Do Scientology 'volunteer ministers' really help millions?

Do Scientology 'volunteer ministers' really help millions? March 2, 2016

Hop across to this Scientology site, and you’ll see a claim guaranteed to raise eyebows:

Over the course of the past twelve months, hundreds of thousands trained in the skills of the Scientology Volunteer Minister reached out and helped others in times of disaster.
Their actions embodied the words of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard: ‘A Volunteer Minister does not shut his eyes to the pain, evil and injustice of existence. Rather, he is trained to handle these things and help others achieve relief from them and new personal strength as well.’

Eyebrows, according to the Guardian, were certainly raised in the offices of the British Advertising Standards Authority when the cult – whoops, religion – broadcast a TV ad that made a similar claim.
It stated that the church works with “volunteers from many faiths” to help people, including “giving aid to 24 million in times of need”.
The commercial featured two Scientology volunteers carrying a person on a stretcher and another volunteer with a stethoscope holding a baby.
The Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint about the TV ad challenging whether the claim about the number of people it helps was misleading and could be substantiated.
The church said that the 24 million figure was based on the total number of individuals helped by volunteer ministers between 1998, when records started being kept, and 2014.
It added that the priority at a disaster site was to provide direct aid, in forms such as medical assistance, rescuing victims and providing food, water and shelter.
However, when the ASA asked for evidence of the aid given at various disaster sites it was only “anecdotal”.
The UK ad watchdog also raised concerns about how the data on the number of individuals who had been given aid had been calculated. It was also unclear as to what counted as “giving aid”.
Said the ASA:

It was also unclear whether the church had included the total number of people in a community in cases where general community work had been carried out and, if that was the case, we had concerns about whether that was an accurate method of calculating the number of people given aid
Furthermore, we had concerns that there appeared to be no checks in place to ensure that individuals who were given aid were not counted more than once towards the overall figure.

The ASA banned then banned the ad because it had not been provided with suitable evidence to back up the claim of helping 24 million people.

We concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and was likely to mislead viewers. We told the Church of Scientology International to ensure they held adequate evidence for any claims that viewers were likely to regard as objective and capable of substantiation.

The photo above, taken from the cult’s site, has this caption:

Scientology Volunteer Ministers in Haiti provided virtually any service asked of them, including helping military units transport the severely injured to hospitals for emergency medical care.

Hat tip: Peter Sykes

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  • jay

    Is that some stock photo that Scientology found on the internet? The US military logo would suggest that National Guard personnel would be the ones in those crews.

  • David Anderson

    Hundreds of thouands of people turned barking, batshit crazy and having their bank accounts bled now preying on others to be the same.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Isn’t that Tom Cruise his own bad self, in the yellow shirt in front?

  • Daz

    Though it’s hard to make out the detail, the logo worn by the volunteers looks like it could be the Scientology Cross.If you go to the Scientology site linked in the OP’s first paragraph, you’ll find a picture-gallery included in the page, which gives a clearer view of the yellow-shirted volunteers.

  • AgentCormac

    The ad should never have been allowed on air in the first place. Clearcast, the organisation which vets all commercial scripts and finished films before allowing them to be broadcast, always ask for documented proof of any claim made in any TV ad. So how this one got through unscathed is beyond me. Maybe because it’s a religion – and religions don’t lie. And they get preferential treatment.
    Anyway, OT but I was just reading a piece on the BBC News website in which Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, latest winner of the controversial Templeton Prize, has a few things to say that might raise eyebrows here. Including:
    ‘There are three questions any reflective individual will ask in the course of a lifetime: Who am I? Why am I here? How, then, shall I live? Those questions can’t be answered by science or resolved by technology, or dealt with by market economics and the liberal democratic state. They’re questions about meaning – and ultimately they are religious questions.’ No they aren’t.
    And when asked how he can explain the rise in violence being committed in the name of God in so many countries in the world, he answers:
    ‘In many areas, there were secular revolutions and secular nationalisms, which, to many people, seemed to fail to deliver either prosperity or freedom.’ Ah, so that’s what started it all – secularism.
    There’s more here if you want to hear what other delusions he’s being offered free BBC space to pump out.

  • harrynutsak

    From the article: “Hop across to this Scientology site,”
    Um, no thanks, what the hell is wrong with you, etc.etc.etc.
    I mean, really.

  • barriejohn

    This puts me in mind of the cynical, but very slick, efforts of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (Exclusive Brethren) to market themselves as a public-spirited charitable organization whose prime function is to help others. We all know what the Exclusive Brethren are really like, with their “separatism”, control of members, and “shutting up” and “withdrawing from” even their own family members when they transgress their strict rules, but they have learnt all about public relations, and are determined to project a favourable image for “the world” to view.

  • Broga

    @AgentCormac: Sacks isn’t even trying. He could come up with some better bullshit than that. And he gets £zillions from the Templeton Foundation, I suppose. They must be seriously hard up to find someone to give their cash to.

  • AgentCormac

    Like Bob Donohue, the man is a fanatic who will say just about anything to defend his own brand of superstitious nonsense and why it should be taken very, very seriously indeed. However, I did think he had a point with this one.
    ‘The idols of today are unmistakable – self-esteem without achievement, sex without consequences, wealth without responsibility, pleasure without struggle and experience without commitment.’
    Although quite why he can’t see that his own angry, hateful, misogynist, nonexistent idol is any less contemptible or reprehensible than the idols he lists is beyond me.

  • Broga

    @AgentCormac: I agree that he had a point on that. But I also think there are no free lunches and hedonic adaptation usually kicks in. Driving the new, luxurious car becomes the routine driving of a car.
    Evolution always makes us want more unless we can use our intelligence to see where that is heading. Millionaire sports stars and actors still use drugs, gamble their wealth away and hit the bottle in what seems to be an attempt to escape what they once found so desirable.
    There is an example today of the footballer Adam Johnson who had the admiration of thousands, an income of £60,000 a week, a beautiful partner and a young daughter. And it wasn’t enough. He blamed his present circumstances on boredom.

  • Brian Jordan

    Why are they using a helicopter? If they teamed up with the Transcendental Meditators they could levitate the victims to safety.

  • MB

    …and why are they using a U.S. Navy helicopter?

  • barriejohn

    Brian Jordan: Hahaha; why don’t they just PRAY for these people? When I was with the Brethren they had a monthly magazine called Echoes of Service, and an accompanying booklet, in which their missionaries were listed according to the area in which they “served”, with different ones being allocated to different days of the month. There was also a daily phone message, and time and time again missionaries would report on “miracles” that occurred on the day when they were being “prayed for”! But wasn’t it the Scientologists who used to collect all the power of their prayers in boxes and send them to disaster areas? I couldn’t find any information on that,but I did locate this:
    Should come in useful, and very reasonably priced, too!