Dr. Jeff Wasel

Why Did the Church of Scientology Give $65,000 to a Hospital in England?

By Dr. Jeff Wasel

The BBC News published an article this week about a wholly uncharacteristic act of Scientology generosity. Written by John Sweeney, the article discussed Scientology UK’s £50,000 donation to The East Grinstead National Health Service Trust, specifically to the Queen Victoria Hospital. This donation is about $65,650 USD at current rates.

There article described the debate about the propriety of a National Health Service (NHS) Trust accepting a donation from the controversial Church of Scientology:

Mr Lamb said his “particular concern” was about the impact of the [Scientology] church’s “activities on people’s mental health”.

“Their secrecy and their refusal to be challenged or questioned is deeply disturbing.

“I hope that the Secretary of State and Simon Stevens as chief executive of NHS England make clear straight away that it is not appropriate to accept donations.

“It’s a sign of the intense pressure that the NHS is under that this trust decided to reverse its policy of not accepting donations.”

Scientology’s generous donation piqued my curiosity. National Health Service (NHS) Trusts are the primary health care management scheme used to regionalize all facets of healthcare delivery in the United Kingdom. It is thought that the regionalization of delivery allows for a more uniform quality of care and consistent outcomes while providing for better economies of scale in the cost, delivery, and maintenance of patient care in a particular locale.

NHS Trusts are the frontline of healthcare management and delivery in the UK; their importance cannot be understated. Working with General Practitioners, or what are called family doctors or “GP’s” in the US, NHS Trusts allocate treatment, purchase localized healthcare services, and manage palliative care including all forms of therapy, diagnostics, substance abuse treatment, in-home care, pre and post-natal care, and ambulance services to name but a few. Within this context, Scientology’s donation becomes even more of interest and raises significant questions. For example, certain Trusts specialize in specific types of care and therapies. In this particular case, Queen Victoria Hospital is renowned for its reconstructive surgery and burn care. Why did Scientology chose a hospital with these particular specialties?

With Scientology’s doctrine of exchange in mind, wherein your are required to receive “like for like” as it were, what’s the quid pro quo here? This donation had to have been authorized by David Miscavige, which then raises questions of a strategic and ongoing operational nature. Then we have the specifics of the treatment competencies of the Queen Victoria Hospital to consider, as well as how these competencies may or may not conform to Scientology’s modus operandi on the whole.

The immediate quid pro quo suggests the classic Scientology PR gambit called safepointing in which Scientology’s PR is enhanced by virtue of what, on the surface at least, appears to be a generous charitable donation to an NHS Trust hospital.

However, the UK National Health Service Trust also oversees the delivery of counseling, psychiatric services and psychotropic drugs; indeed drugs of all sorts that L. Ron Hubbard deemed antithetical to the very nature and purpose of Scientology. This begs the question: How could Scientology, which is dedicated to the complete annihilation of psychiatry and the prescribing of psychiatric medications, give $65,000 USD to a medical trust that actively delivers psychiatric services and medications to its patients?

Given this incongruity, an argument can be made that Scientology’s donation is a cynical means of buying Scientology access to the NHS Trust’s mid to high-level administrators — and they are legion in top-heavy bureaucracy of the NHS. This would be no different than Scientology in Los Angeles donating heavily to the LAPD in order to safepoint the Church. Indeed, Scientology’s long and suspect relationship with LAPD has caused many to ask if this is why the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has “slow rolled” the sexual assault investigation into actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson.

Queen Victoria Hospital could be viewed as a gateway into the overall NHS technology procurement system, providing Scientology operatives further access to the administrators who manage and operate the entire healthcare portfolio of the NHS on a UK national basis. Using this access would allow Scientology to pitch it’s WISE & ABLE businesses and services to the national UK healthcare system.

Specifically, the East Grinstead NHS Trust certainly does not enjoy the cash reserves that, for instance, the Guys and St Thomas NHS Trusts in London do. Additional service offerings provided by Scientology’s secular groups such could be construed as useful and therefore of potential interest to the East Grinstead NHS Trust.

