Church of Scientology, Seattle

org-sea_tourThis is my third post on the subject of Scientology, and after today’s “audit” visit, I think I have enough information to make a review and a formal score.

I’m not going to go over ground already covered in the other visit post, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you might give it a read first.

Scoring this church is difficult, because I haven’t really sat in a “service” or a “sermon” with the Scientology guys.  I can’t do anything like that without forking over money.  Here’s what I have experienced:  An E-Meter demonstration and discussion, a personality test and a discussion about what it means, an in-house movie/lecture on Dianetics, and an actual session on Dianetics, called an “audit,” and finally, a post-audit discussion with the “Secretary of Field Operations.”

In stitching all those things together, I think I have enough information to say a few things, and give a score.  Spoiler alert: It’s not going to be very high.

I have one more thing to say before I dive in, and it’s this:  The two principal people I dealt with at the church of Scientology were earnest and, I think, mostly sincere.  I think Mark might have have fudged things a bit when he told me about the origins of the Oxford Capacity Analysis, but he could have just been misinformed.  In any event, everyone there sure seemed to believe what they were saying, and they seemed like nice people to me.

So here we go:

I got there early, as is my habit, and signed in at the front desk.  The receptionist called “Kevin” on her cell phone and I poked around while waiting for him.  I noticed while I was there that everyone used their cell phones for all calls, rather than office phones.  I thought that was a little weird.  But I suppose if people are walking around a lot and not in their offices, then that would be a good way to get ahold of them.

While I was waiting, I saw that one of the displays had changed.  I can’t remember what was there last week, but today there was a stand of L. Ron Hubbard’s works of science fiction that had previously been printed in pulp magazines in the 1930’s.  There was a sign on a desk nearby labeled “Public Books Officer.”  There was no officer there, just a kid, I think the receptionist’s son, watching videos on a computer.

Kevin came out to meet me and take me upstairs for the audit.  “Do you mind if we take the stairs?” he asked.  I said no, and we went up one floor.  Kevin bounded up the stairs like a track star, two steps at a time, and I had to trot a little to keep up with him.

The second floor looked like a very well maintained corporate office.  It had oak doors, nice artwork, nice carpeting, very plush.

After a brief chat about what I knew about Dianetics (nothing), Kevin led me to a theater room with a large screen for playing DVD’s.  The theater looked like it could hold about forty or fifty people in relative comfort.  I was the only viewer.

Kevin set up the video, told me he’d be back, dimmed the lights, and left.  I had a front row seat and was about to get Scientologized.  It was kind of exciting.

What played was not one, but a series of six “chapters” after which Kevin returned and fast forwarded to chapter 12, which was how to conduct an audit.  This last chapter was shown so I would know what to expect.

The first six chapters explained the basics of Dianetics.  Here’s my synopsis of what I saw:

  • You have two minds:  An analytical mind, and a reactive mind
  • Your analytical mind is perfect and never makes mistakes, but is fed bad data
  • Bad data comes from your reactive mind, which is influenced by your past trauma
  • Trauma causes bad data.  Bad data leads to fear.  Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to the Dark Side.  There is another Skywalker!
  • The bad data is in the form of “engrams” which hold negative energy that hold you back
  • You relive your past over and over again until you are freed by auditing
  • Auditing is the process by which you go over your past memories over and over again to free up the engrams, converting the past trauma into real memories, which can no longer hurt you.

As examples, they showed a woman getting hit by a car.  The traumatic experience of getting hit by a car will be with her forever, and will continue to cause her harm until she’s audited and the engrams from that experience are converted into actual memories.  Even though things happened to her while she was unconscious.

A second example was of a woman who was beaten up by her husband, who then later takes it out on her son.  I felt very uncomfortable watching a guy beat his wife, and then even more uncomfortable watching her slap her kid around.

During the presentation, they did that thing that Scientologists do with words; They repurpose them and make a weird jargon of them.  Now, all religions invent words to describe things.  The Catholics have “transubstantiation,” for example.  Scientologists invent new words too (like the word “Scientology” for example) but are even more fond of taking existing words and using them for purposes Webster never intended.

For example, the word “clear,” which is an adjective, is used as a noun in Scientology.  A “clear” is a person who is clear of engrams.  A “pre-clear” is what I am.  Somebody who is full of engrams.  I mean, seriously, I’ve got them out the wazoo.  Just look at my Oxford Capacity Analysis.   Their use of the word “engram” also doesn’t quite line up with the same word as used by neuropsychologists.

