By JOSEPH MALLIA
Date of Publication:3/5/981
More than 30 million American schoolchildren have watched PBS-TV math videos made by a Los Angeles-based foundation with intimate ties to the controversial Church of Scientology, the Herald has learned.
With lively camerawork and guest stars such as supermodel Cindy Crawford, comic Bill Cosby and athlete Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Peabody Award-winning videos have been paid for with at least $12 million in taxpayer funding since 1990, U.S. government documents show.
But the video company – known as FASE – has a hidden agenda promoting the “Purification Rundown,” the Church of Scientology’s $1,200 per-member detoxification ritual, said former top-ranked church member Robert Vaughn Young.
“FASE was originally created to put Scientology covertly into schools and government, to give the Purification Rundown an air of respectability,” said Young, of Seattle.
“Scientology created FASE so they could use it to get in the door,” the church defector said.
All the top executives at FASE are Scientologists and some are former members of the Church of Scientology’s notorious Guardian’s Office, some of whose leaders – including L. Ron Hubbard’s wife, Mary Sue – were imprisoned for spying on the U.S. government in the 1970s, Young said.
Founded in 1953, the Church of Scientology is criticized by anti-cult activists as a money-grabbing and fraudulent organization that uses deception to get new members for its high-priced programs.
FASE was created by the Church of Scientology in 1981, during the Cold War, to gather scientific proof that Hubbard’s controversial detox method could protect humans from radiation sickness in the event of a U.S.-U.S.S.R. nuclear war, Young said.
“Hubbard thought the end of the world was coming, through nuclear warfare. That really rattled some people,” Young recalled.
While the danger of U.S.-Soviet nuclear war subsided, the Purification Rundown is still widely practiced by Scientologists as a $1,200 preliminary religious ritual that all new members must buy – the first step on the Bridge to Total Freedom.
And the Rundown is sold only through the church – including its Boston branch at 448 Beacon St. – and two Scientology-connected organizations also headquartered in California: the non-profit Narconon and the for-profit detoxification clinic HealthMed.
The drug rehab regimen requires strenuous exercise, five hours of sweating in a sauna, megadoses of niacin, and ingesting a half-cup of vegetable oil – each day for two or three weeks.
Another ex-Scientologist, Dennis Erlich of Glendale, Calif., also said that FASE is intent on promoting the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
“They’re trying to pass themselves off as independent. But their real job is to spread Hubbard’s philosophy,” Erlich said.
Stand and deliver
For FASE, popular success began in the mid-1980s when it hitched its wagon to a star – Los Angeles math teacher Jaime Escalante, whose story was told in the 1987 feature film “Stand and Deliver” starring Edward James Olmos.
Buying air conditioners for his sweltering summer-school classrooms and backpacks for his students, FASE’s Scientologists were Escalante’s early supporters.
With the gruffly humorous Bolivian immigrant, FASE produced the Peabody award-winning “Futures… with Jaime Escalante” for junior and senior high school students.
Since 1990, the Scientologists at FASE have paid Escalante up to $160,000 a year to help produce math videos, federal documents show.
And since 1993, the video company has teamed up with exuberant math teacher Kay Toliver, of Harlem, whose series “The Eddie Files” is being distributed by PBS this year.
FASE denies any strong ties to the Church of Scientology. But a review by the Herald has found several, including:
— Incorporation papers filed in 1981 with the Attorney General of California, in Sacramento, showing that FASE was created for the explicit purpose of promoting “the works of L. Ron Hubbard.” The papers were later amended to remove Hubbard’s name.
— Several recent FASE publications that promote Scientology’s Purification Rundown. FASE’s own Internet site (www.fasenet.org) also promoted the detox method as recently as January. These “research reports” are cited by Narconon, a worldwide Scientology group whose New England chapter in Everett has given anti-drug lectures to more than 375,000 schoolchildren, the Herald reported this week.
— An Internet link to FASE on the Church of Scientology’s official 30,000-page Internet site, promoting Narconon. The Scientology link says “a 1989 study by the Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education” proves the effectiveness of Narconon.
— An identical phrase that appears in Scientology scriptures and in a teacher’s guidebook for the PBS video series “Futures.” The guidebook phrase, “across a distance to a receipt-point,” is from a standard Scientology definition of the word “communication,” and it appears repeatedly in Scientology’s religious teachings, including the church’s “Axiom 28.”
While it is a short phrase, it covers a subject that church critics say is crucial to Scientology’s recruitment techniques. Mind control over new members starts with Scientology’s communication courses, said anti-cult specialist Steve Hassan of Cambridge.
The church connection
Meanwhile, many FASE employees have held full-time jobs with the Church of Scientology, or with church-connected organizations like Narconon or HealthMed, according to the church’s press releases and documents obtained from U.S. grant agencies.
Among FASE’s employment links to Scientology:
— Steven R. Heard, the founder and president of FASE, was a longtime member of the Church of Scientology’s powerful Guardian’s Office, ex-Scientologists said.
