Customers who buy products using Amazon’s ‘Smile’ feature are now able to donate a percentage of each purchase to the Church of Scientology’s controversial drugs education program, The Guardian reports. Known as Narconon, the organization delivers talks in schools in more than 20 countries, although experts have dismissed its approach as unscientific and accused it of attempting to convert schoolchildren to Scientology.
Founded by L Ron Hubbard, Scientology is based upon a myth about some sort of alien called Xenu who used atomic weapons and space volcanoes to kill a load of other aliens, which is why the Church now needs us all to give it loads of money.
Some of that money goes towards funding an organization called the Association for Better Living and Education, which runs Narconon.
According to the Scientology website, Narconon began in an Arizona prison in the 1960s, when a group of inmates overcame their addictions using the principles described in L Ron Hubbard’s texts. The major premise behind the Narconon detoxification approach is that drugs leave some sort of residue in human fat cells, which becomes reactivated and causes cravings. The program therefore treats addiction by attempting to eliminate these residues through regular saunas and a cocktail of vitamins.
Yet this theory has been widely discredited by scientists, with the British government’s former senior drugs policy advisor David Nutt telling The Guardian that this approach “has no scientific validity.”
In spite of this, Narconon claims to have delivered talks to more than 22,000 children in schools across the UK. Critics say they have only been able to do this because the government does not invest in any other teaching materials regarding addiction, and with Narconon offering to provide this service for free, the organization has become the only option for most schools.
In a recent interview with the Evening Standard, Nutt explained that “We have known for years that Scientologists have been targeting schools through drugs education packages. They are the main provider of teaching aids to schools, as neither government nor local authorities put any money into this topic. It’s an outrage.”
Meanwhile, David Touretzky of Carnegie Mellon University also told the newspaper that Narconon’s drug education program is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to convert young people to Scientology.
Countering this criticism, Narconon has funded several of its own studies, all of which suggest that its methods are highly effective at combatting substance misuse.
Amazon Smile, which lets customers donate to selected charities, now includes Narconon’s US and UK headquarters on its list of charitable organizations.
[H/T: The Guardian]