Rod Keller’s story last week kicked up a bit of a fuss, and so he’s back with a follow-up…
Last week’s article on Scientologist John Bitinas’ anti-drug presentation at Westside Christian High School in Tigard, Oregon prompted one reader to contact school officials, and they forwarded the reply to the Underground Bunker.
Our school held an assembly on Wednesday, October 19 put on by Tigard Turns the Tide, This is a community organization working in association with local, state, and government agencies all of whom have a shared goal of stopping drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers. Tigard Turns the Tide puts on community-wide presentations on drug and alcohol issues, as well as safe driving issues.
I became aware that this organization had put on an event for parents and students on texting and driving that was very effective. I reached out to them with the intention of having them come do the same presentation at an assembly for us. The day that they came to do their assembly, they instead brought in the speaker you mentioned and talked on drug and alcohol use, rather than on texting while driving. I spoke with the coordinator afterwards and expressed my surprise and disappointment that the agreed-upon topic and speaker were not what ultimately was presented.
While I was unhappy with the change in focus and speaker, I don’t believe that anything shared that day was inherently unbiblical. The speaker shared a personal story of struggles with alcohol and spoke about some of the reasons why people make choices to abuse drugs and alcohol. He talked about boredom, about the cycle of pain, self-medicating, and guilt and how hard it is to break the cycle once addicted. He encouraged students to make wise choices and to be future-focused. He did not share or recommend any potential treatments nor did he share any significant data.
We endeavor to be very careful about the speakers we bring in to chapel to share the truths of scripture and address theological and biblical topics, although this was considered an assembly held in lieu of chapel (we didn’t have our regular chapel schedule that day). Our desire is to challenge and encourage our students to grow in their faith through chapel opportunities to hear from like minded believers, but occasionally when our weekly schedule is such that we are unable to have a regular chapel time, we use the opportunity to provide information assemblies such as this one.
I am sure you can understand that despite our vigilance, occasionally situations such as the one which happened recently do occur. I assure that you we will be very careful in the future to vet all potential speakers as best we can to assure that they hold to the same tenets of faith held by our school.
It’s true that Tigard Turns the Tide switched speakers, bringing in John Bitinas at the last minute. TTT, as it is known, is a non-Scientology related tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that brings together parents and educators, and is funded in large part by a Drug Free Communities grant from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. They sponsored a driving safety event in cooperation with the Tigard Police Department at Tigard High School in October.
I spoke with Marie Watkins, Coalition Director of TTT, who confirmed her involvement in bringing Bitinas to Westside Christian, and that he was paid by TTT for the presentation. She explained how she was introduced to Bitinas.
The assembly speaker for Westside Christian School, John Bitinas, was recommended by a member of the Sherwood Rotary Club, a credible source who heard the presentation and thought it would be appropriate for students. The presentation provided by Mr. Bitinas was about drug and alcohol prevention education. There was no mention of Scientology in the speaker’s biography, nor any mention of Scientology in his presentation to the students.
Watkins has declined to identify the Sherwood Rotary Club member who recommended Bitinas, and the club president has not responded to an inquiry. The Sherwood Rotary Club was probably the connection that led to Bitinas’ recent anti-drug presentation at the Portland Pearl Rotary Club. That club has since removed photos of Bitinas and this post from their Facebook page.
When presented with a photo of Bitinas presenting the Emotional Tone Scale at Westside Christian, Watkins offered a surprisingly forceful defense.
Mr. Bitinas’ presentation was focused on substance abuse prevention education, not theories of Scientology. He was not explaining how to predict a person’s behavior at any given moment, as I have come to find the theory of the tone scale suggests. In this photo Mr. Bitinas was explaining the correlation between substance abuse and behavior. Note in the photo the drawing of the green dots and lines, which indicate the roller-coaster of emotions that substance use brings with it’s high’s of use and withdrawals; a known behavioral cycle in the world of substance abuse addiction. The underlining of the word “boredom” was followed by an explanation of … ‘if this is where risky behaviors can start, how do we keep ourselves from falling down that path?’ … Mr. Bitinas’ answer … by creating goals for ourselves; personal goals, academic goals, professional goals, athletic goals, etc. to safeguard and build protective factors around the individual at risk.
