By JOSEPH MALLIA
Date of Publication:3/3/981
An organization with ties to the Church of Scientology is recruiting New England schoolchildren for what critics say is an unproven – and possibly dangerous – anti-drug program.
And the group – Narconon Inc. of Everett – is being paid with taxpayer dollars without disclosing its Scientology connections.
Narconon was paid at least $ 942,853 over an eight-year period for delivering anti-drug lectures at public and parochial schools throughout the region, according to federal income tax documents.
The money came from fees paid by schools and from nearly 100 sponsoring businesses, including BankBoston, Nynex and Polaroid.
The main Narconon lecturer, Scientologist Bobby Wiggins, has taught children as recently as the current school year at Southeast Elementary School in Leominster, under the sponsorship of BankBoston.
He has also lectured at most of Everett’s schools, at Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury, at Marshall Middle School in Lynn, at Maynard High School and dozens of other schools, a Narconon employee told the Herald.
“We do a lot of Catholic schools. We’ve been doing Archbishop Williams for years,” said Narconon employee Jeanne Mack, referring to a Catholic high school in Braintree.
Narconon has also given anti-drug lectures at Arlington, Gloucester and Marshfield high schools and at Swampscott and Lancaster middle schools, according to a Narconon list.
At a lecture at Chelmsford High School attended by the Herald, Wiggins praised the benefits of a detoxification program that involves sauna and vitamin treatments.
But what the Scientologist did not disclose to the Chelmsford teachers, administrators or students is that the $ 1,200 detoxification regimen is actually a religious program the Church of Scientology calls the Purification Rundown.
In fact, he never mentioned the word “Scientology,” or L. Ron Hubbard’s name during the lectures.
“I took an IQ test before and after, and the score shot up 22 points,” Wiggins said during the Chelmsford drug awareness lecture, referring to the benefits of the Purification Rundown.
“My energy level quadrupled. I could think about 10 times faster,” Wiggins boasted. But according to health experts, the Scientology detox program is untested and possibly health-threatening.
The method requires vigorous exercise, five hours of saunas, megadoses of up to 5,000 mg of niacin, and doses of cooking oil. This regimen is repeated daily for two or three weeks. Every Scientologist, including young children, must go through this detox procedure as an “introductory service” – a first step in the church’s high-priced teachings, according to church documents and ex-members.
“The idea of sweating out poisons is kind of an old wives’ tale,” said William Jarvis, a professor of public health at Loma Linda University in Southern California. “It’s all pretty hokey.”
Salt and water are the only substances that the Purification Rundown removes from the body, according to a 1990 U.S. Food and Drug Administration report, Jarvis said.
“Narconon’s program is not safe,” the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health said in a 1992 rejection of Chilocco New Life Center, a Scientology residential hospital on an Indian reservation in Newkirk, Okla.
“No scientifically well-controlled studies were found that documented the safety of the Narconon program,” the board said.
Yet Scientology’s founder claimed the sauna regimen can do much more than rid the body of drugs – it can cure radiation sickness.
“Radiation is apparently enormously water-soluble as well as water removable,” Hubbard wrote in an edition of “Clear Body, Clear Mind,” obtained at the Boston Public Library.
Agent Orange and cancer-causing PCBs can also be neutralized through the detox method, Scientologists claim.
“WHAMO! Something miraculous happened! Damned if I didn’t begin to feel better,” wrote one Scientologist in Hubbard’s book, who said he watched a nuclear explosion as a soldier. “There is new hope for radiation victims! I’m the living proof of it!”
Even the Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology
International in Los Angeles, said in an interview with the Heraldthat the Purification Rundown saved his life by ridding his body of radiation sickness that he contracted from exposure to nuclear testing in Utah when he was a child.
About 100,000 people have done the Purification program, Scientologists claim.
And Kirstie Alley of “Cheers” fame – star of the sitcom “Veronica’s Closet” – is Narconon’s international spokeswoman. A longtime Scientologist, she says the anti-drug program’s Purification Rundown saved her life by helping her kick a cocaine habit.
Top Scientology officials at the church’s nerve center, the Religious Technology Center, deny any connection toNarconon.
“The definitive answer is RTC doesn’t have anything to do with them,” RTC President Warren L. McShane said in a letter to the Herald.
“I’ve checked my files, we have never had a licensing agreement with them or any secular group,” McShane said.
But the RTC clearly states on all Scientology literature that the Purification Rundown is a registered trademark used only with its permission.
Also, L. Ron Hubbard’s name is trademarked by the RTC, and all his books are copyrighted by another key Scientology organization called the L. Ron Hubbard Library. Hubbard’s name and his writings may only be used with permission, according to numerous Scientology publications.
Robert Vaughn Young, a former top Scientology official, said it is common knowledge among top Scientologists that the RTC strictly controls Narconon through licensing agreements.
Also, church documents say the RTC is “protector of the religion” ensuring “purity of application” of Hubbard’s teachings, with an “Inspector General Network” to enforce RTC rules.
A Herald reporter, during a visit to Narconon’s Everett office, saw stacks of L. Ron Hubbard’s book, “Clear Body, Clear Mind,” and many other materials carrying Hubbard’s name.
Also, the Everett office’s top staff – including Wiggins and Narconon Treasurer Susan Birkenshaw, who live at the same Jamaica Plain address – is made up entirely of Scientologists, Mack said.
Further, the church as a whole makes no secret that the Purification Rundown is a first step onto its “Bridge to Total Freedom.” The Purification method is clearly marked on the “Bridge” in a 1994 edition of the church’s introductory textbook “The Scientology Handbook” in the Boston Public Library’s collection.
The textbook chart makes it clear that church members must undergo the Purification Rundown to advance spiritually within Scientology – and the only places to get the Purification Rundown is at the church’s Beacon Street headquarters, Narconon in Everett and at a Scientology-run company called Healthmed of California.
Wiggins teaches drug awareness at about 100 schools a year in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island, and he lectures for teachers’ associations, Mack said.