Then there’s the tax ramifications of the donation for Scientology as well, given that Scientology does not enjoy charitable status in the UK. If Scientology’s income is as depressed in St. Hill as it is elsewhere in the church, the donation to Queen Victoria Hospital would prove significant in mitigating St. Hill’s 2017 HMRC tax obligations. These are the simplest explanations for the church’s otherwise inexplicable and sudden generosity. Yet there may be more afoot.

Leah Remini’s A&E show Scientology and the Aftermath has reached a significant new audience across many demographics. In doing so, Leah’s show has made millions of people fully aware of the Scientology’s history of egregious conduct in the United States.

If Scientology is to survive, then, it must seek new markets outside of the US and revitalize its non-US Orgs that are currently on life-support. With the opening of the new Dublin and Birmingham Scientology Orgs, it’s clear the church still considers the UK & Ireland viable sources of new members.

However, is the Church of Scientology truly seeking new members, or does this large cash donation indicate that an alternative initiative is underway? This would be an initiative aimed at alliance-building for the many business interests of Scientology’s high net-worth members who now provide a disproportionate amount of donations, and thus much-needed operating income for the Church.

Among critics, journalists, and other interested parties that scrutinize the Church of Scientology, a variety of “end-state” scenarios are beginning to emerge, one of which has the Church primarily existing for the benefit of its high net worth individuals colloquially referred to as “the whales.”

If one considers Scientology’s $1.5 billion cash fund known as the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) as a sort of internal hedge fund for both Scientology management and the whales, such a possibility may indeed prove to be the case.

So how does Scientology’s donation to an NHS trust fit into this emerging scenario?

A recent article on the Scientology Money Project, highlighted what appears to be a curious series of transactions in which Scientologist Matt Feshbach’s stem cell medical venture in the Bahamas was sold and resold in a very short period of time to three sequential entities without explanation. As originally conceived, Feshbach’s company Okyanos was focused upon the use of adult stem cells extracted from adipose tissue to repair cardiovascular decay.

Queen Victoria Hospital specializes in burn treatments and reconstructive surgery, a significant component of which involves the use of a variety of cell regeneration technologies, using stem cells and other organic matter, that could potentially be obtained using techniques similar to those touted by Fesbach’s Okyanos venture.

While this may be coincidental, I would argue this may be the first example of a new Miscavige strategy, whereby St. Hill, or other large orgs, are used as a localized business development vehicle for various whale enterprises, or even the church’s own for-profit companies.

In this scenario, the donation to Queen Victoria Hospital can be reconceptualized as an initial tranche of cash that represents a seed investment. In this example, the Scientology cash opens a door into the many procurement vehicles within the NHS Trust system.

The proximity of Queen Victoria Hospital to Scientology’s St. Hill base allows for an appropriate Miscavige-level of micro-management for the duration of this exercise in covert investment under the guise of a donation.

It would stand to reason we may see similar efforts in Taiwan, Russia, and other Scientology beachheads, that also harbor untapped entrepreneurial opportunities. It’s important to remember, that both Dublin and Birmingham are located in areas already receptive to emerging technology and subsidized investment, and possess a highly educated, technology savvy workforce.

At a macro level, such a strategy is in keeping with Scientology’s demonstrated tactic of infiltration on multiple fronts, in this case, using WISE or ABLE-centric businesses as the means of dissemination, rather than the usual, increasingly counter-productive, org-centric, one-on-one recruitment model. Rather than this labor-intensive and often times, less-than successful effort, cash donations provide a deliberate, highly targeted, highly visible means of obtaining a desired outcome.

Aside from what this donation may imply, specifically, a novel means for David Miscavige to court opportunities for his cartel of whales, it also represents yet another significant deviance from long-held doctrinal and practical operational tenants, resembling the unprecedented attempt to silence Leah Remini’s Emmy award-winning Aftermath show via an Internet-sourced petition.

