Go back to main Scientology in Canada page
This is a radio show that was done in Victoria, BC, on August 12th, 1997. People on the show:
Neil Kelly: Producer Howie Siegel: Host Gerry Armstrong: Studio Guest Richard: 1st caller Greg Erwin: Phone-in guest; Humanist Association of Canada Paul Grosswald: Phone-in guest; New Jersey Cult Information Service [note: Paul does not represent the CIS of New Jersey] Martin Hunt: Studio Guest Mary: 2nd caller
Greg Erwin has a Humanist Association of Canada webpage up at:http://magi.com/~hac/hac.html, and can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Neil Kelly: Good afternoon; it's AM 900, 384-0900 Siegel, and Howie, who do we have on today?
Howie Siegel: Well, we have you on, Neil. Neil Kelly, as always; and thank God for Neil. Folks, a few weeks ago we did our only serious show; it was on Scientology, and without a doubt, as best as I can judge these things, it was the most sensationally received show. People are still talking about it. The entire transcript went on the Internet, courtesy of Martin Hunt who's in the studio with us today. Later on we're going to be talking to Gregg Owen of the Humanist Association of Canada, and Paul Grosswald from the Cult Information Service in New Jersey. This is the follow-up to that show that we did on Scientology. A few weeks ago we brought Scientologists on the air and we talked with them about their beliefs, and then we contrasted those beliefs with others who were disenamoured of Scientology and we tried to get a dialogue going. We tried to bring some light and some air to the situation. At the end of that show, in fact for several years now, I've considered Scientology to be a very dangerous endeavour. I believe it is a cult; I believe the people who do practice it are brainwashed. Now, these are very indefinite terms, very difficult to define. But what I mean to say mostly is that the thousands of ex-practitioners of Scientology seem to walk around haunted, intimidated, frightened, and certainly impoverished by their experiences with Scientology. Now these are my beliefs. I've brought into the studio today two gentlemen who have had real experiences with Scientology; Martin Hunt, the aforementioned Martin Hunt living in Victoria now was a Scientologist in 1988 and 1989. Martin's expertise is the Internet now; he conducts a fulsome, spirited and wonderful battle against Scientology on the Internet; and, all the way from Vancouver, ex-Scientologist Gerry Armstrong. Gerry Armstrong was born in Chilliwack, and he is one of the, Scientologist's greatest enemies, at least that is how he is perceived by Scientology as a great enemy, he is an ex-Scientologist. Gerry, thank you for coming over from the Mainland.
Gerry Armstrong: My pleasure.
Howie Siegel: I'm glad you're here; and Gerry, I really think this is going to be your show.
Gerry Armstrong: OK.
Howie Siegel: So, let's just start from the very beginning. You're from Chilliwack, and you're about my age, you're a baby boomer. You're in good shape; you told me you're a runner now. I expected to see a much more elderly gentleman, and then I realized of course you're much younger than me. Tell us about you're experiences with Scientology.
Gerry Armstrong: I really takes...there are two major sections to it. First is my 12 1/2 years inside the organization, and then it's been some 16 years outside the organization. I got involved in 1969 in Vancouver, and soon after that I flew to Los Angeles and joined what was called the Sea Organization.
Howie Siegel: Let's go a little slower.
Gerry Armstrong: OK.
Howie Siegel: You're walking down the street in Vancouver in 1969.
Gerry Armstrong: Well, actually a friend in Chilliwack came back with stories of the wonders of Scientology, and I talked to him for a couple of weeks, hung out with him a lot, read a couple of books, and then walked into the, what we called then a franchise, Scientology Little Mountain in Vancouver on Main Street. So then I did some courses, worked for little a bit, moved from Chilliwack down to Vancouver, got a job in a cheese factory, made a few bucks, plunked down my money and bought some auditing, bought some courses in Scientology, and then...
Howie Siegel: When you say auditing and courses in Scientology, at least in the very, very early stages more like psychological tests, personality profiles, that kind of stuff? Give us an example for people who are absolutely unaware of Scientology. What would be the average come-on?
Gerry Armstrong: The initial course, which I took, was what's called a Communication Course, and I was a young guy at the time and having trouble with communication, and that's what they sell: you can have the ability to communicate with people; you can get a better job, have a great life, that sort of thing. It's a sales pitch in communication, and so that initially was a mere $40, perhaps, and went on for, I guess, three weeks, a couple nights a week, and you sit and look at someone else, and then you learn how to deliver a communication to someone else, and you learn how to acknowledge that communication, and then you learn how to not be thrown off with comments that are made to you, derogatory comments or efforts to make you laugh, and then you have learned in the course of doing this over a period of time the basic what's called the auditor's comm cycle, the communication cycle of Scientology which is basic to all Scientology psychotherapy; auditing is really psychotherapy. It's a branch of psychology; they call it a religion but it is in fact a branch and perhaps the worst of all the branches of psychology. You're primed, in this initial course, for then going on to the processing or auditing - psychological processing of Scientology which all Scientologists go through.
Howie Siegel: Now, not withstanding the fact that these people may not be qualified to psychoanalyze anybody, much less you, much less their dog...there's no science-fiction at this point, there are no concepts that are too far...difficult to swallow. It's pretty standard psychological stuff at this stage?
Gerry Armstrong: What you're involved in is pretty psychological standard stuff; however there is a science-fiction undercurrent to the whole operation. You are promised great powers; at Clear you will be at cause over matter, energy, space and time. You will reach a height of human ability beyond anything conceivable - anything that had ever been attained before. And, you will encounter people who claim to have these great abilities, and you read material, you read success stories in Scientology of people who can do these wonderful things with these fantastic abilities. So that is there; it underlies all of Scientology from the beginning.
Howie Siegel: OK; very clear. We're talking to Gerry Armstrong, an ex-Scientologist, considered now to be one of Scientology's greatest enemies, and Gerry is talking about his early experiences in 1969 when he first became attracted to Scientology in Chilliwack. At this point, you travelled to Los Angeles?
Gerry Armstrong: Right. I was recruited into what's called the Sea Organization, which still exists to day, and the recruits are required to sign, of all things, a billion-year contract. So that by the time that I left Vancouver at the beginning of 1971, I had essentially bought the whole package, and I had sold my soul to Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard.
Howie Siegel: But this was after two years?
Gerry Armstrong: This was after a little over a year and a half.
Howie Siegel: Would that be unusual that you would go into what they call the Sea Organization which was were Hubbard actually ran Scientology, correct? From a fleet of ships?
Gerry Armstrong: Right.
Howie Siegel: Would that be unusual that you would be recruited after a year and a half to go up to the highest organization?
Gerry Armstrong: No, it wasn't particularly unusual, because people were being recruited all the time. It may have been unusual in that shortly after my arrival in Los Angeles, where we had, where the Sea org had one ship, the Bolivar, called a station ship, I was flown to Europe and joined the flagship, where Hubbard was on board, the Apollo, and at that time we were in Tangiers, Morocco.