While Narconon has been active in other school districts – including the Idaho public schools, according to a 1990 article in the journal “The Southern California Psychiatrist” – the New England operation may be its most successful in the U.S., according to Scientology critics.
Both Wiggins and Birkenshaw were paid $ 16,000 salaries in 1994, according to federal tax records.
The Purification Rundown and the detox treatment costs about $ 1,200 at the Church of Scientology in Boston, which uses a sauna in the basement of its Beacon Street building near the Charles River.
And a glossy brochure in Narconon’s Everett office offers an intensive, in-patient purification program for $ 18,500 – including “withdrawal services” – at the Oklahoma hospital.
In Scientology, salesmen like Wiggins are called “Field Service Members,” (FSMs) and are paid a percentage of any courses bought from the church by people they recruit, said Dennis Erlich, a Scientology Church defector.
FSMs are paid a commission of 10-35 percent of what their recruits spend on church training, according to a Dec. 29, 1997, memo written by Commander Sherry Murphy of the Church of Scientology’s Fields Executive International division.
“If he recruits, he gets a 10-15 percent straight sales commission,” said Erlich, who was a top Scientology trainer for 15 years. “He gets the commission on everything that the person purchases from then on, of Scientology auditing and training,” he said.
And Wiggins has a very active history with Narconon – as of 1997 he had lectured before a total of 375,000 people, according to the Church of Scientology.
Schools pay $ 200-$ 300 for short lectures by Wiggins, Mack said.
And for full-day peer leadership programs, that include many hours of Scientology methods, schools pay $ 750-$ 1,200, with many of these payments coming from school budgets, Mack said. Peer leaders are taught Scientology methods of communication, study, personality development and “ethics technology.”
Wiggins is promoted as Narconon’s top national speaker in a videotape recently released by Narconon International’s headquarters in Los Angeles. A Narconon Internet site offers the Wiggins video for sale, and Narconon employees use the Internet to recruit new members.
Federal income tax records show Narconon Inc. of Massachusetts earned $715,771 for school lectures from 1989-1994. More recent income tax information could not be obtained. About one-third of that income came directly from public and Catholic schools, and the rest from charitable donors, according to the tax records.
Those donors making recent donations include NYNEX, the Polaroid Foundation and Danvers Savings Bank, Jeanne Mack said. The Thomas Anthony Pappas Charitable Foundation of Belmont gave $ 10,000 to Narconon in 1991, and $ 15,000 in 1992, tax records show.
The Pappas Foundation declined to comment, and Polaroid said it could not find a record of corporate grants did not return calls. The Danvers Savings Bank has donated $ 100 to $ 250 to Narconon every year since the late 1980s, but had not been aware that the group was linked to the Church of Scientology, a bank official said.
And Narconon did not disclose any Scientology links in its grant applications from Bell Atlantic, formerly Nynex, which gave Narconon a total of $ 15,000 in 1991, 1996 and 1997, said Bell Atlantic spokesman Jack Hoey.
“There is no reference to the Church of Scientology” in Narconon’s grant applications to Bell Atlantic, Hoey said. However, the church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, is mentioned several times, he said.
“The fact that there is a religious affiliation doesn’t mean the application wouldn’t be approved,” said Hoey, adding that future grant applications from Narconon will be screened closely.
Although Wiggins has lectured about Scientology’s purification ideas in the Boston Public Schools and across New England, several school officials, including Boston schools Superintendent Thomas Payzant, told the Herald they were unaware that Narconon was connected to the Church of Scientology.
“My standard is that there should be no misrepresentation,” Payzant said.
“I think it’s inappropriate for any religious group, under the guise of some other purpose, to use the public schools as a setting to promote some particular religion,” the superintendent said.
Payzant said he will look into whether Narconon speakers violated school policy by not disclosing links to the Church of Scientology.
Church critics were appalled to learn that Scientologists were being welcomed into New England schools.
“If they’re going into the schools, they’re really messing with the children’s minds,” said Erlich.
Young, the church defector, said he does not object to drug-awareness speakers like Wiggins going into the schools – as long as they tell parents and headmasters that Narconon is connected to the Church of Scientology.
Steve Hassan, a Scientology critic and author of the book “Combatting Cult Mind Control,” said, “I’m very worried that Scientology is infiltrating schools and I think they need to be exposed,”
And Jarvis, the public health professor, was astonished that Scientologists are invited into the classroom.
“Any school administration that would allow a group as ideological as that to come into their schools is irresponsible and naive,” he said.
“They make a big deal about prayer in school, and then they let this religious group in?” said Jarvis.
But Wiggins is a hit with the students.
At Chelmsford High he told his own story – of using, abusing and selling drugs – punctuating his monologue with jokes and making amusing noises with the microphone.
He said he first smoked marijuana at age 11. He did LSD and cocaine. He became a drug dealer. His life was a mess, he said, but he turned it around in 1977 when he turned to Narconon.
“It was great,” Chelmsford student Becky Friedman said after a Narconon lecture.
“I liked it so much I stayed again,” said another student, Valerie Perry.
Scientology critics say 50-75 percent of those who undergo full Narconon training become Scientologists.
But Rev. Jentzsch said only about 6 percent become members. In any case, he said, the church does not recruit children.
“Children can’t become a member of the Church of Scientology unless they have parental permission, and that’s very rare,” Jentzsch said. Most people who join Scientology are 25-35 years old, he said.
But at least one Everett High School student was recruited into the Narconon program, Jeanne Mack said. She declined to name the student, a girl, citing confidentiality concerns, but said the student was expected to learn office skills and Narconon teachings.
Narconon tries to hire and train students from many of the high schools it visits, Mack said.
By JOSEPH MALLIA
Date of Publication:3/2/981
A Church of Scientology school in Milton is enrolling large numbers of children from middle-class and professional black families in what critics say is part of the church’s nationwide plan to recruit minorities.