The last thing on the video presentation was a man and a woman going through co-auditing.  Co-auditing is a process by which one friend audits another, using a little booklet that tells the auditor how to work with the subject.  In the video, the man was the subject, and he was taken through successive steps to remember specific events in his life that caused him trauma.  During the audit, he went all the way back to when he was still in his mother’s womb, remembering when she had morning sickness, and said some harsh things about being pregnant.  Those harsh words and concepts formed engrams into the unborn baby and are now hurting him.

Because babies can totally understand English, and can totally understand concepts like hating pregnancy and morning sickness, and you can totally remember that as an adult.

Also, they had this to say:  If you’re auditing a friend, and the friend says he wants to stop, you should not stop.  On the video example of this, they showed a guy squirming in his chair, eyes closed, pleading with the auditor to stop because he was uncomfortable with whatever it was he was remembering.  But instead of stopping, she was firm and told him to go over it again.

The video narrator explained that what we heard wasn’t the subject talking.  It was the engrams.  The engrams will fight to stay put rather than be kicked out by auditing.  From my previous conversation with Mark about spirituality, I knew that the engrams are not just memories but also spiritual beings or essences with a spiritual mass, which can be measured by the E-Meter.

So, I’m not an expert in therapy.  In fact, I’m so far away from being an expert in therapy that you should never listen to any advice I give you.  But fortunately, I know someone who is.  A family member, who is a practicing social worker and has an advanced degree and has had a successful practice for many years.  I called her, and relayed some of my experience to her, and it’s her professional opinion that you should stop any therapy session if the subject becomes uncomfortable unless the subject is suicidal.  But this is only for professionally trained therapists.  Friends really shouldn’t give therapy to friends.  You might make things worse.  If you think someone is suicidal, you should call emergency services.

And that reminds me about something that was in the video:  It specifically stated that you should be wary of “well meaning people with degrees” who didn’t know Dianetics and would therefore not be very good at curing what ails you.  It also mentioned several times about taking drugs and alcohol, and how that interferes with the process of getting rid of engrams.   Part of this message about drugs came during the talk about “well meaning people with degrees.”  In other words, prescription drugs can be bad for the auditing process so you shouldn’t take them.  It specifically stated that you shouldn’t take any kind of prescription or over the counter drugs three weeks before the auditing process.  It also said you should get audited ideally every 2-3 days, so I guess you should never take any kind of drug for any reason if you’re a pre-clear.

This makes me angry.  I could rant for a while, but I won’t.  I’ll just say that telling someone with clinical depression or bi-polar disorder to stop taking medication in order to have his or her engrams dealt with is a really bad thing, and leave it at that.

After the video, it was time for my auditing session.  Kevin led me into a session room, which was nice and clean and comfortable, and even had a sort of bed in it.  The bed was tempting, but I sat in a chair.

He went through the process, and I recounted an experience early in my life when I was across the street playing at the hippy family’s house with their daughter Munday.  And when I say hippy, I mean real, actual, bona fide hippies.  (This was in the early 70’s before being a hippy was a fashion statement, and was more of an odorous nuisance.)  I had fallen down and got a hair line fracture on my wrist… a nicely traumatic experience.

Kevin had me go over and over the event, recounting new details each time, telling me to “connect with the data,” which is Scientology-speak for “tell me more.”  When I had done this sufficiently, Kevin told me to “come back to the present,” and after I assured him I was, he said the word, “cancel.”  Saying “cancel” at the right time is how the auditor makes sure that nothing he has said or done will impact the subject negatively.  After all, we don’t want to attract more engrams.  And then we were done.

He didn’t tell me how it went, or what any of it meant, or anything.  They’re not allowed.  I don’t even know how many engrams were exorcised, or whether I was strong with The Force.

I will say this, I am surprised at what level of detail I can remember an event that happened over 35 years ago when I put my mind to it, and I’m told to recount it over and over again.  At least, I think I was remembering things.  I suppose this could be one of those false memory things that people who use hypnotism to regress folks with sometimes get.  You know, the ones where people come away thinking that they had witnessed a Satanic sacrifice of babies or some such.  My memories weren’t nearly as colorful as that.

