The grandmotherly smile of a woman victimized by Scientology
When I walked through the front door at The Way to Happiness Foundation International in Glendale, California recently, I found the building empty except for a young brunette receptionist. I expected the impressive Scientology building to be empty — I haven't seen one recently that wasn't scarcely populated, and I've visited a few of their sites in California. I asked the lady what the place was all about, just to see what she'd say.
"So what's the purpose of this place?" I inquired. She grinned.
"Why, we're here to restore the decay in society," she said. I blinked.
"What was that?"
"We're here to restore the decay in society." She smiled benignly.
"I think you meant something a bit different," I suggested. She blinked a couple of times.
"We're here to fix it!" she blurted out. I asked if I could look around and she told me I could. Taking pictures was okay, too.
The first display I encountered had a huge picture on the left of a senior lady grinning as she hugged a young girl. I recognized her as Barbara Ayash, who for decades did as much as or more than anyone to promote Scientology's "The Way to Happiness" booklet and get kids involved, thus (Scientology hoped) putting the youngsters on a path to full-fledged membership in L. Ron Hubbard's space opera religion. There on the other side of the display at bottom right was Nancy Cartwright, a long-time Scientologist who is the voice of Bart Simpson in The Simpsons on TV. Cartwright was surrounded by kids and grinning, too, but she has a reason to be happy, with her showbiz success.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Ayash—who greatly helped to popularize "The Way to Happiness" in America yet was not identified by name in that picture or anywhere else in the facility (that I could find that day)—is 80 years old and seemingly abandoned by the putative religion she spent so much time supporting.
If you read Mrs. Ayash's "About Myself" page at a site where Scientologists talk about why they love Scientology, you wouldn't have a clue about her current reality. It states she is 65 years old (15 years ago). The page explains how in 1985 she "received the prestigious International Association of Scientologists Religious Freedom Medal. I was the first woman to receive it. Then in 1993-94 I was named International Woman of the Year by the International Biographical Association of Cambridge, England."
She goes on to say that "these credits are not mine alone. They also belong to the millions of children who have participated in the SET A GOOD EXAMPLE Contest and helped me achieve those honors. They earned many of their own for the projects they did that were based on 'The Way to Happiness' book, written by noted author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard. Their good works have been commended 17 times in the United States Congressional Record. Forty-four governors have proclaimed Set A Good Example Months in their honor as have hundreds of mayors in cities throughout the country." And some of the proclamations she mentioned are on display in the exhibit in Glendale, but there is no written credit to Mrs. Ayash.
Back to her Scientology page: "According to a national study completed by Beckman and Associates, an independent research firm, 90% of the teachers who participated with students doing SET A GOOD EXAMPLE contest projects rated 'The Way to Happiness' book as 'Excellent,' for helping children learn the difference between right and wrong and to apply common sense guidelines for living such as honesty, trust, respect, and good citizenship."
(NOTE: Her Scientology page will probably disappear after this article appears online, but the page is cached.)
And she explains how the Set a Good Example Contest allows students to compete for "one of three $5000.00 grants to help improve education in their school. The competition requires that students plan, develop and complete a project that will influence their peers in a positive way....away from drugs, crime, and violence and encourage them to practice honesty, trust and competence." She refers the reader to a group she founded with her late husband, Robert Ayash, the Concerned Businessmen's Association of America.
Abraham Robert Ayash was a convicted felon formerly known as Robert Crail, who went to prison for tax evasion. It's difficult to imagine that executives of Scientology did not know of his background when his wife Barbara was putting "The Way to Happiness" booklet on the map with kids and getting massive financial contributions from individuals and corporate groups. Scientology has a history of ignoring people's personal history when money is being made for Scientology and people are being converted. And where better to convert people, than by catching them when they are young and convincing them of the "goodness" of the author of the "Way to Happiness" booklet, L. Ron Hubbard?
Problem is, that's the same Hubbard who tortured his second wife, Sara Northrup, kidnapped their daughter Alexis, and threatened violence against the child if he didn't get his way. Also, Hubbard was still married to his first wife, Polly Grubb, when he married Sara, but who's counting?
You might also be interested in "Child Abuse in Scientology" on YouTube, made in 2010, in which Hana Whitfield, who worked with Hubbard in the Sea Organization, explains some precious little horrors including babies found dead in urine-soaked cribs in the nursery at the Ft. Harrison hotel headquarters in Clearwater, Florida. (When she speaks of Hubbard's aides on the ship Apollo having abortions, that's no joke. I dated the best friend of Hubbard's third wife, Mary Sue, and she told me she had three abortions while serving on the ship.)
