Burma has recently been hit by a powerful cyclone. The death toll is currently estimated at anything 23,000 to 100,000, with countless injuries, refugees and missing persons.

In the face of such human tragedy, where would the world be without the helping hands of the Volunteer Ministers?

(Note: the link below has been deliberately broken, to access the article replace “[dot]” with “.”)
Myanmar – All Volunteer Ministers Call to Action

On Sunday, Cyclone Nargis hit the nation of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma, a country between India and China) and killed in excess of 25,000 people so far. The original report from the military government of Myanmar was a death toll in the hundreds, but there was a belated admission that the cyclone had killed at least 30 times this figure – with 10,000 perished in just one city. The devastation of the area has left several hundred thousand people without shelter and clean water.

HELP IS NEEDED:

The people of this area need our help urgently. A whole team of Volunteer Ministers need to go to Myanmar to start bringing order and delivering the miracles of Volunteer Minister technology.

We cannot just stand back and watch. The situation requires decisive action NOW. We need responsible Volunteer Ministers to bring hope to these people.

On the surface, this would seem a laudable goal. However, further investigation is informative. As stated later in the article:

If you are not already trained as a Volunteer Minister, we will train you on the ground, or you can learn how to help on one of our on-line training courses, available for no charge on the Volunteer Ministers website.

Disaster relief requiring nothing more than a course carried out solo via the internet?

Let’s have a look. From the list of courses offered, the most obvious one would be the assists for illness and injuries. Let’s have a look. First aid? Counselling? Or:

People sometimes get hurt in the business of living. The human body is subject to disease, injuries and various mishaps of accidental or intentional character.

Throughout the ages, religions have attempted to relieve man’s physical suffering. Methods have ranged from prayer to the laying on of hands, and many superstitions arose to account for their occasional effectiveness. It has been a commonly held belief, however, no matter the method used, that the spirit can have an effect on the body.

Today, medicine treats the body when there is something wrong with it. But it overlooks almost totally the relationship of the spiritual being to his body and the effect the former has on the latter.

Translation: faith healing dressed up in quasi-scientific terms.

The Volunteer Ministers’ history is not exactly a proud one. As described earlier in this blog, their main purpose is to promote Scientology through “ministering” to people in disaster situations. Perhaps the most comparable situation to this cyclone would be Hurricane Katrina. Of the Volunteer Minister response, one news source wrote the following:

“In far too many cases,” said the NCHRA, “the victim ends up being swindled out of what little money and possessions they have left. Desperate people far too often abandon common sense and fall for scams that appear to solve their desperate situations. The victim becomes victimized over again.”

For one example, at present there are a dozen or more fake “ministers” from the Scientology corporation rushing to the Hurricane Katrina disaster site to sell the victims books and to collect donations ostensibly for disaster relief. When the Scientology business sent nearly two dozen salespeople to the World Trade Center in 2001, and a dozen salespeople to Sri Lanka in 2004 [0] ( under the pretense of being “ministers” ), official relief workers forcefully ejected them from the disaster areas. In an internal Scientology email leaked to human rights activists, one Scientology salesperson even crowed with pride at the Scientology corporations efforts to PREVENT relief workers from helping victims of the disaster.

If, and when, Volunteer Ministers carry out practical aid work – providing refreshments for emergency workers, for example, or food and shelter – they should of course be commended, as should anyone putting in effort to help others. And it is clear that many VMs, as with many Scientologists in general, sincerely believe they are helping. However, more often than not Scientology’s disaster relief consists of well-intentioned but ultimately unsound faith healing at best and cynical manipulation at worst.

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