Church of Scientology International
December 23, 2009
VIA: ELECTRONIC MAIL & FIRST CLASS MAIL
Mr. Joe Childs and Mr. Tom Tobin
St. Petersburg Times
490 First Ave South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
Dear Mr. Childs and Mr. Tobin:
Scientology, like all religions, cannot meet everyone's spiritual needs all the time. It is certainly unfortunate to see anyone turn their back on their faith, let alone choose to publicly attack it. This is not a phenomena exclusive to the Scientology religion, however.
One can certainly find former Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and members of all other religions who have chosen to leave their faith only to turn around and attack it. The internet is rife with websites, blogs and testimonials attesting to this phenomenon. The St. Petersburg Times ascribes all manner of occurrences, albeit sometimes unfortunate or tragic, to Scientology that are not exclusive to my religion — yet The Times does so to the exclusion of all other groups and religions. This is textbook discriminatory coverage in violation of fundamental journalistic ethics.
Your biased approach to stories regarding my religion is by now well documented. You, Joe Childs in particular, actively seek out only those individuals who have something negative to say about the Church; if they do not fit your agenda then you attempt to coach them and coax them into doing so by "educating" them about Scientology until you have "adjusted" their viewpoint accordingly and when that does not work you simply put words in their mouth. This is your pattern, which was unknown to the Church until recently, and has been your modus operandi for the better part of two decades.
This represents years of you, and the publication that employs you, ignoring all the reasons millions of Scientologists around the world are not only more than happy with their religion, but steadfastly maintain an abiding trust in Church leadership and management — a trust that has never been stronger than it is today.
As you yourself said it to me in May of this year, "Scientology isn't peeping in mainstream, it's in mainstream America." This has never been truer than today and for good reason. Through years of dedicated work by individual Scientologists in helping their fellow man, Scientology has truly become a globally recognized force for positive change through the many social betterment programs we sponsor. In fact, as just a sampling:
• Through the anti-drug and drug abuse education programs we sponsor, every 15 seconds someone pledges to be drug free.
• Through the human rights education programs we support, every second of every day, 26 people learn about their human rights.
• And across all of our sponsored programs, every 25 seconds someone volunteers in their community.
Because our programs are non-discriminatory, 60% of those active in them are from faiths other than Scientology. Working with thousands of schools, churches, governments, businesses, law enforcement agencies and others in 150 countries, last year individuals working through Scientology sponsored programs volunteered more than 4.8 million hours to their communities — tutoring kids, rehabilitating inmates, delivering drug education lectures, promoting human rights and more.
As a result, the Church can proudly say it sponsors the single largest drug education initiative on earth, with fully developed educational materials including 16 award-winning public service announcements and an hour and half documentary educating kids about the dangers of drugs, as well as the world's largest non-governmental residential drug rehabilitation network. We also sponsor the single most proactive human rights group on Earth which also includes freely provided educational materials with 30 public service announcements educating kids and adults alike on the subject of human rights.
These are just a few of the programs we are proud to support and make Scientology one of the most active and contributive social betterment forces on earth:
• 17,700,000 received drug education lectures;
• 3,400,000 people took a Drug Free Pledge;
• 32,000 criminals and juveniles rehabilitated, 80% have never returned to jail;
• 183,111 signatures collected in support of human rights;
• 2,750,000 reached weekly with human rights message;
• and in the last year 1.1 million tutoring hours volunteered with 36,000 students receiving one-on-one tutoring resulting in 45% academic improvements in tests.
While the above is just a sampling, all told over a half billion people have been reached by these programs.
This is what you and your sources are attacking. This is what you refuse to report on. You know it, your sources know it and the entirety of the Tampa Bay community knows it.
That being said, the Church of Scientology wishes any former parishioner well in their pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. The same most assuredly applies to your sources.
Church of Scientology
cc: George Rahdert, Esq.