Keith Henson is one of the most effective critics of Scientology. He has litigated pro se against their multimillion-dollar litigation machine, and in some cases he has won, and some he has lost. He has picketed them perhaps more than any other single person. He has criticized them on the Internet, in media interviews, and even took the deposition of cult leader David Miscavige.
Henson entered the Scientology battle when it was at its most heated, in the mid-1990s. In 1996, many of Scientology's "secret writings" were released onto the Internet, and Scientology embarked on a massive worldwide campaign to keep them from being spread to the general public. Henson examined these writings, entitled New Era Dianetics (known as NOTS in Scientology, and to the organization's critics), and from his examination of these "secret" documents, he claimed that Scientology was committing medical fraud.
The NOTS documents, he said, contained detailed instructions for the treatment of physical ailments and illnesses through the use of Scientology practices. However, a Supreme Court decision in 1971 had declared that Scientology's writings were meant for "purely spiritual" purposes, and all Scientology books published since then have included disclaimers stating that Scientology's E-meter device "does nothing" and does not cure any physical ailments (United States v. Founding Church of Scientology et al., US District Court, District of Columbia 333 F. Supp. 357, July 30, 1971). The NOTS procedures, Henson claimed, were a violation of this decision. To prove his claim, Henson posted two pages from the NOTS documents onto the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.
The Church of Scientology immediately threatened to sue Henson, but he did not back down from his claims. Immediately afterwards, Henson was served with a lawsuit by the church's legal arm, the Religious Technology Center, (RTC). Henson defended himself in order to avoid the massive legal costs incurred in a Scientology lawsuit. After a lengthy court battle involving massive amounts of paperwork, Henson was found guilty of copyright infringement. He was ordered to pay $75,000 in fines, an amount trumpeted by the church as the largest copyright damages award ever levied against an individual. (Critics of Scientology estimate that the organization spent a total of about $2 million in litigation against Henson.)
Henson declared bankruptcy in response to the judgement, though the church dogged him through every step of the filing process. Henson began protesting Scientology regularly, standing outside of Scientology's film studio, the Gold Base, with a picket sign. The organization sought assistance from the authorities, and finally Henson was arrested and brought on trial for criminal charges.
The charges stemmed from his pickets at the secretive and heavily armed compound called Gold Base (or Golden Era Studios) over the unusual deaths of a Scientologist, Stacy Moxon Meyer, and a non-Scientologist, Ashlee Shaner.
Meyer, the daughter of Scientology attorney Kendrick Moxon, adverse counsel in many lawsuits involving Henson, died in a bizarre and gruesome accident in an underground electrical vault. In a horrific irony, when Stacy Moxon Meyer was dying underground in the electrical vault, picketers aboveground were protesting the previous death of Ashlee Shaner in a ghastly decapitation, which occurred because Scientology was moving construction equipment on the highway at night without lights, and in the wrong lane.
On 26 Apr 2001, Keith Henson was convicted of "interfering with a religion", a misdemeanor under California law, for picketing outside Scientology's heavily-armed, razor-wire enclosed base outside Hemet, CA.
At trial, the judge threw out all Henson's witnesses, disallowed any testimony about his reasons for picketing the cult, and allowed the prosecution to present excerpts from Henson's Internet postings out of context; the Scientology witnesses also committed perjury which Henson was unable to rebut. In fact Henson was not even allowed to talk about Scientology, the very religion that was charging him with interference.
Keith Henson feared for his life after comments made by Elliot Abelson about being attacked in jail. He fled to Canada to seek political asylum.
Henson was arrested by a SWAT team and detained for more than a week after Church of Scientology officials in Toronto complained to Immigration about his presence in Canada and depicted him as "dangerous". He was released and his application for refugee status was accepted. Henson lived in Brantford, Ontario from 2001 to 2005 and worked as an electronics engineer. After spending three years there, Henson was finally notified that a decision had been reached on his application. He was instructed to appear in person at a meeting on September 14, 2005, to learn what the decision was. The implication was that a negative decision would result in his being deported back to the US by Canadian law enforcement.
Citing concern over his personal safety in such an event (since Scientology might find out the handover time and place), Henson chose to instead quietly leave Brantford the previous night. He notified the Canadian government by fax that he had left Canada of his own accord.
On Febraury 2, 2007, the Prescott Police Department acting on a tip, arrested Keith. He was surprised when three police cars then drove up, and Mark McClain, by his card a City of Prescott police officer, turned out to be law enforcement and not a bounty hunter. McClain told him that police had been given the registration number of the van he was driving. Apparently he was once again under surveillance by Scientology.
His current location (as of February 3, 2007) is the Yavapai Detention Center in Prescott, Arizona, awaiting possible extradition to Riverside County, California. Henson has previously received death threats to the effect that he would be killed while serving his sentence. He faces a hearing Monday morning February 5, to extradite him back to California. The governor of California signed a "Governor's Warrant" for Keith requesting his extradition from Arizona for "obstruction of justice." Why? Especially when a Governor's Warrant is very rare in anything but felony cases, and why what it important enough to get the Governor involved on a weekend?
From the very beginning of this travesty of justice, through the continuing harassment by Scientology of this 65-year-old man that has harmed no one, to the utter destruction of Keith Henson's life. This is the true harm of Scientology. Not Tom Cruise jumping on couches, or the story of Xenu on South Park.
If Keith is harmed as many feared, California will have good reason to hang its head in shame. And we, who continue to shed light on Scientology's abuse, will scream it from the mountaintops.
Confirmation and further information
It's not a joke. It's not some harmless cult of gullible fools taking what escapism they can from a charismatic con man's promises. Underneath the mindless celebrity endorsements and comical belief structure is an organization with the power and methods of a Reich. Scientology destroys lives. It sucks out people's wills while it's emptying their wallets. It funnels the majority of its vast resources into its legal arm, which it subsequently uses to viciously attack anyone who dares speak to loudly. No matter how small you are, these bastards will not hesitate to plunge you into a living hell if you get their attention. They feed on silence. So long as the world at large is ignorant of their inexcusably evil methods, or apathetic to the weirdo cult with the funny aliens, they remain free to act on their whims unimpeded. The only way to bring them down is to tear away their veil of secrecy and expose them to the harsh light of a society that will not tolerate these parasites.
There is nothing about Scientology that is not evil, or a front for evil. Lives have been ruined, or cut short abruptly. Don't make the mistake of ignoring this sick, psychopatic factory of human misery. The Church of Scientology must be wiped from the earth like the stain it is.