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Opinions of Saturday, 7 November 2009

Columnist: Johnson, Steve

Scientology cult targets Ghanaian children

In February this year, the infamous cult of Scientology set up a school in Ghana. Untoma Oxford International School was established by the Milan branch of the Scientology movement. This is a serious cause for concern. Scientology is steadily targeting Africa and indoctrinating children is one of its aims to further the building its movement.

Scientology has been defined as a dangerous money-making cult that uses hypnotic techniques to control its members. It was set up by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and soon began to register itself as a church. Unusually, for a religion, members have to sign lengthy contracts and waivers before joining. It also has a vast security and intelligence network which it uses to infiltrate government agencies and foreign embassies and to persecute anyone critical of its practices.

It was recently fined in France for offering fraudulent techniques to help people. The French government keeps them closely monitored and many other countries are doing the same. All that is, except for Africa. Scientology has been plagued by reports of child abuse, deaths through lack of genuine medical care (Lisa McPherson being the most publicised), the destruction of families through its ‘disconnect’ policy, dubious medical practises and its obsessive dislike of psychiatry.Many exposes have been published outlining the abuse present within the organisation and the slave-labour working conditions. More recently there have been defections by some of its celebrity members who have spoken about the conditions inside and the fact that the techniques they bought do not work. Scientology schools uses their own copyrighted ‘study technology’ which introduces students to its ideas in a covert way. All mention of scientology is absent from the books but all the concepts are present. The teaching techniques are highly questionable and there is no evidence proving they work at all. Some of the ideas are, in themselves, not necessarily wrong but they are carried to the extreme and turned into dogma. One extreme practise is based on the idea of misunderstood words. If a student yawns or slips up when reading aloud, they are believed to have misunderstood a word. The student is expected to search through all the materials to find the word and then look it up in the dictionary and run through all possible definitions. Scientology believes that misunderstood words cause illness and anti-social behaviour. Even more troubling is Scientology's belief that truth itself must be approached on a gradient. The student is expected to accept everything they are being taught without question with the promise that more information will follow at higher levels. It also provides the rationale for the Church of Scientology misleading the public about its most controversial teachings, because according to Hubbard, when dealing with "raw public" one must be careful to give them an "acceptable truth" (both are Hubbard's terms.)

The initial stages of Scientology seem harmless enough if rather repetitive and boring. Once hooked, the member has to pay increasing amounts of money to gain more access to the organisations knowledge in the quest for ‘total freedom’. Strict discipline and unquestioning obedience define the organisation once you are inside. Any act of disobedience is seen as bad ethics and punishments can be abusive. The member is gradually forced to break off all links with friends and family on the outside until they become totally reliant on the organisation and its crazy world. Scientology believes that an evil galactic ruler called Xenu ruled the galaxy over 75 million years ago. He solved his population problem by exploding them in volcanoes on earth. He caught their souls or ‘thetans’ on sticky laser beams and took them to cinemas where he showed them films. These films taught them false ideas such as Christianity, Islam and so on. They then inhabited the few remaining bodies on earth and are still stuck to us to this day. Scientology believes that all our problems, health issues and so on are caused by these dead souls and the only way to be clear of them is to exorcise them using Scientology’s techniques. They also believe that by hearing this information before paying for all the levels leading to it can result in death. All problems in life are seen to be a result of these ‘thetans’. Disturbingly, children are also seen as immortal spirits or "thetans," trillions of years old, housed in "meat bodies." An individual's body might be only six years old, but the thetan - the person himself - would receive the same treatment as someone of adult physical age. This has resulted in lack of child care and abuse as adult punishments are administered to children. One recollection of Hubbard’s punishment with a small boy who had chewed a telex on one of Scientology’s ships at sea:

"He put this 4½ year old little boy - Derek Greene - into the chain locker for two days and two nights. It's a closed metal container, it's wet, it's full of water and seaweed, it smells bad. But Derek was sitting up, on the chain, in this place, on his own, in the dark, for two days and two nights. He was not allowed to go to the potty. I mean he had to go in the chain locker on his own, soil himself. He was given food. And I never went near it, the chain locker while he was in there, but people heard him crying. That is sheer, total brutality. That is child abuse."

(Hana Eltringham, interview on Secret Lives - L. Ron Hubbard, Channel 4 Television, November 19, 1997) Scientology has many front organisations which aim to recruit the unsuspecting into the organisation.

In Ghana one of them is Youth for Human Rights International. Many unsuspecting people endorse these front organisations without realising their sinister aims. Their real beliefs on Africans can be found in this quote from their founder. “…the African tribesman, with his complete contempt for truth and his emphasis on brutality and savagery for others but not for himself, is a no-civilization”. –L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought, Bridge Publications: Los Angeles, 1997 Scientology believes it can civilise the savage African and solve problems by using their fake ‘technologies’. Ghanaians need to be aware of this group, to remove its tax-free status and for the government to conduct a real investigation into their activities.

Steve Johnson

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