The Voice of Bart Simpson Tries to Get Scientology into Illinois Public Schools

Illinois already has a broken school system, but our legislators took time yesterday to hear a curriculum suggestion from a celebrity Scientologist: Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson.

Why her?

Well, first, you have to understand that the Illinois School Code currently mandates that public schools teach character education: “which includes the teaching of respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, trustworthiness, and citizenship, in order to raise pupils’ honesty, kindness, justice, discipline, respect for others, and moral courage for the purpose of lessening crime and raising the standard of good character.”

Cartwright represents the “Good Choices Program,” a Scientology program that publishes The Way of Happiness, a book cited in House Resolution 254, a resolution regarding how this curriculum would be taught. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago), may strike the book from the bill’s text, but he was happy to have Cartwright there to defend her cult’s text:

The celebrity Scientologist’s appearance before the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee at times turned surreal and contentious as her religion’s controversial teachings overshadowed her feel-good book for kids, and some lawmakers appeared stricken by her star power.

Cartwright’s “Good Choices” program — which she has said is based on the book “The Way to Happiness” by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard — was among the curricula a House resolution would have encouraged Illinois teachers to use to fulfill the state requirement that character education be taught.

So why not use this book? Well, it has a clear link to Scientology. And it contains a lot of junk in the guise of common sense. It’s like using the Bible to teach kids to “love thy neighbor.”

“It’s totally innocuous, basic, good citizenship stuff,” Burke said.

That’s not true. Has Burke even read the book? If he did, he might have noticed what’s actually written in it.

For example, check out what it says for one of the 21 Precepts: Be Competent (#17) — emphasis theirs:

The test of any “truth” is whether it is true for you. If, when one has gotten the body of data, cleared up any misunderstood words in it and looked over the scene, it still doesn’t seem true, then it isn’t true so far as you are concerned. Reject it. And, if you like, carry it further and conclude what the truth is for you. After all, you are the one who is going to have to use it or not use it, think with it or not think with it. If one blindly accepts “facts” or “truths” just because he is told he must, “facts” and “truths” which do not seem true to one, or even false, the end result can be an unhappy one. That is the alley to the trash bin of incompetence.

Umm… no. Facts are facts. If they make you uncomfortable, deal with it. What’s “true for you” (like Faith) may still be wrong. Why should kids be taught this?

There’s also this weird running thread that says life is all about “survival”:

Your own survival chances will be bettered in the long run since others, influenced, will become less of a threat. There are other benefits.

In an age of intricate equipment and high-speed machines and vehicles, one’s survival and that of one’s family and friends depends in no small measure upon the general competence of others.

If those around one lie to him or her, one is led into making errors and his survival potential is reduced.

Creepy…

And don’t forget this fantastic piece of advice:

The way to happiness does not include murdering or your friends, your family or yourself being murdered.

Gee, thanks L. Ron Hubbard!

At least there were some people on our side during the lobbying attempt by Cartwright.

First, there was Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Sterling):

The program’s ties to the Church of Scientology risks violating the “strong separation of church and state in our constitution,” he said. He would knock a code of conduct authored by Pope John Paul II as much as the one authored by Hubbard, he said.

Then, there was Rob Sherman, the atheist activist:

“The Way of Happiness is the Bible of the Church of Scientology. This would be no different than Francis Cardinal George coming here in and saying, ‘Well, we need character education so teach the Holy Bible,’” Sherman said.

What Cartwright didn’t say to the House members is that the book is a recruiting tool for Scientology — a book designed to make the cult seem less batshit insane.

A Newsweek article from 1993 even noted this:

Critics of Scientology, including some former officials, argue that “The Way to Happiness” is primarily a recruiting tool for the church. According to Vicki Aznaran, who once served as inspector general of the Religious Technology Center, the church’s highest ecclesiastical organization, The Way to Happiness Foundation is “a front group to get people into Scientology” and the book is designed “to make Scientology palatable to the masses.”

We don’t need The Way of Happiness to teach moral character. And we don’t need the Ten Commandments or any other religious rules, either. We need teachers who exemplify good ethics and personal responsibility, and who can lead students in discussions about these things and what we can do to improve ourselves within each school. You don’t need to bring religion into the mix — and certainly, not one hellbent on recruiting future clients.

***Edit***: I made a couple changes to this article since the original posting, only to clarify a few points I felt were confusing. The original content is still here.

  • Claudia

    What’s sad about this is that this book may be taken off the list using quite proper Church-State separation principles…because it’s a Scientology book.

