Description of video is in [brackets]. VO=VOICEOVER.
ANNOUNCER: From our studios in Rockefeller Center, here is Stone Phillips.
STONE PHILLIPS: In an age when the zone of privacy seems to be shrinking by the second, one pursuit remains nobodyís business but our own: The free practice of religion. Itís embedded in our culture and our Constitution. But one organized religion has been the focus of an unusual amount of public feuding. The Church of Scientology has devoted followers and fierce critics. Last year, we told you how one man has devoted his life and millions of his own dollars to publicizing his belief that Scientology is dangerous. Now new questions are being raised, but this time the questions are about him. Hereís John Hockenberry with the latest.
[clip from show of 6/16/1998]
[title--"The crusader"; producer: Sharon Isaak Hoffman; editor: Robert D. Allen"]
BOB MINTON (giving a speech--footage from last year's show): 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.
[Bob Minton giving speech; Bob at his computer at home]
VO: Robert Minton had never so much as walked through the door of a Church of Scientology before he started reading about it on the Internet a few years ago.
[Bob Minton and Grady Ward picketing outside Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles; Church of Scientology building; video clip of Mike Rinder and woman shaking hands; picketers]]
VO: Today heís trying to tell the world that Scientology is a dangerous cult, an accusation hotly denied by a group that has spent decades trying to gain mainstream acceptance
MIKE RINDER (from last yearís show): 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.
[more footage of Bob and Grady picketing Celebrity Centre, cars honking in background; footage from another picket (signs include "Scientology Invades Privacy", "How Many Lawyers Does a Religion Need?" and "Scientology Hates Free Speech")]
VO: But Mintonís clearly made Scientology leaders angry in a new way. The twist? He has spent more than $2 million of his own money funding lawsuits against the church and giving struggling activists the means to fight on.
[Vaughn and Stacy (Brooks) Young inside their house (footage from last yearís show)]
VO: He even bought a house for these former Scientologists for a quarter of a million dollars.
VAUGHN YOUNG (from last yearís show): You've heard of these types that, you know, people call them angels -- that just show up and they just do these things.
STACY (BROOKS) YOUNG (from last yearís show): 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."
[Vaughn and Stacy walking down stairway in their home; Rinder and other Scienos confronting picketers; more picketing footage; Scn church building]
VO: The Church of Scientology has described Vaughn and Stacy Young and others Minton is funding as liars who commit crimes against the church. And church lawyers hired a team of investigators to span the globe looking for Bob Mintonís dirty laundry. Mintonís family and friends say private eyes told them they feared he was violent, even telling one friend that Minton might go into a church one day and start shooting at Scientologists.
MIKE RINDER (from last yearís show): 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, I donít 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.
[Bob Minton leaving a building and walking down street] VO: When we first broadcast our story, Bob Minton didnít seem to have a lot of dirty laundry, and it seemed unlikely that he would become violent. But that was then.
BOB MINTON: I fired two warning shots very far away from them to let them know that they were not welcome here.
[Sandown, NH Police Department building; outside of Mintonís New Hampshire home; Minton walking outside] VO: According to the police, Scientologists were protesting last year in front of Mintonís home in New Hampshire. Minton says they were trespassing. So he went in his house, grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun, and shot it in the air. No one was arrested and no one was hurt. But the police chief in town told "Dateline" he thinks both sides are off the wall.
BOB MINTON: I did not want those people coming on my property.
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: You have absolutely every right to keep them off of your property. You may even have a right to fire a gun around them. But theyíre charging you as an unbalanced individual who might take a gun and blow Scientologists away. In hindsight, was it maybe a mistake to pull out the gun?
BOB MINTON: In hindsight, yes, I would not--given the opportunity again, I would not do it that way.
[Minton at his computer] VO: But about a month later, Minton fired off a rather hostile message to Scientologists on the Internet. It read--
JOHN HOCKENBERRY (reading Bob Mintonís post): "I would like to advise any Scientologists that show up in Sandown, New Hampshire"--which sounds to me like an invitation--(continuing reading the post) "to bring earplugs as I will be doing extensive target practice on Tuesday with a variety of weapons." What were you thinking?
