Understanding Scientology, by Margery Wakefield - Next - Previous


It was late on a warm summer evening as I walked back to my apartment from the local university. I had spent the evening there, as I frequently did, practicing on one of the pianos at the music school. I was feeling calm, peaceful -- a brief reprieve from the chaos of recent events in my life.

My mood quickly changed as I approached my small apartment and found the door wide open.

"That's impossible," I thought. "I always lock the door when I leave." Having one's life threatened periodically tends to make one less careless about details like locking the door.

The apartment was clearly empty, so I looked about for evidence of a burglary. I was puzzled. The living room, the kitchen, the bathroom -- everything seemed in place. Everything was just as I had left it a few hours earlier.

Then I walked into the bedroom. I froze in horror.

On the far wall, by the bed, a dark red liquid had been splashed against the wall and was still dripping slowly toward the floor.

It was blood.

The message was clear.

One thought formed in my mind, pushing out all others.

"Scientology," I thought. It had to be.

For twelve years I had lived in the strange and bizarre world of Scientology. And when, at the end of the twelve years I began to question some of their practices, I was summarily "offloaded" or ex-communicated from the cult. It would seem that the nightmare had ended.

But in fact, the nightmare had just begun.

A year and a half after being expelled from Scientology, I began to realize what had happened to me -- that for twelve years I had been hypnotized and brainwashed without my knowledge or consent. I decided to sue the cult. It was then that I learned the truth behind behind the smiling faces of Scientology.

I contacted a lawyer who was known to oppose Scientology and told him that I wanted to sue. I made plans to travel to see him two days later.

The next day, as I was packing for the trip, I heard a knock at my door. I opened the door to find three Scientologists from "Flag", the organizational headquarters of Scientology located in Clearwater, Florida -- three thousand miles away.

Somehow they knew about my call to the lawyer.

I was taken to a motel a few miles away, and for three days I was "worked on" psychologically by the Scientologists.

I was to withdraw my lawsuit, they explained, or "something could happen to me."

"You mean you would kill me?" I asked, already knowing the answer.

"It would just be a smart thing to do," they answered.

After arguing and resisting for three days, I finally gave in and signed their agreement, promising not to sue. I wanted to live. Finally, they left.

After four months, I contacted another lawyer and told him what had happened. "Come to Florida," he advised me. "You can still sue them. The document you signed isn't valid." I moved to Florida, and filed a civil lawsuit against the Church of Scientology.

The threats started almost immediately. Scientologists in uniform would come to my apartment and stand in the yard making threats against me. When they found out that I worked in a nearby mall, they intercepted me as I left work, again threatening me if I didn't drop the lawsuit. They would call my boss, asking when I would be leaving work and which exit I would be using.

I received phone cans in the middle of the night. Sometimes they would mention the names of my nieces and nephews. Shortly afterward, the same relatives would start receiving mail from Scientology. Again, the message was clear.

In the morning, I would find flat tires on my car, or deep scratches on the car doors. I still receive the phone calls, ten years later.

I called the police. "There's nothing we can do," they told me. "No crime has been committed."

No crime.

I felt like I had been raped. First by my experiences inside the cult. Now by my experiences outside the cult.

But psychological rape is not a crime. A terror campaign against a person by a satanic cult is not a crime.

I had entered Scientology at the age of eighteen a shy and emotionally disturbed teenager, a psychological survivor of a painfully dysfunctional family. I had little confidence or self-esteem.

Within months, I was transformed into an aggressive and radical Scientologist. As a result of daily hypnotic rituals and the unending barrage of propaganda from "bulletins" and tapes, I was completely indoctrinated and fiercely dedicated to the group.

During the next twelve years, I traveled to six cities spreading the gospel of Scientology, working in various Scientology centers at various jobs.

I did volunteer work for the Guardian's Office, the notorious CIA-like branch of the "church" which dealt with such things as espionage, agents, infiltration, covers, plants, intelligence, and covert activities.

It was as a "G.O." volunteer that I once sat in on a meeting in which the murders of two defectors were planned. I understood that these murders were justified on the basis of the Scientology credo: "the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics." In other words, the ends justify the means.

I was given written policies -- fully illustrated -- on how to break and enter into buildings. At one point, while working for Scientology in Washington, D.C., I was required to break into the nearby headquarters of the American Psychiatric Association and steal financial and membership records. Which I did.

I was coached to perjure myself in a lawsuit involving a Florida judge, and although I never did appear in court, I was fully prepared to implicate the judge in sexual misconduct in order to serve the "church."

After just a few months of a systematic program of hypnosis and indoctrination, I was operating entirely on a stimulus response basis. I would have followed any command I was given. Including murder. Or suicide.

I was not alone in this.

Another ex-Scientologist writes:

Shortly after I returned home, Jonestown occurred, and that did it for me. I realized that if at any point LRH (L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology) had handed me a glass of poison and told me to drink it, I would have, with no questions asked and no second thoughts.
-- affidavit of an ex-Scientologist

What is interesting to me is the reaction that parents have when they find out their children are in Scientology.

Each week, I receive phone calls from parents from all over the country. I send them information. They begin to read. They call me with questions. And then I see the growing horror as they begin to realize what has really happened to them.

Someone has taken their children, transformed them into unthinking and belligerent strangers, and filled them with bizarre ideas which defy any approach through logic or reason.

"That's because," I explain to the parent, "your child is in a trance state. Hypnotized. He can't think."

"Don't try to reason with them," I tell the parent. "It doesn't work."

Gradually the parents begin to understand. Their child has been kidnapped, psychologically, by a cult. And there's nothing they can do about it.

"But this is America," parents tell me. "This can't happen in America."

"Why doesn't the government do something about it?"

I want to help them. I tell them I will send them information. I give them whatever advice I can. "Write to them. See if you can get them back home for a visit. Tell them over and over that you love them."

But I am frustrated because deep in my heart I know there is not much I can do to help them. The one way possible to get someone out of a cult like Scientology -- deprogramming -- is illegal. Because it is considered kidnapping. The fact that the child has already been kidnapped -- psychologically, physically, mentally, emotionally -- doesn't enter in. Legally.

I notice a pattern in the parents' calls. At first they call frequently, voices frightened and hysterical. But then, as they begin to comprehend the reality of the situation, the calls become less and less frequent. They are paralyzed by a legal system lacking precedents in the grey area of mind control.

I try to be optimistic. "Never give up hope," I tell them. "A miracle can always happen. It did for my parents. Maybe it will for you. Just don't give up."

It has taken me ten years to be able to write this book. I knew all along that I had to write it. If you explore a strange country, and you find it to be a very dangerous place, and you happen to be one of the few to return from that country alive, it become a moral necessity to warn others of the danger.

As trite as it may sound, if I can prevent even one other person, especially a young person, from having to live through the nightmare of Scientology -- then I will feel satisfied.

Villa Appel, in Cults of America, writes:

Human beings need order. They need a framework that can account for and explain experience.

We are all vulnerable. And vulnerability is the exact opportunity exploited by all the cults, especially Scientology.

The antidote is information. Education. And exposure. It is the purpose of this book to shine a small light into the dark and secret world of Scientology.

Contents - Next - Previous