    If it were a Christian book I’m willing to bet that a lot of the people firmly putting their foot down on Constitutional grounds would have a very different view indeed. Even many who would strike a Christian book off the record might do so ony to “prevent lawsuits” and not as a matter of principle.

  • HP

    I am having a cow, man.

  • April

    Aye Carumba!

  • geru

    The test of any “truth” is whether it is true for you. If, when one has gotten the body of data, cleared up any misunderstood words in it and looked over the scene, it still doesn’t seem true, then it isn’t true so far as you are concerned. Reject it.

    This doesn’t seem true to me, so I choose to reject it. Doh, I accidentally Scientology :s

  • Mary

    Ditto to Claudia’s comment.

    And why are they even talking to this person? Everyone knows that Bart is the stupid kid. Are we to hear from Lisa now?

  • starskeptic

    The Illinois School Code mandates that public schools teach character education:

    …I guess we just have to decide which characters and from which TV shows…

  • http://leavingthequietroom.blogspot.com/ Joe Zamecki

    I don’t think it’ll fly. Like you say Hemant, all one has to do is read it, to realize it’s crazy nonsense. Since it’s not a big book to read, authorities will probably read it, and dismiss it.

    After that happens, I think the same critical focus should be applied to whatever Christianity is already in the same school schedule. If the powers that be are going to decide that Scientology is a crazy religion that unintentionally shows the value of state/church separation, then someone else needs to remind them of how crazy Christianity is. In that respect, this is probably the Christians vs. the Scientologists. I think we owe it humanity to help them both into a state of understanding, about the need for state/church separation.

    School systems also need to remember that Scientology is the overly litigious group that uses courtrooms and lawyers to bully their way over anyone who challenges them. If the schools get involved with them, it’s only a matter of time before Scientologists win lawsuit after lawsuit against those very schools. Why? Pfff…they don’t need no stinkin’ why! lol

  • Larry Meredith

    You really think kids reading the part about truth are going to see it any kind of spiritual sense?
    It’s going to end up more like this:
    No mom, I don’t have to eat my vegetables because I don’t believe they really are good for me. At school today I learned that if it doesn’t feel true to me, then it’s not!

  • Kurt

    I love The Simpsons as much as anyone of my generation, but yeah, nothing says “respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, trustworthiness, and citizenship” like the voice of Bart Simpson! Even if she were arguing a Supreme Court case for the side I agreed with, I for one would have a hard time taking it seriously.

  • Anonymous

    From the article in the first link:

    The committee’s chairman, Rep. Linda Chapa Lavia (D-Aurora) said she was “pretty impressed” by Cartwright’s book, repeatedly shut down Sherman’s exploration of Cartwright’s Scientology links and ended the testimony with a special call-out to one of Cartwright’s church brethren.

    “Thank you so much for appearing before our committee,” Chapa Lavia told her, “and there’s been a request you bring back Tom Cruise the next time you come.”

    Then, Burke interjected a request that Cartwright break into Bart Simpson one last time, which the actress honored in her character’s distinctive voice: “I’m outta here.”

    Unbelievable. Politicians treating an education panel like a ComicCon.

  • Pam Ellis

    Critics of scientology have been going after this since Monday. Letters and calls to legislators helped make a difference in the outcome, for once. But the fact remains, this program is currently being used in other schools, as well as Applied Scholastics. Both are frontgroups for scientology (like Narconon* and Criminon), and while they might not appear religious, they pay fees back to scientology and try to introduce Hubbard as an “humanitarian” to kids, which makes it easier to introduce other Hubbard works later in life.
    Why We Protest link on this

    Xenu.net link on this.

    This image from a scientology DVD explains it quite well:
    http://www.xenu-directory.net/documents/corporate/images/2004-isn-27-p20-clip1-751×600.jpg

    *Narcotics Anonymous is NOT Narconon. Two separate groups.

  • Jamssx

    While they’re at it, they should include some of Crowley’s guides to Thelema-ism as that where most of the more silly philosophy comes from, from the time L Ron hung out with the Great Beast in NYC although the S boys try to expunge that from most histories. Hmmm… Maybe that why one of Marge’s sisters is called Thelma….

  • beckster

    It serves as a good reminder to Christian politicians that if they want to let their religion seep into public policy that they run the risk that other religions may insist on doing the same. Unfortunately, I doubt that is the message most of them will take away from the experience.

