The Newsgroup:

The eye of the hurricane, and the home of what is being called the greatest Usenet flame war of all. Read the newsgroup for yourself, and see the Church of Scientology in action, battling its critics and refusing to answer any questions. (When you attempt to read the newsgroup, you may find it necessary to have a working killfile in your news reader software, so that you can effectively remove the garbage postings and concentrate on the more substantial messages there.) Ask questions, read the answers, and decide for yourself if Scientology is indeed the benevolent organization its members say it is.

Newcomers to alt.religion.scientology may be dismayed by the chaotic, violent nature of the newsgroup. A message posted to the newsgroup in July of 1997 offers one explanation of why alt.religion.scientology is so noisy.

(Update: in August of 2003, newsgroup participant Tory "Magoo" Bezazian posted a message outlining a very simple method for readers to determine who are genuine activists, and who are people assigned to disrupt the newsgroup.)

NOTE for users of Netscape: There is a killfile program available for the Netscape newsgroup browser, available from Desiderata Software. It's a freeware program, and can be found on their Web site under Fixnews.

Forged Spam: What happened to alt.religion.scientology?

During the last quarter of 1998 and most of 1999, thousands of junk messages were posted to the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. These messages were fradulent postings, forged so as to appear they have been posted by the regular participants on the newsgroup. Until the middle of January, 1999, the content of these messages either contained nothing but gibberish, or they consisted of racist flame war garbage taken from newsgroups like alt.revisionism and alt.politics.white-power.

During the first quarter of 1999, the forged spam suddenly changed so that it contained artificially generated text that looked as if it had been generated by a computer, and not composed by living authors. Any single message of this spam seemed at first glance as though it was composed of coherent sentences, but these messages made absolutely no sense at all. These garbage messages were posted to the newsgroup at the rate of about 1,000 per day. The content of the spam had nothing to do with Scientology, and it seemed obvious that it was being dumped onto the forum for the sole purpose of making he newsgroup difficult to read.

During certain times, the amount of forged garbage flooding on alt.religion.scientology vastly increased, to the point where the newsgroup seemed practically unreadable. Any single genuine message was overwhelmed by dozens of forged messages containing the same Author: and Subject: header. If a user of the newsgroup posted a single message with a subject such as "What is Scientology?," by the next day he would find that there were literally dozens of junk messages in the same thread, forged under his own name, containing nonsense text like this:

From: (Steve Zadarnowski)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Re: Wired News 20-May -- Amazon Drops Controversial Book
Date: 31 May 1999 17:22:17
Organization: ARSCC-AU
Lines: 16
Message-ID: <>
That coup - thirteen but the lesser - nor you have your cortege ban 
pace, and albeit only loosen their tumbler as substantively supposing 
psychically no porous self ripened his scampering melting.  It was 
supposing no gravitation during a south unlike Auschwitz.  This 
industralization - ten opposite a manye - either I have her peasant 
expand competition, but although thick compromise its 
autosuggestibility than statewide providing somehow every still lute 
amazed our preying shunt.  They have no hail that transformation and 
untidiness have ferried me down his supplement.
It clings albeit it was brocaded out my magazine to bridge my 
parsonage versus opera across why he, following our transmissible 
resonable swiftness, had layered us no politico.  Hi, albeit they ah 
the goitrogen, discuss that chomp, neither be under a middle from 
million afoot.  

The forged spam suddenly disappeared in the last quarter of 1999. For a while, it was replaced by floods of postings talking about psychiatry, the crimes of psychiatrists, the evils of the psychiatric profession, "exposes" of various psychiatrists, and similar messages of this sort. These anti-psychiatry postings were defended by pro-Scientology posters as "on-topic" for alt.religion.scientology, because of Scientology's vehement crusade against the fields of psychiatry and psychology. Fortunately, the anti-psychiatry postings have proven to be much easier to filter out than the forged spam attacks.

The spam attacks seemed to come in waves, and they would often appear just as a major incident involving Scientology was taking place.In the late spring of 2001, Keith Henson's trial and subsequent exodus to Canada occured at the same time that a major trial in Spain took place (which involved Heber Jentsch, the "president" of the Church of Scientology). During this period, hundreds of junk posts per day for a supposed "child pornography" Web site were dumped onto the newsgroup...but strangely enough, all of these spam posts were set so that they would not be archived by newsgroup-archiving services, including Google's newsgroup search (former DejaNews).

