I am an ex-Scientology member and was on staff from 1975 to 1980. In 1980 I quit the movement and became involved in the anti-cult scene until 1987. In 1996 I started to post in the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup as a Scientology critic, but soon turned pretty much anti-critic in the light of the bigotry I in the newsgroup. Today, my web site reflects these aspects.
My Time in Scientology
I joined Scientology in 1975. At that time I was a student in Psychology. I had recently awakened to the spiritual realm and found my psychology studies way too materialistic. Scientology attracted me because it had a practical approach and addressed spiritual concerns. It also provided me with a concrete way to "help the world" as part of a community of like-minded dedicated young idealists.
My time on staff was very uplifting. Yes, we were working hard, often far beyond the call of duty, but nothing else in society offered that sense of deep spiritual discovery and sharing, as well as the opportunity to give ourselves 100% to something we really deep down believed in.
After a while however, the dream began to fade. I slowly realized that things were not the way I had thought they were. I became doubtful about the "super power" of "OTs" (advanced Scientologists). I even became doubtful as to whether "Clears" and "OTs" were any different than you and me. When, by chance, I ran into critical material, I began to see that the way I believed in the absolute and exclusive value of Scientology was the same other cultists, like the Moonies, believed in their own paths. You can't have two absolute and exclusive paths, can you? Besides, it was clear to me that these other paths were nothing but wind and silly superstitions, yet still those people clung to them like it was their life. Was I doing the same? It was then that I realized that the reason I believed in the absolute aspect of Scientology was because of constant repetition, the use of authority, and the exploitation of fear, hope and guilt. In parallel to all this, I developed a different philosophical approach based on what I previously knew from other spiritual paths. At this point, my doubts about Scientology were such that I really couldn't stay in the community anymore.
Leaving Scientology was no problem. I am not speaking about the internal struggle one may go through before deciding that he wants to leave. I speak about the myth Scientology critics constantly spin about people being restrained against their will. From all I could observe in my five years on staff at a local and European level as well as during my time in the Guardian Office headquarters in England where I worked for the last other year, these myths are simply untrue. I even made a point to "go through the lines" rather than simply "blow" from the organization. I was interested to see what the outcome would be. Of course, they tried to keep me in the fold. They tried to convince me that I should stay. But my determination was intact and at some point they had no other choice than to just "route" me out.
I then packed my things and rang at my parents' door with suitcases in my hands. I was out of the movement.
At 26, I was still young. In 1980, the PC era was at its beginning. I jumped in the bandwagon and developed a career as a computer programmer. In the spiritual area, I picked up where I left. I started to get interested again in things like the New Age and Krishnamurti.
At the same time, I developed an acute interest for the anti-cult field. I was particularly intrigued by the practice of forcible deprogramming, whereas a cult member would be kidnapped and forced to change his mind. I wanted to understand if this, by itself, was a form of brainwashing or if, on the contrary, it was a form of liberation from brainwashing. As I found out later, it was neither. However, it still was an extremely serious violation of basic civil rights and I decided to fight against it.
In the course of my researches, I accumulated a wealth of information. I traveled several times from Europe to the United States to meet key actors in the field. I interviewed people who had been deprogrammed, deprogrammers (among whom Ted Patrick himself), anti-cultists, cultists, prosecutors, and civil rights activists. I participated in CAN events and ex-members meetings. I even let myself "enrolled" in a Moonist seminar to experience first hand their own form of supposedly dreadful brainwashing. All in all, in addition of my own first hand experience in Scientology, I gathered a host of different viewpoints and tons of documents - a very small part of which I webbed on my page about the Anti-Cult Movement.
By the end of the 1980's, however, the issue had pretty much cooled down. The mind-control rationale was not really an issue anymore because, after considerable scholarly debates and researches, it had failed to get academic accreditation and was no longer accepted by courts as a justification for kidnappings and forcible deprogramming.
I took a rest from it all, until my interest got revived through the internet.
In 1996 I started to explore the "information highway". Naturally, I checked what existed in the spiritual, cult, anti-cult, and Scientology field. When I discovered the existence of usenet newsgroups, I was initially thrilled. The fact that you would instantly get a host of different viewpoints on a question was fascinating. You could debate ideas, exchange information, form friendships, engage in activism, express your opinion, etc.
I became very active in the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup and initially was quite critical of Scientology in my first posts. I wrote a detailed account of why I left the movement and made several other critical posts.
With time, however, I slowly became aware that there was something wrong with many of the posters who claimed to engage in "critical thinking". It was often impossible to get a straight answer when asked for specifics. The reaction to questions that warranted fine analysis where as crude and mob-like as you can get. They were extremely rude towards Scientology posters. They were ignorant of the anti-cult background, history and debates. Dissent was met with group pressure to conform. Persistent dissent was met with personal attacks, cultic rationalizations, and attribution of motives. Double standards were rampant. Horror stories of murder, physical restrain, and other pet killing, which for me were nothing but myths, where presented as typical. Questioning these were again met with cultic attacks.
The level of anger, partisanship, cultic reaction, and the level to which these critics, supposed to be on a moral high ground compared to the Church of Scientology, were ready to stoop to in the defense of their "cause" was unlike anything I ever saw in Scientology.
In 1998, I decided to start a web site to avoid having to constantly repeat the same thing in the newsgroup and having to constantly correct the distortions that were made of what I said. This web site turned out to be more informative than I thought and soon it started to have a life on its own.
This is the web site you have in front of your eyes right now. My hope is that it can bring you a more balanced view on the issues of Scientology and cults, as well as a greater understanding of the broader philosophical and spiritual issues to which they are related.
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