Howie Siegel: Now, Gerry; why you? Was there anything particular about you that would have attracted them? Were you just an average schmo in Scientology, or were you showing certain promise?
Gerry Armstrong: I think that was average in every way, and it was in large part I think, as it turned out, great good fortune on my part that I went that route; both good fortune and bad fortune.
Howie Siegel: So you actually wound up going to Europe, within a year and a half of joining Scientology you're now on your way to Hubbard's mothership, L. Ron Hubbard the founder of Scientology?
Gerry Armstrong: Right. He ran Scientology from on board, and I was on board from the beginning of 1971 through the Fall of 1975.
Howie Siegel: Tell me about your feelings when you approached the ship?
Gerry Armstrong: Well, I was very green, and very uncertain, and I was a young man then, and, as I say, I had bought the package, so I did not show at all the fear which was very deep and inside me, but there definitely was, there was some trepidation, but I performed my function admirably; I arrived on board, and I was a model Sea Org member - extremely hard working, extremely dedicated, never doing anything which would reflect poorly on Scientology or Hubbard.
Howie Siegel: What kind of duties were you assigned?
Gerry Armstrong: Initially, I was the dishwasher on board; we then had 400 people on board - all of Scientology was run by Hubbard from on board the ship. Shortly after that, I became the storesman; short time after that I became the driver of the car that we had on board, so I provided the transportation in the ports that we visited for all the ship's crew.
Howie Siegel: When we come back from the traffic, we're going to come back and pick up Gerry Armstrong's story, his relationship with Scientology.
Neil Kelly: Back on Siegel, AM 900, 384-0900.
Howie Siegel: This is the follow-up show to Scientology. Later on in the show we're going to be speaking with Gregg Owen from the Humanist Association of Canada; Paul Grosswald from the Cult Information Service in New Jersey; here in the studio we have Martin Hunt, a Victorian, ex-Scientologist, conducting an Internet battle against Scientology, and Gerry Armstrong. Before the break, we were listening to Gerry's experiences. In 1969 he joined Scientology out of Chilliwack. Within a year and a half he was on the mothership; L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, an erstwhile science-fiction writer started the movement in the early 50s, and by 1971 Gerry Armstrong found himself on the ship in Europe that Hubbard was running the organization from. Now, at this point you were inducted into Scientology; were you taking their courses, their schooling?
Gerry Armstrong: Every day you were required to attend courses, and study was required of everyone on board.
Howie Siegel: Now, what was the nature of the study?
Gerry Armstrong: Really, you studied whatever was required to do your particular post, your job on board; that was the number one requirement. Beyond that, there was occasionally time for you to get into the study of auditing - the psychotherapy - although that was generally just people who were designated auditors, psychotherapists, who would do that. So it really was your job on board. When I was the driver, I studied the transportation hat. Hat was your job, your post, what you were required to do in order to perform your job. A short time after, within a year of coming on board, I was assigned to what was called the Port Captain's office, the divisions of which had the Public Relations, Legal, and Intelligence Units of the Ship Organization, and I was assigned to the Legal Officer or Legal Office, and became the Legal Officer shortly after that, or Ship's Representative we called him.
Howie Siegel: But Gerry, you became involved in Scientology and were so enamoured with Scientology because it promised you this vast human potential; and yet, once you joined Hubbard's Sea Organization and came aboard the ship, seemingly you stopped taking the Scientology courses that would enable you to reach that potential. Was there a contradiction there?
Gerry Armstrong: That was, I viewed it at the time as a sacrifice that had to be made so that Scientology could accomplish its sky-high goals.
Howie Siegel: Which were?
Gerry Armstrong: Which were essentially the saving of mankind from destruction. We called it various things, "clearing the planet", "getting in ethics on the planet", but it was essentially a totalitarian goal of complete domination in order to save mankind.
Howie Siegel: From what?
Gerry Armstrong: From the threats of nuclear holocaust. From the threats of the "Merchants of Chaos"; the enemies of Scientology, those who would bring about the destruction of Mankind. Hubbard viewed that there was some two and a half percent of the population that he called "Suppressive Persons" who were truly dangerous, and who were the source of all the difficulties of mankind. Those were the enemies that the Sea Org was there to control and "put ethics in on."
Howie Siegel: So, Scientologists see themselves as saviours of the Earth?
Gerry Armstrong: Absolutely.
Howie Siegel: You know what seems so hypocritical is that Scientologists use what they call "auditing", which you have defined as psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and yet they have routinely alleged that the World Health Organization, that the forces of psychology on Earth, and psychotherapy, are the greatest enemies of mankind. Doesn't that seem contradictory?
Gerry Armstrong: There are many contradictions like that in Scientology. An important aspect to understand Scientology is the recognition that it is replete with contradictions.
Howie Siegel: Do Scientologists laugh?
Gerry Armstrong: Yeah; they can. And they, you know, Scientology tries its best, the organization and the hierarchy of Scientology tries its best, really, to completely dominate and control the people underneath them in the organization. But it really does not, ultimately, achieve that goal; people really do not lose their spirits, really do not lose their souls, to Scientology. And that's why there's so many that get in and get out; and for some it's a long process, and for some it's a short process. But in that sense, Scientology in its efforts to control individuals and control minds and destroy souls is really not effective.
Howie Siegel: They mean well. They mean well, and in their own hearts they're not evil.
Gerry Armstrong: The people at the top at the top of the organization do not mean well.
Howie Siegel: Oh, well, we're going to get into that, definitely get into that, but let's go back to 1979. You're now on the ship with Hubbard. Your job is getting better and better; where are you now? A what point in the organization now? You're part of the legal apparatus, you said?
Gerry Armstrong: Yeah; I dealt with immigration and customs and the police.
Howie Siegel: Oh, as the ship travelled around Europe?
Gerry Armstrong: Right; at that time we were mainly in Portugal and Spain, and the little Atlantic islands, in the Canaries and Madeira. And a lot of my work was done ashore. When we would enter a port, I would go ashore and I would deal with the Port Authority and with the ship's agent and with the chandler and taking care of the ship's business - the things that any ship would need going into port. We were undercover at that time; we claimed to be...and our cover was that of "Operation and Transport Corporation Limited of Panama", a business management corporation. No one could admit, on board, that we were Scientology; no one could admit that Scientology was operated from on board. If someone took a Scientology book and was caught ashore with a Scientology book or was seen above deck with a Scientology book or Scientology papers, that was a condition of Treason, because that was out-security. Security was a huge part of the cover, and it was really an intelligence operation that was going on on-board.
Howie Siegel: You're listening to Gerry Armstrong, ex-Scientologist; his experiences aboard the Sea Org, which was L. Ron Hubbard's mothership, and when we come back from the newsbreak, we're going to continue with Gerry's Odyssey.
Neil Kelly: AM 900, 384-0900 to join in; it's Siegel time.