  • Anonymous

    Christian Post just wrote about this.
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/church-of-scientology-booklet-rejected-from-ill-school-curriculum-50194/

    The comments section might be fertile territory for a church/state separation discussion.

  • CanadianNihilist

    I love it. Maybe this will help the Christians finally see how ridiculous it is to have school and religion mixed together.

  • eddieVroom

    So what IS Scientology? Well, you start with Dianetics, where you learn that you have this “reactive mind” that needs to be wiped out by a very expensive process called Auditing. Then, one day and a small fortune later, you realize that you just imagined (mocked up) that pesky “Bank” real good. Probably when you first read about it. Then you are declared CLEAR.

    Then it’s a mad dash to the upper, or OT levels. You learn about past lives, Xenu and the Space Opera, and your alien parasite infestation. Then, one day, well by gosh, you realize that you imaginated all that real good too. Now you’re an OT8.

    Then you keep getting busted down to OT7 so you can shell out more money for “case repair” and security checks — because your failure to manifest god-like powers must mean you’ve got a hidden agenda to make L. Ron Hubbard look bad.

    And there you have it. I just saved you a bare minimum of $360,000.00

  • Annie

    Regardless of the content, the writing is atrocious. I couldn’t teach it as I’m having trouble understanding what they are trying to say.

  • elricthemad

    Where are the FSM and IPU gateway texts? They feature monsters and unicorns respectively, the kinds of character building role models kids respond to. Or more seriously, why not a freethinker or humanist authored book on the subject?

    On a separate issue, why do so many celebrities buy into Scientology?

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Check out their Respect the Religious Beliefs of Others section!

    Men without faith are a pretty sorry lot. They can even be given something to have faith in. But when they have religious beliefs, respect them.

    Yes, that’s right. Respect the religious beliefs of others, except when they don’t have religious beliefs. Then you should make disparaging remarks about them.

  • Michieux

    “The test of any ‘truth’ is whether it is true for you.”

    This is arrant nonsense. As someone* else once said, “While we are all entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts.”

    As usual, Scientology gets it all wrong. Teach this trash to your kids at your peril.

    * Richard Holloway, “Looking in the Distance: The Human Search for Meaning” (pages 101-102).

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Looking-Distance-Human-Search-Meaning/dp/1841956031/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250593820&sr=1-2

  • Larry Meredith

    @elricthemad

    why do so many celebrities buy into Scientology?

    Because Scientology has a whole department dedicated to serving and reaching out to celebrities. They take extra special care of their celebs.

  • Anonymous

    @elricthemad

    A very big factor was the famous acting teacher Milton Katselas, who was OT5. I would imagine someone in an acting class would be vulnerable and easily prone to suggestion.

    [Jason Beghe] says that he initially was recruited through acting teacher Milton Katselas’ class. Katselas has been cited in many publications, including The New York Times, for exerting pressure on his students to join the sect.
    “He gets kickbacks,” Beghe says. Among Katselas’ students have been at least half a dozen celebrity Scientologists, including Giovanni Ribisi (who is thought to have recruited “My Name Is Earl” star Jason Lee and, in turn, Ethan Suplee) and his sister, Marisa, Leah Remini and Anne Archer.
    Beghe was brought to the Scientology center in Hollywood by Bodhi Elfman, husband of actress Jenna Elfman, who was in Katselas’ class. His appointment was for 10 a.m. He wound up staying at least 12 hours, as the sect’s auditors embarked on their “brainwashing.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,351426,00.html

  • Old Fogey

    Can I assume that you all know that Scientology is completely fake?

    It was invented by Hubbard to make money, because he was unable to make a living as an SF writer.

    He came up with the idea at a communal SF writers flat in New York – initially as a joke, but it took off and he became quite rich.

    I have been told this independently by James Blish and Fred Pohl (or perhaps Henry Kuttner – it was a long time ago).

  • Jennifer Lovejoy

    I am fascinated at how easily Americans are influenced by and look to celebrities for how to live their lives. We also elect celebrities for political office, like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
    I wonder if an individual who could barely read or write but appeared on TV could be our next president?? Scary thought!

  • Heidi

    At least now we know why Bart has spent the last 20 years in the 4th grade.

  • Sarah TX

    I went to a “tent sale” today, where one of the workers handed me “The Way to Happiness.” I got a bit of delight out of the disclaimer on the back – it is apparently NOT a religious text and is NOT associated with any religious tradition.

    I should start putting that disclaimer on everything I write.


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