Mayor abandons anti-drug program affiliated with Church of ScientologyBy Ashley Meeks/Sun-News reporter
Posted: 12/07/2008 12:00:00 AM MST
Click photo to enlargeThe Drug-Free Marshal program, which Mayor Ken Miyagishima had... (Sun-News photo by Norm Dettlaff)«12»
LAS CRUCES — The city is immediately ending an anti-drug program aimed at third-graders after it was revealed it was created and bankrolled by the Church of Scientology.
The "Drug-Free Marshal" program, started in late November, had only been presented to five schools but was intended to be promoted eventually among all third-graders in the Las Cruces Public Schools.
Mayor Ken Miyagishima apologized Saturday and said it was not his intention to promote the religion. The mayor said he was approached this summer by Richard Henley, of Foundation for a Drug-Free World, who showed him a pamphlet adorned with the seals of El Paso, Española, the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Department and the Horizon City, Texas, and Socorro, Texas, Police Departments and asked if the city would "support eradicating drug use in the community."
In small type at the bottom, the pamphlet is copyrighted by Foundation for a Drug-Free World, Narconon and Association for Better Living and Education, all Scientology programs.
"It's my fault for not checking it out," Miyagishima said. "This is something that I have to put an end to, this portion of it, since it was brought up to me."
Since all the material was free, Miyagishima said he asked about the funding. He said Henley told him it was donated by a private individual who was interested in eradicating drug use.
"He gave me a couple of names, but not (founder and science fiction author) L. Ron Hubbard," Miyagishima said.
of the literature deals with illegal drugs, but one pamphlet specifically focuses on Ritalin, considered by Scientologists to be a harmful and "mind-altering psychiatric drug." According to Scientology.org, "psychiatry is not a science."
Henley said Saturday the church was only one backer and that the material did not have a religious message, comparing it to the multi-faith origins of United Way.
"There is no religious message in any of the materials and the only message of Mr. Hubbard is in connection with the discovery of the toxins," Henley said, also describing the foundation as "secular."
When asked if he told Miyagishima about the connection with the Church of Scientology, Henley said "it's all in the videos on the Web sites that they acknowledge (the connection between the pamphlet and the church)."
Henley also declined to say if the materials had been provided to other New Mexico schools, saying the requests had come from "individual teachers or classes ... for two or three years."
As for the foundation's message against psychiatric medication, Henley said such prescriptions were up to a "medical doctor" or "medical physician," terms used in Scientology to distance such doctors from psychology and psychiatry. But he was clear about what he said was the danger of such prescriptions.
"Every single one of the shooters in the schools have been on one form or another of these psycho-pharmaceutical drugs," he said, though Scientology is opposed to far more than these drugs. According to the Scientology handbook, even aspirin will make someone "unfeeling, insensitive, unable and definitely not trustworthy, a menace to his fellows actually."
The "Marshal" program was one part of Miyagishima's "5-2-1-0" fitness initiative, which also encouraged children to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables, spend no more than two hours watching TV, get an hour of exercise a day, and not to drink sodas — aspects which have recently been praised by U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen.-elect Tom Udall and the New Mexico Department of Health.
Only the "Marshal" program is affiliated with Scientology.
"I'm going to have to pull the marshal's badge (program)," Miyagishima said. "First off, I'm not happy that I wasn't fully informed, obviously, and two, that's something there that I can't be — the city can't be seen as promoting any type of religious activity."
LCPS Superintendent Stan Rounds said the mayor's decision Saturday was a good solution to a common problem. As superintendent in Des Moines, N.M., Rounds said his staff was given boxes of materials on math that also contained messages about "the godliness of study" and other evangelical themes. "We had to black all of that out so we could use the materials," Rounds said.
Miyagishima said he would give out Las Cruces Police Department sticker badges at future events and that anyone with a Scientology-provided badge could trade it in.
"I don't want to lose any momentum with this program," Miyagishima said.
As for the Scientology material, Rounds called it "regrettable, but I think the mayor's planned direction is the right one. Our message to kids is not to use illicit drugs."
Ashley Meeks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; (575) 541-5462
We also have a convict drug re-hab called Second Chance (NarCONon) in Albuquerque that is about to lose it's state funding. It has been the topic of some media reports lately and a study was done at UNM that concluded doing nothing was as effective as doing Second Chance. They have lied about their recovery stats and they have employed some shady characters in the program.
It is all coming back to bite them. :D