Narconon Friends, Foes Voice Views On Certification
By Michael McNutt, Enid Bureau
The Daily Oklahoman,
11 October 1990
Some praised the Narconon Chilocco New Life Center as the best substance abuse facility in the country while others said during a public hearing Tuesday it is a cult recruiting tool.
About 400 people crowded into the West Chapel of the Marland Mansion complex for a chance to listen to speakers argue whether the center should be certified by the state mental health department.
Most of the people wore "I Support Narconon Chilocco" pins, and staff members brought their children who wore Narconon T-Shirts.
Gary Smith, president of Narconon Chilocco, said about 30 people were brought in from Los Angeles, Texas, and New York to speak or attend the hearing.
Actor Parker Stevenson read a letter from actress Kirstie Alley, his wife and spokeswoman for Narconon Chilocco, stating that she owed her success to the Narconon program.
Alley claimed Narconon International's substance abuse center in Los Angeles helped her kick her cocaine habit in 1979.
But Bob Lobsinger, publisher of the Newkirk Herald Journal, called the Narconon program "a recruiting front" for the Church of Scientology.
Dr. Forest S. Tennant, who once served as drug adviser to the National Football League, said Narconon's program "equals or exceeds" national standards.
Lobsinger quoted from a 1974 report Tennant made on Narconon's Los Angeles center in which he wrote of a "relationship between Narconon and the Church of Scientology that specifically religious practices are commonly used in the treatment of clients."
Narconon Chilocco has been operating since February without a state license. It applied for mental health department certification last month after state officials sought to shut down the facility.
The State Mental Health Board is scheduled to make a decision on Narconon's application for the 75 bed center at its October 18 meeting in Norman.
Newkirk mayor Garry Bilger and other residents of the tiny Kay County town spoke out against Narconon Chilocco's application because of the program's ties to the Church of Scientology.
Bilger said investigators and lawyers hired by Narconon wrote letters and visited town residents to intimidate them to not speak out against Narconon Chilocco.
Smith said that Narconon was founded using beliefs of the late L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. Treatment at Narconon includes saunas and vitamins, methods advocated by Hubbard.
Sandy Wyninger, Los Angeles, who said she spent 13 years as a Church of Scientology minister, claimed the center should not be certified because it only replaces drug addiction with a dependency on Scientology.