The Anonymous collective has announced a new phase in its protests against the Church of Scientology, targeting the alleged mistreatment of youngsters by Scientologists.
Operation: School's Closed is due to take place on 13 September and will involve a wave of protests against the "Church of Scientology management, its attempts to infiltrate schools, and its internal exploitation of children". The planned demos follow seven previous protest days outside Scientology centres around the world, each with a particular theme.
The Church of Scientology has been attempting to introduce church-backed schemes including "Applied Scholastics" and the "Study Tech" of Scientology founder, L Ron Hubbard, in schools for over 30 years. Groups such as "Drug Free Marshals" and "The Way to Happiness Foundation" are also designed to introduce teenagers to Scientology, according to the organisers of Project Chanology, the name the Anonymous collective has given to its ongoing campaign against Scientology.
Study Tech places emphasis on rote learning rather than critical thinking, and fits in with the basic tenet of Scientology that "ideas not be re-interpreted, or even debated", according to Anonymous.
Study Tech corrupts the most basic principles of most educational systems, representing them in a different manner. This is an effective form of social control over the classroom. Disagreement with the material one is studying is evidence of a misunderstood word, which must be located and cleared before one can progress.
Study Tech includes a convenient blame mechanism. In Scientology, if a concept is not understood, it is always the fault of the student, never that of the teacher or source material.
Anonymous cites a scathing documentary made in Australia and other sources to support its view that children are exploited as a source of labour by Scientology organisations instead of being allowed to complete a full education. The Ex-Scientology Kids site chronicles complaints about long work hours, as well as verbal and emotional abuse suffered by youngsters within Scientology before they left the organisation.
More information on School's Closed campaign can be found here.
Anonymous has been campaigning against the Church of Scientology since the events surrounding the attempted suppression of the infamous Tom Cruise Scientology ceremony video at the start of 2008. Church attempts to stop the video being distributed lifted the lid on deeper resentments of the Church's alleged financial exploitation of members and censorship of leaked church documents or unfavourable internet content.
Members of Anonymous are known for wearing V for Vendetta-style Guy Fawkes masks during demos outside Scientology offices.
Other protest tactics have included a controversial denial of service attack on Church of Scientology websites, and prank phone calls to Scientology offices. ®