The One That Got Away - Am I A Scientologist?
No, I'm not.
My Brief Exploration of Scientology
Several years ago, I was offered a free personality test. I was not especially interested but the guy was fairly persistent, so I went ahead and took it, more to be nice to him than for any other reason. (I was mildly curious what the results would be, but even then I was very happy with myself and my life and I wasn't concerned about any major flaws in my personality.)
As I recall, I scored pretty well, but was told that there were still some areas of my life that I could improve. The information on Scientology that was laying around in the reception area looked very interesting, and the hoopla about making the world a better place and "clearing the planet" sounded great. I bought and read a copy of Dianetics (somehow managing to gloss over the distasteful parts), and I bought a few other lower-level books. I also signed up for an initial auditing session.
One of the clearest memories I have was of my first pre-auditing interview. I had not eaten breakfast and I was told that I would have to have some protein before my session - so I ended up buying some peanuts from their little snack box. I remember resenting that. The interview included a lot of very personal questions, all of which I answered fully. I have always been a very open person, but I remember feeling a little twinge of anxiety over disclosing all of this information. None of the things I revealed are things that I would be ashamed of, but I now believe that Scientology wouldn't hesitate to try to use them against me ... if they could figure out who I am.
The other memory of that interview was that I tried to point out a grammatical error in one of the Scientology publications, and my auditor couldn't understand what I was talking about.
I did my auditing, and went back to some early memories. Toward the end of the session, I saw a particular image, which I described but couldn't name. The auditor prompted me: "Is it a ___________?" AND I SAID YES, EVEN THOUGH IT WASN'T. That seemed strange to me, and contributed to my decision not to do any more auditing.
Afterward, I was asked to write up a success story. I found this odd, and I tried to be as objective as I could be. I wrote that I found the session interesting, and that was about it.
My auditor and the other person there seemed pretty unhappy about this. I was even offered a free additional session! I declined.
I decided that I needed to find out more about Scientology, so I went to the library and read everything I could find, including Omar Garrison's critical book [see note 1 ]. I couldn't quite believe the stories of people being locked up and mistreated. After all, that kind of thing couldn't really happen, could it?
Even though I didn't believe parts of the critical reports I read, I was less than enthusiastic about Scientology. The final criterion, though was something I read at the Scientology mission. There was an ethics statement, and after much consideration I decided I just couldn't subscribe to it. (I WISH I could find this document. I've looked for it, but to no avail. The specific phrase that disturbed me had something to do with being obligated to strike a blow at an opponent if they've struck a blow at you or a group you belonged to. That's how wars are perpetuated, I thought, and vengeance is not something I support. It WASN'T the line about never fearing to hurt another in a just cause; it was something else, and I can't find it. Darn.) [Actually, I found it. See note 2 .]
I told the folks at the mission that I had decided not to get further involved, mostly because of this ethical conflict, and also because it was so expensive. They tried to convince me that it wasn't all that expensive - wouldn't I splurge on nice clothes or a fancy dinner? I said "no", emphatically; I didn't believe in wasting money, and the courses didn't seem like a good deal to me.
The sum total of my involvement in Scientology: personality test (of course), one auditing session (maybe two but I don't think so), one free evening event where we got to meet some Scientologist who'd been doing well financially, reading Dianetics, and paging through the other couple of books I bought.
After I decided Scientology wasn't for me, I pretty well forgot about it.
Months later, though, when ordering a pizza, one of the guys at the pizza place got on the line, asked if I remembered him from the mission, and tried to get me to come back for some auditing or courses. I said no thanks and got off the phone. The same thing happened a few weeks later, and I told him "I'm currently involved in Scientology at exactly the level I'd like to be" ( - not at all), and again got off the phone. I felt that his attempts to get me reinvolved were inappropriate - especially the second one.
I've never regretted my decision to reject Scientology because it conflicted with my principles. Over the years, as I've learned more about Scientology's criminal convictions and ruthless persecution of its critics, and as I found out about Lisa McPherson and the dangers of the Introspection and Purification Rundowns, I've felt even more fortunate that I didn't fall for Scientology's bait-and-switch.
This page was last updated on November 21, 1999.