Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Can Scientology be reformed?

posted by Rod Dreher

Laurie Goodstein at the NYT breaks a story about more and more people leaving Scientology telling scandalous stories about what life is allegedly like within the church. Excerpt:

Raised as Scientologists, Christie King Collbran and her husband, Chris, were recruited as teenagers to work for the elite corps of staff members who keep the Church of Scientology running, known as the Sea Organization, or Sea Org.
They signed a contract for a billion years — in keeping with the church’s belief that Scientologists are immortal. They worked seven days a week, often on little sleep, for sporadic paychecks of $50 a week, at most.
But after 13 years and growing disillusionment, the Collbrans decided to leave the Sea Org, setting off on a Kafkaesque journey that they said required them to sign false confessions about their personal lives and their work, pay the church thousands of dollars it said they owed for courses and counseling, and accept the consequences as their parents, siblings and friends who are church members cut off all communication with them.
“Why did we work so hard for this organization,” Ms. Collbran said, “and why did it feel so wrong in the end? We just didn’t understand.”
They soon discovered others who felt the same. Searching for Web sites about Scientology that are not sponsored by the church (an activity prohibited when they were in the Sea Org), they discovered that hundreds of other Scientologists were also defecting — including high-ranking executives who had served for decades.
Fifty-six years after its founding by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, the church is fighting off calls by former members for a Reformation. The defectors say Sea Org members were repeatedly beaten by the church’s chairman, David Miscavige, often during planning meetings; pressured to have abortions; forced to work without sleep on little pay; and held incommunicado if they wanted to leave. The church says the defectors are lying.

Read the whole thing. The ending is so strange, and so sad.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(41)
post a comment
pagansister

posted March 6, 2010 at 8:30 pm


“The church says the defectors are lying.” The church certainly wouldn’t say anything else!



report abuse
 

Larry

posted March 6, 2010 at 9:07 pm


Why would anybody put up with the jumping through hoops that the Scientologists make people go through just to leave the organization. When you decide to leave, walk out the door, if anybody tries to stop you, call the police. I realize that you don’t have to be very smart to be a Scientologist, but does anybody seriously think that a BILLION year contract would be enforceable?



report abuse
 

Johannes Benedikt

posted March 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm


Larry, because the Church threatens its members with a
“suppressive person” declare, if it doesn’t want them to leave without its approval.
The consequences of such a declare are that family and friends, who are still members of the Church, will be forced to “disconnect”-meaning stop ALL contact- from them.



report abuse
 

adhocrat

posted March 6, 2010 at 9:32 pm


Oddly enough, when I posted some of this same stuff on Beliefnet back in June 2008 I was given a number of infractions for being mean to the scientology religion.
Good to see B’net is finally getting it.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted March 6, 2010 at 10:51 pm


Legend has it that L R Hubbard founded Scientology on a bet with Robert Heinlein. As it is at its core a con, it cannot reform, only get more cunning. However, it does form an interesting case study on how religions form and grow.



report abuse
 

Louanne

posted March 7, 2010 at 1:52 am


Defectors, like “defect”?
Courts, scholars and objective and responsible government bodies routinely discard testimony by apostates of any religion because their credibility is always suspect, their anecdotal allegations inevitably motivated by personal interests, and their claims frequently fueled by greed to support outlandish and unwarranted demands for monetary compensation in legal actions from their former faiths.
And voila, would the author have done her homework, she’d realized that she was just nicely abused for some “PR flanking” of an ongoing legal case.



report abuse
 

Ray Perry

posted March 7, 2010 at 6:24 am


Why become a christion when the history of christianity is so froth froth with vilons and mayham??



report abuse
 

MH

posted March 7, 2010 at 6:45 am


Louanne, that’s a really odd claim and one that would require specific examples to validate.
In fact the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church provides proof that the opposite is true.
Ray Perry, proving Christianity is bad would not prove Scientology is good. That’s the same logical fallacy creationists fall into when they “debunk” evolution to prove creationism.



report abuse
 

John E. - Agn Stoic

posted March 7, 2010 at 7:59 am


Scientology started on a bet isn’t the only good story about Elron and his wacky money making scheme – here’s another…
Back in the day, Hubbard was up close and personal with Jack Parsons – rocket scientist, founder of JPL, and founder of the US branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis, which, of course was created by Aleister Crowley in the UK.
Their association ended when Hubbard stole money that Parsons had given him to invest in buying yachts in Miami with the plan to bring them to California to sell.
Reform Scientology? That would assume there is something useful there to be reformed.



