Volunteer Minister Crusade Claims — Fact Check

ScamAnother in our series of Fact Checking claims made by the Church of Scientology on their internet sites.
 
Our hardworking Special Correspondent has taken the time once again to attempt to verify the generalities put forth. This is no easy task….
 
I recently received the latest IAS mag unironically titled “Indiscriminate Help Anytime Anywhere” and so I added a little section of my own to the end of Natasha’s good work.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Part 5

Something Can Be Done About It

by Natasha Boris

Tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, nuclear meltdowns, terrorist attacks, battlefields, starving children.

There is no denying bad things happen and continue to happen on this planet of ours. Some are caused by man and some by Mother Nature and people generally respond with help to those less fortunate. Witness the recent Boston Marathon bombings and the overwhelming amount of help and support for the victims that came immediately after the blasts, or the tornadoes in Oklahoma and the flood of support for Hurricane Sandy victims. “Many hands make light work” as the saying goes and it is based on this fundamental philosophy that we have organizations like the American Red Cross and many more.

The IAS and the Church of Scientology promote their Volunteer Ministry heavily and frequently at CoS events. The people that volunteer are largely good people with hearts of gold, willing to go into, confront and help in times of crisis. But are the IAS claims true? Are the CoS Volunteer Ministers making as big an impact as we’ve been told?

It is interesting to note that Global Corps does not list the CoS nor it’s Volunteer Ministers (VMs) on their List of Relief Organizations. They do refer to a more complete list at Relief Web, but searching “Scientology” only yielded 7 results, none more recent than 2010.

Let’s take a look at some more “specific” claims:

  • In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, one United States Senator articulated the experience of thousands when he wrote: “What I saw the Volunteer Ministers accomplish was tremendous. The shelters were well-organized, upbeat, no discipline problems, people were cared for physically, mentally and spiritually.”

With no name this quote is difficult to attribute. There are several links on Google that name Georgia State Senator Donzella James in connection to the VM’s, specifically for their work in Haiti. In relation to Hurricane Katrina we were not able to find a senatorial connection, but did find on Wikipedia that VM’s arrived with tetanus shots to inoculate emergency responders.

  • Spanning more than 110 nations, the Volunteer Ministers comprise a virtual army tens of thousands strong — the largest independent relief force on Earth.

According to this link 1 in every 200 Americans is a Red Cross volunteer. That is approximately 1.57 million people, in America alone. The VM network doesn’t come close to being the “largest independent relief force on Earth.”

  • IAS members sponsored and carried out a tour through Europe, with two large pavilions bringing that message and real help to 24 cities. Visitors were able to tour the pavilions and receive help, one-on-one, from a Volunteer Minister. In the space of just six months, close to 4,000 Volunteer Ministers mobilized to introduce more than 50,000 people to the help they could receive in Scientology.

According to their own website the last European tour was in 2006 and 2007. We were unable to find any independent verification of the above statements on Google.

  • They helped when floods caused devastation in Budapest, trained South African police officers on how to resolve conflicts, and were recognized as an official civil defense force in Torino.

We were unable to find independent news or Google reports of VM’s in Budapest and the CoS involvement with the South African police created quite a flap in 2006. The Civil Protection Department has their own website. Searching “scientology” resulted in one hit which appears to be contact information.

  • In Buffalo the Volunteer Ministers were welcomed with a proclamation declaring the occasion “Something Can Be Done About It Day.”

The only hit on Google was from the IAS website. There were no results on the Buffalo City website for “scientology,” “volunteer minister,” or “something can be done about it,” except for this totally unrelated article. A call has been made to the Mayor’s office to inquire as to the process of getting a special day named, but as yet we have not heard back.

  • During the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Volunteer Ministers set up their Cavalcade pavilions and introduced nearly 6,000 athletes and visitors to the help they provide. The word spread and soon trainers were sending athletes for assists, while a loudspeaker near one of the pavilions regularly announced that help was available from the Volunteer Ministers.

Searching Google for “2004 athens olympics volunteer ministers scientology” resulted in CoS sponsored sites and one negative thread on an anti-Scn forum. No independent results were found written by trainers, athletes or government officials.

