McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 14, 2011

Local Narconon leader speaks out on conflict over school presentation

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — Earlier this month, Narconon Arrowhead in Canadian was prevented from presenting its anti-drug presentation at Lawton Public Schools. Gary Smith, CEO of the facility, said a disgruntled former client and what he called a “cyber-terrorist” group, Anonymous, is the reason.

Smith said Anonymous sent mass emails, called the school district and “scared” district officials into calling off the presentation. 

Members of Anonymous have been arrested recently for  hacking into multi -million dollar companies such as Sony, Facebook, Bank of America and the New York Stock Exchange, according to CBS.com. 

Located in the former Arrowhead State Lodge on Lake Eufaula, Narconon Arrowhead facility is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.

In 1996, the lodge was purchased by the Church of Scientology for $1.9 million through the nonprofit Association for Better Living and is used by Narconon.

‘Drugs are 

poisonous’

Former Narconon Arrowhead client Colin Henderson admits his affiliation with Anonymous and said the group is helping him inform local schools about the truth in Narconon’s affiliation with the Church of Scientology.

“Besides the fact that Narconon is a religious organization, it teaches the Church of Scientology’s belief that all drugs are bad,” Henderson said. “I let the schools know that if after a child is taught that all drugs are bad and that child should stop taking his prescribed medication and suffers a life-threatening illness or death, the school could be held responsible. 

“And that it’s against the Constitution to have any state-sponsored religious programs in the schools.” 

Narconon is registered with the state of Oklahoma as a non-profit 501c3 public benefit non-profit corporation. 

A Narconon Drug Education school curriculum given to the News-Capital by Smith states all drugs are deemed poisonous. 

“One very important point to understand is nearly all drugs are toxic. In other words, most drugs are basically poisonous ... 

“Before we wrap up here, a quick quiz; ‘Sometimes drugs are needed, but they are all? (Answer: Poisons),’” according to a Narconon Drug Education Elementary Education School Curriculum dated 2007.

Smith does not deny Narconon’s affiliation with Scientology. “Narconon was started with support of L. Ron Hubbard, who started the Church of Scientology, and the church still supports Narconon through its Association for Better Living,” he said.

Red Ribbon Week

According to the Lawton Constitution, the canceled anti-drug presentation at MacArthur High School was slated as part of an annual Red Ribbon Week observance. 

The school district did not confirm the reason for canceling the Narconon program.

In a statement from the school’s public relations department, “Several valid questions were released about a drug-awareness presentation scheduled at a local school in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week. Because there was insufficient time to thoroughly research the issue before the scheduled date of the event, the Lawton Public Schools opted to take the prudent action, which was to cancel the presentation,” according to the Lawton Constitution.

Smith said Narconon is thankful for its affiliation with the Church of Scientology and that the facility has received several commendations, including a Citation of Congratulations from the State of Oklahoma signed by Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne, and a proclamation signed by then-Gov. Brad Henry making Feb. 9, 2009, Narconon Arrowhead Day.  

“We are just trying to teach kids about the dangers of drugs so they never end up at Narconon,” Smith said.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.