The Crusader

Scientology tries very hard to mask its true identity but the Internet makes that difficult.

Dateline NBC/June 16, 1998

Dateline produced a lengthy profile of Bob Minton and his efforts to reform the Scientology Organization.

In this Fair Use excerpt of the show, we are introduced to Bob Minton.

Transcript of Full Show

VO = Voiceover

Opening credits

Announcer: This is "Dateline", Tuesday, June 16, 1998. Tonight--

picture of Bob Minton on left side of screen; Scientology building

VO: He's a one man crusade.

Bob Minton: The more I got involved, the more frightening the organization as a whole became to me.

Bob Minton picketing (on left side of screen); Scientology church

VO: And he says nothing will stop him.

John Hockenberry: Are you nuts?

Bob Minton: A lot of people would question my insanity on that score.

close-up of Bob Minton at picket (on left side of screen); Scientology church

VO: Why is he doing it?

Hockenberry: Do you have any evidence that they're really evil and destructive?

Bob Minton: Yes. Shattered lives, broken families, mental fragility.

Bob Minton picketing (on left side of screen); Scientology church)

VO: But when he turned on Scientology, Scientology turned on him.

Hockenberry: People who oppose you are undoubtedly criminals?

Mike Rinder: I believe that, yes.

Hockenberry: Is Bob Minton a criminal?

Rinder: I think that we will, we will discover that at some point.

Minton and John Hockenberry (on left side of screen); Scientology's Los Angeles church

VO: John Hockenberry on one man's battle against the Church of Scientology.

Jane Pauley: Good evening. What would make you dedicate your life to a cause? Not talking about just signing a petition or making a donation; we mean spending most of your time and much of your hard-earned money, risking inconvenience, ridicule and heartache. The man you're about to meet has done all that, speaking out for people he barely knew because he believed they'd been victimized by the Church of Scientology. The question you'll want to ask is "Why?". John Hockenberry on one man's crusade.

Title--"The crusader"; producer: Sharon Isaak Hoffman; editor: Robert D. Allen"

Bob Minton (giving a speech): I am involved in a controversy with the Church of Scientology over what I consider to be one of the most fundamental rights in a democracy. That is, the right to speak freely.

Bob Minton giving speech; Bob Minton and his wife at home; Bob Minton and Grady Ward picketing; Church of Scientology building

VO: You've probably never heard of Robert Minton. But at age 51, this soft-spoken former investment banker has decided to turn what was once a peaceful, financially secure early retirement into a one-man campaign to turn the Church of Scientology on its head.

Bob Minton: At the core of Scientology is a very evil vein.

Caption--"Dateline -- John Hockenberry"

Hockenberry: An evil disguised as a church? Bob Minton has lots of terrible things to say about a group that simply claims to offer a path to success and enlightenment. The United States government, in fact, recognizes scientology as a tax-exempt religious organization. But Bob Minton has risked everything in the cause to convince people that the Church of Scientology is a dangerous cult, a charge that the group emphatically denies.

"An Introduction to Scientology" video clip including someone dropping a seed and it turning into a tree and footage of L. Ron Hubbard; pictures of Scientology books

VO: What exactly is Scientology? The man who could best answer that question died in 1986 -- Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, shown here in this video the church sells. Scientology is based on Hubbard's world views. His writings contain ruminations about ancient galaxies, reincarnation and a deep hatred for the practice of psychiatry. Hubbard himself claims to have discovered a unique self-help formula.

L. Ron Hubbard (from "An Introduction to Scientology" video): Take an individual and put them in a position where they can confront their own problems and solve their own problems, and so bring themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Los Angeles church; Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman; Lisa Marie Presley; Kirstie Alley and John Travolta

VO: It's this whole notion of self-empowerment as the key to success that seems to draw some of Hollywood's biggest stars to Scientology, including Tom Cruise and his wife, Nicole Kidman, Lisa Marie Presley, Kirstie Alley and John Travolta.

John Travolta: I found Scientology, and that gave me a kind of sanity -- the technology I found so brilliant, that that kind of put things in perspective for me.

