.

    I'd not get lost in the facts of the Smith; by the time a case arrives at the Supreme Court, the only relevant questions are legal, not factual.
  15. tikk Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    The ministerial exception will not be overturned, or found unconstitutional, likely ever, despite that it implicates "neutral laws of general applicability" (labor laws, civil rights laws). I blame Scalia for not addressing this oddity in his opinion, which, like most of his decisions, is sweeping and unmindful of what other dominoes it may topple. Simply put, the Catholic Church is not going to be made to hire women priests because someone noticed that Smith renders the ministerial exception invalid by a strict reading of it.

    A closer question involves the extent to which the ministerial exception should apply with regard to Sea Org members. Sea Org members perform a lot of work which is not religious in nature, even presuming the broad sense of "religious" that Scientology would like to impose. I'll try to tackle the question in another post. Must eat now.
  16. TypingChimp Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Yes, she asks more questions, but she rules in accordance with ideology instead of the law. She combines the lack of intellectual curiosity of Thomas with the political leanings of Souter. To put it mildly, not a fan. I'd've been far happier with a Justice from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  17. Major Boyle Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Tax evasion would not be protected. Why? Well, if the Scientologists are allowed to claim they cannot be forced to pay taxes, then by the 14th amendment equal protection clause, EVERYONE would not be required to pay taxes. Then again, SCOTUS may argue that not paying taxes is substantial harm.

    Eventually the cases against Scientology will make it to the Supreme Court and we'll find out what the cult can or cannot legally do.
  18. Major Boyle Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    If Hubbard never said the org shouldn't pay minimum wage then based on what religious material do they claim exemption. Yes, property rights. See the 9th amendment. Headley is being denied his right to the wages he's earned.
    Also note that it may be argued that not paying a living wage is the equivalent of slavery, which is prohibited under the 13th amendment.
  19. OTBT Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Major Boyle, this might help, collection of Policy Letter quotes; PDF, 30 pages of text, 140 kb:

    MEGAUPLOAD (Direct download link)


    I am not a lawyer, but I have done quite a bit of digging on the subject of Sea Org and Minimum Wages:
  20. Zak McKracken Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    So what would it take to get the 1st amendment re-amended?
    It can't be THAT big of a deal...
  21. Anonymous Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Marriage is a religious relic so accepting any marriage is a violation of the US constitution.
  22. Anonymous Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Are you joking?
  23. OTBT Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Picked up by a very active California legal blog:

    The National Law Journal's L.A. Legal Pad: Sea Org member will not see wages, says judge

  24. Stalin Member

  25. tikk Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    I realize that this notion has transcended to popular opinion, but it's really not true. Thomas holds a very different view of the law than Scalia, which might only be obvious by reading a number of their opinions, but though they often arrive at the same place, they do so via very different routes. I've read in a number of places that don't get along either. Thomas's view of the Constitution is far more consistently "originalist" than is Scalia's, which bends as political expediency dictates. Thomas's view of the Constitution is consequently more arcane than just about any US judge I've read. But it's absolutely untrue that he's a weaker version of Scalia--if anything, the opposite is true.
  26. tikk Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    I've had a chance to read the Alcazar opinion, which the Headley court relied in in finding that Sea Org members are subject to the ministerial exception. The Alcazar decision was issued by the Ninth Circuit a few weeks ago and conveniently announced a test for finding whether the ministerial exception applies. I believe the Headley court misapplies the test, and will get into that in a subsequent post, but if you're interested in understanding the law relating to the ministerial exception (in the Ninth Circuit and elsewhere even), the Alcazar case is important to read, and can be found here. (pdf)
  27. exOT8Michael Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    So, in the light of that can Claire appeal the poor decision?
  28. Anonymous Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    I'm no legal eagle, but its been my perception that while
    Scalia hisses and makes a big fuss over things,
    Thomas really *is* angry. And he's paying closer attention, while asssuming "The Thinker" pose....
  29. anonhuff Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    They can decide if a minister designation is subterfuge but the question of whether they can determine if "religious duties and responsibilities" is subterfuge is not addressed.

    edit: reading all these legal documents is making me realize why lawyers can charge hundreds of dollars an hour
  30. XenuPhobic Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    [ame=]YouTube - Larry King: Conspiracy & Cover-up in The Catholic Church (Must Watch)[/ame]

    Want to get angry? Listen/watch this smarmy douchebag, (who's the President of the Catholic League) defend all the pedophilia.