Officials at Delphi Academy do not tell parents that the school is part of the Church of Scientology, and that they are trying to recruit blacks for Scientology’s costly programs.
Yet they do admit that all staff members are Scientologists and they use Scientology materials.
A Herald review of the school has found that Delphi Academy:
Used precisely the same “Study Tech” as the Boston Church of Scientology on Beacon Street, where the methods are considered religious scriptures.
Sent up to 10 percent of each child’s tuition money to the Association for Better Living and Education, a Scientology organization in Los Angeles, according to its federal tax returns.
Got “referral” income of 10 percent to 15 percent of any Scientology course or book bought by a Delphi Academy parent, according to the school’s federal tax returns and ex-members of the church.
Has used an “E-Meter” – a device like a lie detector that measures emotional reactions – on Delphi children, according to a former student, Sabriya Dublin of Jamaica Plain. The E-Meter – the same device used by the church in counseling- sends a mild electric current through the child’s body, with fluctuations in a gauge showing emotional reactions, as a child answers questions while holding a shiny metal tube in each hand. A former Delphi student from Oregon, however, said the E-Meter was not used at his school.
Created a Delphi Parents Association so parents could pay for playground repairs and two new computers through fund-raising events – while Delphi made royalty payments to Scientology’s ABLE organization.
Promoted Scientology outside the school. Delphi’s headmistress, Ellen Garrison, helped establish a Scientology tutoring program for ninth-grade teachers at the Randolph Public Schools, said former Scientology church spokeswoman Kit Finn.
And a “Homework Club” sent older Delphi students to teach Scientology methods at the Tucker Elementary School, a Milton public school, a Delphi official said.
Attracted so many students in recent years that the school, in a converted gatehouse off a quiet stretch of Blue Hill Avenue, had to build two new classrooms. School spokeswoman Joanne List said most of the new students were black.
Critics of Scientology say the real motive of Delphi is to increase church membership, and make money by selling high-priced Scientology courses to parents, according to Priscilla Coates, an anti-cult activist in Los Angeles.
One parent, Harvard Dental School instructor Dr. E. Leo Whitworth, had just such an experience with Delphi Academy.
Whitworth said his son, L.V., was taught basic Church of Scientology methods like Study Technology during the four years he was enrolled at Delphi Academy.
The dentist said he did not learn that Delphi was linked to Scientology until after his son was enrolled, and then they recruited him for a variety of programs at the Church of Scientology on Beacon Street in Boston.
“I took two courses at the church,” Whitworth said. “It cost in the hundreds. They wanted me as a member. And they did try to get my wife. She started a course but she didn’t finish,” the dentist said.
During a vacation in California, Whitworth visited the offices of Sterling Management, a for-profit business linked to the Church of Scientology. There, Scientologists tried to sell him a dental office management program, Whitworth said.
“They were trying to get me to use their business techniques,” he said, but he didn’t like the program and it was too expensive. “It was too much like car salesman techniques. It cost a lot – around $ 10,000.”
Whitworth, who is also a Northeastern University trustee, said he knew of “several” non-Scientologist parents who enrolled their children in Delphi Academy and later became members of the church.
In retrospect, he said, Delphi Academy appears to be deceptive.
“I would rather they did say, up front, that they are part of Scientology. There are certain ways they could be more open,” he said. He also warned parents who enroll their children at Delphi to “be aware there are other aspects to it – the Scientology.”
Whitworth’s son, now 15, asked to be taken out of Delphi, the father said. “He didn’t want to stay there anymore. He was just uncomfortable.”
Several other black parents, however, said they were pleased with how well their children were learning at the school. And Delphi officials say students got high marks on the annual California Acheivement Tests.
New students to the $ 6,200-a-year school are recruited for Delphi and its summer camp by word of mouth, and through bulk mailings that do not mention Scientology. The school first opened in Belmont in 1980 under the name Apple School.
The 1,000-student network of Delphi academies in Oregon, Florida, California – and Milton – has recruited unsuspecting families for many years, Coates said.
But the interest in black citizens is new, because Scientology has few non-white members, she said. “They are looking for new niches for people and money,” Coates said.
A Herald reporter visited the 104-student Milton school twice, and found that the majority of its younger students are black. It enrolls children ages 3-13.
Parents who have enrolled their children at the school include professionals like Brockton obstetrician Dr. Dawna Jones and government workers like Barbara Hamilton, youth activities aide to Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
Dr. Jones did not return calls seeking comment, but Hamilton said her son is doing well at Delphi.
“I would say he’s just generally improved,” including better reading skills, Hamilton said.
Other black, non-Scientologist parents include a top manager at Lexington-based Stride Rite Corp., an investment analyst, a nurse, a Massachusetts state trooper, Boston police officers, computer executives at Digital Equipment Corp. and Lotus Development, and an MBTA welder, according to Delphi officials.
Several other black parents are medical doctors, one owns a Roxbury air-conditioning company, one is a Christian minister, while another is a Catholic religious education director, Delphi officials said.
“The Scientology thing, that was one thing I had to clear up. At first I didn’t know it was a religious school, and I wasn’t looking for a religious school,” said Lee Jensen, a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority official, who enrolled her daughter, Nicole, at Delphi. “I told them, ‘I need to know exactly what you’re teaching my child, because you have her for nine hours a day.’ ”
Not every parent is middle-class, and Delphi gives no financial aid or scholarships, so some parents just scrape by, said List. “We have a lot of single mothers who eat peanut butter sandwiches, and don’t drive fancy cars,” she said.
The school does not require its students to convert to Scientology, said former student Sabriya Dublin, who said she attended the school for eight years.
The founder of the Delphi Academy schools, Alan Larson, said in an interview from Oregon that they succeed because they require every child to learn everything – without exception – before moving on to the next task.
And the Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International, said Delphi students’ Scholastic Aptitude Tests are “400 points above the national average.”
But Dennis Erlich, a former Scientology trainer in California, said his two daughters had to spend two years in remedial math and English courses after he transferred them to public school from a Scientology-run school, where he said instruction was poor.
