Scientologists gaining a foothold in shattered Haiti


From The Australian. By Will Pavia

Port-au-Prince - It has Roman Catholics, voodoo spiritualists, Protestants, Rastafarians, Jews and Baha'is. Now Haiti, a nation brimming with piety, looks set to be endowed with another belief system: the Scientologists say they are here to stay.

With an operation called The Volunteer Ministry Disaster Relief for Haiti, the Scientologists plan to establish a permanent base in the country. Pat Harney, a spokeswoman for the operation, said: "I have no doubt that in some form or other there will be a church of Scientology here."

Scientologists were already working to found an orphanage, she added. An advance party arrived nearly two weeks ago but the big moment occurred when actor John Travolta flew his Boeing 707 from Florida to Port-au-Prince carrying six tonnes of military rations, medical equipment, baby food and nappies as well as doctors and volunteer ministers.

"We have the ability to make a difference in Haiti," he said.

As well as providing more than 100 doctors and basic aid, Scientologists volunteered to work in Haiti's remaining hospitals.

Scientologists -- all in yellow T-shirts bearing the slogan "Something CAN be done about it" -- helped to bring medical supplies out of damaged buildings and distribute food and water. Ms. Harney said they were able to offer their own healing method in the hospital and in the clinic established by the University of Miami. "A person can be hurting and medical assistance does not work," she said. "We help people to locate themselves."

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Religion NewsRichard Potts