Howie Siegel: Scientology; later on in the show Gregg Owen from the Humanist Association of Canada; Paul Grosswald from the Cult Information Service in New Jersey; here in the studio Martin Hunt a Victorian who was a Scientologist in 1988 and 1989. His expertise is now on the Internet and the battle against Scientology. We're talking with Gerry Armstrong; Gerry Armstrong is from Chilliwack, he joined Scientology in 1969, and from 1971 to 1975 he was on the mothership that L. Ron Hubbard ran personally in the Atlantic around Spain and Portugal. Gerry's duties included liaison with shore, legal problems, customs problems; he was married on board the ship in 1974, so he was on board for 5 years with Hubbard. Gerry, what was the work regimen like on board?
Gerry Armstrong: For everyone, it was truly endless; I worked every day for two and a half years without one day off, and I worked many many times around the clock, and I existed on practically no sleep for all of those years - I truly was a zombie.
Howie Siegel: Was that typical of the other people aboard Hubbard's ship? Hubbard was the founder of Scientology, by the way, and the boss until he died. Was that typical of the people on board?
Gerry Armstrong: I think that it was typical of some, perhaps people who were in a position like I was; I really had to do it just to be able to function because the ship was operating around the clock and I had to pretty well operate around the clock. It wasn't always like this, and for a lot of people I think they were in positions which did not require that, but it was also not uncommon.
Howie Siegel: Well, I guess my real question is was it forced or not, or was it something you did voluntarily?
Gerry Armstrong: Well, I would say that there is a voluntariness to it in that you initially make the decision to join the Sea Organization, but once you make that decision, then until you leave you are absolutely and completely under the domination of the organization, and there is a system of punishment for anyone who does not carry out any order that he is given within the organization.
Howie Siegel: Before I ask you about that punishment and that system of punishment...at this time you were working very hard; for 2 1/2 years you didn't have a day off. But I guess you must have felt blessed that you were close to your god, Hubbard, and you must have felt very positive about what you were doing at the time.
Gerry Armstrong: I believe that that's true; I believe that there was an aspect of rationalization going on, because now, to look at it, I was truly nuts to have subjected myself and to have allowed an organization that truly did not have my best interests at heart to subject me to that.
Howie Siegel: What happened in 1976 with the Rehabilitation Project Force, and please define that term.
Gerry Armstrong: The Rehabilitation Project Force is commonly known by its initials, RPF, is really the Scientology or Sea Org prison system. It is a system of punishment and lock up and cheap labour source for the Sea Organization. Prior to my being assigned, and I was assigned by L. Ron Hubbard himself, I was making $17.20 per week.
Howie Siegel: Seventeen dollars and twenty cents?
Gerry Armstrong: Right. And when you're assigned to the RPF, those wages - if you'd call them that - are cut to a quarter. So I ended up making four dollars and thirty cents a week. But in the RPF, and I was assigned as I say on Hubbard's order, he said for "insubordination"; essentially I had told Mary Sue Hubbard's, Mary Sue his wife was in charge of the Guardian's Office, which is another story in Scientology, but I had gotten in a bit of a scrap with Mary Sue Hubbard's secretary and had told her where to get off, and for that I was assigned to the RPF, and spend the next 17 months inside. You, in the RPF you must run everywhere, you are required to wear a black boiler suit, you may not speak to any crew member in the organization unless spoken to, as I said you get one quarter wages...
Howie Siegel: $4 per week.
Gerry Armstrong: Correct.
Neil Kelly: Was there a sense of punishment if you did speak to somebody that you didn't speak to or didn't run?
Gerry Armstrong: Oh, absolutely; you could be assigned extra time, you could even be assigned to the RPF's RPF, which is far beyond what the RPF is. In the RPF's RPF you may not even speak to an RPF member unless spoken to, and there was no study for someone assigned to the RPF's RPF. You, as I say, you were required to run everywhere, but for a slight infraction like not saying "sir" to someone, you could be given laps.
Howie Siegel: Was there any physical punishment?
Gerry Armstrong: People were locked up, against their will, and held. No one was physically beaten, that I knew of.
Howie Siegel: At any time during this ordeal, could you walk off the ship? Assuming it was in port!
Gerry Armstrong: Actually, no; no in that you did not have your passport. Your passport was taken from you as soon as you came on board. So you were in a foreign country, and you would have had to go to a foreign embassy or a foreign consulate in a foreign land to get a passport to be able to travel. There were many times when I was in the organization in the Port Captain's office where we staked out a consulate or embassy knowing that a person had to show up there in order to retrieve them before they approached the consular authorities.
Howie Siegel: Gerry Armstrong, you're telling me that you were a part of Shanghai gangs that physically grabbed recalcitrant Scientologists and brought them back to the Sea Org, back to the ship?
Gerry Armstrong: Yes; many times.
Howie Siegel: Against their will?
Gerry Armstrong: Yes; many times.
Neil Kelly: Which countries?
Gerry Armstrong: In Portugal, and then again a number of times in Clearwater itself, in Florida.
Howie Siegel: I see. That's where they, Scientologists, have set up an organization in Clearwater, in the seventies, that's still going strong today.
Gerry Armstrong: Right; people who would leave the RPF...
Howie Siegel: The RPF was the Rehabilitation Project Force; it was the punitive wing of Scientology.
Gerry Armstrong: Correct. People who would leave without authorization we would consider "blown", and we had a grid for the city of Clearwater, and we would send out groups of people to cover all the grids to get them back.
Howie Siegel: We're talking to Gerry Armstrong, an ex-Scientologist, about his experiences in Scientology. You went into the Rehabilitation Project Force, into punishment, in 1976, and you spent 17 months doing these menial chores at $4 per week.
Gerry Armstrong: Correct. After you arrive at a certain point, you are given a gold armband after you've accomplished certain things and proven to them that you are indeed a dedicated Scientologist and a dedicated Sea Org member that you're willing to toe the line and your will has been completely broken then you get half pay again.
Howie Siegel: But Gerry, it seems to be all arbitrary if somebody decides that you're a good boy they give you the armband. If they ignore you, you could go on for another two years.
Gerry Armstrong: All of Scientology is completely arbitrary.
Howie Siegel: So, at some point now, you've now gotten out of the Rehabilitation Project Force, you're now rehabilitated, you've got your golden armband, you became L. Ron Hubbard's biographer; how did that happen?
Gerry Armstrong: Well, the years went by...
Howie Siegel: You were a dutiful worker in Florida, organizing for the foundation.
Gerry Armstrong: No. I left the, I got out of the RPF in Florida, and then went to California, and beginning in 1978, I spent the next several months shooting movies with Hubbard in the desert in California...
Howie Siegel: At Gilman Hot Springs?
Gerry Armstrong: No; this was at La Quinta. We had a base of operations at La Quinta, and then I was again assigned...
Howie Siegel: Were these propaganda films?
Gerry Armstrong: He called them training films. There was an aspect of propaganda to them; it covered really both things. Propaganda, he called it PR, Public Relations, and training films, these were the technical aspects of Scientology...
Howie Siegel: So, seemingly, you were forgiven for your 17 months in solitary, so to speak?