Furthermore, in deliberately ignoring these and other core tenets, such as lambasting all things psychiatric, or asserting that the mainstream mental health establishment is intrinsically devoted to destroying Scientology, the Church of Scientology may indeed be demonstrating a deliberate acquiescence to a new reality: The need to evolve in a post-“Aftermath” age or die.

Significantly, we may be witnessing the first indication of a newly emerging, two-tier church operational model, with the IAS and it’s whales as the church’s preferred public face; and the other, a faceless one, wherein the remaining staff and Sea Org toil on in further obscurity, slowly withering on the vine, becoming nothing more than custodians for an empire of dormant real estate. This new development may well be the first harbinger of Scientology’s end game, so stay tuned.

Examining Scientology’s Claims of Victimhood

A Lavish Banquet at Scientology’s Celebrity Centre in Hollywood. This doesn’t look like persecution.

In a previous article we reported on journalist Alexandra Bruell’s exceedingly sloppy work in her Wall Street Journal article on Scientology. Essentially, Bruell uncritically repeated Scientology’s undocumented claims of persecution arising from Leah Remini’s Emmy-winning show Scientology and the Aftermath. As we noted in our previous article:

Without bothering to substantiate even one of Scientology’s claims, WSJ columnist Alexandra Bruell uncritically quoted this bit of Scientology hysteria:

“Leah Remini’s hate campaign of religious bigotry in its first season alone generated more than 400 incidents of harassment, threats of violence and vandalism against our churches and members,” reads one letter from STAND, dated from August and addressed to Geico’s assistant vice president of marketing Bill Brower. “The threat level has again risen, precisely coincident with A&E’s promotion and airing of the second season of this show, now spawning even more threats—bombings, murder and acts of physical violence.”

Alexandra Bruell apparently couldn’t be bothered to ask for even one shred of hard evidence from Scientology in the form of police reports, threatening e-mails, or any other substantiating proof. Instead, Bruell simply repeated Scientology’s claim. This sort of lazy journalism is highly offensive to the victims of Scientology and serves only to tarnish the reputation of the Wall Street Journal. I actually wondered how this unvetted story got by WSJ editors.

What are the real facts about violence against Scientology?

For a more in-depth analysis of Scientology’s suspect claims, we turn to Dr. Jeff Wasel.

Dr. Wasel holds Masters and Ph.D degrees from the London School of Economics (LSE), and is an expert in financial crime and related criminal behaviors, risk, and compliance. As a researcher with the LSE’s Information Systems Innovation Group, he was one of the earliest, post-9/11 investigators to examine the use of behavioral profiling, data mining and data analytics, in uncovering, understanding, and disrupting the use of money laundering, hawala, and other terrorism-related financial networks, as well as those of trans-national criminal organizations (TCOs). Additionally, Dr. Wasel and his LSE colleagues contributed to an EU-sponsored, multi-year, multi-disciplinary, profiling, data privacy and data protection research initiative, the Future of Identity in the Information Society, (FIDIS). Outcomes from the FIDIS initiative, made a significant contribution to the enactment of the robust, EU-wide data protection statutes now in place, and recently used so effectively by Hungarian authorities against Scientology in Hungary.

Using a variety of perspectives, methods, and tools, Dr. Wasel has been investigating the financial irregularities of the Church of Scientology for over ten years. While Scientology has been the subject of studies by several noted New Religious Movement (NRMs) scholars, Dr. Wasel’s ongoing work differs significantly in this regard; rather than researching Scientology from a theologian’s historical, and/or subjective, philosophical perspective, his research emphasizes a quantitative, forensically-grounded, multi-disciplinary approach, drawn from the fields of accounting, psychology, criminology, statistics, and data science, among other fields.

