Was Elizabeth Moss a Brainwashed Cult Member Playing a Brainwashed Cult Member?

tony ortega's stereotypes

To hear Anti-Scientologists tell it, Elizabeth Moss was just a clueless & brainwashed Scientologist during her Emmy-winning performance portraying Offred in “The Handmaid’s Tale”. But is thinking with stereotypes about people in minority religions ever going to explain how Elizabeth Moss is such a great actress?

Having been a member of Scientology for 16 years, and then a critic of Scientology for the last 18 years, I’ve done a lot of thinking about Scientology and the lives of Scientologists. And if there is one thing that is utterly consistent with what I have seen in my 18 years out of Scientology, it’s that anti-Scientologists get stuck in ways of seeing Scientology that don’t explain what it actually is. And they never notice the mindset they are stuck in. They just keep putting their wrong assumptions there, over and over, trying to get others to take them up, too, and hate Scientology and Scientologists just as much as they do.

There is a word for this obstinate ignorance in the face of evidence which shatters the stereotypes they are thinking with but, for the life of me, I just can’t think of what it is right now.

Yes. Scientology – especially at the highest levels of its Sea Organization – as run by their leader David Miscavige, DOES QUALIFY as a totalitarian cult. But 85% to 90% of all Scientologists are not members of the Sea Organization and have never participated, nor would they, in the abuses that you see on Leah Remini’s “Scientology and the Aftermath”. They are good people who spend much of their lives doing things to help others.

Elizabeth Moss’ participation in Scientology never included being a member of the Sea Organization, and from what is obvious in her spirited performance in The Handmade’s Tale, never fucking would be.

Anti-Scientologists such as Leah Remini, Mike Rinder and Tony Ortega, really need to stop stereotyping Scientologists.

But if they did, would they still be able to whip up people into a prejudiced and intolerant lather against them?

I don’t think so: History has shown that multi-layered and highly nuanced truths are not really good at whipping up mobs of people against minority religions. They’re boring and take too much thought. Anti-Scientologists need something simple that mean, angry people can understand. “Brainwashed in a Mind Control Cult” will do.

If you want to understand the controversy surrounding Scientology, don’t stop at the kindergarten stereotypes like “brainwashed cult member” that anti-Scientologists want to give you. Look at brilliant Scientology artists like Elizabeth Moss, Chic Corea, Neil Gaiman (no longer in, but grew up in it) and others. The stereotypes just don’t explain these people.

So the stereotypes must be wrong.

26 thoughts on “Was Elizabeth Moss a Brainwashed Cult Member Playing a Brainwashed Cult Member?”

  1. Alonzo, on what do you base your claim that “85% to 90% of all Scientologists are not members of the Sea Organization”?

    I try to keep any eye on the best information on Scientology’s numbers, and by all accounts that points to Scientology now being 30% to 50% Sea Org. Out of an active total of 15,000 to 20,000 people in the CofS, there are around 3,500 SO in Southern California and 2,500 in Clearwater; if those numbers are a bit high, it’s compensated for by SO members in overseas locations, and a few scattered across the US, for a total of at least 5,000 (Chris Shelton’s number, based on counts he was privy to) to 6,000 (the CofS’ own claim).

    It appears to me that Scientology has changed a lot in the last 18 years since you were directly involved. From many reports, there is a lot more control of remaining members through disconnection or the threat of disconnection, including a lot of policing on social media with members being ordered to “unfriend” designated SPs.

    Also, I think you should take into consideration that Scientology celebrities, especially those who live in Southern California, exist in a special milieu with much more monitoring and control. For instance, Rathbun’s descriptions about what was done for and to people like Cruise and Kidman, describe treatment and an atmosphere very different from what regular members at local orgs experience.

    I agree there’s nuance, and am just hoping to point out some of what I think you may be missing.

    • Here’s a weird reply to the 85% to 90 % percentage, if after one thinks about it, and completely opposite.

      It’s actually 100%.

      I make the above statement because 100% of the people who get involved in scientology are recruit material to join the Sea Org.

      On the same token, everybody who gets involved in scientology is the effect of the Sea Org, Command Intention, and LRH and caused to do what Ron said. Those who do not agree or are persuaded are rejected as PTS/SP or no case gain.

