(This is an extension/edit of a comment I made on Mark Rathbun’s excellent “Moving On Up a Little Higher” blog.)
I have been “out” of official Scientology for 6 years – I made my first public post on Mark’s blog and announced my name to the world here about a year or two later. It has been interesting seeing the morphing of the Scientology “universe” over these years. I have lost friends who are still woefully on the “inside.” It was painful; now less so. But I have made new friends.
I think it is important that Mark is calling out the “ASC” (Anti-Scientology Cult) because over these several years, actions, truths, activities, events, and happenstances have piled up, and a group of people have been digesting these things and talking amongst themselves, and then editing the subset of reality they see into a sheen of group agreement about what is “going on.” Much of it is driven by hate – hate for Hubbard, hate for having “wasted” their youth, hate for being so gullible, hate for trusting someone and then having it betrayed – who knows? But the overall conclusions of the ASC are pretty straightforward: Scientology is pure evil, L. Ron Hubbard is pure evil, and Scientology should be eradicated. And therefore, any point of view or comment or conjecture by anyone that does not align with these conclusions is jumped on and disregarded – condemned, derided, mocked, etc. And facts are bent to support the conclusions.
The problem is that that reality of Scientology is broader than the conclusions of the ASC. Neither Scientology nor Hubbard are “pure evil.” They just aren’t. Scientology may be very low for some on the cost/benefit scale, but there is still a benefit. If someone has been in the SO for 20 or 30 years, there is a reason why the person stayed, and there is good that was done even if in the event it may seem the bad outweighed the good overall in their estimation.
Truth matters, even if it is inconvenient. We can’t tolerate lies, even if they support our agenda. Real truths that you can be sure of are those that you have actually seen. Not heard. So, for me, for instance, The Hole at the International Headquarters is not a truth, even though I know it existed. I trust the people who mentioned it, but I have personally not seen the hole, so it is not 100% truth to me.
However, I have seen the RPF (“Rehabilitation Project Force” – Scientology’s staff correctional program) and RPF’s RPF, in multiple places, and I know what goes on there. I have seen crazy stuff in Scientology – I beautiful blond 20-something Supercargo at ASHO-F recruiting SO members from Skid Row in LA (because, they said they never took LSD), and having to put down mini-riots when these new recruits clamored for liquor and got into fights. So I base what I know on Scientology for sure on what I have seen with my own eyes, and what I have done my own self. And at the end of the day that is the only way to do it, because everything else has to be taken on faith, and then when you get guys like Chris Shelton conjecturing, then you start morphing reality. I don’t have anything against Chris, except that his conclusions are wrong even though he calls himself a “critical thinker.” Yeah – arrogant, but whatever.
And, I’ll tell you what else I saw: Church members harassing in the most egregious way Mark and Mosey Rathbun, Mike Rinder, and a number of others. This is real – no need to have faith in anyone, the videos are clear. I saw the hate-sites the church has put up – again – no need to take anything on faith. I saw church members acting like complete jerks to non-Scientologists. I have had people disconnect from me for just having certain friends on Facebook. This is the reality – no need to have it filtered by the lens of ASC people – or OSA (“Office of Special Affairs,” or the church’s gestapo) for that matter. The truth of Scientology that is available unfiltered for the world to see is plenty to condemn it.
HOWEVER – I have also seen the incredibly positive side of Scientology. To me, there is a positive side to my involvement in Scientology. I cannot deny that. I am not just going to go along with someone else’s opinion just because that seems to be the thing to do, and just because someone shows me salacious details about Hubbard or the church. I don’t need to go into details about the benefits, but they exist, for me. I’ve outlined some on this blog.
In the final analysis, all that matters is what I perceived and experienced myself. I can augment these truths with information from others, but the information from others does not supplant what I saw and experienced first hand. And that is true for all of us. The never-ins (people who never practiced Scientology) will have a hard time with the truth of Scientology because everything they think they know is filtered.
One thing I have learned in my years as a Scientologist regarding the subject and its people is to keep your own counsel on it and make up your own mind – this is true inside and outside the church. People will lie to you to forward their agenda. People will distort the truth to fit their world-view – they might even reject their own experiences if it conflicts with their current opinion and circumstances. That is sad.
There is no real “ex-Scientology Community” really. There are a number of people who are out of the church, and they run the gamut of being still fully into the technology and philosophy of Scientology to rejecting all and everything about the subject – even to the point of wanting to edit out completely that portion of their life. There is no common set of beliefs in the ex-Scientology community. There are only degrees of belief. All attempts to “standardize” an Independent Scientology has failed, because their is no authority that says “yay” or “nay” on particular ideas, concepts, and procedures. But that is okay, to me.
Despite the dictates of the ASC, the correct answer is not “Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard are evil!” Just like any agenda from an Independent Scientologist that tries to label people “standard” or “not standard” is BS, the agenda to reject all of Scientology as evil and then enforce that point of view is BS as well. There is no correct answer, except for what you see and perceive yourself, and you owe it to yourself to look clearly at the real facts and reject conjectures based on flimsy data and cast-in-iron agendas. Try to get around confirmation bias. And avoid the Dunning-Kruger effect – if you want to have an opinion on Scientology, learn enough about it to be informed before drawing your conclusions.
I say all this because this needs to be called out – Mark Rathbun is right. There is too much stuff being invented out of whole cloth, too much conjecture and speculation and just crap being manufactured out of very few facts. Too much “us” vs “them.” And when some people claim to know “facts” that are in some vault, hidden from the world, well I call BS on that. And, any “facts” that guys like Tony Ortega have – even if they are in the light of day – are still filtered though their particular lens, and are hearsay from other people. For people to get all uppity on invented or distorted conjectures is pretty crazy. And for anyone to accuse people, like Mosey or Mark, of duplicity or being a sell-out or whatever based on half-digested morsels of speculation is just cussing wrong. Don’t light the cussing torches based on BS.