    "Oh it's a gheyyyy problem"
    "The boys were post-pubescent, so it's not pedophilia, it's homosexuality"

    Give me a fucking break.
  31. anonhuff Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Wow you weren't kidding what a douchebag that guy is holy crap.
  32. tikk Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Okay, I've had a chance to read the Alcazar case, which is remarkably on point. You might recall reading the Claire Headley decision that the Alcazar case had been issued after Claire's opposition was due, and so she was given a chance to analyze it in a sur-reply. In Alcazar, the Ninth Circuit announced a ministerial exception test (or rather, adopted the Fifth Circuit's test). Alcazar thus settled the law with regard to the ministerial exception in the Ninth circuit, and in doing so provided a clear guideline for determining whether Sea Org members (in California and other Ninth Circuit states) are subject to it.

    The Ninth Circuit's ministerial exception test is as follows:

    The Court in Headley, as we know, held that Sea Org members are subject to it, but provided scant analysis in doing so, proceeding glibly as if the question were far easier than it actually is, even under the broad (relative to other circuits) Alcazar test. The totality of the court's analysis reads as follows:

    Under the Alcazar test, the first prong is easily met; Claire Headley was employed by a religious institution (I'm going to ignore the cries that "Scientology isn't a religion" for the moment, since it's unrealistic at this point to see that argument having any traction in any US court).

    The second prong is more difficult: it asks whether the employee was chosen for the position based “largely on religious criteria." The court considers this prong satisfied due to Claire's "commitment to 1,000,000,000 years of service to Scientology and the lifestyle constraints that come with being a member of the Sea Org." There are two major problems with this analysis, namely that it relies on: (1) a wholly invalid "fantasy" contract to which no person could possibly be obligated; and (2) a tautology--the willingness to endure substandard treatment at the hands of your employer is not a "religious criteria"--indeed, it is what labor law intends to remedy. That the court could characterize the willingness to endure "lifestyle constraints"--a term so utterly vague as to be meaningless--as a criteria for religious work is indicative of just how little thought it put into its decision.

    The Alamo cult members were also willing to endure "lifestyle constraints" in accepting substandard wages. Was Tony Alamo's mistake not signing up his gas station attendants to Billion Year Contracts? The court's decision suggests as much. The bottom line is that--and ex members of Scientology will tell you this--Sea Org members are not chosen by Scientology based on any religious criteria--their willingness to become Sea Org members is the sole criteria. Additionally, the court ignores that children can become Sea Org members. Just how strenuous could Scientology’s religious hiring criteria be if children can be Sea Org members? And are they then not therefore protected by labor law? The issue wasn’t before the court, so it’s not surprising that it wasn’t addressed, but the court’s language appears to apply to many/most/all Sea Org members, so perhaps it should have been addressed.

    The third prong--the requirement that the religious employee perform "some" religious duties and responsibilities--is a mistake, in my opinion, where the court could have adopted the more rigorous analysis of the Fourth Circuit. See EEOC v. Catholic Univ. of Am., 83 F.3d 455, 463 (D.C. Cir. 1996); Rayburn v. Gen. Conference of Seveth-Day Adventists, 772 F.2d 1164, 1169 (4th Cir. 1985). The Fourth Circuit test examines the "primary duties" of the employees to determine whether they qualify for the minsterial exception; consequently, this test is less inclusive. As stated in the pleadings, Claire Headley primarily served as a secretary and performed little to no “religious” work.

    Under the Fourth Circuit test, therefore, a Sea Org member similar to Claire would likely not be subject to the ministerial exception because her primary duties were clerical (in the non-religious sense). The court only mentions two religious duties she did perform, namely “cramming” and “auditing,” both which can be categorized as religious, but both which can be performed by non-Sea Org members. So while these duties are nominally “religious,” they’re not activities limited to religious workers. While Claire still satisfies the Ninth Circuit test as to this prong, the circumstances suggest that not every Sea Org member would, if “cramming” and “auditing” are all the court could come up with, as not every Sea Org member performs them.

    In sum, the Court in Headley erred in failing to analyze the second prong of the Ninth Circuit Alcazar test in any depth, and its reasoning in arriving at its conclusions is both faulty and conclusory.
  33. Anonymous Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    I'll pipe up here.

