According to all reports and reviews, Alex Gibney’s new HBO-produced documentary about Scientology, called Going Clear, looks like it is everything we hoped in terms of telling the real abuses that Scientology has been perpetrating for many decades.
When you have eight different people who were involved with Scientology over the course of many different years, even decades, all describing horrific situations they were forced to endure, you cannot just brush that off. Their stories are gripping and their sincerity undeniable.
Despite Scientology delusional attempts at PR containment, their efforts are in vain because they do not understand how things work in the real world. I thought I’d seen everything in terms of the kind of footbullets that Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs (their PR division) seems to specialize in firing, but I almost fell out of my chair when I read articles from film critics and bloggers describing how they had been emailed by the Church demanding that they publish the Church’s “response” to their film critiques so that they would be fair and balanced. I don’t think you need any further proof of how far out of touch with the real world Scientology actually is than this.
From the perspective of a former member of Scientology and now an active critic of that group, it seems to me that 2015 is going to be the best year yet to make real progress in lessening the evil influence Scientology has on its remaining members.
We often talk about what it will take to bring down Scientology as an organization, what is going to happen to Scientology leader David Miscavige, who will take over when he is gone, etc. While these are interesting speculation, the real fight to win is the battle for the hearts and minds of those who are unknowingly still trapped in the cult of Scientology.
As an organization, Scientology is dying faster by its own hand than through any other activity conspiring against it. Yet its members are not trapped by David Miscavige or L. Ron Hubbard. There are no walls holding them inside a jail cell, there are no armed guards patrolling outside Scientology churches to keep their public members trapped inside. Lawrence Wright nailed it precisely when he titled his bestseller Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. It is belief that holds Scientologists in a world of delusion.
What if David Miscavige were to go in front of the cameras tomorrow and admit defeat? What if all the church’s of Scientology closed their doors tomorrow? Would that end the problem? Would all those people be free now? Well, in a word, no.
What Were We Thinking?
I think it is safe to say that all of us who were once involved with Scientology did so because we truly wanted what it had to offer. We wanted to help our fellow man, we wanted to be helped, we wanted to attain personal spiritual salvation in whatever form that meant to us.
Those were good intentions. In fact, they were the best of intentions.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a better person. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to reach out to others and help them. While narcissism is a common trait developed in Scientology, it’s not necessarily something that people come into Scientology with in the first place. Many were attracted by its promises and they stayed for years despite all the evidence that those promises weren’t going to come true, simply because the power of belief is that strong.
We use terms like cognitive dissonance, brainwashing, hypnotism, etc to explain how we were fooled for so long by something so patently ridiculous as the lies Hubbard or Miscavige told us. These are legitimate mental phenomenon, but could it also be that some of us stayed around for so long because of more holier things like belief, trust, faith or even honor?
There is a thing called hindsight bias, which is a sort of mental shift where a person will look back at their past and make value judgments about their actions or beliefs based on what they know now, in the present. They can end up berating themselves because they were so foolish, so stupid to do or believe or think whatever it is that they now see as wrong.
This is not only illogical but it’s self-defeating because it was impossible for you to know then what you know now. You had to go through the experiences you went through to arrive at where you are today. Kicking yourself for not knowing better then is all fine if you are into punishing yourself, but it’s not very productive.
It’s what you do with that knowledge you have acquired now, in the present, that really counts.
Our Role as Ex-Members
I am an outspoken critic of Scientology. It is not my sole purpose in life, never has been and never will be. In fact, as time marches on, my interest in Scientology has lessened quite a bit. I have lots of other things I am doing with my life now that Scientology isn’t ruling it and frankly, I’m having so much fun doing those other things that some days it seems like kind of a drag to pay any attention to what Scientology is doing.
Much of what I said and wrote at first was just as much for me and my own healing process as it was to inform others. However, I am still at it and I have continued plans to keep producing videos and articles such as this when the mood suits me and my Creative Muse is smiling on my efforts.
But here’s my point: I think that there are too few of us speaking out. Scientology is a dying cult but its members are still trapped in a prison of belief for only one reason: because no one has gotten through to them yet with a message more powerful than the nonsense spewed at them by L. Ron Hubbard and David Miscavige.
Scientologists for the most part are intelligent and well-intentioned people who have been deceived and conned by masters of the art of deception. It is no small thing to bend people’s minds and wills to your own and Hubbard and Miscavige have done a championship job of it. That doesn’t mean that is the end of the story though.
Yes, there are some in Scientology, specifically those who work for OSA and in Scientology’s ethics and justice divisions who are knowing and willing participants in the most dreadful activities of the church. Those people are the kinds who are drawn to doing bad things and I believe that if they weren’t working for Scientology, they would be doing something else equally as bad somewhere else because it’s simply in their hearts to want to hurt people. They don’t get any pass from me and when the whole thing comes down, it is my hope that they will get the justice they so richly deserve for the crimes they have committed.
My Request to You, a.k.a. A Call to Action
The truth is what sets people free from the prison of belief. It set me free and if you are an ex-Scientologist watching this now, I reckon that it likely set you free too. What better justice than to destroy Scientology by shining the light of truth on it from every conceivable angle? What else but the truth of what we have experienced and what we know is going to get through to those who are still trapped? Who else are they going to listen to but us?
We all have our stories, we all have our good and bad experiences and we all somehow were able to break free and get out. I think we should all tell those stories now. You don’t hear this from other critics or ex-Scientologists in the main, but I think this needs to be said. I think it’s time this be said by a lot of other people.
Think of this: If the stories of only eight ex-Scientologists making it into the mainstream media have frightened Scientology beyond anything they have ever imagined before, what would happen if fifty or a hundred or a thousand such stories were to get out there now? What better or more fitting response to Alex Gibney and the heroic efforts of these eight but to add our voices to theirs?
If you are waiting for something, I’d say your wait is over. Speak out now through any outlet you can find be it social media, a blog, or whatever. Get a video camera, get a computer, do anything you need to because it’s not hard. You don’t have to be a professional writer or video producer or anything like that. Just get your voice heard.
It is us who can change the hearts and minds of those still trapped within, through the power and truth of our stories and experiences. If you think your voice doesn’t matter or you won’t be heard, I can tell you that I thought the exact same thing when I started doing this. I was wrong and so are you. Your voice does matter and if you speak up, someone will hear it. It does make a difference.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you for watching.