A group teaching the core moral values as outlined by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard has been conducting workshops at Israeli summer camps without the knowledge of the children’s parents.
Most Israeli children attend summer camps, as both parents typically work. Israel’s News First Class learned that at many of those camps, the children are being subjected to morning lectures by volunteers from the Association for Prosperity and Security in the Middle East, a group that promotes Hubbard’s teachings.
At the end of the lectures, the children are all given copies of Hubbard’s booklet The Way to Happiness and a wall poster containing its main points.
APSME insists on its website that the organization and The Way to Happiness are not affiliated with the Church of Scientology, and that the booklet is a purely non-religious moral code that is compatible with all religions.
Upset Israeli parents are not so sure.
“It looked like the messages were generally positive, like rules for good behavior,” said one parent who spoke to the Israeli news portal Ynet on condition anonymity. “But then I saw who authored them and I happen to know that he is the founder of the Church of Scientology.”
“I cannot understand how they expose children to such things, and without the parent’s being aware of that?” continued the angered parent.
A former member of the Church of Scientology in Israel who also refused to give her name called The Way to Happiness an “imitation of the 10 Commandments” found in the Bible.
As in other countries, the Church of Scientology in Israel relies on those ensnared by the base message found in The Way to Happiness later turning to the church for further guidance down the path laid out by Hubbard.
In 2003, Israel’s Ministry of Education ruled that The Way to Happiness is not to be used in Israeli schools, following efforts by the APSME to have the Hebrew version of the booklet included in the official school curriculum. But Israeli summer camps operate largely independent of the ministry, and therefore individual camp leaders are free to decide what material the children will be exposed to.
News First Class accused the APSME of exploiting a current morality crisis in Israel by pushing a message on young children that sounds harmless, but ultimately leads to bondage in what it called a “dangerous cult.”
During last summer’s Lebanon war, the APSME took advantage of the confusion in northern Israel to approach war-battered and distraught residents with their message.