Auditing session; close-ups of e-meter

VO: The "technology" Scientologists talk about involves one-on-one counseling called "auditing," and the use of electronic body monitors called "e-meters." Together, they're supposed to help clear Scientologists of the negative past experiences that keep them from succeeding.

Mike Rinder walking

VO: Succeeding like Mike Rinder says he has. Rinder is a senior official in the Church of Scientology.

Rinder: It's a way of uncovering for yourself the cause of those things which you perceive hold you back, all those things which you would like to solve, all those areas in your life that you would like to have a greater understanding of.

Picketers in Los Angeles

VO: Sounds great, but Scientology's critics say that's the con. Some former members say this "religion that promises a higher awareness" delivers something else.

Chart of Scientology courses

VO: By the time you learn the secrets of Scientology, they say, you'll be brainwashed and broke.

Hockenberry (on camera): But these days, learning the closely guarded secrets of scientology is as easy as logging onto the internet. There, critics of the organization have posted scientology's copyrighted documents.

Internet documents including OT-3 (including portions of it in L. Ron Hubbard's own handwriting); the phrases "his name was Xenu" (in L. Ron Hubbard's writing) and "killed with hydrogen bombs" scrolling across screen

VO: There you can learn L. Ron Hubbard's teaching of how 75 billion years ago, an evil galactic overlord named Xenu transported all the universe's bad people to earth in spaceships and then blew them up with hydrogen bombs.

Pictures of L. Ron Hubbard, including one of him auditing a tomato

VO: Hubbard teaches that these exploded souls are the root of all human problems and that only Scientology can clear them out to make way for happiness and success.

"Operation Clambake" home page; promo picture of Scientologists; "The Bridge to Total Freedom" course chart

VO: Until these secrets became public, critics say the only way to learn about Xenu and the exploded souls was to pay money. Going up the ladder of Scientology, they say, is expensive, sometimes thousands of dollars to advance just one level. And if you can't pay to advance, there's another option.

Apparently promo video of Scieno man and woman shaking hands; picketers

VO: Devoted followers literally sign billion-year contracts to serve the church, where former members say you don't have to pay, but are inducted into a highly structured lifestyle that can involve periods of forced labor or disconnecting from your own family.

Dennis Erlich: I've been locked in the basement.

Ex-Member (not sure of name): They intercepted calls from my parents, they intercept mail from people.

Rinder: You know, the critics will say almost anything.

More picketing

VO: Scientology regularly and forcefully denies the accusations from what it says are a tiny number of critics, all with questionable backgrounds, several of whom have lost copyright infringement lawsuits brought by the church for making public secret church documents.

Artwork of a long bridge ascending up to the top of a cliff; another Scientology promo picture; more picketing

VO: Church officials insist that one can advance in Scientology without paying money or giving up freedom. Scientology, they say, is really no different from other religions which must also fight the hateful intolerance around them.

Critic: You've been accused of having dirty hands, and your intention has been to harass and intimidate critics into silence

Bob Minton: The more I got involved in the Church of Scientology, the more frightening the organization as a whole became to me.

Minton at computer; critics' web pages; quick glimpse of ARS

VO: It was about two years ago that multimillionaire retiree Bob Minton first logged on to the internet and started to read the critics' stories of being harassed and hounded by the church. He can't explain why, exactly, but the stories moved him to act. He made contact with many of the people he read about. He found himself believing them, and that he could help in their fights against Scientology.

Bob Minton: The time has come to stand up to these people.

Hockenberry: What do you say to the thousands of Scientologists who join voluntarily, think it's going great, that it's helping them in fact, and they don't want to see anything changed. so, "Thank you very much, Bob Minton, but go back to what you were doing."?

Bob Minton: Well then, let's--this is what I would really encourage then, that those people within Scientology take a look at the other side of Scientology, what a lot of people like to call the dark side of Scientology.

Therese Minton: My first reaction was, "Are you brain dead? Why do we have to do this?"

Therese and Bob Minton at home

VO: Therese Minton has been married to Bob for 19 years.

Hockenberry: Has your husband ever done anything like this in the past?

Therese Minton: No, he's never really had the opportunity. I mean, he's, he's given--he's a very charitable person. He's given, you know, money to various churches and charities and schools, but not something of this type.

