Bonnie and Richard Woods

# Comment by chansonroland on February 16, 2008 7:45 pm

In the case of Bonnie Woods, she had apparently taken the CoS to court at one point for having denounced her as a ‘hate campaigner’, hired a private investigator to follow her and her family, and providing a creditor of her and her husband with free legal assistance to sue them into bankruptcy. These sound like some pretty harsh tactics to still be using in the 1990s. What are your thoughts?

Answer (updated 25 Feb 2008 to include Church apology):

My thought on this are irrelevant. Her are some fact which you omit to tell anybody here. Bonnie Woods and her husband Richard are former Scientologists who converted to fundamentalist Christianity and live in the United Kingdom. So far so good. Now, since that time though they have engaged in what they call “Spiritual Warfare”, as their new “Christian Duty”. For more than 10 years they have spread anti-Scientology propaganda in the media and other place with the sole purpose to scare or confuse relatives of Scientologists so they would emply the Woods to “deprogramme” Scientologists.

Deprogramming: a pseudo-therapy in which the member of an unpopular or controversial religion is abducted, involuntarily detained, and repeatedly insulted/harassed/threatened by individuals, usually paid by that person’s family, until that person gives up his belief. Recently, given the bad reputation of many deprogrammers who got jailed for kidnapping, assault and other crimes, deprogrammers have adopted new euphemisms for their roles, such as “interventionists” and “exit counselors.”

This is the background to what you are refering to, which happened in 1993:

In 1993 the Woods distributed flyers outside a Scientology bookshop in East Grinstead, UK, denigrating the Church and the church members working in the bookshop. In response, the Church published a leaflet stating that Bonnie Woods was a hate campaigner against religions (not only Scientology). Woods filed suit and claimed that the Church could not state they conducted a hate campaign against religions (plural) because their campaign was only be against the Church of Scientology. Originally she also sued over a statement that she had a devious financial history (she withdrew this complaint when it became clear that she would lose on this point). The litigation was settled without a trial in 1999 and the Church of Scientology issued an apology which you can find here in full.

It states that “Bonnie Woods does not hate any religion and would not take any step to force people away from their chosen religion or encourage others to do so. While the Woods have on occasion met with Scientologists and their families at the request of their families and discussed the Church of Scientology with them, the Woods have not put pressure on them or the Church of Scientology to prevent them continuing in Scientology. Mrs Woods is sincere in her Christian faith. The publication of the allegations to her friends and neighbours in the local community was deeply distressing to Mrs Woods. In order to clear her name, in December 1993 Mrs Woods sued Church of Scientology Religious Education College Incorporated and the individual members who had published the leaflet for libel. The Defendants have now acknowledge that the allegations about Mrs Woods were untrue.

Later, in a different legal case, Richard Woods admitted under oath that they are actually engaged in spiritual warfare against the “forces of Satan” which he confirmed included not only Scientologists, but also Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and others. He admitted that deprogramming Mary Johnston was part of that spiritual warfare, and confirmed that he and Bonnie were “exit counsellors” (deprogrammers) by profession (Source: Hearing transcript of 4th February 2003, High Court Dublin, in the case of Mary Johnston vs. Scientology Mission Dublin).

- Lou

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3 Comments

  1. Note: I updated the actual post so that the apology is quoted there as well. I doubt that this is the full story (the full apology reads like some legal wash) but this is what I have right now.

    - Lu

  2. @Comment by anmn on February 22, 2008 9:11 pm

    Dear anmn (can you choose a better name, please…), I put together all open questions and made a new post for them. Thank you for this new information. See, that is the learning process I mentioned earlier. Let me get back to you on the Woods once I have dug deeper into the subject.

    - Lu

  3. If you’re trying to present the rest of the story, at least follow through.

    Yes, the ligitation was settled without trial — the Church of Scientology issued an apology to Bonnie Woods and paid her $300,000 in damages and court costs. The apology reads, in part:

    “The leaflet described Mrs Woods as a “hate campaigner”, that is, someone motivated by hatred and religious intolerance, and as a “deprogrammer” who tried to force people away from their chosen faith. It also cast doubt on the sincerity of her claims to be a born-again Christian. As the defendants now accept, the allegations in the leaflet about Mrs Woods were untrue.

    “Bonnie Woods does not hate any religion and would not take any step to force people away from their chosen religion or encourage others to do so. While the Woods have on occasion met with Scientologists and their families at the request of their families and discussed the Church of Scientology with them, the Woods have not put pressure on them or the Church of Scientology to prevent them continuing in Scientology.”

    Your summary is completely untrue, and the Church of Scientology itself admitted this.

    Full text of the apology: http://www.escapeint.org/legal/apology.htm
    Text of news article of judgment: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/17078/scientology-cult-pays-bonnie-woods


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