Reaction to Scientology book positive or neutral

Landmark Ashland hotel places Scientology texts next to traditional Gideon Bible

Mail Tribune, Oregon/February 24, 2008

Ashland - The nightstands at the Ashland Springs Hotel are a little more crowded than most hotels. Alongside Bibles donated by the Gideons are copies of "The Way to Happiness," a moral code written by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology.

"This book has contributed greatly to my own personal happiness and success, and it's something that I wanted to share with others," said Rebecca Neuman, a Scientologist who owns the hotel and its Lark's restaurant with her husband, Doug, also a Scientologist. The pair also own the Lake of the Woods resort cabins, marina and restaurant, among other Southern Oregon properties.

Neuman said she got the idea to distribute the books in her hotel after seeing Buddhist and Mormon writings during her own travels. The books, which list 21 different "precepts" for better living, including instructions to be temperate, honor parents, set a good example, and be industrious and competent, have been available in the hotel since July 2006.

The hotel sells both a hardbound copy of the book and smaller $2 booklets for guests. In the year and a half since they have been available, the hotel has sold about 250 copies, Neuman said.

Two or three guests have complained about the books in that time, but most either don't notice or are supportive, said Don Amway, general manager of the hotel.

"If it was offensive, we wouldn't be selling them," he said. "I think where people get offended is the creator of Scientology is the one who wrote it."

After the books were introduced at the hotel, David Miscavige, Scientology's leader, announced the news in his 2007 New Year's speech where he reviewed the 2006 campaign to "break the dark spell cast across Earth by psychiatry."

Clips of the presentation, including a widely publicized message from Tom Cruise whose leaked release drew fire from the church, have appeared on YouTube. The church has fought to remove the clips as they appear, claiming copyright infringement.

"Operation Global Calm is all about global saturation," Miscavige said in the video from the stage of Scientology's 2007 New Year's event, flanked by a giant picture of Hubbard and Scientology symbols. "... It's also about plugging into what you might call the worldwide 'social mainframe' for high volume delivery to target populations."

Miscavige uses military and war symbolism in his speech to describe the church's attempts to destroy psychiatry. He also highlights worldwide distribution of video messages bearing precepts from "The Way to Happiness" and specifically mentions the Ashland hotel's role in delivering Scientology to the public.

"By way of example, while you can shotgun booklets across Anytown, USA, you need distribution points like this one to hit mainstream America: It's the Ashland Springs Hotel in Ashland, Oregon. It caters to upscale vacationers, and instead of a Gideon's Bible on the nightstand, it's now 'The Way to Happiness,' " Miscavige said to loud applause from his audience of fellow Scientologists.

Hotel guests don't seem to have strong opinions on the book, Amway said. The hotel books have comment cards, but none has been returned, either positive or negative, he said.

"I've been here for two nights and I didn't even notice it was there," said Shauna Mosgrove, a guest of the hotel over the weekend from Walla Walla, Wash. "I'd be interested in that I'm fascinated by that religion. It's so completely bizarre. I would look at that before I would look at the Bible, just out of curiosity."

Trina Stewart of Rogue River said she was neither excited nor upset that the book would be in her room.

"I'm always open to learning new things," she said. "I wouldn't be offended because it's there."

Placement of the book inside a drawer and not on the tabletop is meant to be unobtrusive, Amway said.

"People can believe and practice how they wish to," he said. "Putting the book in the room isn't putting anything on them. They can choose to open the book or choose not to."

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