Addition to Chapter 14

Scientology Crimes Cut Across Our Recruitment

Continuing from print pg. 129:

FOR A DESCRIPTION of the events that detrimentally affected recruitment of celebrities and general public into Scientology prior to the mid 1980’s, I’ve included these details below. As a Sea Org member supporting command intention, no excuses or challenges like any of these events were valid for not achieving the purpose of my post, and with high statistics. But I hadn’t adequately prepared myself for recruiting celebrities who were savvy enough to access information that I didn’t learn about in my insular world:

Paulette Cooper’s book, Scandal of Scientology, had exposed Scientology as a harmful group, which rocked the Scientology world and tainted general public against it. This led to Scientology’s vengeful Operation Freakout that attempted to destroy Cooper. Operation Freakout was discovered, and exposed Scientology’s criminal acts to destroy her.

Another controversial book was published by Dusty Sklar, The Nazis and the Occult (Dorset Press, 1977) that was less known than Paulette’s book. I didn’t read it until years after it came out. The author makes connections between the Nazi party and Scientology through the common denominator of bizarre occult beliefs and the fanaticism found within both groups. She and Cooper were some of the first to expose Scientology’s unquestioning obedience to a messianic leader, its use of secrecy, loyalty to the group above all else, and ritualistic initiation ceremonies. writer Theodore Dalrymple commented that the “cheapest insult” anyone can make is to equate someone with Adolf Hitler, as the mere mention of Hitler’s name still “instills fear in disputant’s hearts, because the ‘reductio ad Hitlerum’ has become the most powerful of rhetorical weapons, where the faintest, most farfetched…proposal to anything that Hitler or Nazism said or did is often sufficient to discredit it” (June 20, 2017). Many people deal with Scientology like they do Hitler’s Mein Kampf—they discourage participation in it while not outright banning it.

Sklar also notes Hubbard’s competitor, Werner Erhard, a former Scientologist who branched out to form his own version of it as “est” for Erhard Seminars Training. EST became another competitor stealing prospects away from Scientology in the field.

Around 1977, Scientology’s Guardian’s Office (GO) operatives tangled with the FBI, perpetrating the largest incident of domestic espionage in American history, called “Operation Snow White”—infiltrating, wiretapping, and burglarizing documents about the Scientology organization from federal offices, federal attorneys, embassies and consulates. Hubbard’s wife, Mary Sue, took the fall with ten others and was imprisoned while Hubbard scooted into hiding. The GO was also named in Canadian history as the only religious organization to be convicted for breaching public trust, convicted of fraud, manslaughter, malicious libel against an attorney, espionage, and tampering with witnesses—too much to mention here that can be found online. I’ve talked about this with former Int base staff who said Mary Sue had been following policy and was thought of as a hero until she got caught. After that, Mary Sue was discarded as if a liability to the organization. I don’t remember hearing much about Mary Sue’s eventual death, after all that she had done for the organization since its inception.

The church’s highly profitable Missions network had recently splintered over issues of greed and power, between Int Management, Scientology’s Finance Police, and individual Mission holders, instigated by David Miscavige during his rise to power before and after Hubbard died. This mess tarnished Scientology’s credibility with longstanding Scientologists and Mission holders, as well as general public who learned about Scientology’s vitriolic treatment of others.

An internal quake after Miscavige came to power caused Scientology senior technical leaders—including David Mayo, then L. Ron Hubbard’s auditor and Senior Case Supervisor International—to leave the church, setting off a tsunami of discontent and fear among Scientologists, leading to setting up Scientology services independent of church scrutiny. These “squirrel groups” sprung up in cities where Scientology had been trying to grow. This muddied the field with rumors and doubts about Scientology training and auditing, and drove customers to the field groups instead of into Scientology organizations. 

In the early to mid-‘80s, major court cases (Homer Schomer, Gerry Armstrong, Arnie Lerma, Julie Christopherson, Dennis Erlich, Larry Wollersheim and others) exposed some of Scientology’s unorthodox practices and alleged fraudulent activities in public record for the first time ever, that drew lines in the sand between who would stay or leave Scientology, and brought to view the battle for free speech on the Internet. Gerry Armstrong, for example, had assembled 500 pages about L. Ron Hubbard’s life that was supposed to be used for a biography written by Omar Garrison, but this became a scandal because of the facts in the documents that contradicted and lied about information already released about Hubbard in public relations materials. Instead of focusing on the lies and contradictions, Gerry Armstrong’s exposure of them became the target. Erlich’s home in Glendale, CA was raided and his computer and files were seized. These cases represent Scientology’s one-sided vigilante justice. The organization stayed embroiled in these lawsuit details and retaliations, including invading the homes of many of these people and taking their computers and files.

Not to mention numerous investigations into L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology from Australia and England to Europe and beyond by the CIA, FBI and the IRS coming after L. Ron Hubbard who owed millions of dollars in back taxes; and the “corporate sort-out” that enabled L. Ron Hubbard to control Scientology organizations from outside of Scientology to make it look like he was no longer involved, but this arrangement shielded him from any legal accountability. This arrangement didn’t enhance Scientology’s relationships with US governmental offices.

And then LRH dropped his body in 1986, before the IRS case brought him into court, but also throwing Scientology’s future into question. Self-appointed leader, David Miscavige, overthrew others within the Scientology management strata to succeed Hubbard and command the empire, which led to another exodus of staff that didn’t like or trust the new regime.

Other than the Christopherson and Wollersheim trials, I had heard little about any of these various conflicts, or the “dirty field” as we called it, from the time I was a celebrity FSM through my years in the Sea Org at Celebrity Centre. Scientologists were never allowed to talk about any of these issues, at the risk of spreading disaffection. There is no such thing as free speech within Scientology; this is a highly legalistic system where everything is regulated by Scientology ethics codes, policies, and rules with dictatorial enforcement that threaten severe discipline if violated. We didn’t have the Internet then, so the information was not easily accessible and, in fact, was well covered up. Even during the Wollersheim trials, the only info passed on to members was that Larry Wollersheim and his lawyer, Ford Greene, were SPs. Loyal Scientologists who had just come from the Portland Crusade, including Peter and me, participated in the LA Crusade by picketing and chanting “Not one thin dime for Wollersheim.”

As a Sea Org member supporting command intention, no excuses or challenges like any of these events were valid for not achieving the purpose of my post, and with high statistics. But I hadn’t adequately prepared myself for recruiting celebrities who were savvy enough to access information that I didn’t learn about in my insular world.