There has been a great deal of attention paid to the Scientology organization from the media lately. There are two stories getting media attention; the alleged beatings and psychological abuse at the very top of the organization, and lawsuits filed by ex-members alleging deprivation, physical and mental abuse, coerced abortions, and human trafficking, child labor and slave wages.
A story from Santa Clara County relates how a county office was tricked into publishing scurrilous fliers at the behest of John Allender, head of the San Jose church of Scientology. These fliers, published with public money, were delivered door-to-door one Saturday under the direction of Delorme Mckee-Stovall, head of the county funded ‘Network for a Hate-Free Community.’ Ms. Mckee-Stovall made no attempt to verify the accusations brought against anonymous Scientology protesters. Accusations included vandalism, cut gas lines and the destruction of a school bus.
San Diegans may be surprised to learn that the Scientology organization is quite active in San Diego County as well. When Representative Lori Saldana helped found ‘United For A Hate-Free San Diego,’ David Meyer of the San Diego branch of Scientology stepped forward to offer web page design and hosting. This gives the Church of Scientology total control of communication between the public and United For A Hate-Free San Diego.
There are two schools, the ‘Delphi Academy’ in La Jolla, and the ‘Applied Scholastics Academy’ in La Mesa. Delphi Academy claims to be “non-sectarian.” Applied Scholastics Academy omits any reference to religion.
This is significant, because both schools are part of the Scientology organization, and teach L. Ron Hubbard’s theories on learning and education. Hubbard’s peculiar theories include the notion that “thoughts have mass.” Parents who might consider these schools based upon their glossy promotional materials should make the effort to learn more about the interesting theories their children will be subjected to.
While both schools admit they use the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, they fail to admit association with the Scientology parent organization, RTC or, Religious Technology Center. At the bottom of the organization’s corporate chart is an entity called ABLE, Association for Better Living and Education. Under the ABLE umbrella, Scientology’s front groups can be found, including Applied Scholastics International, the parent organization of Scientology schools.
Another front group, Narconon, calls San Diego County home. Presented as a drug rehab program, Narconon representatives also deny a link to the Scientology organization; yet there they are, right next to Applied Scholastics on the corporate chart.
Due to a storm of bad publicity worldwide, Narconon Warner Springs has changed its name to the “Sunshine Summit Lodge.” Narconon facilities are not to be confused with any 12 step program. The name is intentionally misleading.
People seeking treatment for substance abuse should be wary of any program “based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.” A google search for Narconon, fraud, Scientology will provide enough information needed to make an informed choice about this program.
Narconon once held free lectures in public schools. Their material was reviewed by a panel of qualified medical professionals, who dismissed the wild theories and unproven speculation passed off as fact. Narconon’s outreach program was subsequently expelled from California and Hawaii. Buffalo NY also removed them, and they were banned in Boston.An excellent series of articles on the subject by Nanette Asimov is available online.
The Scientology ‘Drug Free Marshals’ have been actively involved in community events in the past. In 2003, they had the support of Community Relations Officer Gary Gonzalez.
On the surface, having children sign a pledge to remain drug free sounds like a good thing. However, parents report receiving floods of junk mail from the Scientology organization after their child writes down all contact info on the pledge form. Once you’re on their mailing list, you are on it for a billion years. The children are also given goodie bags stuffed full of Scientology anti-drug material. The problem is, they are distributing the same material rejected by the California Superindendent of Public Schools.
There are other front groups within Scientology that seek to dispense their particular brand of beliefs to the children in public schools. Free lectures from ‘Youth For Human Rights’ and ‘The Way to Happiness Foundation’ have used their facade of social betterment to distribute their literature in our schools. It is inevitable that the presence of the organization in our county will attempt to influence local civic and political organizations.
Scientology Volunteer Ministers are a high profile front group. They arrive at disaster areas to set up yellow tents dispensing “touch assists” and copies of The Way to Happiness.
A team of Scientologists can be found in Balboa Park on Sundays, giving “Free Stress Tests” in the park.
Whatever social hot button they think is relevant, they have a front group for it. The Earth Org. Youth for Human Rights. Narconon, Drug Free Marshals, Second Chance, the Volunteer Minister Disaster Response Team.
Aside from all these front groups, there is an official “church” of Scientology downtown at 4th and Ash. And where there’s a church, you will find Anonymous, the shadowy internet group that has decided to take on the task of exposing the abuses of Scientology.
Often seen wearing Guy Fawkes masks from the movie ‘V For Vendetta,’ Anonymous is a vast, chaotic coalition of people from all corners of the internet. The Scientology movement began when the Scientology organization tried to remove a video clip of Tom Cruise at his most Scientological. Intended for internal use only, the video somehow leaked onto the web; causing consternation and panic in the Mother Ship hovering over Gold Base, Scientology’s compound in Riverside county.
The early attempts at internet censorship by Scientology merely increased unwanted attention to the organization. The attempt to remove Tom Cruise’s embarassing solo Scientology smugfest (“Why ask permission? We are the authorities!”) woke up the entire internet subculture.
In February, 2008; denizens of the internet came out in numbers on the 10th to protest Scientology abuses. Over nine thousand people, many wearing Guy Fawkes masks, turned out worldwide for the first global protest of Scientology. In San Diego, ninety people turned out. They brought signs, music, dancing and literature, raising awareness at 4th and Ash as well as downtown at Horton Plaza Park.
The Scientology protest internet tribe is known as ‘Project Chanology,’ not necessarily the same online entity that calls itself anonymous, says a local anonymous participant. Like several other protesters, this individual has been the target of Scientology attention and investigation.
On February 9, 2009, the protester received a “cease and desist” letter from Wilson Campilongo LLP, a law firm based in San Rafael, California. This letter broadly accuses Scientology protesters for incidents perpetrated by the wide range of people who post anonymously on the internet. This misleading concept was originated and promoted by the Scientology organization.
The San Diego Police Department are often called during peaceful protests. Many patrol officers have commented upon the frequency of calls originating from 1330 4th Avenue, making false reports of vandalism, blocking entrances, and disruption. These nuisance calls pull officers away from other tasks and waste city resources. There has not been one arrest of a protester to date.
Despite their low key presence, Scientology is active in San Diego. Public schools, civic groups and local government representatives need to be vigilant, lest Scientology and its front groups become fixtures in our local communities.