Scientology Winning in Court - 1985-12-01
After years of tumult in which many of its leaders have been jailed for obstruction of justice and charged in large damage suits, the Church of Scientology, with the support of mainstream religious groups, has begun to score a string of legal victories advancing its cause.
What has been derided as a cult offering patent-medicine psychology at sky-high prices now is being defended by some leading Christians and Jews as a persecuted minority. A $39 million fraud judgment has been overturned in a seven-year-old case that started the church's legal troubles, and a federal judge has extended the protections of the U.S. Trade Secrets Act to confidential church teachings.
At least 15 lawsuits filed around the country by former members still plague the 31-year-old U.S.-born church. Summonses are still out for the reclusive science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, 74, whose self-help writings form the church's doctrine but who has not been seen in public since 1980. Some of the church's tax exemptions have been revoked, and what it calls distorted versions of its most sacred texts have been released.