I did get to talk with Mark about the experience afterwards, however.  And during our talk, he referenced the OCA (that’s jargon for “Oxford Capacity Analysis … the personality test) and asked me if I was interested in fixing any of the problems it identified.

I said “I’m always ready to fix personal problems,” and asked him what the next step would be.  He told me to come in for a class and to buy the book.  Total cost:  only $70.

That’s not bad, last week I thought getting Scientologized would cost me $150.  The price has come down a bit.  Maybe if I hold out I can get it to drop even further.  But unless it comes down to “free” I’m not going to take him up on it.

So, now to scoring.  I had a hard time finding anything good, or correct, or valuable in their message.  I freely admit that I’m still no expert in Scientology, and I’m not likely to become one, because I’m not going to any of their numerous seminars.  I’m not going to read the book either.  I’ve heard enough.  Scientology is essentially bad psychology, faith healing, and exorcism wrapped up in a blanket of pseudo-scientific blither blather.  And it’s expensive.

But their facility is nice.

Being good to your fellow human: -1 (potentially harmful co-auditing)
Help your community: 0 (no mention)
Be good to yourself: -1 (potentially harmful auditing)
Good and timely advice: -1 (useless personality test)

Total -3

The only reason it’s not lower is they didn’t get around to talking about community.

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23 thoughts on “Church of Scientology, Seattle

  1. Fascinating. All I knew of scientology was that my friend couldn’t take Tylenol (in front of her parents) and Mr. Cruise’s rant against Brooke Shields depression. Both of which now seem like accurate bits of information. This is the most bizarre experience I have ever read in regards to a religion. Kudos to you for giving it a whirl.

    ” Scientology is essentially bad psychology, faith healing, and exorcism wrapped up in a blanket of pseudo-scientific blither blather.  And it’s expensive.”

    Nice.

  2. “But their facility is nice.” Oh dear…. It better be nice seeing how much you pay just for the first session…

    Do scientologists (is that the correct term for someone who practices Scientology? My spell-check doesn’t like it…) charge for every sermon or is it a one time deal?

    • They’re not really “sermons”… they’re seminars. And yes, I think they charge for each one. They also charge for “professional auditing” which is what I went through only with an E-Meter. Plus, they charge for classes… books… videos…

    • I hit “publish” when I meant to hit “preview” and accidentally published a page that’s not ready yet. I’ll publish it tomorrow 🙂

  3. I laughed and I laughed. Maybe I shouldn’t because I’m Mormon and plenty of folks equate us with the same level of quackery as Scientology. But the line about “Because babies can totally understand English, and can totally understand concepts like hating pregnancy and morning sickness, and you can totally remember that as an adult” caused tears to flow. My husband is going to love this!

  4. I waited until you completed your visit with Scientology before revealing that I had been involved with the church for more than twenty five years. Philosophy aside, the church has become quite corrupt and money motivated. There is now a faction of people who practice the subject, outside of the church, not unlike the Lutheran evolution. It was the corruption that opened my eyes to the exit door over five years ago.

    What I became involved with when I was much younger is nothing like what you see when you visit one today. It has taken me quite some time to get deprogrammed from it and I have just started to speak about my personal experiences, comparing them to what it was like back in the late 1970s. My blog focuses on what it is really like inside the church, spoken from someone who worked there, particularly in the area of “new introductions” to the subject. It is not intended to be sensational but is intended to be informative. I am writing to those people who are not part of Scientology but have been curious about checking it out and giving them a real world view of what happens inside. You’re welcome to peek if you wish.

    A few clarifications.

    There should be a free church service, every Sunday at approx 10 AM. The fact that you weren’t offered that is suspect. Though I don’t think this would have improved the scoring that you gave it.

    Any person who is being medically treated for depression should seek the advise of the physician before terminating any medication. Sudden discontinuation from such could result in serious harm to the person. It seems that the person handling your indoctrination glossed over quite a bit. Unfortunately the new era of Scientology is fond of using technology to replace human contact which really does not have the same effect.

    I have gained a lot of life tools as a result of Scientology so I am not necessarily a naysayer but I do not currently participate in any active role. I do want to fore warn others who might venture that way by giving them some of my insight in terms of the organization.

