The “official” scientology protests were today. Apparently, over 200 people showed up in LA to protest their headquarters. I don’t think it will have any effect on the people inside (it’s probably more likely to produce a bunker mentality and a visible enemy for their leaders to rail against), but it is a good thing to raise people’s awareness of the crimes and ridiculous claims of Scientology. The internet has been a good way for getting the bad information about scientology out into the public. Without it, many people would have no way of getting any information on scientology except through the “church”.
The Point of Inquiry podcast had an interview with Tory Christman (ex-Scientologist, member for 30 years). Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been. I sort of think the host, D.J. Grothe, sounds too much like a reporter striving for “balance”, and it seemed like he wasn’t really thinking through some of his questions or opinions about scientology. Oddly, he sometimes seemed rather sympathetic towards scientology (though he claimed he wasn’t). And, Tory Christman’s interview was decent (but not great) – and I say that because I already knew most of what she had to say. My guess is that she doesn’t prepare for interviews – rather, she just kind of talks about whatever comes to mind during the interview.
What she does talk about:
* Tory was a high-level member of the church.
* The “church” would give her tasks to do, but were very secretive about the big picture (even though she was a member of 30 years).
* The church tried to shutdown a newsgroup frequented by ex-scientology members, and had been trying to clear all information about scientology off the internet. They are very anti-free speech.
* Scientology members were either not allowed onto the internet, or had to use a kind of “net-nanny” software that would filter their access to information about scientology. (Someone recently took apart this piece of software and found a list of the “bad terms” scientology was filtering.)
* The church bans members from reading certain books.
* She gave very large sums of money to the church (including a large inheritance). The churches “auditing” process costs enormous amounts of money, and it’s the only way to progress upward in the church. Scientology is very good at separating people from their money. For example, it’s reported that Tom Cruise gave $5 million to the church, Kirsti Alley gave $5 million to the church, and Nancy Cartwright (voice of Bart Simpson) gave $10 million to the church.
* She says that living in the church of scientology is like living inside The Truman Show – lots of facade, and members don’t realize it.
* Says scientologists spread lies about her in order to discredit her.
* Says that one of the destructive aspects of scientology is the belief that people should not take psychiatric medicines. Tory suffered seizures without her medications, and states (elsewhere) that she nearly dies trying to get off of her medications. According to the scientologists, the reason she was having seizures was because her mother was a “suppressive person” – and then prevented her from having contact with her mother.
* Scientologists often declare critics of the church “suppressive persons”. Suppressives are viewed by members as disruptive for a scientologist’s spiritual journey. SPs are essentially the devil to scientologists. The declaration that someone is “suppressive” often breaks up families and prevents existing members from having contact with former members. Thus, leaving the church means leaving your entire social network – friends, spouses, family, etc. who are still members. (Elsewhere, Tory says that the internet provides a valuable service to ex-scientology members who have been ripped from their entire social network. The internet allows them to find other ex-members, form friendships, and provide them with support during that lonely time.)
* Hubbard claimed scientology would erase the “reactive mind”, giving members a “a perfect IQ, a perfect memory, no pains”.
* Scientology involves “love bombing” – a classic cult technique where new members are showered with attention and love by existing members. The new members are so drawn in by the acceptance and love, that they stay in the cult.
* They mention Hubbard’s statement (a few years before Hubbard formed scientology) that the best way to make money was to start a religion.
* She never had any skeptical conversation with any member of scientology during her 30 years as a member.
* D.J. Grothe says that he has been overwhelmed with scientology literature and phone calls inviting him to visit their center ever since he ordered the book “Dianetics” a year ago (for research purposes).
* Lisa McPherson was kidnapped by the church when she attempted to leave scientology. She was locked away in a church building, and died two weeks later – apparently from starvation and dehydration.
What she doesn’t talk about:
* Scientology’s teachings that people who criticize scientology are guilty of horrible crimes (murder, child-abuse, etc), and the reason they attack scientology is because they risk being exposed by scientology. A phrase I’ve heard over and over from people who have had conversations with scientologists is “what are your crimes?” Even the actress Jenna Elfman reportedly attacked people this way:
Roecker [who was wearing a T-shirt making fun of scientology] says Jenna [Elfman] repeatedly said “What crimes have you committed?” and began screaming at Roecker, “Have you raped a baby?” as motorists on Los Feliz Boulevard drove by in snarled traffic. (Link)
Compare and contrast with these videos:
* These creepy scientologists in Florida (on the other side of the country) making almost the exact same accusations (“What are your crimes”) in this video. They accuse him of murder, beating his wife, molesting children, etc.
