Calera mayor may rescind Dianetics Month proclamation

There won't be a downtown parade or special ceremony, but May is officially Dianetics Month in Calera.

The Birmingham News/May 12, 2004
By Joseph D. Bryant

When Mayor George Roy signed a proclamation to that effect last month, he didn't know he was endorsing a controversial religious movement. "We did it in good faith," he said.

Governments often make proclamations honoring an individual or calling attention to a cause, but that can lead to embarrassment if officials aren't careful, said David Lanoue, University of Alabama political science chairman.

"Dianetics," a book written in 1950 by L. Ron Hubbard, is the basis for the Church of Scientology. Followers call the Clearwater, Fla.-based church a religion based on advanced science.

Calera City Clerk Linda Hill said the city frequently receives requests from civic groups wanting a proclamation. They usually are granted without question or research.

"It's just an official way to recognize something," she said. "It's saying that they're in support of whatever the proclamation is for."

The proclamation on "Dianetics" praised its author and urged "all citizens to follow Mr. Hubbard's example and strive to improve the lives of each other by working together and assisting each other to attain a brighter future." The text arrived prepared with blank lines for the city's name.

Roy said he didn't know anything about "Dianetics" before getting the request. "If it's endorsing a church, we don't do that," he said.

The mayor said he will rescind the proclamation at next week's council meeting.

Steele said future requests will be scrutinized more thoroughly. "Probably a good practice may be not to do it unless we actually know who it is," she said.

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