Scientology's 'real-life Hogwarts' school charges $42,000 a year


Los Angeles

Make jokes about Thetans and Xenu if you must. Have a good laugh at John Travolta's film Battlefield Earth if you absolutely have to. But don't expect to poke fun at L Ron Hubbard's legacy without getting an almighty roasting from the Church of Scientology's PR department.

The Church has launched a new offensive against its critics in the US media, accusing an author who attempted to lift the lid on secrets of a $42,000-a-year boarding school it runs in rural Oregon of making "a number of false claims" about the institution and its teaching methods.

Benjamin Carlson's two-part series on Delphian School, which has about 250 teenage students, made headlines last week when it described how teachers there follow a curriculum designed around "Study Technology", a controversial teaching method designed by Mr Hubbard in the 1960s.

The articles, published in The Daily, alleged that roughly half the children at Delphian are practising Scientologists, and that "the structure of the school, its ethical code, and its language all reflect the influence and precepts" of the science-fiction author's religion.

Delphian markets itself as a real-life version of Hogwarts, the school from the Harry Potter books. A video on its website features a student saying "You know, it's on a hill, and I'm a big Harry Potter fan ...You've got the Forbidden Forest out there, it's like, awesome."

According to former students interviewed by Carlson, the school has strict rules on alcohol, drugs and PDAs, or public displays of affection, between students. The institution's ethical code is enforced by a brigade of prefects called "rovers".

Miscreants who break those rules are named and shamed on a list which hangs outside the door of a member of staff called the "ethics officer". In another cute example of Potteresque boarding school slang, the sheet of paper is known as the "Golden Rod".

Carlson's articles further allege that Delphian, which was founded in the 1970s and boasts Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's daughter among its alumni, is in the final stages of becoming a member of the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools.

That would be controversial, since the "Study Technology" its curriculum is designed around is somewhat unconventional. Indeed, according to Carlson, it revolves around the theory that "all educational problems arise from misunderstood words".

Delphian students are therefore required to devote large portions of study time to looking up words as basic as "the" in a dictionary, he alleges. They must also take part in "training routines" which involve such exercises as staring into a study-partner's face for two straight hours.

The Church of Scientology claims Carlson's portrayal of "Study Technology" is misleading, however. It insists that since the technique was developed by Hubbard the 1960s, it has been widely endorsed by experts. "[It] has become a worldwide phenomenon for the fact it routinely raises reading and comprehension levels to a remarkable degree," said a spokesman.

The Church further accused Carlson of misrepresenting "Sea Organisation", the Scientology labour corps where many Delphian students enrol after graduation. Allegations that the organisation is being investigated for human trafficking or slavery are false and defamatory, it insists.

"The two-part series... made a number of false claims concerning the Church of Scientology, yet not once did the author of the series, Benjamin Carlson, contact the Church for any comments," reads the statement. "Consequently, the article contains inaccuracies about the Church."

A spokesman for The Daily said last night: "We stand by our story."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Packaging Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas