A couple who posted 20,000 booklets on “the way to happiness” around the island this month insisted their motives were separate from the controversial Scientology movement.
Don and Dee Pearson, who said they financed the printing and mailing of the booklet, written in 1980 by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, plan to return in February to send out more copies of the booklet.
Mr Pearson admitted the couple were believers in Scientology. But he said: “We are not selling anything, we’re not trying to get anybody to do something for us.
“Dee said, this island has been very good to us, and if I ever get a chance, I want to give something back. Let’s see if we can share something valuable to us.”
Mr Pearson admitted that he would “probably not” have heard of the booklet, produced by Scientology-backed The Way to Happiness Foundation, if he had not joined the movement.
He encountered Dianetics, Hubbard’s belief system, decades ago as a student of psychology at California State University in Fresno.
He added: “If I wasn’t already interested in Dianetics, how would I have come across this?”
However, Mr Pearson, an American married to a Bermudian who has visited the island for close to 40 years, said the couple had no ulterior motive to their mailing campaign, which included three nights of seminars at the Fairmont Southampton, with the final one last Friday.
He added that the events, which were free and involved no follow-up for guests, attracted about “a dozen” at a time.
Mr Pearson insisted the booklet, which the couple had printed on-island, was non-religious, and some of its 21 precepts, such as “Do Not Murder”, might seem “obvious”. But he added: “Sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious.”
Mr Pearson said he had noticed a rise in violent crime on the island over the course of the couples’ visits.
He added: “The moral challenges of violent crime and drugs have hit Bermuda like they have hit places all over the world.
“This could be a way to get people to maybe consider changing their minds a little.”
Mr Pearson, who works for a software firm in California, refused to say how much it cost to print and post the almost 21,000 booklets, but said the couple had paid the expenses themselves.
He added: “Our goal was the whole island. We just couldn’t afford it. We figured we would break it into two years.”
Mr Pearson said the couple planned to organise another series of seminars next February.
He added: “We have a lot of family here with a lot of viewpoints, and they know what we’re like. We’re not selling anything, and we’re not trying to force someone to change their mind.”
The Church of Scientology media relations department wrote to The Royal Gazette in response to an article last Wednesday.
A spokeswoman said: “The church proudly supports The Way to Happiness Foundation, as it does several other secular social betterment and humanitarian programmes”.
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