The Battle of Portland: How Scientology turned a nightmare court verdict into a major victory - 2018-01-24
Yesterday, we pointed out that a Scientology demonstration in Budapest reminded us of the famous "Battle of Portland" that took place in 1985. It just so happens that historian Chris Owen has been working on a detailed look at the Portland adventure, which we're posting in two parts. Here's the first half, which explains how a lawsuit in Oregon turned into one of Scientologys' most famous public demonstrations.
Portland, Oregon holds a special place in Scientology's collective consciousness. In 1985 thousands of Scientologists descended on the city to participate in what the Church dubbed the "Battle of Portland." A Scientology promotional email from 2013 calls the episode Scientology's "Gettysburg, the turning point, the pivotal event of the first half century of our religion." It was a moment at which Scientology's survival was at stake, but which it overcame through a combination of intelligence tactics, dirty tricks, public relations and creative lawyering in equal measure.
The cause of this threat was a lawsuit brought by a young woman, Julie Christofferson Titchbourne, who had attended the Portland organisation of the Church of Scientology. A former resident of the small town of Eureka, Montana, she had graduated from high school with excellent grades and aimed to go to college in Portland to study architecture and engineering there.