BOB MINTON: (chuckling) I was trying to tell them, "Donít come up here and picket, I donít like it!" I was--
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: I would translate that as "Please come here so I can shoot you with my guns".
BOB MINTON: Well, thatís not what it said to me.
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: But letís be real. This is a--
BOB MINTON: The reason for that--
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: This is a threatening--this is a threatening statement.
BOB MINTON: Itís a humorous statement.
[newspaper article clippings, headlines, "Scientologyís leading critic is arrested", "Scientology Critic Faces Trial on Assault Charges", part of article, "charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon"; Minton walking down street] VO: Minton wasnít laughing last September when he was arrested at a Boston protest for assaulting a Scientologist with his picket sign. He denied the charge and the judge dismissed the case against him in exchange for his promise to notify church officials by fax before he pickets again.
BOB MINTON: There is nobody who has ever been subjected to the type of harassment and intimidation that the Church of Scientology has been doing on me. Yes, it has gotten to me in many ways, and some of these things are reflections of that.
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: What can you say to me to assure me that youíre not a hot-head on the edge here who, the next story Iím gonna be doing about you is the Timothy McVeigh scenario that Mike Rinder suggested in our original story? That youíre gonna walk into some room somewhere and blow a bunch of these people away.
BOB MINTON: Well, itís absurd.
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: It seems less absurd now.
BOB MINTON: I have been under an awful lot of pressure, but it has in no way changed my mental stability.
[Bob Minton at Little League practice] BOB MINTON: Come on in, come on--thatís the way, come on!
VO: And Minton seemed to keep his temper in check, staying out of trouble for almost a year after that interview in October of 1998.
[footage in Clearwater--police putting Mintonís picket sign (picture of a bunch of skulls and message, "Scientology Spiritual Death") into trunk of squad car, Minton in handcuffs with Stacy Brooks standing nearby; Minton being led by police to squad car]
VO: But during a protest last Halloween night in Clearwater, Florida, Minton was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery for shoving a Scientologist. Minton says he was provoked. The church continues to call him a menace.
[Bob and Therese Minton sliding down hill on sled]
BOB MINTON: Okay!
[more footage of Bob and Therese sledding; Bob, Therese and their kids walking back up hill] VO: But probably the biggest turmoil all this crusading has produced in Bob Mintonís life since our story aired has been right at home. Last year he separated from his wife of 19 years, a woman who had been one of his most ardent supporters in his fight against the church.
THERESE MINTON: Heís the man I married. Um, and Iím very proud of him, Iím proud of his sort of uniqueness.
[Stacy Brooks petting cat and picking cat up] VO: And Minton left his wife for Stacy Young, the former Scientologist who used to live in that house Minton bought for her and her husband Vaughn Young.
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: Anybody who watched our story who knows the circumstances is gonna just assume that you did some kind of Internet Dial-a-Date here and you bought a house and boom! Hey! Sure! Sure you get the girl!
BOB MINTON: It--it certainly was not like that at all.
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: Vaughn Young described you in our story as "like an angel". Do you think heíd say that today?
BOB MINTON: (pauses) No.
[letter to NBC "Dateline" from Mike Rinder, close-up of phrases "We feel sorry for Mr. Mintonís wife and children", "...We hope some day he gets help for his problems..."] VO: In a statement, the Church of Scientology said that its members feel sorry for Mr. Mintonís wife and children and they hope he some day gets help for his problems.
[Minton and Garry Scarff picketing outside Celebrity Centre; more picketing footage outside AOLA--signs include "Revoke the tax exemption", "Scientology Ďtechí killed Lisa McPherson--Dec. 5, 1995"; aerial shot of Church building] VO: Angel or no, Bob Minton is still determined to support the fight against the Church of Scientology. He says a variety of lawsuits in the coming months will establish Scientology as an evil and harmful organization. And he is convinced the church will eventually be dismantled.
BOB MINTON: I believe that the truth will very rapidly come out in terms of what this organization really is, and what it does.
STONE PHILLIPS: A Florida judge has issued restraining orders against both Bob Minton and the Scientologist he was accused of striking back in October. The judge said the two men engaged in what he called "dangerous gamesmanship" whenever they meet, and ordered them to keep their distance from one another.