The Guardian (England), Mar. 27, 2003
A Church of Scientology advert claiming that its programmes had “salvaged” 250,000 people from drug abuse has been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority as unproved, following a complaint by the Church of England.
The ruling related to a poster coinciding with a campaign run two years ago by the church. In effect it claimed that the church had saved all those who had completed its drug programmes.
It did not mention that its definition of drug use included an occasional alcoholic drink or prescription medicine, and exposure to chemical toxins.
The ASA judgment said: “The authority accepted that the … programmes … had enabled many people to overcome a dependency on drugs but was concerned that the advertisers had not proved that all those enrolled were dependent on street or prescription drugs at the time of enrolment, or that as many as 250,000 drug users had stopped … as a direct result of Scientology’s intervention.”
A Church of England spokesman said: “The truth is Scientology makes claims for their dangerous cult which they can neither prove nor substantiate. Drug users trying to kick the habit are vulnerable. This makes them perfect prey for cults.”
Graeme Wilson, the Scientologists’ spokesman, said: “The success of the … programmes to help drug addicts … has been acknowledged by the ASA following an investigation which lasted longer than a year.”
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