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On Scientology and Me, Part Six: Postscript

@Nukegrrrl Ugh. That sounds like something they would do. And it's extra-paranoid for a local church to post security - it makes me wonder what they're afraid of.

Hmmm... Do they have to get city approval to hang the posters? If so, you can see if they skipped that step, rendering the posters illegal. The only other thing I can think of is to post signs next to theirs that point to a resource that debunks the Scientology viewpoint on psychiatry.

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm 0

On Scientology and Me, Part Six: Postscript

"I hate the idea that my mother — who joined the church out of principles stronger than many of us possess, and then showed enormous personal courage in leaving the organization to build a new life for herself and her family — should feel embarrassed to share her history."

Thank you for this. As a former Scientologist who struggles with this quite a bit, I really appreciate the effort you have made within this series to help people understand.

Posted on December 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm 5

On Scientology and Me, Part Six: Postscript

@PistolPackinMama If you're trying to say that we all have a responsibility as members of a community to recognize the problem and do our part to help stop it - both with DV and when it comes to abuses within religious/similar organizations - then I'm 100% with you on that! :)

Posted on December 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm 0

On Scientology and Me, Part Six: Postscript

@Sabrah YES!! I've been noting the parallels between DV and the way that the church (cult-like groups in general?) operates for some time now. It's nice to see others also making that connection, and I hope it means we'll be more effective going forward in breaking through to the folks who are currently entrenched.

And to clarify, I respect people's right to make their own decision with regard to whether or not to participate in the church - what makes me angry is that the church essentially forbids followers from seeking any information from outside the church*, thus cutting off any possibility of them recognizing that something is terribly amiss, and in turn undermining their capacity to make a truly informed decision.

*As an example, roughly 15 years ago, when the Internet was first starting to become a Thing, the church passed out CD-ROMs that everyone was instructed to install on their personal computers. The CD-ROMs contained software that would block your computer's ability to view anything on the Internet pertaining to Scientology that wasn't an official Scientology website. THAT is how serious they are about making sure that their followers are kept in the dark. That was also one of the biggest cracks in the facade that ultimately led to my leaving the church.

Posted on December 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm 2

On Scientology and Me, Part Three: Leaving the Church

@mammamia Was that perhaps a form of what's called "Sec Checking," or Security Checking? This is currently standard practice for anyone who wants to leave staff. They even make the leaving staff member pay for it, which can be rather expensive, creating yet another barrier to leaving. My understanding is that if you leave WITHOUT completing a Sec Check, you're automatically declared a Suppressive Person - so, basically, it's also a form of extortion.

I had a version of this done to me when I originated, er, (I'm slipping back into Scientolog-ese) told them that I wanted to leave the Sea Org. I was immediately taken to the Ethics Officer, put on an e-meter, and about 6-8 people stood over me and glared at me as the auditor practically barked questions at me (so much for anything resembling Standard Tech, sheesh!!), essentially demanding to know what horrible overt (er, transgression; Stella explained this concept really well) I had committed that made me want to leave. Explaining that working 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week, for about $18/week, with zero privacy, and being yelled at constantly, etc, etc, wasn't what I had signed up for, they flat out refused to accept that and kept demanding that I 'fess up. It was HORRIBLE. I eventually broke down in tears, but they kept yelling and pressing. UGH. The obvious goal was to get me to change my mind and decide to stay, and they were NOT happy that that wasn't happening.

Thankfully I eventually found a way to wiggle out of the Sea Org, but it took several weeks* of similar ethics actions, and I had to accept a huge hit to my pride (for any Scientologist's reading -- I deliberately avoided finishing my Staff Status II, and my incredibly mean supervisor wrote a gnarly Fitness Board declaration stating that I was incompetent).

*Imagine quitting a job - one where you just happen to live on-site - and being held hostage for over six weeks while they apply immense pressure on you to stay. Yeah.

Posted on November 25, 2012 at 1:06 am 0

On Scientology and Me, Part Two: What Scientologists Actually Believe

@Derek Bloch@facebook Derek, I'm really sorry that that happened to you. Having been in the Sea Org briefly, I can relate to much of it, and so I know how painful and humiliating it can be. I'm glad that you're out and away from it now.

