Do You Want to Buy a Bridge?

by Mark Ebner

This Spy Magazine article is an attractively written article based on a two weeks Scientology experience by the author, Mark Ebner. It includes many of the key themes that are being discussed about Scientology on usenet and on the web pages (OT III, the purification rundown, the personality test, Scientology celebrities, etc). It contains, however, quite a few slanted views and sometimes outright hyperboles. I took the liberty to insert my own comments to point these out (in *** blue). On the whole, the article represents an outsider's viewpoint, biased at the outset, and concentrating almost exclusively on the negative aspects gleaned from the critical literature - even if the author does try it out first hand. It has to be read as both an illustration of the darker side of Scientology, and as a reflection of the bias of the counter-movement. The truth is somewhere in between.

I am an ex-drug addict who has solicited prostitutes in my day. I've also masturbated and inhaled at the same time, and I have been arrested more than once in my life. I dropped out of high school, and I've been under psychiatric care. Oh yeah, and I owe the IRS roughly six thousand dollars that they are well aware of.

In the language of Scientologists, the above information reflects what they include in their "Dead Agent Packs"—dossiers of all the dirt they dig up on people critical of their "religion." Often they disseminate damaging information like this to the friends, family, landlords, and employers of anyone who dares speak of---or worse, publish—anything derogatory about the "church." So what I'm doing here is Dead Agenting myself before we begin, beating them to the punch.

Recently I spent two weeks undergoing an initiation to Scientology for this magazine. My experiences constituted only the beginnings of the beginnings of what this cult is all about, but it was enough to leave me strung-out with fear. watching my back, and wondering where the next element of harrassment was going to come from.

Scientologists don't like it if you leave. Even if you leave quietly. There is a saying adherents fondly quote: "The way out is the way through." Deep thoughts passed on by decade-dead megalomaniacal psychopath Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, in whose writings church followers find a labyrinth so complex, so full of elitist jargon and weird science that those trapped in it cannot see that the way out is the way through—the fucking door.

*** Critics sometimes refer to the Scientology doctrine as complex and elitist, like in this case, but at other times as simplistic and childish. Neither are really accurate, but since both are pejorative, I guess it fits critics' bill anyway.

So, of course I had to join...

Day 1, Descent

Deep in the churning bowels of Hollywood, just off the Walk of Fame, I find my gateway to the promised "Bridge to Total Freedom" —the Los Angeles Dianetics Testing Center, where, for free, I can take the Personality Test and the Novis IQ Test.

"Is anything bothering you?" asks a fat, bespectacled, pock-marked dweeb named Richard.

"Yeah, Dick," I mutter, mentholated cigarette dangling from my lips. "I wanna quit smoking."

"Scientology can help you with that," assures Richard in scripted mantra, through what I'd soon understand to be the trademark Scientology sweat-on-the-upper-lip smirk. Richard then tries to sell me a paperback copy of Dianetics—the Scientologist's bible of "The Modern Science of Mental Health," written by Hubbard, the self-proclaimed source of all things Scientological. I balk on the book and get cracking on the testing instead.

The tests take an hour, during which Richard, a 20-year Scientology veteran, performs menial janitorial labor around the center. My results come in with a "very good," respectably high IQ of 130. My personality profile, however, falls deep into the "unacceptable state," with my rock-bottom scores indicating me as being heavily "depressed," "unstable," and "nervous," and with a near complete "lack of accord" thrown into the psychotic soup for good measure. Naturally, that measure would be my willingness to sign up for the Hubbard Dianetics Seminar at the low, low cost of $125 (credit cards accepted). It is a bargain that nets me a beautiful, hard-bound copy of Dianetics, as well as a paint-by-numbers style workbook.

With assurance from Richard that "Scientology could help" repair my totally fucked-up personality, we shuttle over to the menacing, big, blue Hubbard Foundation. Along the way, Richard regales me with stock-in-trade anecdotes of how Scientology is responsible for the successes of Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Nicole Kidman, Kirstie Alley. Isaac Hayes even lives at the Celebrity Centre Manor Hotel, for crying out loud.

In a registration office at the Foundation I meet Ramaldo Flores—a slick, six-year veteran who, glancing at my low test scores, deems me "suicidal.""Not to worry, though," he soothes. "You're in the right place, with the right technology."

