Applied Scientology In Public Schools?
by Craig Branch
Prayer in school, explicit Bible
references in textbooks, and even the Bible itself were once a staple in
American education, but no longer. Christians often bemoan the fact that
the promotion of Christianity
is now banned from the public school arena, due to the current Supreme
Court interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Yet more and more Christians are beginning to understand the negative
consequences of trying to reopen the door for the promotion of religion
in schools. With the exponential growth of pluralism in our culture, especially
with New Age influence,
allowing religion or spirituality in the classrooms could have significantly
deleterious effects. An example of this is the recent controversy that
surfaced in California, where schoolteachers who are Scientologists
have been using Scientology's Applied Scholastics' materials in their classrooms.
Linda Smith, a Scientologist and special education teacher, applied
to start a charter school, K-8th grade, in the Los Angeles district and
planned to use Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's materials as a basis.
Critics charged this to be a violation of the separation of church and
state. A great deal of controversy involving the Los Angeles school board
and media exposure ensued. Eventually, Ms. Smith temporarily withdrew her
application for the charter (Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1990, p.
Meanwhile, Applied Scholastics submitted five books authored by Hubbard
to be approved as supplemental textbooks by the California State Department
of Education. Being supplemental rather than core curriculum means that
they are subject to far less rigorous scrutiny, needing to satisfy only
social (politically correct) requirements.
Challenges to the use of Scientology's materials have come from a wide
spectrum of people including public school teachers, parents, Christians,
school board members, and the ACLU. The challenges focus on the quality
of the materials, their links to Scientology's religious teachings, and
both the legality and appropriateness of using them in public schools.
Representatives of Scientology are attempting to deny any religious
content and insist the mission of Applied Scholastics is "purely secular,"
(Education Week, September 17, 1997, p. 1). Rena Weinberg is president
of the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), another Scientology
front organization which oversees Applied Scholastics. She writes that
apart from establishing the "religion" of Scientology, Hubbard was also
a great humanitarian who independently researched and developed these methods
to help mankind. In this op-ed piece Mrs. Weinberg employed typical Scientology
deception when she stated that ".The state has approved statewide use of
these textbooks" (Los Angeles Times, August 3, 1997, p. B15).
This was not true according to Ruth McKenna, chief deputy superintendent
of the California state board. She responded, "It is not appropriate to
imply that the department of education or the screening committee has approved
the content.... Our concern is that they [ABLE/Scientology] are using us
and the process to imply impending approval" (Education Week, op.
This appears to be characteristic of Scientology's Applied Scholastics
as they also made "unsubstantiated" claims about an earlier foray into
California's public schools in the Compton district. Applied Scholastics'
promotional material "made claims of remarkable success" but actually the
school district officials canceled the programs (Los Angeles Times,
June 27, 1990, p. A18).
State board officials stressed their review was only on "social content,"
not on pedagogy (its quality or system of instruction). They ruled the
illustrations must be made more politically correct for approval. Scientology-owned
Bridge Publications indicated the necessary changes will be made by next
July (Education Week, p. 14). There is still time to expose the
real nature and goals of Scientology and its front organizations, ABLE
and Applied Scholastics.
The seven points below show why Hubbard's works are inherently religious,
and why their inclusion in public schools is inappropriate:
(1)The five books - Learning How to Learn, How to Use a Dictionary,
Grammar and Communication, Study Skills for Life, and Basic Study
Manual - are all standard works listed in the Church of Scientology's
(2) Their publisher, Bridge Publications, ABLE, and Applied Scholastics
are all listed as part of the Church of Scientology's religious tax-exemption
with the IRS.
(3) In the official Scientology publication, What Is Scientology?
the church writes "as the aims of Scientology seek evolution to higher
states of being for both the individual and society, these activities have
grown increasingly important to the Church and, in 1988, it formed the
Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) to support, promote
and expand the social betterment organizations that use Mr. Hubbard's Technologies
in society... ABLE's activities are supported at the Church's highest ecclesiastical
levels. There is also substantial direct financial sponsorship by the Church
and donations by its members" (p. 405).
4) Applied Scholastics is also a direct arm of the church of Scientology.
What Is Scientology? reveals, "In 1972 Applied Scholastics was founded
to advance the application of Mr. Hubbard's study technology outside the
churches of Scientology... Through ABLE, the church and its members support
and sponsor Applied Scholastics" (p. 422).
(5) In 1990 Scientology's Applied Scholastics released a flier promoting
its proposed training center as "a model of real education for the world"
that would "create overwhelming public popularity for Hubbard" (Los
Angeles Times, June 27, 1990, p. A18).
(6) Scientology has employed duplicity to deceive the public and governmental
authorities. At first Scientology called itself "the only successfully
validated psychotherapy in the world" and a "precision science." That eventually
got them into trouble with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a
federal judge who concluded "that Hubbard was making false medical claims
and had employed 'skillful propaganda to make Scientology... attractive
in many varied, often inconsistent wrappings'" (Ibid., June 25, 1990, p.
However, Scientology's literature (Scripture) constantly and clearly
teaches that Hubbard "technology" is their "applied religious philosophy."
According to internal material and Scientology defectors, "Scientology
has worked hard to shore up its religious profile for the public, the courts,
and the IRS" (Ibid.).
Now when it suits them, they want to be able to assume a secular profile
again through Applied Scholastics and ABLE. But there is too much inviolate
"scripture" which teaches that Scientology's aim is to "clear the planet"
to spread Scientology into every sector of society, "to bring the government
and hostile philosophies or societies into a state of complete compliance
with the goals of Scientology... Scientology is the only game on earth
where everybody wins" (HCO Policy Letter, August 15, 1960, emphasis
added; see also "Opinion Leaders," HCO Policy Letter, May 11, 1971;
and "Special Zone Plan," HCO Bulletin of 23 June AD 10). They can't
have it both ways.
An example in the Compton school district in California shows how Scientologists
implement Scientology's goals. Applied Scholastics consultant Frizell Clegg
"was suspended from his teaching duties... after he reportedly gave discourses
on Scientology in a history class" (Los Angeles Times, June 27,
1990, p. A18). Clegg was only doing every Scientologist's duty, following
Scientology's self-stated goals in this regard. His example should forewarn
those considering approval of textbooks by Hubbard.
(7) As ACLU attorney Douglas Mirell stated after comparing the five
Hubbard books with other materials from the church of Scientology, "I have
some fairly serious questions about the constitutionality and, from a public-policy
standpoint, the propriety of using these materials in public schools. It
seems like the books go out of their way to use terms that have a technical
definition within their religion" (Education Week, September 3,
1997, p. 1).
Indeed, despite Scientology's sophistry about the superiority of its
teaching techniques because they focus on how to use a dictionary, Hubbard
introduces much of his own unique and oblique language into his work. That
is a common method of "loading the language" as described in Dr. Robert
Lifton's model of mind control.
Though many of their strategies are covert, there is overwhelming evidence
demonstrating that the sole purpose of every enterprise of Scientology
is to advance the religious philosophy of Scientology. The government must
say No to this totalistic organization so as not to advance their religion.