Scientology Protests Continue in Oregon
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Hundreds of Scientologists marched on the Capitol or rallied at a free outdoor concert as they continue their weeklong protest of a $39 million jury verdict against their church.
Singer Frank Stallone, brother of Sylvester Stallone of ″Rocky″ movie fame, and others entertained an estimated 1,000 people at a downtown Portland park.
Actor Jeff Pomerantz, who once played a district attorney prosecuting Joan Collins on ABC-TV’s ″Dynasty,″ announced in the middle of the concert that a new church had just opened its doors in Washington, D.C.
″The concerts are happening to show that the church is only interested in doing good, to show people what it’s all about is doing good things,″ Pomerantz said. ″Instead of getting angry, the church tries to do something positive, like opening another church.″
Earlier Tuesday, more than 500 Scientologists marched from the state fairgrounds to the Capitol in Salem to protest the verdict. The marchers, who arrived from Portland in a caravan of 20 rented school buses and dozens of cars, linked arms and sang ″We Shall Overcome″ and ″America the Beautiful.″
The church and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, face a million fraud judgment returned Friday by a Multnomah County Circuit Court jury following a 10-week trial in a lawsuit filed by Julie Christofferson Titchbourne, 27, of Portland.
Ms. Titchbourne said in her lawsuit that the church had defrauded her when she joined it in 1975 after hearing and reading church claims that it could improve intelligence and correct weak eyesight.
Church officials contend the verdict threatens First Amendment rights guaranteeing freedom of religion.
One juror in the case, Ann Howell, told KGW-TV in Portland that evidence presented in the trial convinced her the church was using ″abhorrent″ tactics against members who questioned its methods and philosophy.
Ms. Howell said the jury’s verdict came on clear issues of fraud and did not involve any religious issues.
During the Salem protest, Ken Hoden, president of the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles and former head of the church’s Oregon branch, took to Gov. Vic Atiyeh’s office letters he said were signed by 774 Scientologists.
Hoden also presented an open letter to Atiyeh and members of the Oregon Legislature ″alerting you to the travesty″ of the case and the precedent the Scientologists say it sets for infringing on religious freedom.
Atiyeh did not meet with the Scientology delegation. He said he already had made other appointments.
″There are no appropriate appeals either through the legislative or executive branch and there is no reason for them to be directly appealing personally to the governor,″ said Atiyeh aide Denny Miles.