    I was in the Sea Org. When I was on the EPF (their mini boot camp to indoctrinate new sea org members) there was a new recruit, a young woman. This young woman (maybe early 20's in age) was the girlfriend to a guy who had joined the sea org the week before. Though HE had been in scientology as a kid (I guess his parents were scientologists) SHE did not consider herself a scientologist. She had merely taken a Division 6 course like the How to Make Work Easier or some tiny course that can take a few evenings to complete.

    She was not aware of what scientology was. She would not have considered herself a Scientologist. She was a professional in her field which I believe was marketing or advertising. She was recruited to work at Bridge Publications which was at the time paying minimum wages and offering bonuses for selling books; she wouldn't have agreed to the $50/week of regular Sea Org members. I know these things because I spoke with her many times and participated in group discussions at the meal tables. I also spoke with her boyfriend who I was helping with his study and ethics problems. (Did helping him make me a "religious worker"?)

    Anyway, I just wanted to add that the sea org will take just about anyone who will agree to be a sea org member. They don't have to know anything about scientology nor prove their dedication or devotion.

    Oh... here's another one. Someone joined at one of the outlying Celebrity Centres and joined the Sea Org at Celebrity Centre International within weeks of getting involved in Scientology. He was sent back (sent away) shortly thereafter. We were told that the only reason he joined the Sea Org was to see or get close to celebrities. Hmmm... I wonder what the recruiter told him to get him to join -- maybe that he could see celebrities?

    So again we have no criteria proving one's devotion to that particular religion before being consider for the "elite religious order of Scientology, the Sea org".

    Another one? Myself. I'd been in Scientology just 8 months. Why did I make a good Sea Org recruit? Because I didn't know how bad the Sea Org actually was. Get 'em young. Get 'em before they find out much and will say "No!"
  34. tikk Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Thanks for that, it was helpful.
  35. Don Carlo Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Why the Court Ruling is wrong


    The CoS Staff contract says:
    QUOTE #1:


    END QUOTE # 1 Staff Contract from .

    Nonetheless by accepting more than about $200 a year, and accepting supervision and letting CoS set your hours, you are inescapably an EMPLOYEE. There are only three categories that all workers fall into:

    a. Volunteers must receive only tiny amounts, under $200 a year. A volunteer has the right to come and go, choose his own hours and own favorite work, and of course retain all civil rights. A public member of CoS with an outside job, who dabbles in Volunteer Ministry and gets zero pay, really IS a volunteer. But those taking over $200 a year are employees.

    b. Contractors, like plumbers, come and go as they wish, aren't directly supervised, and set their own hours. Staff and Sea Org obviously aren't contractors.

    c. Employees are everybody else, making over $200 a year and being bossed around. CoS workers are EMPLOYEES. There is no escaping this. Calling yourself a volunteer, or a minister, and signing this clause does NOTHING. You cannot volunteer to be underpaid, according to federal law. Being religious or having the IRS secret agreement doesn't change this.

    QUOTE # 2:
    An individual's motivation, such as whether he or she expects compensation for his or her labor, factors greatly in the determination of whether he or she qualifies as a volunteer. Nonetheless, a worker may not simply waive his or her right to FLSA coverage in order to enable his or her employer to escape the wage, hour and child labor provisions. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, FLSA protection may not be waived since:

    If an exception to the Act were carved out for employees willing to testify that they performed work "voluntarily," employers might be able to use superior bargaining power to coerce employees to make such assertions, or to waive their protections under the Act. END SUPREME COURT QUOTE

    Competition is yet another factor that influences the Department of Labor's evaluation. A volunteer should never displace or replace a member of the workforce. If his or her service jeopardizes the employment of another individual, the Department of Labor is unlikely to grant volunteer status.
    END QUOTE #2 from
    Archived: Negotiating the Legal Maze to Volunteer Service - Wage and Hour Laws

    The Supreme Court says you're a REAL volunteer and exempt from minimum wage "in almost every circumstance" if you volunteer to "minister to the comfort of the sick, elderly, indigent, infirm, or handicapped, and those who work with retarded or disadvantaged youth"

    My comment: Scientology demands that workers minister to the "able," and giving away services is "out-exchange." They have publicly stated that people have to be healthy and not on welfare to get audited. Scientology workers don't act like charity-giving volunteers. Even if they say "auditing can help disadvantaged youths," the term "minister to the comfort" does not include extracting money for auditing, or only giving the youth auditing if he works for COS. The minister would have to spend his time auditing outside disadvantaged youth WITHOUT CHARGING THEM. So the ACTIONS of the staff are not the actions of a volunteer.

