Concerned Businessmen's Association of America
Concerned Businessmen's Association of America (CBAA)
Church of Scientology front group
The Concerned Businessmen's Association of America (CBAA) is one of many front groups for the Church of Scientology. Like the cult's other front groups, it is not always honest about its association with the Scientology business:
A fourth-grade class at Skokie's Highland Elementary School has taken part in a values-education contest sponsored by a group which watchdogs say is connected to the Church of Scientology.
Neither school administrators nor the teacher whose class took part in the "Set a Good Example" contest, sponsored by the Concerned Businessmen's Association of America, were aware of the association's ties with the religion.
The local association sponsor, Lincolnwood dentist Dr. Michael Goone, denied Tuesday that the CBAA is connected to Scientology, although he acknowledged that he became a Scientologist after becoming involved with the business group.
Goone and CBAA founder Barbara Ayash, also a Scientologist, both said the group is not connected to the church. "We are non-sectarian, non-religious, non-political and our main concern is kids," Ayash said.
But spokesman Robert Raymer of the California Attorney General's office of inquiry said Tuesday that the CBAA, which is registered as a charitable trust in California, "makes no bones about being affiliated with the church."
As part of the contest, the association supplied a Highland teacher with Scientology writer L. Ron Hubbard's booklet The Way to Happiness. Copies were distributed to the 24 pupils who took part, Highland School Principal Tony Coglianese said Wednesday.
The Way to Happiness, published by another Scientology-linked company, Bridge Publications Inc., is a 95-page booklet. It does not mention Scientology, and promotes such concepts as personal cleanliness, honesty, fulfilling obligations and avoiding drug use.
It also has a disclaimer on the back cover stating that it "is not part of any religious doctrine. Any reprinting or individual distribution of it does not infer connection with or sponsorship of any religious organization."
Goone said he learned about the CBAA and the contest about a year and a half ago through a presentation at a management group he belongs to.
"They are presenting a book that happened to be written by L. Ron Hubbard, that's all."
Ayash echoed Goone, saying "the book stands on its own" and that the only mention of God in the text is in reference to religious tolerence.
She added that those who link her group and the church are merely seeking to create controversy where none exists, and expressed concern for the Highland pupils.
According to a 1988 story in the St. Petersburg Times, however, the CBAA is part of the church's complex network of legal entities. The story says the CBAA is a "California-based group of Scientologists that promotes drug-free living through its Way to Happiness book and like-named campaign, targeted to school-age children."
Although a CBAA letter to the school calls the contest the "Set a Good Example" contest, a letter from the school to parents says the children have been recognized for participation in the "Way to Happiness" contest.
In a press release, the CBAA says the "Set a Good Example" program has run for 10 years in schools across the U.S. and is not religious in content.
Elsewhere in the multi-page statement, which Goone said was from the CBAA, there are quotes from a letter written by the church's office of special affairs.
Those state: "The Way to Happiness Foundation and the Concerned Businessmen's Association of America are entirely separate entities." The letter goes on to state that The Way to Happiness Foundation (which distributes the book) is not part of the church but "is a related social betterment organization."
Cynthia Kisser, director of the Cult Awareness Network, said Wednesday that one of her group's concerns about Scientology "is the deception, in terms of explaining who they are to the public, and to their own members."
"The issue at stake with the CBAA distributing The Way to Happiness and other copywrited writings of L. Ron Hubbard is two-fold," she said. "It creates in young and impressionable children a positive image of L. Ron Hubbard and, through that, of Scientology because it's being given to them by their teachers, people they trust."
Kisser, whose group has been sued several times by the church, added, "they aren't looking to bring little children into the church, but to create a second generation of people who will be more willing to listen to Hubbard's teachings and less critical of them. It also provides a better public image of Hubbard and, through that, the church.
"It's a marketing dream."
Scientology linked to class contest, The Lincolnwood Review, June 6, 1996
Concern Businessmen's Association of America (Official site) Caution: Scientology front group. Included here for research purposes only.'
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