The Problem with the Scientology Curriculum? It’s Not Christian Enough

The other day, I mentioned how Illinois was considering adopting Scientology’s “Good Choices Program” into public schools. Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, was advocating for the program developed by her non-profit group Happy House.

Illinois hasn’t accepted or rejected the program just yet, but I was pleased to see the Illinois Family Institute arguing against its adoption. Laurie Higgins and I are on the same page! (It threw me off for a second… I wasn’t sure I could handle that.)

As it turns out, though, we don’t like it for very different reasons.

I’m against it because the program contains all sorts of bullshit passages and it introduces well-known Scientology recruiting material into public schools.

Higgins is against it because it’s not Christian enough.

The Good Choices Program posits that moral rectitude and good works are the “way to happiness.” While moral rectitude makes for a healthier society and prevents a great deal of suffering, a life of good works and moral rectitude alone cannot bring real happiness. Real happiness can be found only in submission to the will of God.

Got that, atheists? None of you can ever truly be happy. Glad we have Laurie to point that out to us.

Higgins goes on to point out how the teachings of the 21 Precepts contradict the Bible.

(Also contradicting the Bible? The Bible.)

She makes it sound as if this “character building” material would have received IFI’s approval if only Cartwright and others had simply quoted the Good Book. I mean, it’s promoting silly things like self-reliance!

“Happiness lies in engaging in worthwhile activities. But there is only one person who for certain can tell what will make one happy–oneself.” These teachings reveal both the primacy of works and the primacy of self in Hubbard’s false religion, both of which are incompatible with a Christian world view.

The problem with the Scientology material isn’t that it’s anti-Christian — it’s that it offers a religious basis for things that don’t need to be supported by religion. Religion doesn’t have a monopoly on building character. And IFI is wrong to suggest that the positive values contained in The Way To Happiness are “derived” from the Bible. Good values existed long before various religions codified them in their holy books. No one faith can claim them as their own.

Higgins is right about one thing, though:

If a character-building curriculum based on the teachings of the founder of the Church of Scientology is acceptable in our Illinois public schools, then I assume a character-building curriculum based on the teachings of the “founder” of Christianity would be equally acceptable.

I see no reason to doubt that. But this is why we shouldn’t allow any one religion’s teachings to represent “the truth.” A secular curriculum would be just fine.

  • Richard Wade

    While moral rectitude makes for a healthier society and prevents a great deal of suffering, a life of good works and moral rectitude alone cannot bring real happiness. Real happiness can be found only in submission to the will of God.

    I’m not really happy? I have some kind of counterfeit happiness? Damn! This is gonna be a hard habit to break. I have all these smile lines on my face, and at 60 I walk with a strut to my step, my head held high and a song on my lips. I’ll have to go take some lessons in Crappy Mood. And now what am I gonna do with all these useless good works and moral rectitude? My garage, office, and studio are filled to the brim with it. Crap. Now I’m depressed.

  • Heidi

    Yes, I agree with that dimwit woman that is just as appropriate to incorporate Scientology teachings as it is Christian teachings in public schools.

  • http://madhominem.wordpress.com/ Mad Hominem

    Real happiness can be found only in submission to the will of God.

    …Islam? :D

  • SlipperyWhenWet

    I was never as happy as I am now when I was a Catholic.

    I think doing everything for a God is, if anything, depressing.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Happiness is a difficult thing to measure but I would love to see a properly conducted survey of relative happiness between atheists and different theistic groups. Maybe like the one by Feigelman in 1992 that showed little relationship between religious disaffiliation and unhappiness.

    Yet, even if theist proved to be generally happier than atheists, saying that “[r]eal happiness can be found only in submission to the will of God” is plainly ridiculous and buckets of scorn should be poured upon Higgins for even suggesting such nonsense.

  • fiddler

    Dammit! Mad Hominem beat me to it!

  • http://fryonic.tumblr.com/ Fryonic

    I assume a character-building curriculum based on the teachings of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be equally acceptable.

  • Craig

    I’m happier now than I was when religious (Catholic) by a fairly slight margin, but it has little to do with the presence or absence of religion. My parents did little to push guilt or anything on me, and I was always pretty immune to any guilt-pushing by priests and teachers. I was always too independent and tried to take a “rational faith” until I eventually rationalized my way out of it. Some examples: I never much bought the logic of damnation though still kind of help open the question of some sort of hell or separation from God when I believed; I never bought “everything happens for a reason” and argued strongly against people who tried to tell me this, always believing that human choices and unguided occurrences were the cause of things; I never bought into sex-negativity, or the idea that it was to be exclusive to marriage. I guess it never made sense to have an old man in the sky shaking his head because you were enjoying the body he (I then believed) made for you.


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