Vision for Society
Written by: J. Gordon Melton
The Church of Scientology has crafted a vision of society free of war, crime, drug abuse, illiteracy, and the materialistic philosophy that modern psychology/psychiatry has fostered in the world.Church leaders believe that just as Scientology assists its members to rid themselves of the myriad problems that inhibit their day-to-day functioning, it should be possible to target specific problems (drug use, crime, illiteracy) that are undermining the fabric of society.Subsequently, individual Scientologists began to develop a set of specialized organizations to apply L. Ron Hubbard's wisdom to specific concerns.As these organizations proliferated, the church formed the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) in 1988 to coordinate, publicize, and inform church members and the general public of the various programs.ABLE has its own headquarters in Hollywood, part of the growing complex of facilities that have made Hollywood the administrative center of the church internationally.
Four structures associated with ABLE deal specifically with the problems of drug use, crime, illiteracy, and the declining moral fabric of society.Narconon, the oldest of the social service programs, can be traced to William Benitez, an inmate at the Arizona State Penitentiary, who benefited from Hubbard's Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought. Applying Hubbard's ideas, he was finally able to free himself from drugs, the basis of his criminal activity, and soon concluded that Hubbard's teachings might also be relevant to his fellow prisoners. He was allowed to start a pilot program that he led during the several years left in his sentence. Its initial success won the prison administration's support for its continuance.
After leaving prison in 1970, Benitez settled in Los Angeles where, with the blessing of Hubbard, the church assisted him in establishing a non-profit corporation, open an office, and initiate a program in several correctional institutions modeled on the one in Arizona.Over the years, the Narconon organization redirected its primary efforts toward drug addiction within the general public and began opening residential facilities where individuals could finish the entire program in a supportive environment.At the same time the prison-oriented program continued to grow, and was reorganized as a separate organization, called Criminon. Meanwhile, Narconon centers have sprung up everywhere the church has built any strength.
Narconon gave birth to what has become a standard addition to Scientology's membership training, the Purification Program. It developed from the recognition that many church members have previously been drug users and almost all suffered from the cumulative effects of the large variety of questionable substances that now permeate western society.Hubbard came to believe that the accumulation of drugs and other toxins in the body was forming a crucial barrier to spiritual progress.