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Narconon
June 9, 2004 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Scientology extends a tentacle into public schools. Just as adults can have a hard time getting drug treatments without a heavy dose of Jebus, now the Scientologists are trying to cut in earlier and give school kids a heavy dose of L. Ron via the drug prevention program Narcanon, provided free to schools.
posted by badstone (31 comments total)

 
No surprise. Scientology is a largely undiagnosed cancer. I do not understand why so many governments refuse to operate on it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 AM on June 9, 2004


I sense a strong sentiment of animosity in this post. ...Not that I blame you, badstone.
posted by Down10 at 10:31 AM on June 9, 2004


Sorry about that. I shouldn't detract from my own post that way, but, yeah, I'm not a big fan of religions taking advantage of human fear & weakness to fatten their flocks and distort reality. A friend's mother recently passed away, mainly as a result of her alcoholism which she did not get proper treatment for because she was an atheist and the AA folks insisted that only God could help her. Scientology isn't the only "undiagnosed cancer around."

So, now we have another religion preaching its bullshit to impressionable kids, and in doing so, not only does it increase their misperceptions about drugs, potentially endagering their health, it also increases misperceptions about science, which is the last thing we need more of in our schools.
posted by badstone at 10:49 AM on June 9, 2004


Is Scientology that bad? Compared to any of Abraham's stuff? Please. I don't know why Scientology is everyone's favorite "cancer", but Christianity and Islam and the Jewish tradition are all a) more powerful b) worse for you c) more harmful to your fellows.

What's the deal? Why the Scientologists? What ever happened to the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

And the friend's mother didn't get proper treatment because she was an alcoholic... that's part of the gig.
posted by ewkpates at 11:00 AM on June 9, 2004


All religions are crap. Period. Most have good intentions, at least in theory, but you know what they say about the road to hell...

Mankind, as Carl Sagan once said, will be better off if/when we finally outgrow this immature belief in an all-knowing, omnipotent deity in the sky.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:13 AM on June 9, 2004


Well said Card Cheat. I contend that religion (over the course of history) has done more harm than good.
posted by reidfleming at 11:26 AM on June 9, 2004


I'm suspicious of any deity that needs to be fed.
posted by chicobangs at 11:28 AM on June 9, 2004


Yeah, but that's not my question. No argument at all on the utility of superstition and dieties in general.

Why is Scientology such a flash point? Why not Mormons or Orthodox Jews or television evangelists?
posted by ewkpates at 11:39 AM on June 9, 2004


badstone: That's not really true about AA, at least from an organizational standpoint. What they do claim is that only a higher power can save you. That isn't necessarily a God. Under their consideration, alcoholism is a higher power that's controlled you thus far (and ruined you) and that you need to supplant that w/ another higher power.

Or so it seems.
posted by xmutex at 11:40 AM on June 9, 2004


If there can be Christian Atheists, and Spong, for one, thinks there can, then where are you, hey?
posted by ewkpates at 11:47 AM on June 9, 2004


Scientology is that bad. Its an organization that pesters anyone dumb enough to give them their address. Think a couple dozen hand written letters a month from the letter corps. Letters that say that you're off course and really need to get back on your program with Scientology (and don't forget your checkbook).

Its no surprise that they are following Big Tobacco's lead and going after their targets younger and younger. The less mature the mind, the less able to see through the bullshit.

On Preview: Christian athiests? Is that the same thing as a jumbo shrimp?
posted by fenriq at 11:50 AM on June 9, 2004


Scientology pushes buttons because it shows how religions get started out of nothing. L. Ron takes a joke idea and spins it into a quickie mindgame, which is then taken over by some slightly shady types who use it to strongarm some high-profile people (through, according to many testimonies, blackmail, extortion and smear campaigns) into perpetuating the whole story.

Judeaism, Islam and Catholicism have been around too long and very occasionally do genuine good in the world, as do a lot of the smaller ideologies (although there are lots of people asking hard questions about the televangelists, the Mormons and the Moonies, for example), so yeah, by definition, they're not as dangerous in the present tense as the CoS.

And if they're going after kids with these tactics, then yeah, they really might want to be checked.
posted by chicobangs at 11:54 AM on June 9, 2004


ewkpates: That's a really good question. In my life I've never known a scientologist, but I hear them being reviled quite often. My ignorant, unscientific opinion is that scientologists are

•Weird - they reportedly believe in "body thetans" that came from outer space
•Annoying - two words, Tom Cruise
•They seem to have too much money for being so obscure, again - Tom Cruise
•Secretive - for all the public outreach, they don't seem eager to talk about scientology.

