Scientologists helping Katrina Refugees?
September 6, 2005 3:16 PM   Subscribe

I was watching footage on CNN concerning the Katrina hurricane relief in the Houston Superdome and believe I noticed some volunteers with yellow sweatshirts with "Scientologist Volunteer Councillors". I only saw it briefly and was unable to confirm what I saw later. Are the Scientologists really in Houston helping the refugees?
posted by schwa to Grab Bag (25 answers total)
Yes, they're giving survivors stress tests, stress counseling and massages.

posted by SweetJesus at 3:28 PM on September 6, 2005

Story here and here.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:28 PM on September 6, 2005

Monsters. Opportunists. Bastards. At least they appear to be bringing water, but geez--what fucking fuckers.
posted by interrobang at 3:31 PM on September 6, 2005

Do you have any idea how many Theatons are in that water? It's a good thing they got there so quickly...
posted by SweetJesus at 3:31 PM on September 6, 2005

What's with the big cross on his shirt? Are they christian scientologists?
posted by mullingitover at 3:38 PM on September 6, 2005

Eh. The organization blows but so does the Vatican. The 'ground troops' are largely good people with good intentions who believe in their 'product.' If they're out there helping people in need then good on em.
posted by phearlez at 3:39 PM on September 6, 2005

So I wasn't imagining it.

I'm really torn on this one - they're providing help which is great - but what's to stop them preying on the people who are probably quite fragile right now?
posted by schwa at 3:42 PM on September 6, 2005

At least they're going to find out that most of the people left in New Orleans are to poor to be Scientologists....
posted by interrobang at 3:44 PM on September 6, 2005

/me agrees with interrobang.
posted by krisjohn at 3:48 PM on September 6, 2005

Question answered, lay off the snark.
posted by freebird at 3:53 PM on September 6, 2005

I'm going to dissent.

I hate scientology with a passion. I was managing at an ISP when they sent in the lawyers trying to nail one of our customers for expressing anti-Scientology sentiments.

However, I can't find fault with a very rich organization helping people by trucking in water and offering them help from stress (and probably saving some suicidal people). Yes, they will likely make some converts, but the converts will be alive. I'm sure most of them will realize afterward that scientology is populated by nutjobs and fruitcakes and that 'thetans' is a stupid concept and that we're not all evolved from clams. Poor, uneducated, doesn't mean 'stupid' necessarily.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:57 PM on September 6, 2005

Meet the real storm chasers.
posted by plexiwatt at 4:15 PM on September 6, 2005

Oops forgot the helpful part.

Yes, they're really there. There's a new sign at the Dianetics center near my house, inviting all those poor, broken souls who cannot cope with tragedy to attend their generous services.
posted by plexiwatt at 4:16 PM on September 6, 2005

It's all about legitimacy. I wouldn't worry about finding recruits, if the poor people don't have big bank accounts for thetan dispersion classes.
posted by johngoren at 4:19 PM on September 6, 2005

I just found out about this as well when I caught some picture of 9/11 with these same shirts. But wouldn't you think a stress test is pretty obvious? I mean come on, duh, everyone there is stressed.
posted by scazza at 4:22 PM on September 6, 2005

I've studied Scient*logy due to a deep interest in theology (I'm not a Scient*logist though :-)) and I see little to distinguish this from Christian evangelicals helping out.

Those in the picture appear to be Scient*logists and the Scient*logy logo is a cross, yes. They're not Christian, however. The cross (and its four subcross points) represents the "eight dynamics." FWIW, the cross as a religious symbol predates Christianity, although some have speculated the Church of Scient*logy used it to appeal to Christians, but you can make your own decision on that.

Further, Scient*logists are not against welcoming poor folks into the religion. The way it tends to work is that those without money will work for the Church and receive their training and board in return. This is, surprisingly to many, quite similar to many monastic orders, although unusual in the Western world. Some of the behavior while in the Church is disputed. There's lots of sites, you'd need to read it and make your own decision on that.

The Church of Scient*logy routinely helps out in most major crises. Many believe they do this only to recruit or to further their cause, but you'd need to do some research and make your own decisions on that.

My 2 pennies.
posted by wackybrit at 4:26 PM on September 6, 2005

As awful as the Scientologists are as a corporation, let's give these (poor, misguided) individuals credit for showing up and trying to help.
posted by theora55 at 5:55 PM on September 6, 2005

They were there at the World Trade Center as well.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:09 PM on September 6, 2005

They are people most likely employed by Scientology and in the "Sea Org." They were most likely assigned to be there although I bet that like everyone else, they enjoy being there, since they work for Scientology are ABLE to be there. Too bad they have to promote...
posted by prodevel at 6:22 PM on September 6, 2005

BTW... It is the ASTRODOME not the Superdome
posted by nimsey lou at 7:07 PM on September 6, 2005

I wouldn't worry about finding recruits, if the poor people don't have big bank accounts for thetan dispersion classes.

I imagine the CoS needs poor people for handing out leaflets as much as America needs them for manufacturing, agriculture, service and combat jobs.
posted by Jenga at 9:13 PM on September 6, 2005

As one of those Religious Nuts, let me explain.

First of all, I am not a Scientologist; I am a Presbyterian. Aside from that, all I can say is that the police (at least here in Fort Worth) are controlling to a greater extent who goes into the survivor centers than they did in the earliest days, perhaps to prevent opportunists from going in and stealing merchandise intended for survivors. One of the ways they are trying to keep track of who is legit and who is not is to wear clothing indicating the organization that referred you to the center, whether it is a church, a scout troup, the Kiwanis Club, or whatever. Wearing shirts that are somewhat uniform (as in a crew of people from the same organization) also helps identify them as volunteers.
posted by Doohickie at 9:36 PM on September 6, 2005

You can learn online how to Assist people Scientologically!
posted by davy at 9:46 PM on September 6, 2005

All the usual reasons, of course, as cited above -- visibility, goodwill, probably the sincere desire to help, perhaps even recruitment. It's the missionary prescription going way back.

The reason they're in these disasters, though, is subtler.

You have to understand that Scientology hates psychiatry and contemporary psychology. With a passion. They use the derogatory nickname "psychs" for both professionals and the people who believe in them.

They even have their own pet post-traumatic stress treatment.

They may honestly feel that they're there so that the untrustworthy cult of psychology-based therapists don't get their grubby hands on people first.

Ah. Here's their assembly point.
posted by dhartung at 12:31 AM on September 7, 2005

From what I've heard most of the Scientologists' disaster assistance consists of on-site psychological (uh - dianetic) treatment employing their various theories.
posted by abcde at 10:50 AM on September 7, 2005

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