Sunday, August 21, 2005

Scientology - letter to Botswana Guardian 21/08/2005

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to respond to the article written in the Guardian last week by Shaleen Wohrnitz, the Director of Public Affairs for the Scientologists in South Africa. Her article was written in response to my letter printed by the Guardian the previous week. In my letter I called into question many of the claims made by the Scientologists and revealed a few truths about them that they clearly don’t want people to know.

Ms Wohrnitz suggests a number of things about me personally. She suggests that I am “cynical about life and betterment”, have a “jaded view of the world” and she calls into question my integrity. I refuse to fall into the trap of personal mudslinging but I will say this. Why doesn’t she actually respond to the suggestions I make rather than trying, rather feebly, to insult me personally?

Ms Wohrnitz doesn’t say that the quotes I gave from L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, are untrue. She suggests that they are taken out of context. I ask what possible acceptable context can there be for the statement that opponents of Scientology may “be tricked, sued, lied to or destroyed”? She doesn’t deny the quotes because they are true!

She doesn’t deny that Hubbard, a former science fiction writer, taught his followers that 75 million years ago Xemu, the head of the Galactic Federation, decided to cure his over-population problems by murdering excess aliens by bringing them to Earth and killing them with hydrogen bombs and that the souls of these people now haunt us all and cause us all our mental health problems. She doesn’t deny that he taught this nonsense because it’s true that he taught it!

She doesn’t deny that Hubbard had a history of mental illness, drug abuse and lying about his war record and his apparent scientific achievements. She can’t deny this because it’s true!

However Ms Wohrnitz does make some claims about Narconon, the Scientology program that supposedly deals with drug addiction. She claims that “Narconon has a documented success rate of at least 80 percent”. This is a claim repeatedly made by Narconon’s supporters but that unfortunately isn’t backed up by the evidence. Your readers may not be surprised to learn that the Scientologists are reluctant to allow real research into the success of Narconon and almost all of the research that has been undertaken has been done by the Scientologists themselves. However, even the data they come up with themselves doesn’t support their claims.

In Sweden in 1981 they conducted a study that they claim showed 76.8% of 61 drug abusers they treated were drug-free four years later. However if you examine the report you find that only 14 of the 61 actually completed the Narconon program. Of those 14 only 4 said they hadn’t used drugs since. That’s a real success rate of just under 7%. Not quite the same is it?

All the other studies available seem to show a similar distortion of the facts.

Ms Wohrnitz and the Scientologists are very good at making completely unsupported claims. Like the success of Narconon, like the 30 leading religious scholars who say Scientology is a religion, like their claim that they are preventing passion killings, it’s all unproven and without any proof. Ms Wohrnitz, give us some real evidence and then we’ll listen to you.

My last comment about Ms Wohrnitz’s article is regarding something she says about their teachings and how they’ve been stolen and published on the Internet. Firstly, almost everything available about the Scientologists on the Internet is actually taken from court documents and is therefore in the public domain. Better still though is the staggering comment she makes, that the “scriptures of Scientology are vast, and some are confidential”.

Confidential? How can the scriptures of a religion be confidential? Am I the only one that thinks this is absurd? I ask all you Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Rastafarians and whatever else you might be to do something for me. Next time you see your priest just ask if there are any bits of your holy books that are confidential. If he or she looks confused or just laughs at you then I think you’ll understand why I feel the way I do about this strange bunch. Real religions don’t have secret scriptures!

Yes, I’m cynical about Scientology. Yes, I’m sceptical about Scientology. Wouldn’t you be about a so-called religion founded by a man who said he’d discovered that tomatoes can feel pain?

If anyone wants to contact me for more information about the Scientologists then my time is yours. You can contact me by post at P Box 403026, Gaborone or you can email me at

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