— Kathleen Heard, Steven Heard’s wife and another former member of the Guardian’s Office, was once Scientology’s chief spokeswoman and is now senior producer at FASE. In the 1970s Kathleen Heard’s name appeared on numerous Church of Scientology press releases while the church battled fraud suits filed by Boston lawyer Michael Flynn on behalf of embittered ex-members.
— Dave Hendry, FASE’s director of teacher enhancement, worked from 1974-1990 in Oregon for Delphi Academies, a chain of Scientology schools (including a location on Blue Hill Avenue in Milton), according to a resume Hendry submitted to U.S. government grant-makers. Hendry did not state in the resume that FASE or Delphi Academies are linked to Scientology.
— Shelley L. Beckmann, a molecular biologist who is FASE’s science director, has since 1985 devoted much of her research time to Narconon and HealthMed, church press releases say.
— Dr. Megan G. Shields, FASE’s medical researcher, is the top researcher for Narconon and HealthMed, and wrote the 1992 introduction to Hubbard’s detox textbook, “Clear Body, Clear Mind.”
— Jack Dirmann, FASE’s associate director, used to run the Scientology drug-rehab company HealthMed, according to published reports. HealthMed sells the “Purification” detox method to firefighters, municipal unions and other groups.
— Carl Smith, FASE’s video producer, also directs a FASE anti-pesticide campaign that is directed in part against pharmaceutical firms like Prozac maker Eli Lilly and Ritalin maker Ciba-Geigy; the Church of Scientology has long battled these companies as part of its stance against psychiatric drugs. Smith’s pesticide work also helps promote the Purification Rundown detox program by calling attention to toxins in human body fat.
Carl Smith acknowledged in a Herald interview that all FASE’s senior employees are Scientologists.
But FASE’s videos do not promote Hubbard’s religion, Smith said.
“Are you trying to say that we’re making LRH videotapes? It just doesn’t wash,” Smith said. “It’s an incorrect statement to say that these are vehicles for Scientology.”
Steven Heard, the foundation’s top official, denied that religion plays a part in FASE’s TV shows.
“I am a Scientologist, but that doesn’t affect our work,” Heard said.
Heard acknowledged, however, that FASE continues to study and promote the Church of Scientology’s detoxification program.
“It’s the only method that actually addresses fat-stored chemical residues,” Heard said in the interview.
Hendry, the teacher-training director, said that the company keys in on minorities. “We have always tried to feature minorities in our work. That’s what the NSF (National Science Foundation) wants,” he said.
Escalante, who came from La Paz, Bolivia, inspired his mostly Latin-American students with the “ganas” – the desire – to overcome anti-Hispanic prejudice and pass a tough advanced placement calculus test.
And in his “Futures” videos, FASE appealed to wider audiences by bringing in celebrity guest stars like Cosby and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Futures” made math relevant for inner-city kids, and showed them how Hispanics and African-Americans used math to earn good salaries as engineers and doctors. It attracted 15 million young viewers in 44 states, PBS said.
In Bay State schools
The public school system in Boston, for example, bought at least three sets of “Futures” videos. And a math teacher at Brighton High School who is also a Scientologist, Gerald Mazzarella, said in an interview that “Futures” was shown to every class in the school.
Boston Schools Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant, in response to questions about FASE, said he was concerned whether “the line separating church and state isn’t breached” by the TV company’s links to Scientology.
In more recent videos, FASE’s top star is Kay Toliver, an exuberant math teacher from East Harlem Tech in New York. Her programs, “Good Morning Miss Toliver” and “The Eddie Files,” have also reached an estimated 15 million children.
New segments of “The Eddie Files” are on the air this school year.
Based on dozens of documents about FASE’s activities, obtained from the U.S. government under the Freedom of Information Act, the Herald has learned that:
— Nearly two-thirds of FASE’s $17 million production costs over a six-year period from 1990-1995 were paid for with $12 million-plus in U.S. government grants from the Departments of Justice, Commerce, Energy, Education and Labor; and the National Science Foundation. In its grant applications, FASE did not state that it was linked to the Church of Scientology.
— The remaining one-third of FASE’s budget was paid for with $5.5 million from major charities and corporations. These include Arco, IBM, the Carnegie Corp. of New York, and the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charity, government documents show.
— FASE commissioned a 1992 survey by the Dedham, pollster Research Communications Ltd., which showed that Hispanic and black children were influenced by the videos.
— FASE is now reaching bigger audiences with a Sci-Fi Channel special and other for-profit television shows, on the Internet, and at regional conferences with public school teachers nationwide. U.S. government agencies are paying for some of these efforts, including a FASE proposal to provide education news on video to superintendents, teachers and parents.
FASE’s yearly budget went from $729,342 in 1989 to $3 million four years later, the tax documents show.
In one year – 1992 – FASE paid $160,049 to Escalante; $112,000 to Kathleen Heard; $73,000 to Jack Dirmann; $130,000 to co-producer Rob Mikuriya; and $122,133 to Steven Heard. In 1993 and 1994 Steven Heard was paid $140,000, and Dirmann $87,400 in 1993 and $80,783 in 1994.
And its “free cash” bank account rose from $33,660 in 1992 to $611,626 two years later.
The church now enjoys tax-free religious status that it received from the Internal Revenue Service in 1993.
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.