The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper | Next | Prev | Cites | Index

Chapter 11

The Sexual and Criminal Security Check

They keep after you, asking the same question over and over again until you tell them what they want to hear. You can't keep back anything. Later you realize you've spilled all kinds of secrets to an almost total stranger whose character or integrity you know nothing whatever about.
-- quote from someone who took the security check
(reprinted by Howard and Arlene Eisenberg in June '69 Parents)

Several aspects of the auditing session make it easy for a preclear to reveal more to his auditor than he may have intended. The preclear is under the control of the auditor, he is being asked certain questions repeatedly and relentlessly, and he is holding onto a machine that he believes works like a lie detector. Thus, it is not surprising if the preclear loses control of some of his normal defenses.{2}

But in addition to the information preclears "voluntarily" reveal under such circumstances, Scientologists may fear blackmail because many have revealed extremely intimate information about themselves and their sexual habits during a so-called "security check." Here, it is not a matter of losing control -- they must answer these questions or they can be kicked out of Scientology. This security check has been given routinely before the second level of auditing,{3} and at various other times when difficulties have arisen -- such as when a person wants his money back and wants to leave the group.{4}

The security check was conducted by having the preclear hold on to the E-meter while his interrogator or auditor established whether the meter was working correctly, and how the person responded to it:

Are you on the moon?
Am I an ostrich?
Have you ever drunk water?
Is this a security check?
{5} {6}

The questions then fell into three general categories, although they were presented somewhat randomly: criminal acts, crimes against Scientology, and sexual deeds or misdeeds. A few of the questions were designed to make people confess their more altruistic goals, such as "How could you help the Org?" "Others?" "How could you help mankind?"

But these constituted less than five percent of the test, and most of the other questions fell into the category of one of the other questions, namely, "Have you ever done anything your mother would be ashamed to find out?"

The criminal questions constituted the largest portion of the test, and the person had to reveal whether he had ever stolen, looted, burglarized, shoplifted, forged, embezzled, falsified books, entered a country illegally, been in prison, had a police record, been accused of reckless driving or hit and run, told lies in court, been paid to give evidence, committed arson, been a drug addict, peddled dope, committed culpable homicide, planted a bomb, murdered, hidden a body, attempted suicide, caused a suicide, kidnapped anyone, smuggled anything, acted as an informer, betrayed someone for money, speculated with somebody else's funds, threatened anyone with a firearm or been in illegal possession of one, plotted to destroy a member of his family, crippled a person, committed a misdemeanor, a felony or a capital offense, criminally avoided taxes, counterfeited money, fraudulently altered or issued certificates or documents, and been insane or had any insanity in his family. There were also questions about military records, such as whether or not the person had ever stolen from the armed forces, been court martialed, deserted from military service, illegally prevented conscription, or been a mutineer.

There were several questions to determine whether a person was secretly working for another group, such as the Communist Party or a group considered to be hostile to Scientology, such as the press. They asked the person whether he had ever lived or worked under an assumed name, given his right name in Scientology, been a newspaper reporter, a spy for the police, a spy for an organization, divulged government secrets for pay or political reasons, had anything to do with communism or been a communist. He was also asked whether he felt communism had some good points, whether he had ever been a member of any group with "ideals" similar to those of the Communist party, and whether he knew any communists personally.

There were about twenty-five questions solely concerned with their feelings about Scientology, Hubbard, and Mary Sue, Hubbard's current wife. Some of these questions were rather amusing:

Do you think selling auditing is really a swindle?
Do you feel that auditing is too good for psychotics or criminals?
Is there anything mysterious to you about an E-meter?
Have you ever mistrusted your E-meter?
Do you think there's anything wrong with invading a preclear's privacy?
Do you plan to steal an Org?
Have you ever injured Dianetics or Scientology?
Have you ever written then destroyed critical messages to L. Ron Hubbard?
Have you ever had sex with any other student or staff member?
Are you trying to get another student or staff member to have sex with you?
Have you ever stolen anything from a Scientology organization?
Do you have anything in your possession that you shouldn't have?
Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard?
Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about Mary Sue Hubbard?
Have you permitted a preclear to have secrets from you?
Do you regard auditing as punishment?
Are you coming on this course with the intention of killing off your body, with the intention of spinning or going insane?
Have you ever used Dianetics or Scientology to force sex on someone?

As for the sexual questions, while the following list of activities at first glance would seem to cover the entire gamut of "sins," conspicuous in their absence are any questions about oral-genital or sadomasochistic activities -- and -- in an organization consisting of a large number of young single people -- fornication.

How do you feel about sex?
Have you ever raped anyone?
Have you ever been raped?
Have you ever been involved in an abortion?
Have you ever assisted in an abortion?
Have you ever committed bigamy?
Have you ever practiced cannibalism?
Have you ever practiced homosexuality?
Have you ever practiced or assisted intercourse between women?
Have you ever had intercourse with a member of your family?
Have you ever been sexually unfaithful?
Have you ever committed adultery?
Have you ever practiced sex with animals?
Have you ever killed or crippled animals for pleasure?
Have you ever exhibited yourself in public?
Have you ever hidden to watch sexual practices?
Have you ever practiced sodomy?
Do you collect sexual objects?
Have you ever had anything to do with pornography?
Have you ever taken money for giving anyone sexual intercourse?
Have you practiced sex with children?
Have you ever used hypnotism to procure sex or money?
Have you ever used hypnotism to practice sex with children?
Have you ever been a prostitute?
Have you ever slept with a member of a race of another color?
Have you ever been a voyeur?
Have you ever had intercourse after placing another under alcohol or drugs?
Have you ever coerced a servant?
Do you have any bastards?
Have you ever had anything to do with a baby farm?
Have you ever masturbated?