    I did want to let you know that if you gave your address and phone number to them they will send you MOUNTAINS of mail for centuries to come and they will call you to join in their upcoming events and seminars. If you don’t want to be called, please follow up immediately and tell them to remove you from their lists The person who is in charge of the new person addresses is the Director of Public Contact. They will try to “handle” your concerns. Do this very soon as these lists have a habit of multiplying quickly and it will be impossible to track them all down at some future time. As far as your address is concerned, if you didn’t spend any money for anything such as books, tapes, etc. then you should be okay. If you did purchase something you will be put on a mailing list. To prevent this from happening just send in a written request to that specific organization to have your address removed. Your postman will appreciate you for doing so.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. I was right, my husband loved this completely. He read several posts if not all for quite a while last night. That subtle, wry sense of humor of yours is laser-guided right to our funny bones. I think I understand part of what makes this blog so successful. You seem to have no agenda, no big point to prove other than the journey, curiosity and the experiment itself. It’s pretty clean. That’s what makes it feel like “fresh air” when I first read your Mormon episode.

  6. Ultimately, all Scientology is about is the money. No other “religion” has you pay to learn what their doctrine is. It was set up as a religion by L. Ron Hubbard to get tax exempt status.

    The whole cult is a matter of seduction, isolation, and redefinition of terms. For instance, they will tell you that they are the most ethical people in the universe, but being ethical means doing what they want you to do. If your family takes a stand against the “Church” of Scientology, you are to disconnect from them and have nothing to do with them. That is only the tip of the iceberg.

    The biography of L.Ron Hubbard promulgated by the “church” is a fiction, and there are public documents to prove it.

    With the growth of the internet, the lies of this fake religion are easily exposed. The oldest site, dedicated to exposing it is xenu dot net (also known as Operation Clambake), and, but you want to catch up on the latest news about the cult, read TonyOrtega dot org.

    Anonymous went after Scientology because it tried to control the internet and to censor what was said about it. The nuttiness of Tom Cruise about psychiatry and drugs is only the tip of the iceberg. (Remember when he attacked Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants for her postpartum depression?)

    There are some popular, books to read on Scientology. Going Clear by Lawrence Wright is an exploration of its tie-in with celebrity. Bare Faced Messiah, written some time ago and available free on xenu dot net discusses the history and lies of L. Ron Hubbard, based on freedom of information act documents, as well as his own papers. Another book, written by the current leader’s niece, Jenna Miscavage Hill, who grew up in the “church” exposes its exploitation of children and its followers in general. You can’t help but get angry upon reading it.

    There are articles available online, such as an interview with L. Ron Hubbard Jr. that was published in Penthouse, for instance, that expose his father’s greed. (It’s also available through Operation Clambake).

    The good news is that the cult is failing. The estimates are that there are only about 15,000 members left, in spite of their claims of “the world’s fastest growing religion.”

    The simple fact that when you went in, there were few people there is a good sign. I believe that if you go in subsequent times, you’ll find that it is largely empty. The bad news is that the “church” has accumulated billions of dollars that are controlled by its current leader, David Miscavage, and they are not hesitant to use a “fair game” policy where they attack anyone they consider an enemy or “suppressive person” by any means possible, and they use the courts to file lawsuit after lawsuit to harass them.

    • Well, since the Secretary of Field Operations has unfriended me on Facebook, and nobody returns my emails anymore, I have a feeling that I’m not welcome. They’ve almost certainly found my blog.

      • That is typical. Read up on “fair game” policy. You’re lucky that you didn’t piss them off. The former #2 man in the “church,” Marty Rathbun left, and he’s gotten the full treatment. His wife, who was never in the church is now suing them because they’ve been harassing her and Marty. They even sent a dildo to her place of work and flowers and a love note to one of her co-workers, as if she wanted to have a relationship with her. The demonstrated in the street in front of their house for almost 200 days, wearing shirts with the term “squirrel busters” on it, and rented a nearby house so they could surveille the couple, with cameras pointed at their house.

        They have, to other people who’ve left, distributed flyers saying that the person was a pedophile, and numerous other dirty tricks.

        As one wag put it, “They’d litigate a turd if they didn’t like it.” They sued and put the Cult Awareness Network out of business because of the massive legal bills, bought the name in bankruptcy, and now operate a website under that name.

        BTW, I’m an atheist and the son of a preacher.

      • Well, I don’t advertise in advance which churches I’m going to visit any more because someone is calling them and tipping them off, and telling them that I’m dangerous. It could just be a random reader, but it could also be the guys at the Seattle Ideal Org.

