OTHER ISSUES

Freedom Magazine. The Data Demon issue cover
February 2017
Vol. 49, Issue 1
Freedom Magazine. The 2016 Expansion issue cover
December 2016 Special Edition
Freedom Magazine. The Shocking Truth issue cover
October 2016
Vol. 48, Issue 3
Freedom Magazine. Military Spending issue cover
June-July 2016
Vol. 48, Issue 2
Freedom Magazine. Pill Pushers issue cover
April-May 2016
Vol. 48, Issue 1
Freedom Magazine. Back to School issue cover
September 2015
Vol. 47, Issue 8
Freedom Magazine. Veterans issue cover
August 2015
Vol. 47, Issue 7
Freedom Magazine. Infrastructure issue cover
July 2015
Vol. 47, Issue 6
Freedom Magazine. Net Freedom issue cover
June 2015
Vol. 47, Issue 5
Freedom Magazine. Patriot Games issue cover
May 2015
Vol. 47, Issue 4
Freedom Magazine. People Who Read Are a Dying Breed issue cover
March 2015
Vol. 47, Issue 2
Get Religion? issue cover
February 2015
Vol. 47, Issue 1
Freedom Magazine. Scientology Expansion issue cover
December 2014 Special Edition
Freedom Magazine. Held Back issue cover
November 2014
Vol. 46, Issue 4
Freedom Magazine. Created Equal issue cover
October 2014
Vol. 46, Issue 3
Freedom Magazine. LA Under the Influence issue cover
September 2014
Vol. 46, Issue 2
Military: Are They Drugged to Death issue cover
August 2014
Vol. 46, Issue 1

FLORIDA ISSUES

Freedom Magazine. The Year in Review issue cover
December 2016
Clearwater Special Edition
Freedom Magazine. Clearwater Building cover
Special Clearwater Edition.
August 2015
Freedom Magazine. Building a Great City issue cover
Florida.
Vol. 20, Issue 1
Freedom Magazine. Flag issue cover
July 2014
Special Edition
PUBLISHED BY
Church of Scientology
since 1968
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The Church of Scientology: A Fierce Freedom of Information Advocate

“A popular government without popular information, or means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both.” — James Madison

This is a war that never ends: Citizens want to know what government is doing, and government tries to put a lid on information.

Sixty years ago, a Democratic Congressman from California, John Moss, launched the effort to peel back that lid in the federal government. Bureaucrats during the Cold War, with knee-jerk obsession, had started stamping everything “secret,” and citizens rightfully were outraged at their servants in government.

Moss’ anti-secrecy legislation stalled until the mid-1960s—it was bitterly opposed by President Lyndon Johnson and every federal agency and department. But when the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into law on July 4, 1966, even LBJ capitulated: “I sign this measure with a deep sense of pride that the United States is an open society.”

But it wasn’t completely—and not yet. The landmark act remained ineffectual until after the Watergate Scandal revealed the culture of secrecy and political corruption that pervaded government. In the 1970s, FOIA finally got a watchdog’s teeth.

The interim fight for openness involved heavy political jousting. Moss and many, many Democratic and Republican members of Congress, as well as presidents and their aides, endorsed open government. Many others trenchantly opposed the FOIA. And still more were mule-like in their stubbornness at making the wheels of transparency grind as slowly as possible.

What broke what could have been a protracted and anti-democracy stalemate was the activism of citizens. And high on the list of champions of FOIA and other government transparency measures was the Church of Scientology.

Beginning in the 1970s, the Church established itself as a leader in the promotion and utilization of the FOIA to protect not just the rights of Scientologists, but those of all citizens.

“The Church passionately supports open government,” says Bill Walsh, a Washington, D.C., attorney who has represented Scientology in many matters related to the FOIA. “We have literally made available to the public hundreds of thousands of pages of documents.”

To share its acquired expertise in using the FOIA, the Church in 1976 published and widely distributed A Citizen’s Guide to the FOIA. And starting in 1975, Freedom Magazine launched a campaign that increased public awareness of the transparency law, and inspired citizens to use the FOIA for themselves.

Scientology’s Freedom Magazine also availed itself of the FOIA, carrying out a campaign in the 1970s and 1980s that found and exposed harmful drug tests and biological warfare experiments carried out by the United States Government on unwitting citizens. (See “How Will the World Speak my Name…”)

The Church also used the FOIA to reform government agency procedures. In May 1991, in a FOIA case against the Internal Revenue Service, a federal court stated, “Communications between the IRS and the Church indicate that this litigation contributed to the IRS’ decision to review its procedures and that resulting improvements in these procedures will enable better handling of over 1,000 cases involving identical legal issues.“

Cases brought and litigated by the Church of Scientology have led to substantial FOIA reform, including shifting the burden to the government to prove that documents are exempt, and establishing that a government agency must specify what documents are being withheld and on what precise grounds—so that citizens can legally challenge exemption.

Quinlan J. Shea Jr., director of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Privacy and Information Appeals under Presidents Ford and Carter, credited the Church of Scientology, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Society of Professional Journalists, with having “endeavored to shine more light on government. They—and others—have issued publications on how to use the FOIA, have litigated in the courts and have testified before numerous congressional hearings calling for more openness.”

The Church of Scientology’s relentless advocacy of the FOIA, and of other public access legislation in the United States and many other parts of the world, stems from Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s unwavering support of transparency, the hallmark of a democratic government.

“Democracy,” he wrote, “depends exclusively on the informedness of individual citizens.“