Mon, Jan 25, 2010 - Page 13 News List

PLANET POP

STAFF WRITER, WITH THE GUARDIAN

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It was too good too last: reports have hit newsstands that Hollywood’s most beautiful couple, Brangelina, is to split. While that’s nothing new, the Sunday Times, a renowned conduit of celebrity gossip, the Daily Mail, and News of the World, all ran stories yesterday revealing details of the split.

Though not married, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have inked legal papers setting the groundwork for formal financial separation and joint custody of their children, the reports said.

Still it could be worse, at least the Scientologists haven’t offered to lend them a hand in their hour of need.

The high profile, expansionist figures who represent psychopath, conman, liar, fantasist, fraudster, bully, tax evader, megalomaniac L. Ron Hubbard’s organization have turned their thoughts to Haiti.

Were an idiot like you to itemize the myriad things that this most wretched of disaster zones currently lacked, chances are you’d omit “militant Scientologists who claim post-traumatic stress is a conspiracy created by the evil psychiatric profession, and who believe the correct response to extreme shock is to touch sufferers with one finger, before attempting to convert them to the ways of Hubbard.”

Thank God for John Travolta. The Wild Hogs legend has unveiled his response to the unfolding crisis, announcing: “I have arranged for a plane to take down some Volunteer Ministers and some supplies and some medics.” For the medics and supplies Travolta must obviously be thanked, but for the Volunteer Ministers — arriving in Haiti via Air Travolta along with scores from other Scientology churches — the same cannot be said.

According to an official press release, the corps will be on hand to dispense “spiritual first aid” to Haitians. Because really, nothing should feel more appropriate right now than gadding about Port-au-Prince offering survivors the chance to be hooked up to an e-meter. Hopefully if they find any gay people, they can begin curing them.

For the Volunteer Ministers, you see, a tragedy is not so much a tragedy as a tragitunity.

Hubbard personally decreed the strategy he called “Casualty Contact,” in which he advised Scientologists to scan newspapers for reports of accidents or bereavements, searching for “people who have been victimized one way or another by life.”

Stipulating that one way to do this was to trawl hospitals, Hubbard declared of the ambulance-chasing Scientologist that, “He should represent himself ... as a minister whose compassion was compelled by the newspaper story concerning the person ... However, in handling the press he should simply say that it is a mission of the church to assist those who are in need of assistance. He should avoid any lengthy discussions of Scientology and should talk about the work of ministers and how all too few ministers these days get around to places where they are needed. It’s straight recruiting!”

The Volunteer Ministers program’s yellow tents are increasingly visible at high-profile disaster sites, and often enlivened by special appearances by their celebrity adherents. Within these tents Scientologists administer the aforementioned Touch Assists, whose purpose is to “speed the Thetan’s ability to heal or repair a condition with his body.”

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