      • This is the hysterical view that an Anti-Scientologist develops sitting at his computer all day every day thinking of the worst possible things he can imagine about Scientology and Scientologists. Always take the nightmare scenario and turn it up to 11. Fuck 11, turn that shit up to 20. What ever gets your blood boiling and keeps it boiling – it does not have to be true. In fact, to keep your blood and everyone else’s boiling – it can’t be true.

        So yeah, sure. 100% of all Scientologists are Sea Org members.

        Keep telling yourself that.

        And be sure to get a mention of that nightmare messaging on Leah Remini’s Scientology and the Aftermath.

        • It’s the truth what I wrote Alanzo and you know it. All scientologists are Sea Org members by implication thru reading Hubbard’s PL’s and HCOB’s and books. All scientologists are on Hubbard’s vast Org Board. Even the Janitor know as Estates Manager, to protect protect the image of Scientology and Hubbard.

          • That’s what you say the PLs state, in your nightmare interpretation. That’s not all that they state and that’s not what people do.

            Here in the Midwest and in other areas far outside any SO installations, they have a very hard time injecting their fanaticism into Scientologists. They always have.

    • Here’s what Tony Ortega estimates what the percentages are.

      Tony Ortega's Estimates of SO Ratio to Scn Public

      Also, your estimates don’t take into account anyone ever leaving the SO. Why? Do you think they’re all in the Hole?

      • Thanks for that. I’d also asked over at the Bunker, and Ortega says that is a number from Mat Pesch, that he apparently thinks is more current than Chris Shelton’s count, even though just a couple of years ago he’d reported Shelton and Rinder putting the SO at 5,000 (which is what I’d remembered). A 40% reduction in SO ranks would be huge, and I question whether it could really have dropped that much without being more widely noticed.

        I think 15% SO is a minimum, with a likelihood that overall membership is now closer to 15,000. I hear from a lot of people who have family who are SO, often multiple relatives including couples, sometimes with older children. Also, most of those SO are in the US, but only about half the membership is, so the SO is closer to 30% in this country.

        If that’s me your referring to, what makes you think that I don’t account for anyone ever leaving the SO? That’s certainly not the case, and there’s evidence that they are recruiting all the time. I haven’t seen any signs that SO counts have been reduced overall, even with the expected turnover, except at Int “Gold” Base outside Hemet, which would only account for a couple of hundred.

        And what about the other things I brought up, such as increased use of disconnection and monitoring on social media, and the uniquely controlled environment of celebrities?

        • OK, Peacemaker. Good rational analysis.

          Before I get to your other tangential issues, what about my main point?

          That life as a public scientologist, even life as a class V Org and mission staff, is VERY different from life as a sea Org member?

          And thus all of the atrocities we see every week on “scientology and the aftermath” are not carried out by scientologists but by fanatical Sea Org members?

          • Alonzo, my last direct experience with Scientology goes back well before yours. And back then there was almost no SO involvement at the CL V org level, whereas by your time, I know from contacts who were still in that it had greatly increased, with local orgs picking up more on SO practices like KRs. All the reports I see, are that the trend toward more authoritarian, SO-like behavior at the orgs and among public scientologists, continues to percolate down to the lower levels.

            And you were only at a mission, right – and a rather isolated one, far from Scientology’s main centers, at that? The missions are almost entirely dead now, and the people I knew who used to be involved in them, go to the local org, if they do anything at all. That’s a part of Scientology that has largely passed into history. Do you have current or relatively recent contacts for info on what things are like at the CL V orgs?

            Yes, the extremes of Sea Org life and dynamics are mostly limited to a fairly limited strata. But family breakups, discrimination against gay members, disconnection, even some fair gaming, and of course high prices not really revealed up front – the sort of things covered in Aftermath – are all pretty “real” at the local org level these days, from what I can tell.

            I did know and had kept some contact with one CofS member who was one of the infamous suicides that was comparatively recent (since the time you left), that was certainly catalyzed by the stresses percolating down to the local level; and also knew a scientologist who perpetrated of one of the infamous murders, again likely related Sea Org involvement at the local org level. Things seem to be changing much for the worse at the local orgs.

