Rod Keller keeps an eye on Scientology social media for us, and this week he spotted something he decided to dive into in more depth. Take it away, Rod…
On August 7 Scientology held a Purple Heart Day Banquet at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida. The Purple Heart is a medal awarded to those wounded or killed in combat in the U.S. armed services. The event was sponsored by CCHR, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Scientology’s front group that is dedicated to fighting the psychiatric profession.
CCHR has an office in Clearwater on a block along with Scientology’s other “Fourth Dynamic” groups such as Criminon and The Way to Happiness. In Scientology, the Fourth Dynamic refers to all of humanity, so CCHR exists to foster survival of the human species. This excerpt from the booklet “Clear Expansion Committees” explains how they intend to do this.
TO EXPOSE AND HELP ABOLISH ANY AND ALL PHYSICALLY DAMAGING PRACTICES IN THE FIELD OF MENTAL HEALTH AND TO KEEP CLEAN THE FIELD OF MENTAL HEALTH ACCORDING TO THE CODE OF A SCIENTOLOGIST.
These words are taken directly from the Code of a Scientologist, written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
The Purple Heart event’s invitation spelled out the purpose of the event: “To honor all recipients of the Purple Heart. Some gave all and all gave some. You will also hear about the impact of psychotropic drugs on our military and what real solutions exist to help veterans.” But two invitations were prepared – one with wording about psychiatric drugs was sent to Scientologists…
…but the one sent to non-Scientologists left off that language. The listing on Eventful.com also omits the mention of drugs.
Non-Scientologists at the event included two speakers – Robert “Father Bob” Swick, who is a Marine, a Catholic Lay Pastoral Minister, a Chaplain with the Clearwater Police Department, and is active in more than a dozen local veterans and civic groups.
There’s a poor-quality video of his talk online. We’ll quote its most relevant passage:
We’re celebrating this national recognition of the Purple Heart. It’s a unique medal. It is for the unsuspected, they’ve been doing their job. This medal is not sought, it’s not given. It’s given to people who are wounded in combat or pay the supreme price, and die and are awarded posthumously to their families.
And those who have been in combat carry that experience with them the rest of their lives. Rarely is it talked about, but it’s always there. And as a result we have a lot of walking wounded, they may not have scars on the outside, but they do have the scars on the inside. It’s been said after study after study, about one-third that have been brought into a combat zone come home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some have experienced even more than that – Traumatic Brain Injury.
Also speaking was Jonathan Walser, a Marine, President of the police labor union Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #10, and Detective for the Clearwater Police Department.
From his remarks…
I want to especially recognize my brothers and sisters serving in the United States military…When they return to difficulty or transition to civilian life they face the loss of identity. They no longer have the camaraderie that goes with being a part of the armed forces. Then, there are the stresses that keep them tied to the incidents of the battlefield. Mental triggers if you will that can infiltrate their daily life. It may be a smell, a certain taste, a radio call sign – something that can remind them of the negative incident which occurred while they were in service…It is in transitioning from military life to civilian life that our brothers and sisters are in the greatest need of help. If we do not help them in this transition, as God has commanded us that we do, we end up with veterans that go to crisis and seek the wrong outlets. They spiral in substance abuse and domestic abuse situations occur. Violence and more – loss of self-worth.
Detective Walser didn’t return my phone calls, but I did speak with Father Bob about the event.
Q: I want to thank you for your service. I understand you served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam and received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
A: Yes, that’s right.
Q: I saw parts of your speech at the Purple Heart awards dinner at the Fort Harrison Hotel. How long have you been affiliated with CCHR? How was this event special to you and the other award recipients?
A: I’m not affiliated with CCHR. I was just a speaker at the event. It was special because it was held on the day designated by the Order of the Purple Heart to honor the recipients. We held an event prior to the banquet in Dunedin, which is the first Purple Heart City in Florida. Now there are 27 of them in Florida, and we’re working to have portions of Route 60, which is Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, designated as the Purple Heart Trail.
Q: You’re a chaplain for the Clearwater Police Department. How has the relationship between the police and the Church changed during your tenure?
A: No comment.
Q: I noticed that PTSD and service member suicide was a theme of the event. How can non-profit organizations assist service members with these conditions?
A: That was not the theme of the event from my standpoint. It was more recognition for the service rendered by those awarded the medal. The part about PTSD was just part of a speech from the CCHR people.
Q: CCHR believes that these conditions are mostly due to prescription of psychiatric medicine. Is that your experience also?
Q: One of the speakers mentioned that L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church, received a Purple Heart. His service record doesn’t reflect that medal. How does that make you feel as a genuine recipient of the medal?
A: I guess I don’t know for a fact that he received it. I don’t have any information on that.
Father Bob is incorrect, the theme of the event was anti-Psychiatry, but that fact was withheld from him by CCHR. It’s clear that Father Bob was given the non-Scientologist version of the invitation, and may not have attended if he had been told the truth. The key to understanding why Scientology is involved in veteran’s affairs at all is in the policies of Scientology’s PR series, and there are many that apply. One of the most important is The Safe Point, written in 1972, but issued later – on April 1, 1982. Scientologists often speak of “safepointing” Scientology, which means targeting and acquiring allies that will help defend Scientology when it comes under attack.