report abuse
 

MH

posted March 7, 2010 at 8:02 am


The linked article was interesting. When I read through the ARIS survey results I hadn’t bothered to look at the number of Scientologists. At 25,000 that makes them even rarer than Christian Scientists who number a few hundred thousand!
I’ll answer a question with a question and ask, reform into what?



report abuse
 

Larry

posted March 7, 2010 at 9:29 am


The consequences of such a declare are that family and friends, who are still members of the Church, will be forced to “disconnect”-meaning stop ALL contact- from them.
That’s going to happen, regardless. No amount of hoop-jumping is going to change that.



report abuse
 

Larry

posted March 7, 2010 at 9:34 am


Courts, scholars and objective and responsible government bodies routinely discard testimony by apostates of any religion because their credibility is always suspect,
Which, of course, is why nobody paid, or pays, any attention to apostates like Martin Luther. Or Paul of Tarsus. Or Jesus of Nazareth. Or Buddha.
C’mon, even a scientology troll has to be able to do better than this.



report abuse
 

Richard

posted March 7, 2010 at 10:10 am


Slightly off-topic, but related: did you see this article about Mosab Yousef, the son of an Hamas leader who converted to Christianity AND became a spy for Israel? Fascinating words about his conversion and Islam (by Matthew Kaminski):
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703915204575103481069258868.html



report abuse
 

Les

posted March 7, 2010 at 10:20 am


L. Ron Hubbard – Science FICTION writer – Scientology. Do the math. These people are waiting for the ‘mother’ ship. Beware their kool-aid.



report abuse
 

SteveM

posted March 7, 2010 at 10:24 am


This one is (relatively) easy. Are the current teachings and practices of the central organization consistent with the tenets and first principles of the founder(s)? If not, then a Reformation would be mandatory I would think.
Were/are the alleged excesses of Christianity consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ?
Were/are the alleged excesses of Islam consistent with the teachings of Mohammed?
Were/are the alleged excesses of Scientology consistent with the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard?
If the answer is yes to that question then first principles make Reformation impossible. The followers are acting on the instruction of their founder. To be anything other than what first principles dictate is to no longer be a Christian, Muslim or Scientologist.



report abuse
 

polistra

posted March 7, 2010 at 10:56 am


“Why did we work so hard for this organization?”
Because it’s a cult.
“and why did it feel so wrong in the end?”
Because it’s a cult.



report abuse
 

Antonius Magnus

posted March 7, 2010 at 11:19 am


Sorry to be so picky, but Crowley didn’t start the O.T.O., it was started in Germany by a guy named Kellner, who had been in the various incarnations of the Thule society, a Theosophist-type group or groups centered in Austria; Crowley just came in and took over.
As to the topic at hand, I know several former Scientologists, and their opinions seem to indicate that the whole “going clear” process is somewhat valuable in a “strength of mind” kind of way, but that the Scientology organization cons people, exploits its acolytes and charges ridiculous amounts for what could be learned by anyone able to read and do concentration exercises in their spare evenings. So, it is true that they may have something to teach the curious, but like many unscrupulous possessors of helpful knowledge they turn the whole thing into a money-making enterprise to bilk those who are interested in learning that knowledge–with the added crime of thuggishly threatening those who know all about their scams to keep quiet, or else–insult to injury, if I’ve ever heard it.



report abuse
 

Antonius Magnus

posted March 7, 2010 at 11:40 am


Oh, yeah, they also have really gay-looking sailor suits.



report abuse
 

Charles Cosimano

posted March 7, 2010 at 12:06 pm


If you were looking at Christianity, in like, 65 AD, what would you say its chances were? In the long run the smart money is on the Scientologists and I’m very happy that I will not be alive to see it.
On the other hand, the e-meters are the coolest looking religious toys out there…



report abuse
 

John E - Agn Stoic

posted March 7, 2010 at 12:09 pm


Antonius Magnus – thank you for expanding on the origins of the OTO.
I agree with you about the sailor suits.



report abuse
 

Judith

posted March 7, 2010 at 12:47 pm


Hey Antonius,
Yeah I agree, those sailor suits are, like, totally weird. Just had to say that. Since there’s nothing intelligent to say about Scientology.