Acting quickly, Ramaldo ushers me up one flight to a classroom where I meet my supervisor—a brutally clean-cut robot named Phil with that Scientology smirk tattooed on his sweaty upper lip. Turns out that Phil had "read Dianetics in the Navy about 20 years ago, and after taking time to understand every word, Scientology changed {my} life." Funny, he still looked like a sailor.

After devoting only five hours of my life to this cult, somehow I have already signed my name, address, and phone number to all kinds of seemingly irrelevant paper work. Tomorrow, I am informed, my coursework will begin. In a collegiate daze, I amble out across the parking lot, noticing troops of zoned-out, militarily outfitted men and women marching around acres of Scientology real estate with a malevolent glare in their eyes as jarring as the afternoon sun.

*** "Malevolent glare", eh...

Scientology may be one of the most dangerous and well-financed cults in existence. In less than five decades, it has crafted its own strange brand of mind-control techniques and cultivated a security and intelligence apparatus called the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), which now rivals those of numerous developed countries. Scientology also relies on the obedient labor of both grunt-level workers and the 3,000-plus elite staffers who work for what the cult calls its Sea Organization. These maggot legions actually dress in pseudo-seaman's garb, including dark blue suits adorned with ribbons and nautical lanyards, and hold ranks such as captain and ensign. This naval obsession stems from Hubbard himself, who was known as The Commodore. If you're already thinking "wacko," something on the far side of Captain Crunch, wait—it gets better.

According to Scientology (and stemming directly from Hubbard's "vision"), 75 million years ago, an evil ruler named Xenu implanted "thetans," or spirits, in volcanoes on the planet Teegeeack (known more recently as Earth). All humans are made up of these thetans, which are basically good but terribly misguided little buggers. The problem, you see, is that things called engrams, which come from early traumas, cause us spiritual pain and unhappiness. We all got 'em; we all gotta get rid of 'em.

So what do we do? Simple counseling sessions with something called an E-meter—a crude lie-detector-type device that Scientologists claim measures mental energy, locating and ridding you of troublesome engrams.

*** The sessions aren't "simple counseling sessions". They depart from it in many ways.

Called auditing, this process isn't cheap. At rates that rise rapidly to $1,000 an hour, you can become what's known as an Operating Thetan, or OT.

*** While it is true that the rates are high, critics often forget to mention that this route, the auditing route is seldom taken. People usually take the training route, where they co-audit, and which is cheaper - albeit not cheap either. Services are also free for staff members.

Still with me? Of course, Scientology doesn't stop there. Hubbard, in his deluded wisdom, devised ever more steps for the disenfranchised to progress through, including eight echelons of spiritual development, denoted as Operating Thetans I through VIII, along the "Bridge" to total bankruptcy. Costs in this progressive scheme can sometimes reach into six figures.

Day 2, Confession

Crazy. As I enter the Big Blue, I spot Richard smirking at me. Then Ramaldo slithers toward me, waving. A girl I recognize from the Testing Center acknowledges me, and some bizarre skin-and-bones structure with a name sounding like Kelp extends a hand, asking, "And you are. . . ?"

"I'm Mark," I say.

"Ahh! Mark Ebner!" he exclaims. Now how in hell does Kelp know who I am? Could it have been those forms I signed? Hmmm...

Phil dispatches me down to a screening room to view videotapes on the life and times of L. Ron and the process of Dianetics auditing—whereby the bad, bad "reactive mind" is diminished toward the state of "clear"; where, as Hubbard would have it, we all function in the pleasurable state of using only our "analytic minds" to the utmost, free of all those silly, annoying engrams, or mental images of painful experiences.

Yawn. At this point, I'll take painful experiences for a ticket out of here, but. . .

Back with Phil, I must conjure up tales of my reactive mind at play and record them on a work sheet, then duly turn it over to him. Which of course means that my painful scenarios now become the property of Scientology, Inc., no doubt to be used against me later.

If you think about it, how clever in design is this "religion"? Only by confessing painful, personal information can you hope to be helped. At the same time, of course, you are divulging private facts about yourself to organizations connected with people who will have absolutely no qualms about using them against you should you cross them. The Commodore sailed a wacky ship, but the course he navigated seems ingenious at times.