Gerry Armstrong: Well, in a sense. I had worked my way back to be able to be there and...
Howie Siegel: At the great man's foot?
Gerry Armstrong: Exactly.
Howie Siegel: And, of course, the closer you got to Hubbard, the more brownie points it was all about?
Gerry Armstrong: That's an aspect of Scientology.
Howie Siegel: He was a god to his parishioners?
Gerry Armstrong: In truth, they see him like that.
Howie Siegel: So, what year is this now that you're shooting films with Hubbard in California?
Gerry Armstrong: '78.
Howie Siegel: So, take us now.
Gerry Armstrong: OK. In '78, he again assigned me to the RPF, and this time I...
Howie Siegel: Oh, forgive me, Gerry, but I'm going to interrupt; I apologize. But we're going to go to Neil with the break, and then when we come back we'll pick up the reins of the story, OK?
Gerry Armstrong: OK.
Howie Siegel: OK; I apologize.
Neil Kelly: Back on Siegel, AM 900, 384-0900.
Howie Siegel: When we left, we left Gerry Armstrong, Scientologist, in 1978 filming training films with L. Ron Hubbard in California.
Gerry Armstrong: And then again one day, he assigned me to the RPF, this time for joking. He considered that I had joked about his movies. I hadn't, but there was no recourse, and so I spent the next 8 months, first in La Quinta, and then we moved that operation because the cover was blown there, we moved to Gilman Hot Springs, and again we were undercover, this time first of all as the Scottish Highland Quietude Club.
Howie Siegel: [laughs] There was a sense of humour there, Gerry.
Gerry Armstrong: Yeah; I though you'd like that one.
Howie Siegel: By the way, I spent time at Gilman Hot Springs, when I was a kid, when it was a kind of Jewish resort somewhere outside of Palm Springs, you know, in the desert. And I had very wonderful memories of it; that's where I read _Somebody Up There Likes Me_...
Gerry Armstrong: Uh-huh.
Howie Siegel: By Lucky Graziano. I wanted to ask you...
Gerry Armstrong: Ken Norton had a training camp there; I think it was Ken Norton.
Howie Siegel: Yeah, Gilman...and then the Scientologists took it over, of course, in the late '70s. La Quinta was the same sort of operation, was it a taken-over resort?
Gerry Armstrong: Yeah; La Quinta was a number of houses...
Howie Siegel: OK. And then you moved to Gilman Hot Springs...again you've gone into punishment, into RPF.
Gerry Armstrong: Right.
Howie Siegel: It's your second term of punishment. Did he catch you... that's why I asked you if laughing was allowed because an ex-Scientologist once told me that smiling was preferred, but that laughing was some sort of a suppressive action.
Gerry Armstrong: Well, if he said it was a suppressive action, then it was a suppressive action.
Howie Siegel: Hubbard?
Neil Kelly: It was OK for him to laugh.
Howie Siegel: For Hubbard. Was Hubbard a laughable guy? What kind of a guy was Hubbard?
Gerry Armstrong: He could be; he could be charming. He could also be extremely ruthless, he could be belligerent, he could be incredibly vain, he could be stupid.
Howie Siegel: Yeah. Well listen, we're going to find out what happened to you, but we've got a caller named Richard...
Gerry Armstrong: OK.
Howie Siegel: From Victoria. So, what do you think, Gerry; do you want to take a call?
Gerry Armstrong: If you want, that's fine.
Howie Siegel: OK, let's go. Richard?
Howie Siegel: Hi. What's on your mind?
Richard: Well, I'd just like to voice an experience; I'll be quick about it. I never did actually join, but I remember 23 years ago out of curiosity I entered an office where they gave you a test, a 3 or 4 page test, you test your personality and blah blah blah, where you're at. And I handed it in, a guy goes "Oh, geez, you're in big trouble; I think you should get started immediately on our course here", and I go "Well, I don't think so", and I virtually had to...it was hard to get out of that establishment...
Howie Siegel: Richard.
Richard: ...back onto the street.
Howie Siegel: Richard, did you get any coffee and doughnuts?
Richard: Not a one, Howie.
Howie Siegel: Sounds like you got ripped off.
Richard: I did. But they hounded me all the way back to Ottawa; I got hand-written letters using actual...swearing at me and that I should get onto the program and that I'm in big trouble, and somebody eventually did come to my door from wherever, whether it was necessarily Toronto or whether they had people out of Ottawa, and my mother was home at the time and they announced they came to get me, and my mother, I had let her know about these letters I had been getting, so she was aware of what was up. She pretty well slammed the door in their face, and that's the last I heard from them, but they're quite aggressive.
Howie Siegel: Richard, Richard, Richard, Scientologists can do anything.
Richard: Yeah. (laughs)
Howie Siegel: We were told that L. Ron Hubbard could astral travel...
Howie Siegel: ...that he had the universe in the palm of his hand.
Howie Siegel: There was just one thing...
Howie Siegel: ...that L. Ron Hubbard was incapable of doing: getting you off the mailing list!
Howie Siegel: So, I think you experienced that. Thank you for calling.
Richard: Yeah, exactly.
Howie Siegel: See you.
Richard: Good show, Howie.
Howie Siegel: Thanks, pal.
Richard: Keep up the good work, guys.
Howie Siegel: Thanks a lot. We're talking with Gerry Armstrong. Gerry joined Scientology in 1969 in Chilliwack; by 1978 he back in the Rehabilitation Project Force, which was the punitive wing of Scientology, after falling from Hubbard's favour. Once again, Hubbard was the founder of the movement. Let's pick up the reins then, Gerry; we've got about two and a half minutes before the break.
Gerry Armstrong: By 1979 I was again out of the RPF and I was in charge actually of Hubbard's Household Unit on the Gilman Hot Springs property. We had renovated a house for Hubbard, and it was his intention to come live at the property; however, he was also in hiding because of his threat, his fear of being served on-going civil cases and in perhaps the IRS case against Scientology at that time. So he was really not able to come to the property except under very deep cover, and it was in the course of this, when I was in charge of his Household Unit, that there was the threat of a raid by law enforcement - we were never told who, but this was announced by Hubbard's Messengers. Right at the beginning of 1980, end of 1979, beginning of 1980, and as a result, we were required to destroy all documents on the property in our possession which showed Hubbard's intention to live at the property, that he had been to the property, that he was in charge of Scientology, that he was in charge of Scientology finances.
Howie Siegel: This was an IRS action?
Gerry Armstrong: We were never told. There was just a raid threat. This is not the first one; the FBI had raided the organization in 1977, so we were quite prepared for this, and it was in the course of this raid threat when we were going through documents on the Gilman Hot Springs property, that one of my juniors, a girl by the name of Brenda Black, brought to me a box which contained in it very old records of L. Ron Hubbard, and she asked me if they should be shredded, and I looked at them and saw that most of these pre-dated Dianetics and Scientology, and saw that there was no security threat to Hubbard, and that they had great historical, biographical, and collectable value, and I told her that they should not be saved, and then a quick search was made and came up with another 20 boxes of this stuff, and that formed the basis of a biography which was to be done, and those were the materials that I had in my possession for the next two years as the researcher for the preparation of a biography.
