“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Whenever one looks at the press releases or promotional materials of Dianetics and Scientology, one is presented with the picture of amazing success. Claims of “straight up and vertical expansion” are made, citing hundreds of thousands of square feet of new church building space as proof of this success. Far be it from me to challenge these claims, but I don’t know that a building’s girth ever helped enlighten anyone. I’m quite sure that the last time I was looking for help sorting out my relationship with the universe, I did not look in the yellow pages under “largest construction site in town.”
In fact, using “expansion” as a gauge of success for a religious movement is itself an alteration of importance and a misdirector. It is not expansion that is important – it is the help that is supposed to be provided to the individuals and their personal success in life that would gauge the worthiness of a self-help organization, which is what Scientology claims to be. On that count, Scientology has failed time and again.
More to the point, we are seeing the results of that failure now more than ever before. Recent events have exposed an undeniable failing in Corporate Scientology’s operation, a glimpse behind the curtain that shows just how badly this organization is flailing about and how close it is to actually being knocked out entirely. Mike Rinder first broke this story on his Something Can Be Done About It blog (here) last week.
This is very good news. Since there’s a lot of back story to this, I thought I’d try to give a thorough explanation about what is going on for those who may not be so familiar with Los Angeles and the Scientology presence there, and also what this may mean for Scientology internationally.
I made a video (here) which explains the various echelons of Scientology organizations and explained in detail why their management system is failing so miserably at doing its job. My video concentrates on the management side of Scientology. Following is a short description of Scientology’s service organizations. If you are already familiar with these, you don’t need to read this section but it’s necessary that one understand these in order to grasp the importance of these recent changes.
One can look at Scientology’s power and sphere of influence as a series of concentric circles, based upon the levels of organizations which make up the Scientology network across the world.
Class V organizations, called “orgs” for short, offer services up to the level of Clear (a person supposedly freed from all past psychological trauma and stress factors) and train Scientology counselors to be able to take someone else to the state of Clear. Orgs are located in major cities around the world, such as Los Angeles, New York, London, Madrid and Sydney.
Because Scientology orgs are open days, nights and weekends, most of them are divided into two separate organizations, referred to as the Day organization for Monday – Friday 9-6 and the Foundation organization for nights and weekends. They use the same quarters but are staffed with different personnel.
Class V orgs are staffed with volunteers who are paid a pittance for their work and usually have other means of support. The remaining organizations I’ll talk about are staffed by Sea Organization members. The Sea Organization is a para-military group who are fed, berthed, uniformed and otherwise cared for exclusively by the Church of Scientology. They do not have any outside jobs or outside life of any kind and usually work extremely long hours (9am – midnight seven days a week with a day off at most every two weeks).
Saint Hills (SHs) deliver services immediately after a person achieves Clear which prepare him for his next steps at the Advanced Organizations (AOs). Saint Hills also deliver Scientology’s most comprehensive training service, the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course, which is a chronological study of the entire subject from its very roots to its more advanced principles.
At the Advanced Organizations, a person receives the Scientology Operating Thetan (OT) Levels, which are supposed to provide levels of spiritual enlightenment beyond anything ever pondered or achieved in human history. Saint Hills and Advanced Orgs are often combined into one larger organization and are located in four places around the world: United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark and Los Angeles.
The Flag Service Organization is the highest level organization in Scientology and is located in Clearwater, Florida. It delivers all of these services and other confidential Flag-only services which are supposed to boost a person’s spiritual abilities beyond anything imaginable.
Where’s the Beef?
By the early 1980s, this organizational structure was at its peak of influence and public success. Through a catastrophic series of events (described in detail here), L. Ron Hubbard went into hiding and David Miscavige took over the reins of power. One of Miscavige’s first actions, with Hubbard’s full consent and approval, was to all but disband the entire network of missions in the United States in order to gain more draconian control of the missions’ finances and resources. In California, where these missions were having the greatest success, many of them were converted into small Class V orgs, e.g. Santa Barbara, Valley, Orange County, San Jose, etc.
