What Did Scientology Do to You?
posted to the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup on January 6, 1999
I got an email message through the firstname.lastname@example.org address the other day from someone who, judging by their email address, is probably a Scientologist. This person asked me two questions that I hear frequently from Scientologists. I thought the answer might be of interest to some of the other lurkers here, so here goes:
The emailer asked me:
> What is your first hand knowledge of Scientology
Thanks for writing!
Did you look at my web page? I believe both of your questions are answered there, although perhaps the answers weren't easy enough to find.
My first-hand knowledge of Scientology is this:
Over 10 years ago, I dabbled in Scientology for about a month. I did one auditing course, and I bought and read Dianetics cover to cover. I also bought a few other books, although I don't believe I read those all the way through.
I had some concerns about getting seriously involved in Scientology, though, so I did some research at the library. I didn't find a lot of information, but what I did read was mixed - some good things about Scientology, some bad. I read a few really awful stories, which I didn't believe - they seemed impossible.
During one of my visits to the Scientology offices, I read the ethics formulas, including the formula that requires you to deliver an effective blow to an enemy of the group. That goes against my personal ethics - I think deliberately doing something unkind to someone else is wrong - and so I decided Scientology wasn't for me. My contacts there tried to persuade me otherwise, but I wasn't interested, and that was that.
A few years ago, I was poking around on the Internet and I came across the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup, and from there I found some of the critical web sites and learned about Lisa McPherson. I still found some of the stories hard to believe - I tend to be somewhat skeptical, although probably not as skeptical as I should be (I wasn't nearly skeptical enough of Dianetics when I first read it, for example). So I decided to do some more research. One of the things that happens on a.r.s. a lot is that people will quote Hubbard's writings. I printed out some of those messages and took them to the library, which has a complete set of red volumes and a complete set of greens (I think they have a complete set of blues, too, although I've never looked at those). I compared the critics' quotes with the originals, and discovered that the critics were right about what they were quoting.
By researching Scientology's own materials and reading what Hubbard himself wrote, and by reviewing other documents, like sworn affidavits and court documents, I became more and more convinced that Scientology really does have a dark side. I have read for myself the Introspection Rundown, which mandates holding people in isolation. I have read the script for evaluating a personality test, in which the evaluator tells the testee that the OCA is scientific, even though it's not. I have read some of the policies on staff pay, in which I find the formulae for paying staff according to org income - it really bothers me that staff members get paid so little, and some weeks don't get paid at all. I consider that very out-exchange on Scientology's part.
So, my personal experience with Scientology is a single auditing session plus a lot of reading. Of course, there's a great deal I haven't read, and there's a lot I probably will never get around to reading, although I sometimes read things that Scientologists have suggested to me - for example, I read Clear Body, Clear Mind after Darlene at the San Jose org suggested it to me.
You also asked what I felt Scientology had done to me. The answer to that is, nearly nothing - so little as to be barely worth mentioning. Way back when, I was pressured to stay in Scientology a little more than I felt was appropriate, but it was certainly no big deal, and obviously didn't lead me to start protesting Scientology back then. (I've only been an active critic since April.)
Scientology representatives have also picketed my home, which is also no big deal - in fact, I enjoy talking with them if they happen to picket when I'm home.
Scientology representatives have also stalked me, following me through the streets, and that is definitely NOT cool. In fact, it's illegal. However, that started after I started picketing, so it obviously wasn't the reason I started picketing.
When people ask me what Scientology has done to me, they often want to know why I'm picketing and posting critical information on the 'net. (Some Scientologists seem to have a hard time understanding that I'm doing this out of concern for others, not because of something that was done to me - but I think, on reflection, they'll see that Scientologists sometimes behave this way, too. For example, I imagine most of the people involved in CCHR engage in protests and criticism not because they've been personally hurt by psychiatry, but because they're concerned about how psychiatry might hurt other people.)
The reason I'm picketing and making critical info available is this:
I think Scientology's hurting people.
I know that most Scientologists don't think Scientology's hurting people. It's possible that I'm wrong. However, I've spoken with people who say they have been held against their will while in Scientology. I've read sworn statements by people who say Scientologists tried to extort money from them. I've read policies, with my own eyes, in Scientology red and green volumes, mandating things that I think are both unethical and illegal.