  • Over 900 Volunteer Ministers from around the USA and the world assisted some seventy thousand victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, from delivering the first tetanus vaccines to providing relief and counseling to police and beleaguered rescue workers.

While the number of VMs cannot be verified, searching “hurricane katrina volunteer ministers scientology tetanus” resulted in more press from a variety of sources than any other recent activity by VMs.

In timely fashion an Introductory Edition of Impact Magazine arrived promoting the activities of VMs in the Amazon. The article focuses on the Volunteer Minister Tour of Peru…in August 2007. Giving no specific names, of the VMs or the “officials,” the article covers seven pages and makes claims such as: “One day when the pastor fell ill, a VM visited him to deliver a series of assists, after which he made a rapid recovery.”

With no independently verifiable sources, and none of the people helped promoting their amazing experiences, it has becomes a game of “he said, she said.” Or, in this case, advantage being taken of some very good people, using them to do the dirty work and thus lend the CoS some sort of legitimacy.

My addition: 

As I mentioned above, I just looked through the IAS magazine on VM’s. While the whole thing is a study in writing with no specifics, no dates, no names, the section on the Oklahoma tornadoes caught my eye.

After a lengthy rehash of the extent of the disaster with dramatic photos of flattened neighborhoods, it gets to the actions of the largest “private relief force on earth”. There are two photos — one shows 3 VMs with a wheelbarrow and pieces of sheetrock, the other is a wide angle shot at the same scene with 12 VM shirts visible. The text is VERY vague “initially VMs arrived from central US areas such as Wichita Mission, Salt Lake City (central US?) and Dallas.”  No numbers, no “within hours” no specifics whatsoever. It goes on “Then, with IAS support, more teams arrived from Tampa, Clearwater, Los Angeles and Vancouver.” Now this is an amazing admission. They had to stretch to even name 4 places anyone came from.  Apparently they couldnt get anyone from the orgs in Kansas City, St Louis or the “Ideal Org” in Denver or Austin or Albuquerque let alone Chicago or New York or Boston or, or, or…. (of course there is NO ORG in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota or the vast majority of the MidWest US). 

The truth is that emails and calls went out begging people to go to Oklahoma City a week after the first tornado struck. But people were only supposed to go “after the event is over on Saturday” as everyone was supposed to see the special “Ideal Org” presentation from Miscavige first.  THAT was more important than providing the “indiscriminate help anytime anywhere.”  

VERY few people showed up. The largest relief force on earth could not get their act together to get even 20 people to a massive disaster right in the middle of America.

Almost a MONTH later, a new call went out: “We will PAY YOU to come to Oklahoma City and we need you there this weekend BECAUSE THE GOLD SHOOT CREW WILL BE THERE.”  Even then, they could only round up a dozen people for the video team and you can be sure the BEST shots are the two they used in the Impact magazine.

Now, I happen to know all this because a number of people who received the pleas forwarded them on to me. I did not write anything about it at the time as I wanted to let them proceed with whatever they could get together to help those who had suffered devastating losses. And I did not want to in any way criticize those who DO go to volunteer their time to help out in such circumstances — they are beyond reproach. But the self-serving after-the-fact promotion is beneath contempt. And it is fraudulent.

The fact that the church and the IAS uses disasters like this as opportunities to COLLECT MONEY which is NOT THEN SPENT and that they falsely promote in their glossy magazines and over-the-top events that “Something Was Done About It” is beyond a joke, it is a fraud and rip-off. 

They should be held accountable for the money they collect. Though virtually NOTHING was done for the victims of the Oklahoma City tornadoes by the IAS, they HAD to put something in their promotional materials to pretend they did, otherwise all those who gave them money (which has become the acceptable thing to do to — give us money and you are now a “great humanitarian” — you don’t have to raise a finger other than to pull out your credit card) would start openly questioning what happened.  

Every dollar the IAS collected “FOR THE OKLAHOMA RELIEF EFFORT” that was NOT SPENT on Oklahoma relief was another fraud.