Howie Siegel: So, when we come back from the news, we're going to find out what Gerry Armstrong did with those documents from the annals of Scientology.
Neil Kelly: Back on Siegel, AM 900, 384-0900.
Howie Siegel: We've been listening to Gerry Armstrong in this very very odd Odyssey through the intricacies of Scientology, right up into the Sea Org, which was the mother ship. L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, ran the organization from a ship, and Gerry found himself in detention a few times in what they call the Rehabilitation Project Force, which was punishment, but nonetheless he came out of that, seemingly a better Scientologist. At this point in the adventure, it's now around 1979, and he's in Gilman Hot Springs, which is just outside of Palm Springs in California, and he has discovered boxes and boxes of archival information, the very beginning of Scientology, and now I'm going to let him tell the story. Gerry?
Gerry Armstrong: I had the possession of these materials for the next two years, and not only those, but I collected up quite a massive archive concerning L. Ron Hubbard's personal life. They were majorly his personal documents, but I also bought collections of documents from other people, I did a genealogy study of Hubbard, I interviewed friends and family, and I went to the UK and the Mid-West, and up and down the Western coast.
Howie Siegel: And you collaborated in a biography of Hubbard.
Gerry Armstrong: The organization contracted with an outside writer, a non-Scientologist by the name of Omar Garrison, and I worked with Garrison for the next year and a half while inside and subsequently also while outside. I copied the materials which I had, and provided them to him, and we spent many hours talking about these materials.
Howie Siegel: What did you learn?
Gerry Armstrong: An important part of my getting in to Scientology and being kept in Scientology was the life of L. Ron Hubbard. It was the myth of the man, it was the statements which the organization has made about him - the representations about his academic credentials; being a nuclear physicist; about his family; about his past, his accomplishments; and about the research which had gone into Dianetics and Scientology; that he had cured himself of physical illnesses, physical ailments, injuries, with Dianetics; that he was a war hero, a much-decorated war hero; and during the course of studying these materials, copying these materials, providing them to the writer Omar Garrison and really digesting all of this stuff, it became very clear to me that he had consistently lied about his past and lied about his education, lied about intentions, and that was what really, ultimately, both drove me out of Scientology, and made it possible for, in my mind, to be able to leave.
Howie Siegel: So, it was discovering that Hubbard was a fraud?
Gerry Armstrong: Absolutely. He was a fraud, and his organization's representations about him, and also its representations about the promises, really, of Scientology - they are also fraudulent.
Howie Siegel: How far in the organization did you go? How many gradients up? Were you ever cleared?
Gerry Armstrong: Yeah, I was a clear and I was, I achieved a level called OT III, Operating Thetan three. So I had gone through a thousand hours of auditing...
Howie Siegel: Psychoanalysis.
Gerry Armstrong: At least. And, as an aside, Hubbard promises that Scientology auditing increases IQ a point per hour, and by that time I had something over a thousand hours.
Howie Siegel: You were finally smart enough to get out!
Gerry Armstrong: I was smart enough to get out; you got it.
Howie Siegel: So, Gerry Armstrong, you were in Scientology from 1969 through 1981; 12 years out of the middle of your life. But thank God you got out, and now I would like to turn to some of the other guests we've invited to participate; we're going to hear ultimately from Martin Hunt and Paul Grosswald, but right now on the line from the Humanist Association of Canada - he's been listening to your testimonies - is Greg Erwin.
Greg Erwin: Hello.
Howie Siegel: Yes; thank you for your patience.
Greg Erwin: Yeah (chuckles). I don't know...let me see...I guess I'd like to maybe widen the consideration here. I think the one thing I can say is that it really is a shame that our children in the schools are not taught critical thinking, which would sort of be a vaccination against this kind of transcendental temptation. That there are dozens, hundreds and thousands, probably, of cults and political movements and so on, all peddling the same kind of nonsense in a very seductive way, and if the children are not taught in the schools critical thinking... it's really quite simple to learn the skill of BS detection, being able to spot this kind of fraud. We're all told simply that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is not true (chuckle).
Howie Siegel: Well, Greg Erwin, Greg Erwin from the Humanist Association of Canada, how do we spot the difference between a cult and a legitimate ideology?
Greg Erwin: (Laughs) Well, you're asking the wrong person; I don't know that there is a big difference between...what is a legitimate ideology? There are the facts in the world, you know, we have the data before us and the facts of the way things work, and we have Hypotheses, proposed explanations, for how things work.
Howie Siegel: Well let me ask...
Greg Erwin: Yeah.
Howie Siegel: First of all I should, first of all we haven't talked before...
Greg Erwin: No.
Howie Siegel: So I really don't know...you're a humanist so...when you're speaking now, when you say "that facts in the world", are you speaking from a position that would deny God? Do you look at God and Scientology as being equivalent?
Greg Erwin: In many ways, yes.
Howie Siegel: I see. So, would you consider Scientologists and orthodox Jews or Catholics to be in the same indoctrinate boat?
Greg Erwin: In the more extreme forms when you...if you look at the people, if you look at the people the orthodox Jews at the Wailing Wall who are throwing stones at conservative Jews who want to worship in their way at the Wailing Wall with men and women praying together, and they're being stoned by orthodox Jews who consider that that's a horrible sin against God. If you look at the Church which closed ranks and - the Catholic Church - say at Mount Kashel, closed ranks and did its best to hide pedophilic priests and lay brothers from the police, and managed to do so for 20 years and they've paid out millions of dollars in hush money to conceal what's going on...I don't think that that's what is conventionally though of as a Christian way to behave.
Howie Siegel: Well...
Greg Erwin: This kind of behaviour is all too easy for people who think that God is on their side to slip into. You know, whether its God on your side or the dialectical forces of history, or whatever else - these kind of delusions of grandeur just seem to feed on themselves. It's something that all human beings are subject to, you know, wishful thinking and fantasies like that.
Howie Siegel: Well, Greg, you know, your arguments are difficult to refute offhand. However, I'm not really sure what you're suggesting. If, in other words, you're suggesting that our children be brought up to worship God in a moderate way?
Greg Erwin: Well, I believe, and the Humanist Association entirely supports freedom of and freedom from religion; everybody has the right to decide for themselves what they wish to believe and how they wish to practice...
Howie Siegel: Well, that's...
Greg Erwin: ...that belief.
Howie Siegel: Greg, that's exactly the problem, as freedom-lovers, we, in no way can we make the Scientology...can we outlaw Scientology, or belief in any ideology.
Greg Erwin: Mmm-hmm.
Howie Siegel: And yet, at the same time we want to protect ourselves from what we consider to be cultic abuse. The difference between believing in a...ultimately a beneficial ideology, something that will enhance mankind and advance humanity as against something like Scientology which Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Hunt and myself perceive as being evil. And that is the difficulty in a free society.
