I left the Church of Scientology after 16 years, becoming an outspoken critic of them in 1999.
I’ve been thinking and writing about Scientology and cults for 36 years, in and out of both.
Of all the lessons I learned by escaping Scientology, then by escaping Anti-Scientology, I’ve learned one lesson harder than any other: Never let your tribe do your thinking for you.
I try my best to think critically in the war between Scientology and Anti-Scientology, Cults and Anti-Cults.
I reached the state of “Clear” in Scientology. In the mid 80s and early 90’s, I was on staff as an Executive Director and Course Supervisor in low level Scientology missions in Illinois and Los Angeles. I was an ordained minster and I’d studied to Exec Status One, Golden Age of Tech Ethics Specialist, Solo 1 and to Level G on the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course.
No one has any idea of what any of this means now. Which is good.
But when I’d gained enough experience through years on staff, and while rising higher on the Scientology Bridge, I finally saw the extent to which I’d been deceived. I left and began speaking out on the Internet to expose what I’d seen, and to help other Ex-Scientologists expose their stories, too.
Scientology, at that time (Marty, Mike & Dave), had most media organizations afraid to report on it. Any of us who even wrote or said the word Scientology™ on the Internet were being sued in court from Scientology’s lawyer Ava Paquette, and viciously fair-gamed.
For telling our stories while in Scientology, Marty, Mike and Dave sought to destroy our lives and families, discredit and isolate us, and shudder us into silence.
My History as a Critic of Scientology
I first began speaking out against Scientology on the Internet on the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup.
As the main Internet battleground between the Church and its critics at that time, ARS became filled with nasty Scientology Psy-Ops, attempts to spam the newsgroup, and character assassination of everyone involved. I was grateful for the people I met there like Gerry Armstrong, Stacey Brooks and others who worked for the Lisa McPherson Trust. These Old Guard Critics are the ones who provided me with the information I needed to fully graduate from my time in Scientology.
Inspired by these old guard critics and their work to inoculate society from Scientology, I moved on to Beliefnet.com and everywhere I could on the Internet to engage with real life Church of Scientologists, providing them the information they needed to make informed decisions.
I spent many years presenting LRH’s entire biography, his coroner’s toxicology report, his high school and college diplomas, etc. I was determined to provide Scientologists with all the information that L Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige, Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun had lied about.
Through efforts of the “Old Guard” we gave thousands of Scientologists the information they needed. I personally witnessed dozens of Scientologists “wake up” around the Internet and leave Scientology during this time.
During this time I learned that no one gets another out of a “cult”.
We got ourselves in, and we get ourselves out.
The Ex-Scientologist Message Board
In January/February of 2007, I moved to the Ex-Scientologists Message Board (ESMB), an open place where we could gather to tell our stories in Scientology.
Along with many other Exes from Australia, and around the world, I witnessed the rise of Senator Nick Xenophon and the Australian Inquiry into Scientology’s Charitable status there in 2010. Up until then, this was Scientology’s worst nightmare.
Anonymous vs Scientology
I witnessed and participated in the rise of Anonymous in late 2007-early 2008. I watched from the Illinois cornfields while my friend, the head of ESMB, Michelle Ryan, was arrested by Melbourne police for being a ‘member of Anonymous’, her computers confiscated from her home, and criminal charges held over her head, threatening to take her daughter away, for years.
Marty Rathbun Ex Scientology
I was in attendance when Marty Rathbun, in the summer of 2009, announced he’d left the Church, and had fired up a new blog. I found a target-rich environment there as an Ex-Scientology critic. I could engage with Indie Scientologists on Marty’s website and keep giving them the information that Marty, Mike and Dave had never revealed to them. It was a buncha fun.
But that’s when I started to smell something fishy about Marty and Mike, and the other Ex-Sea Org Int Base escapees who were all saying the same things, and assassinating the characters of any Ex who wasn’t in lock-step with them.
True Ex Scientology
During this time, I spent a few years at Geir Isene’s blog, where he hosted many intelligent, free thinking Scientologists, Exes and Indies who’d retained constructive and positive views of their time in Scientology. This influenced me greatly. I was constantly reminded of things I’d conveniently forgot, or blocked out, while becoming an energetic and fervent critic.
Tony Ortega’s AntiCult Tribalism
Tony Ortega, at that time, was an unknown critic who’d emerged onto the scene from the Village Voice. To get attention, he ran a highly sensational series called “The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology“.
Tony Ortega’s attention-getting ego campaign worked like a bomb: Any Ex-Scientologist who’d earlier been humiliated by Scientology had to read Ortega’s blog every day to see if they ranked high enough to be recognized as an Anti-scientology warrior crippling Scientology. Ortega’s Underground Bunker quickly became the center of attention for Anti-Scientology.
I, of course, totally sucked up all of it, posting often to the Underground Bunker, huffing and puffing to become one of its most frequently upvoted Anti-Scientology critics.
All my comments are blocked there now because Ortega banned me for protesting his cruelty to low-level Scientologists who’d nothing to do with Scientology’s criminality and abuse.
All scientologists aren’t the target, only the criminals at the top are: Marty, Mike and Dave.
Ortega’s blog was where I was exposed to more “never-in” critics of Scientology than I’d ever seen on the Internet. With Tony Ortega’s mix of the cruelty of Anonymous – and it’s disrespect and disgust for Scientologists – I began to see the same ‘us vs them’ tribal behavior in Anti-Scientology which was reminiscent of the worst of Scientology’s Sea Org.
When Tony Ortega repeatedly went after a woman, a Scientologist whose daughter had committed suicide, I understood the cruelty that all those anti-Scientologists whipped up in each other.
The Cruelty to Cathy Tweed Caused Me to have Another Turning Point
I saw that the deeper I became involved in the Anti-Cult/Anti-Scientology Movement, the more tribal the beliefs and the behavior became.
When Mike Rinder, Marty Rathbun and all the other Sea Org Int Base Fanatics started taking over Scientology criticism, I saw a rise in the same tribalism in Anti-Scientology that I was trying to escape in Scientology.
Critical Thinking on Scientology and Anti-Scientology, Cults and AntiCults
I started to apply the same critical thinking skills to the beliefs of Anti-Scientology that I’d earlier applied to Scientology. And that’s when my anti-Scientology mindset collapsed on me, just like my Scientology mindset collapsed on me so long ago.
And so this is where I am today – writing from my blog, trying to apply critical thinking and basic skepticism to the world of Scientology vs anti-Scientology, Cults vs AntiCults.
What I’ve Continued to Learn
I’ve come to realize that swinish skepticism toward both Scientology and Anti-Scientology, Cults and AntiCults, is the only sustainable view.
My experience of 16 years in Scientology, plus 20 years out has led me to believe that, as long as I continue to think critically, and I remain loyal to the truth instead of any person or group, then getting out of a ‘cult’ is not something that I need to recover from, it’s something I’ve been strengthened by.
My purpose is to provide the information people need to make informed decisions about Scientology, Anti-Scientology, Cults and AntiCults.