Bob Minton walking down street

VO: In fact, nothing in Bob Minton's past would suggest his present course. He's a church-going Catholic who professes a live-and-let-live attitude about other religions. And causes? His wife Therese says, "Not Bob."

Hockenberry: Did you ever say to him though, maybe tennis? What about--

Therese Minton: Golf?

Hockenberry: Butterfly collection?

Therese Minton: Yes, there were times when I did say, you know, "Why can't we do something a little more normal, a little more mainstream?" But it just wasn't striking the right chord, and there came a point in time when I knew that this was it.

Bob Minton at desk writing a check

VO: In the beginning, Minton's involvement was mostly about writing checks, big ones to people who said they'd been hurt by the church.

Legal papers; FACTNet web site; more picketing

VO: Minton has funded lawsuits, rescued an anti-cult organization, given weary defendants and broken-down activists the means to fight on. To date, he's handed out more than 1.7 million of his own dollars to some of Scientology's harshest critics.

Hockenberry: That's a lot of money.

Bob Minton: It is. But keep in mind that in this, in this battle with Scientology, I'm the little guy. Scientology are the big guys.

Outside Scientology church; Scieno rally from Church of Scientology video; more promotional Scientology footage of classrooms where they hold their literacy programs

VO: Just how big is the multimillion-dollar question. The church claims 8 million followers around the world, but the critics say by their count, it's more like hundreds of thousands. The global reach of Scientology is undeniable. Its urban literacy projects and anti-drug crusades are welcome in the cities and towns where they have won numerous civic awards and citations.

Outside Scientology church; Mike Rinder walking down street

VO: The church is also clearly very wealthy. And Scientology officials claim like lots of successful people, they have attracted their share of jealous, disgruntled critics and lawsuits.

Hockenberry: The church says you're something of a lifeboat for a small group of very disturbed people, who make outrageous claims on the internet.

Bob Minton: It may seem outrageous to the Church of Scientology, but they don't to me.

Hockenberry: But do you have any evidence that they're really evil and destructive?

Bob Minton: Yes. Shattered lives, broken families, mental fragility. A recovery process that takes an incredibly long time.

Hockenberry: Although some people would say these people were mentally fragile and a little odd before they went into the Church of Scientology.

Bob Minton: Well, if you--that would be the easiest thing to say. But they're no different than you or me, by and large. And any of us, at some stage of our life, could be vulnerable to the type of seduction that a cult can pull off.

Vaughn and Stacy Young with their cats at their home

VO: Not surprisingly, Minton has developed a loyal and passionate following among some former Scientologists. In the home of Vaughn and Stacy Young, the name Bob Minton is practically holy.

Vaughn Young: You've heard of these types that, you know, people call them angels -- that just show up and they just do these things.

Vaughn and Stacy Young at their home; sign outside Church of Scientology building

VO: Vaughn Young and his wife, Stacy, left the church in 1989, embittered by their experience and determined to start a new life.

Shot of Seattle skyline; Vaughn and Stacy Young walking up the steps to the door of their home

VO: They rented a house in Seattle and opened a sanctuary for abandoned cats and dogs. But a few years later, the Youngs decided to go public, criticizing the church as a dangerous cult. And they provoked what they say was an all out assault by the church to destroy their lives.

Stacy Young: They will find your vulnerability and, and use that to try to silence you.

DA'ing newsletter titled, "An Indecent Proposal: The True Story of Robert Vaughn Young and Stacy Young"; highlighted captions, "Vaughn and Stacy tried to extract $50,000", "sleeping around in Seattle"; older picture of Vaughn and Stacy Young; picture of Stacy holding a cat

VO: In the summer of 1994, a newsletter showed up around the Youngs' neighborhood, accusing them of things like extortion and promiscuity. Over the next three years, they learned that private investigators were asking suspicious questions of their friends and neighbors and accusing the Youngs of harboring diseased cats.

