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LMT 2000 LITERATI CONTEST
Essays by Scientologists
by Stacy Brooks
President, Lisa McPherson Trust
We received eleven essays written by Scientologists, and we thoroughly reviewed their essays along with all of the others in determining who would win. While the judges did not feel that any of the Scientologists' essays were good enough to award them a prize, we do want to recognize their efforts and present a sampling of their work in the hope that their contributions will serve to shed light on the issues we at the LMT are trying to resolve.
These Scientologists really do believe what they have been told by OSA about why I left Scientology, why Vaughn Young left, why Jesse Prince left, why Peter Alexander, Arnie Lerma, Monica Pignotti, Mark Plummer, Marjorie Wakefield, Hana and Jerry Whitfield, and all of the former members who are now critics of Scientology left. They really do believe that we are lying about what happened. They believe that we all committed such horrific crimes that we were compelled by our own innate goodness to leave Scientology in order to protect Scientology from our evil selves. This is what they have been told, and they believe it, because to believe otherwise would raise too many questions that cannot be asked, and certainly cannot be answered.
But there is a more disturbing aspect of this situation. It is a perspective that John Carmichael, an OSA operative in New York, voiced to me at a conference back in 1998.
John and I used to be very good friends when we were both in the Guardian's Office and later OSA. Our friendship was based on the fact that neither of us was willing to agree to all of the capricious and often abusive orders that used to rain down upon us from upper management. I spent many hours trying to recruit John into the Sea Org so that he could be promoted to the upper management levels of OSA, but he always steadfastly refused to subject himself to what he considered to be the degraded lifestyle of the Sea Org.
I had known John from 1978 until 1989, when Vaughn and I finally escaped from the Sea Org. Now I was seeing John again for the first time since I had left, nearly ten years later. Remember, John and I had been very good friends.
We saw each other in the lobby of the hotel where the conference was being held. We were both glad to see each other after such a long time. But John was clearly torn between being glad to see his friend and worried about what I was doing.
"Stacy! You shouldn't be doing this!" he said to me.
"But John," I replied, "you know as well as I do that there are things going on in Scientology that have to be changed."
"But you have to make the changes from inside, Stacy! You shouldn't be talking about these things outside of Scientology."
John and I ended up talking for an hour about this. His point was that no matter how bad things had gotten for me I should have found a way to correct them as a Scientologist in good standing. My point was that I tried everything I could think of to correct things as a Scientologist, but there was no way to make the changes that needed to be made when the people who were perpetrating the abuses were the most senior Scientologists in the organization. So the only thing to do was to leave Scientology and try to stop the abuse from outside the organization.
John couldn't accept this at all. No matter how bad things were, nothing could justify airing Scientology's dirty laundry to wogs. That was the bottom line, and nothing I said could get John to change his mind about that.
John got in a lot of trouble for having such a long conversation with me. The next time I saw him, a month later, he wouldn't even look at me. He held his hands up in front of his face, as if he would turn to salt if he saw me, and he said, "I can't talk to you, Stacy!" He hasn't been willing to speak to me since then.
I often thought about that conversation with John Carmichael while I read the essays submitted by Scientologists.
Not one of the Scientologists expresses any interest whatsoever in finding out more about the abuse described by former Scientologists like me. None of them expresses any interest in finding out what kind of harassment Bob Minton has been subjected to. In fact, they don't express an interest in finding out if there is truth to any of the things critics of Scientology have to say.
It is this willful and deliberate ignorance and refusal to look at any negative information about Scientology that bewilders and frustrates the critics. As I read the Scientologists' essays I finally realized why this situation cannot resolve. It is inherent in the Scientology mindset.
It is not the nature of a critic's past activities that makes him or her a criminal. It is the fact of being a public critic of Scientology. The crime is being publicly critical of Scientology. If Bob Minton were a wealthy public Scientologist paying for services on the Freewinds and making donations to the Super Power Building, IAS, WISE, ABLE, and The Way To Happiness Foundation, his business dealings with Nigeria would be the subject of endless articles in the WISE magazines about his "successful actions" and Bob would be a celebrity, given the red carpet treatment.
But because he is publicly critical, he is targeted for destruction, and Scientologists see nothing wrong with this because to destroy a perceived enemy of Scientology is the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics. In the Scientology ethics system it is not the particular act that determines whether one is ethical or not. It is whether one is acting in the best interests of Scientology. If the action is going to help Scientology, it is ethical. If it is going to hurt Scientology, that very same action is unethical.
This is the danger of the Scientology system, that what is ethical or moral is defined only within the system itself, as though anything outside of the system is expendable. This is why non-Scientologists perceive it as dangerous, and this is why Scientologists cannot see the danger. Tory Bezazian's analogy to the film, The Truman Show, is extremely helpful in explaining this phenomenon to non-Scientologists. Only that which is in the "show" is reality, just as only that which is within the Scientology system is real. Outside the show nothing exists, just as for a Scientologist the wog world does not exist as a viable option for the future. What it amounts to for a Scientologist is this: for better or worse, the Scientology system is all there is, so I'd better make the best of it.