Another church defector, Robert Vaughn Young, said Scientology’s leaders do not care about traditional education. They only care about getting people to buy Scientology courses, he said.
By JOSEPH MALLIA
Date of Publication:3/2/981
The Church of Scientology has targeted black families in Massachusetts with a learn-to-read program that critics say is just a rehash of old methods that leans heavily on the church’s religious teachings.
The learn-to-read program – the World Literacy Crusade – is part of a nationwide effort by the church to entice blacks into Scientology and then convince them to take other, expensive programs, according to critics and former members of the church.
A Herald review has found that Scientologists have:
- Targeted a literacy campaign at inner-city Boston programs for minority children, including Red Sox slugger Mo Vaughn’s Youth Development Program, the Roxbury YMCA and the Roxbury Youth Works.
- Attracted dozens of middle class and professional black families to Delphi Academy in Milton. This Scientology-run school uses E-Meters – devices akin to lie detectors – on children, according to a former Delphi student.
- Taught Scientology methods to ninth-grade teachers at Randolph High School – which has many black students – after persuading headmaster James E. Watson that their techniques work.
- Taught Scientology’s study techniques to Boston Public Schools students at Brighton High School through teacher Gerald Mazzarella, who is also a church member.
- Created 26 World Literacy Crusade programs – in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Memphis, Tenn., and a host of other U.S. cities in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
- Gained the endorsements of prominent local blacks such as Georgette Watson, co-founder of Drop-A-Dime and former anti-drug aide to Gov. William F. Weld.
Scientologists say the literacy campaign is nonreligious, and thereforedoesn’t violate laws separating church and state.
But critics say the church plays fast and loose with definitions, calling identical programs “religious” in one context and “secular” in another.
Church documents and books show that Scientology clearly identifies Study Technology as a religious practice. It is taught at the church’s local headquarters on Beacon Street in Boston in the $600 Student Hat program, as a first step into church membership.
This learn-to-read “technology” – or Study Tech as the church calls it – teaches children to distrust their own intelligence and rely passively on what the church teaches, said high-ranking church defector Robert Vaughn Young.
“Study Tech is an extremely dangerous technique,” Young said. “Critical thinking? There is no critical thinking. Criticism is the part that is not allowed,” said Young, who once directed Scientology’s worldwide public relations effort.
The Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International, denied that black children or families are being recruited through the literacy program.
“We’ve found that African-American families are as interested as everyone else in what works . . .. They might not necessarily join the church but the quality of their lives has been improved by it,” he said.
Scientologists say the literacy techniques offer the only way to end gang violence, teen pregnancy and other inner-city problems. “I think parents are being driven to find answers. They want their kids to be educated, for heaven’s sake. God bless the World Literacy Crusade,” Jentzsch said.
He said Scientology’s study techniques are so effective they raised his own IQ by 34 points, and helped his children read far above their grade levels.
The Herald asked Harvard University literacy expert Victoria Purcell-Gates to assess the World Literacy Crusade’s learn-to-read book, the “Basic Study Manual,” written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. “This is all `old stuff,’ and has been taught in the schools for at least 30 years (probably more) now,” the Harvard professor wrote in an assessment for the Herald.
“Basically, there is nothing new in this text that is not known by reading/study specialists at a very basic level,” she added. “The only thing really `different’ is that Mr. Hubbard has renamed basic concepts to fit into his overall scheme of things.”
Steve Hassan of Cambridge, a cult deprogrammer, warned that the way Scientologists use the book, in one-on-one tutorials, is a first step toward hypnotic mind control. And the literacy materials are the same as church scriptures – except the schoolbooks leave out the word “Scientology,” Hassan said.
For example, the “Basic Study Manual” teaches children about the Scientology practice of “disconnecting” – used to separate new recruits from non-Scientologists, including parents. ” `Experts,’ `advisers,’ `friends,’ `families’ . . . indulge in all manner of interpretations and even outright lies to seem wise or expert,” the manual says.
The manual also promotes Scientology’s anti-psychology agenda, linking psychology to German fascism and saying psychotherapists reduce humans to the level of animals.
Scientology spokesman Bernard Percy, however, defended the World Literacy Crusade, saying it has no harmful agenda, and that its study principles can turn a child’s life around. For example, Percy said, the program requires children to look up in a dictionary each and every unfamiliar word – and that becomes a lifelong habit with tremendous benefits.
Scientologists also claim the literacy campaign is not controlled by the Church of Scientology – so they are not breaking the laws prohibiting religion in the schools.
But that is a false claim, because the campaign is funded and directed by the Church of Scientology, Hassan said.
Although local Scientologists deny that the World Literacy Crusade is directed by the Church of Scientology, anyone who uses L. Ron Hubbard’s name, or his trademarked Study Technology techniques, is strictly controlled by licensing contracts with Scientology groups in Los Angeles, in particular the Religious Technology Center, according to Young and church materials obtained by the Herald.
The World Literacy Crusade’s independence from Scientology is a “fiction,” Young said.
A World Literacy Crusade videotape, viewed by the Herald, clearly states that it has a licensing agreement with RTC – Scientology’s most powerful organization – allowing it to use L. Ron Hubbard’s name.
Also, Scientologists get a 10 percent to 35 percent commission on any church course bought by someone they recruit through the literacy programs, according to Church of Scientology documents dated last month.
Once Scientology attracts a new recruit, its staff applies skillful, high-pressure sales tactics, Hassan said. Members must pay more than $300,000 in “fixed donations” – or barter their full-time labor – to achieve complete salvation.
When the Mo Vaughn group or another agency buys Scientology’s literacy books – which cost about $35 each – most of the money goes to several Scientology organizations in Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, the church’s in-house publisher; Author Services Inc., Scientology’s literary agency; and RTC, which owns the rights to the trademarked name L. Ron Hubbard. Also, church members sometimes get government funding.
Scientologists got a federal grant for the literacy program in Memphis, former church spokeswoman Kit Finn said.