Greg Erwin: In a free society, you're right, we'd never suggest that any sort of belief be outlawed. However, the Church of Scientology, as an organization, as a corporation, has committed numerous criminal acts, and I think has fulfilled every definition of the Criminal Code section on conspiracy to commit criminal acts. So, in that sense, if any organization, religious or otherwise, decides to go into something that fulfills, you know, they have plotted to criminally harass people...
Howie Siegel: Yes.
Greg Erwin: ...they've plotted murder in some cases...
Howie Siegel: Yeah.
Greg Erwin: ...and they've certainly committed fraud.
Howie Siegel: I understand, Mr. Owen; and then it becomes the difficultly about whether you're going to prosecute an organization or the individuals within the organization.
Greg Erwin: Mmm-Hmm.
Howie Siegel: Much like the example of the pedophilic priest that you brought up.
Greg Erwin: Yeah.
Howie Siegel: Is the Church responsible, or its practitioners? In any case, thank you very much for participating with us.
Greg Erwin: Well, thank you very much for having me on.
Howie Siegel: You're welcome, Mr. Owen; Greg Erwin from the Humanist Association of Canada, and Neil Kelly from the traffic association of Victoria:
Neil Kelly: Back on Siegel, AM 900; 384-0900.
Howie Siegel: Fascinating journey of Gerry Armstrong, Scientologist, spend 12 years in the cult. Gerry's been talking about his experiences; he's barely scratched the surface. We're going to get back to Gerry, and we're going to do a little bit of a wrap-up before we end the show, but we've already asked him to come back and to talk more specifically and in more detail about what happened with Scientology when in fact he left the cult in 1981. I'll invite you to call; 384-0900, talk to Gerry Armstrong. Martin Hunt is also in here; he's going to be contributing in a little while. Ask these gentlemen specifically about their experiences in Scientology; both of then have undergone a lot of recriminations and a lot of problems because of their anti-Scientology stance, and that's basically what I want to really talk to Gerry about, ultimately, is what he's paid, what kind of a price he's paid, and what the cult has done to him since he's renounced them. Before we do that, I want to go to New Jersey now, to the Cult Information Service, and standing by is Paul Grosswald, who I hope will assist us, teaching us that how we can distinguish between a legitimate ideology and a cult.
Paul Grosswald: OK; how are you doing, Howie?
Howie Siegel: Is that asking too much, Paul?
Paul Grosswald: Well, I think you're phrasing the question wrong; it's, we're not trying to distinguish between a legitimate ideology and a cult. What we're trying to distinguish between is a destructive organization and a non-destructive organization.
Howie Siegel: Help us to...
Paul Grosswald: Any ideology can be used for good purposes or any ideology can be used for bad purposes; the question is, is the organization itself hurting people. So, let me give you some things to watch out for: a destructive organization or a cult is an organization that uses deceit in recruitment. For instance, with the case of Scientology I was recruited into Scientology through a front organization called the L. Ron Hubbard Dianetics Foundation which did not announce to me that it was tied to Scientology; there's deception in recruitment. Legitimate religions tell you up front who they are - they don't deceive you. Another characteristic of a destructive cult or a destructive organization is that it destroys the family unit. In my case, Scientology has a disconnection policy; I was told that my parents were suppressive, messages from my parents were being intercepted; they tried to separate me from my family, whereas a non-destructive organization encourages family units to stay together and work together, so that's another thing to watch out for. Another characteristic of a destructive organization is that they use mind control techniques such as hypnosis. Gerry Armstrong described the communication techniques that Scientology uses where you're staring at another person for hours at a time, you go into a hypnotic trance, you become highly suggestible, highly susceptible to their manipulation. Legitimate organizations do not put people through that kind of abusive, mind- altering techniques. Another aspect of a destructive organization is that they try to intimidate their critics; they discourage critical though. Scientology has a Fair Game policy, as you said you were going to have Gerry describe that in a few minutes, how they try to silence their critics with threats and harassment. Legitimate organizations don't do that. A destructive organization puts the leader up on a pedestal; L. Ron Hubbard is considered Source with a capital "S". You know, we give him standing ovations when we were in Scientology, and we think of him almost like a God, whereas in a legitimate organization it's much more democratic. You elect your leaders; your leaders are viewed as human and fallible, and it's much more down to earth. No questions are allowed in a destructive organization, whereas legitimate organizations encourage critical thinking and encourage questions. In my case, when I was in Scientology, I was scolded for asking questions about, you know, what about health care? When they tried to get me to join the Sea Organization and I signed a billion-year contract, I was asking what'll I do if I get sick? I'm only getting paid $35 a week, which is what I was getting paid. I was getting paid a little more than Gerry, because I was involved ten years later. I was getting paid $35 per week, and I was concerned how am I going to pay for health care if I get sick. I was scolded for even considering such a thing - how dare you ask such a question, whereas a legitimate organization wants you to ask questions, and is more than happy to give you the answers. So that's just some of the things that you can watch out for. And if anybody has any doubts, or if anyone is unsure if an organization they are involved in is destructive or non-destructive, I just want everyone to know that there are organizations that they can go to for help. For instance, Cult Information Service, which services the New York area, is an organization that people can contact with questions abut cult groups or organizations; the number is 201-833-1212. If you're in the Montreal area, there's a group called Info-Cult; the phone number is 514-274-2333; In Toronto there's a cult hot-line at 416-410-2858, and I'm sure there are many other cult organizations out there, or anti-cult organizations out there who can help people determine whether an organization is safe or not safe.
Howie Siegel: Paul Grosswald from the Cult Information Service; how destructive is Scientology?
Paul Grosswald: Well, I think it depends on the individual. I was very fortunate; I was only in the organization for six months. My parents were very determined to get me out, and they were able to get me out by doing an intervention, and so I was fortunate. Now, if I had stayed in the organization for 20 years, I wouldn't be so lucky. I was able...I actually dropped out of college to pursue Scientology; when I got out of it I went back to college, and my life resumed, you know, its normal pace. If I was in it for 20 years, and then I tried to go back to college or if I tried to get a job, you know, how do you put a resume together after 20 years or being in Scientology? It's very difficult. So, in that case, it's much more destructive. I would suggest that the potential for Scientology to be destructive is very real. And let me just give you an analogy; you saw what happened with Heaven's Gate where 39 people committed suicide, actually 40 people committed suicide because another person killed themselves a few weeks later. The killed themselves because they followed the orders of the group leader. Now, in the case of Scientology, Scientology's belief is very similar to the belief of Heaven's Gate; they believe that L. Ron Hubbard had gone up as high as he could on the Scientology bridge to total freedom; he had achieved a level called OT 8, and in order to go OT 9, he had to drop his body. Because L. Ron Hubbard died from a stroke in the mid 80s, but they can't admit that their founder died because that contradicts the fact that Scientology is meant to help you live forever, so the explanation for Hubbard's death is that he actually went OT 9, dropped his body to go OT 9. So all the other Scientologists now believe that best way to advance spiritually is to drop your body and go OT 9. And if the current leaders ever decided that they were being, you know, intimidated by law enforcement or if they were afraid to go to jail for some of their crimes, they might easily just try to avoid prosecution by handing out some poison apple sauce or poison Kool Aid, and...
