A few days ago, Mike Rinder, as is his wont, asked for comments on Scientology and the Aftermath S2E2 featuring two tragic suicides by Scientologists.
So I posted my thoughts on it:
August 23, 2017 at 12:29 pm
I personally can not believe that you and Leah have gone down the road of blaming parents for their children’s suicides. That’s something I would expect Scientology to do, but not you.
Personally I think that this episode has worked to further dehumanize Scientologists. I would expect that from someone like David Miscavige. But I hoped it would not happen with you. Perhaps all the attacks from Scientology have radicalized you and Leah and you have lost your way. It happens often to critics of Scientology.
Have you and Leah forgotten that Scientologists are human beings? Have you forgotten that Taylor Tweed’s mother could never have predicted that her daughter would commit suicide, and that this is most probably the greatest tragedy of her life?
I’m sorry, Mike. But this is really fucking low.
The unthinking cruelty of Scientology can not be fought with more unthinking cruelty.
And then long time respected Scientology critic Theta Clear posted:
August 23, 2017 at 7:34 pm
This time I must confess that I agree with you on some points. There is something VERY uncomfortable about the direction that this season 2 is taken, but as I STILL haven’t figured out what it is that is making me feel uncomfortable about it, I will refrain from commenting. Even though that I read about those two stories in different media, I confess that I haven’t watched the full episode 2 yet. So it would be irresponsible for me to comment about it. But I do not agree with how this season 2 is being developed. When I feel ready to comment – either tomorrow or the next day – then I’ll do so. I don’t want to make any mistakes in judgment. I want to think this thing through really well.
The next day, Mike doubled down on his attack of Cathy Tweed, the mother whose daughter committed suicide, which really shocked me. But, I had to remember, this is the guy who ran the Office of Special Affairs at the top of the Church of Scientology, reporting to David Miscavige every day for 25 years.
So I posted in response:
August 24, 2017 at 11:10 am
I can’t believe you are saying this about people who have lost their family members to suicide. The ham-handed copy the Church writes about you is bad, yes. But mothers and family members of people who have died?
What the hell are you doing?
Regarding Cathy Tweed, there are very specific things she says in rebuttal to what you had in the show about her and what she was doing to help Taylor. Neither you, nor Leah, nor Tony Ortega, nor Rachel Bernstein have ever presented this information.
Why are you continuing to attack her?
In your war against your former religion, have you lost all of your humanity?
Stick to the abuses, Mike. Uncover the crimes – for once. But leave people who have lost their daughters and sisters and sons to suicide ALONE.
And then ThetaClear posted what I felt was a brilliant comment, laying out many of my thoughts exactly:
August 24, 2017 at 5:53 pm
I commented on yesterday’s thread (“Scientology The Aftermath S2 Ep 2: the Aftermath”) that I felt uncomfortable with the direction that this season 2 of “The Aftermath” was taking. I also said that I agreed with some of the points that Alanzo had mentioned in his post, but I didn’t want to talk about any of that because, I still had not watched the episode 2 in full (though I had already read the report on that episode by various Media), and I didn’t want to make any statements without having all the information available first, and having analyzed it from all possible angles in the best interest of being as fair as possible. I’ve now watched that episode in great details.
Though I’ve been on the side of the “Anti Scn camp”, I’ve always had my OWN mind about things, and I do not necessarily abide with the “group-think” on anything. That’s what REAL free thinkers do, and I like to think of myself as someone who base his decisions not necessarily on what the “majority” thinks, but on my own sense of correct justice and personal integrity.
After having carefully thought this through, I am afraid that I’ve arrived at the decision to withdraw my support (which has been moral, like most of the posters here) for “The Aftermath” season 2. Nor that it really matters, as I am just a nobody from the middle of nowhere, but I always like to leave the records straight about my viewpoints on anything. This season is, IMHO, crossing some boundaries that should never have been crossed, and is losing its focus on what it should have it : The Human Rights abuses THEMSELVES and absolutely about NOTHING more.
It has become a “show of force” instead of a coordinated effort towards reformation. It is making public some private matters that should have NEVER been made public without taking into consideration the possible harmful effects that this may have on the family members who didn’t decide (for WHATEVER reasons) to go public on this, and is dehumanizing the Scientologists at large by using examples that are not necessarily representative of the majority of the Scn members.
Is being very punitive oriented towards some type of crimes (or abuses) while being very conveniently (for agenda purposes, where “agenda” for me is not a negative thing; I have my own) lenient with others, like those ABUSES from parents who DECIDED to disconnect from their children or who just ABANDONED them to the Sea Organization. Of course, my OWN attitude is NOT a punitive one for whatever wrong doings, but more a rehabilitating and forgiving approach.