            I don’t think the question of whether the totalitarian norms and controls of the Sea Org are increasingly percolating down to the local org level, is “tangential,” particularly as everyday scientologists seem to be caught up in control measures like social media policing. So what’s you’re take on what is actually going on in the local orgs, and for their members, these days?

            • I worked in three missions when I was a Scientologist. The Peoria, IL mission, the South Pasadena mission in the LA area, and the Santa Monica mission. Because of the heavy Sea Org presence in Los Angeles, being a Scientologist in the LA area is a very different experience from being a Scientologist in the Midwest.

              I think both you and I agree that it is the Sea Org and its fanatical paramilitary practices that generate and perpetuate almost all of the abuse we see in Scientology. Where there is no or little Sea Org presence, Scientologists are generally not abusive to each other, and would not dream of being so. They did not get into Scientology to abuse one another, they got in to help people.

              I am back in the Midwest again, and am in contact with, either directly or indirectly, around 7 online Church of Scientologists. Some of these people I know very well. Some of them I actually recruited into Scientology back in the 1980’s. And their lives as Scientologists are very different from any of the people I knew in LA. The fact that I am in contact with online Scientologists, and they are all in the midwest, and NONE from LA – despite my living in LA for 11 years as a Scientologist – should tell you something.

              The Sea Org controls life for a Scientologist in LA. For the most part, they do not control the lives of Scientologists in the midwest.

              What you say about missions is very true. Both the Peoria, IL mission (the longest running mission in Scientology history opened in 1954) and the Champaign, IL mission (a mission since the late 1960’s on the University of Illinois campus) are gone. When I first moved back here there were 4 scientology installations within a 2 hour drive from me. Now I am aware of only 2 – the Class V orgs in St Louis and Chicago.

              Yes there is 1 “family breakup” I know of here in a Scientologist family. But that family breakup is actually fake, so as to fool the ethics officers of the org they are in. They are in contact and never would break up from each other. All other attempts at getting family members to break up from each other that I know of here in the midwest have failed. The scientologists told them to go to hell. And they are still scientologists, still on course.

              In fact, I know MANY more families who have members estranged from each other who were never Scientologists. That’s because “family breakups” are an extremely common human experience, and can occur over a pierce of furniture, or a comment made at dinner, without any need for a controlling cult at all.

              There is an hysteria and a set of stereotypes being perpetuated by the people who are presently dominant in the messaging of the anti-Scientology community. And they are mostly ex-Sea Org members who believe that their Sea Org experience is the only true Scientology experience that exists. That’s what they thought when they were sea org members, too – that they were the only real scientologists. As with most of their lives in the Sea Org, and now out, it is a very unexamined, self-important, and militant view of reality.

              Just as when they were SO members, ripping throats and running around in a fake navy uniforms, their view of reality is not reality at all.

    • ALL those alleged “estimates” about the total Scientology membership is just bullshit. The numbers either come out of nowhere using an anti-Scientology narrative, or from an “expert” like Christ Shelton or Ortega who have absolutely NO way of knowing that for certain. I don’t mean that the membership is in the millions like the CofS claims, and perhaps it is less than 100,00O worldwide. But 20,000? That’s just an unsupported claim. And we can’t just leave out those many inactive Scientologists as I was, who even though are not doing anything, still consider themselves as Scientologists and THINK as Scientologists.

      Are we to trust in an “estimate” done by an anti-Scientologist? I don’t think so. Setting up that number at 40,000 – as it had been done by other more reliable sources, 5,000 out of that (the SO members) is a 12.5% of SO membership. And if we set it up at 30,000, then it is a 16.6%, close to what Alanzo claimed. And I would go even beyond to what Alanzo claimed and I would said that most of the problem was in the SO, yes, but most particularly at the Int Base (with more frequency) and at Flag (with less frequency). So it was even in a subculture within the subculture called “The Sea Organization”. The most crazy shit happened there. And as I said to Hemi, an individual and a short bunch of followers does not make Scientology. Saying “The Church” this or that is frequently a big generalization that steriotype the whole for the conduct of a few.

