Michelle Hass on Scientology I have been watching, with definate interest, the banter back
Michelle Hass on Scientology
I have been watching, with definate interest, the banter back and forth about
the Church of Scientology article in Time Magazine.
Unlike many who have "bashed" the C of S, I actually have first-hand
experience about the manipulative crap the C of S indulges in, especially when
you cross them.
I was sent to a school called The Delphian Academy, which is in Sheridan, OR,
in 1978. Sheridan, FYI, is roughly halfway between Salem and Portland along
the Willamette River.
Delphi, as it was known colloqially, was represented to the school placement
bureau that placed me as an "experimental school that teaches by doing." The
school represented itself as a "secular school that uses the education
technology of educator L. Ron Hubbard." to my mother and I when we went up
there to check the place out. Nowhere was it represented that Delphi was
basically a Scientologist parochial school, and that one of the goals that was
implicit in the Delphi curriculum where "Wog" (Non-Scientologist) children
were concerned was conversion.
My mother and I had a vague idea about who "Ron" was. But we were assured that
since this school was a "secular" one, that my rights as a non-believer would
be assured. Passover was coming, and Mom wanted me to go to a Reform Jewish
synagogue somewhere to be able to celebrate. The school official who was doing
the intake assured Mom that I would be allowed to attend Jewish services in
Portland, even flying me over in the school's private plane.
This was the first of many lies the faculty of Delphian Academy told to me. I
did not want to be a part of the religious training offered there, and wanted
to continue with my meditation and Yoga practice. I was born and raised Jewish
but at that point I was studying all kinds of alternative religious paths.
However, I did not consider Scientology to be an alternative I wanted to
explore. I could feel a distinct "bad vibiness" in the halls of the school,
and a grimness surrounding the teachers and the Scientologist students. (The
son of famed Jazz musician Chick Corea, a charming person named Thad, was one
of the very few that did not have the same grim vibe. Nice kid...I wish him
well and hope he got off the Bridge in time to save his free Will.)
For my attempts to maintain my spiritual independence, I was subjected to the
publically disavowed yet privately maintained practice known as "fair game." I
will elaborate next post.
The policy of Fair Game is a policy where real or perceived "Suppressive
Persons" (Enemies of Scientology) are systematically attacked. My only crime
that first qualified me as a "Potential Trouble Source" (henceforth referred
to by the C of S acronym of PTS) then as a SP was my unwillingness to give up
my meditation and my yogic practices, and my unwillingness to move any further
up the Bridge (The curriculum of the C of S) than Delphi's take on the
Communications Course, a class called "Work Habits and Study Skills" that was
a prerequisite for every child attending classes at Delphi.
I had things stolen from me; a potential friendship with a nice boy my age was
broken up, despite the fact that it was very innocent and not sexual at all;
(my mother was told by a school counselor that the boy was a heroin
user...blatant lie!) I had my allowance stolen when I was ill and I trusted
one of my dorm mates (Scientologist...big mistake!) to get me some "sick food"
(chicken soup, Saltines and whatnot) at the store during the weekly trip to
town; and finally I had what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette (I later
found out from an ex-teacher who quit that the joint was filled only with
oregano from the school's kitchen!) planted in my room in my chest of drawers.
As anyone who has observed the C of S over the years knows, drugs are a big
bugaboo with them. One of the C of S' biggest and most respected front
organizations is Narconon, a chain of drug rehab centers. I was told by the
school "ethics officer" (read disciplinarian) that I would be restricted "to
quarters" until the local Sheriff could come up to arrest me for possession of
a controlled substance.
By "quarters," the EO did not mean my bunk at the dorm. I was confined to a
room at the basement level of the school, where renovations had begun for an
Elementary School-level library. There were cans of paint everywhere and only
a small study lamp for light. I had to sleep on a bare mattress and I was only
fed once: at lunch time, judging from the food they gave me. (Sandwiches
I did not have any way to mark the passage of time. I did a lot of
(involuntary) out-of-body travel during what turned out to be my two week
confinement to "quarters". I only had my school work to keep me busy, school
work that was picked up and delivered when my meal was delivered. It was a
horrifying experience, comparable to that which Vietnam-era POWs, the Teheran
Hostages and Patty Hearst went through. Thankfully, it didn't last that long.
I was abruptly set free of my confinement a day before I was to go back to Los
Angeles on a "leave of absence". The EO told me that Admin (the school
hierarchy) had changed their minds about reporting me to the cops, and that if
I didn't breathe a word of the goings on to my mother that "further
repercussions would be avoided." Whether it was intimidation or the beginnings
of the "Stockholm Syndrome" are unclear, but I kept the false front and made
everyone think that things were going OK there.