Outside Church of Scientology building; older picture of Vaughn Young; picture of Stacy Young; Stacy Young at home petting one of their cats

VO: The Church of Scientology denies trying to harass Vaughn and Stacy Young. It says the Youngs were happy church members until they decided they could make money selling what it calls untrue horror stories of life in the church. But whoever called the neighbors, zoning officials and City Hall to complain about the Youngs' animal shelter succeeded in getting the city to shut it down.

Stacy Young: We were about a week and a half away from having to move. We were in a state of catastrophe.

Vaughn and Stacy Young and John Hockenberry

VO: And right around that time, Stacy and Vaughn got a phone call.

Vaughn Young: He just said, he says, "My name is Bob Minton, I read what was happening with your animal sanctuary. And I just want to know if there's some way that I could help you out."

Outside the Youngs' home; inside the Youngs' home; close-up of one of their cats

VO: Out of the blue, this Bob Minton, this voice on the phone, came into their lives. He bought the Youngs a new house where they could legally keep their animals for $250,000. Incredibly, he saved the animal shelter. Stacy says she'll never forget the day she picked up her new key.

Stacy Young: We came to the house, we opened the front door and Bob Minton had a huge bouquet of flowers (laughing) on the table for us. It was incredible. It was real! It really was real!

Hockenberry: And you still hadn't--

Stacy Young: And we'd never met this guy! And he just said, "Welcome to your new house. Congratulations."

Bob Minton: A lot of my friends say, "You know, these people are not your problems."

Hockenberry: They're not, are they?

Bob Minton: But they are. I mean, we all do have a responsibility to each other.

Bob Minton leaving building and walking down street

VO: Bob Minton's "love thy neighbor" justification for becoming Scientology's public enemy number one sounds like something else to church officials.

Rinder: Bob Minton falls into a category similar to those anti-Semites who are out to make it seem like there's something wrong with being a Jew.

Hockenberry and Rinder; Bob Minton picketing with Garry Scarff

VO: Senior Scientology official Mike Rinder and his colleagues at the church think Minton is an impressionable man who's been manipulated by the critics and misinformed.

Rinder: I think that he has decided that this is some crusade. Something that will get attention for himself. Maybe he was bored. Maybe he's an idle millionaire that doesn't have anything better to do in life.

Bob Minton at Little League practice

Bob Minton: Good eye, good eye!

VO: But if Bob Minton was bored before, he's not any more. Because he is finding out for himself, when you pick a fight with the Church of Scientology, this church does not turn the other cheek.

Hockenberry and Rinder

Hockenberry: L. Ron Hubbard says, "We do not find critics of Scientology who do not have criminal pasts. Over and over we prove this. We have this technical fact--those who oppose us have crimes to hide." Do you believe that?

Rinder: Sure.

Hockenberry: People who oppose you are undoubtedly criminals?

Rinder: I believe that, yeah.

Hockenberry: Is Bob Minton a criminal?

Rinder: I think that we will, we will, uh, discover that at some point.

Jane Pauley: When we return--will the Scientology investigation find out anything about Bob Minton?

Commercial break

Announcer: From Studio 3B in New York, here is Stone Phillips.

Stone Phillips: Returning to our story, Bob Minton is a private citizen, who has committed his time and his considerable personal resources to fighting the Church of Scientology. Now, the Church of Scientology turns its considerable resources on Bob Minton. Here again, John Hockenberry.

Bob Minton giving a speech

Bob Minton: This is truly an organization whose so-called leaders have no shame whatsoever.

Bob Minton giving a speech; Bob Minton and others picketing

VO: Bob Minton is now a crusader against the Church of Scientology, giving speeches, leading protests, in addition to giving money. His now very visible campaign against Scientology's tactics and money trail has, in effect, painted a bright target around himself.

Hockenberry (voice of): You know who these folks are. I mean, they have unbelievable loyalty to the church, they sign billion-year contracts. And you've signed up to go against them all.

Hockenberry (on camera): Are you nuts?

Bob Minton: A lot of people would question my sanity on that score.

Bob Minton at his computer; painting of Martin Luther; picketers at various locations

VO: But they would not question his resolve. Bob Minton says he wants to become for the Church of Scientology what Martin Luther was to the Catholic Church hundreds of years ago. He wants to lead a mass protest movement to reform Scientology, to allow free discussion and to liberate Scientology's beleaguered critics. In fact, what burns Bob Minton up the most about Scientology is the lengths he says it goes to silence its critics.

