Back from furlough.
Watched some Olympics. Read many magazines. Taking my time through Democracy in America.
I’ve been playing catch-up today. One thing that caught my eye:
A real interesting story in the Wash Post today about the Church of Scientology hiring three prominent journalists to “study” how the St. Petersburg Times covers Scientology, which is based in Florida.
The St. Pete Times has written extensively about Scientology—much of it less than flattering—and the church has been quite critical of the paper.
Apparently, Scientology may not make the report public. Depends what it says, I guess.
Two of the reporters said in a statement: “We were hesitant. That’s why we insisted on being paid in full before we started our work, total editorial independence and having someone with the reputation of (investigative reporter) Steve Weinberg involved. Every entity has the right to receive fair treatment in the press.”
The Church of Scientology has received some international attention of late for sending a bunch of volunteers, including John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston, to Haiti, where they are providing a “form” of therapy to survivors.
A few months after 9/11, when Scientology’s “volunteer ministers” were quite visible at and around Ground Zero, I wrote about widespread criticism of their treatment methods. The mental health establishment has long been at odds with Scientology over a bunch of things (including Scientology’s dismissal of much of what makes up modern psychology and psychiatry).
At the time, I wrote:
Volunteer ministers must only read a Scientology textbook and pass a short exam to be certified by the church. They are not ordained ministers.
But they have worked with Oklahoma City survivors, Kosovo refugees, earthquake victims in Kobe, Japan, and many other disaster victims around the world since Hubbard created the volunteer program in 1976.
Scientology uses technical terms to describe counseling techniques that, on the face of it, sound impossibly simple. At Ground Zero, for instance, volunteer ministers often offered “touch assists,” which involve touching injured body parts as a way to open communication between the brain and the injured area.
For someone still focused on Sept. 11, volunteer ministers may perform a “locational.” This involves having someone focus on something in the present.
“If someone keeps seeing the image of the World Trade Center falling again and again, you ask the person to look into the environment – at a clock or whatever,” said Beth Salem, 22, of Ossining, a volunteer minister. “Instead of looking into the past, they look into the now. That’s not to say they won’t think about the past again, but they’re not as stuck on it.”
For those who stay beyond initial counseling, there is the world of “dianetics,” the heart of Scientology. The goal of dianetics is to help people overcome negative experiences stored in the mind so they can reach a level of enlightenment that Scientology calls “clear.”
Scientology rejects traditional forms of mental health treatment and particularly disdains the use of medication to treat mental illness.