We’ve all heard of it, though what it’s all about has been kept fairly secretive. And thus, its allure. The South Park episode did not exaggerate. They really do teach that stuff, if you pay to get to that level.
People are brought through the doors by curiosity, as all are welcome. Two years back, I went to the Times Square Scientology Center to interview people on just how they came to be Scientologists. How do people actually buy this?
At the lower levels, Scientology is designed to help make you the “most complete” person in their eyes, which requires a practice called auditing. This is said to be like a confession.
Through these auditing sessions, which are more expensive the higher the level, you reveal your fears and anxieties. The deepest parts of yourself. All of it is recorded and kept on file, should you want to leave.
Before I could ask any questions (or before any would be answered), I had to watch a 15-minute video on its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The video contained multitudes of mistruths about his life, venerating him as a war hero and a genius.
In reality, he was a wife-beating liar, who founded his “religion” on fraud. As a science fiction writer, he was tired of getting paid so low per word, until another joked that he should make a religion to avoid taxes.
He took that literally and wrote Dianetics, the book on its founding. The video claimed that he was blind and crippled in battle in WWII, and he healed himself with principles of Dianetics.
In truth, he was never injured in battle and was discharged, never having the medals he claimed to have either. All the same, he is the most high in the faith, even in death.
After I watched the video, walked around looking to ask some people about their experiences. There was one man who did answer a few questions, though not before asking if I was recording him.
I asked how he heard of Scientology, what drew him in, and why he’s remained. He was brief in his answers but said he had seen a commercial for Dianetics and read it. From there, he eventually became staff.
I asked if there was any advertising literature I could take home. He handed me a pamphlet for their DirecTV channel and L. Ron Hubbard’s The Way to Happiness, pocket edition. It’s a creepy little book giving guiding principles on how to live.
When trying to ask others for their thoughts, I was followed by the man. The space open to the public was small, without many people there. No one else would let me ask them.
That’s when he came up behind me and said, “Yeah, people don’t like it when you ask questions around here.” Not shocking, as everyone there was completely dead-eyed.
All the same, I took that as my queue to leave.
If I go missing after this, you know what happened.
Stay safe and avoid cults, friends.