Federal money was also spent in Boston on Scientology materials, said Gerald Mazzarella, a Scientologist who teaches at Brighton High School. Mazzarella told the Herald he used part of a $5,000 federal grant to buy Scientology textbooks and checklists during the 1980s, which he then used at Brighton High.
Boston’s kickoff of Scientology’s literacy program was an April 22, 1995, reception at Roxbury Community College.
The guest of honor was Isaac Hayes, the first black musician ever to win an Academy Award.
The “Shaft” composer impressed a few prominent local blacks – including James E. Watson, the Randolph Junior/Senior High School headmaster. “It obviously helps kids improve their learning. It seemed to be a positive,” Watson said.
Watson toured Delphi Academy in Milton about three years ago, then asked the school’s headmistress, Ellen Garrison, to begin teaching Study Technology to his ninth-grade teachers at the Randolph school in December.
“It’s at its infancy stage, and what it would cost isn’t clear yet,” the headmaster said at the time. Watson, who has been praised for easing racial tensions in Randolph, recently said there is no longer any connection between the two schools.
The head of a youth program founded by one of Boston’s most-admired black athletes was also interested.
“I think they’re right on when they say illiteracy is a problem that leads to other problems,” said Roosevelt Smith, executive director of the Mo Vaughn Youth Development Program.
“We contracted with the World Literacy Crusade to bring seven kids up to speed,” Smith said. Five of the children, who were 13-16 years old, improved their reading ability using the “Basic Study Manual,” he said.
Most of the stuff is free. They only asked us to pay for books and materials,” Smith said.
Mo Vaughn himself knew about the Scientologists’ program, but “he hasn’t met with them directly,” Smith said.
But the Scientology religion “is not a part of what we’re doing,” Smith said. “I don’t think the kids even know what Scientology is.”
Roxbury Youth Works, however, allowed World Literacy Crusade workers to tutor teenagers there three years ago, but had second thoughts after learning more about the group’s links to Scientology, said Roxbury Youth Works administrator Dave Wideman.
“We as an organization were a little apprehensive. It seems like they were trying to recruit people,” Wideman said. “The target group was the particular population we serve, predominantly young black men and women.”
But if the Randolph High School literacy program succeeds, Scientologists hope to teach the same “tech” in Boston classrooms, said Finn, the Scientologist.
“That’s definitely the plan,” Finn said. “It’s like Mr. Watson. Somebody has to be bright enough to want it.”
Virtually every top Scientology official is white, according to ex-members and photographs of church leaders. But the new literacy campaign shows Scientology wants to attract blacks and Hispanics, said Priscilla Coates, formerly of the Cult Awareness Network in Los Angeles – an anti-cult group that was bankrupted by Scientology lawsuits and then taken over by the church.
Any non-Scientologist youth who is taught Study Technology is ripe for recruitment, Coates said. “The child has a possibility of becoming a Scientologist,” she said.
Elsewhere in the United States, the World Literacy Crusade has installed its programs at a New York City police athletic league, a Los Angeles probation department, and the Tampa (Fla.) Housing Authority. Other programs are in Washington, D.C., Denver, and throughout California.
In Memphis, Tenn., public officials were angered to learn that the World Literacy Crusade had run a pilot program – with federal grant money – for 75 students in a public school building, without getting a needed permit and without disclosing its ties to Scientology. The church was not allowed to use the school facilities again.
In the inner-city Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton, more than 700 black children, including gang members, participated in the World Literacy Crusade and the program saved their lives by giving them an alternative to street life, Jentzsch said.
“If you know what the statistics are in Compton, (it is) just miraculous,” Jentzsch said. “I’ve seen kids from the Crips and the Bloods sitting there working with other kids to get them educated.”
Larry Campbell brought his daughter to the Scientologists at the Roxbury YMCA because she was having reading problems in a public school outside Boston, which he would not name.
“I brought my daughter here because these guys help,” Campbell said. The father acknowledged that he also enrolled himself in the literacy program, to improve his reading skills.
“This is what the public schools should be doing,” the father said. “It should be attended to not next year but now.”
So for two hours on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and each Saturday morning, Campbell, a deacon at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Roxbury, brought his elementary school aged daughter to a neon-lit YMCA room furnished with an old sofa, two foldout tables and a stack of plastic chairs.
There, she and other black children were coached in Scientology’s study methods by church members Simaen Skolfield and Cliff Dufresne.
During one session observed by a Herald reporter, neither tutor had a spontaneous conversation with a child, but read from a script.
Dufresne, who dropped out of Boston College Law School to work on the literacy program, helped Doug Walker, a pupil at the William Monroe Trotter Elementary School in Dorchester.
Doug Walker’s mother said the school wanted to solve her son’s problems by giving him medication such as Ritalin, Dufresne said. But, he added, the mother wanted to try drug-free Scientology lessons first.
Meanwhile Skolfield, a bearded British emigre, helped Tanzania Campbell – whose ambition is to be a schoolteacher in Atlantic City, N.J. – with a Study Technology lesson.
Campbell and others at the Roxbury YMCA literacy program were expected to pay nothing at first. “Not yet,” Dufresne said.
But Dufresne hopes his students will, in turn, teach their friends the Scientology techniques. “That’s the whole idea. They learn this and then they circle back and teach somebody else. Because there’s not enough of us,” he said.
Scientology literacy sessions are no longer allowed at the Roxbury YMCA, after officials there learned that the program is associated with the church.
But, an official at Dennison House in Dorchester said Dufresne met with house representatives last year and Dennison House invited World Literacy Crusade workers to come in as tutors. The tutoring has not yet started.
By JOSEPH MALLIA
Date of Publication:3/1/98 1
MIT student Carlos Covarrubias had signed a contract to serve the Church of Scientology for the next billion years – in effect, pledging his eternal soul.
Now two Scientologists were helping him stuff underwear and socks into a suitcase at his Back Bay fraternity house while others sat outside on Beacon Street in a car with its engine running.