      • It’s not a matter of letting them know in advance, it’s writing something that really pisses them off, like my post, or if you’d demonstrated in front of their business (that’s really what it is). They get pissed the most at people who leave. The latest is Leah Remini, co-star of The King of Queens. Because of the church’s disconnection policy, she got her whole family to leave, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to talk to her or communicate in any way.

        They probably haven’t gone after her with fair game because she’s so high profile and she could REALLY make them look bad. All her friends from Co$ (my abbreviation for the Church of $cientology) have been required to stop talking to her. The most vicious person, who wasn’t close, has been Kirstie Alley.

        Leah also hasn’t said much about leaving, but he sister has.

        The “Ideal Orgs” are a concept of David Miscavage. They don’t pull in many new people.

      • No, I mean that when I visit non-Scientology churches, if I have announced in advance where I’m going, somebody calls them and warns them, and lies to them telling them that I’m dangerous. It’s happened twice so far.

      • The danger from Co$ is after you’ve said or done something that’s perfectly legal, but they don’t like.

        They hate reporters, because they tend to ask questions.

        Somebody considers you dangerous.

        Have you hit the Unitarian Universalist Church? There’s a lot of atheists there. Sorry, gotta run, so if you reply, you won’t hear from me for a while.

    • I think the estimates are more like 30,000 Scientologists left worldwide, 40,000 tops. 15,000 is a little low – although there’s no doubt that this is the direction they’re heading.

      Among other fantastic books to check out “Let’s Sell These People A Piece of Blue Sky” by Jon Atack (that quote is direct from Hubbard, describing his “long con” approach ) and Marc Headley’s harrowing escape from Scientology tome, “Blown For Good.”

      For the gripping, jaw-dropping day-to-day soap opera of Scientology’s downfall (happening right now, in real time, because it’s leader David Miscavige seems to have gone quite mad), read tonyortega.org.

      Make no mistake about it – It’s a pyramid scheme, a mind-control cult, and a blemish on society. With some useful self-help tools in the early levels (but likely not any more useful than “real” therapy, and Scientology is ultimately far MORE expensive than therapy, if you’re going to do the whole “Bridge to Total Enslavement ” – er, “Freedom”).

      Mark was more than fair to them in this (very amusing) review! Great blog!

      • Hi PI, You know me as Missionary Kid over at the Bunker. Estimates are all over the place. Possibly Mike Rinder or Marty Rathbun might know how to figure out an accurate number, but things are changing rapidly.for Co$ – in a downward direction. Scientology is so secretive about membership that it can be tough to estimate exactly how many there are.

        Earlier this week, I would have said that the 30K number was about right, but I got estimates as low as 12K from some of the Bunker people because of the low turnout at the different orgs. In any event, the collapse of this evil organization is proceeding rapidly as people are starting to wake up, and the total number of Scientologists is, to use a favorite expression of theirs, “orders of magnitude” lower than the “millions” that they declare are members.

  7. Your review is spot-on. Excellent, I really enjoyed it!

    I am an EX-scientologist and was in involved with Scientology for many years. It has taken me many years of being un-involved to recover my critical thinking skills, and to finally gain the courage to speak out about my experiences inside this cult. Scientology goes under the guise of a “church” and under the cloak of a “religion”. It is IMHO, a dangerous cult that brainwashes its members in order to take their money.

    One main thing I have discovered in doing all my own research (anyone can easily do their own on the internet), is that there is a lot more being said regarding the dangerousness, lies, deceit, money-grubbing, and abuses; decades running, about Scientology. The “church” of Scientology does not presently say much about any good it’s doing in the world, but instead tries to annihilate opposition. Resources on the internet and in print all point out that this has been a pattern for the church since its inception (since 1950ish). The pattern parallels the inherent paranoid schizophrenic aspect of the personality of Scientology’s founder (L. Ron Hubbard), and its current leader (David Miscavige). The other thing I have noticed in my research is that all the stories, experiences, investigative reporting, memoirs, and so on – all jive with each other. The stories resemble my own personal story as well.

    FYI, I came to this blog from a link in the comments of one of the articles at Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker.

      • The mention of deceptive ads by Scientology on Craigslist that disguise their true origin led one of the people to Seattle, and in turn somehow to your blog. You were complimented because you saw through Scientology’s weird smoke screen. I’ve never been a scientologist, but I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian sect.

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