Sunday, May 16, 2010

GG Investigates: Scientology

Scientology is getting a lot of press lately, but what is known about the self proclaimed "World’s Fastest Growing Religion?” Outside of the surface of things, like L. Ron Hubbard founded the religion in 1953, there is not much else that is known. So what is the draw that brings in such big celebrities like Leah Remini, Jenna Elfman, Beck, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and perhaps the most famous of them all Tom Cruise?

In December of 1953 L. Ron Hubbard established the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey with the founding Church being built in 1955 in the nation’s capital Washington, DC. It wasn't long until the Church faced its first controversy. Members of the religion have to "donate" a fixed amount of money for courses, auditing (counseling), and E-meters. These donations proved to be very profitable for Scientology and for L. Ron Hubbard, who was receiving emoluments for his role as head of the church. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not take kindly to this and revoked the churches non-profit status, which the church fought. It must be noted that L. Ron Hubbard denied these allegations time and again stating that he never received money from the church or its affiliates.

Many times over Scientology has been called a cult; in fact Consumers Report called the Dianetics (their mental health book and counseling method) , "the basis for a new cult." Part of Dianetics is auditing, a question and answer session with 2 people, and focuses on painful memories which lead to immoral acts. Helping with the so-called auditors(A person trained to deliver Dianetics and/or Scientology counseling methods) is the E-meter, which helps detect "changes in a person’s mental state.” The instrument can only be used by professional “auditors”, because the instruments are classified as religious artifacts.

Once inside the church members begin a vigorous,and very expensive set of course work to increase their abilities to the highest level called operating thetan (thetan is the word Scientologist use for soul) and in order to pay for the courses members "volunteer" for the church. One contact, Michelle, explains "We were working 76-hour weeks, making an average of $70.00 a week" If things are so bad why do celebrities enjoy the religion so much? The answer: "Celebs are treated like GOLD and receive ONLY the friendliest staff in front of them, the best auditing, they are cordoned off into private courserooms so most don't 'deal' with any of the 'regular folk'." Michelle continues, “Anyways, those celebs don't know (or if they suspect, they ignore) the inhumane working conditions that go on behind the scenes to provide such 'great' service to celebs (or to any Public person, really). And for the some that do question the Church, they are handled a few different ways. One way is to immediately make them feel guilty by putting their attention inward onto themselves. (asking them 'what did YOU do wrong to the Church? etc.)"

What happens if family or friends start to question Scientology? Members are asked to 'disconnect' from  that  Suppressive Person (a person who is opposed  to Scientology.) Paul Haggis, who directed the Oscar winning movie Crash, became very upset when current Scientology Publicist Tommy Davis denied the practice on CNN. Paul in part said "I was shocked. We all know this policy exists. I didn't have to search for verification - I didn't have to look any further than my own home. You might recall that my wife was ordered to disconnect from her parents because of something absolutely trivial they supposedly did twenty-five years ago when they resigned from the church. This is a lovely retired couple, never said a negative word about Scientology to me or anyone else I know - hardly raving maniacs or enemies of the church. In fact it was they who introduced my wife to Scientology. Although it caused her terrible personal pain, my wife broke off all contact with them. I refused to do so. I've never been good at following orders, especially when I find them morally reprehensible. For a year and a half, despite her protestations, my wife did not speak to her parents and they had limited access to their grandchild. It was a terrible time. That's not ancient history, Tommy. It was a year ago." Time and again when talking to different sources, they all concurred that the practice of 'Disconnection' does exist, in fact most of them were asked to disconnect from one or more people in their life.

After completing  courses, and disconnecting from Suppressive People, you graduate to different OT levels.   OT Level Three is an important level to reach because the Xenu story is released in that level. At that point somewhere around $100,000 would have been spent in course work and counseling. Michelle elaborates a bit on why level 3 is where the story is shared. "The Xenu 'story' is ONLY read when you reach that level because*supposedly* IF/WHEN you even so much as READ/HEAR this 'story' (before you are up to that level, that is)

YOU WILL GET PNEUMONIA AND DIE!!!!" 

The Xenu story is the foundation of Scientology. About 75 million years ago, there was an alien ruler named Xenu, who was in charge of all the planets in this galaxy including our home planet of Earth. Xenu had a problem that needed to be dealt with though, overpopulation on all of his 76 planets. However Xenu had a plan. With the help of renegades he defeated the good people. He then used psychiatrists to lure billions of people to have income tax inspections. Instead, however, they were injected with a mix of alcohol and glycol so they were paralyzed. They were then loaded onto spaceships (called DC8s) which were sent to Earth and stacked around volcanoes. After the bodies were stacked and ready, Xenu lowered H bombs into the volcanoes and they were then detonated. Xenu wasn't done there though. Because each body is inhabited by a thetan (soul) he had special electronic beams, which were sticky to catch the souls that were blowing around. Once all the souls were caught, they were shown 3D movies about what life would be like, confusing things. Also in the movies they were shown God, The Devil, and Christ. The Loyal Officers finally over threw Xenu, and locked him away on one of his planets, where he is held by an eternal battery, he is still alive today.