I challenge anyone who gave money to the IAS to help THE VICTIMS OF THE OKLAHOMA TORNADOES to ask them for an accounting of what was collected and what was spent. I am sure the BIGGEST expense the IAS incurred was flying a video team out from LA.

The IAS and its Volunteer Minister Crusade are a scam.

Comments

  1. Jane Doe says

    Thank you Mike for the actual real numbers or lack of them, for looking for the real quotes from people, for digging to see if any of what has been claimed is true. When they publish in the Impact Mag with no names, no dates, vague generalizations, it is done for a reason: to cover up that the money donated to help victims didn’t go to them and no volunteers or very few volunteers actually went and did anything. Now about Ground Zero in New York City where the twin towers went down: Is it true what the church crowed about, that our group was the only group invited to come through the barricades to help there because we had proven so invaluable to them? What is the story on that? And for the record, I have had individual Scns approach me asking for personal donations to themselves so that they can go to such and so disaster place and help. I have always wondered why the IAS didn’t just sponsor them? I think the answer is that they wanted individual donations so that they could get much more than was needed and pocket the rest. A new scam is born amongst the parishoners! And don’t get me started on the SO. There is one individual that I personally know, who “joined the SO” two times and staff at Buffalo Org once, and on all three of these joyous occasions she sent out massive email and calling campaigns to anyone and everyone who knew her, who was a parent of any of the kids she used to teach dance to, to every Scn she could think of, to beg for money “to pay off my bills” so that I can join the SO (or staff.) And buttons were pushed each time such as, “if you’ve ever wanted to join SO but couldn’t, you can now help a deserving person join SO to make up for your not helping.” She even said that she had $100,000 in debt to pay off so she could make it into the SO. I didn’t give. I felt it was manipulation and extortion. And then I saw her a few months after receiving all this money and she was staying in luxury at the FH hotel in Clearwater and getting auditing there. I said, “but I thought you joined the SO?” She replied that she hadn’t joined yet because, “I want to make it through OT VII before I join.” (or maybe it was “to get onto OT VII before I join”). Yet she was only Clear at that time I believe. So she took all those donations and bought herself auditing and stayed in luxury at the FH for months and months. (I asked how long she’d been there: 6 months.) In talking to another lady who knew this person, she said, “Oh yes, she did the same scam 10 years ago.” I guess that’s how to get out of debt and pay your Bridge at the same time: just tell other Scns they are so bad for not joining the SO but that you are willing to do it so fork over the dough. And never ask for an accounting of the money as that just wouldn’t be charitable!

    • Natasha Boris says

      “Now about Ground Zero in New York City where the twin towers went down: Is it true what the church crowed about, that our group was the only group invited to come through the barricades to help there because we had proven so invaluable to them? What is the story on that?”

      I think the best write-up I’ve read of what actually went down was by Shannon Kimoto on Marty’s site. Here is the link: http://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/911-hiros-unsung-heroes/

      • Jane Doe says

        Thank you Natasha for the link to that excellent article on what really happened with our volunteers at 911. Why did DM delete Hiro’s and others’ names off the plaque? I don’t understand. I want to commend and thank Hiro and his other volunteers who stepped up to the plate in that time of need and delivered amazing and wonderfully effective help. Thank you!

  2. sets guy says

    I love this I wish the Media would go after it with their own investigation and show everyone just how contemptible disgusting is the COS to use other’s misery in their fraud and even use it for self – promotion. This would help out their PR greatly right about now. The balls of these people.

  3. SadStateOfAffairs says

    Mike, some points you added definitely scored high on the gag-o-meter, i.e: Instructions not to go to Oklahoma until after the event showing (9 of 10 on the gag scale) and then paying people to go there for the shoot by the Gold crew (9.5 out of 10). It is truly sad that Miscavige has transformed the Church into a gang of money-grubbing, false PR-ing hucksters by preying on those member that actual do want to get out into the world and help.