Rinder: He is probably as misinformed or uninformed about that as he is about everything else that he says about Scientologists. You know, there isn't and hasn't been any effort which has been taken to "silence critics."

Frank Oliver outside

VO: That's a claim that this former member of the church says is simply ridiculous.

Frank Oliver: When someone speaks out against Scientology, they're considered fair game. They can be lied, sued, tricked, cheated, anything to stop them.

Frank Oliver's IAS card and his I.D.

VO: Frank Oliver says he knows Scientologists will try to scare Bob Minton into shutting up, because as a church intelligence officer, he used to do that kind of work himself.

Oliver (on camera): The things that I saw, and the people that I spoke to and the things that Scientology does, that's not known by the broad populace of Scientologists.

Shot of a bunch of Scienos going into Scientology church; Frank Oliver on camera

Oliver (voice of and on camera): I think it would frighten a lot of them if they knew what their religion was really about, if they knew how far they'll go to protect their religion.

Frank Oliver looking out at a bay or lake; "old" Cult Awareness Network newsletters, including one with headline article about them being forced into bankruptcy

VO: Oliver's interview with "Dateline" is the first time he's spoken publicly since he left the church in disgust in 1992, following a summer in which he says he was recruited to investigate the Cult Awareness Network, a group that at the time was a declared enemy of the Church of Scientology.

Oliver: Our stated purpose was to bring about the destruction of the Cult Awareness Network.

Shot of Scieno filming picketers; Bob Minton and Frank Oliver at L.A. picket

VO: Oliver says church investigators follow critics, threaten them, talk to everyone they know and hunt for dirt if a critic like Bob Minton doesn't have actual crimes in his background, Oliver says, the church takes minor transgressions and blows them up; in his words, "take a scratch and make it into a broken arm."

Oliver: They're looking for something criminal; something criminal or something moral injustice; something, anything that can be taken and made into whatever they need it made into.

HCOPL--highlighted section: "The maxim is--when under attack--attack'"

VO: And that's straight from the writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The maxim is, "When under attack, attack,'" he once wrote.

another highlighted section (the quote read below)

VO: "It is only those people that have crimes that will attack us, and they will so back off for fear of being found out when attacked back."

Hockenberry and Rinder

Hockenberry: That sounds a little paranoid, Mike.

Rinder (chuckling): Maybe so, John, but I, I--

Hockenberry: Why aren't they just people who disagree with you?

Rinder: Well, I think that there's a difference between people who disagree and people who are on some sort of an active crusade or a campaign to attempt to destroy the church. I think that that's--

Hockenberry: Well, L. Ron Hubbard here says that the difference is that they are criminals invariably, in their past are crimes.

Rinder: Yeah, I think that that's true.

Hockenberry: Now, he also says, "Try it on your next critic, finding their crimes. Like everything else in Scientology, it works."

Rinder: Uh-huh.

Hockenberry: It sounds like that's saying, "Go out and investigate your critics."

Rinder: I think that you could characterize it that way, yeah. I think that, that looking into the motivation of people as to why it is that they are seeking to destroy the church is a valid thing to do.

Bob Minton at his computer; farm house

VO: There are plenty of critics of Scientology against whom the church takes no action. But the investigation of Robert Minton started last November, and it started with his family in Tennessee.

Carolyn Medwedeff: He came in and he said, "I am David Lee," and handed me his card. "I'm an investigator and I want to talk to you about Bob."

Carolyn Medwedeff and her husband walking out of their house

VO: Carolyn Medwedeff is Bob Minton's aunt. She works as a receptionist in her husband's dental office. And when investigator David Lee, working on behalf of the church, just showed up one day in the office waiting room, she says, he wasn't just asking for information, he was also giving it out.

Medwedeff: He was just trying to say that Bob had been terrible to his mother, and that he thought Bob should help his mother and get off of this Scientology kick.

Pictures of Bob Minton and his brothers; picture of Bob Minton and his son

VO: Lee then tracked down Bob's brothers, his father, his son from a previous marriage and both of his ex-wives.

