Church of Scientology, A Compelling Voice for Human Rights, Brings Reality to Local Education

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While human rights issues are considered more of a problem in foreign countries, the Church of Scientology embraces human rights education through events at their spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, most recently held on January 13.

It’s the evolution of human rights education made by individuals that change conditions of our society

We are all confronted daily with news of ethnic conflicts, inhumane practices and civil unrest. In the United States, many consider violations of human rights to be only faced by people in foreign countries – not here at home. The Church of Scientology, a 40-year advocate of ensuring that human rights are always protected, says it is just as important here as it is in other parts of the world. Known for their global advocacy efforts to educate humankind of their undeniable rights of being human, The Church embraced the Right to Education at their most recent event held last Sunday, January 13th at their Clearwater, Fla. Spiritual Headquarters. Among those in attendance was Susan Valdes, former Chairman of the Hillsborough County School Board of Directors.

Early in his research into the human mind and spirit, author, humanitarian and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard emphasized that spiritual freedom and enlightenment were unattainable to individuals who were denied their most fundamental human rights.

Today, Scientologists on five continents work with government agencies and nongovernmental agencies to bring about broad-scale human rights awareness and implementation of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the worlds’ premier human rights document. (1)

The Right to Education

Human rights are rapidly entering the academic curriculum, with programs appearing all over the country—including at Duke, Harvard, Northeastern, and Stanford Universities.
Most of these programs are in schools of law or public policy, but a few, including those at Macalester and Bard Colleges, are oriented toward the humanities. (2)

Helping failing students or troubled kids might not be one’s idea of forwarding Human Rights, but the Church of Scientology and the 200-plus guests in attendance last Sunday might beg to differ.

“It’s the evolution of human rights education made by individuals that change conditions of our society,” stated long-time PR Spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology, Pat Harney. “It’s those ordinary efforts that we see as extraordinary – because they change our culture for the better.”

This past Saturday at the historic Fort Harrison, The Church of Scientology acknowledged and celebrated a local organization called Men of Vision, founded by a teacher by Ross Anderson. Anderson’s history of mentoring young, troubled men has earned him awards for his endeavors. A Hillsborough county school teacher, Anderson took a buyout from a corporate job in 2003, and in 2005 went to Sligh Middle School in search of a substitute teaching job. The school system, desperate for qualified male teachers willing to work in its low-income schools, hired him on the spot, and later nominated him as its teacher of the year.(3)

At Van Buren since 2008, Anderson works as a resource teacher to improve students' reading skills and attendance. He said he immediately saw the power of encouraging young men to do their best and make a positive contribution. He encourages them to help out in their community while trying to improve their education.

"He always has our back, keeps us out of trouble," agreed sixth-grader Wildens Cajuste. "I'm very grateful to have him. He's one of a kind."

Susan Valdes, a former teacher and now Hillsborough School Board Member, is a strong supporter of Anderson’s efforts and the Men of Vision. Valdes is one of seven members responsible for making policy decisions and overseeing a budget of $2.7 billion for the 8th largest school district in the nation, which also is the county's largest employer with more than 25,000 employees. (4)

“When I was a teacher, I saw kids that did not have proper examples, and their right to education was severely hindered because of it,” Valdes said. “[Men of Vision] is that type of organization that makes the right to education a reality to troubled young men and opens the door for them to a better life.”

Local Human Rights

A basic premise of human rights is that they are for everyone. Thus, regardless of economic or cultural background, any individual, by participating in programs, can rouse popular support for human rights and human rights education in their own community, city or country.

The Church of Scientology and its parishioners participate in and host a multitude of events throughout the year celebrating extraordinary efforts of ordinary people in Tampa Bay that are working hard to make the community a better place to live, work and play. And by doing so, Scientologists believe they are helping to forward their Founder’s dream to all areas of society: “Human Rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream,”L. Ron Hubbard.

About the Church of Scientology:

The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. Mr. Hubbard wrote the Code of a Scientologist, calling on all members of the religion to dedicate themselves “to support true humanitarian endeavors in the fields of human rights.” In doing so, he laid the groundwork for what has become a global movement of advocates for the human rights of all people, regardless of their social condition, ethnicity or religious affiliation. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has today expanded to more than 10,000 Churches, missions and affiliated groups with millions of members in 184 countries. Visit

(1) Scientology How We Help, United for Human Rights, making Human Rights a Global Reality
(2) Human Rights in the Humanities
(3) Hillsborough County teacher Ross Anderson named We Deliver award winner, Tampa Bay Times
(4) Hillsborough County Public Schools, Susan Valdes

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Karla Jo Helms
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