Hard Sell to Build the Faith - Part Four

St. Louis Post-Dispatch/March 6, 1974

Growth and expansion come close to being an obsession of the Church of Scientology.

From street pamphleting to sophisticated media exposure of such Scientology converts as professional football player John Brodie and singer Amanda Ambrose, Scientologists solicit new recruits in a promotional whirlwind more often associated with used car salesmanship than with religion.

Local Scientology centers promote services and plan their expansion with the help of high-level directives outlining a variety of methods to bring in “the raw public by the millions.”

These internal documents indicate that uninterrupted growth and expansion are among the first and highest of Scientology‘s priorities.

A staff policy directive written about three years ago by Diana Hubbard, daughter of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, states that the purpose of public relations in Scientology centers is “to drive in the raw public, more than the org can waste.” “Org” is Scientology‘s term for a local unit or organization.

Unlike most churches and businesses, Scientology branches do not wait for quarterly or annual reports. They file their statistics weekly to national and international offices on a teletype communications network.

Personal and financial rewards of most staff members of local Scientology units apparently are based in part on increasing statistics on recruits and income within their assigned departments. The income of the average staff member is low, however.

Like other Scientology centers, the Missouri Church of Scientology, at 4225 Lindell Boulevard, has used its share of public and private hard-sell approaches.

The Better Business Bureau of Greater St. Louis intends to put together a report on Scientology to be available in the near future, a spokesman told the Post-Dispatch. The bureau said it had received many calls about the organization. Often these calls came from concerned family members whose relatives were asking them for gifts or loans of more than $1000 to purchase auditing courses.

Persons have called the Bureau requesting assistance in having their names removed from Scientology‘s mailing list. After asking Scientology to remove their names, these persons had been sent letters asking why they wanted their names removed.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and several other public and private agencies have extensive negative files on Scientology. Spokesmen for these agencies say that they are hamstrung, however, because Scientology is regarded as a religious organization.

But Dr. Joseph A. Sabatier Jr., head of the AMA committee on quackery, once gave this assessment: “Scientology is being sold to youth like a mental patent medicine.”

Scientology policy directives, axioms, amendments and annotations flow almost daily from various Hubbard headquarters to local Scientology centers. The latest operative policies on any administrative point cannot be pinpointed with certainty. By all indications, however, the April 1971 directive on public relations is still in force.

“Unless you have control of the Public, driving the Public into the org becomes a difficult task,” the directive says. “This is why PR control is so important. Once you have the control, it is so easy to bring in the public, in the thousands and millions! It is also needed to protect org expansion from attacks by opposition groups. PR is a social technique of control.

“How do you do this? Well, you get all the people who COUNT in the area – the VIPs, the community group, news media and opinion leaders on YOUR side, under YOUR control. Then you USE these public control points to get the raw public in. Simple!”

Miss Hubbard cites the dictum “Quantity then Quality” for a whole range of public promotional materials and recruiting events.

She sets out the duties of a “Public Activities Registrar.” This function is filled by a woman, Miss Hubbard writes, and her chief duty is building up as large a Prospect Card File as possible.

“She is present at all large crowds of raw public,” the directive states, “handling with smooth control lots and lots of people, signing them up on their way to Freedom. She never asks the public to decide. She tells them what to buy and they buy it. She never let’s go without selling something – even if it’s just a book.”

The “raw public” might have been drawn into Scientology through one of a variety of aggressive public recruitment programs. In St. Louis, these have included community and school newspaper advertisements; street distribution of Scientology ”tickets to happiness” and pamphlets at Busch Stadium, parades or other public rallies; and a weekly music program on KSHE radio.

Scientologists often set up booths at conventions of their traditional opponents, medical and psychiatric professionals. At a convention of ear specialist here last fall, Scientologists – mostly attractive young women – passed out literature and confronted conventioneers.

The Church of Scientology Information Service “Department of Archives” recently revised the organization’s basic promotional book, “Scientology.” The 9-by-12-inch hard-cover, black book of 175 pages is handsomely and tastefully designed.

Many recruits come into Scientology through enthusiastic friends or relatives. Scientologists are zealous evangelists. Spouses often coax their mates into Scientology, and cases of divorce have been reported because one spouse strongly resisted.

Why this mass recruitment? Scientology documents provide three general answers. The group believes that Scientology is a panacea for almost any psychological or spiritual ill of any human being. Thus, it is a sacred duty to get as many persons as possible “on the road to Total Freedom.”

Second, local Scientology units are “socialistic” in the sense that financial and personal gains of individual staff members hinge on the success of the total organization. Growth benefits all of a unit’s members. One former St. Louis office staff member told of a slack period about 18 months ago in which staff members were told to “get their stats (statistics) up or you won’t get much salary this week.”

Third, local units are devoted to the international organization and to Hubbard. The international organization receives 10 per cent of all local income. The extent of fees paid to Hubbard is unclear, but he takes royalties from most Scientology books sold, as well as payment of certain debts for founding fees.

A recent “orders of the day” memo from the executive director of the Toronto Scientology unit contained the following: “There is only 2 week-endings before Ron’s birthday, and I want all staff to push up their stats as much as possible. Let’s have the highest individual, departmental and divisional stats ever, which will result in excellent morale, very high pay, highest possible GI (gross income) and highest ever Paid Completions – which all equals a great gift for Ron.”

Mrs. Katherine Toftness, treasurer of the St. Louis office, acknowledged in a recent interview that Scientology was different from most religions in that it seeks any and all comers for training or membership. “We’re not selective like other religions or denominations,” she said.

Once a recruit begins training or even fills out a form, he gets on an active “Central File.” If he drops out or stops training, it is the duty of a “letter registrar” and others to continue contacting the individual. This contact is frequent, and is continued indefinitely until a person somehow responds.

Scientology executives here say that the contact stops when an individual states unequivocally that he wants to be off the mail or telephone list.

However, the Post-Dispatch found at least six persons who said that Scientologists persisted in contacting them after they had tried to cut off their association.

“When somebody enrolls, consider he or she has joined up for the duration of the universe – never permit an ‘open-minded’ approach,” Hubbard wrote in a 1965 policy directive reissued in 1970.

Mrs. Nancy McLean, a former staff member at the Toronto Scientology office, told the Post-Dispatch that she was instructed to co-sign bank loans for those Scientology students who could not afford to continue Scientology training.

Miss Debbie Miller, who dropped out of brief Scientology training here in mid-1972, told of being badgered to the point of tears by a registrar trying to get her to quit a factory job and join the Scientology staff.

She said she also was urged to sell her car. “‘You don’t need it’,” she said she was told. “‘You can just get the $2000 and put that in your account for more courses.’”

Scientology officers here concede that enthusiastic staff members might have overstepped proper procedure in recruitment in some cases. But they insist that such aggressive procedures are not and never have been approved.

Scientologists say that the persistent public contact increases the ability of both parties in basic communications. Scientology students or staff members who contact the public are building their self-confidence and ability to communicate, officers of the movement say.

The Rev. June M. Lake, president and executive director of the St. Louis office, said that any response elicited from a Scientology drifter is valuable in helping him communicate – even if the person only grunts and doesn’t appreciate the contact.

Expensive Trip to Spirituality - Part One

The Reclusive Founder of Scientology - Part Two

A System of Engrams and Thetans - Part Three

Counterattack: The Response to Criticism - Part Five

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