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Laenstidningen Soedertaelje, 5 February 1999
U-man Test and Business Consultants, a WISE consultant company, has been the topic of an article series in "Laenstidningen Soedertaelje", a local newspaper for the Swedish town of Soedertaelje, about 30 kilometres south-west of Stockholm. Summaries of the articles:
February 5, 1999 [main front page story, plus three full pages inside]:
U-man closely connected to the scientologists
Expert warns: stealth recruiting for the cult
In a luxurious mansion on Bergsviksgatan, the personnel hiring company U-man Test and Business has its Swedish base. But U-man is no ordinary hiring company. The link to the Church of Scientology is strong. Maarten Runow, president and owner, is himself a scientologist, and the so-called U-test used for hiring purposes is practically identical to the personality test of the scientologists.
According to experts, the Church of Scientology is one of the most dangerous cults in the world, and critics say that companies like U-man are part of a concious strategy for recruiting new cult members.
The view of the Soedertaelje Canal from the old luxury villa is stunning. This is the Swedish base for U-man since 1997. The owner and president, Maarten Runow who is a dedicated scientologist, has recently moved with his family into the top floor of the house. Runow also owns the daughter companies in Norway and Finland.
In the last twelve years, hundreds of companies and public agencies have bought the U-test, not knowing or caring about that the company has strong links to the scientology movement. The test has 200 multiple-choice questions. It's sold for about 4000 SEK ($500) each to companies who want assistance in choosing new employees. The job applicant makes the test which is sent to U-man, and 24 hours later U-man sends a computer-based analysis and recommendation to their client.
What clients are not informed about, is that the test is nearly identical to the test used by the Church of Scientology when recruiting new members. The purpose is to look for personality weaknesses, which then according to the scientologists can be improved by attending their expensive courses.
The test copyright belongs to L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer who created the Church of Scientology. That is why U-man pays at least two percent of their income to WISE, one of the core organizations of the scientology movement. This means that many Swedish companies indirectly support the movement finacially.
There are U-man companies in fifteen other countries, apart from Sweden, run as franchises.
According to ex-members and those who have researched the scientology movement, it is a concious strategy to start companies and organizations based on Hubbard's theories. Narconon and Citizens Commission on Human Rights are other examples.
- It's a way to bring people in through the back door. Everyone who works for a longer period of time at, or long-time customers of, U-man risks becoming scientologists, says Ake Wiman, one of the strongest critics of scientology in Sweden.
The company was at its most successful in 1995, with a turnover of 11 million SEK ($1.4 million) and 30 employees. Today there are 10 people working at the Soedertaelje office and the turnover has decreased to 7 million ($850,000). The decrease occurred after U-man attracted some negative media attention. But they keep going, using intense marketing.
- The purpose of our company is not to make people into scientologists, say Maarten Runow.
The walls of his office display statistical tables of the development of the 16 U-man companies world wide. Runow is not only the owner of U-man in Sweden, Norway and Finland, but also a key figure in U-man International and assists with, among other things, new computer programs.
- We are separate companies, but also work as a cooperative helping each other out.
- The origins of this test was developed for professional use, not religious. You may say that Hubbard developed a workable evaluation method for the test. A difference between our way of using the test, and the Church of Scientology's, is that we are more interested in finding strenghts than weaknesses.
- Considering what has been written about us, it is hardly possible that any of our customers doesn't know about the scientology connection.
Runow wants to play down the importance of the test.
- The main thing is to asses the productivity of the person, which we do by checking their references and telephone interviews with the applicant.
U-man have ceased the so called communication courses previously sold to their company clients, according to Runow.
- It created some confusion for clients who had the impression that we were a recruitment company, not an education company.
Runow openly states that he became a scientologist 14 years ago, after suffering burnout and unexplicable breakdowns. He went through auditing and the problems disappeared. Now he has reached the state of Operating Thetan. According to Hubbard, that means free of the limitations of the physical body. But Runow does not want to discuss this, he says it is only a certain level of awareness of the spiritual aspects of existance.
He says you do not need to be a scientologist to work at U-man. In Norway only one of their employees is a scientologist, in Sweden about half of them.
In response to the criticism about U-man being a front group used to lure people into the scientology movement, he says it would in that case be a very ineffective method. In ten years, maybe ten of all the people they have been in contact with have become interested in scientology.
Runow further says that the fact that U-man has become ISO 9001 certified proves that it is a serious company.
[Then follows one page of quite well-written background summary on Scientology]
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