Also on the video, Astra Woodcraft explains the Mace-Kingsley Ranch for "problem children" of Scientology parents where teenagers regularly got drunk thanks to supervisor Wally Hanks, who molested her and and regularly had his way with other girls. Hanks was an "Operating Thetan 7" — then the top level of Scientology. Hanks was asked to leave Scientology, but was never reported to the authorities and not even "declared a Suppressive Person" to other Scientologists, because gosh, that would have been bad public relations! (Note that the link to Scientology's own definition of Suppressive Person says nothing about reporting crimes to the police.)
Oh, those wacky Scientologists. These days, according to its site, The Way to Happiness International supports itself by selling its booklets and other materials. After all, the book of precepts has been translated into 70 languages, supposedly a Guinness Book world record! (Search the Guinness site; however, you probably won't find a reference to Hubbard.)
And then there's the matter of how the booklet of 21 precepts came about. In was published in 1981 with almost no emphasis on Hubbard's name. That's because he was afraid of being arrested and was holed up with Pat & Annie Broeker (pictured in Queens, New York where he wrote The Way to Happiness booklet).
Meanwhile, his wife Mary Sue, who supervised "Operation Snow White," a government infiltration by Scientology, was with top Scientology executives bound for prison over that debacle. I had witnessed the FBI raid in L.A. when it happened.
Back to Mrs. Ayash. She became famous within Scientology when she used the concepts in "The Way to Happiness" to tame members of the infamous 18th Street Gang in Los Angeles. Her full story was explained in a DVD made by the CBAA entitled The Children's 'SET A GOOD EXAMPLE' Campaign, produced by my old Scientology friend Tom Solari, with music by another Scientologist friend, Geoff Levin. It's an impressive video, with testimonies from regular people and concerned business people from all over, including a Scientologist dentist, Juan Villareal, the CEO of a massive family dentistry practice in Harlingen, Texas.
Villareal was perhaps Barbara Ayash's best donor, reportedly giving her $5000 a month at times. You can see many people from Harlingen on the video, and on Villareal's company website you'll see instances of how the Hubbard booklet is regularly and heavily promoted in schools and among youthful potential Scientology followers.
That's how the booklet gets out there these days. People buy it from the organization and sell it or give it away, little suspecting the deep dark history of the man who wrote it or people who helped make it famous, only to be ignored by Scientology when no longer useful.
And don't think Barbara Ayash didn't ask for help. In 2011, she wrote an email to Scientology asking for support. It was published on the site of former high-ranking Scientology executive and now critic Marty Rathbun, whose wife is currently involved in a suit against Scientology. When Robert Ayash died, he apparently had nothing to leave his wife. Mrs. Ayash explained in her email that her Set A Good Example Campaign for school children was "going bankrupt due to the fact that I have no personal funds to help pay promotion and delivery expense." She stated her Social Security income was $829.00 per month, from which she paid $799.00 per month in rent, leaving her only $30.00 for food, with nothing for a phone or medicine. She was 78 years old at the time. When I read her email, I was reminded of how Scientology and Hubbard had all but abandoned Celebrity Centre founder Yvonne Jentzsch to die of cancer, despite how she put Scientology on the map via celebrities she got involved.
Tory Christman, former decades-long Scientologist and now one of Scientology's most vocal critics, covered The Way to Happiness booklet in a series of YouTube videos. In the first one, she pointed out that precept #7 of the booklet "Seek To Live with the Truth" was the exact opposite of what many Scientologist do. "They actually drill and bill you and mold you into being a chronic liar." I've personally seen Scientology Training Routine L, which teaches you to lie, whether or not it's still in use, And as reported in the Pasadena Weekly in August 2005, Los Angeles Police Dept. Commander Mike Downing claimed "the Church of Scientology forged his endorsement on The Way To Happiness Web site, prompting the LAPD to disavow any endorsement of Scientology and The Way To Happiness."
If you care to bother, check out the 21 Moral Precepts of Hubbard's booklet on the Foundation's site. For example, #1 - Take Care of Yourself. Hmm, Hubbard didn't really do that. #4 - Love and Help Children. For the Ayashes and Hubbard, maybe not so much. #6 - Set A Good Example. Not really, for those Scientology executives who ignored child molestation and death. #9 - Don't Do Anything Illegal. Umm... #14 - Be Worthy of Trust. Sheesh, where do you start?
Oh well, guess maybe those "moral precepts" only apply to people Scientology is trying to get involved. This all adds up, kids, to this — Scientology isn't the Way to Happiness.
In fact, it's the absolute polar opposite. Scientologists have "restored the decay" — to themselves. Scientology is broken, and they can't fix it.
(I'm writing a book about this and a thousand more crazy stories. If you want to help, I welcome your assistance. Set A Good Example!)