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Media Articles - 1980s

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Narconon-Chilocco Drug Treatment Plant
May Be Part Of Notorious Religious Cult

Newkirk Herald Journal
By Bob Lobsinger
April 27, 1989

NEWKIRK, OK -- A proposed drug treatment and rehabilitation center which could be in operation on Indian land at the former Chilocco Indian School north of Newkirk by June 15th may be part of a notorious religious cult. Narconon was approved for a 75-bed facility by the State Health Planning Commission in January of this year as part of The Chilocco Development Authority. The projected cost is $400,000 for renovation and the five Indian tribes involved are projected to receive $16,000,000 in lease payments over 25 years.

According to published reports, Narconon is the drug rehabilitation program for the Church of Scientology founded by L. Ron Hubbard. Last Friday Sociology Professor Richard Ofshe of the University of California at Berkley confirmed that Narconon is an organization of the Church of Scientology. "I think it's common knowledge out here", he said. In a 1981 Reader's Digest article, the Church of Scientology was described as a "frightening cult".

Tribal members contacted about the Chilocco project were not aware of a possible connection to the Church of Scientology. All they've been told is that it is a "private corporation ." Pawnee office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs said they were not aware of the connection, and were very "surprised" because the "state" and the "governor's office" were involved in getting Narconon to come to Chilocco.

Narconon's literature says nothing about any connection with the Church of Scientology, but does say it adheres to the methods of L. Ron Hubbard. Narconon material presented to Newkirk Mayor Garry Bilger at ceremonies held at Chilocco on Saturday, April 8, says only that "the Narconon program owes its success to the 'unique technology' of L. Ron Hubbard.

Narconon uses the Hubbard Method of drug rehabilitation to handle the root causes of why the person took drugs in the first place ." The only connection between Scientology and Narconon in its own material seems to be a reference to "RTC" that appears in literature from Narconon. In fine print, it says that "Hubbard is a trademark and service mark owned by "RTC" and is used with its permission. In literature received by the Newkirk Library from the Church of Scientology advertising books by L. Ron Hubbard, a footnote announces that Dianetics, Scientologist, and Scientology are trademarks and service marks owned by Religious Technology Center (the same RTC?) and are used with its permission.

Narconon is a drug treatment program founded by William Benitez about 1965 while he was in the Arizona State Prison, according to "The Truth About Drugs" by Gene Chill and John Duff. The book proudly proclaims that Narconon's programs are based on the technology of L. Ron Hubbard, but makes no mention of Scientology. "The Truth About Drugs", a Narconon publication, says that Narconon is a multi-phase program that includes drug free withdrawal after a full medical exam; a Purification Program that cleanses the body of remaining accumulations of drugs; training and counseling to bridge the individual over to life as a drug free, contributing member of society.

Narconon was first established by Benitez after other programs he tried had failed. It took 9 months to get the program approved for use in the Arizona State Penitentiary and was expanded to other prisons in 1969, then to the public in 1972. Narconon works in two fields, Rehabilitation and Education. Educational efforts were begun in 1979 by former drug user John Duff, one of the authors of "The Truth About Drugs". Duff is currently National Director of Narconon's Drug Education program.

Narconon-Chilocco has announced intentions of being in operation by June 15. It has received the approval of the State of Oklahoma to begin with a 75 bed capacity, but Narconon staff member Edna Fulton, quoted in the April 9th issue of the Ponca City News, said she expects approval for reasonably rapid expansion. It could eventually house up to 1,400 "patients" and whatever "staff' would be necessary.

The Los Angeles based Association for Better Living & Education (ABLE), sent Rena Weinberg to Chilocco to present Narconon and the Chilocco Development Authority with a $200,000.00 check to be used in establishing the local Narconon facility. According to the Ponca City News, Weinberg said ABLE operates internationally and has been impressed with the success of the Narconon recovery program, hence the donation. The address of ABLE is 3540 Wilshire Btvd, Suite 300, Los Angeles, California. The address of Narconon International Association is... 3540 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 300, Los Angeles, Ca. The address of Narconon Drug Education, U.S. is 3540 Witshire Blvd., Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA. Same building, same floor, same offices.