There were also questions designed to find out if there was anything not included in the security test:

Are you guilty of something?
Do you have a secret you're afraid I'll find out?
What questions on this check shouldn't I ask you again?
Have you done anything your mother would be ashamed to find out?

And finally, there were also questions about how they felt about the security check:

Are you upset about this security check?
How do you feel about these questions?
Are my questions embarrassing?
Is there any question the Director of Processing or L. Ron Hubbard should have asked and hasn't?
What unkind thoughts have you thought while I was doing this check?

If all this seems rather traumatic, however, some of the questions provided unintentional comic relief:

Have you ever coughed ... during [Scientology] lectures?
Are you in communication with someone who understands more about Scientology than does L. Ron Hubbard?
Have you ever tried to act normal?

The Security Test began by having the auditor read the following to the preclear:

We are about to begin a security check. We are not moralists. We are able to change people. We are not here to condemn them. While we cannot guarantee you that matters revealed in this check will be held forever secret, we can promise you faithfully that no part of it nor any answer you make here will be given to the police or state. No Scientologist will ever bear witness against you in court by reason of answers to this security check. This security check is exclusively for Scientology purposes. The only ways you can fail this security check are to refuse to take the test, to fail to answer its questions truthfully or if you are here knowingly to injure Scientology. The only penalty attached to failure of this check is processing or our refusal to employ you or issue you a certificate, and this will happen only if we find that you are trying knowingly to injure Scientology. You can pass this test by 1) agreeing to take it, 2) answering each question truthfully, and 3) not being a member of a subversive group seeking to injure Scientology. [Later it stated that the person would flunk the test if they refused to take it or if "any compromising or important question" got a suspicious reaction from the E-meter after being asked repeatedly.]

While it's true that the auditor told the preclear that they "cannot guarantee ... that all matters revealed in this test will be held forever secret," there was something that they didn't read to him. On this security check there was a statement by Hubbard which said, "All security check sheets of persons security checked should be forwarded to Saint Hill, complete with all markings and the reason why the question would not at first clear if important, or the drop mark which would not clear and whether or not the person passed or failed."{7} (Italics Hubbard) Thus, few preclears have realized that their most intimate secrets were being sent to the main Scientology headquarters in England -- which can be compared to a priest's sending copies of confessions -- with names -- to the Vatican.

The person undergoing this test also had to pay for it, and in one case it took twenty-three hours,{8} because no matter how much the person may have insisted he was telling all, in Scientology the E-meter is always considered to be infallible. Hubbard even told the auditors to have a "thorough swinish suspicion and no belief in mankind or the devil -- only the meter."

Reading the E-meter could be difficult though, since it can react in a number of ways, which Hubbard called a "Theta Bop" (dancing needle) "Rock Slam" (irregular motion) etc. But Hubbard said a fall in the needle always meant "Oh! Oh! He got me!"

Thus, for example, if a preclear denied that he had ever practiced cannibalism and the needle fell, the checker had to repeat the question in a variety of ways until the person admitted that he had.{9} But what if the person honestly hadn't practiced cannibalism, never thought about it, never planned to, and the meter just kept falling anyway? Rather than consider the machine wrong, they would try to determine whether the preclear ever practiced cannibalism in one of his past lives.{10}

One of the things the Scientologists did to improve their image was to announce on November 29, 1968, that they had canceled the security test "as a form of confession," along with ending the "disconnect" policy "as a relief to those suffering from familial repression." "Suppressives" apparently still exist, but are now supposed to be dealt with by "handling" or persuasion, rather than "disconnecting" or ostracism.{11}

This is certainly a hopeful sign and may indicate a general change in their policy. It would be unwise to be optimistic too early, however, since in the past, Scientologists have dropped unpopular policies and then resumed them later. For example, they have periodically granted amnesty to all suppressives, once, in celebration of John McMasters' becoming "clear"; once for Hubbard's birthday,{12} etc. But later, they simply declared new people suppressive and resumed their policy. In fact, Ray Buckingham, the "suppressive" voice teacher, was once granted amnesty -- provided he took about $200 worth of Scientology courses.{13}

The Australian report also discussed the Scientologists' tendency to change their policies or state that things were no longer in effect.

The Board was told that various procedures were not now used, that others were not as long or as intense as had earlier appeared ... even that the demonstration sessions which had been conducted at the beginning of the Inquiry were not now as fully representative as they had been.... The Board was not deceived by these attempts to present a watered-down picture of Scientology. Just around the corner are more of Hubbard's "breakthroughs" and more techniques and theories ... once this inquiry is finished there will be a resurgence of all the pernicious activity which marked the progress of Scientology up to the appointment of the Board, if only it can find sufficient victims to exploit.{14}

Hopefully the Australian Report will be wrong.

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Citations & Notes

{1} initial quote [141a]
{2} lose normal defenses [138]
{3} Sec. test level 2 [255]
{4} wanting money back [86a]
{5} sec test questions [25 (majority)]
{6} a few sec test questions [85, 86]
{7} instructions quote on security; how they flunk; answers sent to Hubbard [25]
{8} 23 hours [187]
{9} Hubbard quote on believe meter; theta bop; rock slam; meaning of fall; questions posed in different ways [7]
{10} crimes in past lives [7, 25, 255]
{11} canceled sec test for amnesty [100]
{12} canceled for birthday [90]
{13} Buckingham amnesty [255, 277]
{14} Australian quote [261]
Extraneous citation notes:
{15} special sec test [48]