What Scientology “Social Betterment” Groups are Really All About

At Scientology.org, the Church’s “social betterment & humanitarian” programs, the so-called “secular programs” are listed:

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These eight secular groups are:
1. The Way to Happiness
2. Applied Scholastics
3. Criminon
4. Narconon
5. The Truth About Drugs Education Campaign
6. United for Human Rights
7. Citizens Commission for Human Rights (CCHR)
8. Freedom Magazine

In this article we briefly examine each of these groups and show what they are actually about. The first thing to know is that the Church’s so-called secular social betterment groups is that they are all licensed by the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE). The Church says of ABLE and its relationship to the social betterment groups:

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Where is ABLE in the Church of Scientology International (CSI) food chain? According to a diagram the Church gave the IRS, ABLE is one of the ten core “sectors” of CSI. I have placed a red star next to ABLE in the CSI sector diagram:

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To digress, we note that the legally nonexistent Sea Org is also shown as one the core sectors of Scientology. We leave this discrepancy for another time and place. The point is that ABLE is a core sector of CSI whose purpose is to license and manage Scientology’s secular social betterment groups.

The ostensible purpose of the secular social betterment groups is to put LRH technology into the world. In actual practice, these groups have five main purposes:

• To serve as additional Church profit centers charged with selling Scientology products and services into nonreligious markets.

• To make highly irresponsible and grossly exaggerated claims of the efficacy of Scientology’s technology.

• To recruit new members into the Church of Scientology.

• To generate PSA’s, photo ops, and PR value for the Church.

• To sell incredibly overpriced booklets, DVD’s, and courses.

The social betterment groups are nonprofit licensees of ABLE, and, ABLE is licensed by CSI. Thus, whatever monies these groups collect is tax-free and a percentage is paid each week uplines to CSI, RTC, and CST.

Narconon is the big moneymaker in the social betterment groups. While some disagree with my figures, my estimate of Narconon’s gross income is $100,000,000 based upon 2012 numbers. Of course, it is easy to project this figure to decrease significantly based upon lawsuits and increasing public exposure of the direct connection between Scientology and Narconon. For instance, Dr. Hanan Islam’s American Health and Education Clinics LLC of Compton, California operated under license from Narconon and we can now see how this worked out for the good doctor.

The Foundation for a Drug Free World is a Scientology nonprofit that gives out free educational kits to educators. However there is a catch: Educators must agree to allow the Church of Scientology to use their classrooms and students for PR purposes. Educators must also track statistics and report them to the Foundation for a Drug Free World.

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Critics have said that the Foundation for a Drug Free World is a crypto-Narconon recruiting vehicle. This allegation arises because the Foundation’s materials present Hubbard’s theories that drugs are stored in fat cells. I agree with these criticisms because the Foundation for a Drug Free World is operated by Scientologists whose task is to target educators in public schools who teach to children eleven years of age and older. The goal of the Foundation is to get into public schools and make presentations to teachers and students. Once these Scientologists are close to at risk youth they can easily target kids and troubled parents with the message of Narconon and its astounding success rate.

Narconon is well-known and well documented. The remaining entities in the social betterment groups are not. Nevertheless, once one examines the respective websites of each of these lesser known social betterment groups it readily becomes clear that their sole purpose is to sell booklets and DVD’s that have a gigantic profit margin.

We begin with Youth for Human Rights (YHRI). This group was founded in 2001 by Scientologist Mary Shuttleworth in coordination with the CSI’s so-called Human Rights Office. In 2008, YHRI was subsumed into a parent group called United for Human Rights (UHR). The purpose of UHR, YHRI, and their dozen or so spin-offs are to promote public awareness of the UN’s 1947 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The extraordinary hypocrisy of a Scientology group promoting human rights aside, UHR is a non-statistically significant factor in Scientology given its 2013 gross receipts of $84,345.00. The headquarters of United for Human Rights/Youth for Human Rights is a post office box in a shipping and postage retail store in Los Feliz, California.

Let us assume a hypothetical Youth for Human Rights event where 2,000 booklets and 200 DVD’s are distributed. What would that cost us? The shopping cart informs us of the prices:

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The Way to Happiness has the same pricing structure:

• Sell booklets for $1.50 each
• Sell DVD’s for $15.00 each

Keep in mind that Scientology is a commission-based sales organization so many people are taking a cut of the action when social betterment booklets and DVD’s are sold. Seen from this perspective, Scientology is just Amway with engrams.