One can be in the situation of attempting to sell and deliver a product or service and suddenly find it necessary to defend himself in the same place from attack. The attack can make the point dangerous to such a degree it becomes impossible to deliver from. […]
The most important action to undertake when going about making a safe point is to carefully and painstakingly find out who exactly are the top dogs in the area in financial and political circles, and their associates and connections, and to what each one is hostile.
A handful of allies with impressive-sounding titles and positions is not enough. Viability depends on having all areas and persons who could affect or influence the operation under PR control. Most important are the groups who survey out to be the key, real powers in an area. These persons mayor may not be those who occupy high political or social positions. They mayor may not be the titular heads of large economic concerns. Research and survey alone can determine this.
The key non-Scientologists to recruit as allies are described in the policy “Opinion Leaders,” also known as OLs.
An “opinion leader” is that being to whom others look for interpretation of publicity or events. Through wisdom, proximity to data sources, personality or other factors including popularity itself, certain members of the group, company, community or nation are looked to by others for evaluation. […] Surveys for the identities of opinion leaders would then become a MAJOR activity of PR in any area and for any type of message or event.
Father Bob and Detective Walser may not know it, but they were identified as Opinion Leaders in the Clearwater area veterans’ community through the use of surveys, and Scientology is attempting to place them under PR control. That veterans organizations were identified as a well-respected part of the community and a good target for Scientology’s PR apparatus was also the result of a survey. But rather than simply invite them to an open house, CCHR and OSA decided to add multiple aspects to the program to boost their stats. In addition to safepointing, the theme of the event was guided by the policy “Targets, Defense” which is a clear statement by Hubbard that Scientology is opposed to Psychiatry and wants others to hate Psychiatry also.
The names and connections, at this time, of the bitterly opposing enemy are:
1. Psychiatry and psychology (not medicine).
2. The heads of news media who are also directors of psychiatric front groups.
3. A few key political figures in the fields of “mental health” and education.
4. A decline of monetary stability caused by the current planning of bankers who are also directors of psychiatric front organizations would make us unable to function.
5. The cold war is being fought on home ground and has an apparent target of degrading western society to a point where we are finding it difficult to operate; a degraded society can be swallowed up easily by an enemy.
6. The public is somewhat sympathetic already but in a democracy trials are by public opinion. To win all the way, the bulk of public opinion must be at the level of love us – hate the enemy.
7. Many groups exist with similar aims. They need organizing and uniting.
CCHR staff members at the event spoke to honor the Purple Heart recipients, but also to place the blame for service members who have PTSD or contemplate suicide at the feet of psychiatry and psychiatric medicine. Speaking to make that case were Sebastian Egloff (below, center), a Sea Org member and the Executive Director of CCHR Florida.
From Egloff’s speech…
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has always strived to work together with like-minded organizations and concerned citizens. The doors through which you passed tonight, are likewise open to the entire community, all in the interest of working together and collaborating and with a common goal of bringing about a science that chooses human rights for all, especially our most vulnerable.
Diane D. Stein is the President of CCHR, and spoke to honor the veterans, but also to add the third stat boost: She claims that L. Ron Hubbard was wounded in combat and won the Purple Heart medal, which is the real reason Scientology had a Purple Heart event at all.
I’m honored to be here tonight to pay my respects to the recipients of the Purple Heart, and particularly to those who are with us this evening. Thank you. As President of the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights Florida, we are particularly honored to be co-hosting tonight’s event. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was jointly founded in 1969 by Psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz and the Church of Scientology. Dr. Szasz was critical of the direction psychiatry had taken because of the over-emphasis on pharmaceutical drugs as virtually the sole source of care. He wrote several books on the subject. L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Scientology religious philosophy, was himself a veteran of World War II, and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He also wrote extensively on the subject of mental health. As early as the 1940s he developed and perfected therapies, some of them peer-to-peer based, which provide an effective, low cost and non-drug based solution to what we would call today Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The subject of L. Ron Hubbard’s war medals is a sensitive one for Scientology. In 2005, when a Scientology critic, David Rice, put out a press release saying that Scientology was falsely claiming that L. Ron Hubbard had been awarded a Purple Heart, the church struck back with a press release of its own, claiming that in fact Hubbard’s military records indicated he had received 21 military medals, including a Purple Heart.
Scientology made a similar claim to New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright, sending him a supposed photo of Hubbard’s medals, including the Purple Heart with a star, indicating that he’d been injured multiple times…
But Wright obtained a photo of Hubbard’s “separation notice,” which is the definitive document in the U.S. military. It lists four campaign medals, but none for valor and none for being wounded.
Obviously, that hasn’t stopped CCHR from continuing to claim that Hubbard was wounded. But that’s because Scientology is operating on instructions left behind by Hubbard himself: Positive press or recognition of Hubbard counts on OSA’s stats as “Profitable Images” and negative mention as “UI,” or Unprofitable Image. When UI is found, OSA is required to send a response, called “theta press” to get equal space, or have a retraction issued.
CCHR and OSA scored triple points for this event. They brought in two new Opinion Leaders who could be allies if Scientology comes under attack. They attacked the “psychs” in the minds of veterans and the public, and they scored points for Profitable Images of L. Ron Hubbard. They then documented their successes in a press release:
I’m sure they saw no irony in having a a U.S. Marine color guard at an event dedicated to denying them access to mental health care.
— Rod Keller
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BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
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