Day 3, By the Book

I finish my workbook assignments today in a roomful of old folks, foreigners, and children (who would be safer playing in traffic). Phil seems to enjoy reading my "painful experiences," but then, he gets a kick out of the E-meter, so go figure.

Day 4, Prayer

I am supposed to start my auditing sessions today, but Phil thinks training drills are in order first. I learned the auditing techniques via workbook, so it is now up to me to practice this form of dressed-down hypnosis on a sailor-suited rag doll seated on a chair across from me. When I finish with the doll, I have to practice the procedure again with another "preclear," a sad sack named Rob.

Despite Scientology claims that it's not hypnosis, auditing assuredly mirrors the hypnotic induction therapy I've received in the past. In 10 easy steps, the preclear runs through traumatic experiences in his or her life, repeating them aloud to the auditor again and again, until they reach a state of "cheerfulness" about them. How can this work? Try saying the word "ball" 50 times aloud, over and over, until it doesn't mean anything to you anymore.

*** This is a gross simplification and distortion of the process. The process is based on going up the chain of incidents, and going through each incident enough for it to be "discharged" to be able to skip to the next incident until one reaches the basic incident and the false conclusion that holds it in place. The hypnosis claim doesn't hold water on close examination.

During our session, Rob admits to me that he "really enjoys" these auditing experiences. Again and again, he insists on relating tales of the humiliation he felt as a fat kid on the baseball field. By this time I am praying only that I don't get paired off with a dork like him in future sessions. Prayer—that's the ticket, but they don't encourage that in this religion.

Day 5, Reduction

More practice sessions. I am placed in an auditing room with a woman who cannot follow the simple, repetitive format of Step Six ("go back to the beginning of the incident and go through it again") as I recount the loss of a dog while in a "trance." Her misguided attempts at "reducing" the trauma of my incident fail so miserably that I finally just fake finding a place of cheerfulness and my session ends with a snap of her fingers.

Now I get to audit her, acting as though I were one of them. Almost immediately, the woman begins crying over an incident that happened in an airport or something; then later became nearly hysterical over a sister who pissed her entire family off by deciding she wanted to be a flight attendant.

Most counseling sessions involve some surrender of will.

*** Really? How's that? An unsubstantiated statement aimed at inducing a suggestion of sinister intent all by itself.

Likewise all religions. Where Scientology moves from dubious to dangerous is in the fierce possessiveness it shows for its members.

Is Scientology a cult? "I'd say so," says the outspoken Robert Vaughn Young, who ran Hubbard's public relations during his 20 years in Scientology. "One of the primary characteristics {of a cult} is something that excludes dialogue or any definitions outside of the parameters of its own system of information. Hubbard said it was a 'scientific method' that could be tested, but if you say you want to test his method, they consider you to be attacking."

The Creed of the Church of Scientology, written by Hubbard in 1954, states:

We of the Church believe...That all men have inalienable rights to think freely, to talk freely, to write freely their own opinions and to counter or utter or write upon the opinions of others.

However, explains Young, "if you were to write something saying Hubbard was a megalomaniac—well, see, the thing is, now you are lying. You are free to utter upon the opinions of others, but you are not free to lie. So they would say, 'This is a lie, therefore you are not free to utter it, and now I am going to sue you."

*** That's pretty much what the law says too in matter of slander and libel. A better example could have been found.

Scientology may litigate more, and more aggressively, than any religious outfit in the world. The OSA operatives harass people via a Fair Game Policy (which Scientologists claim they discontinued, but is alive and well), which licenses them to, in Hubbard's words, lie, trick, sue, and/or destroy anyone who has been declared "fair game."

After a Time cover story about Scientology ran in June 1991, the church not only sued the magazine for libel, it also sued former member Steven Fishman and his Florida psychiatrist for $1 million each for "defamatory" comments they'd made that appeared in the article.

*** Update: the testimony of Fishman has indeed been more than seriously questioned, and rejected even by his own peers in ARS.

