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The Church of Scientology Didn't Like Our Story

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Dear Sirs,

Needless to say, as you have seen from the letters to the editor by our parishioners [August 22 and 30, and September 6, 13, and 20], our members were shocked and upset at the front page "article" which involved my church ["Death of a Scientologist," August 16]. They were upset at the slanted and bigoted portrayal of our church.

At the core of the article was the effort to portray Scientology's beliefs and practices in a manner designed to ridicule them. Scientology's basic beliefs are expressed in the Creed of the Church. These beliefs have as their foundation concepts of mankind's spirituality going back thousands of years. In Scientology, these concepts of spirituality are combined with exact methods of technical application to bring about increased states of spiritual awareness in an individual and to improve conditions in society.

Because it is the only major religion to have been founded in the 20th century, it is not surprising that Scientology has drawn the attention of the world's leading religious scholars and sociologists. These scholars are from institutions as diverse and prestigious as Oxford University and universities in Rome, Paris, Cape Town, Stockholm, Buenos Aires, Helsinki, Tokyo, and throughout the world.

Although each of these experts proceeded from his or her own unique cultural background and method of analysis, it is interesting to note that they all approached the classification of religion with similar criteria. Basically, they looked for three general characteristics:

9 A belief in an Ultimate Reality,

such as a supreme or eternal truth that transcends the here and now of the secular world;

9 Religious practices directed towards understanding, attaining, or communing with this Ultimate Reality; and,

9 A community of believers who join together in pursuing this Ultimate Reality.

Based on these criteria, every scholar to examine Scientology has concluded that it has the requisite elements for a religion.

Dr. Bryan Ronald Wilson, Reader Emeritus in Sociology at Oxford University and internationally respected as one of the most distinguished authorities on religious issues, has written extensively about the Scientology religion.

Describing the basic tenets of the religion, Dr. Wilson noted that Scientology "offers adherents a graduated path of spiritual enlightenment. It claims to disencumber adherents of the untoward effects of past traumas, whether experienced in the present or in past lives. It is free from dogmas, and whilst, in abstract terms, as the 'eighth dynamic,' Scientology acknowledges a Supreme Being, it draws short of attempting to describe his attributes." In simple summation, he wrote, "Scientology is a genuine system of religious belief and practice which evokes from its votaries deep and earnest commitment."

Reiterating the old attacks on the Scientology religion does not make the lies truer today than when the attacks were launched. Repeating a lie does not make it true.

So, why not take a look at the obvious--Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health was first published in 1950 by L. Ron Hubbard and the first church of Scientology was established in California in 1954. Both are still around and expanding at a rate greater than any other religious group on the planet. They have stood the test of time and Scientology has attained acceptance among the world's top religious scholars.

As a church with a social conscience, Scientology established the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) in 1988, which uses study methods, drug rehab methods, and an all-denominational moral code to bring about positive changes in society and to address real problems of real people that have not otherwise been resolved.

In addition, Scientologists in grand force support such charitable activities as Narconon, a drug rehabilitation program that was developed by a prison inmate and based on the methods of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. It combines a workable method of detoxifying the body with real education as to how to handle life that gives the person completing the program an honest new lease on life without drugs. The program, which uses no drugs, has been hailed by doctors and former addicts alike, and according to private and governmental studies 65-85 percent of the graduates from the program remain drug free two years after the program.

One of the scourges of our modern society is illiteracy among both children and adults. With the influx into our nation of people from other countries, it is becoming increasingly difficult to educate the population. Add to that the movement to turn schools into mental health centers for our children, we are faced with a future adult population of drug-addicted illiterates. Enter Applied Scholastics, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to improving education worldwide. This organization uses the study methods developed by Mr. Hubbard to remedy learning difficulties for people of all ages and all walks of life. More than three million people in 31 countries and on six continents have participated in Applied Scholastics programs.

The Criminon program was developed to help convicts recover pride and self-esteem so that on their return to society they could honestly contribute to its development and improvement. In one program for juvenile offenders, among the offenders who were exposed to the program the recidivism rate dropped to 2 percent compared to 80 percent of those not involved in the program. Criminon provides inmates with the knowledge and skills to change their lives and become productive members of society.

Through the decades, there have been many attempts to halt the expansion of Scientology through articles planted in the media. They failed. Lies always do. The church has prevailed and expanded. We also received full tax exemption from the IRS, which cannot be granted to an organization that is in violation of public policy or whose funds inure to the benefit of private individuals.

When someone decides to forward wild allegations in a newspaper, it may be sensational, but it does not make them true. When you take a lie and couch it in half-truths, it only reflects on the author of the article and shows him/her to be less of a reporter as they obviously found it either too difficult an assignment to research and come up with the total truth or knows the truth and decided to lie anyway.

The Creed of the Church states that we believe that "the laws of God forbid man: To destroy his own kind; To destroy the sanity of another; To destroy or enslave another's soul; To destroy or reduce the survival of one's companion's or one's group; And we of the Church believe that the spirit can be saved and that the spirit alone may save or heal the body."

Articles such as that written by Tori Marlan create hatred and divisiveness among people. That in itself is a tragedy. Instead of truthfully exploring the beliefs of the Scientology religion that could have brought a greater understanding among the people of Chicago, the Reader chose the other route--exploiting a tragedy to attack a religion.

Sincerely,

Mary Anne Ahmad

Director of Public Affairs

Church of Scientology of

Illinois

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