Scientology on Parade

Scientology built a Catastrophe Corps with 400 helpers. But they were too late at the Crossair crash.

Zurich, Switzerland
November 29, 2001
Der Tages-Anzeiger

by Hugo Stamm

Scientology is always jumping up on stage. The series of disasters in the USA and in Switzerland has animated the sect to build an operational unit by the name of "Volunteer Ministers." The "Volunteer Ministers" were widely activated after the collapse of the World Trade Center and in the recent airliner crash in New York. Then the Swiss Scientologists showed up, as if someone had called them, for the Crossair accident in Switzerland on Saturday to prove their usefulness during catastrophes.

But they arrived too late. The wounded were already in the hospital and the airport's Care-Team were already long at work. Even if the Scientologists had appeared at just the right moment at the crash site, they still would have had to watch idly. "We do not accept the Scientologists as helpers," categorically stated Hans Baltensberger, press spokesman for the canton police. The Hubbard disciples were not only unwanted in Bassersdorf, they will be put on their way if the show up again. Rescue management at the Crossair crash had warned the Care-Team about uninvited helpers, said Baltensberger. They already had bad experiences with people who called themselves assistance personnel during an attempted murder on a train. Whether those were Scientologists or not, the police spokesman could not say.

Firefighters were not happy either about the volunteer helpers. "They hurt more than they help," said Willi Ehrbar in the capacity of commander of the Zurich professional firefighters. The rescue teams are set up to work with each other. Unfamiliar personnel without assigned tasks only get in the way. He said there was even a case where the volunteers fought over who got the patient.

Propaganda through advertisements

This is bad news for the "Volunteer Ministers." They would have liked to have built up a corps of 400 "Volunteer Ministers" within the next month and "contact authorities and institutions to coordinate future operations and to inform the appropriate agencies about the planned corps." In January, Scientology will take out advertisements to acquaint the public with their new services.

Scientologist feel they are especially capable of helping victims of disaster. To that end, sect founder Hubbard propagated a simple method of help called a "touch assist." It is a sort of laying-on of hands, and Hubbard described it as a true worker of miracles. His method allegedly alleviates pain, accelerates healing, dissolves fear, and helps overcome feelings of loss.

"In these troubled times," Scientologists want to approach not only disaster victims, but also government agencies, business managers and the general public. Hubbard adherents have founded the "Friends of Ron" (first name of the sect founder), which says its goal is to make the public aware of Hubbard's "effective solutions." They say the sect leader strove for a world without war, criminality or insanity. But this would only be attainable if all people take Scientology courses. Therefore the suspicion surfaces that the Scientologists are using disaster assistance as a means to get Scientology into the media and the victims and their relatives into sect centers. An official of the (American) National Mental Health Association stated it bluntly after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, "the Scientologists are using this tragedy to recruit new members."

German Scientology News