Narconon's material says it is currently operating 26 treatment facilities in 11 nations: Nine facilities in the United States, five in California, two in Colorado, one in Massachusetts, and one in Louisiana. According to the Golden, Colorado, Transcript, the Narconon unit in Golden just opened in the fall of 1988.

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born in Tilden, Nebraska in 1911. His father was a navy commander. According to Life Magazine, Hubbard, while in the far east on tour with his father, "studied with lama priests." Although he attended college, and often claimed a degree, he never finished his schooling. During the 1930s, he traveled in Central America and wrote Science Fiction, Westerns, and Screenplays. According to Time Magazine, Hubbard made up his own history and travels, claiming that he was a World War II hero and a nuclear physicist. His book, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" first appeared as an article in Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Hubbard later claimed his book was a science, and eventually, a religion.

In order to have freedom from interruptions so he could study and write more books, his followers say he took to life on the high seas, living and operating from a fleet of ships cruising in international waters. His detractors say he was avoiding legal problems in several countries. According to Time Magazine, Hubbard' s son, Ronald DeWolf, changed his name to disassociate himself from his father, whom he calls, "one of the biggest con men of the century." In 1949, Hubbard told a group of science fiction writers, "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."

Hubbard reportedly died as mysteriously as he had lived. The Church of Scientology announced in February 1986 that L. Ron Hubbard died "last week." No actual date of death was ever given, and some wonder if the body was really his.

Science Fiction Encyclopedia says that Scientology is a dramatic example of Science Fiction pulp being put into practice in the real world. How L. Ron Hubbard came to believe his own sci-fi is a remarkable story. That he has managed to establish and propagate it into a growing "religion" is a tribute to his ability as a believable writer. Time magazine says Scientology originally surfaced as "Dianetics", a pseudopsychological fad that flourished in the early 1950s. Newsweek calls Dianetics a "far-out book" that took Hubbard only 60 days to write but became a best seller within months of publication in 1950.

Hubbard has been described as a "sometime explorer, engineer, and science-fiction writer" in Newsweek, and the magazine notes that at the Church of Scientology's First National Conference on Public Action and Social Reform in Los Angeles in 1974, "representatives of the California Legislature presented a special commendation to Narconon, Scientology's program to fight drug abuse." Over 1,500 Scientologists attended the meeting.

In 1952, Hubbard announced the birth of the Church of Scientology, an "applied religious philosophy" which retained most of the basic features of Dianetics. According to Time, Scientology has several levels of liberation leading one to a state of "clear", in which all "engrams" from this or past lives have been erased. "Engrams", a biological term, was borrowed by Hubbard to mean the mental quirks he felt caused all psychic problems. Once "clear" a Scientologist takes on super-human qualities and becomes an "Operating Thetan" with extraordinary powers. Hubbard was an "Operating Thetan." Hubbard called his Dianetics, "a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his invention of the wheel and the arch." This blend of Eastern philosophy, psychoanalytic technique and futuristic theory "concocted" by Hubbard offered everyone self help answers to an array of psychic and bodily ills.

One of the reasons Hubbard incorporated his theories into a religion was partly to avoid attacks from medical and psychiatric critics. World Headquarters is in Los Angeles. Hubbard's Dianetics became Scientology's scripture. Through Dianetics, Hubbard claimed he could raise IQs, cure bad eyesight, the common cold. and radiation burns, among other things. The book, "All God' s Children" by Carroll Stoner and Jo Anne Parke says that Scientology is attractive to "those who are, or think they are, in trouble."

Stoner and Parke say that Scientology is different from most religious cults because members rarely live in communal systems and most live and work in the outside world. To the average person, Science Fiction Encyclopedia says, Dianetics offered several attractions: It took only hours of training in order to be able to practice. No formal education was necessary. It offered a model of the mind that was at first simple and coherent, and it offered diagnosis of why so many feel they are unappreciated failures. Further and most important, it offered a cure.