They were preparing to take the 19-year-old to Logan Airport, and from there to the church’s Los Angeles headquarters.
“His parents were coming up from Florida to save him, so the Scientologists were rushing to get him out of here,” said Marcus Ottaviano, president of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity, recalling the May 1995 events.
Covarrubias’s interest in the church was first piqued by “Dianetics,” the Scientology book advertised on late-night TV and at national events like the Boston Marathon.
It wasn’t long before Covarrubias began skipping his MIT classes to spend the day studying at the church, Scientology’s four-story stone building on Beacon Street, a block from the Charles River and next door to his fraternity.
The church recruiters befriended him, promising that one day he would become “clear” – with a perfect memory and a higher IQ. Covarrubias paid for the Purification Rundown, a $ 1,200 detoxification program that required him to drink vegetable oil, take vitamin megadoses, and sweat in a sauna for several hours a day.
He also took a course that required him to talk to inanimate objects like dolls and ashtrays. “You had an ashtray, and you’d say, ‘Stand up.’ You’d lift it up and say, ‘Thank you.’ And then you’d say, ‘Sit down,’ and ‘Thank you.’ You’d try to have the intention for it to move on its own,” Covarrubias said.
Altogether, he paid about $ 2,000 to the Church of Scientology. But they wanted more.
“They asked me about student loans, bank loans, and they asked me, ‘What’s the limit on your credit cards? What’s your overdraft protection?’ “Covarrubias said. “They said, ‘There’s always a way to get money.’ ”
It is just such tactics that cause critics to call the church – founded in 1953 – a cult and a money-grabbing machine that separates thousands of ordinary church members like Covarrubias from their free will and their money.
It is also just such tactics that have the church in the midst of an international and highly public feud with the German government – which steadfastly refuses to grant Scientology the tax-exempt status of a religion – a status the church holds in this country.
While high-profile celebrity members, including John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley and others, earn goodwill for the church, ex-members and critics say there is a dark underside to Scientology.
Some of that underside was allegedly laid bare in the 1995 death in Clearwater, Fla., of church member Lisa McPherson, 36, according to Florida state police, who recommended in December that Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe bring criminal charges against the church. The county medical examiner said she died of a blood clot due to dehydration, after being denied water for at least her last five to 10 days.
The church says McPherson died accidentally of a pulmonary embolism and denies that its members caused the death.
McPherson’s family filed a wrongful-death suit against the Church of Scientology last year, saying she wanted to leave the church but was held against her will during a 17-day church “retreat.”
Former insiders told the Herald that the Church of Scientology is a wealthy and powerful organization strictly controlled by its reclusive leaders at the Religious Technology Center in California.
In 1993 – the last year the church had to declare its income for federal tax purposes – it had $ 398 million in assets and took in $ 300 million a year. It claims to have 8 million members, though opponents put that number at only 200,000 or so – with about 40,000 in the United States.
In Massachusetts, there are several groups – an Everett drug-rehab office, a Brighton literacy program, private schools in Milton and Somerville and an anti-psychiatry group in Boston – that deny they are controlled by the Church of Scientology.
The groups share a primary goal with all other Scientology organizations, critics say: To recruit for the church and sell its programs.
But the president of the Church of Scientology International, the Rev. Heber Jentzsch, objected in a telephone interview from Los Angeles to allegations of abuse or deception.
Church members are sincerely motivated to bring happiness to mankind, Jentzsch said. They work in prisons and among the poor to eradicate gang violence, teen pregnancy and drug abuse, he said.
Scientology is thriving in 115 countries, Jentzsch said, despite the venom of what he said were only a few critics. It thrives, he said, because “it is the path to total freedom.”
And Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s books and lectures are popular, selling more than 140 million copies – including more than 17 million copies of “Dianetics” – in 34 languages, Jentzsch said.
Long before Hubbard died in 1986, he was accused of creating the Church of Scientology only to make money. His lectures and writings – totaling more than 100,000 pages – still generate millions of dollars in income every year. That stream of money is now controlled by Hubbard’s heir, Religious Technology Center board chairman David Miscavige, 37, who has worked for the church since he was a teenager.
Jentzsch said Scientology is attacked – as Mormonism was in its early years – because it is a new religion with a unique and vital message. “A person who is a Scientologist – he wakes up,” he said.
Local Scientologists recruit on college campuses in Boston and on the street.
A favorite spot is outside the front door of the Boston Architectural Center at Newbury and Hereford streets, where church recruiters regularly hand out free tickets for “personality and IQ tests” at the “Hubbard Dianetics Foundation.” The tickets – “a $ 30 value” – list the address and telephone number but not the name of the Church of Scientology at 448 Beacon St.
And for several months there was an outpost in Watertown’s Arsenal Mall where a vendor’s cart offered free stress tests on an an “Electropsychometer” or “E-Meter” – a kind of lie detector used for Scientology training.
Potential members are routed to the Beacon Street church where high-pressure “registrars” sell costly church programs.
In the church’s vocabulary, the recruiter is a “body router,” and potential converts are “wogs” or “raw meat.”
An offer of a free personality test enticed Reem Rahim, 31, who said in a Herald interview that she was recruited to Scientology in 1991.
New to Boston, unhappy with her job as an immunology researcher at Children’s Hospital, Rahim accepted when a man on the street offered the church’s personality test.
Within six weeks she had paid the Boston church $ 82,000 for Scientology courses – money from an insurance settlement she got after nearly losing her legs in a 1987 car accident. Church salespeople promised Scientology would give Rahim happiness and advanced mental powers, including the ability to remove from her legs the scars caused by the auto accident, she said.
Rahim’s family helped her leave Scientology. And she later got all her money refunded, but not before she hired lawyers who threatened to sue the church for fraud.
“I used to feel sorry for them, because there were some nice people there. Now I feel angry with the whole organization. What a bunch of creeps – stealing money from people,” Rahim recalled.
