Church of Scientology attempt to infiltrate primary schools
The Sunday Telegraph
November 22, 2009
THE NSW Government has warned principals about a Church of Scientology attempt to infiltrate primary schools with propaganda videos and booklets aimed at Year 6 students.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned an organisation called Youth for Human Rights, which is sponsored by the controversial group, sent an educational DVD about human rights to schools last month.
Titled Youth for Human Rights - 30 Rights, 30 Ads, it is a series of public service announcements concerning each article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
But the misleading cover letter does not acknowledge the relationship between the organisation and the church.
The sole indicator that the DVD is linked to the Church of Scientology is an L. Ron Hubbard quotation printed on the back of the DVD cover that reads: "Human rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream - L. Ron Hubbard."
Hubbard heads the list, ahead of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Education Minister Verity Firth has warned all NSW primary schools about the DVD. Principals have been advised in a message not to distribute "the DVD and/or booklet as a marketing exercise for Year 6 students" as the Church of Scientology is not approved to conduct any activities in NSW public schools.
"It's not appropriate for the Church of Scientology to distribute materials," Ms Firth said.
One primary-school principal, who did not want to be named, was outraged the group was exploiting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to promote Scientology.
"I find it very worrying that they are not identifying themselves, or the funding behind the distribution of these DVDs," the principal said.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon is pushing for a federal inquiry into the Church of Scientology after last week accusing it under parliamentary privilege of extortion, forced abortion, torture, perjury and financial coercion.
The organisation has denied these allegations, which Senator Bolkus said were based on evidence from former members.
Scientology spokesman Cyrus Brooks said Youth for Human Rights was sponsored by the organisation, but the DVDs were not intended to lure new members.
"There's no subliminal message; we believe educating children on their rights is for the greater good.
"If you all of a sudden want to become a Scientologist by watching the DVD, that's good, but many members of Youth for Human Rights aren't Scientologists themselves, and I'm fine with that," he said.
Mr Brooks said the group usually declared its relationship with organisations, but in this case Youth for Human Rights had requested that the acknowledgement be left out.
"The point isn't to advertise the church; that might distract from the message," he said.
Anti-Scientology activist John Lurincich said the Government should do more to monitor information distributed to schools.
"The Church of Scientology is famous for sucking people in with the human-rights line," he said.
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