Upon my return to the school, I was approached by--guess who?--the EO. She
told me that I was still on "ethics probation" and strongly suggested I start
Scientology training immediately. I told her that I still didn't want to, and
that even if I did, I would be unable to because of the cost.
"You get the Bridge for free if you join the Sea Org." she said.
I knew I didn't want to do *that*. The Sea Org (Sea Organization -- a
"monastic order" within the C of S that consists of Scientologists that pledge
"a billion years of service to 'Ron'" in exchange for free auditing and other
services. They wear pseudo-naval uniforms and are literally slave labor for
the C of S, given free lodging and food but no pay for their often 16-hour
days of soliciting. Sound like typical cult programming? It is!) types were
the creepiest people of all. Some of them worked out of the offices of the
"Church of Scientology Mission of Davis, CA at Sheridan, OR" which were also
housed in the Delphian Academy campus. And some of them visited from the
Mission of Portland.
I was told that if I didn't, the harassment would continue and would extend
even to my life in Los Angeles when I finished my time at the school. I
pondered what I thought my options were. If I called my mom, I would go home
to possibly continued harassment and family troubles. If I stayed, I would
either have to take the vow and join Sea Org to get free auditing or continue
being "fair game". If I ran away, I'd have nowhere to go and no friends to
help me survive. The only other option was suicide.
I attempted the very latter, and was discharged from the school as an
"insurance risk." Mom was not given a refund on the unused tuition -- the only
option was to enroll me for free at another C of S school, the Apple School of
the San Fernando Valley. I stayed at Apple for another half a year. I couldn't
tell you why I was actually treated like something more than dirt there...per-
haps my status as a full-fledged SP was not known to them, or perhaps they
found me likeable. I don't know.
But I survived. Thank Goddess.
Sorry Nathan et al...this *did* happen to me. And I don't put it past the
C of S to do any number of things that were mentioned in the article. Perhaps
there's exaggeration there. The press loves sensationalism. But there is truly
fire beneath the smoke. It almost fatally burnt me.
Re: C of S analysis with the Cult Evaluation Frame
The Cult Evaluation Frame first appeared in P.E.I. Bonewitz's "Real Magic" and
was reprinted in Adler's "Drawing Down The Moon". It's a very handy guideline
to tell if a given religious group is destructive or benign.
The ratings are from 1 to 10 in ascending order of harshness.
1.) Internal control over members' lives. The C of S varies in this regard.
Those Scientologists who are living on their own and going about their
business are perhaps not as controllable as Sea Org members, but I'd say that
it averages out to 8 or so.
2.) Wisdom/lack of human frailty claimed by leaders. It is debatable whether
or not L. Ron Hubbard claimed godhood or infallibility. But in a book-length
poem attributed to him, "The Song of India," Hubbard refers to himself as
"Maitreya," the name given by Buddhists to their expected "Final Buddha" who
will usher in the new golden age. Probably an 8 or 9.
3.) Wisdom/lack of human frailty ascribed to leaders by membership. A definate
10. "Ron" is seen as a god-like, if not directly a deity figure. According to
some reports, the notorious "OT 9," the highest post-Clearing initiation given
so far to C of S members, reveals as its "final secret" that Hubbard is God
Himself. Since the hierarchy continues to maintain that it speaks for "Ron",
the C of S hierarchy from David Miscavage on down has wrapped itself in
"Ron's" robe of deity.
4.) Dogmatism, rigidity of doctrine. Another 10. The zeal with which the
Religious Technology Office of the C of S pursues "squirrel" groups (splinter
groups that do auditing on their own) is legendary. There are also "Technical
Bulletins" on practically every aspect of a Scientologist's life, from conduct
and ethics to roles within marriage. (the repulsive "Marriage Hats" document
which delineates a very traditional patriarchal model for married life.)
5.) Emphasis of recruiting, proselytizing, "witnessing". I'd rank that as a 9.
There are people literally everywhere in the world running free personality
tests as the entree into Scientology. Much of the recruiting is done by the
Sea Org as part of their "billion year contract" although some is done by paid
workers, therefore no 10 there.
6.) Number of front groups maintained by the organization. I'd give those guys
a 10 for that one. Everything from musical concerts (Edgar Winter is very
blatantly proselytizing for the C of S) to drug rehab to consulting companies
are run as front groups by the C of S. Including the Delphian Academy both in
Sheridan, OR and La Canada Flintridge, CA, the Apple Schools around the US and
Canada and Apple Schools' parent company, Applied Scholastics. Not to mention
Saint Hill University in Britain, the American Saint Hill Organization, the
Sea Org, the Hubbard Dianetics Foundation and other "front names" for
blatantly Scientologist spinoffs.