What also began at this time was the slow and steady erosion of Scientology management under Miscavige’s dictatorial control.
When Miscavige released what he called the Golden Age of Tech in 1996, he made massive changes to the way in which auditors (counselors) were trained. This signaled the effective end of easy auditor training internationally. Training that had taken Scientology parishioners a few weeks or months now took literally years and it became all but impossible for any new Scientology counselors to be made.
Because so much of Scientology relies on its counselling, this eviscerated the very guts of Scientology. In other words, he basically removed the “burger” out of the hamburger.
For Class V organizations, this took away the bulk of their service capacity since most parishioners at an org level take routinely scheduled classes in an effort to become trained as auditors. This training is supposed to not only help a person help others, but is also supposed to provide its own form of spiritual enlightenment. By making it so difficult to get through this training, this discouraged most Scientologists from even wanting to take courses and organizations became emptier and emptier.
This change in the training line-up did not just affect the Class V orgs, but also the Saint Hills. The Saint Hill Special Briefing Course students were all required to go back to the very beginning of their training and effectively start over again. Since this Briefing Course routinely takes a year to get through if you study on a full-time schedule, this was a massive blow to the Saint Hill orgs’ ability to make these high-level auditors.
Now to compound this felony, in 2006 Miscavige re-released all of the Dianetics and Scientology books. He called them “The Basics” and demanded every parishioner on the planet go back to the beginning of these books and study them all. Lecture series were also included with almost each book, ensuring that it would take weeks or even months to get through each of the 18 books which made up this new release. If anyone had managed to get through the barriers presented by the 1996 Golden Age of Tech, they now had a whole new setback. Scientologists took years to get through these new studies and most still aren’t done with them.
Finally, to really pour salt all over the wound and kill off Scientology training once and for all, last year Miscavige released a whole new Golden Age of Tech Phase II, with every single course from 1996 and more fully revised and repackaged. Without admitting it, the point of “Phase II” was to fix the catastrophic disaster he had unleashed in 1996. Keeping to his thoroughly unsuccessful pattern from the last two major releases, Miscavige demanded that all Scientologists go back to the beginning of the training line-up yet again.
This has now raised so much havoc with auditor training that Saint Hills have closed their Briefing Course classrooms entirely since no one is able to do this course now. The only real reason Saint Hills exist is to deliver this Briefing Course, so not only has Miscavige wiped out Class V org training but he also gutted Saint Hills at the same time.
The Ship is Sinking
In real world business, when a company contracts, they do their best to put a good spin on it so their remaining customers do not get alarmed and jump ship too. When you see shops shutting down and merging from three locations to one central location “to better service you” you can be sure that company is floundering. Layoffs and wholesale firings are another sure indicator that the company’s finances are in disarray and they are struggling to keep the doors open.
In the world of Scientology, there is an old line from Hubbard that used to be given supreme importance: orgs never close. In Hubbard’s time, there were only two instances I know of when this happened. I’m not claiming that Hubbard was a skilled administrator because he wasn’t. What I’m saying is that in the eight years that I worked in Scientology management, extreme measures were taken over and over again to ensure that no org ever closed, even if local management (not upper-level international management) had to shell out funds to keep the failing orgs afloat.
So imagine my surprise when just this past week, it was announced with much excitement and fanfare that an entire reorganization was being done of the major Sea Org and Class V orgs in Los Angeles and that two of these major organizations were closing their doors forever.
On one street called L. Ron Hubbard Way, are the Los Angeles Class V Day and Foundation, the American Saint Hill Day and Foundation and the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles. They are all on one street so that a person could symbolically walk from one end of the street to the other through the organizations located there and move up the various levels of Scientology’s path to spiritual enlightenment. It was Hubbard’s intention that these all be located in one place and that each of these organizations be hustling and bustling with lots of parishioners moving on up to Operating Thetan and training to become top-flight auditors.