The roller-coaster analogy that addicts go up and down the Tone Scale is nearly always a part of a Narconon anti-drug presentation, as this photo from Narconon Moscow shows.
A former Narconon staff member says the purpose of using of the Emotional Tone Scale in anti-drug presentations is to introduce the audience to Scientology through stealth. “It is to gain favor and agreement, to open doors to slowly integrate other Hubbard methods until someone is using Scientology in their life way more than they realize or would ever care to admit. Additionally, a small percentage will ‘reach’ for more, at which point he’ll recommend some books by Hubbard, including Clear Body, Clear Mind and continue ‘disseminating’ to do basic Life Improvement courses. It is never ending.”
The Tone Scale is one of the central theories of Scientology. It was first published in the 1951 book Science of Survival, by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard during his time in Wichita, Kansas with Don Purcell and during his divorce from Sara Northrup Hubbard. It is the second book of the “Basics,” and Scientology offers a course in its study. It is a transitional book between Dianetics and the later formation of Scientology as a religion. It briefly introduces the eight dynamics of life, the duality of MEST and Theta, the ARC Triangle, and hints at the belief in past lives that would dominate Hubbard’s research in the future.
The remainder of the book is a handbook for auditors concerning the Tone Scale, a ranking and numbering of human conditions based on desirability organized into the gigantic Hubbard Chart of Human Evaluation. Column 3 holds the definitions for each level from 4.0 down to 0.1 on Emotion, called the Emotional Tone Scale. Amusingly, Bitinas misspelled Grief in his presentation, and switched its position with Fear.
Hubbard’s theory is that a person maintains the same “chronic” tone across all areas of their life. They may present a false front social tone, but the chronic tone will be consistent in all areas of their life. From Science of Survival: “Subtle, patient questioning, perhaps over many hours, will be necessary before the auditor will be justified in feeling that he has truly discovered the chronic tone level of the preclear in each of these columns.” Above 2.0 is defined as the levels of the analytical mind, while those below 2.0 are the realm of the reactive mind. The process of auditing removes engrams from the reactive mind, so the purpose of auditing is to raise the tone level of the PC, or pre-clear.
An auditor is expected to be able to immediately identify the tone level of their PC, and this is noted at the beginning, during and at the end of an auditing session. A former Scientologist says “Auditors and other students have to learn the Tone Scale by heart – reciting it to a wall for hours and hours until they have it up and down. The supervisor or twin should be able to say ‘2.0’ and you must be able to state the tone level, and also answer questions like ‘how would a person at 1.5 communicate?'”
The Tone Scale is the start of the concept of the social vs. the anti-social personality, which led the codification of the Potential Trouble Source (PTS) and Suppressive Person (SP). It is used as a business tool by the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, or WISE. It is used by Scientology’s salespeople, or Registrars to sell more courses. It is used by Scientology Volunteer Ministers, by the Scientology prison group Criminon, and it enters the vocabulary of Scientologists. A source says “You will often hear people referring to others as ‘he’s 1.1’ or saying ‘oh boy, that guy is really antago (antagonistic).’ You’ll also hear Scientologists saying ‘she got really griefy’ – they don’t use the word ‘cry’ – it’s ‘grief’ as that’s a tone level.”
The scale was later expanded up to tone 40, or Serenity of Beingness and down to -40, Total Failure. Non-Scientologists are not generally exposed to the levels below 0.0, or Body Death. “This has to do with the spirit – not a body – and many people think they ARE the body, so that would be a problem,” says a former member. Scientology organizations around the world teach the expanded Tone Scale, as seen in this lecture at a Scientology mission in Taiwan.
For Westside Christian High School, this appears to be the end of Scientology’s involvement in educating students about drug abuse. A spokesperson says “At this time, we would not consider having him back. I am not sure what I think about whether or not he should have made his affiliation known, since he was not supposed to be addressing theological issues, but instead was to be presenting a facts-based talk. Personal religious views should not be shared in a presentation such as that, unless one discloses one’s intention prior to finalizing speaking agreements.”
— 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
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