(original in french on Liberation national newspaper website)

The article is in full central page, and announced from the first page, with two photos.

Scientologists cloning themselves ont Internet

How the cult manipulates shots to illustrate a big mass.

Friday, jan 7, 2000

Hereabove, one of the shots of its rout in LA, published by the cult.

It should have been "the triumph of spirituality over materialism". On december 28th, into the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, the church of scientology invited its most convinced adepts to an immense rout. Three hours along, it was a feast to the glory of the cult founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Speaking: the present super chief, David Miscavige himself. Coming there, some 30 french people or more. Two days after the event, scientology -which is never late on the Public Relations affairs - sent a press release. And it publishes four photos on one of its websites. For scientology, it's a demonstration of power: a stadium, 14000 persons, 65 countries represented, a laser show, four panoramic shots. On its site, a note indicating that those photos are for media publiscation. But ... the same evening, an american internetizen, Arnalado Lerma, 49, ex executive into the cult turned critic, receives a hint from inside scientology. The published shots on Internet by scientology could be somewhat strange. Arnaldo Lerma checks them. And he finds here and there, a women appearing twice in the crowd. There, a man has been cloned three times, and has lost his head through a wrongly done copy and paste. There is something almost divine in those duplicates.

Immediately, it's the sudden crazes. Arnaldo Lerma takes some contacts with friends, between them is Roger Gonnet, 58, also a cult's ex-member , also turned critic, also an internetizen. Both get the shots on dec 31st to download and dissecate the lot. Laughing a lot too, as said Arnaldo Lerma to Libération, because the work of falsification from the cult was so badly done.

Both friends remain silent for some time. Arnaldo Lerma:"We decided first to be discreet and to wait for the millenium to start before saying it to internetizens." On january 2d at dawn, Arnaldo Lerma, from Virginia and Roger Gonnet, from Beaujolais, exposed their findings on their sites (2), and announced the news into the newsgroups (3). For scientology, always so image-concerned all this is really coarse-looking.

Then, as usual, the fast reacting cult acts immediately. And suppresses the images from its website. Tilt, too late to complete a game of skill? The other critics of scientology and internetizens have already taken the coup: this manhandling symbolizes so well the "Cult's Lies". Cut shots helping, some indicate as well that this is no new practice for L.Ron Hubbard proselytes.(4)

From the scientology viewpoint, evidently, one does play it down. Jean Dupuis, the PR person for France, speaks of a wet cracker. A parisian member, who went to Los Angeles, swears that "the stadium was entirely filled". The mother church in LA recognizes the error when Libération called it. And Karin Pouw, communications executive, says: "It's for esthetical reasons that a photograph added persons, because when the shot was taken, some had left to go to a procession". We were really 14000 on that day." But Karin Pouw has no other argument than the following to explain why those manipulated shots have been choosen then publicized: "They were the first to be developed".

(1) Author of
La Secte, éditions Alban, 1998, 274 pp.

http://www.lermanet.com et http://www.antisectes.net/photos

(3) mostly


©Libération 2000

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