This article was written for those who are new to Scientology by one of our Special Correspondents. I think it may be useful to some, and certainly a get a LOT of emails from people who have come across the subject and are curious, so I will from now on be able to direct them to this post.
If you are interested in Scientology this article is important reading. If you are considering taking a course, this article is absolutely vital to your future happiness.
Scientology- The Good
Why are people attracted to Scientology? What is it that can bring powerful figures such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta into a religious cult that gets so much bad press?
The answer to this question is very simple. Scientology contains very WORKABLE techniques for improving self confidence, tuning up memory and mental alertness and increasing one’s sense of self worth and well being. These techniques can be explored very easily. If you have an interest in self-betterment simply buy the book SELF ANALYSIS and read it and do the memory exercises in the book. You will either like it and notice a difference or you will not. If you got a nice warm glow from completing the exercises in that book, you should pick up and read the book “A NEW SLANT ON LIFE”. Older editions are better. If you get something out of reading that book too, then Scientology is probably worth exploring for you. However, you are going have to pay very close attention to the next two parts of this article.
Do you recall a moment in your life when you felt really fabulous? Where you were strong and powerful and the world was at your feet? Scientology can give you some strong emotional highs, lots of confidence and zest. That’s why you see people getting involved and defending the good very strongly- because the good can be really good.
Scientology- The Bad
Scientology is a philosophy developed by L Ron Hubbard. There is a lot of discussion about L Ron Hubbard, accusations of all different kinds and sorts. None of them really matter because you are not going to be dating the guy. He’s dead. What does matter is that he grew up in the 1920’s when discipline was harsh, he was in the Navy in the early 1940’s when discipline was really harsh. He was himself a believer in harsh discipline. So while he wrote books that are very zen and forgiving, in life he would dish out some some pretty tough love to his close followers. As Scientology grew L Ron Hubbard wrote a tremendous number of policy directives covering how Churches would be run – the administrative side of things. Part of this was a lengthy Church penal code listing a huge number of possible transgressions against the Church. For many of these transgressions the penalty was expulsion from the Church and DISCONNECTION.
Disconnection. Based on this practice alone I would recommend strongly that you NEVER under any circumstances set foot in an official Church of Scientology organization. Scientology is widely practiced OUTSIDE the official Church and there are plenty of places to do courses and get counselling that do NOT practice disconnection. But official Church of Scientology DOES practice it and they lie about doing it. Disconnection is pretty simple. It is a type of very severe shunning. In brief, if you say something or do something that is against the extensive list of “suppressive acts” you get booted out. All members of the Church of Scientology must cease communicating with you in ANY way. This extends to firing you if you are an employee, dropping you if you are a client, divorcing you if you are married, booting your kids out of a private school, not letting your kids play with their kids, on and on. Any connection you have created with a Scientologist is abruptly severed. This can include family ties – children who have become “embedded” in Scientology might never speak to you again should you step out of line. I know, it has happened to me and thousands of others have experienced the ill effects of “disconnection”.
There are plenty of places outside the official Church to get Scientology if you do not wish to be the victim of disconnection. [See more about disconnection here]
Money Money Money. After L Ron Hubbard passed away the Church of Scientology was taken over by David Miscavige. For whatever reason, David Miscavige is driven to accumulate massive amounts of money for which there is no accountability to members. Why is not relevant here. What is relevant is that if you go into an official Church of Scientology, you will come across this very quickly.
The Church of Scientology members are on a constant money drive for one thing or another. But the organizations and groups being “funded” operate on a policy of zero public accountability. There are no published financials of any description. They do have accountants and keep books. But the public who give the money are NEVER allowed access to those books under any circumstances. And the pressure to donate is continuous and intense. You will be shown pictures of starving children, statistic graphs showing runaway crime and illiteracy and you will be pounded to give, give and give some more. To people who have never encountered this kind of super-hard-sell it can be confusing and disturbing. There are examples of people who have been financially crippled after giving in to pressure and giving more than they can afford. If you are interested in getting Scientology and find yourself being pressured for money leave and find an independent Scientologist and do your courses with them.