From science fiction to science, then to religion, Hubbard's Dianetics drew big followings. The group expanded overseas and established centers in Australia and South Africa as early as 1953. Still, it was seen by the skeptical as a crafty tax dodge, even though it does have some of the trappings of a genuine religion. Hubbard's new religion combined parts of Hindu, Veda and Daharma, Taoism, Old Testament wisdom, Buddhist principles, Early Greek thinking and other tidbits. But primarily, the religious status offered the advantages of tax exemption and less government scrutiny than one receives in the fields of medicine or science. Religious regulation is looser than scientific or medical regulation.

Time says the church concerns itself little with God, and mostly with the here and now. One recruit who quit called it "A Church with a cashier's booth." In order to reach the state of "clear", a recruit must travel down a path of successive courses with "auditors" processing him through each level with an E-meter. An E-meter, or "electroencephaloneuromentimograph" [sic], is essentially a crude lie detector, with which the "auditor" questions the recruit about intimate details of his life. When the needle jumps, an "engram" or sin has been uncovered, and the "auditor" helps the recruit confront and erase the "engram."

E-meters were developed by Hubbard to speed up the Dianetics process of clearing engrams. Auditing is similar to confession in other religions. The E-meter and its use appear to be the only "unique technology" every developed by Hubbard. An E-meter is a galvanometer attached to two cans. V-8 juice cans seem popular for the purpose, according to some reports.

The first level course releases a person from his problems, according to Life. The second covers "Overts" (harmful or contrasurvival acts) and Withholds. Next comes a Freedom Release, then an Ability Release and Power Processing. Once these first five levels have been attained, further processing must be done at special Scientology complexes, such as Saint Hill, Sussex, England, which are only for advanced enlightenment. These higher levels will take a person to "clear."

Scientologists, Newsweek says, believe that man is a spiritual creature descended from a race of omnipotent "Thetans" who decided to experiment with life on earth, and gave up some of their powers to do so. (There are at least two different versions of this story in print.) But anyone can retrieve those lost powers by overcoming the "engrams" that have cluttered their personality during the eons of their existence. Such an "engram-free" person is said to be "clear." A "clear", according to the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, is a person who has erased the aberrations from his "thetan" and in return has powers of telepathy, radically increased intelligence, the ability to move outside his body, a photographic memory, and the ability to control processes such as growing new teeth. Some reports say it takes about 60 hours of auditing and a course in Dianetic training in order to reach "clear."

The first "clear" was a South African medical student named John McMaster, who made the trip in 1966. Dianetics was a secular movement until Hubbard discovered the existence of the "Thetan". Thetans are reincarnated over trillions of years. Hubbard has been quoted as saying that he felt as good as anyone who was several trillion years old could expect to feel.

Over the years, Scientology has taken on trappings of more conventional religions, including ministers who perform legal marriages, baptisms, funeral services, liturgies, clerical collars, and a vague sort of theology that rarely mentions anything about eternal salvation or God. "All God's Children" states that in 1969 the US Court of Claims defined the beliefs of the Church of Scientology as belief in a "spirit' or 'Thetan" which is said to reside within the physical body of every human being. They believe that the spirit is immortal and that it receives a new body upon the death of the body in which it resides."

Life magazine reports that Hubbard's teachings include belief in two minds, the Analytic and the Reactive. One, the Analytic, is a perfect computer while the other is a mass of "engrams" that provides incorrect data to the Analytic computer. The Reactive mind works like an adding machine with old totals still in its works. Unless it is "cleared", it continues to feed the wrong answers to the Analytic mind even though a new problem has been punched in. The idea is to clear the Reactive mind of false data so the Analytic mind can work properly.

Another interesting theory espoused by Scientology is that many illnesses are caused by "engrams", including dermatitis, arthritis, allergies, bursitis, ulcers, migraine headaches and even cancer. So getting rid of "engrams" is pretty important.