  4. calvin b. duffield says

    Thanks for the look-in, Natasha! — Result ? Clearly showing the usual COBbledygook PR machinations rolling out ad nauseum. The hurtful aspect of all this, as you said, is the bulk of the volunteers involved, are indeed, good, sincere people, believing and in some cases, actually making a difference. The “nausea” referred to, is that these intentionally created “front” groups, have themselves, been conned into donating their services merely as a Trojan Horse to make inroads into the ostensibly “humanitarian service” market.
    “Warning! Scam ahead!” — an apt intro to this article– introduced by Mike! ( Ignore at your PERIL! )

    • Natasha Boris says

      I agree Calvin. Doing this particular article was very difficult, because I know many of the VM’s and they are sincerely good people. The “straight up and vertical” bulls**t made me sick more than once. As Mike said, it’s FRAUD and it is disgusting.

      • calvin b. duffield says

        Thanks, Natasha. The positives to take out of this, (there always IS something!) will probably be, that the inevitable “waking up” for these hypnotized souls can’t be that far off. That… plus the foundations of David’s Empire of Plunder is heretofore steadily crumbling asunder! ……. ALL things shall pass!
        ML, Calvin.

  5. Jose Chung says

    Dear Mike,
    You have turned on the lights in a dark room again. Well done !
    I get the heebie geebies when the PR does not match the photo.
    For example the Japan Fuikashima nuclear reactor melt down photo was three VM’s getting
    onto a taxi cab. That’s it. Not a word after. Reactor number 2 of the reactors that had a loss of coolant was an experimental reactor with Plutonium fuel rods that exploded and blew the roof off of the containment building. This Blew plutonium into the upper atmosphere and three guys get into a taxi are the fix ?
    Kiss My Ass Voldemort !

  6. Rory Medford says

    The C of S will do or say anything to get money from their sheeple. They have no conscious nor do they care about much of anything but stat pushing and GI!!! and they will destroy whatever is in their path to achieve that without any remorse. What a great group to belong to.

  7. Gerhard Waterkamp says

    The Gold Film Crew members must know, they are producing fraud pieces. They see the truth when they are sent to film the shirts. Apparently a conscience is a luxury in that church.

    • sets guy says

      yes Gerhard, they do know. I was still there when one of these events were getting readied and the pictures were laid out in the Gym at Gold. I was talking to one of the video team guys standing next to pictures of VMs arriving at the Katrina site with a convoy of cars and trucks and he said pointing top the picture. That’s me in the tuck and that’s so and so and that one is so and so. there were no such convoys arriving it was just them staging a photo shoot to be promoted at the event. He was also the guy who clued me in that all the stats in an event are cooked up. why any of them are still there is a mystery but they ALL KNOW and HATE doing it.

  8. Pepper says

    I completely agree that the IAS itself is a scam and using the VMs for propaganda is another one. The IAS is and has always been, a “black hole” in which donations pour in and there is no accountability.
    It’s disgusting how the IAS promotes itself as such a “major force of help” using the works of a few dedicated, real humanitarians to call it their own.
    The VMs work on their own time and expense, much like the Red Cross workers do, The IAS does not fund them. Except of course, to assemble people for pictures for their next glossy mag – then they’ll shell out. Have you ever noticed how after major catastrophes such as the Asian tsunami or Katrina, you would hear of various organizations and celebrities donating some large sum money (in specifics)? Never a peep from the CoS or IAS!
    The IAS uses the goodness of people for pure exploitation and lies. Sickening.

  9. iHateDuplicity says

    I agree completely. Follow the money. This is a very big way that the criminality of the Cof$ and the IAS scam can be blown wide-open and actual criminal investigation of Cof$ can begin.
    SHOW ME THE MONEY!
    It all hinges on their “non-profit” status which they use as air cover to get away with bilking literally hundreds of millions of dollars every year, all so Dwarf Midget can eat the best food, wear the best clothes and drive in the best cars. It’s criminality of the worst kind because it’s based on pandering to an unsuspecting group and literally cheating them of their hard-earned earnings.

  10. says

    Thank you Mike for calling them out on their false statistics like you always do.
    A year ago Miscavige was able to spout out his false stat himself

  11. says

    From HCOPL 3 December 1968:

    “Giving money or things to a group are both a form of participation and contribution. But while this is an important matter, it does not involve actual action. Thus a contributor of money or objects to a group is yet withholding himself and his time. One should seek contribution of money and things. But the status granted for this is that of patron or associate, not of a true member of the group.”