Howie Siegel: Paul Grosswald.
Paul Grosswald: ...and go OT 9.
Howie Siegel: Paul Grosswald, from the Cult Information Service; we are going to drop your body and go to the news.
Paul Grosswald: Thank you.
Howie Siegel: (chuckles)
Neil Kelly: Welcome back to Siegel, AM 900, 384-0900.
Howie Siegel: You're listening to Neil Kelly, and I'm Howie Siegel. Our number, as Neil told you, is 384-0900 if you wish to speak to our guests in studio, Gerry Armstrong who we've been listening to for the past hour and a half; Gerry's an ex-Scientologist, and designated as one of Scientology's greatest enemies. And also in the studio is Martin Hunt, who we have yet to hear from; Martin was a Scientologist for two years in 1988 and 1989, he lives in Victoria, and he's been battling Scientology on the internet.
Martin Hunt: Hi, Howie. Yeah; the internet has been a big part of the spreading of information about Scientology. There are now about a hundred pages out there by a hundred different individuals; a hundred webpages that just deal with Scientology, and try to explore the aspects of it that the cult would like to keep secret. The cult themselves also have a large webpage up with 30,000 pages on one site, but they don't tend to...it's rather a whitewash of what they're really about. They won't talk about Hubbard's education, for example, but if you go out to one of these other webpages, there will be an entire exploration: his college transcripts and so on and so forth, so there's a great deal of information out there on the cult.
Howie Siegel: So, if somebody was interested in debunking Scientology, where would they turn to on the internet?
Martin Hunt: Well, for those who understand how to use the internet, all they have to do is go to a search engine and plug in the word "Scientology", as a general rule. Some of the search engines, like Altavista is one of these search engines on the internet, will return hundreds of Scientology pages from the official Scientology site, but in between those there will be a few of these - what I might call critical pages or information pages, and those pages are all being linked together into a webring.
Howie Siegel: Now, you were listening to Gerry Armstrong's testimony for the last hour and a half; what are your feelings?
Martin Hunt: It's been very interesting listening to Gerry Armstrong; because he has been the source of a lot of the information in some of the books that have been written about Scientology, such as Russell Miller's _Bare-Faced Messiah_ which is a biography of Hubbard, was based on information that Gerry found. So, I'd like to ask Gerry a question, if I may, about overboarding, if he ever saw overboarding on the Apollo ship, on Hubbard's ship?
Howie Siegel: OK, let's start, Hubbard was the founder of Scientology.
Martin Hunt: Right.
Howie Siegel: He was a science-fiction writer.
Martin Hunt: Right.
Howie Siegel: Is it true, let me just ask you parenthetically, was he a disciple of Aleister Crowley's?
Gerry Armstrong: He was involved with the same organization that Crowley founded; a fellow by the name of John W. Parsons in Pasadena and Hubbard were both involved in what has come to be known as black magic. They considered it just magic itself, but it was essentially black magic.
Howie Siegel: Because on the internet site that I went to, it compared Scientology's symbol...Aleister Crowley, by the way, was a satanist and an evil man who didn't even deny practising murder, infanticide, in fact. In any case, Crowley's symbol for his church of Satan and the Scientology symbol seem to be very similar.
Martin Hunt: Well, Hubbard, it is speculated, modelled his cross on Crowley's cross. Hubbard did say on one of his tapes that he thought of Crowley as his very good friend, he called him his very good friend.
Howie Siegel: Yeah. Because what I had read about his life, Hubbard's life, was that they ran into each other in the late 40s in Los Angeles, and that he was actually practicing with Crowley.
Martin Hunt: Yeah, he was in what's called the OTO church, the Ordo Templi Orientis, which was a faction of Crowley's church.
Howie Siegel: OK. But let me get back to your question, Martin; you mentioned overboarding, and that is an aspect of the...that L. Ron Hubbard used on his ship?
Gerry Armstrong: Before I came on board, as I understand it, in the late 60s, overboarding was quite common, and it was a punishment where people were actually thrown overboard. And then there was a period of time, my first couple of years on board, when overboards did not happen, and then it was reinstituted. So I have seen a number of people who were literally picked up and thrown overboard; don't get this wrong, we were not at sea when this happened. This was always in port, and it was as much symbolic as anything else; the people who I saw thrown over either could swim, or there were enough people around to make sure that they did not drown. It was symbolic of actually being thrown overboard at sea.
Howie Siegel: Oh; well, that was a false start. (chuckles)
Neil Kelly: Well, what was the point?
Gerry Armstrong: Punishment.
Martin Hunt: In one case, reported in Russell Miller's _Bare-Faced Messiah_ a person was thrown overboard and hit his arm on the rubbing strake. Remember, this was a large ship; and was thrown overboard and hit the rubbing strake at the water line and broke his arm on the fall.
Howie Siegel: We're listening to Martin Hunt, a Scientologist from Victoria, and if you want to ask Martin any questions or Gerry any questions...I guess Neil wants to ask some questions. (chuckles)
Neil Kelly: Yeah, I mean, as punishment, being thrown over the side; were they ostracized, where they out of the organization, were they welcomed back in afterwards, or did they just "Oh; you've got us mad", you know, "keelhaul him!"
Gerry Armstrong: It really depended on the situation. Certain people were completely ostracized, certain people were off loaded. Off loading was vastly more punishment, considered more punishment, than the rather instantaneous couple of minutes of over boarding.
Howie Siegel: Gerry, in the beginning of the conversation, I submitted that in my estimation Scientologists were True Believers who really did believe in their hearts that they were trying to save the Earth, save mankind, and that they were doing their best to effectuate that. You disagreed with me; you said that the leadership was in fact duplicitous, that they were not, really, good-hearted, and I didn't allow you to pursue that. Would you like to pick up those reins now?
Gerry Armstrong: My perception is that the person at the top and the people close to him at the top are very cynical. They really have no allegiance, no respect for the philosophy, even the rules and the policies of Scientology. Those things are used to their advantage and they are arbitrary, and they violate those things continually. They have no respect for the creed of Scientology that they expect Scientologists to live by.
Howie Siegel: Now David Miscarriage...
Gerry Armstrong: Miscavige.
Howie Siegel: Miscavige. Excuse me; David Miscavige is L. Ron Hubbard's heir. Did you have knowledge of him? Personal knowledge?
Gerry Armstrong: Yes.
Howie Siegel: Tell us about him.
Gerry Armstrong: I first met him in 1976; he was a young kid who joined the Commodore's Messenger Organization. The Messengers were generally young kids who worked directly for Hubbard, and ran messages for him. I watched as Miscavige made his way up the organizational ladder until he assumed a position of considerable control inside the organization. He did it by a combination of ruthlessness, belligerence, and dishonesty.
