Tag Archives: scientology

UPDATE: What the Liberal Democrat position on homeopathy IS

Since I previously wrote about what it was, and then wasn’t, I feel it is encumbant on me to include here what the official line on homeopathy now is:

A recent report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee examined the provision of homeopathy through the NHS and called for funding by the NHS to be stopped. The Committee did recognise that many users derive benefit from its use and did not argue that such treatments should be banned.

The Liberal Democrats believe that, as a basic principle, individuals should have maximum freedom about how they choose to get treated, so long as the therapy is safe. When it comes to NHS provision, we support a review by NICE into the cost effectiveness of Complementary and Alternative (CAMs) therapies, including homeopathy; as well as expanding the work of NICE to look at the cost-effectiveness of existing conventional treatments.

We know that many complementary therapies are popular with the public. The NHS budget is limited and we want to make sure that NHS funding is focused on treatments which are efficacious and cost-effective. NICE reviews of all existing treatments would give us the best possible basis for future decisions over funding.

That sounds much more sensible and measured. On top of that, I am now getting (unconfirmed) reports that the Scinos will not be at Lib Dem conference after all. Looks like the party may have had an outbreak of common sense.

Or maybe not.

Another slap in the gob: Scientologists to proselityse at Lib Dem Conference

Flicking through my Lib Dem Spring Conference agenda and directory, I was dismayed to spot the following exhibitor:

Stand B9
Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights
CCHR: international watchdog in the mental health field since it was co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Professor of Psychiatry Dr Thomas Szasz to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights.

CCHR is one of a family of “independent” organisations that can be found hovering around the Scientology hub, which includes Applied Scholastics and the comically named Criminon and Narconon. If the Applied Scholastics stand at Conservative conference a couple of years ago is anything to go by, literature from all these organisations will be included, as will plenty of copies of the L. Ron Hubbard-penned The Way to Happiness.

Of course, most Lib Dem conference attendees will treat this stall in the way they treat most commercial exhibitors: with polite contempt. But I am profoundly uncomfortable about the way these organisations tend to present themselves as secular and independent when they are anything but. It is a trap for the unwary – note the misleading “Tax Payers’ Alliance” type name for instance.

Ultimately what I’m saying here is: be aware of who they are. And if you do happen to have a V for Vendetta mask…

The Conservatives and Scientology

One of the things about working at the party conferences is that you often find yourself too busy to actually do the conference itself. So it was that I didn’t get a chance to visit the Conservative Party exhibition until Tuesday afternoon.

I was therefore very surprised to find, almost as soon as I walked into the hall, a stand for Narconon, L. Ron Hubbard’s programme for drug rehabilitation. The stand also included programmes promoting Applied Scholastics, Hubbard’s education programme, Hubbard’s The Way to Happiness Foundation International and Criminon, Hubbard’s criminal rehabilitation programme.

What was missing from this stand? Any mention whatsoever of Scientology. Indeed, the Way to Happiness booklet that I picked up states that:

“This may be the first nonreligious moral code based wholly on common saense. It was written by L. Ron Hubbard as an individual work and is not part of any religious doctrine. Any reprinting or individual distribution of it does not infer connection with or sponsorship of any religious organisation. It is therefore admissible for government departments and employees to distribute it as a nonreligious activity.”

Inside, it does indeed appear to be based on common sense; indeed the blindingly obvious springs to mind. The first ten tenets for example are “take care of yourself”, “be temperate”, “don’t be promiscuous”, “love and help children”, “honor and help your parents”, “set a good example”, “seek to live with the truth”, “do not murder”, “don’t do anything illegal” and “support a government designed and run for all the people”. Scratch beneath the surface however, and it begins to take on certain religious characteristics. For example, we are encouraged to “respect the religious belief of others” regardless of how reprehensible their beliefs are, while it blandly dismisses “men without faith” as a “pretty sorry lot”. It also exhorts us not to “harm a person of good will” – the clear implication being that people deemed to be of “bad will” are fair game.

The latter is familiar territory for both religions and quasi-scientific self-improvement programmes such as Dianetics. Also rather dianetic-like is the tendency to list definitions of words throughout the pamphlet. Dianetics and Scientology are inseperable, and the quasi-religious tendency of the booklets outlining each programme to include a full page sepia-toned picture of the Great Man, also indicates this is more dogma than scientific research (then again, the Tory conference booklet has a quasi-religious full page picture of Cameron; make of that what you will).

The existance of this stand at a party conference (and apparently they’ve exhibited before at both Tory and Labour conferences), is a bit of a moral quandary for me. On the one hand, no-one is suggesting that the Tories are any more influenced by this stand than, say, the British Humanist Association or the National Union of Teachers. And yet, it is strangely sinister to see them claming to be research and treatment programmes when the links to Scientology are undeniable. It is unclear what they are doing going to party conferences: trying to get councils to invest in such programmes, or evangelising under a veil of respectability? A stand that made its links to Scientology explicit would at least be more honest, but paradoxically would be more controversial. Is calling themselves Narconon designed to spare the Church’s blushes, or the Conservative Party’s?