While the $416 million suit against Time is pending, attorneys for Fishman came up with an ingenious way to fight back: at a Christmas party held at the Scientology Celebrity Centre, several celebrities—including Juliette Lewis, Kelly Preston, and Isaac Hayes—were subpoenaed for depositions to be given in the case. Not long after, Scientology lawyers dropped their suit. The Time case goes to trial in January.

Meanwhile, the church is doing legal battle with alienated former members who have been posting on the Internet copyrighted teachings and damning testimonials about the church's darker side.

*** I am not aware that the CoS sued for "damning testimonials about the church's darker side", but it certainly did for copyright violation. It also has won recently its cases against Arnie Lerma and Keith Henson, while Grady Ward have accepted to settle down.

Young, always active on the hugely popular Internet newsgroup, alt.religion.scientology, predicts the Internet "is going to be to Scientology what Vietnam was to the United States....This will be their Waterloo in the end," says Young.

*** I will have to make strong reserves about that. Critics made much to discredit themselves through the very internet they like to gloat about, especially its "hugely popular newsgroup", and I believe that this is something that will increasingly turn against them and their cause in the future. The author of this article himself, Mark Ebner, participated in this discredit through several disparaging comments, among which an outlandish "chat" with a Scientologist, which he was even as bold as to post in the newsgroup. Peter McDermott, an intelligent and active critic up to this point commented about it:

Curiously enough, it was a post of a session where fauxskin was
chatting to a scieno on IRC titled 'ClamSex' posted here a few
weeks ago that clued me in to the fact that the behaviour of
some of the critics here had dropped *way*, *way* below the
standards of most of any of the active scienos that I'd seen

It was the first time I'd *ever* felt instinctive sympathy for
the scieno and revulsion at the critic's tactics. Sadly, it was
far from the last.

Day 6, The Elect

I meet my new auditing "twin" today—Steve, another human skeleton. He seems nice enough, but because he is "farther along the Bridge" than I, he can only audit me rather than it being a mutual session. So..more subconscious subterfuge, at least until tomorrow.

*** This by no means could be construed as a "subterfuge". Who your co-auditor is, is pure chance.

With the afternoon free for me to be me, I decide to get away from the mind matter of Dianetics and explore the Scientology angle at—what better place—the Scientology Celebrity Centre.

Those who have the most freedom in the organization—enjoying comfort levels and privileges made possible by the cheap labor of grassroots members—are the celebrities of Scientology. The list runs from the obvious to the truly absurd in personality. The humorless Tom Cruise, workout buddy of Scientology chairman David Miscavige, cuts the perfect Rondroid profile: humorless, elitist, defensive, basically emotionless, and angry. Cruise's past and present wives, Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman, are also Scientologists. Said to be beyond the level of OTIII, here is what Cruise has mastered off the set:

*** I am not sure Nicole Kidman is a Scientologist.

After achieving the state of "clear," joining the ranks of about 50,000 who came before, he is supposedly immune to illness and free of his reactive mind. As an advanced operating thetan (with his godlike abilities fully restored) he can now create life; he can create universes; he has cause over matter, energy, space, and time; and he is free of the bonds of the physical—functioning totally on the spiritual.

*** Create life? Create universes? These are novel claims for me. Never heard of it in five years.

(Question: If Cruise is all that, then why couldn't he create a hit out of Far and Away? Just asking.)

Other high-profile celebrities with Scientology ties include Priscilla Presley and Lisa Marie Presley Jackson, Anne Archer, Sonny Bono, and Chick Corea. Some may find it an uneasy relationship. Scientology needs its celebrities—Hubbard called them Opinion Leaders—and will go to lengths to keep them in the fold.

*** Hubbard called them Opinion Leaders? I don't think so. Opinion leaders is a common notion in the realm of public relation.

When the carrot doesn't suffice, Scientologists know where to find the stick.

In the suit against Time source Steve Fishman, Scientology's former head of security, Andre Tabayoyon, filed a 60-page deposition declaring that cult leaders keep special files on the stars that contain supposedly confidential information derived during auditing sessions. However, he went on, "the contents of such folders have been culled and used against people. . .{as they could be against} John Travolta {and others} should they ever attempt to leave the Scientology organization."

