The Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) is a religious program undertaken by a very small number of members of the Church of Scientology. Neither staff members who work in local Churches of Scientology around the world nor Church parishioners would qualify to undertake this program. Only those who belong to the religious order of the Church of Scientology, the Sea Organization, may do the RPF, and then only for specific reasons. The purpose of the RPF is to provide a “second chance” to those who have failed to fulfill their ecclesiastical responsibilities as members of the Sea Organization.
The Rehabilitation Project Force is a voluntary program of spiritual rehabilitation. The emphasis is on the word “rehabilitation,” meaning, in this context, to restore one’s condition to an optimal spiritual state. It represents a free religious commitment by the individual to a spiritual discipline. The word “force” in this context means “[A] group of people working or acting together.” (Thorndike Barnhart Dictionary, 1992)
The RPF is based on one of the oldest and most fundamental concepts in religion—a religious retreat in the form of a cloister focusing on intensive spiritual introspection and study and balanced by some form of physical labor. This practice is common to the religious orders of many other world religions in addition to Scientology, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and the monastic orders of the Roman Catholic Church.
The RPF was created in the 1970s at the request of Sea Organization members desiring a second chance. As with any religious program requiring high spiritual and ethical standards as well as dedicated service, some Sea Org members stumble in their effort to maintain such high standards and a few members commit serious breaches of ecclesiastical rules governing their conduct as a member of this order.
In such a situation, the individual is given the choice of either leaving the Sea Organization or participating in the Rehabilition Project Force. It is a religious program designed to provide the individual with an opportunity to progress spiritually and remedy past shortcomings.
In addition to engaging in daily religious study and religious counseling, individuals on the RPF work eight hours each day as a team on tasks which improve the facilities of the Church. This includes such activities as landscaping, gardening, woodwork, painting, renovations and construction. The work is designed to allow the individual to contribute to the religious community while on the RPF and to regain confidence through pride of accomplishment by successfully completing constructive physical tasks. The purpose of the work is to balance the intensive daily spiritual study and introspection by providing physical release and accomplishment.
The program is physically and spiritually demanding and is done voluntarily for purposes of penance and amends. It is done to gain readmittance to the ranks of regular members of the Sea Org and is engaged in with the purpose of rehabilitation and ultimate completion as the stated goal. The program is rigorous and devoid of luxuries, intentionally so, to motivate the individual to improve himself and get through the program to once again be a capable and contributive member of the group. Not all individuals granted the right to do the RPF go on to complete it, but most do. Such are the rigors of membership in a highly disciplined and strict religious order such as the Sea Org.