The Scientology organisation has spawned a large number of other groups
and projects, often with ostensibly humanitarian aims, such as promoting
literacy or exposing human rights abuse. Scientology's involvement with
these groups is often cited as evidence that Scientology's main aims are
humanitarian, and that Scientology is effective in dealing with
The problem comes when one asks for hard evidence to back up the claims of wild success. Why is it so hard to find independent confirmation of the claimed benefits for society? Also, can one really trust the claims that these organisations are social pressure groups and not recruiting fronts for an organisation of which the public is becoming increasingly wary?
In the opinion of the present writer, this set of groups constitutes a highly skilled public relations strategy, making use of Scientology's idealistic, unquestioning followers in projects which mislead the public, or even recruit people who would be wary of a direct approach from Scientologists. To the casual listener, the name of Scientology can become strongly associated with adjectives such as "humanitarian" or "anti-drug" by these efforts. In public debate, Scientology's spokespeople frequently quote statistics on the performance of these various programmes; "We've got 100,000 people off drugs- have YOU done that?" "We've taught 2 and a half million South African children to read, so we can't be all that bad, can we?"
Scientology's followers are genuinely keen to save the world from drugs and crime and believe they have a uniquely powerful way to achieve it. They take these statistics and the accompanying vague, unsubstantiated first-person accounts at face value. As outsiders, we are not obliged to do the same.
The critical evaluation of these projects has been made more easy by the recent creation of web sites for a number of Scientology's affiliated groups. These web sites contain just the kind of unsubstantiated hype which rings alarm bells in critical readers. Those pages are linked from each section heading of this essay.
You will see that Scientology makes a lot of use of personal accounts. I'd like to redress this balance: if you have had any bad experiences as a member or a client of any of the organisations mentioned here, please tell me at M.L.Poulter@bris.ac.uk.