If the story of Xenu is too much and a member decided to leave the religion, it  is not easy. In fact the higher ups at the religion make it near impossible for you to be leave. Allan, who is gay, (the topic of gays and Scientology will be discussed in depth in a following story), recounts his tale of escape. "The final straw came when the Church some how found out I had regained contact with the mother of my child and I was told to instantly disconnect from her because ‘What type of woman would want to have a child with a poof? She must be an SP.’ She was the only contact that I had still to the outside world. And that pissed me right off. I remained calm because I knew that I had to be smart to get out. I snuck out to the tree where I had my mobile phone hidden that night and made a distraught phone call to her. Come and rescue me please. She said she would meet me tomorrow at this time. The plan was set. The next night I tried to organize all my stuff together and pretended to go to sleep with everyone else. I got up about 4am and started to sneak off. I tried to grab all my stuff but before I could, someone woke up and noticed I was running. He chased after me. I had to drop most of my belongings and got in her car and left. I had finally escaped."

Michelle concurs with the difficulty of leaving. "We packed what we could in suitcases and left everything else (furniture that I loved, clothes, etc.). A cab was called and we waited in tense silence in our tiny room for it to arrive, praying none of our roommates would notice or hear anything. Once it arrived, I was the first one to sneak out into the hallway with my large suitcase. The pounding of my heart was so loud, I'm surprised that didn't give me away! Amazingly, the hallway and the living room to that front door was the LONGEST, most INTRICATE journey I'd ever made...and I had to do it SILENTLY and QUICKLY with this HUGE suitcase, by myself! Hubby had to stay behind in the closed room while I made the what seemed like hours-long journey....amazingly, I didn't bump it into anything and nobody came out of their rooms. I was outside. The cool night air smelled fresher than ever before. I looked up into the Night Sky. The stars were sparkling and winking down on me, as if to say: 'You've done it, You're FREE, GO!' Then hubby sneaked out, it felt like FOREVER, then the front door was opened...for a second, my heart stopped. Maybe it wasn't him! Maybe it was a roommate come to get me and turn us in! But it wasn't. It was my honey, out safe and sound, too. We didn't even glance back as we were whisked away by the cab to the airport. I was so scared, I thought maybe the cab driver was a Plant and would any minute turn around and take us back home or to Ethics, lol! We got to the airport and boarded the plane, after a HORRID few hours wait-time... constantly looking over our shoulders. I can't believe how like Fugitives we felt! Like we were criminals running away from the Police, Jeez! We got to our destination and into loving arms. Thank GOD hubby didn't get any of his family (nor mine) into Scn (Scientology), Thank GOD! We literally huddled, shaking, on the floor of the living room for hours when we arrived, staring at the front door, expecting a knock, for 'them' to take us back. After we calmed down and could breathe again, we WALKED MILES to a nearby mall just to stay extroverted, fearing EVERY car on street whizzing by us, was 'them' following us....lol.

Yet the utter RELIEF was indescribable, you guys. The SCENT of FREEDOM from the 80 hr work-weeks. The starvation, the ethics, the crazy things we were made to do for our Post or Org, etc...Staying up till 2am being told how scum we were by our Executive Director then come in a few hrs later to work, etc... In the days and weeks that followed, phone calls were made to our place and at first they were told we weren't there, etc. We could 'feel' that they had us 'tailed' and we were right. Because a few weeks later, they knocked on the door. We were such paranoid sissies that we both hid from them till they left. They even looked through all the windows looking for us! Hubby was hiding in one room and I was in another. It was soooo humilitating for us, but we were not ready to face them, nor did we want to go back.

Well a few days later, somehow we were convinced to let them in and they audited us in our bedroom, one by one. (We were both in the middle of different auditing actions at the time we blew). They convinced us to go back and route out standardly (Leave staff *properly*). *STUPID thing to do!*

We rented a car and did so. On our way back to MM though, we made a very important stop...we went to visit my two young children (from my previous marriage to a non-scn, before Staff)....that I'd left over three years earlier and who were living with their father and stepmother. But they actually remembered me and we spent a few precious days with them. (They've been in my life ever since)

Well: Not only was the route-out cycle MUCH longer than it should've been, but it was VERY expensive AND we ended up keeping the rental car too long, so long the rental company was calling us everyday to bring it back! We FINALLY got out of there after THREE WEEKS of paying for a weekly hotel, rental car fees and penalties, countless, pointless Ethics cycles, etc.

I lied some of the final steps of counseling just so we could get out, so did my spouse. All in all, a very stressful, dreadful time.

We were assigned 'Confusion', (when you leave Staff or the Sea Org, you are 'assigned a condition'
and it's usuallly a lower one due to you 'having abandoned the group).
 
 Dubbed degraded beings (a term loosely used and flung as an insult) ,

Freeloaders (one who's a moocher, basically, when that was NOT the case with us)

and informed we would die 'out there'. What a lovely send-off after all we'd done for them, eh?"

Jason Lee's ex-wife Carmen Llywellyn states that she is afraid of Scientologists and she became a pill popper because of them. "They ruined my life and my career. I ended up addicted to painkillers, and it took three rehabs to get me straight, "Scientologists followed me down the street. They came looking for me to scare me. I was nearly suicidal."

Questions over whether Scientology is a religion or a cult have plagued the organization since the beginning. While most countries now give it Religion status, there are a few hold outs that list it as a pseudo religion, which has caused the debate to rage on whether or not it is a cult. Carmen certainly believes that the answer is Scientology is a cult, "it was like a cult, and I foolishly allowed it to take root in me."
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