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JUMPING ON THE BANDWAGON
Bandwagon meaning: “An activity or cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular”.
It’s no secret the church is notorious for seizing fundraising and PR opportunities when tragedies result in human suffering and misery. As Tom Cruise famously stated in the leaked IAS video “because being a Scientologist……you know you’re the only one that can help”.
Although using such situations for PR purposes has been a long-standing strategy of the church, it was steeply increased following the tragedy of 9/11. The church acknowledged this in numerous self-generated press releases such as this one which states: “The work of these volunteers at Ground Zero New York inspired a movement that now circles the globe—Scientology Volunteer Minister Disaster Response teams on call 24/7 in times of disaster”.
The press release further blows the church’s horn with: “They served in the aftermath of the 2004 South Asian tsunami, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 Japan tsunami and hundreds of disasters great and small in countries around the world”.
Interestingly, if one does a Google search of these disasters coupled with the word/s “Scientology” “Volunteer Ministers” “church of scientology” or any other combination, the majority articles generated are by the church themselves (PR Web, GlobeNewswire etc). The tiny number of articles not generated by the church contain dubious reports/stories questioning the intentions insofar as the “help” being offered. In January this blog published an article detailing just how much “help” the VM’s delivered during the Christchurch earthquakes.
In 2008 South Africa was gripped by xenophobic attacks resulting in mass media coverage and a period of mourning and shame for South Africa who just 14 years prior had bid farewell to apartheid.
True to type, the church jumped on the xenophobia bandwagon with great gusto. Scientologists were heavily regged for WTH booklets, IAS fundraisers were quickly organised and Joburg org had a collection point for clothes, food and supplies – all in the name of “helping the victims of xenophobia”. The result? Absolutely nothing. Not a word. No report from the church at all – no accounting for the money donated, no stats on the impact of the booklets handed out and, more importantly, not a single word about the “good works of the church” mentioned in any press.
Just last month in April another spate of xenophobic attacks broke out in South Africa – a situation that has once again seen extensive attention and coverage in local & international media.
Not surprisingly, the church has once again grabbed this opportunity to forward its own agenda:
First up was this bizarre email sent out by Joburg org on the 18th April:
We’re not sure where to start with this, but bear with us.
The Joburg Org Volunteer Ministers (which don’t exist) are issuing a “Call to Arms” (an internal situation which is ONLY used at times when the church is under heavy attack or at severe risk – clearly not the case here). Now that you’ve been summoned, deposit your money into a Way To Happiness account at Nedbank after you’ve spoken to Ciaran Ryan (the LAST person in SA whose name should appear on the same page as “money for scientology campaigns”). If you don’t have money, then no need to bother Ciaran – rather phone Fiona for “other contributions” (none of which are specified).
Confused? Mixed message much? Absolutely.
Surprised? Nope, not in the least.
Not to be outdone, 5 days later Shaun Hanekom (Bridge/PUBS CLO AF) decided he also wanted part of the xenophobia action and sent out this email (red print highlighted by BIC):
Firstly, the word “xenophobia” is not a pronoun – but for some reason, Shaun thinks it looks better that way. The litany of typos and poor grammar is just embarrassing. As is denigrating the President of South Africa by referring to him simply as “Jacob Zuma” – not to mention ridiculing his decision to deploy military & accusing him of “throwing guns at the problem”. This kind of trash-talk against the President of a country is conduct unbecoming in the extreme – a prime example of Scientology arrogance.
“People are electrified” – really? Has Shaun bothered stepping out of the CLO office bubble to observe 97.5% of the population are continuing with their daily lives? The church makes a big deal against media and other “SP chaos merchants” and yet here is one of their own donning a virtual sandwich board blazoned with THE END IS NIGH message.
Of course it’s no surprise that money is the focal point here. $50,000 to be exact. At today’s exchange rate that’s R600,000 for a bunch of DVDs that will probably never reach their destination. Besides which, in the history of TWTH campaigns in this country, what has changed? Where are the stats? Which war was ended “with a single booklet”? How come a Google search for WTH + South Africa turns up absolutely nothing besides the church’s own press releases? By the church’s own accounts, literally hundreds of thousands of WTH paraphernalia have been distributed to every corner of this country. To what end?
And then to crown it all, one of our eagle-eye correspondents alerted us to a Facebook page “Drug Free World Africa” who posted this on their page on the 24th April:
“Peaceful protests against Xenophobia attacks & for Equal Rights & Justice is important for all South Africans
“Good day, Please be advised that Drug Free World South Africa is in full support and will be attending the peaceful protest”.
The peaceful protests the past week is a clear indication that South Africans are Opposed to the inhumanity and violent attacks on any foreign national.We thank our communities, religious leaders and government for having staged these Anti-Xenophobia protests to try and help restore the damage these attacks have done and seriously implicated our nation and our economy.
There are reported incidents that even some South Africans were assaulted during these xenophobia attack, by those criminal elements.We have also been informed that the KhoiSan and Colored people will be staging a public protest on Freedom Day, Monday, 27th April 2015.
The gathering will start at 10am from the Wits University, Origin Center, Cnr Yale & Enoch Sontoga Avenue, Braamfontein. The marchers will proceed to hand over Memorandums to the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Promotion & Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic at Braampark, in Hoofd Street, Braamfontein.
From there the protesters will head towards Constitutional Hill in Kotze Street, Braamfontein, where they have requested that the Commission for Gender Equality & The Constitutional Court receive the memorandum.
It seems that some of the concerns and challenges that the KhoiSan and Colored people are raising constitute very serious human right violations and neglect and it challenges the current Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Executive Director Drug Free World South Africa
Firstly, why on earth is Drug Free World aligning themselves with Human Rights & Equal Justice? What does this have to do with the issue of drug abuse?
Secondly, they go on to state their opposition to xenophobia – again, not a drug-related issue (but given half a chance, the church will position ANYTHING to meet their hidden agendas).
And then incredulously, Carmen mentions a peaceful protest march against xenophobia by aligning this with a march by the KhoiSan and Coloured people addressing their CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS????
In fact, there was indeed a peaceful exchange of a memorandum by the Gauteng Khoi and San Council to the Gauteng Government. Among their demands are the reclassification of the KhoiSan people’s race and the inclusion of their indigenous language to the official languages of the country. But this protest actually took place in March. See this article.
After scouring the internet we could find absolutely no reference to ANY peaceful protest taking place in Joburg on the 27th April. The march against xenophobia in Johannesburg took place on the 23rd April.
For crying out loud, how did they get this so utterly twisted?
And if they did indeed take part in this protest/march – where is the report-back and photos of the event?
Perhaps this picture (pulled directly off their FB page) says it all:
(FYI: The young lady is a stock photo freely available on the internet)
Maybe someone needs to drop Carmen a line about their stance of “anti xenophobia” and “for Equal Rights & Justice for all South Africans” when their organisation is a front group for the church of scientology – a group which engages in the following activities:
- Mass-declares of “SPs”
- Enforced disconnection
- Ripping families apart
- Slave labour, enforced abortions and child labour abuses
- Outright & aggressive discrimination against those who don’t agree with the church
- Policies of fair game, witch-hunts and black-ops campaigns against former members or others speaking out against church abuses
- Publishing disgusting smear websites against anyone who dares speak or write freely their own opinions and viewpoints regarding current church affairs
We’re sure there are other examples of the church jumping on the bandwagon – feel free to contribute your own observations.