report abuse
 

Andrea

posted March 7, 2010 at 1:25 pm


It’s a cult, so no, I don’t think it can be. It’s sad that people are foolish enough to give over thousands of dollars and let these con artists control their lives but it happens with fanatics of every type of belief system or religion. There’s a traditionalist Catholic “priest” I wrote about a few years ago who had managed to con thousands of dollars out of faithful people all over the country and bilk vulnerable old people out of their money and estrange them from their children. It was utterly appalling and yet the people had signed over their assets of their own free will and there wasn’t anything the law could do about it. I figured “buyer beware” was the best I could do and I notified every paper in his new town of his history, the bishops that had declared he wasn’t a priest, the conviction he had for misuse of public funds, etc. before he moved. They did stories and some of his victims put up web sites about him. Anyone who takes the time to research him would only have to type his name into a search engine to pull up some red flags. That’s an improvement over a few years ago when I first did a story about him because he’d done a remarkably good job of flying under the radar and was very evasive when asked where he was ordained, what his financial background was, etc. Like most con artists, he talks a very good game. The stories about Scientology are all over the Web. All people need to do is take blinders off before getting involved with these people. Unfortunately, some people are too vulnerable or needy or whatever to avoid getting caught up in a cult.



report abuse
 

David M.

posted March 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm


Auditing, the core “practice” of Scientology, is a disguised mind-control and brainwashing routine designed to send money and power upward. Don’t give in to their “religious tolerance” whining — it’s their way of playing victim.



report abuse
 

Sam Gregor

posted March 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm


Why should anyone want to reform a cult which manipulates people from Day One to the point where they willingly agree to their destruction as individuals and their conversion to virtual slaves, minds emptied of every human thing and devoted instead to promoting L Ron Hubbard and his appalling ‘tech’?
LRH designed his cult to do just this, and it does it very well, to the point where cultists will believe just about anything except that LRH was a self-serving sociopath.



report abuse
 

GrantL

posted March 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm


Can scientology be reformed? I don’t know….I wish it could, but I doubt it.
Christianity is nearly unique in its historical flexibility. It changes with changing times, with of course the single biggest change coming with the Reformation. But there you had driven theological camps that, ultimately, shattered the power of the Vatican. Those with a greater knowledge of history than I should comment, but while I have little use for Christianity, because of its origins, of taking root in the West and inheriting parts of the Greco-Roman intellectual traditions, there was always some kind of debate and discussion going on with in the faith, even during its particularly repressive and totalitarian periods. That kind of internal intellectual activity is what allows a reformation to happen, I think.
Scientology has no such internal mechanism. It represents the worst of religious stubbornness and refusal to face the facts. It’s hard to imagine a Scientology reformation in an organization that really obsesses over its founding figure the way it does. You know, Christians (and Muslims during the great and sadly now long forgotten zenith of Muslim culture) asked big questions of themselves. What is god. What does god want? how much of the bible do we take as literally true, and so on. You know, there is no figure in Scientology like Augustine, for example, or a Martin Luthor who have the intellectual verve to shake things up.
I think Scientology is, at the end of the day, more about raking in dollars than anything else and instead of reforming, it will likely just die off in time. Or we can only hope it does.



report abuse
 

kenneth

posted March 7, 2010 at 3:37 pm


I nominate Rod to be the Luther figure this “church” so desperately needs. He has stood up to the tyranny of the PA bluebloods and Stalinist wine merchants. He has the stones to nail the articles of reform to Miscavige’s mansion (or better yet forehead). Then we also need a Henry VIII figure. Maybe the church will make the mistake of refusing marriage to one of it’s “royalty” like John Travolta. He even has some of Hank’s regal bearing and girth these days.



report abuse
 

Mark in Houston

posted March 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm


In this Reformation, let Tom Cruise be the man to nail the Theses to the door in Clearwater, Florida, with a film crew from TMZ filming the whole thing for posterity. That would be sweet and apropos.



report abuse
 

Judith

posted March 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm


Does anyone know how the e-meter works?



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted March 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm


Why should the Church of Scientology be “reformed”? Shurely you mean made in the likeness of your own (current) faith? Or don’t you believe in freedom of religion?
Can’t wait for your next ‘essay'” ‘Can MCC be healed?’
Puke.



report abuse
 

SteveM

posted March 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm


Re: Your Name
If a Dreher missive is all that it takes to make you nauseous, suggest you navigate through life carrying a bucket…



report abuse
 

Larry

posted March 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm


Judith, the e-meters are just fancy galvanometers.



report abuse
 

David from England

posted March 7, 2010 at 5:42 pm


Hard to say. I understand the Krishnas reformed themselves pretty successfully after the death of Srila Prabhupada. But from the sounds of it there’s a lot of money and little spirituality in the Church of Scientology these days, as evidenced by Tommy Davis’s jaw dropping quote about the Church’s fancy buildings. If you go to sites such as Marty Rathbun’s http://markrathbun.wordpress.com/ there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that membership is dwindling even as the cash haul grows. Rod – you’re probably better fixed to comment on this: is there a tipping point where even vast quantities of cash can’t cover for a dying membership base?