Instead of this vision being realized, last week two of these major Scientology organizations were consolidated and, for the first time in history, Scientology staff members were laid off and literally kicked out the door.
The American Saint Hill organization in Los Angeles had a Day and Foundation. These were consolidated into one Saint Hill. There is no more Saint Hill Foundation.
Los Angeles’s Class V org also had a Day and Foundation and these too were not only consolidated, but all the staff were laid off and replaced with Sea Organization members. There is no more Los Angeles Foundation.
As I said before, Class V orgs are staffed by volunteers. No Class V organization in Scientology’s history has ever been staffed exclusively by Sea Org members. It is unheard of. What’s more, the Los Angeles Class V org specifically is supposed to be the “Model Org” which all other class V orgs emulate. This can only mean that eventually all Class V orgs around the world will be staffed only by Sea Org members. They are supposed to follow the “model”, right?
New executives, not one of whom have any experience at actually running an organization, were brought in to replace the old executives of each organization on L. Ron Hubbard Way, including the Advanced Org of Los Angeles.
While this was done with much fanfare and announcements of how all of these mergers and changes were being done to better service the public, it takes nothing at all to see past these lies. These were moves made out of sheer desperation and would never have been approved by L. Ron Hubbard for any reason.
You see, for many years now only the Flag Service Organization in Florida has actually been a source of viable income for Corporate Scientology. Every other organization at any level, across the world, has either barely broke even or has been a money pit.
The effort to fundraise and open bigger buildings with more maintenance and utility costs has only exacerbated this situation, since not one of these “ideal orgs” grew organically into its larger quarters. None of them are viable or successful, and most are struggling just to pay their operating costs and give their staff a small pittance.
Between rising legal costs due to an ever-increasing number of civil and criminal suits and the expenses of purchasing more huge and useless properties to show “expansion”, it appears that Corporate Scientology is actually hemorrhaging money at an alarming rate. It is my belief that its outgo is actually far greater than its income and is now having to take overt action to cut costs any way it can. Scientology is not only losing members but it’s losing resources and money.
If you are a former or current member of Scientology and you have the idea that L. Ron Hubbard’s policies are still being operated on, you can let those ideas go forever. These new consolidations show clearly that Hubbard’s policies are a long-gone memory, something Miscavige has gotten rid of just as he got rid of the “beef” of Scientology technology back in 1996.
In case I’ve not been clear in this or earlier articles, I don’t care if anyone wants to practice the subject of Scientology in their own homes or in private groups. Interfering with non-harmful religious beliefs or practices never has been and never will be any crusade of mine. I don’t happen to agree with most of Scientology’s principles any longer, but I certainly am not going to argue that it never did anyone any good. Such a claim would be a losing battle because it’s easily disproven. On the other hand, I believe that most any gain gotten from Scientology is temporary at best and that it is a subject completely incapable of achieving any of the goals laid out by its founder.
However, Corporate Scientology – the Church of Scientology as led by David Miscavige since the late 1970s – is on its last legs. Losing money and members faster than it can replace either, it is not much longer for this world.
I have made the case quite clearly in my previous videos and articles that Corporate Scientology is a vicious, destructive organization that preys on its members for not only every penny they have but also complete control of every part of their lives. There is no doubt about this. The proof is abundant and easy for anyone to find if they will but look.
I therefore am ecstatic at this latest turn of events in Los Angeles. I’m not usually much for making predictions, but I believe that we will soon see similar moves made at the Saint Hill organization in the United Kingdom and other consolidations. While I find it hard to believe that Class V org staff members would be replaced anywhere else by Sea Organization members, if LA is a “model” than this must be the idea for the future. And that only spells further and further contraction of Corporate Scientology as a whole.
Let’s see what happens and how fast the contraction occurs. There’s no coming back from these re-organizations. Corporate Scientology is only going down from here. I’m interested in any other predictions or further information about this which anyone has to make in the comments to this article.