With this unique approach, Dr. Wasel has identified patterns of behavior that may indicate violations such as inurement, entanglement of funds, corporate governance irregularities, and tax avoidance/under-reporting; financial crimes such as fraud, structuring, and money laundering; and immigration crimes such as visa fraud, and human trafficking among other, ongoing egregious activities; such patterns are in addition to the Church of Scientology’s already extensive list of widely-documented and verified cases of criminal and anti-social behavior. I asked Dr. Wasel for his analysis of Scientology’s claims of having been the target of “increased violence” due to Leah Remini’s show. His analysis is as follows:

It is clear from her recent article, that WSJ reporter Alexandra Bruell failed to properly source or validate any of Scientology’s claims of “violence”, wherein Scientology asserted increased threat levels against both it’s members and property, as a means to legitimize its call for a boycott against those companies sponsoring Leah Remini’s “Aftermath” show on the A&E network. In addition to these perceived threats of physical violence, Scientology has also called for a boycott in response to alleged “religious bigotry”, above and beyond the alleged “hate crimes and violence” against its members. However, as the following analysis will demonstrate, there is no substance to the Church of Scientology’s allegations; moreover, given the seriousness of these allegations, both the Church of Scientology and Ms. Bruell, have failed to produce any independently substantiated evidence for the Church’s sensationalistic claims.

A basic Google search uncovers easily verifiable evidence that Scientology’s claims have no basis in fact. As an example, a recent report (2016/2017) conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, a research institution located within California State San Bernardino, and entitled “Final U.S. Status Report: Hate Crime Analysis & Forecast For 2016/2017,” provides a wealth of data refuting the Church’s spurious claims, all in a concise, well-articulated, and visually compelling format; an earnest skimming of the charts and graphs alone, would have invalidated the church’s position, let alone a thorough reading of this detailed investigation. The detail in the report is reflected in both the breadth and depth of it’s data sources: for instance, the authors note that it is a “compilation of official, vetted police data from over 40 U.S. cities, counties and states.” Subsequently, given the depth of analysis therein, as well as my own efforts in analyzing this report, it’s not surprising that I can find no evidence of any hate crime or hate-related violence, directed specifically towards the Church of Scientology or any of its members or properties. Indeed, no mention of Scientology appears anywhere in the report. (A PDF of this report appears at the bottom of this article). If such violence against Scientologists occurred as alleged, it was never reported in a way that would reflect among the widely available criminal justice and policy-related statistical data sources included in this report.

Tellingly, law enforcement agencies for both Los Angeles, which has the highest concentration of Scientologists anywhere in the world, and Clearwater, Florida, home to the second largest concentration of Scientologists world-wide, (as well as both cities having provided significant data sources for this report), reported no acts of criminal violence against Scientologists or their property. Perhaps more revealing, is the fact that the Church hasn’t produced any rebuttal, nor supporting data, for either the media or the public to review, in substantiating not only their most recent claims, but historical evidence of any concerted “pattern of violence” against church property or it’s individual members.

This lack of data stands in stark contrast to the expensive study the Church of Scientology funded to show its positive financial impact on the City of Clearwater. In that study, released in 2014 and conducted by the Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis at Florida State University, the Church spared no effort in offering a wealth of detailed information on its beneficial financial contribution to Clearwater.

However, what the report doesn’t say reveals more about the church’s motivations: the “contribution” the church touts, is the result of hotel taxes and property taxes it pays as a result of it’s significant real estate holdings in the Clearwater area; no where does the report mention any ecclesiastical, social, or cultural benefits resulting from Scientology’s presence. That’s not surprising, given Scientology contractually shields itself in this regard, by stating that by practicing it’s “religion”, it promises no spiritual outcomes whatsoever, nor does it’s “dissemination,” Scientology’s version of proselytizing, involve anything less than a hard sell cash grab.

This begs the question: Why then, has the Church of Scientology not funded an equally extensive study, supporting its claims of increased violence against it’s members and property, as a result of Ms. Remini’s show? The answer is simple: The evidence for Scientology’s claims is statistically nonexistent; moreover, any efforts towards inferring even the slightest connection between the two, however tangentially, have been half-hearted or uncoordinated at best. Aside from an isolated incident of a young man, the son of former Sea Org members, throwing a hammer through the window of a Scientology church — a crime for which he was arrested and convicted for — Scientology has produced no hard evidence to sustain its claim that Ms. Remini’s show resulted in “more than 400 incidents of harassment, threats of violence and vandalism against our churches and members.”