I found Maureen O'Keefe's essay to be the most illustrative, albeit inadvertently, of the Scientology mindset.
Maureen states that "One's conclusions are only as good as the data on which they are based. Faulty data never leads to an accurate conclusion. Accurate conclusions are vital to successfully solve the problems posed by life." Yet she is unwilling to accept the possibility that she is forming opinions and coming to conclusions about critics based on faulty data that she is being given by her Scientology sources. She is unwilling to consider the possibility that her conclusions might be wrong because that would not be the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics.
It would not be good for Scientology for the information being made available by the critics to be true. Therefore, it is false.
In another paragraph Maureen states: "The ability to think for oneself and act in accordance with the dictates of one's own conscience requires that a person be able to be responsible. When a member of any group merely does what he is told, he is not being responsible - he is being a robot. When a member of any group becomes incapable of making decisions based on his own observations and feels he must do exactly as his superiors wish whether he agrees or not, that person ceased taking responsibility for himself and his group at a much earlier date."
This is a breathtaking example of the kind of denial the Scientology system engenders in its members. This is exactly what Maureen and other Scientologists are doing - they have set aside their own critical thinking skills in favor of the privilege of being a member of Scientology. Maureen cannot use her own observations to make decisions because the decisions she would make would be contrary to the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics. If she were to base her conclusions on her own observations Maureen would be forced to find fault with Scientology and this is not permissible. She has no choice but to do exactly as her superiors wish whether she agrees or not. Therefore, she agrees.
The irony is that it was exactly for this reason that I left Scientology. I was not able to think for myself and form my own conclusions without finding myself in grave danger of psychological, emotional and physical harm. I was faced with a choice: either continue to put myself in danger by acting in accordance with the dictates of my own conscience, or cease taking responsibility for myself and my group and start doing exactly as I was told by my superiors. The only way I could see to take responsibility for myself and my group was to leave it and seek help elsewhere to bring about the ethical and moral changes I saw needed to be made.
This is what I am continuing to do to this day, yet Maureen and her fellow Scientologists cannot accept this. It cannot be true that my leaving Scientology was an ethical decision on my part. It cannot be true because it would be bad for Scientology; therefore, it is false. What if Maureen began to take responsibility for the things she sees within Scientology that are not ethical? What would happen to the life she has so carefully and painstakingly created for herself?
In another section of Maureen's essay she takes up the subject of ethics directly. It is in this section that the hypocrisy of the Scientology mindset is most clearly illuminated.
After explaining the eight dynamics, Maureen states: "People… place different importance on different dynamics. We are surrounded by examples every day. How about the man who abandons his wife and children to take up with a prostitute just because she inflates his ego and makes him feel important. This man would be said to have a stronger urge toward survival on the First Dynamic than he had on his Second Dynamic. Because his actions are destructive to his family and himself, sooner or later, he will experience the same pain he has caused his family…. In a decaying society as we find here in the United States at this writing, far too many people are interested solely in their first dynamic. The result is the increasing divorce rate, crime and other social ills. A person who only cares about himself is on the way out, for life to be lived to its fullest requires active participation on and responsibility for all eight dynamics."
Here is another instance of utter denial on the part of a Scientologist for what Scientology itself is doing.
What about the woman who contacted me at the LMT several months ago, desperate because she had lost her husband to Scientology? They had been married for nearly twenty years and had had a wonderful relationship. They had two teenage daughters and a really happy family. Then he did a management seminar and soon began disappearing for months at a time to take Scientology services. He emptied their bank account, used all the credit on their credit cards, didn't pay their taxes and put them in debt to the IRS by nearly $100,000.00. When she told him she was worried about their finances, her husband became very angry and told her to stop criticizing Scientology. When she told him their daughters missed their father and wondered what had happened to him, he threatened to disconnect from her if she said anything bad about Scientology to their children.
The woman called me after she discovered that her husband had become a staff member at a Scientology organization. She told me he had gotten the family into nearly $200,000.00 debt and she was stunned that any organization would allow someone to treat their family the way he was treating his. She said she had written several reports and had had several phone calls with Scientologists trying to sort this out, but it was just getting worse and worse. She asked what I thought she should do. Although Scientologists like Maureen will probably not believe this, I advised the woman to write a Knowledge Report to the proper people within Scientology, because, I told her, it is off-policy in Scientology for anyone to be recruited on staff when they have such terrible debts. If the proper people in Scientology found out what had happened, I told her, they would ensure that her husband took responsibility for the debts.