7.) Wealth of the organization, %age of money taken by group from members. An
easy, easy 10. The courses are horrifically expensive, the merchandising and
subsidiary stuff is almost limitless and expensive. And correct me if I'm
wrong, but doesn't the church encourage tithing? Nathan?
8.) Political power/ambition of group. Unquestionably another 10. The Church
of Scientology is attempting to infiltrate the Libertarian Party in the United
States by a mass voter registration drive. Need I say more, chillun?
9.) Amount of sex-life control wielded by leaders of group. Give it an 8,
unless you are really tied up in the inner workings of the group, in which
case it is a definate 10. "Out-2D" (anything the C of S considers sexually
aberrant) is something that the C of S holds over a member's head, especially
during auditing. This was used as a way of getting at me back at Delphi (the
young boy that I met in Portland that my Mom was told was a heroin addict!)
and apparently is being used as a stick to keep John Travolta from defecting
from the church. (The tabloid articles about Travolta's gay sex life stink of
being planted in a "fair game" operation.)
10.) Censorship/amount of control of outside or dissident opinions on group,
doctrine or leaders. 10. Unquestionably a 10. The most innocent quip I made
about the omnipresence of pictures of "Ron" at Delphian Academy ("So, that's
Chairman Ron, huh?") resulted in my instant classification as a PTS. Like I
said earlier, "squirrels" are harassed relentlessly. And critics are given
both barrels of the "fair game" gun.
11.) Intensity of efforts to prevent dropouts or "backsliding" in the
membership. Definate 10. See Criterion 10.
12.) Endorsement of violence on behalf of organization/leader. Also a 10.
Several people have had their lives, liberty and property destroyed by the C
of S. They tried with me.
13.) Paranoia regarding "enemies" of the organization. 10. Obviously.
14.) Amount of disapproval considering jokes about organization, doctrines and
or leaders. A definate 10. See incident described last post with the "Chairman
Ron" quip I made.
15.) Amount of turning over of decision making to leaders. I imagine it varies
as to how deep in you are. If you are in Sea Org or at a Scientologist school,
I'm sure it's a 10. If you are just a run-of-the-mill Pre Clear, I imagine you
have a little more control over your life. But I'm sure even then it's a 7 at
Pretty close to the top on all scales.
Two Christian scholars blast Time article on Scientology
By Religious News Service
NEW YORK (RNS) -- A specialist in civil and religious liberties and
a prominent Holocaust scholar, both United Methodist ministers, have
blasted Time magazine for its May 6 cover story that denounced the
Church of Scientology as a "cult of greed."
The Rev. Dean M. Kelley, counselor on religious liberty for the
National Council of Churches, and the Rev. Franklin H. Littell, a
founder of the Annual Scholars' Conference on the Holocaust and the
Churches, wrote to the newsmagazine to protest the article. The church
has also issued an 80-page defense, consisting largely of documents,
titled "Fact vs. Fiction."
In the article, written by Associate Editor Richard Behar, Time
declared that "the Church of Scientology, started by science-fiction
writer L. Ron Hubbard to `clear' people of unhappiness, portrays
itself as a religion. In reality the church is a hugely profitable
global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a
Stressing that his views do not necessarily represent those of the
National Council of Churches, Kelley wrote that he "could hardly
believe that a magazine of the usually high quality of Time should
give space to such a bare-faced hatchet job."
Kelley said that although there are "various things about the group
that I don't agree with or don't approve," by and large he has found
Scientologists "to be earnest, enterprising, public-spirited and
committed people, not the unscrupulous, money-obsessed racketeers you
make them out to be."
The religious liberties specialist also declared that "it doesn't
matter what L. Ron Hubbard thought he was doing when he invented
Scientology; it doesn't matter what you or I or Cynthia Kisser
(president of the Cult Awareness Network) or disgruntled ex-members or
angry parents or other outsiders think of it; it's what it is doing
for those who believe in it -- however misguided we may think them to
Littell told Time the article reminded him "of the venomous attacks
on the Mormons a century ago, attacks also joined by supposedly
reputable journals of general circulation."
He said he can "match every charge and calumny against the
Scientologists, true or false, with earlier attacks on the Roman
Catholics, Mormons, Methodists, Baptists, Mennonite/Anabaptists. ...
The affirmation of what Roger Williams called `soul liberty' cannot be
put at the mercy of embittered individuals with soured love affairs,
anti-religious psychiatrists and ambulance-chasing lawyers!"
Neither Kelley's nor Littell's letter has been published in Time,
which ran a sampling of responses in its May 27 issue, along with a
box that said that of about 400 readers who wrote about the article,
"25 percent were in favor of the church, 75 percent opposed it, and at
least 10 percent asked that we not print their name."
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank