The full unabridged letter sent by Gerard to The Irish Times (source)
Madam, – Cian Traynor’s article on the Church of Scientology (Weekend Review, March 19th) was notable for a number of things, none of which, regrettably, was in the vicinity of balance or the establishment of a context in which a newer creed can be objectively viewed.
There was no attempt at analysis or comparison of the teachings, practices, philosophy or even creed of the church, just a series of interviews with five anti-Scientologists and myself (so much for balance!). As I was not told that The Irish Times was going to feature these malcontents I was not in a position to challenge what they said, nor was I given the opportunity to respond to what they claimed. To cap it all, even my comments were subject to out-of-context editing.
Scientology is by far the most successful contemporary religion. That of itself should be worthy of serious analysis, and one would have thought that The Irish Times (“the paper of record”) would be up to the task.
For example, why do Scientologists fund the largest NGO network of drug rehab facilities in the world? Why do Scientologists fund the largest human rights information distribution network in the world? Why are so many Scientologists artists? What is the Scientology concept of salvation? Why is it growing so fast? And so on.
These are not difficult questions to pose in any objective article, but they would require the contemplation of the possibility, just the possibility, mind, that Scientology might have something to offer, and might represent a paradigm of spirituality not seen hitherto. Such a “shocking” concept is clearly a challenge too far for The Irish Times . – Yours, etc,
For the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin,
Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1.
Our response to Gerard is as follows:
1) The article wasn’t about theology, but about people getting conned.
Gerard can hold any faith of his choosing. He even has the right to freely express that faith. But where folks get a little queasy is when his organisation starts financially gouging people. People shouldn’t have to remortgage their houses to progress in Scientology. People should not be told that the reason they cannot afford a €3,000 course in Scientology is because their mother is a suppressive and that the person should disconnect from their mother (which happened to one of the people feature in the Irish Times article).
2) Narconon shenanigans.
The NGO Gerard refers to is Narconon. Gerard won’t tell how much it will cost an addict to attend. Nor will he tell you how Narconon centres are used to recruit people into Scientology. He also won’t tell you that Narconon is based on quack science and that a trail of damaged people have been left in its wake.
Gerard won’t tell you any of that, but rather helpfully this excellent article from ‘The Fix’ will. Choice quotes from the article:
– “ A 1981 Swedish study—funded by Narconon—found that only 23% of clients had completed the program, of whom 6.6% said they’d remained drug-free for a year. Yet by spinning the data like a top, the group promotes the study as proof of a 76% recovery rate.”
– ”A particularly troubling aspect of these deaths is that they all seem to have been preventable—given prompt medical care. But by the time Narconon staffers decided to call on outside medical help, it was too late. The absence of licensed medical professionals at many Narconon rehabs, coupled with the general prohibition against drugs, including lifesaving medication, is a dangerous combination.”
– ”Claims that “certified counselors” are on-site are misleading, according to Love. “They advertise on their websites that they have certified counselors, course supervisors, withdrawal specialists. But that certificate is printed off right upstairs at Narconon—you take a little Scientology course and get it. There was nobody who had any degree from a university that had anything to do with rehabilitation or treatment.””
– ”But after the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health went to the trouble of investigating the Narconon treatment program, it determined that it was not only dangerous but ineffective. In denying Narconon a permit to operate, it concluded: “No scientifically well-controlled independent, long-term outcome studies were found that directly and clearly establish the effectiveness of the Narconon program for the treatment of chemical dependency and the more credible evidence establishes Narconon’s program is not effective…[or] medically safe.” During the ensuing media melee, Narconon spokesman Gary Smith told local media that Narconon’s “sole intention is to get people off drugs.” Smith bitterly denounced the critics of the program as “outside sources…either connected to selling drugs or they’re using drugs.” Declining to be more specific, Smith merely said, “Trust me, I know.””
– ”In the course of these investigations, reporters for The Fix contacted a dozen different Narconon facilities, presenting themselves as addicts in immediate need of help. Without exception, Narconon’s 24-hour “intake counselors” lauded the program’s success rates, while making a play for the money. Clients are typically expected to undergo three months of treatment for a flat fee of $27,000, which must be paid prior to admittance. Pressed for specifics of the program, the information became notably vague. When asked what relationship Narconon had to Scientology, most of the Narconon operator’s deftly deflected the question.”
– ”Still, Narconon’s growing list of survivors and other critics have their own message to convey. “Narconon’s a front-group for the Church of Scientology—another way to get new people into the system,” said Patty Pieniadz, the former executive director of a Narconon facility. “It’s a recipe for disaster and a scam.” As for David Love, he settled out of court his case alleging psychological harassment against his former employer on March 25, but Narconon has his four remaining lawsuits to contend with.” They threatened to harm me, to hunt me down and destroy me,” Love told The Fix. “I entered a Narconon for treatment for my addiction. I ended up in the hospital for post-traumatic stress.””
To add to this excellent article, here are extracts from two books. One is from the Scientology book ‘Fundamentals Of Thought’ and the other is from the forth Narconon Programme book. The similarity is apparent:
Whenever faced with adverse media coverage the same old Scientology tactics are used. Compare what Gerard has done with this extract (and in the article itself) from an old (possibly 1968) internal Scientology write-up on handling the press:
So, when you get an attack, and reporters arrive to assess your reaction, tell them how much good this publicity is doing for Scientology – and state how much they are helping our expansion and new membership – quote figures which are uncheckable.
Except that the claims of Scientology membership growing is somewhat checkable. The strong of Scientology is the US and the best available source is ARIS (American Religious Identification Survey). 2001 ARIS gave 55,000 US members while 2008 gave 25,000 members. Both of these numbers are subject to the usual error margins, but it does provide strong evidence that Gerard is telling porkies.
4) The Scientology concept of salvation.
It is rather ironic that you won’t get this answer from Scientology (not before you have paid shed loads of cash at least). Our section on Scientology gives the cliff notes on this, which is a lot more info than you would get out of Gerard.