Is Polaris being run by Scientologists a bad thing?
Recently the CEO of Polaris Media Group, Shane Krider came out and publicly admitted he was a Scientologist. Whilst Krider is certainly free to practice whatever religion wants, what concerned me was the large question mark looming over the involvement of Scientology in the business side of Polaris.
In his statement to Polaris Media Group distributors, Krider knew this concern was at the core of people’s interest in the correlation between the two organisations and thus was one of the points he addressed.
Polaris is purely a business opportunity. We focus on helping people be the best they can and live a great life.
Simple and to the point, only I wasn’t convinced.
When Polaris Media was trading as Liberty League one of their products, the original ‘Beyond Freedom’ as billed as having being authored by the co-founders of the company, Shane Krider and Brent Payne.
This claim can still be seen on the old Liberty League International website:
Beyond Freedom is a 90-day, multimedia personal development program produced by Company founders, Brent Payne and Shane Krider.
Brent and Shane have constructed a thorough system that works from the inside out.
The impression given is that the co-founders of Liberty League sat down and came up with this personal development program together.
If we fast forward past the NSW Office of Fair Trading declaring they had legal advice indicating Liberty League was a pyramid scheme, Brent Payne leaving the company and Liberty League quickly changing its name to Polaris Media Group, we arrive at the present day.
Like Liberty League before it, Polaris Media Group still offer the Beyond Freedom program although now it is somewhat broken up and titled Beyond Freedom Evolution.
The program is still billed as being created by Krider himself:
Beyond Freedom Evolution is Polaris Media Group’s flagship product. Produced by Company founder Shane Krider.
Now I’m not suggesting Krider authoring Beyond Freedom in itself as a person has any negative implications but lets stop for a second and think about what Beyond Freedom is.
Beyond Freedom is a personal development program filled with somebody’s on ideas on how to better yourself via personal development. These ideas came from somewhere and if Krider is authoring Beyond Freedom then presumably the ideas came from him.
So where does Krider get his own sense of personal development from? I’d argue that all religions in some way are a form of personal and spiritual development. Scientology in particular is widely recognised as having a strong focus on personal development via the use of the internally developed technologies utilised by the church.
Here’s how About.com describe Scientology.
Scientology is a personal development movement. It acknowledges that the abilities apparently possessed by an individual is only a fraction of his or her true potential, which include improved health, greater mental clarity, heightened perception and awareness, and a high level of personal integrity.
To suggest that the author of a personal development product, who is a member of a religion seemingly heavily invested into the personal development of its congregation was not at all influenced by his religion when creating his personal development products doesn’t seem to make much sense.
I mean if true then where did the ideas and concepts that are found in Beyond Freedom Evolution come from? And more importantly then why did Krider choose to ignore his own personal beliefs and development and draw inspiration from elsewhere?
I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he didn’t turn his back on his religious beliefs when creating Beyond Freedom. Although I still have no answer to his claim that “Polaris is purely a business opportunity.”
If Polaris was about selling soap, televisions, home loans or some other non-religious commodity then sure… separation from business and religious beliefs is certainly believable. When you’re talking about personal development however it’s a lot harder to claim the two are independent of eachother.
These lines are further blurred through the use of Scientology related phrases in Polaris Media Group advertising. Here’s a screenshot of a Polaris Promo that was used heavily during the company’s launch back in September.
To be ‘at cause’ or ‘at effect’ originated from Scientology and is one of the religion’s core principles. A more indepth explanation of being either at cause or at effect can be found here.
Then there’s the phrase ‘Know for yourself’ which is the name of the entry level Polaris Media product. Priced at $29.95 it’s designed to be the entry point into the business for people new to the company.
Above you have a the Scientology version and then on the right the Polaris equivalent. You don’t need me to point out the similarities in marketing slogans between the two organisations.
Finally there’s the financial link and the inescapable fact that to advance in Scientology costs money and that money has to come from somewhere.
With courses costing thousands of dollars and donations looked upon favourably (as they are with any religion) I think it’s more then fair to suggest that a percentage of every dollar raised by Polaris distributors finds its way into the church.
I’m certainly not suggesting this is perhaps a large percentage but given Polaris is being actively run by Scientologists I don’t for a second doubt that some of the money is donated to the church. At a very basic level Polaris management draw an income from the business itself, by being members of the church some of their income will be spent on Scientology courses and/or training programs.
This is where Krider’s defense of the association, real or not, based on religious defense falls apart. Krider stated:
I do take issue with people who discriminate on the subject of religion and confuse it with my business activities.
That’s like saying you won’t do business with someone who is Jewish or Muslim. Or refusing to buy from a Protestant or a Catholic. It’s just wrong.
Again this might be true if we were talking about a business selling non-religious commodities but we’re not. Polaris Media Group sell personal development products authored by member of a religion heavily invested in personal development. No matter how you dress it up or how loudly you cry religious persecution there’s just no way around that fact.
Would you hire an obese person as a fitness trainer?
Would you take public speaking advice from a stutterer?
What about financial advice from someone who was dead broke?
These are all of course negative examples and I’m not in any way trying to convince anyone that the connection between Polaris and Scientology is pre-determinately negative. I wholeheartedly agree that it’s up to each person to do their own research before deciding whether or not they are comfortable with this.
Having said that what these theoretical questions do illustrate is that as individuals when we take personal development advice, whether it be on health, confidence or financial related issues we want to believe whoever is giving us the advice has found success in this area. This success should be based on the principle of following the advice that is now being given to me.
There doesn’t need to be any further speculation on where Krider draws his own personal development strengths from as he’s admitted as such where his beliefs in this area originate from. It follows on therefore that it makes absolutely no sense to suggest that, as the author of many of Polaris’ products, Krider’s personal beliefs have not influenced in some way the personal development products offered by Polaris Media Group.
What you need to ask yourself as a Polaris distributor is are you then comfortable applying this belief set to your own life and attributing any success you experience to it.
This is something each individual can answer only for themselves.