    Do CoS workers make interstate phone calls and interstate money transactions? Yes, so they are engaged in interstate commerce and thus subject to federal minimum wage laws.

    3. IS THERE A VALID CoS VOW OF POVERTY? NO. The Billion-Year Contract has nothing about volunteering and low pay, and the Staff Contract does not meet the requirements for a Vow of Poverty.
    See entire Sea Org contract at . The entire Staff Contract, again, is at .

    Sea Org and non-Sea Org workers start by signing the same Staff Contract. But their real work lives are quite different. Regular (non-Sea Org) staff can have other jobs, live where they like, marry, and have children (if they can afford it). They do not have to join Sea Org. Regular staff sign up for 2 and a half or 5 years. They are pressured to work long hours but can argue and refuse, since there is no punishment besides firing and possible disconnection from family. They can't be sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF). Staff pay is based on statistics (stats) from that week's sales, but only after CoS headquarters and pressing bills are paid. (Note that the "rule" that they can't quit until they find a replacement is NOT in this contract. It would be invalid anyway, since it is slavery if you can't quit an illegally low-paying job.)

    Sea Org staff are quite different, since they additionally sign the Billion Year contract to join this "fraternal organization." They cannot work at any job outside Sea Org. They usually live in Sea Org housing. In the past, they could only marry Sea Org staff. For about two decades, they have not been allowed to get pregnant or adopt children, although some parents with children can still join Sea Org. Sea Org workers are supposedly "drug-free," and work long hours, and it is very difficult for them to refuse, since the penalty for disobedience is the RPF. Like regular staff, their pay is based on stats. They can also be sent to the RPF for poor performance, embarrassing CoS, lurking on the Internet, or offending a powerful executive.

    A regular staff member easily signs the Staff Contract, thinking many paragraphs won't apply to him, since he is told some paragraphs are only for Sea Org, and the contract is for only a few years. They often have another job so the money isn't so desperately needed. They aren't given a copy of the contract, and they forget about the contract details. Later, they join Sea Org and sign the Billion Year contract. But now, they THINK they are bound by all the legalese of the Staff contract, plus the authoritarian absolutism of the Billion-Year contract. If they were offered a comprehensive Sea Org contract, that forbids them to work elsewhere and pays them starvation wages, they might not sign both the legal and the absolutist clauses at once, because it's scary to sign away most of your civil rights forever, with the RPF punishment looming over you if you falter or disobey.

    CoS is trying to have it both ways with the regular staff. It says in the contract that all Scientology workers are members of a "Scientology Religious Order," so CoS wants them to think they are religious workers taking a vow of poverty. However, regular staff are given freedom to work at another job. That's inconsistent. Monks taking a vow of poverty don't also get a paycheck from Olive Garden.

    Regular staff is also considered lower, in power and spiritual level, than Sea Org. This contradicts the notion of fellowship.

    A vow of poverty means that you accept being completely impoverished; you gave away your worldly goods, and live an extremely simple and austere life. Benedictine monks aren't allowed to own anything, not even their own clothes. It's a different concept than being underpaid. There's nothing in the above "below-minimum-wage" paragraphs about the moral benefits of austerity. Regular CoS workers can still get $$$ from your second Olive Garden job, own a car and a house - THIS IS NOT POVERTY AS A GOAL. Even though CoS may pressure you to sell or mortgage your condo, and spend the money on courses, that's not in writing. A vow of poverty usually means a covenant relationship, where the monk is taken care of in his sickness and old age, since of course he has nothing. CoS uses the term covenant in the contract, but only to

    (a) avoid responsibility for any verbal promises
    (b) not promise any training, and
    (c) illegally collect the freeloader debt if the person quits or is fired

    QUOTE #4 from Staff Contract:
    BREACH OF COVENANT. If a staff member, who receives services from no cost up to and including 50% of cost (cost to the public), breaks his agreement either by leading staff before completing his commitment or by violating his good standing as a Scientology staff member so that he is dismissed in accordance with policy, he or she shall remit forthwith to the Church a penance for violation of this covenant in accordance with the ecclesiastical policy of the Church if such person is declared a “freeloader." This provision is not intended to reflect traditional commercial bargains or concerns, but rather is intended as a manifestation of applicable ecclesiastical ethics.
    END QUOTE # 4

    Notice the last sentence - CoS is only collecting the freeloader debt for "ethical" reasons, to prevent "out-exchange" rather than because CoS WANTS the money. But in "Furnishing of Necessaries," CoS crudely CREATED the freeloader debt as a false bogeyman by not considering room, board and courses as "earned."