Another Boston resident, John Wall, was recruited when he found a Yellow Pages “career counseling” listing for the Scientology group Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation, according to a fraud complaint he filed against the church on Dec. 8, 1992, in Suffolk County Superior Court.
“The personality test is the gimmick routinely used by Scientology missions, orgs (organizations) and front groups . . . (to) identify the emotional sore spots of the targets for recruitment,” said the lawyers for Wall, who was recruited soon after graduating from college.
In a little more than two years, Wall claimed, he gave $ 17,000 to the church but never got career counseling.
“He was bombarded with contacts” from Scientologists pressuring him to take more courses, Wall’s lawyers said in the court documents. “He was told that Scientology was every bit a scientific discipline as physics or chemistry,” they said.
“Defendants continued to utilize mind control techniques which pervade Scientology pursuant to the boast of (L. Ron) Hubbard, the founder of Scientology,” Wall’s lawyers said in the documents, and then quoted Hubbard as saying: ” ‘We know more about psychiatry than psychiatrists. We can brainwash faster than the Russians.’ ”
After buying courses for 18 months from the Beacon Street church, Wall became a full-time Scientologist and moved to Los Angeles in October 1990.
Seven months after moving to California, Wall quit Scientology. He settled his lawsuit in 1993, and could not be reached for comment.
Skillful techniques induce even highly educated people like Wall, Covarrubias and Rahim to join groups like the Church of Scientology, said Steve Hassan of Cambridge, author of the book “Combatting Cult Mind Control.” Hassan was hired by Rahim’s family to help persuade her to leave Scientology.
Scientology is clearly a destructive cult, said Hassan, who has established a new local resource center to educate people about coercive religions.
“This group is unlike legitimate religions which tell what their beliefs and practices are in the beginning,” said Hassan, 43,a one-time member of the Unification Church.
“Scientology systematically deceives, hypnotizes, indoctrinates and exploits people for its own purposes,” he said.
First, Scientologists find a new recruit’s “ruin” – the thing that bothers him or her the most, according to Hassan, court documents and former members.
Then they promise to fix it, said former members who sued the church for fraud.
Whether the problem is psychosis or cancer, illiteracy or insanity – or legs scarred from an auto accident – Scientology is the answer. That’s the enticement offered to new recruits by church salespeople who are paid a 10 percent to 35 percent commission on every course they sell, defectors said.
Covarrubias, Rahim and Wall spent far less than the $ 300,000-plus cost of completing Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.”
Former Scientologist Gloria Neumeyer of Glendale, Calif., who owns a solar heating company, told the Herald she spent $ 200,000 for herself and another $300,000 for family members and employees to take Scientology courses.
“I donated $ 500,000 to Scientology. I was the kind (of recruit) who had money and paid for everything,” said Neumeyer, a former Lexington resident who left the church in 1991 and then decided to expose what she says are the church’s destructive practices.
Scientology counseling can create a feeling of well-being or even ecstasy, and that can become addictive, according to cult experts. It can also be expensive, costing up to $ 520 an hour, they said.
For the money, Scientologists are promised extraordinary powers – like controlling the weather and flying without their bodies, according to critics and former members.
Scientologists “claim with confidence that trillions of years ago they knew each other on other planets, that they had the power to see at submicroscopic levels and leave their bodies at will,” said Jim Siegelman and Flo Conway, authors of “Snapping,” a book on personality change in cults.
Like all Scientology churches worldwide, the Boston organization is required to send a percentage of its income to top church groups in California, which own all rights to the use of L. Ron Hubbard’s name, said Robert Vaughn Young, a former high-ranking Scientology official.
Many of Scientology’s more idealistic members sign billion-year contracts with the Sea Organization, the church’s quasi-military corps based in Clearwater, Fla.
Dressed in blue mock-Navy uniforms with gold braid and ribbons, it was two Sea Org officers who visited Boston and convinced Covarrubias that he should wear the same nautical garb while learning to save the world.
Even today, the church still considers Covarrubias a member, because his billion-year contract is irrevocable.
His friends and family disagree.
When his Pi Lambda Phi brothers saw Covarrubias become more and more immersed in Scientology, they alerted his parents in North Palm Beach, Fla.
Using the Internet, they found ex-Scientologists who volunteered to meet Covarrubias face-to-face.
The defectors told Covarrubias that he would sink more and more deeply under the mental control of the church, completely cut off from family and non-Scientology friends.
Meanwhile, on that day in May 1995, his parents’ plane was approaching Boston. The church had learned – from Covarrubias during a counseling session – of the plot to rescue him. That’s when the Scientologists came into the Pi Lambda Phi house to help Covarrubias pack his suitcase, Ottaviano said.
But before the Scientologists could take Covarrubias to Los Angeles, his friends blocked the frat house door, Ottaviano said.
“The only reason they didn’t leave that second is that there were 40 of us and two of them,” he recalled.
After Covarrubias was safe with his parents, the Pi Lambda Phi wanted to alert other college students. So they picketed the church next door.
“All the neighbors came out to support us. We were joined by a common enemy – we all hated Scientology,” Ottaviano said.
After a year with his family in Florida, Covarrubias felt strong enough to come back to Boston, rejoin the fraternity and re-enroll at MIT. He is scheduled to graduate with a philosophy degree this spring. Raised Catholic, he has a deep interest in spiritual matters.
But he said he does not consider Scientology a spiritual group.
“It’s an organization. Any other word, like religion, doesn’t seem to fit. It’s not a religion because they don’t ask for faith,” he said. “I would actually call it a cult.”
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Church of Scientology International
Office of the President
November 5, 1994
Assistant Commissioner (Employee
Plans and Exempt Organizations)
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution AVe., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20224
Re: FACTNET, Inc.1
I have written to you previously in February 19942 and again in August 1994 concerning “Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network (“FACTNET”) describing the purposes and activities of this group and demonstrating that the application for tax exemption that they filed — and which was granted by the Service in August 1994 — was fraudulent. I will not repeat the information set forth in those letters but attach copies, (without exhibits) here for your reference. (Exhibits 1 & 2). I am writing this letter to bring to your attention additional evidence concerning FACTNET that has come up since my last letter.