Otherwise, they don't seem dangerous, nor do they seem to be interfering with anyone's life (like many other religions) so what, exactly. is the problem?

On Preview: I hear all sorts of allegations, but I've never heard anything that can be substantiated.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:59 AM on June 9, 2004


> Why is Scientology such a flash point? Why not Mormons or Orthodox Jews or television evangelists?

Leaving aside the expoitative nature of Scientology, and the fact that its central teachings are - even by the standards of religions, which state that you must believe in the impossible as a matter of faith - wildly implausable, I think it's probably at least in part because Scientology is new, with relatively few followers at this point. Christianity is, as has been pointed out many times, just a really successful cult. As (if) Scientology becomes more successful and is regarded as less of a wingnut faith, I would expect to see the opposition to this "religion" fall off a bit.

Personally, I would like to think that thinking people resist Scientology because they know that the world already has more than enough religions causing more than enough problems already.

(Okay, perhaps I should cut down on the religion-bashing...personally, I think that whatever gets you through the day is fine in terms of beliefs, as long as it doesn't impose on anyone else. Which is where the problems arise, because religious faith seems to breed fanatacism and intolerance. "My God is better than your God," and all that crap. But, if you want to believe in God or Allah or Thor or the Monkey God because it makes you feel better about the universe and your place in it, go right ahead. Just keep it within the church walls is all I ask.)
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:00 PM on June 9, 2004


xmutex -
Whatever name you apply to it ("higher power" or God), atheists still find the concept objectionable and dehumanizing. Furthermore, in practice, at least from what I hear, since the AA literature does make such references, it encourages opens the door to participants to impose their Christianity (or, potentially whatever other theistic religion they hold) upon others. It encourages evangelism in a very sensitive and innapropriate place.

So, while I think it's great that religious types can use their religious fellowship to kick their bad habits, it is unfortunate that there are few options out there for those who prefer to believe in the strength of human beings.

Re: Christian Atheists - I can see it. I can believe in the wisdom professed by Christ, just as I can believe in the wisdom professed by other great teachers, without having to buy into the supernatural claims. It would be foolish to throw the baby out with the spiritual bathwater.
posted by badstone at 12:48 PM on June 9, 2004


All religions are crap. Period.

the problems arise . . . because religious faith seems to breed fanatacism and intolerance.


So your lack of God is better than their God, there, Card Cheat? Is that a wee bit of hypocrisy I see peeking out from beneath that rational veil of yours? ;)

I'm inclined to think that all cults aren't quite the same, myself. The good folks down at Operation Clambake, for example, have assembled a pretty extensive database of unflattering Scientology research that makes them look a little more malevolent than, say, the United Church of Canada.
posted by gompa at 12:48 PM on June 9, 2004


The thing that separates Scientology from more established religions is not only it's newness. Unlike the others, Scientology not only has a caste system, that caste system also has a price list associated with it. No-one ever became an Operating Thetan for free.
posted by pascal at 12:53 PM on June 9, 2004


My problem with Scientology is they are constantly going around sueing, blackmailing and extorting people. When was the last time you heard of someone getting a Ceist and Desist from the Pope?

badstone: So, now we have another religion preaching its bullshit to impressionable kids, and in doing so, not only does it increase their misperceptions about drugs, potentially endagering their health, it also increases misperceptions about science, which is the last thing we need more of in our schools.

Could be a good thing though. Most kids are pretty smart and if they see something as wacky and out of tune with their parents beliefs they may just question those beliefs. Maybe we should have religion fairs similar to career day. A good instructor could get a good discussion going.
posted by Mitheral at 12:56 PM on June 9, 2004


Yes, Scientology really is that bad.

Narconon Exposed.
What a bargain.
What Scientology won't tell you.
Defrauding the IRS.
Litigation as a weapon.
Comparative Theology.

...plenty more at Operation Clambake.
posted by normy at 1:03 PM on June 9, 2004


So your lack of God is better than their God, there, Card Cheat? Is that a wee bit of hypocrisy I see peeking out from beneath that rational veil of yours? ;)

Touche. It's not like agnostics or athiests have a spotless track record as large-scale managers of society (see: Stalin, Joseph). And I don't find being agnostic particularly comforting, nor would I say I find it a terribly helpful belief system to guide me through life.