According to The Scientology Catechism, it costs between $2,500 and $5,000 to go "clear". Paying for courses is a matter of personal integrity, the Catechism states, but charity cases are considered, and should see the chaplain. It also says training scholarships are available for some groups, including workers in approved rehabilitation programs. Life magazine reported that in order to become an Operating Thetan, Class VIII - the highest classification at the time, it would cost as much as $15,000. Introductory lessons cost $15, children's courses $10, or less. A sample audit might cost $5 and last two hours. Some reports say "auditing" through Grade IV costs $650. Other reports show a twelve and a half hour "Life Repair" session with E-meter at $625. But printed case histories abound telling of individuals who have paid well over $100,000.00 before becoming disillusioned with the program.

Costs vary from independent church to church. Churches are authorized franchises, with each setting its own fees, and forwarding 10 percent to the Mother Church, in Saint Hill, Sussex, England. Critics charge that the church reduces followers to the status of working slaves with jobs in the church to pay the price of tuition for further comes, a charge the church Catechism denies.

In 1968, Life magazine estimated membership at between 2 and 3 million people. Most recruits, it said, were young, intelligent, and idealistic. Newsweek in 1974 said the number of members claimed by the church was 3.2 million around the world. Time said that church recruits tended to be young, drifting, fairly well educated and in search of psychological answers more than spiritual ones. One famous member of the church was former pro-quarterback John Brodie, who said Scientology healed his throwing arm, Time reports.

The Church of Scientology has a record of being litigious. For instance, in August of 1978, the Los Angeles Times was slapped with a million dollar suit after it ran a series about the Church of Scientology. According to a Newsweek story, the Scientologists claimed that the paper conspired with the FBI and Justice Department to violate the church's civil rights by poisoning the atmosphere before a trial of church officials on charges of scheming to steal government documents. In 1977, Newsweek reported in the same issue, a San Diego Union reporter took a Scientology course, identifying herself only at its end. Two days before publication of her story about the session, the paper was sued for $10,000 for invasion of privacy. Scientologists offered to drop the suit if the Union dropped the story. When the article ran anyway, the suit escalated to $900,000 and charges of fraud and deceit were added. Scientologists say the press has unfairly characterized them as a bizarre fringe group, Newsweek says.

After the Church of Scientology filed a million dollar libel suit against the Clearwater (Fla.) Sun in 1976, the paper countersued for abuse of legal process and subpoenaed the church' s financial records and officials. The Scientologists decided to drop their case, according to the Newsweek report. One media lawyer said, "A full-scale lawsuit would open them up to full disclosure, and most cults can hardly afford full disclosure in the courtroom." The Newsweek article referred to was authored by Betsy Carter with Michael Reese in San Francisco, and Martin Kasindorf in Los Angeles as well as from bureau reports.

In 1976, Time reported that England banned foreign Scientologists from entering the country because of the increasing number of complaints about the group. Questionable practices reported in various countries included the recording of "auditing" sessions that made members susceptible to blackmail; "Disconnect" orders requiring devout members to sever ties with antagonistic family or friends (Suppressive Persons); "Fair Game" rules which said a defector from the group could be "deprived of property or injured by any means... sued, lied to, or destroyed."

The same article tells the story of the deceptive purchase of the Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater, Florida. A group calling itself the Southern Land Development and Leasing Corp. purchased the building for cash and said it was to be used as headquarters for the "United Churches of Florida," a new ecumenical group. The sale won approval of local clergymen.

But strangers moved in, and an investigation soon traced the money paid for the building to the Church of Scientology. As mentioned above, Clearwater Sun was sued over the investigation. So was the St. Petersburg Times and Radio Station WDCI. In addition, Clearwater Mayor Cazares was also sued... all unsuccessfully, but at great defense expense, which ultimately the church was ordered to pay.

"We are not a turn-the-other cheek religion" a church spokesman identified as Arthur Maren is quoted as saying at that time.

Clearwater is now home of the Flag Land Base of the Church and offers the same advanced training previously available only in Saint Hill, Sussex, England, or on the ocean fleet.

Despite the legal hassles upon moving to town, the Scientologists seem to have had few other problems with their Clearwater neighbors once the truth about who they were and where they came from was made known.

Scientology has a long history of problems with the rest of the orthodox world. The most recent came after a nine month Spanish probe into the group' s Narconon unit in that country.

