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Scientologists lecture in Latvian schools

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The Forge of Happiness (Latvian - Laimes kalve) society, which has ties to the Scientology movement, has held lectures in several Latvian schools, Latvian Television's investigative journalism team De Facto reported Sunday. Representatives of the movement have lectured children as young as ten, and say about 2,000 pupils have heard them across Latvia.

The Forge of Happiness is closely tied to the international The Way to Happiness Foundation, a branch of Scientology. It is spreading an eponymous brochure authored by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, and actively disseminates its views in schools.

The Education Ministry warned schools a year ago that the materials of the foundation aren't suitable for children. Experts said that the content is tendentious, unscientific, and misleading. For example, the brochure says that laws have no relation to good or evil and that they should be followed only in fear from the state.

Valdis Tēraudkalns, a theology professor at the University of Latvia, said that although Scientology is often presented as a form of popular psychology, "in reality it's a religion as what's said by Scientology cannot be proven with scientific methods."

De Facto reported that a total of eight schools - including a Christian school - had lecturers from the Forge of Happiness hold talks on addiction, motivation, conflict solving, and unleashing your potential.

Organizations that participate in the learning process have to obtain a permit in the municipality or the Education Ministry, but headmasters of the schools in question weren't able to provide the permits.

Latvian Television noted that whilst public organizations and people from any profession are allowed to hold lectures as long as they abide to the Latvian education standards, lecture cycles - like those held by Forge of Happiness - require a certificate, and, according to the Education Quality Department, working without one amounts to a violation of law.

The Forge of Happiness, according to De Facto, is an active organization, participating in city festivals and an annual education exhibit. It holds lectures to municipal employees and has won a Welfare Ministry tender to teach courses to social workers.

In summer 2014 several organizations sent 140,000 The Way to Happiness brochures to hundreds of Latvian schools. The State Department of Education Quality asked for the removal of these books, while those who spread it promised to provide documents proving its positive effects.

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