Rinder: You know, these people don't have nice things to say about Bob Minton. His, his former wives talk about how he beat 'em up, and his son is pretty upset about how he was mistreated by his father.

Bob Minton and Hockenberry; Bob Minton walking down street

VO: Bob Minton denies beating his ex-wives, although his first wife told "Dateline" Bob hit her once. But there's no denying that Scientology has managed to stir up a lot of old animosities.

Picture of Bob Minton and his son; Vaughn and Stacy Young in their home; another picture of Bob Minton and his son

VO: For instance, Bob's son Rob says he's always had money issues with his father. But learning from a Scientology investigator that his dad spent a quarter of a million dollars to buy some strangers a house was deeply upsetting. He told "Dateline" this was the last straw between him and his father.

Bob Minton: The Church of Scientology destroys families. They know how to stir those issues up, you know; they clearly were trying to do the same types of things with the relationship between me and my son, which is clearly a--a button that they saw I was vulnerable on and would like to push.

Hockenberry: And they pushed it.

Bob Minton: And they did.

Rinder: His mother is upset about the fact that he's dishing off hundreds of thousands of dollars to people whom he doesn't even know and--

Hockenberry: Now let's--

Rinder: Yet she does, she has--

Hockenberry: Okay--

Rinder: A mortgage on a house and he gives her a loan rather than gives her money.

Hockenberry: Okay. A cynical view would say if your investigator is going to Bob Minton's mom and saying, "Did you know he is giving money?"--

Rinder: Um-hum.

Hockenberry: And she gets outraged, and that gets back to Bob, that sounds more like harassment to me.

Rinder: It sounds more like an investigation to me. But certainly, let's, let's put the shoe on the other foot for a minute. Bob Minton is going around to the media saying, "Did you know Scientologists do this, did you know Scientologists do that?", you know, he characterizes that as free speech.

Hockenberry: Well, it is free speech.

Rinder: Well, certainly it's no different.

Bob Minton at his computer

VO: but Bob Minton says there is a significant difference. Scientology is a powerful organization that seeks out the powerless to stir up trouble.

Bob Minton's mother laying in bed; Bob Minton's aunt Carolyn Medwedeff; another picture of Bob Minton's mother

VO: Bob's mother has severe emphysema and dementia and bob's aunt Carolyn says the investigator took advantage of her, confusing her, putting words in her mouth and taking other statements out of context.

Medwedeff: She has been in the hospital emergency twice since then. She's in a nursing home. It devastated her when she found out what David Lee did.

Therese Minton and one of the Mintons' children at their home; picture of Scienos picketing outside the Mintons' home

VO: And Bob's current wife, Therese, say the church has brought its campaign right to her doorstep. Leaflets about Bob arrived on their daughter's birthday.

Hockenberry: Which said what?

Therese Minton: Oh, Bob was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, he's a religious bigot, he's suppressing. The most unbelievable garbage.

Hockenberry and Therese Minton; footage of beach on the Caribbean; anti-Minton flyer titled "Facts about Robert S. Minton--highlighted text, "exploited the people of Third World countries", "second wife--brutal beatings", "supporting a ring which includes wife beaters, child molesters and a pornography editor."

VO: Therese Minton says hate leaflets, that church leaders deny having anything to do with, also found their way to the family's vacation this past spring. On the beaches of the Caribbean, Minton was accused of having exploited the people of third world countries to make millions, of brutally beating his ex-wife and of supporting a ring which includes wife beaters, child molesters and a pornography editor.

Minton outside talking to several people

VO: In fact, by this April, Minton says church investigators had managed to bad mouth him to most of the people he had ever worked with or known, going back decades and on four continents.

Bob Minton: It is pure and simple harassment. you know, they've tried to turn my family against me. They've tried to paint me as some insane person.

Minton walking down street; outside of Scientology church

VO: An associate of Minton says that investigators chillingly dropped hints that he was unstable, worried that Bob would suddenly walk into a church and begin shooting Scientologists.

Bob Minton: These are not the, the types of things that one does when they're conducting a legitimate and ethical investigation.