I agree that stories like yours also need to be heard, and I think having an intro such as Stella's story allows people to gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of what is going. That way, when they read a far more infuriating story like yours, they're better able to grasp the nuts and bolts of what's going on. So far, I've seen a lot of overly simplistic Scientology bashing online - "Those people are all crazy! Why would anyone get involved with something like that?!" etc. Meanwhile, being called "crazy," "stupid," and worse isn't exactly going to encourage a practicing Scientologist to want to listen to a critic, however right that critic may be in their critique. I think writing like Stella's will go a long way toward helping people figure out a way to appeal to practicing Scientologists that might actually cut through the fog - something that would be immensely valuable for their well-being. A few people here have already commented about how they can finally understand why the church might appeal to someone. That may not seem like a big deal, but it's a HUGE step forward toward moving from being horrified about it, to actually taking meaningful action to help people.

...I've likened the church's tactics to those used by domestic abusers, especially in regard to staff members, especially at the Sea Org level. In the worst cases, it's almost like the followers have a form of Stockholm Syndrome. They are yelled at, degraded, threatened, and punished repeatedly, and their response isn't to get angry and leave, but rather to try harder to please the church/abusers. It's really heartbreaking for the good people who get caught up in that cycle, and thinking about the perpetrators makes my blood boil. It's also similar in that it's difficult to get the followers to see/admit how bad their situation is. If you've ever tried to help a battered woman leave her abuser, there are many parallels. (I grew up with domestic violence and have studied it, and the parallels are striking.)

I need to ask: you mention above that children born with disabilities are considered "evil." I never personally encountered that mentality, but it's in keeping with the other bigoted and abusive attitudes that prevailed. I have Scientologist relatives with young children who have disabilities. Should I be worried about them?? I suspect that the parents are verbally/emotionally abusive. Have you heard of anything worse being perpetrated??

Posted on November 25, 2012 at 12:30 am 1

On Scientology and Me, Part Two: What Scientologists Actually Believe

@saywhatnow? Ah, yes - the Admin Tech. That's a great example of an aspect of Scientology that is genuinely useful. I'm extremely successful in the business world despite lacking a college degree. I've explained to a few close friends that much of my success is the result of extensive training in Admin Tech, and they think that's nuts. Ah, well.

Posted on November 25, 2012 at 12:07 am 0

On Scientology and Me, Part Two: What Scientologists Actually Believe

@phlox As someone who was a Scientologist from the time I was about 11 until my mid-20's, I bristled at your comment. While I can understand having that knee-jerk reaction, I'm still haunted by this kind of attitude now in my 30's. When men I'm dating find out that I *USED* to be a Scientologist, many of them don't even bother trying to be polite, they just look at me like I've sprouted a second head and I know it's over. I REALLY wish people wouldn't treat each other that way. The few guys who haven't bolted got to hear about how the church preyed on me because I was an abused child who was traumatized and seeking any help I could find, and that as I grew older, I realized there was a LOT wrong with the church and stopped participating in it. I still have a few books that I find helpful, but by and large, it's behind me.

Also, had a person articulated their concerns to me when I was younger, rather than bolting, I might have figured it out even sooner, but I realize that's not anyone else's responsibility.

Posted on November 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm 1

On Scientology and Me, Part Two: What Scientologists Actually Believe

@cmcm To be fair, "the church is fucking nuts and ruined my life" is an accurate statement for many ex-Scientologists.

I've only avoided that fate because I keep my opinions about the church to myself (when not hiding behind an Internet avatar, anyway). If I formally stopped being a Scientologist, rather than just distancing myself the way that I have, they would "declare" me a "suppressive person," and all of my Scientologist relatives and friends would *literally* never speak to me again.

Posted on November 24, 2012 at 11:48 pm 0

On Scientology and Me, Part Two: What Scientologists Actually Believe

As a former Scientologist, I had to take a quick break from reading to say that this line made me LOL:

"ENOUGH ABOUT XENU ALREADY."

My sentiments exactly. :) Now back to reading...

Posted on November 24, 2012 at 11:28 pm 1