report abuse
 

Johannes Benedikt

posted March 7, 2010 at 6:49 pm


Imho the emeter was used by L. Ron Hubbard to manipulate people. Think about it.
Hubbard claimed that thoughts have electrical charge and mass, which could be measured by the emeter, because negatively charged thought, which he called “engrams” would result in a change of electrical resistance in the body, when they get released.
But if his intention really was to accurately measure the changes in electrical resistance that might occur as a result of a person’s emotions or thoughts, then he wouldn’t have used these big cans as electrodes, because they are very sensitive to small changes in hand pressure.
He would have used smaller electrodes that can be taped to the skin and are less susceptible to changes in hand pressure instead.
The advantage of using big cans, that are being hold in the hand, lies in the psychological effect that they have on the auditee.
L. Ron Hubbard was a fraud and very clever con man.



report abuse
 

Judith

posted March 7, 2010 at 7:29 pm


Thanks Larry. And, as it turns out, this the kind of question that Wikipedia must have been made for…



report abuse
 

lancelot lamar

posted March 7, 2010 at 8:34 pm


Well, at least from the photo essay, the Scientology folks have terrible taste in design, on par with Paul and Jan Crouch from the Trinity Broadcasting Network.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted March 8, 2010 at 11:10 am


I wonder if there is a typical personality (or personality disorder) profile for scientologists? People who can operate with such cruelty and just plain weirdness, yet be so easily duped and controlled often suffer from narcissistic personality disorder. (Not uncommon among Hollywood types, BTW.) These people gravitate toward each other creating dysfunctional, abusive realtionships that they seem to “thrive” on.
Apparently, though, even scientology has reached its tipping point, and none too soon.



report abuse
 

Jennifer Emick

posted March 8, 2010 at 11:46 am


Leaving Scientology is very hard. Scientology enforces these “hoops” with threats- you will be in debt, your family and friends will ‘disconnect’ from you, you will never have salvation or eternal life, etc. So to avoid these outcomes, people who simply want to live normally or have children allow themselves to be subjected to psychological (and often physical) torture.
Afterward, if they speak out, they suffer all of this and worse. They will be threatened by lawyers. Scientology’s intelligence agents (OSA) will go through their trash and publish pictures of their homes, call their employers and insinuate awful things (They do this to cticial reporters/bloggers as well, beware), picket their homes, hound them mercilessly for “debt” not owed.
They do all of these things under a false cloak of religion.



report abuse
 

Alicia

posted March 8, 2010 at 3:12 pm


I believe Scientology is both a cult and a scam. (Most cults are also scams, IMO.) But you can’t tell that to people who are under the thrall of a cult, and except any reaction other than rejection or defense of their religion/cult. High profile defectors, like Paul Haggis, and other defectors who “out” the Church of Scientology can help.
Ultimately, people have to figure things out for themselves, and sometimes people will work things out more quickly when they are not pressured to do so.



report abuse
 

Alicia

posted March 8, 2010 at 3:13 pm


That should have been “… and expect any reaction other than rejection”



report abuse
 

Uker Maap

posted March 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm


No, Scientology cannot be reformed. It is rotten to the foundation of its policies of Disconnection, Fair Game, Trademarked multi-thousand dollar “secret” hooey, and step-by-step mind control.
Dismantle it, and give victims their money back. 90% of the people who walk through their doors end up realizing it is a scam, and that they’ve been had.
Hubbard built the scam on the 10% who don’t. Of course, most of the population will be smart enough not to fall for a VERY EXPENSIVE religion begun by a sci fi writer, except Hollywood people.
Cruise, Travolta and Miscavige (leader of the cult) are all high school dropouts.



report abuse
 

Alicia

posted March 9, 2010 at 10:49 am


Christie Collbran appeared on the Today Show this morning. Considering that she was practically born into Scientology, she appears to be doing very well. She may not be able to completely dismiss everything she was taught (she still says she believes in the principles of Scientology) but she understands how unhealthy the Church has become. Naturally, since I consider Scientology a scam and a cult, I would hope that she would also walk away from the principles of Scientology, but that might be expecting too much.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Rod Dreher. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Most Recent Scientology Story on Beliefnet! Happy Reading!!!

posted 3:25:02pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mommy explains her plastic surgery
In Dallas (naturally), a parenting magazine discusses how easy it is for mommies who don't like their post-child bodies to get surgery -- and to have it financed! -- to reverse the effects of time and childbirth. Don't like what nursing has done to your na-nas? Doc has just the solution: Doctors say

posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the October 12, 2006, entry in which I revealed and explained wh

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to!

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a racist verdict, and a bizarre one -- but there's more t

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.