One. Billion. Dollars.

Just as the year changed, Debbie Cook sent an email to 12,000 people that rocked their world.

It was a letter to active Scientologists. Debbie was the head of the largest public-facing Scientology church in the world (in Clearwater Florida) for 17 years. In the four years she’s been off their staff, she’s been busy accumulating information.

Here’s a layman’s translation of her letter:

  1. She’s highly trained, and spent 29 years in Scientology’s religious order, and isn’t connected with anyone who is a critic of Scientology. She’s a dedicated Scientologist in good standing (as of the time she wrote this letter; that has undoubtedly changed). ALl of the above is basically “why you should listen to me,” even though most Scientologists are such sheep that they probably won’t.
  2. She’s trying to use the words of L. Ron Hubbard to point out that the organization has gone off the rails in several areas, specifically:
    1. You know the organization’s supposed to follow LRH’s policies.
    2. Despite this, current leadership created the International Association of Scientologists (IAS), Scientology’s membership organization, in 1984, and has since pressured Scientologists to fund a ton of money into it. As of the time she had the information, the IAS controlled one billion dollars in reserves. (As an example, Nancy Cartwright donated $10 million. Per Hubbard, a lifetime membership should cost $75, and the money should be made available to local organizations instead of sucked into the black hole center.)
    3. There is no advertising of Scientology or Dianetics. (There used to be, in a campaign designed by Jefferson Hawkins.) In other words, money gathered to help expand Scientology — isn’t being used for that purpose.
    4. There has been a multi-year campaign to buy new buildings for Scientology churches, and this has meant hundreds of millions of dollars. The money has been raised by direct fundraising for that purpose, including bingo nights and so on, which is in direct conflict with Hubbard’s policies prohibiting fundraising. Hubbard’s philosophy was, “Solve it with Scientology.” In other words, Scientology services alone should be able to fund the buildings said services are delivered in. Instead, currently, Scientology organizations are focused on money raising for new buildings and for the IAS and are not focused on Scientology services.
    5. When services are delivered, they are being mis-delivered. Specifically, upper-level Scientologists keep getting kicked down to below the middle grade of Clear (originally mentioned in the first book, Dianetics), (and some have been forced to re-do the level more than once). Then there are the people who’ve been kicked all the way back down to the bottom, forced to start over from the beginning. Why? Money. Specifically, “many millions of dollars.”
    6. Hubbard left a team of people at the head to run the organization. They have all been disappeared over the years, occasionally trotted out at events. (One in particular, Heber Jentzsch, the ostensible President of the church, has not been seen in public in years.)
  3. Debbie suggests that Scientologists refuse to donate for anything other than their services, in particular, to stop donating for the IAS war chest and for the buildings.

So here’s my take on this: the fallout’s going to be interesting. For the most part, Debbie’s email has reached “new blood,” people who were so far in they don’t know about the Internet, Anonymous, the various blogs and sites full of ex-members — or any such thing. They still think Scientology’s expanding like gangbusters (present evidence to the contrary).

There will be pressure to pull in each of the 12,000 people for debriefing and forced loyalty testing (no doubt in the form of pushing them to donate to the things that are against Hubbard’s policies). That will push some people who hadn’t considered Debbie’s email to realize that it really is a problem, and then they’ll have to figure out how to respond.

Right now, though, there’s a lot of disavowal of Debbie, so it’ll be interesting to see how many waves she’s actually caused.

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