A book by Rosita Šorytė, Lithuanian diplomat and president of the International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees, draws its title from the lyrics of a viral music video, “Spread a Smile,” produced by the global media center of the Church of Scientology in Hollywood: Scientology Media Productions.
Originally published as a paper in the July/August edition of the Journal of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions) the book describes the response of the Church of Scientology to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Scientology’s immediate reaction to the epidemic was to implement a policy of sanitization and control in its own premises throughout the world, and to switch meetings from in-person to online,” Šorytė writes. She refers to an article on the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles, stating, “due to the early implementation of preventive measures, no member of the large Scientology staff in the city was infected.”
“Scientologists rapidly adopted state-of-the-art precautions and distributed millions of booklets teaching how to effectively protect hygiene and use masks, gloves, and disinfectants,” she writes. “Scientology’s Volunteer Ministers organized massive humanitarian activities…[to move] decisively towards a better, ‘restored’ planet.”
The book includes sections of a bulletin issued by Scientology ecclesiastical leader Mr. David Miscavige in which he quotes Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard on how to address an infestation like this: “an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure” to which Mr. Miscavige added, “Well, how about a ton of prevention so as not to require an ounce of cure?”
The bulletin also contains practical, common-sense directions to Scientologists:
1. First, real information for you and your immediate environment. Booklets containing this information have been provided for all staff and public—and in any quantity (free of charge) for dissemination to friends, family, and associates.
2. Second, preventing and/or killing whatever this virus is. We have researched and are utilizing the most effective products and applications for eradicating this virus and any virus, bacteria, or germ infestation.
This includes massive infusions of airborne ozone, as well as nebulized peroxide and Decon7. (If you haven’t seen these applications, that’s because the operation occurs in unoccupied spaces before you arrive.)
3. Third, medical checks and isolation. It has been longstanding LRH Sea Org policy that ill persons are isolated (segregated in separate quarters and not in contact with the general population). This IS how to prevent the spread of illness. Therefore, as a preventative measure, all staff and public have their temperature taken each day before services. This extends to the requirement that all staff and public report any feeling of illness before entering Org spaces.
4. Finally, masks and gloves are available for all public when they are out and about (gas station, supermarket, etc.) and wish to insulate themselves.
Once lockdowns began easing, “Scientology started devising ways to help the communities where its Volunteer Ministers were present,” wrote Šorytė. She quotes Bernadette Rigal-Cellard, Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, English and Religious studies Faculty Member, who describes the Volunteer Ministers as “the best-known charity of the Church because of its ministers with their bright yellow jackets highly visible in disaster zones”
On the cover of Šorytė’s new book is a photo of a team of Scientology Volunteer Ministers wearing these bright yellow jackets over protective jumpsuits as they began distributing educational booklets in Copenhagen, the city that hosts the European headquarters of the Scientology religion.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
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