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.
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.