Scientology's Anti-Drug Program Infiltrates NYC Public Schools

Gothamist/January 28, 2015

By Ben Yakas

A Scientology-related anti-drug program has been giving presentations at dozens of NYC public schools in recent years. DNAInfo reports that The Foundation for a Drug Free World, which was founded in 2006 by the Church of Scientology, has visited at least 30 public schools last year, offering free anti-drug programs to elementary, middle and high school students.

According to the news site:

The Foundation's materials claim cocaine use leads to murder and suicide and that heroin use causes spontaneous abortions in women — claims not endorsed or are widely rejected by doctors.

The group's Facebook page shows them speaking to packed houses at schools such as P.S. 111 in Manhattan, J.H.S. 14 in Brooklyn and Bronx Regional High School. The group also posted a flier on Department of Education letterhead advertising an April 30 event at P.S.226. The group works with NYPD's youth programs as well, according to its Facebook page and conducted trainings for school officers.

The Church of Scientology said in a statement, "The Church of Scientology and Scientologists sponsor the Truth About Drugs program, one of the world’s largest non-governmental drug education and prevention initiatives. We are proud of the work done by the program’s staff and volunteers in New York and around the world."

Today we spoke with Rick Ross, an internationally known expert regarding controversial groups and movements who manages a cult information website. Ross noted that the Church has spun off multiple other programs in addition to this Foundation, such as Narconon, Applied Scholastics, and Criminon—and they all have similar goals and functions.

"When they spin out a program, what it boils down to is a recruitment effort for the Church of Scientology," Ross told us. "Because ultimately, what many people who have become involved in these ancillary programs have said is, all roads lead to Rome. Eventually you're going to become involved in Scientology, because whatever the program is, it's based on the writings, teachings and ideas of L Ron Hubbard."

Ross, who wrote a book about cults including a chapter on Scientology, noted that this infiltration of public schools has previously happened in California with Narconon: "They went to the Californian public school system and said, 'We want to do a Say No To Drugs program in public schools,'" Ross explained. "California said okay, but religion cannot be supported or facilitated by public school system. They said, 'we're separate, we're different, we're not Scientology.'"

"California was duped," he continued. "They got complaints from families who said, 'my kid is terrified that they've ingested toxins and drugs.' They were led to believe that these things were in the fatty tissue of their bodies indefinitely, and at any given time could be released. They were very, very frightened. All these scientifically incorrect things. So California purged them from the system."

DNAInfo adds that Meghan Fialkoff, the Northeast Executive Director of Foundation for a Drug Free World, told an NYPD Midtown North Precinct community council meeting on Jan. 20th that her program "fills a gap caused by Bloomberg-era budget cuts that slashed the number of substance abuse counselors in the city’s public schools."

Ross is dubious about all this: "I'm sure there are parts of the Drug Free World program that are generally good—encouraging people not to abuse their bodies or break the law—but the question is, what else do they teach?" he said. "The answer is, eventually, it becomes L. Ron Hubbard and the promotion of his ideas. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. It's a stealth project in that sense."

"They sell it on the basis of this general purpose, but inside that capsule that they're trying to get you to swallow is also Scientology."

The DOE has denied any official partnership or contracts with the group. A source said that
individual school leaders can choose to partner with a wide range of community-based and external organizations "as long as it is for students’ educational benefit and does not violate any laws or Chancellor’s Regulations."

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