The Way to Happiness sells its booklets – which likely cost less than fifteen cents each to produce – in bundles of twelve for $18.00. Let us suppose you were an OT in a lower ethics condition. OSA might suggest that you donate for 1,000 bundles for a total of 12,000 booklets plus 200 DVD’s. In this scenario, you would be looking at a wallet-destroying bill for $15,700:

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Applied Scholastics International sells Hubbard-based learning materials that emphasize phonics and the use of dictionaries. This is how I learned to read in Los Angeles public schools way back in the Mesozoic era. Indeed, Noah Webster published his first dictionary to help people “word clear” in 1828. But let us allow Applied Scholastics its conceit that we are all hopelessly stupid and cannot “learn how to learn” without its help. Based upon this premise, it is going to cost money to learn how to learn. Applied Scholastics is associated with Scientology-based private schools, or “academies” as the Church fancies them. Gross receipts were about four million dollars for Applied Scholastics in 2013.

Just for the sake of talking, let us suppose you were a Scientology-friendly movie star who opened a Scientology “academy” and needed to buy 100 copies each of eight of the many books offered by Applied Scholastics. This would be a $42,285.00 bite:

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In addition to the shopping list above, your academy would need to shell out more money to ABLE to pay for licensing fees, teacher training, and far more books and dictionaries than shown in the shopping list above. And the parents of the students have to pay tuition. It is easy to see how you, as a movie star, would pull the plug on your money-losing academy after your kids became fully and mystically self-actualized and no longer needed, say, a conventional wog college education.

The Reverend Doctor Alfreddie Johnson’s now defunct World Literacy Crusade operated under license to Applied Scholastics and we can also now see how this worked out for him.

Oddly enough, Galaxy Press – which sells Hubbard’s fictional works – has its own literacy campaign and offers a literacy book for $1.00. In a future story I will reveal how a prominent WISE group also sponsors a literacy campaign, inveigles its members into donating funds for this program, and the uses this program for disingenuous, misleading, and self-serving PR. It is all very cynical and Alfreddie Johnson is in the mix.

We next enter Crazy Town aka the viciously anti-psychiatry Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights. CCHR basically produces and sells DVD’s that expose the menace of psychiatry and Big Pharma. In my next hypothetical example, I am a high-minded Scientology whale who wants my staff to do a mass-mailer to 1,200 opinion leaders in in Congress, the arts, education, and private industry. I order 1,200 copies of the my three favorite CCHR DVD’s and write a check for $113,940.00:

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Criminon, a Scientology group that appears to be on the wane and receives virtually no coverage even with the Church, sells $85.00 courses to inmates. If one were to donate 100 courses it would be $8500:

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Referring back to an earlier point, the social betterment programs also make highly irresponsible and grossly exaggerated claims of the efficacy of Scientology’s technology. A collage of such claims:

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Clockwise from top left: The Way to Happiness, Narconon Fresh Start, World Literacy Crusade, Applied Scholastics, Applied Scholastics

The irony of these claims is that if any of them were true then no one would actually need Scientology auditing because the much less expensive social betterment programs could handle the major problems of drugs, crime, violence, and illiteracy by simply having people read booklets or watch DVD’s. There would be no need for the $360,000 per person Church cure.

If, as World Literacy Crusade claimed, 87% of participants gave up gangs and drugs after learning how to read, then the world’s answer to street crime would be to have courts order gang members and drug users into the World Literacy Crusade franchises after they were arrested. There, they would read books, clear up misunderstood words, and then give up their lives of drugs and gang-banging. This is patently absurd to the point of derision. Likewise, The Way to Happiness’ claim that it reduced crime in Colombia by 50% is an outright lie.

Scientology’s social betterment programs often simplistic and Scientology-centered solutions to complex problems – and they do so in order to make obscene profit margins from booklets, DVD’s, and courses. As with everything in the Church of Scientology system, it is all deceptive and misleading.

The actual “End Phenomenon” of Scientology’s social betterment programs is simply a series of online shopping carts where one purchases incredibly overpriced products that have little or no efficacy.

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