Church tutors embrace methods
An East Tampa pastor stands united with Hubbard's study technology program.
By ROBERT FARLEY
Published May 20, 2007
TAMPA - The red letters on the white sign in front of the Glorious Church of God in Christ read "Free Tutoring in the C.L. Kennedy Center." An arrow points to a building behind the church.
Every afternoon after school, as many as 42 Hillsborough County public school students gather for tutoring in reading and math skills. Most start with a Learning to Learn course, which teaches the basics of L. Ron Hubbard's how-to-study program.
The tutors, all wearing red vests, are members of the Glorious Church in East Tampa. They learned how to teach Hubbard's "study technology" at the Church of Scientology in Tampa.
Glorious Church's pastor, the Rev. Charles Kennedy, embraces Hubbard's education and drug treatment programs, which Scientologists say are secular. Kennedy also endorses Hubbard's moral code, outlined in a pamphlet called "The Way to Happiness," which is widely distributed by Scientologists.
Kennedy's bottom line is this: Hubbard's educational program works. And Scientologists do not push their beliefs. So he sees no reason not to provide it to neighborhood kids who need a boost in academics.
The books used at Glorious Church -- like most study tech texts -- include a two-page biography of L. Ron Hubbard. The bio does not mention that Hubbard created Scientology. The "about the author" pages are not contained in the books used at Prescott Middle School.
The Church of Scientology in Tampa trains the tutors for free and donates the program's textbooks for the Glorious Church's after-school tutoring.
But the program still costs more than $20, 000 a month to operate. Donations from church members and the community pay some of it, but the bulk is subsidized, Kennedy said, by his private businesses, which he refuses to discuss.
He expects more students to enroll in the popular program when school starts next fall. Other Christian churches in Tampa and out of state have contacted him, he said, for advice about starting their own tutoring programs using Hubbard's methods.
Kennedy's wife, Yolanda, runs the after-school program. While she and Scientologists have different spiritual beliefs, she said, "in everything else we do in life, that's where we have found common ground."
Robert Farley, Times Staff Writer