    In my opinion what is left of the organization is a bunch of do nothing (constructive) elitist fat cats or “whales” who like to throw money at things and a very few who actually do something.

    My feeling is as long as they are not asked to do anything they are willing to perpetuate this fraud.

    ‘Nuff said.

  12. Rory Medford says

    Fanfare at its best along with adjectives that will just blow your mind and make you feel good as you are getting f***d every which way including Sunday!!!

  13. Under the radar, deep in the rabbit hole says

    I donated a few thousand to help knowing that every penny would be spent in the victims. I have no proof that it was not done only speculation. I suppose asking for an accounting would cause more harm to me and my family then it’s worth unless any other under the radar knows a safe way to proceed.

  14. Stephanie says

    Mike – thanks for posting the information about the fraud of the IAS.

    I never saw the Organization do anything or spend anything for disaster relief or any other kind of humanitarian effort.

    The smaller Org’s may send a few volunteers, at their own expense, and even made them buy their VM T-shirt!

    They had to be there for “Gold” photographers. No one was called because as long as they had a few people going – it did not matter. If no public went – the Org had to send staff.

    The photos were taken and then produced in the propaganda used to convince active Scientologists at events that Scientology is doing something about it – when they are NOT!!

    The volunteer’s would speak at the next fundraising event to convince those in attendance what a great Church they belong to – when they did everything, spent their own money to get there, paid for their own food and hotel and did all the volunteering. What a scam!

  15. Formost says

    Standard IAS Procedure: Collect some bucks from you to “Handle X Emergency”, then send you out there at your own expense to deal with a PR situation mostly, whereupon more IAS reges on site clean out one’s pockets even further in order to obtain that most cherished but worthless “Brownie Point” commendation to assist you with your travels up the bridge, hopefully to bypass the MAA, to only be routed directly to the IAS reg office instead.

    Feels so good to help, don’t it?

    • Jane Doe says

      Not to get off the thread of conversation here, but I wanted to let you all know that besides this excellent article by Mike and his correspondent, there also is a great article on Marty’s site today. I encourage you all to read that article too.

  16. Colin says

    Minor point – the police that caused a stir promoting CoS material were from South Australia, not South Africa.

  17. Noni Mause says

    I was part of an official government response team sent to a major disaster as soon as that area was cleared for others to enter. The talk of all the volunteers was that a bunch of people in yellow T-shirts claiming to be scientologists had been there and been kicked out by the people in charge on the first day. I wonder if that’s been claimed as a VM win?

  18. Rick Mycroft says

    Subject: NO T-Shirts – North Greenwood BTS Event 2013
    To: X
    Cc:

    Dear Volunteer,

    We are sorry to inform you but there will be NO Volunteer T-SHIRT’s handed out this year for 2013.

    Please feel free to wear prior T-Shirt’s that were handed out if you still have one.

    We did not have enough funds in our budget this year. Please pass this message along to those you know who don’t have emails.

    See you at the event!

    Much Love,
    Xxxxxx Xxx Xxxxxxxx
    Event Organizer
    =====
    Huh. They’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel when they don’t supply t-shirts for their yellow tent cavalcade PR events. Next they’ll be raiding piggy banks and checking the couch for loose change. (I am amazed by how clean those shirts look in disaster PR photos. I know from personal experience that that yellow color is a dirt-magnet.)

    Volunteer Minister Cavalcade Org Board:
    http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h233/RogerRamdrive/10d-eng-vm-org-bd.jpg~original

  19. Kevin Bloody Mackey says

    Great write up. One point of order; the South African ‘flap” link leads to a completely different flap in ‘South Australia” also abbreviated ‘SA’

  20. Ho Tai says

    “…otherwise all those who gave them money … would start openly questioning what happened. ”
    I don’t think so. My experience is that nobody questions anything. A guy I know that openly questioned the Ideal Org scam got reamed in ethics and thereafter politely donated to the cause. If you question, it raises the possibility that you are not loyal and you will get sec checked or rolled back or whatever.