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The Cult Awareness Network is facing a challenge, and we hope that you will want to participate with us in this important venture.
As you may know, CAN sought the protection of the Bankruptcy Court late last year. This was necessary following a judgment against it in a civil case in which CAN should never have been named. The attorney who handled the case against CAN is Kendrick Moxon, a member of the Church of Scientology for over two decades who had failed to win dozens of cases against CAN in the last five years that he brought on behalf of other Scientologists. CAN is appealing the judgement. However, the appeal process will take some time and CANS work must continue.
CAN is submitting a reorganization plan to the Bankruptcy Court that we feel will permit us to responsibly handle our obligations and continue to serve the public daily through our Chicago area office. In order to make this plan work, however, we must increase our regular monthly revenue by at least $3,000 each month. Whether or not we meet this monthly goal of $3,000 could make the difference as to whether or not we can continue to be here for you or others who need us once our plan is approved.
The challenge is for us to find supporters who will pledge an amount each month to help us survive. If a hundred supporters each pledge $30 a month we can meet our goal. Even several hundred supporters who pledge as little as $10 a month can make the vital difference. The timing of this pledge campaign is critical in light of CAN's present situation. If you agree that the information on CAN's Web Site is useful to the public, and the resources that CAN offers to thousands by phone and mail fill a unique function necessary to help those who need to know more about cults, then I sincerely hope you'll become a part of this campaign now. What will it mean if CANS work does not continue?
CAN has a remarkable staff that is dedicated to helping others every day. Let me take the time to tell you just a little about them.
Our executive director, Cynthia Kisser, has a Masters Degree in American Studies. She received a full scholarship from Bowling Green State University and is trained in how to study significant cultural trends in America, why they occur, and what their impact is. She has remained the director of CAN since 1987, even though approximately 20 of the dozens of lawsuits against CAN which have now been successfully defeated named her personally. Even now she is responsible for having to defend herself against one remaining lawsuit because the bankruptcy court will not permit CAN to pay her legal fees. She felt compelled at great personal expense and sacrifice to file her own lawsuit against Scientology, the Unification Church and other parties because of personal attacks and lies which these groups spread to try and discredit her. She received retractions and apologies from the Unification Church and a Chicago newspaper. Some of the defendants were dismissed out of the cases on technical points. Scientology recently failed to get the case dismissed on a summary judgement and a trial is expected in the near future.
Marty Butz, one of the staff members who answers the phone most frequently at the office, is a former cult member. After leaving his group Marty went on to complete a degree in Sociology and then earned two degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a Masters of Divinity and a Master of Arts with an emphasis on comparative religion. He is working on a book on cults. Marty joined CAN in 1989, and has offered support and comfort to thousands of former mem- bers and families over those years. He is a skilled researcher who has been invaluable to the hundreds of media who call each year seeking information about cults. He has been actively involved in FOCUS, CAN's support group for former members, for many years.
Sarah DeOpsomer, the relative of a former cult member, has been with CAN since 1990. She earned a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts from Montana State University and worked in business for a number of years. Her efficiency in managing the daily operations of the CAN national office guarantees that we have a system for quickly processing requests for the dozens of books and packets of information available through CAN, She also has proven a sensitive and caring listener for those families facing a cult related problem. She remembers when she was in that situation and called CAN. The information she received and shared with her family gave them the encouragement to find other families facing the same problems, and to keep communication open with their loved one. She's committed to CAN because CAN was committed to her and her family when they needed it most.
Our secretary, Eve Hamann, has faithfully worked for CAN since 1987. In the course of a typical week she meters hundreds of pieces of mail and carries them in big boxes to the post office. She copies countless packets of information, addresses thousands of envelopes each year and stuffs them with material we provide to those who call or write to request it. She meticulously files the dozens of new articles we receive each week on various groups so that they're available for someone who might need that information.
Our newest staff member, Jim Beebe, is a former member of the Church of Scientology. He is a veteran who served in the U.S. Marines. He is a professional jazz musician. He felt so cam- pelled to help others after his own experience with Scientology that he began volunteering for CAN a number of years ago, and joined us as a staff member last year.
If CAN doesn't meet this challenge to keep going, there will never be another team that can be assembled like the one that serves you and others now at the CAN National Office. Every once in a while we get the chance to participate with others in something so special, so unique, that its impact goes far beyond the individual talents of the people who are a part of it. CAN is just such an organization. These five people I've described to you take your gifts and magnify them through their dedication to serve others worldwide. The calls and letters they receive each month don't just come from the United States. In one recent month this year alone, dozens of inquiries came to CAN from Argentina, Canada, the Philippines, Greece, England, France, Finland, Ireland, Japan and Australia.
The work of the CAN staff is difficult and their working conditions are less than perfect. Because of our financial crisis we don't have adequate staff to respond to e-mail and must ask those of you who want more information to call or write us. Yet the staff we have continues to function at a level of high commitment every weekday. In addition, they provide support for, and in turn are supported by, CAN's affiliates who can help you further if you contact our office. So the team expands. In California and New York, and in states in between, people like these five individuals at the national office share this common vision and share in the responsibility of helping others and providing information, although under unrelenting attack by Scientology and other critics. And when you give to CAN you are a part of this special team.
Take a minute to consider the impact of all I've shared with you. It's not easy working at the CAN National office. All the staff have known harassment of some type, including surveillance, annoying phone calls, attacks on the their personal reputations, and even some instances great personal expense. And affiliate members and CAN board members across the country have known this adversity as well. These people are committed to helping others against great odds.
Won't you join with them now. Consider whether you can make a monthly donation to CAN, no matter what the amount. We need you to help us meet our monthly challenge each month for the next twelve months. You are critical to our survival. Send your check or indicate the amount you wish to pledge by writing CAN at 2421 W. Pratt, #1173, Chicago, IL 60645. Or call our office at 312-267-7777and made a donation by Visa or MasterCharge, ask us to send you a pledge card.
William R. Rehling President, Cult Awareness Network
P.S.: Become a part of the CAN TEAM by making a monthly pledge, and you will receive a two year subscription to the CAN News