Scientologists constitute one of the world’s most effective organisations in the battle against social ills—including drug abuse, crime and illiteracy—and have received broad public acclaim for their work.
But they are also involved in untiring efforts in all walks of life to assist their communities and people in need through a broad range of charitable events and activities. These play an equally important role in community betterment.
y any measure, a champagne reception may seem like a nice way to spend an evening. But when such an occasion has the worthy goal of raising funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, a social event naturally takes on new meaning.
Just such a reception was recently held on the terrace of Saint Hill Manor, former home of
Those attending recognised this, and the generous turn-out enabled the Church to raise £2,000 for the charity.
One of the event organisers, Liz Nyeguard, said, “We thought this was a perfect opportunity to show our support for a charity to which Mr. Hubbard himself contributed. As a highly skilled mariner and former commanding officer in the U.S. Navy, it seems only fitting that he was associated with this organisation and its work.”
But this was only one of the worthy charities which Church members have banded together to support here in Britain.
Members of UK’s top jump jive band, the Jive Aces, played to a packed village hall in Horsted Keynes this winter. Their proceeds went to a local village playgroup to help with their day-to-day expenses. But they also sought to create more public support for the playgroup.
“The centre plays an important role in the community, and we were only too happy to help,” said lead singer Ian Clarkson. “We hope others will chip in, too.”
Carrying on the motif, the Aces then played two sell-out appearances at the International Cork Jazz Festival in Eire and again donated their proceeds to a local charity.
Battling the Drug Problem
Charitable works shouldn’t stop at just fund-raising, however. Some social challenges require hands-on work to make a real difference. A case in point: the drug problem.
Many of us know someone who has a problem with drugs. It could be a colleague at work, a relative or a neighbour. The substance might be cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol or a “designer drug,” such as ecstasy.
We have all seen the results in shortened careers, broken families, shattered dreams and ruined lives. Newspapers carry examples of the rich and famous like River Phoenix and John Belushi, but for every such celebrity, many a long-forgotten derelict lies in a cold and lonely room.
And the problem is worsening; drug abuse throughout Europe is on the rise according to the first annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, whose results were made public in October.
That report noted a significant increase in the use of such synthetic drugs as amphetamines, LSD and ecstasy, and a surge in crack cocaine, particularly in the suburbs of large cities.
Recognising the gravity of the epidemic, many years ago Scientologists launched a “Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life,” campaign—an effort which is today active all over the world.
As part of this programme, open-air concerts promoting the “Say No to Drugs” message have become a frequent sight in the cities of Europe.
One of these took place in September in Lyon’s main square, beside that city’s historic town hall. While a band performed, 10,000 copies of a booklet produced by Scientologists about the dangers of drugs were handed out to the crowds. Other concerts have taken place in Paris and other cities.
“The drug issue is an issue of great concern,” said Marc Arrighi, president of the “Say No to Drugs” Association of France.
To draw attention to the problem, and to forward the concept that a drug-free life is a happier and more successful one, the Association gets out its message through many types of activities. “We don’t just do races,” Arrighi said. “We now put on events at which we break world records for speed—on one wheel of a bike or two wheels of a car.”
In Marseille in January 1995, Arrighi himself set the world’s one-wheel speed record—150 kilometres per hour—on the back wheel of his “Say No to Drugs” motorcycle.
Then, in Spring 1996 at Genas, he broke his own record, cruising at 154 kilometres per hour.
Arrighi and his dramatic “Say No to Drugs” escapades have been featured on television and in newspapers and magazines many times. “The stunts attract enormous attention,” said Arrighi, “and allow us to carry the drug-free message to millions.”
Scientologists, including well-known and popular celebrities, have also organised marches and other street events to increase public awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and to promote a drug-free lifestyle.
A key aspect of the campaign, primarily focused on children, is called the “Drug-Free Ambassadors.” Each Ambassador pledges to say “No” to drugs and to encourage his friends and family to do likewise.
The youthful Ambassadors engage in essay competitions and drawing contests on the theme of a drug-free life. They also administer the Drug-Free Ambassadors’ pledge to adults, including mayors, policemen and other officials.
Throughout Europe, members of the Church of Scientology are active in efforts to help others become informed and to decide for themselves to avoid drug use.
Swiss Olympian, runner Stefan Burkhart, for example, is among the many Scientologists who volunteer their time to give anti-drug lectures to schoolchildren. Burkhart’s personal desire, and the aim of others involved in the campaign, is to raise the awareness of tomorrow’s adults and to help create a drug-free generation.
In numerous Italian cities, Churches of Scientology and their parishioners have for many years organised the collection and destruction of tens of thousands of hypodermic syringes discarded in public parks by addicts. This vital public service reduces the risk of contamination and injury to children playing in the parks. In Torino, Padova and Milano, city officials support the programme by providing the equipment needed to collect and dispose of the syringes.
In Sweden, Scientologists of all ages have marched in the streets with “Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life” banners and posters, building awareness and acceptance of drug-free living.
In Denmark, Scientologists have created entire “Drug-Free Schools” in which the teachers and students pledge to be drug-free, to tolerate no drugs in their school and to promote their school as drug-free. Various government officials, including members of parliament, have lent their support to the project and have presided at ceremonies officially recognising as drug-free the institutions that have fulfilled all requirements.
Recognising that education about drugs must begin at an early age, the Church of Scientology in the United States in 1993 launched the “Drug-Free Marshals” campaign to involve youth in taking responsibility for creating their own drug-free generation. At the first event, 200 Drug-Free Marshals were “sworn-in” by a high-ranking official of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, pledged to remain drug-free themselves and to encourage their families and friends to do the same. Each new Marshal recited the pledge and then received a badge from actor John Travolta.
Throughout the world, members of the Church of Scientology are 100 percent drug-free. And because they know the harm caused by drugs, they participate in efforts as described above that inform people—particularly young people—about the dangers of these substances.
The international “Say No to Drugs” programme run by Scientologists has resulted in tens of thousands of people joining to express their desire to live in a drug-free world by signing a public commitment against drugs. These include world-class athletes, leading actors and actresses, members of parliament, Members of the United States Congress, mayors, governors, chiefs of police and many others.
Drug Prevention and Rehabilitation
Any mention of Scientologists’ work against drugs would not be complete without including Narconon (meaning no drugs), an international drug prevention and drug rehabilitation programme. Here in Britain, Narconon provides a way out for those trapped by the shackles of drugs.
While it is strongly supported by the Church of Scientology, Narconon is an independent, non-religious, secular programme open to people of all races and creeds. In the more than 30 years since the creation of the first Narconon centre, more than 27,000 people have availed themselves of the programme’s services to assist them towards a new life, free from the trap of addiction.
Narconon now operates in 37 locations in England, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the United States, Canada, Russia, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Colombia, Switzerland and Mexico.
Independent studies have shown that 69 to 72 percent of Narconon’s graduates are still off drugs after two years from completion of the programme. Perhaps even more striking was the fact that no instances of drug-related crimes were found among its graduates. These results confirm that Narconon is the most effective drug rehabilitation programme available.
And each year, hundreds of civic leaders and drug rehabilitation professionals recognise and acknowledge the workability and results of Narconon drug rehabilitation methods.
Some Other Ways Scientologists Help Others
Wherever they are, Scientologists engage in many community activities because reaching out to help others is an integral part of their beliefs. Here are a few examples:
Across the globe, members of the Church are involved in such projects — knowing that, together, they can assist their fellows and improve their communities more than any individual or isolated group could ever hope to.