This season two is showing examples that in my opinion – after having been a staff member myself for quite some time and a Scientologist (no longer) for almost 3 decades – are not representative of events that were really a constant situation in the church, and if failing to stress (in this particular season) the ACTUAL examples needed which DO represent situations of Human Rights violations which has been a constant since mid ’50s. And if our REAL interest is in helping those already inside, then we are failing them miserably, IMHO.
As I don’t want to risk this post of mine ending up in the trash can due to its length, I’ll leave it here for the time being. At a later time during the day, I’ll write another comment specifically explaining what it was that I found morally incorrect from episode 2. I won’t be replying to ad hominem arguments, just to be clear on my position.
ThetaClear later followed up with this comment:
August 25, 2017 at 1:07 am
This is my explanation Mike. I hope that you do post it, even if it is a long one. Please allow me to express myself so as to not let any mysteries behind concerning why my change in perspective. I have a few friends who post here that I would like them to know why I feel the way I feel. Do this, and I’ll be on my way. Thank you.
I won’t use too much of this blog’s space, as I will NOT be replying to anyone to avoid giving you more work than you really need, and out of respect for all the good considerations that you’ve always showed for me.
So anyone wanting to reply to me will have to do it via emails lines. I very much welcome any opinions from anybody even if they are in disagreement with mine, as long as you present them with respect and without any personal attacks.
I am Peter Torres from Puerto Rico, and I can be reached at :
I am NOT a Scientologists even though I use from it whatever parts I may find workable after decades of being involved in delivering Scn to others. I find most of LRH’s texts dangerous in their present state without making any modifications to it to eliminate from them destructive and false assertions that might create a cultic attitude and thought reform. But I am not against the practice of Scn as a philosophy/religion (or whatever we want to call it) any more that I am not against the reading of the Bible which is ALSO riddled with many falsities and destructive parts.
Religions are not necessarily inherently right. In fact, from my personal opinion, they are mostly inherently wrong. But I have no business telling others in what to believe or not. As long as people are practicing whatever it is that they practice without harming others, I am perfectly fine with it. No difference with Scn as the Tech of auditing/training is concerned. Do I practice it? No, I don’t; I am into other forms of healing modalities.
We have thousands of cults in the USA (I am part of the USA in a way; I am Puerto Rican). Some are more destructive than others. We also have many, many religious denominations among the major religions. Each one of them – to some degree or another – (call it a cult, or just a religion) have “crazy” cosmologies; some sort of “We v/s them” mentality even if mildly so; attitudes of shunning others who think differently; instances where some abuses (some sexual, some type of neglect, harassment of some sort, etc) has occurred; some instances where they preferred to handle things within the church away from punitive “justice” actions (to which I fully agree); etc, etc.
We see this in the Catholic church, and in many, many others. Apart from forcing them to deal with SPECIFIC instances of sexual abuse, wherever and whenever it has happened, the ones forcing them limit their criticism and “attack” towards THOSE specific instances, and try to leave the religious aspects themselves alone (no matter if we disagree with them or find them rather silly). I don’t see many T.V. shows attacking the Catholic Church for their beliefs itself, but if they do, this is about SPECIFIC instances of abuses.
Now, different churches deals with the problems of their parishioners in different ways. By “problems” I mean drug problems, mental problems (suicide thoughts, depression, etc), marital problems, etc, etc. We have for example, quite a few Christian based drug rehabilitation programs. Some handle suicidal tendencies with lots of “love bombing” and a caring attitude, and putting the person in a non stressful environment.
There are LOTS of different ways to handle suicidal tendencies, many of which does NOT use psychotropic drugs. In fact, here are some links (NOT from Scn) about how some professional health care practitioners prefer “Talk therapy” instead of drugs. Also some links about studies concerning the relation of antidepressants and developing suicidal tendencies. Those studies are from practitioners themselves.
When I was an Mission/org auditor I handled MANY individuals with suicidal thoughts and depression and it WORKED. I also successfully handled a lot of cases of drug use. What a REAL auditor does is to CARE and to REALLY listen; the SAME EXACT ingredients of most successful psychotherapeutic approaches from psychologists and psychiatrists. They DON’T do anything magic, for Christ’s sakes, all they do is TO LISTEN and show they care; the SAME thing that a trained auditor does.
This silly idea that a trained Scientologist – really trained the old ways, you know – is not equipped to handle depression and other forms of mental stress, is a FALSE idea. In our mission, we handed many, many cases successfully. And daily, such individuals are also helped by different modalities of healing INCLUDING nutritional therapy.
But, and this is important, even under great care and professional help, there are MANY instances where patients undergoing different kinds of treatment from different kinds of therapists, end up killing themselves regardless. Do we go and attack such professionals because they “failed”? Of course, we DON’T. Humans are very complex. There isn’t any guarantee of success with even the most perfect of the psychotherapies.