Howie Siegel: Sounds like (laughs) sounds like a real swell...sounds like a real devotee. And that's, I don't know what to say, you know. It's somehow in my mind the idea that L. Ron Hubbard even as, even believed what he was saying, that he really thought that in his heart he was being true to his code. Am I kidding myself?
Gerry Armstrong: I think that...it's a very complex issue. But I believe that Hubbard knew, in his heart, that he was being dishonest and that he knew that he had done things to his mind to rid himself of his conscience, and that David Miscavige has done the same thing to eliminate his conscience. And that was a conscious effort on Hubbard's part, and also on Miscavige's part.
Howie Siegel: And Miscavige is the present leader of the cult of Scientology, and on the line for Martin Hunt is Mary. Hi, Mary?
Howie Siegel: Hi.
Mary: I've got a question here for Martin.
Howie Siegel: Please.
Martin Hunt: Hello.
Mary: Did you ever suffer any kind of physical punishment or mental punishment by the Scientologists?
Martin Hunt: In one case I was put on an amends project for doing something that's called "out-tech"; I did something which violated their set of principles, in their minds, that came up during one of these therapy sessions or auditing sessions. I was put on what's called an amends project; it went on for about three weeks, and it mostly entailed long hours of scrubbing walls and physical labour, manual labour. But physical punishment in the sense of beatings and so forth? No; those are very rare or non-existent in Scientology.
Mary: Thank you.
Martin Hunt: All right.
Howie Siegel: You know Mary, I'm glad you called. And I think the reason why I'm doing these shows, well, aside from getting ratings, of course, and providing a certain form of entertainment is because I had friends that became involved with Scientology in the 60s, and I saw those fellows become progressively more involved to the point where they cut off their associations with me and I thought I had lost them as friends. And thank God they came back - they came back to their senses, and in the late 70s we re-established communication, and now we still call ourselves friends, and I'm able to speak to them about their experiences in Scientology. And to a *man*, they regard it negatively. And, to a man, for whatever reasons they gave me, whatever rationalizations they offered, they did not come on the air with me. They all congratulated me for going on the air. They were proud that we're trying to warn people, and perhaps save other people's children from falling into this cult, but they would not come on the air with me 20 years later after disassociating themselves from Scientology, they still had reasons why they couldn't participate, and I find that to be very telling and very chilling. And for something even more threatening: the traffic.
Neil Kelly: Back on Siegel, AM 900, 384-0900.
Howie Siegel: Wrapping up the show on Scientology, we heard from Martin Hunt. Martin Hunt is a Victorian, his expertise is the internet; he's conducting the battle against Scientology on the internet, and if you wish to contact him, his email address is email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. The majority of the show has been devoted to the extraordinary travail and honesty of ex-Scientologist Gerry Armstrong. He was a Scientologist for 12 years; he finally disassociated himself from the cult in 1981...what's happened to you since then?
Gerry Armstrong: Immediately I left the organization, I became a major enemy in their minds, in the minds of the people at the top. I was sued, I was spied on, they hired private investigators to harass me, they harassed my wife and myself for months, they've tried probably 12 times now to have me jailed on false criminal charges, they sued me five times, they have published what Hubbard called black propaganda about me around the world - mountains of material - much of which is false, all of which is derogatory, and all of it is designed to destroy my character, my credibility, my reputation.
Howie Siegel: Have they destroyed your character?
Gerry Armstrong: No; that's one...they cannot do that, and their efforts to destroy people's character only reflects back on themselves; it destroys their character.
Howie Siegel: I feel that you're a hero. I admire you. I wish I had your courage, your strength, your fortitude to have the guts to walk into a radio station and talk so fulsomely, so honestly, about your personal experiences which after all reflect, well, reflect poorly upon your past life. For 12 years you were a zombie for a bunch of cultists.
Gerry Armstrong: That's true, and what you say is very kind.
Howie Siegel: And what I've found from many people who talk about their experiences with cults is that it's not really a reflection of intelligence. Somehow, those of us who have avoided the experience - we think of ourselves as somehow smarter, but I don't think that's it at all.
Gerry Armstrong: No - if you're a carpenter and you're in a cult, you devote your carpenter skills to helping the cult; if you're a baker, you devote your baking skills; if you're intelligent, you devote your intellectual skills; if you have a strong back, you devote your strong back. The cult uses whatever resources you have.
Howie Siegel: Gerry Armstrong, are you scared of the Scientologists and what they could still do to you?
Gerry Armstrong: I am very concerned. I have, in fact, arrived back in Canada in order to be free, in a sense, to communicate what I have to communicate, and to escape some of the threat which they represent to me if I were to stay in the States.
Howie Siegel: What can they do to you here in Canada?
Gerry Armstrong: I believe that what they can do is something physical to me, and I take certain precautions, and I'm very conscious of the fact that that could happen. So far, and I'm quite sure that they know where I am, I feel that one of the precautions that I take is to speak out, is to become visible, and to raise my profile, and to let them know that I am not going to be silenced, and I think that this is important for everyone who's in a situation similar to what I'm in. If everyone who left Scientology were to speak out and tell their experiences, Scientology would not be a threat to anyone.
Howie Siegel: Is the cult going downhill, or are they getting stronger?
Gerry Armstrong: In a sense, they have solidified their gains; they have vast wealth, and they have an army of professionals - lawyers, private investigators - to carry out their misdeeds and to harass and intimidate and harm people. On the other hand, I think that they have been exposed, and I think that the truth will win out, and I think that their days are numbered.
Howie Siegel: How do we deal with them in a free society?
Gerry Armstrong: I think that by programs such as this, by the free flow of information which occurs on the internet, by the media having the courage to take on Scientology, by government getting involved and not hiding behind the facade of religiosity which Scientology presents to them, and not being afraid to criticize an organization like Scientology. And, not succumbing to their threats, and not succumbing to the wealth they have.
Howie Siegel: Well, I have to thank you. Gerry, it was a fascinating two hours; I feel like I could sit here for another two hours and another two hours and another two hours, so I've already extended to you an invitation to come back, and there's a whole story that we haven't gotten to folks about Gerry's...the detailed tribulations, the detailed retribution that he suffered from the Scientologists when he left the cult, and so at your leisure you'll come back and we can talk about that. Martin Hunt; you're vigilant, you're great; keep up the good work. Mr. Kelly, anti-cult...Neil's against everything, so we don't have to worry about joining anything. Neil didn't even want to come on the show. And I want to thank Paul Grosswald from the Cult Information Service and Greg Erwin from the Humanist Association of Canada for joining us. On tomorrow's show we'll talk to Jamie Kelly on videos, Bruce Lauther...oh yes, and Steve, well, we didn't get to Steve Kent, but thank you anyway for his contributions in the past. Bruce Lauther will be on tomorrow, as will David Bender, the author of _The Confessions of OJ_, Stanley Ralph Ross and Kent Colours, and we'll see you tomorrow, and thanks a million.
Go back to main Scientology in Canada page
This page hosted by Get your own Free Home Page
Martin Hunt / email@example.com / August 23 1997