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Questions and Answers

 

Common questions about my position in the Scientology issue, my background in Scientology, and common objections to my web site.


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Position - Background - Objections

Position

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What is your position in the Scientology issue?

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I am a Scientology ex-member, critical of Scientology, but also critical of the anti-Scientology movement. This is the reason why I describe myself as an independent observer.
 

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Note that independent does not mean neutral. Neutral means that one does not take position. I do take position, but the position I take is against the two opposite extremes in this controversy.
 

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What is your main contention with Scientology?

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My main contention with Scientology is the indoctrination aspect. It leads one to believe that his eternal future and that of the planet is doomed without Scientology. This, in turn, leads to the cultic behavior decried by critics.
 

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What is the difference between your position as a critic and that of other critics?

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As a critic and ex-members, I can agree with certain aspects that are levied against Scientology or cults in general. These are, for example, the exploitation of fear and guilt, the endless repetition, authority, blind faith, exclusivity and unicity, intolerance to criticism, the us/them mentality, the end justifies the means mentality, etc.
 

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The difference, however, lays in the philiosophical approach. Critics in general follow the pattern delienated by the anti-cult framework. This framework consists of a crude duality between the "leader" and the "followers". The cult leader being the evil exploiter, and the followers the brainwashed victims. For me, what happens is more akin to a form of illusion. This illusion is shared and mutually reinforced between the leaders and the followers. The difference is capital when trying to understand the cultic phenomenon.

 

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What is your main contention with the anti-Scientology movement?

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My main contention with the anti-Scientology movement is the tendency of its "members" to reproduce and mirror the same kind of cultic aspects they blame on Scientology; the exaggerations and myths creating a phobic reaction; the dangers it poses to civil liberties; the personal attacks against dissenters; etc. These are fairly well documented on this web site.
 

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How is your position against critics different than that of Scientology?

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I only criticize critics when I deem their actions incompatible with what being a critic in the real sense of the term entail, and not because they criticize Scientology. My opposition to critics is not based on concern for Scientology. It is based on concern for civil liberties and on ethical reasons. This means that when criticism against Scientology is levied in a truthful and honest manner, and when it does not promote measures that endangers the civil liberties of everybody, I have no problem with it whatsoever. In fact, I try to promote exactly that kind of criticism in my own "cultism" section of this web site.
 

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Another difference is that Scientology tries to depict Scientology critics as criminals. I don't. I believe that the majority of critics are motivated by a sincere desire to do good. This is also, incidently, what I think of cult members. In both cases, the problem is the same: they bring their case too far, thereby turning their genuine concern into a dangerous cultic crusade. Many critics are simply cultists in their own rights.
 

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Don't you think that criticizing critics amounts to defend Scientology?

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Criticizing the actions of George W. Bush in Iraq does not necessarily mean definding Saddam Hussein or defending terrorists. One can very well have valid reasons to be critical of one camp without necessarily supporting the other.
 

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It is far more dangerous for a movement such as Scientology to be criticized it for what it does rather than for what it doesn't. It is much more effective to respond to cultic hate with love, patience, and understanding than with anger, confrontation, and hate. And it is way better to respond to criticism through an honest examination of what one does than with cultic attacks against the source of criticism.
 

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This is basically all of what I am saying, and why I oppose myths and bigotry. I believe that, in the long run, it can only be beneficial. By all means, it also seems to me to be the only responsible course to take.
 

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Do you think that your web site have had a positive effect for the critical movement?

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In fact, I do. I believe that since this web site exists, at least some critics have been much more cautious in labeling Scientologists "clam", in jumping to conclusions, in exagerating their cases, etc. They also have become less tolerant for the actions of their more radical elements. This has somewhat improved the quality of criticism in general - though the situation is still very far from what it ought to be.

 

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What is the difference between your position and that of scholars?

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I usually agree with scholars (called "cult apologists" by anti-cult cultists because facts encountered as part of social studies do not agree with anti's wild claims). I believe, however, that a moderate approach of the main anti-cult tenets could be useful in understanding the cultic mindset. Many scholars have rejected these because of the general fanaticism anti-cultists have displayed. I believe, however, that at least some of these tenets are nevertheless still worth examining.

Background

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How long have you been in Scientology and what have you done?

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I have been in Scientology for roughly five years, between 1975 and 1980. For the most part I have been working in the local org, but I spent the last other year in Saint Hill, England, working for the "Guardian Office World Wide".
 

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What have you done in the GO?

