IT WAS MANY years ago that I got involved with the Church of Scientology. There was no clear cut way of how I got involved with them, but just as you have to break away from Scientology in degrees, you get involved in degrees also.
It was back in 1987 that my brother bought a book called Dianetics. But it is never as simple as buying a book from them. If you buy a book you don’t just get a receipt – you have to fill out an invoice with your name, address and phone number and then they will give you a call you a few days later to see how you are getting on with it.
Next thing they are inviting you in for a free session – they dangle a carrot in front of you. My brother had been acting differently for a while and then he pulled out this book he had bought. So I took the book away and read it for myself. Then my wife, who has always been into self-improvement, sent off to get her own copy of the book.
The organisation called her and asked her would she like a free personality test and she went along and signed up. This is when it began for me. When I went to collect her after her session there was someone on the street ready to chat to me and straight away she said “Oh you must be Sandra’s husband” and I said I was.
‘As my brother and wife were involved – I thought that it was pretty safe’
She asked me in to take a free personality test too. I said that I was off to get a coffee but she convinced me to come in. Remember this was before any of the protests or talk of Scientology and its teachings were really in the media so I assumed because my brother and wife were involved – I thought that it was pretty safe.
It was never sold as a cult or a religion – I think they used the term ‘dianetics’, self-help.
So that is how it all started – they were very welcoming. The term love bombing comes to mind– everyone is so friendly. But to be fair Scientologists are only doing it because they think that what they are doing is helping people. They are not doing it to con people because they believe it themselves and they are doing it with an aim to help people.
I advanced into other courses in Scientology. I did the counselling procedure and when I came out of the session I felt lighter and really wonderful. Now what was done was a form of hypnosis if you want to call it that, Scientology is very good at hiding things. They say that dianetics is not hypnosis – but it is.
It is to recruit others – the whole purpose of Scientologists is to create other Scientologists.
‘I actually felt superior to everyone’
In the aftermath of the communication course: that is really where the mind manipulation began with me. I did the course and went back to work on the Monday – and it sounds bad – but I actually felt very superior to everyone. It was like I had done this course and I could communicate and they couldn’t because I had done the course. The training routines you do are just so hypnotic you wouldn’t believe it – like sitting in a chair for hours just starring at the other person without moving, blinking, itching, nothing. It is tough – so when you come out of that you are different, there is no doubt about it, no question.
My wife and I both started doing courses – I was very enthusiastic about the whole subject. I thought it worked so I was very keen to get others involved. When you finish a course, they ask you the same question – do you want others to gain the knowledge that you now have? Again that kind of sets it up as if you have or know something desirable that other people would want.
After that we joined staff at a Scientologist organisation. We thought it was the right thing to do – helping other people with what we thought was wonderful technology.
It came to a head in 1990, when my wife had a child and we weren’t putting food on the table – you got no wages. They had promised over £200 a day but by the first six weeks I had got nothing. It was like that for three years. I was full time – my wife and I – working seven days a week.
‘You can’t voice your doubts, you just don’t’
It came to a head with us not because we stopped believing but because we were starving – we still thought that Scientology was wonderful – but we had no money so we basically just left without saying anything. That is the only way you can leave, because they don’t let you leave otherwise.
You can’t voice your doubts, you just don’t. You are with us or you are not – that is it. If you do voice any doubts, you are routed to Ethics (the internal police force) and basically told to shut up. If you are complaining or you have doubts you are told that you are a Suppressive Person (SP) and they don’t like suppressive people. The religion is full of little traps and pitfalls like that.
After we left staff at the organisation – I got a golden rod – which is a piece of paper that declares me as a Suppressive Person for leaving the organisation. It is Scientology policy that these orders are printed on a piece of coloured paper. Only ethics orders are printed on paper this colour.
My wife didn’t get one as she had already been kicked off by staff as they had discovered that she had previously been a psychiatric nurse – they didn’t like that, as they are against psychiatry and psychology and they believe they have all the answers to problems of the mind. Even though we had left we still thought that Scientology was great. I got in touch with someone about starting my own mission and that was pretty easy, so for another four years I ran a Scientology mission in the north of England, just like the one here in Dublin.
‘I read things that contradicted everything that I had believed in’
A few years later Scientology was in the news – protests started kicking off. I was shocked – I thought, “What are they protesting about, Scientology is good, it helps people.” But then I started to read stuff that pretty much contradicted everything that I had believed in. I still had that mindset, I was still essentially brainwashed.
In 2008 I began to come around and think to myself: this is terrible. I got people into Scientology, I regret this. I must do something to make amends.
I came to this conclusion by myself. I realise now that it really is a personal thing. There is no quick or easy magic wand or magic phrase that will snap you out of Scientology. For everyone it is different. Just as you get into Scientology by degrees you come out of it by degrees also, and you have got to be patient.
We had tried to raise our children in Scientology. Fortunately none of them are involved and none of them have shown any interest in it, so I am really grateful about that.
Scientology has been around since 1950s, but it is the only since the last few years people have felt they can get out. People have been quiet because of fear so it is fantastic that people are speaking out.
But the Church of Scientology can split families. My brother had signed up to the Sea Org where you sign up for a billion years. He was in that for 24 years. And it was only in the last few years that he found out that I had been declared a Suppressive Person back in 1990. He just cut communication with me at that point. We did meet recently at my father’s funeral, but he is still not openly communicating with me as he still considers himself a Scientologist and sees me as an suppressive person. So that is really tough.
I came to Ireland as I have always loved Ireland. And I knew people in the Dublin mission. Since 2009, when I first started to protest, it has been my mission to get people out of Scientology.
I have an event organised in Dublin on June 30 ‘Dublin Offlines: Speaking out against the Scientology cult’ – we have just confirmed Jamie DeWolf, who is Ron Hubbard’s great-grandson and there are many other guests confirmed.
Dublin Offlines is organised by ex-members of the Scientology organisation, independent Scientologists, critics of the Scientology organisation and family members of those who have been affected by the Scientology. We hope to have a good attendance at the conference.
While this is important to me, the rest of the world aren’t too concerned. But unless you have been in it, it is hard to understand.
I would just say to anyone that is contemplating getting involved in Scientology – just don’t do it. I know it is hard out there for people at the moment and that people are looking for answers but Scientology is just not the way to go – believe me.