Dishonesty. When L Ron Hubbard laid out a moral code for Scientologists he covered the subject of lying in this way: “Do not tell harmful lies”. So this is the gold standard for a Scientologist. If the lie was not harmful then there is no problem. In a way this makes sense. Telling your wife her hair looks terrible might be honest but is it really necessary? However Official Scientologists feel that nothing in the world is more important than Scientology and that lying to cover up “little problems” is quite acceptable. For example if you can find a Scientologist they will tell you that if you become a member you will never be pressured to disconnect from a loved one. This is a total and absolute lie, but justified by the fact that they are trying to get you started in Scientology and nothing could be better for you than that- even if you lose your job and family a little further down the line. As a result of this lying is a pervasive problem in official Church of Scientology. Officials of the Church routinely lie to the media. At big gatherings the speakers routinely lie to the parishioners. It is all in the “greater good”. Once again, most independent Scientology practitioners have been booted from the main Church because they prefer to be upfront and honest about their concerns, so they are a better bet. Best is to know about this “justification” for lying check things carefully for yourself.
Scientology- The Ugly
Scientology is often accused of being a cult. Actually it is not. If you meet a Scientologist in the street you will find a fairly normal, fairly likeable person, who goes to Church now and then for courses or counselling. The Church staffers themselves are somewhat normal people themselves.
The problem is that the entire official Church of Scientology is run by a cult.
This cult is called the “Sea Organization” which is a religious fraternity. This fraternity is marked by its complete disconnection from the world around it and its brutal system of punishments and penalties and its demand for blind obedience.
The head of the Sea Organization is David Miscavige and if you google his name you will come across many accusations of him physically abusing his staff and ordering harsh punishments, food and sleep deprivation etc.
When you make a donation, it is a Sea Organization staffer who decides how it will be spent. They are the board members of all the important Scientology corporations. They are the signatories on all the international bank accounts. Their word is law to any of the “man in the street” Scientologists.
But they live very much disconnected from the world around them and are indoctrinated into unswerving obedience to their leadership. They are not allowed to own cell phones, watch TV or have access to the internet. Generally they are not allowed to drive their own cars to and from their place of work. They may not leave their communal apartments without permission of the security guards that cover all entrances and exits. You could go many years in Scientology and perhaps never see one or meet one. There are only about 2500 Sea Organization members in the whole world. But they are the people who control every important aspect of the Scientology religion.
When you join the official Church of Scientology you place yourself to some degree under the control of these people. It is their orders that your local churches are carrying out. It is their instructions that are being passed down in the back rooms. Independent Scientologists do not acknowledge the Sea Organization and fight to expose human rights abuses that occur within it. I recommend staying well clear of the Sea Organization.
Confidentiality of Personal Information. The second item in the “ugly” category is regarding your personal revelations in your spiritual journey within Scientology. During the course of your spiritual counselling you will explore your own mind and make some fun and uplifting discoveries. But you will also come to some dark places as well and talk about them with your counselor. The official Church of Scientology records all of this, mostly with written notes and sometimes getting you to write things down yourself. The advanced Churches have an extensive system of hidden cameras and microphones. People who have left the Church of Scientology in a noisy or antagonistic way have found their deepest confessions turning up on Church sponsored websites and being told to friends, family and business associates as part of the “disconnection” process. . This is another important reason that I would recommend that you never set foot inside an official Church of Scientology for any reason. It does not happen often. But that it could happen means you are taking a huge risk. What if something goes wrong and it is your confessions being passed around to explain why YOU are criticizing Scientology? Your confessions can be used to pressure and control you. You must have complete trust in a person that is helping you explore your own life and your own past. Independent Scientologists generally will sign something for you promising complete confidentiality of your personal information. If you can’t get such a document then you should stand up and walk out.
The Scientology religion is at a cross roads. On one hand you have the official Church of Scientology with its famous celebrity backing and estimated two billion dollars in various reserves, but struggling with the problems I have mentioned above. Meantime many independent practitioners have opened their doors and offer the positive rush of good Scientology without the big money and without all the “crazy” as well.
As you can tell, I am an independent Scientologist. I hope you will become one too.
At very least, try Scientology on your own. You never know what kind of good energy you might find inside yourself if you go looking.
Note: Here is a list of Independent Scientology practitioners. (Please note this list is reference only, I cannot endorse individuals or groups on this list, most of whom I have never met.)