Rinder: I don't know what motivates this guy, I don't know what. But on the other hand if you asked me, do I know what motivated Timothy McVeigh to go blow up a building because his view is that the people sitting inside that building are violating the rights of citizens of the United States, I don't know why he does that. I, I don't know that you could--

Hockenberry: Now, you've just compared Bob Minton to Timothy McVeigh.

Rinder: No, motivation. Like, what is it that motivates someone to, to do that? I don't know. I don't know how you tell someone does that before they do it.

Hockenberry: All right, but you very deliberately compared Bob Minton to Timothy McVeigh.

Rinder: All right.

Bob Minton and his daughter at home; Minton and others picketing in L.A.

VO: Minton says he has no plans to shoot or blow up anyone. But having to respond to such a charge at all is one sign of how completely his quiet life has changed since he decided to take on Scientology.

Hockenberry: What would it take for you to walk away from this battle?

Bob Minton: The Church of Scientology would have to make some serious reforms.

Bob Minton at his computer

VO: But toward the end of producing this story, we learned that, to our surprise, Mike Rinder and Bob Minton have now met twice to talk about Minton's concerns.

letters with Church of Scientology Office of Special Affairs letterheads, highlighted quote, "hopeful you will reconsider'; Hockenberry and Rinder

VO: Then the church sent "Dateline" several letters asking us to reconsider our story. Mike Rinder says Bob Minton may now have a whole new attitude about Scientology.

Rinder: I think that he is learning things that he didn't know before, admittedly so. And that perhaps he is coming to the realization that some of these people that he has been dealing with have misled him.

Bob Minton at his computer

VO: But when "Dateline" talked to Bob Minton last Friday, he said he hasn't changed his mind at all about the church.

Bob Minton: I'm still very much of the belief that the Church of Scientology hurts people.

Outside of Scientology church

Bob Minton (voice of): And I'm not changing my focus.

VO: And the church doesn't seem terribly interested in Minton's efforts to reform it either.

Rinder: Well, it's all sort of an arrogant view to think that because he has a lot of money to give to people that he is going to somehow get us to change our religion. We're not.

Sign outside Scientology church; more picketers

VO: Rinder told "Dateline" the church thinks it's unfair that the media constantly focuses on the claims of a few critics and ignores what it says are all the good things Scientology does.

Rinder: The carping criticism or yapping things that happen over on the side get attention and certainly they attract attention in the media, but they're not really the story of what Scientology is.

Frank Oliver walking down street

VO: Rinder also told "Dateline" he'd learned a few things about former Scientologist Frank Oliver, who, remember, told us just how seriously Scientology takes the investigation of its critics.

Hockenberry: What can you tell me about Frank Oliver?

Rinder: Um, well, I can tell you a couple of things. First--

VO: Rinder then proceeded to make, on camera, a number of unsubstantiated charges against Oliver.

Documents supposedly of Frank Oliver's driving record, highlighted quotes, "Frank Oliver", "improper lane change"

VO: But the only evidence of Oliver's run-ins with the law was this document purporting to show the driving record of a Frank Oliver. Among some speeding tickets, it shows an improper lane change.

Bob Minton and others picketing in front of the barricaded-off block of Los Angeles Church of Scientology on L. Ron Hubbard Way

VO: So what does the future hold for Bob Minton? Mike Rinder says if Minton decides he made a big mistake and walks away from his campaign against the church, the church won't investigate him anymore. And if not--

Rinder: I think ultimately that will come out that he's been engaged in criminal activities, sure.

Hockenberry: Can they shut you down, the church, through their tactics?

Bob Minton: There have been emotional times that one really has to question how many punches you wish to take.

Hockenberry: Can you take a lot more punches?

Bob Minton: I think so. You know, I am setting an example to show people that this organization is not invulnerable to being criticized. That they cannot destroy everybody, all the time, who is willing to stand up to them.

Stone Phillips: Bob Minton says he wants to continue meeting with Scientology officials in the hopes of convincing them to reform the movement. If that fails, he says he'll keep fighting and spending money to support the church's critics until his wife tells him to stop.

Transcript courtesy of Xenubat

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