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I started working for the "Social Coordination" bureau, the section of the GO that promoted the use of Scientology in society. I was then transfered to the Admistration section, that dealt with the internal management of GO staff. For more about my time in the GO, see my GO page..
 

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Why did you leave the movement?

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It is a long story, but mostly because I realized its cultic aspects (dependence, authority, need to believe, conformity, unquestioning attitude, intolerance towards dissenters, justifications, etc). My move from the local organization to Saint Hill proved central in my leaving, as it provided me with a larger view about the workings of Scientology. More about that in my extended story.
 

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What have you done after you left?

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I went back to my family who were surprised but delighted to see me out of the movement. I had to rebuild for myself a life in the "wog", or outside society. I was lucky in that it was about the time the "personal computer" made its apparition. I took a ride on that wave and found myself far above the level where I needed to worry about material necessity. However, I kept an interest for the spiritual field and developed a new interest for the whole field referred to as the "anti-cult movement". I traveled to the US to meet major personalites of this movement and accumulated a wealth of documents. My interest estomped somewhat in 1987 but got revived when the internet became a reality for me in 1996.

 

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What "case level" have you reached while in Scientology?

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I received some basic auditing while in Sain Hill but never attested to "Clear". However, the auditing I received allowed me to make for myself a fairly good idea of what it is all about, as well as the kind of effects the "tech" is able to create.
 

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Have you joined the "Freezone" after you left Scientology?

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No. When I quit Scientology in 1980, I dropped it all together.

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(Note: the "freezone" is made of ex-Scientology members who keep on practicing Scientology "auditing" outside from the official church).
 

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What do you believe now?

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My present belief would be a mix of New Age and Krishnamurti, but I am not affiliated with any group. My orientation is more of a mystical nature, based on intuition rather than creed. In case you want to know more about my spiritual orientations, you can check my personal website, and more particularly a "my story" I wrote for it that delves into these questions.
 

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As an ex-member, do you feel you have been hurt by your stay within the group?

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No. Mostly because I don't view the cult experience along the simplistic oppressor/victim duality promoted by anti-cultists, but more as a form of illusion in which both members and leaders have their part. There are positive aspects as well. As the report of the Swedish Government's Commission on New Religious Movements puts it:

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The great majority of members of the new religious movements derive positive experience from their membership. They have subscribed to an idea or doctrine which corresponds to their personal needs. Membership is of limited duration in most cases. After two years the majority have left the movement. This withdrawal is usually quite undramatic, and the persons withdrawing feel enriched by a predominantly positive experience.
 

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All in all, I am glad I was in the group AND glad to be out of it. I share this feeling with most of my friends who went out of the movement as well.

Objections

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Not balanced, neutral, unbiased

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Some critics complain that although I claim to be balanced, neutral, and unbiased, I am not.
 

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The problem with this argument is that I do not claim to be balanced, neutral, or unbiased. What I claim to be is independent. Neutral means that someone does not take side. I do take side, and what is more, I doubly take side, because I take side against Scientology and against fanatical anticultists.
 

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I also do not claim to provide for an equal balance between criticism of Scientology and criticism of anticultists, because pages critical of Scientology are to be found by the HUNDREDS, whereas independent pages critical of anticultists are very rare and there is A LOT to write on the subject. This is why I consider this site a counter-balance to critical site, and why I call it "another look". This web site is best understood after having read critical web sites to first understand their claims and then complement it with the information from this web site.
 

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However, I still remain critical of Scientology and this is reflected in the cultism section of this site. This also is an alternative kind of criticism because my interest is to offer a realistic view of the life in Scientology (often focusing on the inner workings of the cultic mindset) rather than the typical anticult horror stories.
 

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OSA, GO

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"OSA" stands for "Office of Special Affairs", the department in Scientology that deals with legal matters, the press, "intelligence", and everything that relates to the outside world rather than the "tech" and its dissemination. "GO" stands for "Guardian Office", the predecessor of OSA.
 

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When someone disagrees with critics he is often accused of being "OSA", or an agent for Scientology. Needless to say, having a web site strongly critical of critics, the accusation is happily launched at myself, and repeated in spite of critics admitting they have no proof of it (nor will they ever have since the accusation simply is not true).
 