    Regular and Sea Org workers are compelled to achieve their weekly stats to get paid, which causes a unseemly and unspiritual obsession with money, and can lead to false promises to the public. Furthermore, successful hard-sellers get lucrative commissions:

    QUOTE # 5: Commanding Officer of the Flag Service Organization, Debbie Cook, bought a new $40,000 car with the commission she made from Maria's coerced donation END QUOTE # 5 from Scientology --- Maria Pia Gardini, a Class 9 auditor, exposes Scientology

    It is hard to see how Debbie Cook is fulfilling any vow of poverty here.


    CoS claims its Sea Org workers get room, board, and classes, but not "as compensation."

    QUOTE # 6 from Staff Contract:
    FURNISHING OF NECESSARIES. Church staff members serve pursuant to their religious commitment and conviction rather than for monetary gain or other traditional commercial or financial motives or incentives. Nevertheless, the Church will, pursuant to this covenant, furnish certain necessaries, including a weekly nominal "pocket money" allowance, and, for certain staff positions, room and board. The furnishing of these necessary items is not intended to be and is not compensation for services performed by the applicant, but rather it provides an opportunity for the Church to establish an appropriate environment within which religious and spiritual awareness may receive the greatest prospect for enhancement and in which such matters constitute the sole reward for services. The amount of weekly allowance may vary depending upon economic conditions generally prevailing within the Church.
    END QUOTE # 6

    This is a highly revealing paragraph. The reason the room, board, and classes are not considered compensation is that CoS would have to declare them as income, and would have to pay its share of Social Security taxes on these items, which are considered "in-kind" in tax lingo. Furthermore, once these items showed up on the worker's paycheck the worker would have to pay the worker's share of Social Security on the in-kind items. With a pittance for wages, the worker would be even more impoverished by having Social Security taxes deducted on room board, and courses!

    Furthermore, if CoS considered the room, board and training as that week's income, that means that the worker EARNED them. Once the worker quit or was fired, there would be NO freeloader debt, since everything was already earned. Presently of course, the freeloader debt is unenforceable and illegal, but the worker doesn't know that. CoS can only scare the worker with freeloader debt threats, as a tool to keep the worker from quitting; it could never enforce the freeloader debt.

    The staff contract has many paragraphs stating that the worker can't sue CoS or CoS workers. This makes people think that they can't ask the US Department of Labor to force CoS to provide back pay for years of service. But contracts are valid only if they are LEGAL. There are several illegal parts of this contract, most specifically the "volunteering" to be paid under minimum wage. This invalidates the entire contract. So if you are an ex-Scientologist worker who left in the last one or two years, you have rights to back wages and back overtime wages. The government will provide the lawyer and the effort, because the Dept. of Labor is set up to help the exploited and unfairly impoverished worker who CAN'T afford their own lawyer. It's their job. What's ironic is that if CoS is charged for the back pay, they can't try to deduct room, board and courses from the back pay, since according to their own contract it's all for "religious and spiritual awareness."

    To get back wages, workers have to act within a couple of years of quitting. See
  36. Don Carlo Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Fears that the Catholic Vows of Poverty will be affected are nonsense. A few Catholics, mostly monks, sign very specific vows of poverty, and the billion-year contract has NO SUCH VOW. Yes, CoS says pay will be low, but there are ways out of that, like commissions for bringing in new people. Or, the stats could be really high one week, and all Sea Org workers could get a lot of pay (odd that this doesn't happen!). Or, you could have a big inheritance like Tommy Davis and drive fancy cars. A real vow of poverty would force Tommy Davis to give away his trust fund.
  37. eddieVroom Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    The "Old enough to bleed, Old enough to breed" argument. Kewl.

    Now back to the Clams lol
  38. Anonymous Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Even were there such a vow,
    how would you reconcile a presumed Scientology "oath of poverty" with:


    never mind the HCOPL 9 March 1972

    Are the materials explicitly not intended for Sea Orgers?
  39. sci and tell Member

    Re: Scientologists request dismissal in Headley case

    Ding ding ding ding ding! Give this guy a prize!

    This is the first time someone mentioned the "giving up one's earlier-gained wealth" when making a "vow of poverty".

    Good catch!

  40. 3rdMan Member

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