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Katz finds religion... or vice versa

Title: Katz finds religion... or vice versa
Date: Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Publisher: Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Bartley Kives
Main source:

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IN a booklet called The Way To Happiness, it appears as if Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz officially endorses the musings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Katz's image and the official City of Winnipeg logo appear on the back cover of the 68-page booklet, which implores readers to observe life lessons such as "do not take alcohol to excess," "don't be promiscuous," "preserve your teeth" and "don't do anything illegal."

The booklet purports to be "presented by Sam Katz, mayor" and even includes Katz's 2006 re-election slogan, "our city, our future" above a bogus letter laden with Katz slogans such as a "climate of opportunity." But Winnipeg's mayor and the city have nothing to do with the publication, 20 copies of which were sent to Katz's office as part of an international effort to get political leaders to promote writings by the late Hubbard.

In the United States, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert reacted angrily to the use of their images, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Francisco's city attorney even fired off a cease-and-desist letter to The Way To Happiness Foundation International, a California-based organization that printed the pamphlets, the Chronicle reported. Winnipeg's mayor, however, is shrugging off the stunt. "They certainly did a lot of research, but we're not angry. We have other priorities," said Brad Salyn, Katz's director of communications.

"This is obviously a sample sent to our office and it was not approved or paid for by our office... If material was being distributed on our behalf with a false endorsement, it would be a different story."

To Salyn's knowledge, no copies of the booklet were sent anywhere in Winnipeg besides the mayor's office. The booklet bears an aerial view of The Forks and St. Boniface on the front cover, but has a reference to a photo of "Capetown skyline" on the back, suggesting the South African city was also targeted by the campaign.

Lance Miller, president of The Way To Happiness Foundation International, said sample booklets were sent to political and business leaders across North America, but he could not recall how many packages were sent.

"Books are sent out as a sample to the mayors," he said, claiming he has received a positive response from several cities, which he declined to name.

"We're interested in turning lives around. We offer solutions to problems," he said, claiming the situation with San Francisco's mayor was "just a misunderstanding."

In a earlier interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Miller said the writings in the booklet are independent of L. Ron Hubbard's religious teachings, but can be found in Scientology churches.

The Way To Happiness, subtitled A Common Sense Guide To Better Living, contains 21 commandments, all penned by Hubbard before his death. Commandment No. 3 — "Don't be promiscuous" — blames the disappearance of Buddhism from India on the sexual impropriety of priests and states that when sex is "misused or abused, it carries with it heavy penalties and punishments: nature seems to have intended it that way also."

Commandment No. 9 – "Don't do anything illegal" – declares that "the state and government tends to be a rather unthinking machine."

According to the foundation's website, The Way to Happiness is "the first moral code based wholly on common sense" and is designed "to arrest the current moral decline in society and restore integrity and trust to Man."