The God Conundrum: Scientology
LOS ANGELES CA (RPRN) 4/30/09--In the breakthrough documentary â€œScientology: Inside the Cultâ€ shot in the mid-90s, filmmakers in Britain explore a curiously growing religion based on the writings of a man known best for his works of fiction. A religion that many consider to be a cult. No doubt Scientology is sprouting up with a vengeance; especially with the helping hand of Hollywood star Tom Cruise, a devout Scientologist for the last 20 years. But heâ€™s not the only one. Actor Giovanni Ribisi and his sister Marissa are supposedly members of the church. â€œDharma and Gregâ€ actress Jenna Elfman is reportedly a follower. So is actress Leah Remini of the hit TV show, â€œThe King of Queens.â€ It is speculated that Juliette Lewis and Will Smith belong to the church. And the list goes on.
Armed with a hidden camera to record her findings, a journalist named Ally Davis learns how to outsmart even lie detector tests to safely make her way inside the esoteric archways of a religion that has swept Hollywood and beyond.
Upon arriving in London, Ally finds an undercover street petitioner drawing pedestrians into the Scientology office under the guise of a â€œpersonality survey,â€ which is how most believers are taken into the inner circle. After 40 minutes the petitioner admits to Ally that he works for the Church of Scientology. By this point, she has already followed him into their offices, a storefront where further tests are offered. Later, Ally will be prompted to spend thousands of pounds on tests, even prodded about inheritance money. She will undergo security checks and be arrested for stealing materials from the center. Turns out, Ally is not the only one with a camera.
The late Vaughn Young, L. Ron Hubbardâ€™s PR person for 20 years said this, â€œHubbard literally had a plan for world conquest. He actually, literally wanted to take over the world. But he had to put it into other terms. And the term he came up with was to â€˜clear the planet.â€™ And this sounds like a very beneficent action â€“ weâ€™re going to clear the planet â€“ which means rid it of its problems. But really it was more of a case like, like a Hitler that he wants to rid the planet of vermin. And the vermin are the people that are stopping him. And these were basically the enemies of Scientology.â€
During his lifetime, science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard claimed to be a nuclear physicist, explorer and war hero. Sunday Times journalist, Russell Miller exposed Hubbardâ€™s alleged facades in his book â€œBare Faced Messiah.â€
â€œRon Hubbard was a charlatan, a liar, a thief. He invented his whole life. He invented a career to substantiate himself as a guru for the Church of Scientology,â€ Miller says.
In 1968 Hubbard was banned from Britain and went sailing. Hubbard and his followers went by the name, â€œThe Sea Organization,â€ running the religion from a ship for five years. This name would stick, later describing the groupâ€™s most elite membership. After spending inordinate amounts of money, undercover journalist Ally Davis met members of this high-reaching sect of the church, where membership includes signing a â€œbillion year contract.â€
When Ron Hubbard died in 1986, he left the Church of Scientology $650M, propelling it into the multi-million dollar empire it is now.
There are many allegations about how Scientology makes money off its members. Some of these tactics include mind exercises like staring into the eyes of another person for over an hour at a time; or exposing traumatic incidences to a ranking member of the church.
One former member of the Scientology claims that after a church-enforced exercise where he stared into the eyes of another member for an hour and a half, he was taken upstairs to a registrar and asked to sign over his bank information. At this point the church had permission to withdraw funds from his account. He declares the amount taken by the church exceeded $20,000.
Another technique is what Scientologists call â€œAuditingâ€ where a member is forced to repeatedly recount a traumatic event they have suffered to the exercise leader. This particular sequence caused the undercover journalist to feel â€œeuphoricâ€ and â€œhigh,â€ as though she had been released from something.
Cult expert Jim Siegelman asserts, â€œWhen they are shutting down the mind systematically, when they are shutting down emotions systematically, people will experience a kind of ecstasy by default as we call it. There will be a release of some kind of a pressure and they will feel this as a psychological high.â€
While on this â€˜highâ€™ journalist Ally Davis is taken to buy more courses.
She reports that sessions are also held late at night, after the center has closed.
Siegelman and his wife have studied cults for over 20 years. He contends that Scientology has the worst long term effects. â€œPeople who come out of this group report to us very high levels of amnesia, memory loss, of insomnia, of disorientation, of hallucinations and delusions, of perceptions of bewildering psychic experiences that will plague themâ€¦for up to 12 years after they leave the group.â€
One member claims he experienced â€œsuicidal depressionâ€ while trying to leave Scientology.
Even founder L. Ron Hubbardâ€™s son has left the church after being second in command for ten years, claiming his father was a â€œliar,â€ and that the main interest was money.
For a group that independent cult experts claim has the most â€œeffectiveâ€ recruiting tactics and the most damaging effects on its members, one canâ€™t help but wonder: what are the plusses? People like John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley and even the late Sonny Bono have been influenced by the teachings of Scientology. Kirstie Alley concedes that â€œwithout Scientology, I would be dead.â€
Discovering the benefits of this fairly new belief system, however, is challenging. Scientology claims â€œit improves life in a troubled world.â€ An interesting assessment considering that they â€œdo not approve of open discussionsâ€ of their beliefs (referred to as â€œtechnologiesâ€) according to reports. Alternately, the church keeps excruciatingly detailed information on their members, forcing them to reveal all sexual encounters and anything prospective members feel is noteworthy, embarrassing, or moreover, indicting. This information, it has been alleged, is later used by the church to harass, humiliate, or worse, blackmail those that decide to leave the group.
According to the documentary, Scientology regards journalists as enemies, as â€œsuppressive peopleâ€ who they are â€œagainst.â€ The church also encourages members to â€œdo anything necessary to destroy, deter or discreditâ€ their critics, as part of whatâ€™s called the â€œFair Game Doctrine.â€
Perhaps then, some more digging will be necessary to find out just what, exactly, the lure is. In the meantime ponder thisâ€¦In the words of the late Lafayette Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, â€œIf you want to make a little money, write a book. If you want to make a lot of money, create a religion.â€