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Scientology Myths - what is fact? what is fiction?
chapter: Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF)

Q: Is the RPF (Rehabilitation Project Force) akin to slave labor?

To be perfectly honest, I am not even sure where these claims against the RPF are coming from.
The Rehabilitation Project Force is only for members of the Sea Organization under clearly defined circumstances.

The Sea Organization is the religious order of Scientology and described in the Definitions pages.

About the RPF, here is an extensive independent study undertaken by Juha Pentikäinen (Chair of the Department of the Study of Religions, University of Helsinki, Finland), Jurgen F.K. Redhardt, and Michael York (Bath Spa University College).

The study - a link to the full text is below - says about the RPF:

"The Rehabilitation Project Force came into being on the 7th of January 1974. It was formed aboard ship, after Hubbard discovered that either due to negligence, incompetence or for other reasons, some staff seemed consistently unable to carry out their duties fully and responsibly. During our visits, it was explained that the program was created to offer those staff the opportunity to address and resolve the source of their problem if they wished to remain members of the Sea Org.

Transgressions that might render a Sea Organization member eligible for the program would be of the following nature:

  1. serious violation of the Church’s ethical standards (such as adultery or theft of magnitude or of long duration) or
  2. consistently committed serious mistakes or detrimental actions in violation of their staff member responsibilities and of the trust placed in them, despite previous efforts by ministerial staff of the Sea Organization to help them to overcome these shortcomings.

The theoretical basis of the RPF program is that staff members who commit transgressions of this character may have a chance to redeem themselves by addressing the source of their ethical problem, resolving it to their satisfaction and that of the Sea Organization, and thereby attain spiritual betterment and improved competence and ability.

In the written issue, known as a "Flag Order", that established the RPF, Hubbard wrote: "Like industry or any organization or ship before that date, when a crew member stole or embezzled or refused to work he was simply fired and offloaded. Scientology crew members objected to this. They demanded that provisions be made to rehabilitate the person. They had the idea that a person should be given a choice of being off-loaded or rehabilitated…In the RPF the person receives counseling and does work on a team basis. The largest percent of persons assigned to an RPF graduate successfully and rejoin the crew. The majority of these give rave success stories. No other management organization undertakes such a function. They just fire people." ...

Two central elements of the RPF program that deserve definition are the study of the works of L. Ron Hubbard that make up the scriptural materials of Scientology and the process of counseling, unique to Scientology, known as "auditing". Auditing forms the primary religious practice of Scientology. It may manifest in several variants, but the most typical consists in an interchange between an "auditor" and the person being counseled. The book What Is Scientology?, published by the Church, describes auditing as "processes - exact sets of questions asked or directions given by an auditor to help a person locate areas of spiritual distress, find out things about himself and improve his condition."

The RPF program incorporates auditing and study as part of a regimen that is clearly demanding. It consists of five hours of study and/or auditing a day and eight hours of work, with a minimum of seven hours sleep. The remaining four hours are taken up with eating, personal cleanliness, travel etc. The five hours of study/auditing and the seven hours sleep are mandatory.

"Members of the RPF may not be put on a work schedule which does not allow for 5 hours of study and co-auditing and 7 hours actual sleep time to be sessionable and studentable. Anyone in or outside the RPF issuing orders which cut across the RPF program by blocking or reducing enhancement may be called before a Committee of Evidence". ...

A "Committee of Evidence" is a fact-finding body composed of impartial persons properly convened by a convening authority which hears evidence from persons it calls before it, arrives at a finding and makes a full report and recommendation to its convening authority for his or her action. It is appointed and empowered to impartially investigate and recommend upon Scientology matters of a fairly severe ethical nature. ...

There are two ways an individual may embark on the RPF program A person may either request admission, or he may be assigned to the program for severe violation of the theological and ethical tenets held sacred by the Church."

DOCUMENTATION:
RPF Study on Cesnur.org, 2002
Local mirror of the RPF Study