      • TC: “And as I said to Hemi, an individual and a short bunch of followers does not make Scientology.”
        I thought exactly that for a long time, and I was wrong. Being an Indie (of sorts), and actually practicing Ron’s tech, or parts of it professionally, I craved for people to see that it is us who are Scientology, who get results and freedom doing so and not THEM in the CoS, bunch of silly distorters of most everything Ron (=scientology) said. Semantically you are right Peter, scient is what Ron said it was, as he created it. But factually, and for communication purposes a term is what it is considered to be by majority of people. Definitions of terms evolve and change with time. Tell 100 people at random in the street you are practicing scientology, 98 out of them will KNOW that you are part of the CoS. Right?
        That’s why I am not a scientologist at all.. 🙂 actually something quite opposite.
        Even in Dror Center they finally understood that, and are waving this term “good buy”. It is no secret, they have written a new book with enirely different vocabulary and approach. They are no more scientologists. They work and behave entirely different. ENTIRELY.
        And Peter, sadly, so sadly, it is not just a short bunch of followers. Sorry! Every single scientologist who PRACTICES it in the CoS, even as public, is a full follower and abides by and adopts the mindset, or…he is out or “disaffected”.
        A bunch of former friends of mine, great people (at least they used to be) artists, creative, funny, who used to LOVE me as a brother and more, won’t talk to me, and I know it ‘kills’ them inside and they keep saying: “Why, why did Hemi did this horrible thing, why??? This horrible thing being writing a long rational letter criticizing the CoS and resigning. I mean, some of the things I write here to Al and Peter are much worse… ha ha 🙂 but these intelligent people there are convinced that I have done a crime against humanity, which they can’t understand, because “Hemi is such a good man and great guy and friend”…!!
        That is the mindset at the CoS, of all active members!! They are AFRAID to think differently, or they will be punished. This is one of the ways to implant people (Implant in question: Hemi is a horrible man who did horrible crimes) and brain wash them, using fear and duress. It is important to understand this. It doesn’t make scientologist bad people or monsters or anything else. They are just victims of an accident (which started as a beautiful ride) who wait to come round and heal.

        • Just to clarify: I meant all scientologists have similar mindset and attitude on certain crucial elements. But of course public, staf and SO are different in intensity, and of course have different lives. They are not all the same in various life features.
          Only the basic implants:
          The management is always right
          Anybody criticizing or opposing IS an enemy and an SP.
          The Org is more important than the other dynamics.
          The mamnagement and its command intention should never be questioned!
          Anybody criticizing scient does so because of OVERTS and crimes.
          I am sure there are more…if anybody cares to add.
          B.t.w. at the CoS (and indies too) a total MU on criticism even as originally defined by Ron, who thought rational criticism is actually very valuable.

          • There may be elements of each of these in all Scientologists, however, public Scientologists who must deal with others in society can not afford the completely irrational fanaticism that exists in the Sea Org. They simply can;t function in society by taking these ideas to the extremes that Sea Org members do every day.

            And people like Elizabeth Moss must push all these things out of her mind and craft and mold these ideas to fit her own life to make them highly functional for the heights she has reached in her art.

            I’ve seen others do the same thing. One person I witnessed make it to the Olympics using Scientology in exactly this way.

            The Point: A public Scientologist can be highly functional and a very valuable contributor to society and never abuse anyone. These public scientologists, like Elizabeth Moss, are NOT the enemy. It is the Sea Org which is the source of almost ALL abuse in Scientology.

            Anti-Scientologistas are so stupefied by their own hysterical anger that they seem incapable of making this distinction – especially in the case of Elizabeth Moss – but also many other Scientologists. In fact, as I have shown, they can’t make this distinction for the majority of them.

            And Leah and Mike are doing nothing to make this distinction, and never will. Because ratcheting down the hysterical anger at ALL Scientologists will never get them the eyeballs and advertisers they need to keep their gravy train rolling.

      • Thetaclear, I’ve actually tried to track the numbers pretty diligently, and think there is a good basis for the 20,000 estimate.

        The ARIS figure for 2008 was 25,000, which fits with reports from people like Jeff Hawkins and Steve Hall who had access to internal counts around that time. It also makes sense in terms of other information like the production run of 30,000 of the new e-meters. The closed, monitored Scientology group on Facebook has about 15,000 members, which likely includes virtually every CofS member with access to social media, almost certainly a majority, and possibly even a significant number who have actually dropped out and just not been culled.