So here are the reasons I'm a critic:
I think Scientology is hurting people. I think Scientology is committing fraud. I think Scientology is locking people up. I think Scientology is lying to people.
Now, it's entirely possible that I'm wrong. I've been wrong before. I think there's a lot of credible evidence for these things that I've come to believe, but sometimes evidence is misleading, and sometimes it's false. That's why I always encourage people to let me know if there's anything on my web site that's false or inaccurate. So far, only one thing has been pointed out to me (by Jeff Quiros, OSA SFO), and I promptly fixed it.
If you can find any untrue statements on my web site, I'd really appreciate it if you'd let me know.
So, as I say, I could be wrong. But here's a question for you: What if I'm right? What if I'm right about even one of the things I think Scientology is doing?
Judging by your email address, I'm guessing you're a Scientologist. If so, I'd like to thank you specially for writing to me. I know my criticism of Scientology is really puzzling to many Scientologists, so I appreciate your taking the time to communicate with me.
I'd like you to know (whether you're a Scientologist or not) that I have nothing against Scientologists. I enjoy talking with those Scientologists who talk to me when I picket, and I enjoy hearing from them in email. I also want you to know that I don't want to destroy Scientology. There are, however, certain practices that I believe are part of Scientology today which are, in my opinion, illegal and unethical. I'd like to see those practices stopped. That's all. I believe that Scientology can survive - and indeed, even thrive - without lying to people, locking them up, or otherwise hurting them. In fact, a number of people practice Scientology outside the official, corporate church, and they seem to be able to practice Scientology without hurting people in these ways. I have no problem with people auditing each other and pursuing other Scientology practices, as long as people aren't lying about it, and as long as no one gets hurt or does anything illegal. Many Scientologists feel that Scientology has been extremely beneficial for them, and if that's true in your case, then I'm really glad it's had such a positive effect on your life.
I don't want to destroy something that's probably very important to you. On the contrary - I think the biggest threat to Scientology today comes from within. I hope that my pickets may help Scientology get its ethics in, which can only help it to thrive. Some of Scientology's leaders think it's in Scientology's best interest to embrace some of Hubbard's unethical ideas, such as the Fair Game policy and the practice of using lawsuits to harass, rather than suing only when a case has merit. Most distressing is the evidence that Scientology texts are being altered. I saw an extensive list of changes to Science of Survival, for example, showing that entire chapters had been moved around, and some deleted altogether.
I think it's possible that some of the current leaders are SPs. There's certainly evidence that management has been acting counter to Scientology's interests, which is, I believe, a suppressive act. As you probably know, there was a time in the past when many of the highest-ranking members of Scientology committed suppressive acts and went to jail. There are other instances when very high-level Scientologists were declared.
When I see the stats at Scientology's own web site, I worry that my friends in Scientology are suffering because of the misdeeds of those at the top. According to both Scientology's web pages and my own eyes and experience, missions and orgs are shrinking and sometimes closing altogether. The number of auditing hours delivered is tiny for an organization the size of Scientology. According to Charlotte Kates, who was on staff in Philly in 1998, it's very difficult to keep people on staff, and it's hard to get Scientologists to come in for events because they get regged so hard. In my own area, the Sutter Street mission moved from a large, very conspicuous space to a tiny, invisible office a few blocks down the street. I genuinely didn't know they were even there until a fellow picketer told me. I'm worried about what this portends for the many fine Scientologists I've met - Darlene, and Jeff, and Bill, and Ben, and Craig, and Cheryl and Michelle - and the many other Scientologists of good will and good heart who value Scientology.
Intro to Scientology Ethics states that Suppressive Acts are those acts - covert or overt - calculated to reduce or destroy the influence or activities of Scientology. Do you think Scientology management is acting in ways that promote Scientology, or do you think things like pursuing the Fair Game policy, lying to the public, spending massive amounts of money on lawyers and private investigators, and altering the tech will help Scientology expand?
Thanks again for your email. I look forward to your reply, and I wish you all the best.
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.