The deposition was submitted to the court as part of a dispute over who should pay costs after Scientology withdrew its suit. The Church of Scientology submitted its own declarations, denying the contents of the affidavit and attacking Tabayoyon's credibility and knowledge of events.

But sources interviewed by SPY confirm Tabayoyon's depiction of a dichotomous world at Scientology's security-obsessed camp in California, Gilman Hot Springs. He points to celebrities' receiving perks like an apartment with a $150,000 gym and private chef; a Mercedes convertible, two motorcycles, and a motor home; and a $200,000 celebrity-use-only tennis court.

*** So now are celebrities promoting and fuelling Scientology with their big income, or is it the contrary, and is it Scn who gives them planturous presents to keep them in the fold? Once again, if you are a critic, you can use whichever version, according to the circumstances and what would be best to gain yourself people to your cause.

So celebs are given special treatment. So a couple hundred thou doesn't sound like a huge expenditure for an organization that is raking in untold millions annually. Except where do you think the money comes from? From legions of lost souls who go ahead and shell out every dime they can squeeze from their credit cards. Not only that, but who do you think does construction and upkeep on these celebrity digs? Yep, those same scrubs.

On the other side of camps, like the one at Gilman, out-of-standing members toil in the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) to work off their Scientology sins. This practice of using labor as punishment—either for breaking the rules or failing to meet work quotas—is widespread in Scientology. Banishment into the RPF can last several months, during which time members may not speak unless spoken to; must perform menial, often degrading tasks; subsist on a diet of rice and beans; endure terrible living conditions; and wear armbands denoting their lowly status.

*** Except that nothing prevents them to leave if they want to. In my five years of Scn, I only saw two or three people in the RPF in Copenhagen, who blew shortly afterward, and personally know of no one else who went there. I don't deny it exists, of course, but, at least during my time, it was very unusual. The RPF is of course the perfect kind of horror stories critics like to expand upon, and expand upon they do...

Robert Vaughn Young served 14 months. "It's brutal simply because of the hard work you have to go through. There are people over 50 in there, 65 even—working for a few days around the clock, which we often did. I suppose if I had been 25 and in the military l wouldn't have minded it so much physically. But, in fact, if you're working slow, you're admonished and undergo additional penalty even for the fact that you just can't do it. They would say, 'Don't give me excuses. Just make it go right.' For the life of me, I can't figure out why I was being driven to the edge, other than as a point of control.''

Tabayoyon, in his sworn declaration, charges that RPFers at Gilman helped build apartment cottages for use by the likes of Cruise, Travolta, Alley, Edgar Winter, Priscilla Presley, and other Scientology celebrities. Even more frightening is how Scientology has taken the industry of celebrity and pitted it against the entertainment business in an effort to influence public opinion. Last summer, for example, Presley Jackson called MTV and threatened to block its use of any of her husband's or father's work if it broadcast a negative segment on Scientology. MTV ran the story, but watered it down.

Day 6 cont., Mammon

I drive up the stately entrance to the Celeb Centre and explore the well-manicured grounds, peek into the "two-star" restaurant, and maneuver to the bookstore, where I inquire about the Purification Rundown. After all, if I clear the body, the mind will follow, and hey, I did come here to quit smoking, didn't I?

The bookstore clerk with the fixed stare gladly escorts me through the mansion's ground floor to the registrar's office, where I am greeted with vichyssoise warmth by Rachelle Shay.

She offers a confusing explanation of the difference between Scientology and Dianetics (Scientology being the tech-no-spiritual realm, Dianetics the realm of the mind). Then she guides me through the Purification Rundown, a daily regimen of vitamins (the niacin, calcium, and magnesium cocktails), and oral shots of olive oil to loosen my fatty tissue, along with a program of running and sauna sweating, where it is suggested that I may experience acid flashbacks—sign me up!— and recurring "sunburns" manifesting the release of residual drugs and radiation from my system.

Rachelle hand-holds me as we pass through a vaguely comical underground "French" village, or what I would imagine as a downscale version of La Petite Monde at Euro Disney—complete with a tiny theater. The Purification area is like a small health club with—my god!—women and children lining up for potions and being escorted into saunas. Vichy, France, ring a bell? I'll take "Collaboration with the Nazis" for $2,000, Alex.

