The Pulaski County Coalition Against Drugs (PCCAD) announced Monday morning, via Facebook Live interview, in the Daily Guide office, that it is pulling the anti-drug program, The Truth About Drugs, from Pulaski County Schools due to its connection to the Church of Scientology.
The Truth About Drugs is an anti-drug curriculum created by an organization named Drug Free World. Drug Free World appears to be a department under the Church of Scientology and admitted, when asked by PCCAD that the Church of Scientology is its "largest contributor."
The Church of Scientology is a controversial religion that has had some criticism from former members, including former celebrity members, who have made accusations against the church. More recently, actress Leah Remini has had a television documentary series entitled "Scientology and the Aftermath," where former members of the church discuss their experiences with it.
Steven Bales, Director of PCCAD, sat down with the Daily Guide Monday morning to talk about the organization's decision to pull the program.
Bales said that they were unaware of the connection and would not have chosen the program had they known because the organization doesn't want to be affiliation with any one religious group. Bales became aware of the connection through some messages from individuals over the weekend.
The Daily Guide was also contacted by individuals over the weekend making us aware of the connection to Scientology on Facebook, Twitter, and via email. An organization that actively tries to discredit the Church of Scientology had seen the Daily Guide's article about the implementation of the drug program and published the information on its website.
The website, www.tonyortega.org, home of the Underground Bunker, a blog about the Church of Scientology contacted local schools and the sheriff's department, according to information it provided. A notification from Twitter Monday afternoon, made the Daily Guide aware of the information on the website.
The earlier article about the implementation of the anti-drug program in Pulaski County schools prompted the Daily Guide, at that time, to review the materials in the program. It should be noted that nowhere in any of the curriculum was there a mention of religion, religious ideology, or the Church of Scientology.
After some research, Bales discovered how closely connected the Church of Scientology is connected to Drug Free World and how misleading the organization was about its ties. This prompted the decision to pull the program from area school districts by the organization.
Bales explained that when the organization was reviewing drug programs, they were only looking for programs that provided a curriculum that was more effective than ones used in the past. It simply didn't come up about who funded this particular program.
"It was an honest mistake," Bales said. "We were looking at materials, what was there, what was provided, not who paid to create them."
The Daily Guide filmed a portion of the interview with Bales so that he could make the announcement live on Facebook and watchers began commenting soon after.
Among the comments were criticism for the organization not looking deeper into the source of the material. Bales said it was a lesson learned and the organization is already looking for a different program.
"Our focus is drug education, period. We're not out to promote any certain religious group or affiliation or whatever the case may be. We're here to try to educate kids and parents about the dangers of drugs and that is our sole purpose," Bales said.