Having given Narconon the once over, a few of our less devout priests decided to take a moment away from tending to our Dark Lord Xenu (his Thetan be praised) to look into Scientology’s other most prominent social project, the Volunteer Ministers. They can be seen at most major disasters, from terrorism and university shootings to earthquakes and hurricanes. They even get priviledged information from the Metropolitan Police. Just what are they up to?

The objective of the Volunteer Ministers is, according to the Church of Scientology, to apply Scientology tech to people in need to help solve their problems and improve their life. VMs can apparently solve all kinds of problems, including drugs, money, relationships, and a number of other personal issues.

Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard, meanwhile, was a little more direct in explaining his rationale for the Volunteer Ministers:

“As the benefits of the Volunteer Minister program begin to spread throughout the society, a rank and file of people that have been helped will begin to accumulate. These people will begin to feed into missions and Churches of Scientology from wherever the Volunteer Minister has been at work.” (HCO Policy Letter 22 February 1991, Volunteer Ministers)

Standard Scientologist MO: target the vulnerable, claim to offer help, and bring them into the fold before they know it.

In disaster situations, teams of Volunteer Ministers may be dispatched with their yellow tents and matching t-shirts. A main technique used by such teams is the Touch Assist. This is the Scientologist equivalent of laying on of hands (obliquely conceded on the Church’s handbook for the procedure) and has about as much scientific value – liable to be helpful to those who believe in it but little more than a placebo regardless.

Another, though less publicised, task of the Volunteer Ministers is to act as “spiritual security” at disaster sites by keeping away Scientology’s irrationally-hated enemies, the psychiatrists. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, an e-mail was leaked from within Scientology from a high-ranking member of the Sea Org boasting of their successes in keeping psychiatrists from the scene:

“Due to some brilliant maneuvering by some simply genius Sea Org Members we tied up the majority of the psychs who were attempting to get to families yesterday in Q&A, bullbait and wrangling. They have a hard time completing cycles of action and are pretty easy to disperse. But today they are out in full force and circling like vultures over these people and all of our resources are tied up in the support efforts in the disaster zone at present.”

It goes without saying that some of the work done by the Volunteer Ministers – provision of food and water for emergency workers, for example – is commendable. However, the tactic which forms the majority of their disaster relief is of little to no medical value. More importantly, however, the underlying goals of its operation – to promote Scientology doctrine, recruit people to the Church, and advance their frankly bizarre anti-psychiatric agenda – are a serious concern. Suffice to say, this is one type of relief we could do without.

Further reading:
Official website
Touch Assist (from the Scientology handbook)
Leaked e-mail following 9/11
Undercover interview with Volunteer Ministers (includes “spiritual security” defence of obstructing psychiatrists)
James Randi on the “Touch Assist”
Volunteer Minister at Wikipedia