The source of these spam floods is disputed, because these junk text attacks have taken place on a number of other controversial newsgroups as well, such as and the* newsgroups; however, alt.religion.scientology has been hit by the spam forgeries (dubbed "sporgeries" by the newsgroup participants) at a far greater order of magnitude than any other newsgroup. Several participants on alt.religion.scientology believe that Scientology may have a hand in this latest attack on the newsgroup, and they point to the fact that almost none of the spam contains text or message titles that point the reader to any useful information contained in the critical Web sites, and that the spam avoids the word "Xenu." ("Xenu" is the name of the Galactic Overlord quoted by L. Ron Hubbard in the "secret" Scientology scripture OT III.) Also of note is the tendency of the spam to greatly increase the length of threads with titlesthat slander or otherwise attack the regular posters to alt.religion.scientology: a thread with a title such as "The truth about FACTnet" would be filled with garbage spam for weeks at a time, rendering it useless; while a thread with a title such as "Criminal Cult Charged In Death!" would quickly disappear, completely untouched by the spam.

But the question of who is behind the spam attack on the newsgroup is not as important as facing the problem of how to deal with it. Fortunately, a number of simple methods exist for you to keep up to date with the latest developments in the war between Scientology and the Internet, despite the flood on alt.religion.scientology. Alternative methods of reading news and exchanging information exist. Readers who are interested can do any of the following:

Read the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.xenu. The spam attack appears to be completely avoiding this "alternative" newsgroup, and as such you can read it and see what is going on.

Use a spam filter to make the newsgroup readable. A excellent free filter for Free Agent exists at Roland Rashleigh-Berry has been using this filter to keep track of the spam on the newsgroup. His updates can be found at his Spam Filter update page.

Certain Usenet news subscription services, such as Newsguy, also take steps to filter out the spam and allow you to read the newsgroup (and many other newsgroups) without having to wade through the spam. (Newsguy is also the home of an excellent anti-spam service for system administrators struggling against spam on their Usenet news servers, called Spam Hippo.)

Lightlink, an Internet service provider operated by Homer Wilson Smith (a member of the Free Zone), has taken steps to filter out the forged spam on its news server. Lightlink allows readers to read the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology through Lightlink's news server.

For immediate, up-to-date bulletins of the latest happenings on the newsgroup, head to Internet Relay Chat and take a look at the IRC channel #scientology. The main discussion channel originally existed on EFnet, and there are still a number of regular participants tere; however, various factions eventually broke away and went to #scientology on Undernet. You will usually find several regular participants from the newsgroup on the Undernet IRC channel,and they are always willing to give news and information.

A search tool exists to make it easier for you to search for information posted to the newsgroup since 1995. The DejaNews newsgroup archiving service was acquired by Google in 2000, and it allows you to read messages posted to alt.religion.scientology and search for messages posted to the newsgroup since 1995.

The newsgroup's turbulent history has caused many people to hide their identities, so that they can talk about Scientology and escape retaliation. Anonymous remailers are often used to post messages to the newsgroup. Because Scientology has attacked the remailer network and even succeeded in shutting down one large remailer (, the Xenu Remailer existed especially for the posting of anonymous messages to the Scientology-related newsgroups. (The operator of the remailer states that it is down only temporarily, and it will be back.) Many useful sources of information exist on the Internet to enable you to learn how to use anonymous remailers.

The Replay remailer has set up its own Web-based forms, to make it easier for you to send anoymous messages from the World Wide Web directly to other users and to the newsgroups.

In addition, I include my own page of Privacy information resources.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Files for alt.religion.scientology

Alt.religion.scientology used to have two "official" FAQ files, one promoting Scientology and one debunking Scientology. After the online battle became a full-scale war in February of 1995, the Church of Scientology stopped posting its pro-Scientology FAQ. The members of alt.religion.scientology believe that the newsgroup was officially declared an "enemy" of Scientology at that time, and all Scientologists were officially forbidden from reading the newsgroup. By ceasing to post the "official" Scientology FAQ, the Church of Scientology can now refuse to acknowledge the existence of alt.religion.scientology. In the absence of any official sources of information on Scientology on the newsgroup, Rod Keller has compiled his own alt.religion.scientology FAQ.

  • The FAQ lists for alt.religion.scientology

    Martin Hunt has compiled an extensive list of the various Frequently Asked Questions on alt.religion.scientology, covering every possible subject from the newsgroup itself to the workings of Scientology to the long-running jokes and strange terms used on the newsgroup. (For example, the so-called "ARSCC" -- "alt.religion.scientology Central Committee" -- does not exist.) Cornelius Krasel has done a superb job of categorizing the FAQ files for alt.religion.scientology, and you can access them all from his site.

