Scientology school is raising questions

By Guy Adams

John Travolta's 'Battlefield Earth' movie based on L. Ron Hubbard's book was a notorious flop. Photo / File
John Travolta's 'Battlefield Earth' movie based on L. Ron Hubbard's book was a notorious flop. Photo / File

Make jokes about Thetans and Xenu and John Travolta's film Battlefield Earth if you have to. But don't expect to poke fun at L. Ron Hubbard's legacy without getting an almighty roasting from the Church of Scientology's PR department.

The church has accused an author who tried to lift the lid on a US$42,000-a-year ($55,000) boarding school it runs in rural Oregon of making false claims about the institution and its teaching methods.

Benjamin Carlson's two-part series on the 250-student Delphian School, which was founded in the 1970s, made headlines last week when it described the school's curriculum designed around "Study Technology", a controversial teaching method designed by Hubbard in the 1960s.

The articles in the Daily alleged about half the students were Scientologists, and the school's structure, language and ethics all reflected the science fiction writer's religion.

Delphian markets itself as a real-life version of Harry Potter's Hogwarts. Former students interviewed by Carlson say the school has strict rules on alcohol, drugs and PDAs, or public displays of affection, between students and the rules are enforced by a brigade of prefects called "rovers".

Rule-breakers are named and shamed on the "Golden Rod" list outside the door of the "ethics officer" staff member.

Carlson's articles also say Delphian, which boasts Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's daughter among its alumni, is to become a member of the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools. That would be controversial, as the unconventional "Study Technology" its curriculum is based on involves lots of time looking up simple words in the dictionary, and "training routines" where students stare into each other's faces for hours.

Carlson also alleged Sea Organisation, the church's post-graduation labour corps, was being investigated for human trafficking. The church says the claims are defamatory, but the Daily is standing by its story.

- Independent

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