*** What the hell is this supposed to mean? Other than another suggestion of sinister intent?

Back upstairs, Rachelle encourages me to sign up for the Purif now. Total cost of the program, with discounts: $1,790. Clear body, clear mind, clear spirit...clear bank account? The hard sell has begun.

I tell Rachelle that my savings are prudently reserved, not available for such an outlay of cash. No problem! She makes a play for my credit cards, but they too are maxed out. No problem! She simply gets on the hammer to a numbers guy named Nick, who instructs her on which of my cards will be easiest to get increases on, and she even dials my MasterCard 800 number for me.

Following instructions, my card turns gold, and altough I can use my new fortune now—I hang up and tell her I won't be receiving the new card for a week. No problem! She strongly suggests that I put the balance on my American Express card now, and pay it off later, with my newly established credit line.

Still, I resist. Let's wait a week, darling, okay? Okay—in the meantime she'll set up a physical exam for me. My doctor? Nope, definitely a Scientologist physician. Forty bucks? Okay, I'll bite. Been awhile since my last physical anyway.

Day 9, Angel

At the rundown Angel Medical Center, I'm greeted by a starry-eyed Anju Mathur, M.D. She seems professionally delighted that I am going to do the Purif. Given my drug history, she insists I take an AIDS test as well as a liver panel. You see, she explains, I will be sweating in a sauna with other Scientologists, and she would not want to endanger them with the risk of exposure because, "Sweat is a bodily fluid." I wince as she thrusts a syringe into my arm that will leave a bruise for weeks.

Call a Scientology organization and ask what it can do for, say, asthma. A phone call to one of its outfits got a promise of a "guaranteed" cure for the ailment based on L. Ron Hubbard's "asthma rundown." Registrars will promise you a life free of illness and psychological maladies. The promises, like almost everything else, sound scripted.

A recently disaffected Scientologist (and established entertainer) confides:

*** I wonder who this "established entertainer" could be. There may be celebrities that are critical, but no one really comes to mind, especially not as compared to those who are in the movement.

"I was brainwashed from the second I walked in because of the way they insisted I'd get better and successful, and my stomach problems would be healed.

*** "Brainwashing" is already quite a fuzzy and controversial subject, and, by the way, quite thoroughly debunked too, but this guy got "brainwashed from the second { I } walked in"... quite an achievement.

While spending nearly $35,000 on auditing, I was constantly sick, and never got well."

Finally, she met someone who talked to her for hours and taught her that Scientology was a scam, that the tech does not work and that Hubbard was not God. She underwent a minideprograming, and she learned the expensive trade secrets in the upper levels of the bridge were science-fiction garbage. She was coached on how to get her money back, and after protracted efforts, Scientology reimbursed her in full to avoid publicity problems.

*** Are reimbursement so difficult to obtain? I didn't hear too many complains about that, although I am sure there must be. The fact that there is a reimbursement clause at all is of course taken for granted, and hardly mentioned in critical circles.

She's one of the lucky ones.

Another woman, call her Marge (most who leave the cult fear further harassment if they speak out against their experiences, and so prefer to remain anonymous), got roped in by way of her job. Her boss's hard sell, coupled with the articulation of the nobility of all goals Scientological— "You are trying to go free, you are fighting the biggest fight of your life"—almost cost her her health and her sanity.

*** More piling up of horror stories. How about the thousands who are in and are apparently perfectly healthy and sane?

"Well, I got routed onto the Purification," explains Marge. "I have never done drugs in my life, yet I was on the Purif for almost five months. It was a nightmare beyond my wildest imagination."

*** If it was such a nightmare, why didn't she leave?

During her time on the Purification Rundown ("sweating out toxins" in a sauna), Marge suffered panic attacks, dizziness, and nausea. One day, she was found blue-lipped on the waiting room floor, hemorrhaging.

*** Make it more gory, please...

Instead of taking her blood pressure or calling an ambulance or even a doctor, they explained away her bleeding as "restimulation" from radiation she had absorbed from ultrasound testing she'd had years before.

They attributed her panic to "a really bad event" she went through "a long time ago." She was remanded to the program, and when she finally snuck off to a noncult doctor, she was diagnosed with heatstroke and anemia.