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A variation of this is saying that as an ex-GO member (I worked for the last other half year of five in the GO department responsible for the "admin tech"), this has somehow corrupted me or makes of me a bad person. Never mind that critics like Dan Garvin, Neil Hamel, Bid Harrington, Frank Olivier, and others have worked for much longer and for much "worst" departments of the GO. It all amounts to whether you dutifully go along with the main anticult tenets. If you do, you are ok. If you don't, then critics will dig out anything and put a spin on it, use attribution of motives, and whatever personal attacks or innuendoes they can think of to try and discredit you. The truth is, however, that my time in the GO has nothing to do with the fact that I am critical of critics. Quite on the contrary, it was at this time that I came into contact with enough outside information critical of Scientology that led me to leave the movement. I went into all this in quite some details on my GO page.
 

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Cult apologist

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"Cult apologist" is another label anticultists use against outsiders, scholars, or moderate ex-members who disagree with various claims they make. The implication is that, for some reason, "cult apologists" feel the need to come up with excuses for the cult. They may do this for money or other advantages, or because they have ulterior motives, or maybe simply because they are stupid and unable to understand the obvious rightness of critics in face of the tremendous danger of cults. The label originates with Margaret Singer who started using it after her "mind-control" theory was beaten to death by academic peer reviews.
 

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Needless to say, for critics, I also qualify for being a "cult apologist". Never mind that I am critical of Scientology. I oppose critics in their holy crusade, dare to stand against exaggerations, myths, and unethical behavior on their part, and therefore am automatically OSA, an idiot, a wicked individual, or a "cult apologist" - and preferably all of these at the same time
:-)
 

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To me, of course, this kind of labeling and personal attacks are yet another illustration of the very point I am making - that anticultists mirror the cultic mindset of those they criticize.
 

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Armchair psychology and insults

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The number of "explanations" as to why I am critical of anticultists circulates among critics. These are excuses and rationalizations and simply do not have truth in them. They include such things as

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saying that I got my feelings hurt by critics' attacks and now I am taking revenge;

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or that the reason I am having such a web site is to show to the world how "clever" I am;

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or, on the contrary, that I am "brain-damaged" by my stay in the cult - which makes one wonders how I can even manage to type or use a computer :-)
 

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ANYTHING will do for critics to explain away why someone dares to dissent, except confront the fact that the reason one may be critical of some of the critics' actions is because they simply deserve criticism.
 

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Needless to say, countless insults of all sort are also thrown in my direction. If I had to put together a signature file with just a few of the allegations critics have made about me, it would run something like this:

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Freelance fuckwit.

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Spam king clone.

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Ignorable creep.

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Complete idiot.

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Disingenuous waffler.

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PTS Type III.

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Brain-damaged variety.

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Another handler.

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On OSA Payroll.

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OSA puppet.

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Known cult apologist.

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Sad poor soul.

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Cult shill.

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Definitely Hubbardian.

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A lonely voice in the desert.

 

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Critical and confidential material

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Critics are not the only ones to make objections to this web site. Scientologists have been making them too, although this usually takes the form of individual advices rather than public declarations. Scientologists would like to use my anti-Scientology debunking data but usually do not dare to link to my web site because it contains critical material and references to confidential information like the Xenu story. They even advised moderate Scientologists whom I host to not refer to their own web site because of that, banned me from their forum because of my web site (never mind, critics banned me too for the same reason), and sent their lawyers against my ISP to force down the CoS owned pictures I have been using.
 

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Critics often overlook the critical material to be found on my web site because of their anger at me having also critical material towards critics. Little do they realize, however, that the critical material towards Scientology I host on my web site is often much MORE potent at making Scientologists doubt their involvement than what is to be found on the "best" critical sites, and this for two main reasons.

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I do not use the typical bloated accusations of killing, forcible restrain, and other scare-tactics to be found on critical web sites. This is often what prompts Scientologists to stop reading critical web sites after the first few lines. Better still, I denounce and exposes such myths for what they are.
 

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I do not mock Scientology beliefs or disparage Scientologists as "clams", and I do not "analyze" their beliefs by providing a totally distorted rendition of what these are. I do delve into Scientology tenets to show how they may help to reinforce the cultic mindset, though, andd I go into the psychological mechanism of the cultic illusion within Scientology, using my own experience and insights. The stories I hosts also tend to be respectful of Scientologists as a person, realist in their claims, and thoughtful in their analysis of the mindset.
 

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This web site is thus, indeed, a dangerous place for Scientologists and would-be Scientologists in that it does not encourage participation in the movement and in that it debunks the Scientology illusion much like it debunks the anticult one. On the other hand, it also respects the decision of Scientologists who have found meaning and help in the movement. Nothing is black and white and I do not claim to possess the ultimate truth - only to offer my own perspective.

 


Anymore questions?
Please send them in to
Bernie@bernie.cncfamily.com



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Disclaimer :

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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