The new menace that waits outside the school gates
East Grinstead Courier, 23 February 1987, front page
By SEAN RYAN
THOUSANDS of children are in danger of indoctrination by a sinister cult which has mounted an undercover operation to attract young followers. Children as young as six are being enticed by the Church of Scientology into exploring its founder's bizarre philosophy.
Some have had cult literature thrust into their hands by Scientologists at their school gates. Others have received it through the post. And the campaign has been so disguised that 11 mayors and council chairmen were duped into endorsing it.
At the centre of the deception is the apparently innocent Set a Good Example contest, with the tempting top prize of a trip to Hollywood. To enter, children from six to 18 must read a booklet, The Way to Happiness, with their parents' help If necessary. They must then carry out a project which 'sets a good example,' based on what they have learned.
The competition organisers distributing the leaflet, are the shadowy Concerned Businessmen's Association. whose address is a Victorian house In North London.
Documents obtained by the Daily Mail reveal that the association was secretly set up by the Church of Scientology, branded "corrupt. Immoral and dangerous' by a High Court Judge during a child custody case in 1984.
The author of The Way to Happiness. whose name is written in tiny print, is science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the church. A spokesman for the cult-monitoring group Family Action, Information and Rescue said last night: 'It's quite appaling to get at children through what is a large-scale propaganda exercise for Scientology.
The cult, which was badly hit by Mr Justice Latey's High Court condemnation. and its leader's death last year. is exuberant over the success of The Way to Happiness campaign. Its internal newsletter, the Auditor. says: 'Weekly, thousands of UK children are asking for competition entry forms."But many head teachers have been outraged by the Scientologists' approaches to them and their pupils. Worst hit has been West Sussex, home base of the church, where booklets and contest details have been distributed at several schools.
'Literature has also been sent to London borough youth officers, libraries and businessmen, and the names of West Country mayors and council leaders have been used in an effort to attract business sponsors to the campaign.
But the civic dignitaries who endorsed it are now withdrawing their support, protesting they had no idea of any connection with the Church of Scientology when they were shown the booklet and asked to sign a scroll.
The Way to Happiness, loosely based on six of the Ten Commandments, was described as 'harmless' by the mayors, but 'unsuitable for children' by one education expert who criticised its language and some of its content.
It warns children that promiscuity might lead to 'a knife in the back or ground glass in the soup,' Among the literature, a comic strip tells of a youngster sent from outer space to earth to 'prove himself a leader of men'.
The door of the Concerned Businessmen's Association's address in Duke's Avenue, Muswell Hill, was opened yesterday by a young woman giving her name only as Sam, who referred Inquiries to the Church's headquarters in East Grinstead. It claimed the association was a completely separate organisation.
[photo caption: Sam, woman at door]
Mrs Sheila Gaiman. who works for the association, said: 'We are in touch with many groups concerned at the decline of morals in society and with young people. We are getting people being competent, industrious and taking care of their environment'
[picture of front cover of "The Way To Happiness". caption: What every child entering the contest must read... with their parents' help if necessary]