Not only does Scientology fail to produce any evidence, of what would be a statistically significant representation, (it’s alleged “400 incidents”), it also fails to prove any causal relationship between Ms. Remini’s show and any claimed acts of violence, let alone a statistically significant, Federally-monitored “hate crime”. Rather, Scientology typically relies upon worn-out, demographically or culturally suspect tropes, red herrings, or vague, academically tenuous or discredited “studies”; for instance, in regards to causal factors of “violence”, they reference the statistically tenuous links between violent, first person shooter video games, and varying indicators of supposed increased levels of violence among particular “categories” of “young” people. It’s clear that analyzing, or more so, the accurate parsing of data, is incompatible with the generalities and situational veracity that comprise any Scientology narrative or behavioral rationalization; though when all else fails, the default defense or “reasoned response” is one of misdirection, ad hominem, slander, or gross generalization.

While the report shows that there has been a significant rise in hate-related crimes across the country, such crimes are predominantly racially-based. Religious-specific hate crimes comprise 19.7% of the aggregate, with anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish crimes predominating. As I indicated, Scientology is not mentioned anywhere in the span of this report, nor in any reliable reporting for 2017 that I was able to source otherwise. More revealing, is that the vast majority of crimes are against people, not places, further exposing Scientology’s lie as to violence directed against Scientology-owned properties. One can further extrapolate from this distinction, that in addition to the dearth of property crime, any concerted efforts directed at individual members is also exaggerated, given Scientology’s hysterical pronouncements regarding any perceived slight, let alone physical assault.

In assessing the context of the report, I would offer a few considerations to the reader. Although America’s post-election social domain has certainly been turbulent, the author(s) appear to have omitted a competent contextual discussion, in situating a comparison between the current state of anti-Muslim bias/violence, as it relates to, for instance, the last 10 years, or the role of media bias. Furthermore, they fail to include any baseline longitudinal (time) stipulations or controls in this regard, given that anti-Muslim behavior has risen steadily since 9/11, potentially skewing the mean; it could well be considered a constant in this regard.

Additionally, political/terror actions by jihadists, or conversely, by Jews, both here or in the Middle East, can induce random situational spikes, and I see no mention of having longitudinally rationalized these spikes in the data. The contextual significance evolves from factors such as the editorial coverage of ISIS’ and other terror group activity in 2016, along with repressive Israeli military activity, and increased pro-Palestinian activism, specifically the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement across the academic and SJW world. That said, in all fairness, responsibility for my concerns rests on both those compiling the data sourced by the authors, as well as the authors themselves.

Lastly, the use of unqualified data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is problematic in my view; in recent years, much of SPLC’s analysis and research has become verifiably politicized, and no longer enjoys it’s previous reputation for objectivity and methodological rigor. Having used earlier examples of Mr. Dees and Co.’s data on extremism in America, it pains me to make such an observation. Aside from subjectivity of it’s advocacy efforts, it’s worrying that the SPLC is not unique these days, in having the objectivity of its research and policy data subverted through a variety of questionable means. It’s an unfortunate reflection of contemporary norms within the “wonk world,” in that the sourcing and delivering of objective research, has become more incumbent on sponsor dollars, rather than scholarship, intellectual rigor, and personal integrity.

In closing, I would encourage readers to study the report; stylistically, it’s well-written and refreshingly free of multi-syllabic academic drudgery, and significantly, is disturbingly informative. To that, this report certainly refutes the Church of Scientology’s victimization narrative, and all of it’s hypocritical, hyperbolic venting regarding “bigotry and hate”, while simply reiterating that STAND, (STTAD? STOOD? Whatever the hell), has no leg to “STAND” on… Surprise, surprise.

Final Hate Crime 17 Status Report pdf

Note: Hover over PDF with your mouse to pull up page up/page down controls