According to a December 1988 edition of the Orange County (California) Register, the president of the Los Angeles based Church of Scientology and 10 other members were arrested in an investigation of alleged fraud and tax evasion charges. Judge Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia of Madrid, Spain, said Narconon, a church-linked drug-rehabilitation program, swindled its clients and lured them into Scientology. Church President Heber Jentzsch was released on $1.1 million bail, and 10 foreigners were expelled from the country.

Earlier, the Register noted that Jentzsch and 70 other people were detained as part of an investigation into charges of fraud, criminal association and tax evasion. Judge Vazquez Honrubia said authorities had frozen $1.76 million in bank accounts belonging to officials of the US based Church of Scientology and the Church's Drug Rehabilitation program, Narconon.

Spain has twice refused to grant the organization legal status as a religious entity in that country.

The Spanish probe - Spanish Inquisition, according to church officials - was prompted by complaints from Spaniards who said they had been swindled out of money through drag-rehabilitation programs and other activities related to the Church of Scientology. In 1983, Hubbard' s wife was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiring with other Scientologists to bug and burglarize government agencies including the IRS, Time magazine reported.

A Portland, Ore., jury awarded $2 million to Julie C. Titchbourne on August 15, 1979, according to the World Book 1980 Yearbook. She was a former member of the Church of Scientology, and accused the cult of defrauding her on its promise to give her a better life.

Five Scientologists were sentenced to prison terms of four or five years in December, 1979 after they were convicted of conspiring to obstruct justice and to obtain government documents pertaining to the cult. During a telephone conversation last Friday, while researching this story, the California Attorney General's office in Sacramento volunteered that they were very familiar with the operations of Narconon and Scientology, and had in fact convicted and jailed a "spy" whom they had discovered working in their offices.

Hubbard was sentenced in his absence to 4 years imprisonment in Paris in 1978 after being found guilty of obtaining money under false pretences through Scientology, according to the Science Fiction Encyclopedia.

The same book also reports that Hubbard was deported from the United Kingdom as an undesirable alien in 1968, after which he took to his fleet of ships to direct his worldwide operations. Life and Newsweek also reported the incident. Life said the British government felt Scientology to be "Socially harmful," and barred foreign Scientologists from entering the country to participate in the World Scientology Congress scheduled at the Saint Hill, Sussex, England church complex. Newsweek said the British government's ban on foreign Scientologists was because of the groups "authoritarian principles... a potential menace to the personality and well being of those so deluded as to become its followers," and because of the cult's "technology of the human spirit" as well as its rejection of psychiatry and other scientifically endorsed approaches to mental health problems.

But even before that, the cult had its problems. A Board of Inquiry (released as the Anderson Report of 1965) in the State of Victoria, Australia in 1963 found that "Scientology is evil; its techniques are evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill." The board reached its conclusions after examining 151 witnesses. Scientology was banned in Victoria.

The Australian government branded Hubbard a "fraud" in 1965, and called Scientology "evil, fantastic and impossible, its principles perverted and ill-rounded, its techniques debased and harmful," according to Tune.

Life magazine, in 1968 quotes the Victorian government as calling Scientology "the world's largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy."

In 1971, Scientologists won a fight with the Food and Drug Administration over their E-meters. The agency had confiscated them from the group's Washington D.C. headquarters in a raid in 1963. The Feds claimed that Scientology falsely promised the cure of "neuroses, psychoses, schizophrenia and all psychosomatic illnesses."

After years of legal wrangling, Scientologists got their E-meters back, but only after agreeing to put disclaimers of any therapeutic power on the machines.

The IRS in 1959 got courts to deny Scientology a tax exemption. But after the case was over, the cult won limited recognition as a religion according to a Newsweek report in 1974.

From the beginning, Hubbard's methods and technology have drawn sharp professional criticism. Newsweek noted that the medical and psychiatric community responded "with alarm" to Hubbard's book. Professional psychologists condemned Dianetics as amateurish and potentially dangerous meddling with serious mental problems, according to Time. A journalist who took the courses said in Life magazine that Scientology "is scary" and uses potentially disastrous techniques. He reports that Dr. William Menninger denounced Dianetic Auditing as potentially dangerous.