NYC Anti-Drug Youth Program Has Scientology Connections Exposed

By McCarton Ackerman 06/30/14

Once again, the controversial religious movement has been caught lying about drugs.

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An anti-drug program which has reached over 14,000 kids in New York City has been exposed for being associated with the Church of Scientology and making medically inaccurate statements about drugs.

The educational non-profit Foundation for a Drug Free World was created eight years ago by Meghan Fialkoff, a Scientologist from Queens. They’ve since focused primarily on New York City’s outer boroughs like Queens and the Bronx, visiting disadvantage schools, homeless shelters, churches, and NYPD youth programs.

But at a recent presentation for a Catholic after-school program for troubled teenagers called Little Flower, Drug Free World’s presenter was caught making unfounded claims about drugs, stating that all drugs cause flashbacks, and that all drugs or medicines stay in one's body for years. The teachings come from Clear Body, Clear Mind, a self-help book compiled from materials written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Fialkoff acknowledged that Scientologists run the foundation out of church headquarters in Times Square, but denied that the presentations have a religious overtone. Tidman also denied being paid for the presentations and said he has a full-time job at his father's dentist’s office. “There are a a lot of sponsors for the program,” said Meghan. “One of them happens to be the Church of Scientology."

Despite this, the program has been praised by State Senator José Peralta, as well as former Councilman Dan Halloran, who is now under indictment for corruption. Although there are no measures to gauge the effectiveness of the program, some presentations offer an anonymous pledge called “Drug Free Marshals,” which kids can sign to promise that they will avoid doing drugs and encourage their friends to do the same.

While some organizations have declined to bring Tidman back because of the unfounded medical statements he makes, other have expressed satisfaction with the program. Last March, Leydy Avila of Sunnyside Community Services in Queens wrote to the group and said that “having organizations and individuals like you […] and the flexibility to accommodate so many of my children was really appreciated."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.