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Media Articles - 1990s

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13 January 2003
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Narconon Accused of Cult Links

The Okhahoman, Oklahoma
April 28, 1991

The operator of a rescue center for former cult members has urged other Oklahomans to "bombard the state Capitol" with information about the Church of Scientology and the controversial Narconon Chilocco New Life Center at Newkirk.

The president of the Narconon establishment, however, has countered that the center is simply a drug-treatment program and that the Church of Scientology is just one of the program's many supporters.

Betty Cook, secretary of the Oklahoma Cult Awareness Network and director of the Cook Home Inc. at Enid, said some cult groups go under "front" names. Cook spoke recently to about 200 people attending an Oklahoma County Mental Health Association meeting.

She mentioned the Church of Scientology and Narconon and said, "I would like to see the people of Oklahoma just bombard the state Capitol with information about this group. "

Contacted later, Cook said she believes there is "irrefutable evidence" that the Narconon drug-treatment program, which operates with 40 beds and whose certification is pending with the state, is linked to the Church of Scientology.

She said she hopes people familiar with the Narconon program will talk to state officials, even though she said the state already has so much information about the program "they can't help but have the picture by now. "

Gary Smith, Narconon Chilocco New Life Center president, said when contacted by phone that "all I can say is Narconon is a drug-rehabilitation program and it's been around for 25 years, and it's currently in the certification process of the state of Oklahoma. "

Smith indicated he wasn't surprised by comments like those made by Cook. "To be honest, yeah, we've heard 'em," he said, "but this program has been around so long that we have a lot of supporters, and the Church of Scientology is one of the supporters of Narconon. "

The Narconon substance-abuse center has been accepting patients since February 1990 on Indian land that it leases from the Chilocco Development Authority.

But the program hasn't been certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Through some legal struggling with the state, the center has been allowed by court order to treat up to 40 patients.

Officials at Narconon Chilocco, which typically charges $15,000 for its three-month treatment, hope to win state certification so the center can treat up to 75 patients.

During the Oklahoma City meeting, Cook also discussed various cult groups that she said use "mind-control" similar to those of terrorists and prisoner-of-war camps, and said some such groups are guilty of psychological sexual abuse and "bilk older people out of money. "

To the cult leaders, she said, "nothing is in shades of gray.

Everything is black or white, good or evil. And you don't make a decision they define it for you. "

And she decribed a "cult of confession," which she said "has nothing to do at all with religious confession," but means "the relating of something you have done that is evil, and a little bit on the shady side and if somehing doesn't exist, you make it up to be with the crowd. "

She said then some new members are asked to "sign documents, so they can use leverage against them for blackmail. "

At the same meeting, detective Jerry R. Simandl of the Chicago Police Department said many teen-agers get involved with cults, and that sometimes that can be prevented when parents notice signs of depression and unusual behavior in their children and look into it.