At the end of 1992, scientologists started to arrive uninvited on my doorstep. They always came in pairs, a new pair each time. The visits happened about once a week, but not on the same night. The timing of the visits varied, with the latest being after 11 o’clock. The first couple accused me of “persecuting” their religion. When I asked for details, one of them said that I had told a newspaper that Scientology “brainwashed” its members. I explained that the journalist had given his own opinion. I tend to avoid the emotive term “brainwashing” and speak instead of “coercive psychology”. Having failed in the particular, they moved on to the general. I was accused of being a liar. Unable to give any example of a lie I had told, one began chanting hysterically “you tell lies”.
The phobic attitude towards critics and the refusal of dialogue characterize totalist groups or destructive cults. Scientologists are taught that anyone who seeks to dissuade them from Scientology is “suppressive”. If the criticism cannot be silenced, then the scientologist should cease all communication with the critic, or “disconnect”. Any criticism of Scientology is held to stem from undisclosed “overts” or moral transgressions. The critic is asked “what are your crimes?” This can be upsetting to the mystified parent of a raging scientologist.
If a scientologist hears any criticism of Scientology or its creator, that criticism must be relayed to Scientology’s “Ethics” department in a written “knowledge report”. Further, Scientologists are forbidden discussion of the techniques of Scientology (called “verbal technology”), the penalty for which is being “declared” a “Suppressive Person”, and being ostracised by other scientologists, under the policy of “disconnection”. Scientologists are also enjoined not to talk about any of their problems except to their appointed Scientology “auditor”. They pay up to $1,000 per hour to discuss such problems. While Hubbard insisted that Scientology’s main focus is enhancing communication, he actually spent a great deal of time restricting it.
…and, most chillingly…
Hackers have shown that virtually no data held in a computer database is truly private. Scientologists have demonstrated great technical proficiency in their attempts to close down the computer Internet alt.religion.scientology newsgroup. With former scientologists, documentary evidence and testimony demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hubbard and his wife both ordered the use of scientologists’ supposedly confidential confessional folders. During a Scientology session, the “auditor” keeps a written record of the subject’s utterances. Anything scandalous should be reported to the Ethics Section and from there it would find its way to the Intelligence section. Nowadays, prospective employees are asked to fill in a 110 question “Life history”. This is not held to be confidential by Scientology management. It includes the demand: “Make a chronological list of the names of all persons with whom you have had sexual relationships and what you engaged in. Approximate the number of times you carried on any kind of activity, and note any perversions you engaged in. Be as complete as you can.” It is understandable that very few former members dare to speak out.
Atack’s book is “A Piece of Blue Sky.” Worth reading if you’re interested in the subject.