But, on the whole, like reidfleming, I believe that if you took all of the good that has arisen out of religion over the years, and all of the bad, and put them on a scale, the bad would far outweigh the good. Of course, I can never prove this objectively, so anyone should feel free to go ahead and argue the opposite.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:07 PM on June 9, 2004


Staying on topic, the important thing to remember about Narconon being in public schools is that it teaches things that are false (that drugs stay stored in fat indefinitely until "cleansed", preferably by Scientology's methods), and that these untruths are direct from the teachings of Elron. Does that belong in public school curriculum?
posted by Hackworth at 1:16 PM on June 9, 2004


Does that belong in public school curriculum?

No. I can't believe this is even an issue. Another bad result of anti-drug (not that drugs are good, mind you, but sometimes the cure, in the form of the "war against drugs", is worse than the disease) hysteria, perhaps?
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:27 PM on June 9, 2004


There are several problems with Scientology.

One is their explicit goal of taking over government. They are actively engaged in a plan to gain political power through subversive means. For further insight, look for information about their infiltration of the IRS and how they used that to protect themselves.

Second is their explicit objective to harass all critics to the point of suicide. They have actively and maliciously engaged in smear campaigns and even violence in an attempt to silence all criticism.

Third is their abuse of low-level culties. The upper echelons have actively and maliciously used violence, torture, and other physical punishment to force their followers into submission. They have also actively encouraged followers to use illegal or immoral means to pay mega-bucks to the cult.

Fourth is their abuse of the legal system. The organization uses the courts as a blunt tool to silence, bankrupt, bully, and otherwise destroy critics.

I strongly recommend everyone who questions why Scientology is viewed as an evil cult to read A Piece of Blue Sky by Jon Atack.

The Scientology organization is bad, bad news and needs to be taken as a serious threat to Western freedom.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:33 PM on June 9, 2004


I read, in an essay by Larry Niven i think, that Ron Hubbard started scientology on a drunken bet that he could make more money from a religion than someone else could from writing.

Anyone know if this is true?
posted by Iax at 1:38 PM on June 9, 2004


Anyone know if this is true?

“I’d like to start a religion. That’s where the money is.”
posted by normy at 1:43 PM on June 9, 2004


Scientology is different because it's a vast criminal enterprise, investigated by the FBI in the '70s for operating a gigantic spying ring.

People too often think that cult critics are criticizing the cults for their wacky beliefs. It's rather that they operate on blackmail, coercion, and intimidation of their enemies. I second the recommendation to check out Xenu.net.

Moonie anti-sex drones are also operating in New Jersey public schools on a federal grant.

All religions should be kept out of schools, but cults are in a special category. You can debate whether the three major religions weren't really cults when they started, until the cows come home. Yeahyeahyeah, the Mormons had a war with the U.S. government in the 1850s, and the early Jews went around killing people, etc.

But with certain cults, it's a question of criminal influence-peddling, in the case of both the Scientologists and the Unification Church. And if Jesus Christ himself were around today starting his new cult of "Christians," and trying to sneak it into the public schools, I would hope that the Board of Education shut Him out, on principle.
posted by inksyndicate at 1:59 PM on June 9, 2004


A Piece Of Blue Sky.

The Road To Xenu.
posted by Blue Stone at 3:59 PM on June 9, 2004


Badstone, I'm sorry but that's bullshit. Your friend's loss is tragic certainly (and believe me, I know about alcoholics) but to claim that AA is the only treatment for alcohol abuse is just wrong. Maybe your friend lives in a remote area where there are no treatment options, but that sounds like the excuses of someone who didn't want to get help.
posted by archimago at 5:57 PM on June 9, 2004


Hey, cool, I didn't realize Jon had published the book online!

Read it, everyone. It's important.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:00 PM on June 9, 2004


Uhhh. I'm not arguing that a) scientology is a cult b) cults are yucky...

I am really concerned though about the level of vitriol directed toward scientology. Is the fat/drugs thing a threat to public education more than frickin' creationism or its new best friend intelligent design? Is scientology's threat to democracy as great as the constant barrage of theocratic insanity (10 commandments anyone?) that the US government is currently undergoing? Scientology may sue more people, but hey... if we count all court cases prompted by religions, I'm fairly sure that those pesky christian groups are coming out ahead.

And money? Don't get me (jerry, pat, and countless more) started...

People say things like in normy's links... evil? greedy? invading our institutions? Christianity does all these things way way more... and all the supposed good christianity does has as much indoctrination as anything else.

I'm still waiting for it... why worry about scientology when there are way way nastier kids on the block?
posted by ewkpates at 5:15 AM on June 10, 2004


Is scientology's threat to democracy as great as the constant barrage of theocratic insanity...

In a word, yes. Scientology has explicit plans subvert and then dismantle our government apparatus. Christianity doesn't have those explicit plans.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 AM on June 10, 2004


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