The auditors in the case of Taylor DID tried to help her with auditing. That’s was made clear by her. She said that “it didn’t help her”, but it is not clear if she communicated that to her auditor(s), or if for some reason she withheld it. She might have been under drugs, there might have been insufficient data for the auditor; they might have used a wrong auditing approach; we just DON’T know because neither Leah nor you have enough data about the details of this to make a responsible statement about it.
And Lauren DID said that Taylor seemed to be doing better by her posts at FB and by her photos. There was no way for the org to necessarily know if she was still under stress or not. Not even her close friends could tell. We just DON’T know what was going through this girl’s mind at the time, so as to make a definite statement about it.
I myself had lots of suicidal thoughts for several years while I was in Scn and even before it. Absolutely none of it was related to my Scn experiences. It was some issue that even to this date I can’t understand. I just have it from time to time out of nowhere. So I KNOW what I am talking about.
Does this mean that we need to rule out Scn’s undue influence and pressure as the cause of the stress that brought her to kill herself? Of course NOT. That might just have been the case. We just don’t know for sure, and pretending that we do know, is irresponsible, IMHO. Is to become “judge and executioner” without a proper “trial” and without a “jury”.
We have had suicides in Scn and they have also happened in others areas of life, religious groups, universities, schools, etc. That they happened can not immediately be interpreted that they were Scn related without no other causes. I am not saying that none were Scn related. All I am saying is that we must be careful when making assumptions and generalizations without enough evidence.
And YES, there is a culture of lack of compassion in Scn, coming mostly from staff, and mostly from SO staff, but this has been made more prevalent since the last decade with DM’s suppression and crazy leadership. And this attitude is not necessarily common to every Scientologist, specially the public. It DOES exist, but we can’t just say that it is prevalent in every org every where. Scn is NOT DM and a few executives, or the SO. Scn is ALSO all its public who are, most of them, people like you and me. But the show is stereotyping ALL them, even if not directly so. And that is WRONG.
We are deviating from the ACTUAL thing that needs handling : The Human Rights abuses in the form of forced Disconnection, and the suppression of free thinking and expression by savagely attacking those who disagree, with Fair Game practices. Those are the two MAIN Human Rights abuses that have been CONSTANTLY happening since the mid ’50s.
And we have TONS of such examples to report and expose. Why do we have to take isolated instances of suicides without even knowing all the particulars of it, to make a case point for some attitudes that are not necessarily general to all the Scn membership, and which WILL bring bad memories to a mother who DIDN’T decide to make that public?
How in the name of God is that going to stop the abuses? That’s even inhuman, IMHO, to nationally talk about the suicide of somebody’s daughter without NO thought on how was that going to affect such a mother, and more so when she probably feels guilty, even if she doesn’t manifest it among her Scn friends.
And what about that thing of Aaron’s widow talking in front of NATIONAL TV about her husband’s court case due to “prostitution”????? What gives her the right to do that? Does Aaron gave her the okay from the death? THIS IS WRONG, Leah and Mike.
And then you relate his suicide to Scn? They guy was heading for a VERY stressful and embarrassing court situation. There are many examples of suicides from people who just CAN’T face that kind of thing. A friend of mine committed suicide for a similar situation and he WASN’T a Scientologist. Gee, he was a Christian!
Does reporting this suicide and exposing the PRIVATE life of this young kid is really necessary to end the basic Human Rights abuses that the church is guilty of? I can’t possibly understand that it is necessary. In fact, that’s very inhuman to do that. It shows lack of compassion, ACTUALLY.
Mike and Leah, the way that you are “fighting” this battle now, is wrong, irrelevant, not necessary, and unfocused. It is not even morally right from my perspective.
So there you have it, Mike, my reasons. Do with them what you like. I am out of here. Thanks for always being such an incredible host and for offering me a platform to speak up. I shall ever be indebted to you. But I can’t follow you under these circumstances. My integrity to myself is superior to anything, and it is not for sale.
There’s more over at Mike’s blog on these exchanges, including some barely controlled snark by Mike Rinder – which is always nice.
There is a growing rebellion in Ex-Scientology by those who are speaking up for their own unique viewpoints after Scientology. They’re refusing to fall in line with the same people who worked directly with David Miscavige for decades to help make Scientology the hell it is: zealous Sea Org members like Mike Rinder, Marty Rathbun, Karen De LaCarriere, and Chris Shelton who still today – having been out for almost a decade now – demand Total Compliance to their views and will declare, expel, and dead-agent anyone who disagrees.
This is the last thing Ex-Scientologists need after Scientology.
The direction these zealous and hysterical Ex-Sea Org Members are taking Scientology criticism needs to be questioned. This isn’t a “you’re here so you’re aboard, win or die in the attempt” loyalty scenario any more, although these Ex-Sea Org Members still operate as if it is.
Thank you to Peter Torres “ThetaClear”, and to every other Ex-Scientologist, for having the balls to speak up and NOT just fall in line.