If you search Google for “Church of Scientology Plymouth” or “Church of Scientology Dublin” you will see a helpful sidebar from Google maps on the results page (image right).
The entries for the Church of Scientology of Plymouth and the Church of Scientology of Dublin presently state that these places are “Permanently closed”.
Is this the end for the Church of Scientology in the UK and the Republic of Ireland? Is it the beginning of the end for Scientology worldwide?
Actually, no, it isn’t any of those things. The sites in Plymouth and Dublin have not closed.
However, there is a hilarious story behind this mistake – it’s a tale of desperation and deceit, and offers activists an opportunity to seriously confuse the Church of Scientology worldwide.
Read more after the break
2014 | Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous | Gabriella Coleman
This recent book is written by an anthropologist and examines the strange, virtual, tribe of people who call themselves ‘Anonymous’.
The second chapter, which is entitled “Project Chanology – I came for the lulz, but stayed for the outrage” covers one of the earliest real-world campaigns undertaken by this online collective – its attack upon the Church of Scientology. It does so in loving, accurate detail, and includes the contribution of ‘Wise Beard Man” (aka Mark Bunker) which helped to make the mass protests so effective.
The involvement of Anonymous has had a profound influence on the culture of those who campaign against the Church of Scientology. It demonstrated how a groups of like-minded individuals, using anonymity and the Internet to work together, are more than equal to a inflexible bureaucracy like Scientology. However, as the book reveals, its involvement in the campaign against Scientology changed Anonymous just as much – from a group of uber-trolls to iconoclastic social campaigners.
This is a fascinating read for both Anons and ‘Old Guard’ critics of Scientology (who must have wondered where these strange, masked people came from, and what they were up to).
Unlike some academics, the author really understands the virtual culture which gave us Anonymous, the culture of Scientology critics and the motives of the people who belong to them both. She also writes in an engaging and accessible style. If you want to understand one of the greatest influences upon the shared culture of those who oppose Scientology, this is the book to read. Continue reading
I’ve written about Narconon here before (especially their UK operation). It’s a front group for the Church of Scientology which provides expensive ‘drug rehabilitation’ services internationally. Upon closer examination, this turns out to consist of a sauna programme which includes overdoses of vitamins and minerals (the ‘purification rundown’) and basic Scientology ‘training’ (beginning with the Training Routines).
This programme is ineffective, and positively dangerous, especially for people with drug &/or alcohol problems. For example, the purification rundown requires people to take niacin in overdose quantities – this can seriously harm a healthy liver. What could it to the liver of someone who has been abusing alcohol?
Narconon does not have any active drug rehabilitation facilities in the UK – however, they still present a threat, by running ‘educational’ programmes in schools which promote Scientology ideas and, at one time, a desperate and irresponsible website promoting a ‘home detox’ scheme which is examined here and here.
Thankfully,this site was eventually taken down by the Advertising Standards Authority (the organisation which features in my last post) after a detailed complaint. For those who are interested, I h ave preserved the insanity of ‘getoffdrugsathome.co.uk’ using The Wayback Machine.
This post contains a suggestion for those whose countries do have Narconon ‘rehab’ facilities – complain to Google and work to deprive Narconon of a powerful promotional tool. Continue reading
In my last post I described an advertisement for Scientology based on its supposed ‘disaster relief’ activities, and suggested that it was so misleading it broke the rules enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority.
This advertisement appeared in a free (ad-supported) ‘newspaper called “Metro” and I had hoped that nobody else would lower themselves. I was wrong.
It seems it is also appearing in “New Statesman”, a respectable political magazine.
After the break there is a detailed, step-by-step illustrated guide to how to complain to the UK Advertising Standards Authority via an easy-to-use online form about this advertisement.
You do not have to be a resident of the UK to do this. Continue reading
In part two of this series (published on the 21st of August) I discussed the extraordinary claims made by a website belonging to a company called Narconon Scotland in detail.
In the text of their website http://www.getoffdrugs.org.uk/ they proposed that you could “Get off drugs at home” using a modified form of Scientology’s ‘purification rundown’. This is an exploitative and potentially dangerous idea.
Consequently, I complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, “The UKs independent regulator for advertising across all media” – which has recently been given authority over advertising claims made on UK websites.
The website sells Vitamin and mineral packs in an online shop,which are delivered by mail. These currently cost £150 for a weeks supply, which makes it impossible to argue that the site does not constitute an advertisement, according to the ASA rules.
An hour or so ago, I received an interesting (and positive) reply from the ASA, which I am publishing here. Please excuse any typos and other mistakes – it was done in a bit of a rush… Continue reading
2014 | Scientology Is Struggling to Crack the UK | Nick Hilton | vice.com View Online This recent article pretty much captures the the plight of Scientology in the UK, and the attitude of general public towards its offerings. It opens by discussing the eccentric Saint Hill Manor, which the founder of Scientology bought, and moved into, in 1959. Saint Hill became the UK headquarters of Scientology after Hubbard briefly left the country, and was refused re-entry in 1966 as an “undesirable alien”. In a brief interview, ex-Scientologist Jon Atack* (who was at Saint Hill at the peak of Scientology’s influence) in the UK comments that,
Scientology was never big business in the UK. The last census showed just over 2,000 UK members.
The actual figure in the 2011 census was 2,417 (which included ‘independent’ Scientologist’s, children of Scientologists and foreign workers/students at Saint Hill). Since then, Scientology has suffered a number of significant reverses. Atack is likely doing the Church a favour with an estimate as high as 2,000. The author of the article (Nick Hilton) then visits a Scientology Org in London, and samples today’s recruitment effort. The only member of the public there, he was treated to the attention of one staff member – but the Church of Scientology seemed to rely on showing him a series of video presentations. Hiltons’ discussion of the ‘personality test’ is interesting, and his account of the dismissive/amused attitude of passers-by matches my first-hand observation of the efforts of Plymouth’s Scientology org. *Jon Atack is the author of “A Piece of Blue Sky” an essential text for anyone interested in the Church of Scientology. Continue reading
This is a screen grab from Narconon UK’s Facebook page (click to see a larger version) One entry, made on the 19th of July 2013 reads,
“Just Launched Get off Drugs at Home Self-help Withdrawal Programme new centre in Scotland http://www.getoffdrugs.org.uk/”
Update 25/11/2014 – This website now seems to be in permanent ‘maintenance mode’, and unavailable (for a possible reason, see Part three of this series). Luckily I saved it to The Wayback Machine (an Internet Archive) and it can be viewed here.
Close examination shows that this programme is not in fact provided by Narconon UK, but by another Narconon entity (Narconon Scotland) Although based in Scotland, it operates throughout the UK
I have tracked the misleadingly-named “New Centre in Scotland” down to a residential property on a Scottish housing estate. The “Self-help withdrawal programme” turns out to consist of a website squarely aimed at people who are having difficulties with drugs and alcohol, and at their families.
Incredibly, this Narconon website promises that drug dependence can be effectively treated, and withdrawal symptoms ‘handled’, with the help of family &/or friends in the patients own home . The only external support offered by Narconon is by telephone and email – and for only 30 days.
The website sells worthless (and potential dangerous) packs of ‘medicinal’ Vitamins and Minerals which are required to undertake the “free” programme. These cost £150 ($248.75) for a weeks supply – and are supplied through the mail.
It is difficult to believe that anyone would undertake such a potentially dangerous and irresponsible enterprise. Worse yet, the organisation that is offering it is registered as a charity, and receives tax concessions.
For full details, please read on…