Letters to the Editor: Scientology in the Workplace

Source: Wall Street Journal
Date: April 10, 1995

Heber Jentzsch, President of Scientology<

One thing was undisputed in your March 22 page-one article, "How Allstate Applied Scientology Methods to Train Its Managers," about management seminars delivered to agents at Allstate Insurance Co.: the management technology developed by L. Ron Hubbard works.

As one of the sales managers who took the seminar summed it up, Mr. Hubbard's management technology is "very powerful in its simplicity." This sentiment is echoed by hundreds of thousands of business owners, executives, employees and professionals around the world.

It seems the "controversy" in the Allstate story began years ago when a handful of insurance agents with a grievance against their management concocted the reddest of herrings out of these seminars - making Scientology an issue to forward their own agenda. And in the process of reporting on this manufactured controversy, you forwarded misconceptions about Scientology.

L. Ron Hubbard - writer, philosopher and founder of the Scientology religion - discovered and made broadly available principles about such fundamental subjects as communication, education and ethics that are applicable to any person or endeavor. Just as these principles are embraced by the millions of members of the Scientology religion, they are used by millions more in entirely secular settings. This concept is certainly not new. The civilizing forces of ethics and morals brought to races by religions in centuries past have held through to the present with scarcely a mention of their religious heritage.

Mr. Hubbard's administrative technology places strong emphasis on maintaining high ethical standards and productivity in the business world. In today's commercial environment, where unscrupulous practice is increasingly prevalent, most would agree these elements are necessary to successful and prosperous organizations and employees.

Mr. Hubbard's writings on the religion of Scientology also place high importance on ethics, as do many religions. Scientology is a religion that recognizes that man is basically good and offers tools anyone can use to become happier and more able as a person and to improve conditions in life for himself and others.

Of all the information available to you about Scientology, you used none. Instead, you included one twisted interpretation of several sentences taken out of context from millions of words that comprise the subject. and that one mention - an unwarranted, sweeping accusation concerning the church's supposed reaction to criticism - was conjectured to be the inspiration for management practices at Allstate that the disgruntled agents found objectionable. Such one-track treatment of the subject occluded and misrepresented the full story.

Mr. Hubbard long ago realized that people need a helping hand with their lives - from their personal decisions to their jobs and their relationships - and he gave them tools to help themselves. Through Scientology religious counseling, called auditing (from the Latin word audire, meaning "to listen"), millions of people have improved their ability to handle their lives and achieve higher levels of spiritual awareness and well-being.

Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch
Church of Scientology International
Los Angeles<

Herbert Rosedale, President, American Family Foundation

Your article on the introduction of the principles of Scientology through training courses in the workplace at Allstate Insurance was thoughtful, and it raised the curtain on a serious problem of significant dimension throughout American businesses today.

Use of mandatory training programs based upon religious premises is a practice that has been proliferating for a period of time at the expense of employees' freedom of religion. We recently read of such programs in the FAA that are claimed to have violated employees' rights. Mandatory participation in Scientology-based training programs was found to presumptively violate the freedom of religion of two employees in a physical therapy clinic in New York State who were fired because they refused to take part in such programs.

Compelling employees to submit to training programs selected by the employer requiring conformity to the employer's religious beliefs and that require conduct inconsistent with the beliefs of employees has been deemed improper by regulations adopted by the EEOC. In our striving to increase productivity in the workplace in the recent past, employers have often reached out for magical solutions without regard to the rights of their employees.

A program solely based upon the principles of Scientology is widely imposed as a required training program in professional offices of veterinarians, dentists and podiatrists, among others.

Respect for religious freedom compels us to deplore these abuses of power. Employees are often afraid to speak up fearing that taking action to protect their religious freedom will cost them their jobs. I applaud The Wall Street Journal in raising the rock so we can look underneath it and hope the inquiry continues and spreads to other like abuses.

Herbert L. Rosedale
American Family Foundation
Bonita Springs, Fla.

(The American Family Foundation is a nonprofit whose job purpose is to educate the public about the dangers of destructive cults in our society.)

Richard Larkin, former Allstate agent

"The influence of Scientology at Allstate," as you wrote, "is no joking matter." It has been and remains a serious matter for many concerned employees. Removing Scientology material from Allstate's training books does not purge it from the minds of those who underwent the training, incorporated it in their management philosophy, and openly practiced its tenants until such time as Allstate was forced to declare them to be inconsistent with its values.

I know, for I am the agent who two years ago at the Sears annual meeting asked the question, "To what extent are the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology present today in Allstate and in Sears?" The question was asked as a private citizen and as a Sears stockholder, as is this letter written; for to do so as an employee contravenes corporate policy and could result in termination.

Although I knew what the answer would be at the time, I was searching for the truth. Thanks for helping to end the search.

Richard C. Larkin, CLU
Herndon, Va.

Houston Hancock, Scientologist<

My wife and I have used the business and management technology of L. Ron Hubbard in our art business for the past 15 years. It has enabled us to create an art market in the Washington, D.C., area and has been instrumental in selling thousands of art lithographs.

Houston Hancock
Rockville, Md,

Marcia Rudin, Director, International Cult Education Program

Thank you very much for your recent excellent article detailing the Church of Scientology's training programs provided to Allstate. This is only one example of how cults are marketing themselves to businesses, causing havoc to both individuals and the organizations involved.

As one who has been concerned about cults for nearly 20 years, I appreciate your concern about this very important issue.

Marcia R. Rudin
International Cult Education Program
New York