To my surprise, no one did anything at all. The woman again asked what she should do and I told her to write another report, this time cc'ing me at the LMT to let Scientology know that she was in touch with me. The woman did this, and only then was her husband ordered off staff to handle his debts. But he also told his wife he wanted a divorce because she was antagonistic to Scientology for having gotten in touch with the LMT. Now Scientologists like Maureen are calling Bob Minton a hate monger and the LMT a hate group. Why? Because we are trying to help people who have been treated the way this woman was by Scientology?
Is this what Maureen calls ethical behavior? Yet within Scientology, this is indeed considered ethical. It is ethical for this man to run up huge debts for his family as long as the money is going toward Scientology services. But it is unethical for this man to remain with his wife and children if they are critical of Scientology.
This is only one example of the kinds of calls we get at the LMT every day. Scientologists like Maureen do not believe this; they think I am lying about this. Of course, I am not lying. But Maureen must believe that I am a liar because if I were telling the truth, it would open the door to the possibility that other information being made available by Scientology critics is true. Therefore, it is false.
In another paragraph of Maureen's essay she talks about the good works Scientologists do for the community: "For instance, for the past three years I have personally organized the Christmas Food Drive at the Church in Boston for the benefit of the Sandown Food Pantry. This community project ensures that the children of needy families in Sandown, New Hampshire are provided with, amongst other things, healthy nutritious snacks in school. As it is hard for a child to learn when he is hungry or improperly nourished, the donations from the Food Drive seeks to help these children get a better education."
This is a stunning example of the cynicism and hypocrisy of Scientology's dealings with what they call the "wog world," or the world outside of Scientology.
Sandown, New Hampshire is the town where Bob Minton lives. For the past three years Maureen has been in charge of a harassment campaign against Bob in Sandown. Maureen has organized several mailings to the approximately 4,000 citizens of Sandown and has herself written at least one letter that has been sent to all the citizens of Sandown. All of the fliers and letters have been derogatory about Bob and Bob has received many phone calls from his neighbors sympathizing with him about being the target of such a hate campaign by Scientology. The reason Maureen started her Sandown Food Pantry project was that many of the citizens of Sandown complained to the Scientology organization in Boston about the fliers that were being sent to them. Maureen's food drive is an effort to correct the bad public relations she created by her campaign of character assassination against Bob Minton in his New Hampshire hometown.
Maureen concludes her essay with a suggestion for how the conflict between Scientology and its critics can be resolved: "Now the simplest way to put an end to the matter is for those attacking Scientology to just decide to stop attacking and stop. As L. Ron Hubbard clearly stated in an article entitled "Critics of Scientology: 'If you will leave us alone we will leave you alone.'…."
She leaves out the most important part of that quote, so let me make it available to you here:
"We are slowly and carefully teaching the unholy a lesson. It is as follows: 'We are not a law enforcement agency. BUT we will become interested in the crimes of people who seek to stop us. If you oppose Scientology we promptly look up - and will find and expose - your crimes. If you leave us along we will leave you alone.'
"It's very simple. Even a fool can grasp that.
"And don't underrate our ability to carry it out."
I don't think there is a better quote by L. Ron Hubbard for showing the true motive for attacking people who criticize Scientology. As I said earlier, the Scientologists' essays have been very instrumental in revealing the real source of concern for critics of Scientology.
This is how a Scientologist justifies refusing to look at the critics' data: It would not be good for Scientology for the information being made available by the critics to be true. Therefore, it is false.
What the Scientologists seem to be saying is this: A person who has never been in Scientology cannot possibly know anything about it. A person who has left Scientology cannot possibly be telling the truth about it. The only valid source of information about Scientology is a Scientologist in good standing.
But if a Scientologist is unwilling or unable to look at both sides of the issue, then how can a Scientologist be a valid source of information? The truth is that any serious critic of Scientology who has honestly analyzed the data on both sides knows more about Scientology and understands it more thoroughly than any current Scientologist. Furthermore, Scientologists who decide to evaluate the information on both sides of the Scientology issue inevitably decide to leave the organization because they do not want to be part of it once they see it for what it really is.
One of the essays this year was submitted by Rick Sherwood, who said he has been in Scientology for forty years. He began his essay with an attack on the LMT as a hate group and continued with the following: "I am entering this contest to keep the contest honest and in the hope that the Lisa McPherson Trust will select at least one winning piece unlike those this same contest awarded substantial money awards to last year. Those essays were by people who had never been Scientologists, who knew nothing firsthand about Scientology, and who were bound and determined to make the religion of Scientology the target of ridicule and hurtful actions."
This is a perfect example of how a Scientologist is fed wholesale falsehoods and accepts them as truth without bothering to inspect or verify the information at all. The winners of the Literati Contest last year were Joe Cisar, Scott Mayer and Arnie Lerma, all long-term former Scientologists who have spent many years struggling to come to terms with their own experiences as Scientologists.
It is time for Scientologists to demand the truth and take their heads out of the sand about the abuse and deceit being perpetrated on a daily basis by their organization.
[The essays are being formatted and will be posted when done.]