* This video of a scientologist accusing a protestor of being involved in pedophilia and beastiality
This is a classic “shutdown” technique used by cults – it allows the cult member to avoid actually having a discussion about scientology with someone who doesn’t believe, and it causes the cult member to see the critic as “poison” – effectively shooting the messenger.
* She didn’t talk about the sneaky recruiting techniques used by scientologists: sending “councilors” to New York after 9/11, sending “councilors” to Virginia Tech after the shootings, setting up “stress test” centers in New York to draw in pedestrians while masking their affiliation with scientology, tricking the government into supporting scientology-based anti-drug treatments, and setting up fake anti-psychiatry museums.
* A group of scientologists were convicted of attempting to infiltrate the FBI in order to “clean up” any files about scientologists, and search for dirt on enemies of the church. L. Ron Hubbard spent his last years as a felon on the run because of this.
* The auditing process (which is one part counseling, one part confessional) costs lots of money, but requires that people reveal the deepest, most intimate actions and thoughts. This is the way one “progresses” both in rank and spiritual development in the church. Reportedly, the church records all of these sessions and threatens to use them against former members.
* New members are sometimes subjected to extremely long “counseling” sessions that leaves them emotionally raw and vulnerable to the church.
* Scientologists have been known to picket the houses of people who are critical of scientology.
* The church of scientology often sues it’s critics to silence them. They sued the Cult Awareness Network into bankruptcy in 1996 over alleged lies about scientology, took over the name, and then pretended to be an objective organization who criticized cults while promoting the “benefits” of scientology. (The scientologists seem to do this quite frequently: setup front organizations that don’t appear to be affiliated with the church, and then sneak in scientology or promote scientology in various ways.)
In this video, Tory Christman talks about Hubbard’s stated goals of scientology: completely discrediting all critics of scientology, taking over the media, taking control of key political figures, etc. Hubbard also wrote a “fair game” document where he states that enemies of the church may be “may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any scientologist without any discipline of the scientologist. May be tricked, sued, lied-to, or destroyed.” Hubbard later wrote a cancellation of the “fair game” document, but secretly issued a cancellation of the cancellation. (I believe these were documents seized during the government investigation of Hubbard’s conspiracy against the FBI.) She says that when she was part of scientology, she was spending $7,000 for a 12 hour auditing session every six months, and had to constantly control her thoughts to avoid doing or thinking anything that would cost her more money for auditing. She was told incredible stories about high-level scientologists performing miracles like healing broken bones. She was even told that scientologist powers were responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall. The church told her that reading the internet made people go insane – which was a sneaky way to keep scientologists from reading anything on the internet. Meanwhile, the church was incredibly frightened by the Operation Clambake website which was created by one of their former members. At the very end of the video, she talks about secretly buying a plane ticket to leave town – but, mysteriously, scientologists know her every move, and they show-up at the airport to confront her.
In the video, “Secret Lives: L. Ron Hubbard” (embedded below) – people who knew Hubbard talk about him and his life. Predictably, Hubbard had a big imagination and strong tendency to make-up tall-tales about himself (always self-aggrandizing, of course). Soon after writing Dianetics, Hubbard began making grand claims about his “science of the mind” – that people using his methods could correct their eyesight, cure schizophrenia, and even regrow lost teeth. While his con worked for a while, he kept getting badgered by claims of fraud. According to people around him, he was most interested in power, and his ultimate goal was to become the leader of his own country. At one point, he visited Zimbabwe to explore the possibility of making it a scientologist nation.
As the years progressed, he became increasingly cruel and suspicious towards his followers – essentially becoming a petty dictator. He began writing orders that allowed for nasty attacks against the “enemies” of scientology. He came to believe that various governments had formed a cabal against him, and assigned a group of followers to infiltrate governments (code named “Snow White”) and discover the plot. Hubbard’s emotional state began to worsen, and he created a directive that certain individuals were to be consigned to the RPF, which involved working under slave labor conditions. They were allowed very little sleep or freedom, kept separate from the rest of his followers, and not even allowed to talk to his main group of followers. When Hubbard’s son (who was a senior member of the organization) turned out to be gay and attempted to commit suicide, he was consigned to the RPF. Hubbard’s teachings were supposed to cure homosexuality, but had failed. His son committed suicide two years later.
He created a plan to take-over Clearwater, Florida (which has been largely successful), and began making large sums of money from the businesses, but he descended further into phobias and emotional instability. By this time, Hubbard’s “Snow White” plot was discovered and 9 scientologists (including Hubbard’s wife) were convicted by the US government. His last few years were spent in hiding. He became a recluse, scared of meeting anyone, and descending into madness comparable to Howard Hughes. Ironically, he was the exact opposite of the superman that scientology was supposed to turn people into.