All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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Sent to the inFormer.
To the Editor:
Few occasions of child abuse and other violation of persons committed by scientology are unambiguous or dramatic enough to make good press. The sheer difficulty of understanding and describing what happened contributes to the silence of ex-members which leaves the cult free to go on harming others.
I offer here a very ordinary story in which ex-members may recognize some part of how one goes about being a scientologist.
As a public person, not on staff, I once took my son of junior high age to the local mission for a few introductory courses. He hated it, despised the coercive environment, and had nothing more to do with scientology.
In retrospect, what I find interesting are my own self-deceptions and rationalizations around those events. On some level I must have known quite well that scientology was no fit place for a kid.
I had been to LA and seen the Cadet Org — unattended babies crawling on urine-soaked carpets — and heard the rationalizations. I knew many parents who considered themselves "responsible" because they "did scientology" but in fact had no real relation with their kids (or spouse).
Rather than face the reality of my son's very sane perceptions and response, I found within-the-system ways to rationalize what was happening: my son didn't like it "because the course supervisor violated policy and changed the check sheet during the course.
He didn't like it because it was a manipulative, suppressive environment of lies. My complicity interposed a barrier of falseness between us and held it there for several years. The group-think suggested other things for me to think, easy ways to avoid facing the obvious truth. At the same time, I was trying to make it work with my wife who had become a gung-ho scientologist. I was insufficiently "on purpose" (always), and getting my son on course was a response to those pressures. While trying so earnestly and inadequately to be a legitimate group member, I did not want to understand what my son was experiencing. It did not fit with what I wanted to believe.
This is but one example of a "truth vs. certainty" situation which, in this case, left my son out in the cold. Countless such situations over the years made it equally impossible to understand or deal with issues in my marriage. I can only give one side of that story, but in my opinion there was a mental health problem, initially not severe, a manic-depressive tendency manipulated and exacerbated by scientologists in the course of entrapping my wife in the cult — as she used the cult's delusions to evade facing her own situation.
The manic tendencies found support and approval — provided they were voiced in a group-submissive manner (fanaticism). In the same devil's bargain, her submission purchased cajolery, flattery, and distraction through the depressive times which always remained the terror that kept her facing straight ahead and quiet.
Thus, the real problems were never faced and what she might have achieved in life was distracted and lost.
There was no way for either of us to honestly face what was happening because everything had to be understood in terms of the shallow self-serving "answers" of scientology. The only solution to any problem somehow always involved giving money to the cult — a "solution" that led nowhere but deeper into the trap.
I became more and more incompetent and vicious in this environment where nothing was real but I was supposed to believe that it was. Inarticulately lashing out against this paralysis of what abilities I actually possessed, I did things to myself and others which, today, I cringe to recall. From this experience, I can well believe that scientology was Hubbard's revenge on a world which he saw as his enemy.
I believe much of the harm done by scientology is of this sort — not high drama, but long-term distraction and impairment of ability to relate to others in a real way. There *is* harm in the things one must do within oneself to avoid seeing the lies, to believe such nonsense. The thought process gets damaged. The real issues of personal growth get evaded. The justifications become as real as anything else.
My impasse was finally resolved with a divorce, and I was out of scientology in the same instant. Finally the long process of recovery could begin for me.
My son and I are OK now, though neither of us can forget those years when I failed him in a major way.
There are two younger kids at risk now — joint custody with a mother still in the cult. I will not remain silent, so we will see, sooner or later, what respect the cult and its adherents really have for First Amendment rights.
l am prepared for legal action if cult influence becomes a problem in their lives, but the kids are a day older with each day that passes without such ugliness. Thus the inFormer has my permission to print this but without my name. If anyone wants to contact me, do so via the inFormer.
OT V, Father of III
Thanks for writing the clearly heart breaking story.
Rev. Dennis L Erlich
See also: Scientology and children