*** OK. That's gory enough.

Hubbard's tech, policy, and doctrines are never wrong. Anything adversely affecting the physical or mental health of a Scientologist gets hung on that individual as something that either happened to her in the past, or as something she brought on herself.

Priscilla Coates, volunteer chairwoman of the L.A. branch of the nonprofit Cult Awareness Network,

*** Which doesn't exist anymore. Shut down through Courts as a result of their dubious links with forcible deprogramming.

calls this common cult tactic "doctrine over person," meaning that doctrine never fails, only people do. "Hubbard wrote the manual of justice that still applies," she explains.

*** That's not Priscilla Coates' own idea. It's part of the mind-control doctrine promoted by the anti-cult movement, and mostly based, at the outset, on Lifton's eight criteria.

Day 10, Transformation

Intense sessions with Steve today. All my past misery and suffering reduce to a chuckle. I even threw in a tale of adolescent cross-dressing just to make him feel useful.

*** Since Mark Ebner says that he only touched the E-meter later, these can't be auditing sessions. I wonder what these "sessions" can be. I can't figure out what it is. And where are the TRs? I thought that everyone always started with the communication course, whether on the training or the auditing route.

With that final purge, I break for a snack at the canteen, where they sell black T-shirts with slogans like Psychiatry Kills.

Later, I am whisked to an examiner's office, where I finally get my hands on the cans of the fabled E-meter.

*** Which is why I think that the previous "sessions" weren't auditing.

First I have to write an essay about my experience, or "wins," with the seminar. I whip off a page about my increased awareness of the Reactive Mind and the need to eradicate it. A false-smiling fat lady with piercing blue eyes

*** Aren't there any normal looking people in there? They either are "skeleton" or "fat", or whatever else, and probably all uniformly "stare" in the same empty and "malevolent" way. Knowing that Scientologists are not looking fundamentally different than any other person, it gives a rather good measure of the yardstick the author used.

hands me a couple of tin cans alligator-clipped to wires attached to the E-meter.

She takes notes on my readings on the meter and on my answers to her perfunctory questions, repeating "Your needle is floating; that's a good sign. " Then she abruptly stops, signs me off on a few more documents for my dossier, and routes me back to the classroom, where I am introduced as a graduate of the Hubbard Dianetics Seminar.

Day 11, Release

My last day at the Hubbard Foundation. I meet with registrar Joe Bueno. Joe is a clear veteran of Scientology, rated OTV, or an Operating Thetan privy to the most hideous of Hubbard's science fiction secrets.

His commission-prompted plan is for me to stick with the Dianetics side of things: do my Purif there at the Dianetics Center ($2,000) and proceed on the Professional Dianetics Auditing Route, starting with a course valued at $300. Okay, counting prior expenses, if I continue on with this horseshit, I'd be in for close to $3,000 without even getting within bile-spitting distance of the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars state of clear. Later, Joe. Much later.

*** So there - just say no and walk out. If you are really pissed off, ask a reimbursement. No thrill.

In the weeks after I walked from Scientology, my phone rang all day with calls from various registrars trying to get me involved again. My personal physician has since explained the pricey Purification Rundown as "utter bullshit, pie-in-the-sky stuff that is far from being physically sound.

*** A most impressive scientific statement... (not!)

In fact, it could be dangerous—especially the niacin intake, which can cause...liver damage, especially to a liver as susceptible as yours."

I'm also smoking more than ever now, but that's okay. Fact is, many Scientologists smoke, emulating their late chain-smoking source of their apparent sickness, L. Ron Hubbard.

*** What "apparent sickness"?

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this cult, brutal tactics and financial pressure aside, is its recent attempts to go mainstream. Through fronts, such as the Way to Happiness Foundation and Applied Scholastics, Scientology has targeted the classroom as a means to disseminate its literature in a get-'em-while-they're-young drive.

Other dubious organizations with ties to Scientology include the ironically named Citizen's Commission on Human Rights, the Concerned Businessmen's Association of America, and HealthMed—all of which spread the word of Hubbard.

The city of Shreveport, Louisiana, for example, paid eighty grand to send about a 20 firefighters through Scientology's chemical detox program before an independent consultant labeled the regimen "quackery."