In my earlier letters I described the close relationship between FACTNET and the Cult Awareness Network (“CAN”), an anti-religion hate group that serves as a referral service for deprogrammers, and evidence that FACTNET itself was carrying out similar referral services. Further evidence has been brought to light of these two organizations working together and carrying out similar functions.
FACTNET’s former president, Gerald Armstrong, testified in the last two weeks that in November 1993, shortly after FACTNET was formed, its founder, Larry Wollersheim, gave a demonstration of the FACTNET system to the Executive Director of CAN, Cynthia Kisser and other CAN principles. FACTNET and CAN use very similar language for.describing what they do and similar euphemisms for promoting their deprogrammer referral network. A recent computerized advertisement by FACTNET promoted via the Internet system, says that they can connect up anyone who contacts them to
6331 HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, SUITE 1200, LOS ANGELES, CA 90028-6329
TELEPHONE (213) 960-3500 FAX (213) 960-3508 / 960-3509
“an assortment of key mental health professionals, clergy, attorneys, support groups, ex-members, and organizations who work with victims and families of this group.” (Exhibit 3) Compare this to a recently promotional piece for CAN that describes who they are as “. . . mental health professionals, lawyers, physicians, legislators, clergy, law enforcement officers and educators” and in the`next paragraph admits that “CAN recognizes the need for voluntary exit counseling/deprogramming . . ..”
Exhibit 4 FACTNET and CAN are working together and FACTNET appears to be taking part in the deprogrammer referral business.
Recent additional evidence of the extent of CAN’s involvement in deprogramming demonstrates what such referrals actually mean.
A declaration from the manager of a Bed and Breakfast house in Albany, Ohio (“The Albany House”) situated near the Wellspring Retreat and Rehabilitation Center, (run by CAN Board member Paul Martin), states that between 1988 and 1993, about 20 different families who stayed at The Albany House said they were having a family member deprogrammed at Wellspring. Members of about 10 of these families stated that their adult child had been kidnapped during the deprogramming upon the advice of CAN. Exhibit 5
Similarly, in a deposition of CAN’s Office Manager, Marty Butz, he admitted that he had given 500 referrals to deprogrammers since he started working at CAN in 1989, including referrals to deprogrammers like Rick Ross known for using force and violence. Exhibit 6 As demonstrated above, FACTNET is also part of this network, working with CAN in its deprogramming referral activities.
That FACTNET is playing an active role in deprogramming is further demonstrated by the fact that its president, Jon Atack, who lives .in the United Kingdom, is himself a deprogrammer, specializing in attempts to deprogram Scientologists. He has been paid tens of thousands of dollars over the years for such services. As described in my August 1994 letter, Atack has also exported FACTNET’s operation to the United Kingdom and has attempted to spread its activities into other parts of Europe by forming a “Counter-Scientology Europe” network. Among other things he has done through this group, he has attempted to incite opposition to the Church’s application for religious recognition with the United Kingdom Charity Commission and has disseminated to the Charity Commission some of the same false information put out by FACTNET.
Atack is also a litigant against the Church in the UK and thus personally interested in causing the Church as much trouble as he can. Recently, however, the suit that Atack filed against the Church was dismissed for lack of merit. The Church was
awarded costs, which Atack has refused to pay. The Church is taking the necessary collection actions.
My earlier letters briefed you on the kinds of scurrilous and defamatory information that FACTNET has put out about Scientology and the plans of its founder, Larry Wollersheim, to sell this information and otherwise solicit “tax deductible” contributions to fund harassive litigation against Scientology. Recent evidence shows that this is exactly what FACTNET is doing.
One of the major sources of the false information disseminated by FACNET has been Steven Fishman, who was previously convicted for obstruction of justice for falsely trying to implicate the Church in his crimes as a way of deflecting guilt from himself. It didn’t work and he went to jail. Fishman is currently under investigation again by the Probation Department for involvement in a new round of fraudulent schemes and violating his parole by associating with felons.
Fishman recently sought legal representation from an attorney in North Hollywood for a “malicious prosecution” case against the Church of Scientology he wishes to bring. In making this request for representation, Fishman repeated many of the same blatantly false allegations against Scientology that have been promoted by FACTNET. Included in these is the scurrilous allegation that the tragic suicide of David Miscavige’s mother-in-law was actually a murder for which Mr. Micavige may be charged. Fishman also represented that with respect to the funding of this proposed litigation, funds may be forthcoming from FACTNET, a tax-exempt organization headquartered in Golden, Colorado, to help cover the costs of the suit. This shows FACTNET’s funds being earmarked for harassive litigation against the Church, which is not a tax exempt purpose. Exhibit 7
Attorney Graham Berry, who earlier paid about $20,000 to FACTNET for false information (which Berry proceeded to file in court in the Fishman case) attempted to get Senator Chafee of Rhode Island to connect up with FACTNET so as to get Senator Chafee’s assistance in getting the tax exempt status of the Church of Scientology revoked.
Last week, FACTNET’s Systems Op, Bob Penny, posted a letter from Graham Berry in which Berry solicited data which could support his false allegation about the confidentiality of the advanced levels of Scientology religious services. Even though Berry stated that his letter was to be kept confidential, FACTNET posted it broadly on its computer system asking people to send information about Scientology confidential advanced levels to Larry Wollersheim clearly for the purpose of supporting private litigation. This is not an activity that should be supported by tax exempt contributions. Tab 8
My letters in February and August 1994 showed that FACTNET does not qualify for tax exemption, that its exemption application was a sham and should have been more than ample to result in revocation of its tax exempt status. The additional evidence provided here demonstrates that FACTNET is operating in the non-exempt manner described in those earlier letters.
Please contact me if I can provide any other information.
[signed] Heber Jentzsch
Church of Scientology