Although I have tried at every turn to give credit where credit is due, frankly I think so far that I have done an inadequate job. So I’m taking this opportunity now to dedicate an entire post to just this subject of acknowledging the giants upon whose shoulders I stand. This is something important in the community of ex-Scientologists and a point that should not be ignored by any of us who are relatively newly coming out of Scientology.
There is a lot of history and backstory in the world of Scientology critics and whistleblowers. It seems like it can take as long to learn about all the personalities involved, their incredible and sometimes unbelievable trials and tribulations as it did to learn about Scientology itself. I sometimes think it would be a make a more epic and interesting tale if someone were to tell the true stories of those who have exposed Scientology’s criminal activities, human rights abuses, fair gaming and corporate shenanigans than it would be to continue talking about the Church itself. There is certainly no shortage of intrigue, James Bond-like espionage, suspense and even tragedy in every one of these people’s experiences.
We have arrived at a place now where Scientology is truly the subject of ridicule, contempt and amusement to the world at large. If they think about Scientology at all, they know that it is something unsavory and if they look into it even casually, they universally determine that it is something sinister, creepy and even dangerous. With the power of the internet and Google, all of the data we know is only a few keystrokes away. It has never been easier and as a result, the information is widespread. The Church of Scientology ran a massively successful Dianetics marketing campaign in the 1980s which received hardly any backlash or negative feedback (at least not that I remember). Now look at the overwhelming negative response to their inane Superbowl ads, universally panned across the Twittersphere within seconds of being run. And there are so many more indications of Scientology’s massive PR failures across all media channels. The upcoming HBO documentary by Alex Gibney and Louis Theroux’s BBC special are going to draw even more attention to the abuses of this cult and expose it for the money-making scam that it is.
None of this would have been possible without a number of factors, everything that evolved over the last 40 years. All of the hell that ex’s and non-Scientologists who were dragged into the sordid messes of the Church had to endure totals up to an almost epic story of torment, stalking, harassment and much worse. This isn’t even melodramatic or exaggerated. The Guardians Office/Office of Special Affairs operations carried out from the 70s on Paulette Cooper through to the present on so many others such as Denise Brennan, Gerry Armstrong, Lawrence Wollersheim, Jessie Prince, Arnie Lerma and Tory Christman (to name just a small handful) – all of this is what put enough information out there for Anonymous to take the ball over the finish line in 2007 and explode all of the abuses internationally with their protests, videos and personal exposure. I am not leaving anyone out of this on purpose – the names of everyone who came before me are too numerous to list here and I don’t mean to slight anyone by leaving anyone out specifically.
Everything that has happened since has basically been the bonus round for those of us who exited more recently, a chance for us to get our licks in and have our voices be heard to speed up the process that was already started years earlier. I think that the work of Marc Headley, Karen Delacarriere and Jeff Augustine, Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun has been exceedingly excellent in this regard. I don’t know anyone who has brought it the battle right to David Miscavige’s doorstep as has Marty and Monique Rathbun and they are deservedly admired for the stand they have taken and the progress they’ve made in exposing Scientology’s dark underside in modern court.
Everything that happened had to happen in order for the next thing to happen. When I finally left the employ of the Sea Organization in 2012, I was almost immediately persecuted by the Church for no other reason than someone in it considered that I was a “bad example” of a Scientologist. They attempted to keep me away from any org or Scientologist, despite the fact that I had followed every rule and every code, had been completely forthright with them about why I was leaving the Sea Organization and had expressed to them my honest desire to continue to be a Scientologist. None of my 27 years of active and productive service to the Church and its causes mattered once someone got it in their head that I was a “PR risk” simply because I wanted to live a relatively normal life outside of the Sea Org.
It was only because of all the information that was so readily available on the internet that I was able to so rapidly educate myself about what Scientology was really doing, conclude that I had been used and betrayed by a totalitarian organization which I had no idea was anywhere near as bad as it was, and then move forward with my life. Everything I read gave me the strength and resolve to do what I now do and say what I now say.
So the bottom line is, I can’t thank everyone who came before me enough. We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all of them for surviving their ordeals and continuing to fight the fight. We may not agree on everything and who said we ever had to? We sure as hell agree that the official Church of Scientology is an evil, totalitarian organization run by a sociopath. We agree that L. Ron Hubbard didn’t have the best of intentions and in fact, was engaged in mass manipulation under what could very kindly be called “devious circumstances.” We all try to dissect our experiences in our own ways to understand and rid ourselves of whatever demons we still carry around. Given the individual and personal nature of what we all endured, of course we are going to come to some pretty different conclusions. There’s not only nothing wrong with that, but I think it would be pretty weird if we all universally agreed on everything. The people who are universally forced to agree are the ones inside the cult, not the ones who escape from it.
I’m also very thankful for the Ex-Scientology Message Board, which was itself so instrumental in 2013 to my having not only a place to learn but also a place to express my outrage and be understood. Not having this, I don’t know where I would have turned to for understanding.
I hope it doesn’t sound presumptuous for me to be speaking in “we” and “us” above. This is just my sense and understanding of things.
Thanks to everyone.