For hundreds of thousands of dollars and year upon year of brainwashing, you get secrets and revelatory experience tantamount to the understanding of a bad episode of Star Trek. Except, that's not it. Out of Scientology since 1989, Robert Vaughn Young likens his two decades in to a bad trip:

"There's a policy letter that Hubbard wrote where he just says, literally, 'If you have the tech and use it, it will protect you.' This is as close to the human shaman as you can get. You can't be harmed. This creates...alters a state of mind so that your judgment becomes so bizarre that suddenly you believe you're invincible. You're immortal, you're invincible, Hubbard is not wrong.

"Well, at that point, it's an incredible state that's been created, that one day you will wake from and say, 'Oh, my God. It was all wrong."'

Despite Scientology's well-masked attempts to infiltrate mainstream institutions and thereby create more devotees to its dangerous and nutty cause, Scientologists are losing ground on some critical fronts. Recently the church paid out the biggest libel award in Canadian history for defaming an opposing lawyer.

*** The name of which, is?

Church lawyers are having some success putting the clamps on those who criticize Scientology and divulge its hokum online, but the word about Hubbard's game has already been downloaded onto the hard drives of millions. Scientology's leaders have long flown the flag of First Amendment freedoms to promulgate their views; now they want to cudgel into silence those wired critics who try to do the same.

*** Doing what? Why is the copyright issue automatically construed as "trying to silence critics". Not that the CoS don't also harass their critics otherwise, but a distinction needs to be made.

I attended one last Scientology function, called Auditor's Day '95, which, in short, resembled a Nuremberg rally for the '90s.

*** More frightening pictures and associations...

No brown shirts present per se, but the lockstep uniformity of 5,000 Scientologists packing the Shrine Auditorium applauding to a slide projection of Herr Hubbard sent a chill up my spine as cold as the one I felt when I saw those children lining up for liquids at the Purification Center.

While waiting for the event to begin, I stood with a couple of Scientology women who asked a weasely OSA operative named Lazar what his office was responsible for. "We beat up Suppressive Persons," he said jokingly through the trademark smirk.

No doubt, after this article, I will be declared an SP, and I'm certain my Dead Agent Pack will be disseminated. This does not frighten me. Heck, lie and tell the world I am gay or announce that my AIDS test came up positive.

*** So what's the result. Did any of this occur?

You no doubt hold the threat of revealing sexual orientation over the heads of more than the odd celebrity to keep them from defecting.

*** Maybe, but this can't be construed as the sole reason they stay in, and while celebrities may be more at risk of being thus blackmailed, it can just as well backfire with considerably more damage against the CoS if the CoS indulges in such tactics with them. This argument is, IMO, just an other phobic and mostly pejorative accusation.

I've seen your Dead Agent packets. Nice job you've done slandering Priscilla Coates of the Cult Awareness Network, an altruistic housewife with two parking tickets on her record.

*** CAN, CFF, FreeCOG, and other organizations and anti-cult individuals have been involved in violent deprogrammings for years, as well as mounting an hysterical reactions from the public and authorities that helped to bring about dreadful events - but hell, the head of such an organization is "an altruistic housewife with two parking tickets on her record", while Scn, of course, is such a terrifying, horrid, and dangerous cult. Speak about a black and white vision...

Lemme see...what about the Dead Agent pack of lies you created about ex-high ranking Sea Org Scientologist Hana Whitfield? Your libelous reportage in the ironically titled org-speak rag Freedom Magazine falsely accused her of murdering her father. Your tactlessness in publishing and disseminating alleged photos of his dead body was also a sweet move in the name of religion.

As I ponder that creep Lazar's offensive joke about Suppressive People, I am considering challenging Chairman David Miscavige to a fist fight but why bother? He won't show up, for fear of getting served with a subpoena. Keep hiding, sailor boy, and don't forget to look both ways when you try to cross the information superhighway. And by all means, duck, as the cult of greed that Hubbard built, and you usurped, comes crashing down upon you.

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This web site is NOT created by a Scientologist. It is created by a Scientology EX-MEMBER who is critical of Scientology. However, this ex-member is ALSO critical of the anti-Scientology movement. This does not make him a Scientologist, nor a defender of Scientology.

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