        The only 40,000 number I know of, comes from Jeff Hawkins, who said the IAS was trying to get their count up to that, at a point in the past when fewer than 20,000 members were really active. He now says that there has been enough shrinkage, that the number is under 20,000 internationally. Do you have a different source for that number?

        Also, the census counts across the world are so low, that there can only be a small number of people other than CofS members who consider themselves scientologists. That fits with the observably tiny size of “independent” centers and communities, as well as attendance at indie gatherings and participation in indie online groups.

        There are not enough large events anymore, or enough observable activity in the orgs, to provide any evidence for an active membership over 20,000. There are only about 135 local orgs worldwide, and many of them are struggling with active membership down to a few dozens (and unable to raise money for new buildings) while the handful of orgs with more activity seem to have a most a few hundred members. The org I was most familiar with, and which seems fairly average, had 50 to 70 really active members, and perhaps another 50 or so who had belonged to now-defunct outlying missions and might make the trek for “all hands” events – and yet had managed to raise enough money for an “ideal” building.

  2. One of Hubbard;s Policy Letters was always to maintain friendly relationships with the environment. That picture you post is not very becoming of a scientogist, per LRH.

    • Do you think she’s flipping off Scientology critics, Gib? Everyone at the Undie Bunker thinks she’s flipping off them.

      Do you think she’s flipping you off?

      • I have no idea if she is or is not. But it’s still not becoming of maintaining friendly relationships with the environment. We have no idea who she is giving the finger to?

        • Cripes sakes – It’s a picture without a story. She’s smiling, almost laughing. The photographer might have said “Hey Liz, your tits are showing.”

  3. Very well written and observed, Alanzo. Bravo!
    The word you are looking for is simple IMO – FIXED IDEAS. People just acquire these through life, unless enlightened or very wise. Another good term to call it is : Service Facsimile. People failed, (IMO in their spiritual quest), and this, being a painful failure, demands strong explanations and justifications. This is very human, but does not rekindle the quest or gets it back on the road. And THAT in my opinion is the main rascal of the plot!!!

  4. There’s no such word but you could coin it – Scientology “Stereotypers”

    Hey – When we were in scn we added “ness” to a dozen or more words and accepted them as King’s English, right?

    There’s a catch, however – can you guess?

      • It’s tricky. The people who are hysterical about scn are the “Scientology Stereotypers”.

        It would work for a while and then someone would say “Wait a minute. Those guys calling ALL OF US “Scientology Stereotypers” are “Anti-Scientologist Stereotypers”. (stereotyping all anti-Scientologists)

        P.S. Mike Rinder posted a topic yesterday about the Nation of Islam. It’s almost as dumb as one of Terra Cognita’s topics. Someone commented “This is the most racist set of comments I have read in a long time.” oops

  5. I would concur that all Scnists are not created equal. Its a gradient scale of insanity. Int base being the most insane. I would venture to say they practice a version of Scn that would be almost unrecognizable to a mission public. It is even debatable whether it can be called Scn.

    Moving down the line to CLOs, less insane, but still batshit crazy. Class V orgs, for staff it can be pretty rough (from my experience), but for public, less so.

    When I was on staff we always had a group of half-hearted public who viewed Scn more as a “self help” or “social” activity. They didn’t have the “big cog”. Subsequently, they avoided crush regging and heavy ethics. You have to buy into the Big Picture to subject yourself to Hubbard’s madness.

    Coming up with numbers or percentages has always been difficult, so why bother? Suffice to say, a small percentage of Scnists experience the splendor of Int-style Scn mindfuck.

    One of the cogs I had in my 30 years, is that the closer you get to RTC, the more fucked up it is. It is much harder to be a Scnist at an AO or SH, than at an org or mission.

    • statpush – “It’s a gradient scale of insanity.” funny – I think another major factor is when someone participated. Most people commenting on the blogs participated in scn after the sea org ramped up and DM took over. I blew in 1983 so maybe I got less insane and it was easier to put it in perspective. Maybe some people are “still crazy after all these years.” lol

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