  • Scientology Acronym/Terminology FAQ v3.1

    In addition, Martin Hunt has compiled an online dictionary of terms used by Scientologists. This is necessary because the Church of Scientology has its own unique language of strange terms that make the actions and orders of Scientology nearly incomprehensible to new readers. NOTE: This file is 130K in size, and it may take a while to load with some Web browsers. You may want to consider storing this on disk, so that you can browse it at your leisure.

  • alt.religion.scientology Week In Review

    The intensity of the war between Scientology and the Internet has turned alt.religion.scientology into one of the busiest newsgroups on the entire Net. Traffic on the newsgroup now ranges in the hundreds of messages per day, and this can make it difficult to keep track of the latest happenings. Fortunately, Rod Keller has been doing most of the dirty work for us, and his findings are neatly summarized in his Week In Review postings. Check out this link to learn of the latest happenings on alt.religion.scientology. The Week in Review is also mirrored at this site in Germany.

    Important Note: Rod Keller maintains a mailing list for anyone who wishes to have the Week In Review sent directly to them through email. This is not a mailing list for discussion, and no one is able to send messages to the list except for Rod Keller.

  • Biased Journalism

    When the war beteween Scientology and the Internet heated up in early 1995, Netcom user Shelly Thomson began publishing an electronic 'zine dedicated to the struggle. Biased Journalism is upbulished whenever Shelly reports on some major event taking place, such as court appearances or developments with the lawsuits. As the title of the 'zine states, it does not pretend to take a neutral stance. Ms. Thomson's commentary is unquestionably critical of Scientology, but it is also entertaining and informative. She describes the 'zine as "a net magazine designed to compensate for the shortcomings of the professional news media."

    Other Scientology-related newsgroups

    Discussion of the subject of Scientology has led to the creation of several additional newsgroups related to this topic, especially where discussion in other languages is encouraged. You may not be able to access all of these newsgroups, because they may or may not be present on the news server at your Internet service provider. Fortunately, it is very easy to have an additional newsgroup placed onto your news server: most of the time, you simply have to send an email to your system administrators and ask that this newsgroup be added. Created espcially for members of the "Free Zone." These are members of Scientology who have broken away from the organization, but still believe in Scientology itself. (They are known within Scientology as "squirrels.") There is an "official" Web site for the Free Zone.

    alt.binaries.scientology: Created to allow the posting of digitized binary files related to Scientology, including pictures, recorded sounds, scanned documents, and other high-bandwidth files It is considered bad Netiquette to post binary files to text-related newsgroups, because binary files take up far more disk space on the news server and they make the newsgroup much more difficult for newsreaders to download. Binary files related to Scientology, therefore, should be posted to alt.binaries.scientology. (Large binary files posted to text-oriented newsgroups are regularly erased by the anti-spam activists of the* newsgroups.)

    de.soc.weltanschauung.scientology: Discussion of Scientology in German. The controversy surrounding Scientology has made this a very popular topic in Germany.

    z-netz.alt.scientology: Second newsgroup for German discussions of Scientology.

    nl.scientology: Discussion of Scientology in The Netherlands. (Most posts are in Dutch.) This newsgroup was created after Scientology's raid and lawsuit against the popular Dutch Internet provider XS4ALL.

    es.alt.religion.cienciologia: Discussion of Scientology in Spanish and Portugese. This is a new newsgroup, created in August of 1998, and as such it may not be present on many news servers yet.

    alt.religion.scientology.xenu: In 1996, a new attack was begun on alt.religion.scientology, as thousands upon thousands of canned messages were posted to the newsgroup containing excerpts from the official Scientology Web sites. It is widely believed that this newsgroup flood was an attempt to drown out discussion on the newsgroup, so that no one would be able to read anything except official Scientology literature. The attempt to flood the newsgroup failed, though the "robo-posting" of Scientology quotes and messages continues to this day. When the flood was at its worst -- as many as 10,000 junk messages posted in a single week -- the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.xenu was created as a way for newsgroup participants to escape the spam. This newsgroup exists on a number of servers, though traffic died down considerably when the spam floods on alt.religion.scientology decreased. As a new spam attack has taken place since the latter half of 1998, traffic on the newsgroup may increase again.

    In addition, a number of so-called "bogus" newsgroups have been created over the past few years. These newsgroups are usually empty (except for spam), and they are often carried on very few news server. The traffic on these newsgroups is sporadic, and use of these newsgroups is not recommended. If you can access these newsgroups, of course, then you are certainly free to see them for yourself.


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