Part 4: Reaching into Society
Church Seeks Influence in Schools, Business, Science
(Wednesday, 27 June 1990, page A1:1)
Emerging from years of internal strife and public scandal, the Scientology movement has embarked on a sweeping and sophisticated campaign to gain new influence in America.
The goal is to refurbish the tarnished image of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and elevate him to the ranks of history's great humanitarians and thinkers. By so doing, the church hopes to broaden the acceptability of Hubbard's Scientology teachings and attract millions of new members.
The campaign relies on official church programs and a network of groups run by Scientology followers. Here is a sampler of their activities:
Scientologists are disseminating Hubbard's writings in public and private school classrooms across the U.S., using groups that seldom publicize their Scientology connections.
In the business world, Scientologists have established highly successful private consulting firms to promote Hubbard as a management expert, with a goal of harvesting new, affluent members.
Scientologists are the driving force behind two organizations active in the scientific community. The organizations have been busy trying to sell government agencies a chemical detoxification treatment developed by Hubbard.
The Scientology movement's ambitious quest to assimilate into the American mainstream comes less than a decade after the church seemed destined for collapse, testifying to its remarkable determination to survive and grow.
In 1980, 11 top church leaders -- including Hubbard's wife -- were imprisoned for bugging and burglarizing government offices as part of a shadowy conspiracy to discredit the church's perceived enemies.
Today, Scientology executives insist that the organization is law-abiding, that the offenders have been purged and that the church has now entered an era in which harmony has replaced hostility.
But as the movement attempts to broaden its reach, evidence is mounting that Hubbard's devotees are engaging in practices that, while not unlawful, have begun to stir memories of its troubled past.
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