CULT INFO Conference Remarks by Robert S. Minton A Warning on the Evils of Scientology February 12, 1999 Stamford, CT
Good evening. I would like to extend a very special thanks to CULTinfo for your commitment to continuing the fight against the evils of cults, and for having the courage to sponsor this conference. I extend my best wishes for the success of your organization. I would also like to thank you personally for having me as a speaker at dinner tonight. Given the recent controversies I have been involved in, I'm sure this also took courage.
I am a director of FACTNet. We too are a counter-cult group and we are part of an ongoing strategy on the Internet to disseminate information about cults. Most recently, our emphasis has been on defeating a dark and evil enemy - the so called "Church" of Scientology.
Scientology dislikes the Internet; it dislikes FACTNet; it dislikes me and it dislikes this conference. One of the major problems of Scientology is that its special brand of evil dislikes any attempt by anyone to expose the true criminal nature of this pernicious cult. I can assure you, however, that I am here tonight continuing to do just that.
More often than not when we detail the dark activities of Scientology, we concentrate on the more obviously outrageous legal and constitutional rights violations committed by Scientology's Office of Special Affairs, or OSA. Truly these acts by Scientology's self-styled police force are evil, their hypocrisy the most notable, and it is easiest to express outrage against this level of Scientology's crimes. It is OSA that targets critics like me and organizations like CULTinfo.
There is more than enough information on OSA's outrageous activities available on the internet and I will not burden you with a further litany of their abuse. However, before I get into the main text of my speech, I do wish to share with you some insights into Scientology that came about last summer as a result of fifteen hours of meetings with top Scientology officials.
I had a series of meetings with two of the top leaders of Scientology, Mike Rinder, the head of OSA, and Marty Rathbun, the head of RTC and second in command of Scientology, under David Miscavige. I agreed to these meetings because at the time I naively thought it might be possible to carry on a dialogue with these people for the purpose of bringing about reforms of some of their most abusive practices.
Without boring you with the details of these meetings, I concluded by the third and last one that communicating on any rational level with these or any other Scientology leaders was impossible. The arrogance and disdain with which they treated me during these meetings was born of a firmly held belief that anyone critical of Scientology is nothing but a hindrance to their forward progress, something to be neutralized in any possible way. I was an irritant, and theirs was an unshakable belief in the infallibility of the technology created by the failed artist, L. Ron Hubbard.
Since these meetings, Scientology has stepped up its attacks on me. But I am not the kind of person who has tended to avoid confrontation. Although the Scientologists have done everything in their power to complicate my life, I have no intention of turning my back on their insidious evil. Scientology knows this, and they intend to stop me using whatever means they possibly can.
But what has happened to me is only one example of the many tactics Scientology uses to silence its critics and, generally, to keep the outside world at bay.
Indeed, the external-facing Office of Special Affairs is the only part of Scientology that anyone on the outside ever encounters. It is extremely important to realize that none of us outside the tightly controlled world of Scientology are ever allowed even a glimpse of the true face of Scientology. OSA personnel are assigned to attend conferences like this one to monitor the activities, report back to their seniors with a list of attendees, and, if possible, harass and introvert Scientology critics, many of whom are here tonight. The people who carry out the harassment and intimidation of critics are all OSA personnel or OSA's hired investigators and agents. People on the Internet never speak to anyone who has not been specifically assigned by OSA to "handle" the critics.
OSA, therefore, is the interfacing entity between the Scientology world and the real world. There is rarely even the slightest ripple in the mirror-still waters of Scientology's slick public image. To listen to any of the OSA operatives here tonight, one would think that they lived in a constant state of happiness and complete fulfillment.
However, there is only one way that we can catch a glimpse of what life in Scientology is really like, particularly in the totally closed world of the Sea Org and OSA. Our avenue to this information is via the people who have been there.
It is painful, emotionally difficult work to come to an understanding of Scientology. However, it must be done to become an effective critic and to educate others to the danger of this organization.
I have read many of the testimonials by former Scientologists on the Internet where these heartbreaking stories have been posted. I decided to seek some of these people out and find out for myself what had happened to them. This learning effort has required a large dose of introspection on my part and a willingness to empathize and appreciate the emotional devastation that has occurred to people at the hands of Scientology.
I have gained incredibly valuable insights from my long discussions with both current and former high-level Scientologists about what it is like to be in this cult. Many of these people have become good friends, and I have been able to see that far from being in any way discredited by their experience in Scientology, they have an insight into the dark side of human nature that it would benefit all of us to comprehend.
We need to embrace them as equals and hear, but, most importantly, understand what they have been through. They have literally looked into the eyes of the Devil. They have seen the face of pure evil. They have a powerful and frightening story to tell, and we must listen to them and understand the true nature of Scientology through their hearts and minds.
One former member has told me of being imprisoned behind barbed wire and guarded by police dogs twenty-four hours a day. He tried to leave but was physically restrained and deprived of sleep and nourishment until he became compliant. Gradually, as he was subjected to ever increasing levels of indoctrination, he felt that his soul lost everything of meaning. Much later, he came to realize that he was being used by something narcissistic and utterly evil; his soul had been literally cracked.
He came to feel that he had lost everything for the sake of Scientology, and that a life outside of the cult was not possible . However, because reincarnation is part of the Scientology cosmology, the only hope for escape from Scientology was death. He had conversations with others in the Rehabilitation Project Force, or RPF, Scientology's political prison. They agreed that when they died, and after they were reincarnated, they would wait a long time and have a chance to see what a real life was like for a while before reporting back to work in Scientology. They were condemned to return life after life, but they would put it off as long as they could. This was the level of psychological despair which these prisoners had reached.
Another former Sea Org member told me the horrifying story of being assigned to the RPF during one of Scientology's many purges. She was pregnant when she was sent to the prison camp. She, along with all the others, was forced to do extremely strenuous physical labor for thirty hours at a time, with only three hours off until the next shift. People became so exhausted that they would fall asleep while working and injure themselves with their hammer, saw or other tools.
Often they were forced to sleep on the roof of the building, in pouring rain. They were utterly degraded as human beings, allowed only minimal nourishment, very little sleep, and many became extremely ill and feverish because of the concerted pattern of abuse while their immune systems were already so compromised. They were being punished, she felt, because of the paranoia of the leadership.
My friend told me she was terrified that she was harming her baby and begged her captors to be allowed to sleep and eat for the sake of her unborn child. But no one was willing to risk noncompliance with the orders of senior management. She finally escaped, but her baby was already damaged. Doctors thought the mother had been on drugs during her pregnancy because of the kind of damage the fetus had suffered. They thought he was a crack baby, because when he was born he was severely underweight, under three pounds at full term.
She couldn't tell them the truth, she couldn't tell them what she had actually subjected her baby to. So she let the doctors believe it was drugs.
It took many years of therapy for the child but, miraculously, this woman and her child have normal lives today.
Another woman has told me of the constant terror in which high-level Sea Org members live, the unbelievable paranoia of senior management, in which any criticism at all is taken as evidence that the staff member is working for an enemy of Scientology. She was assigned to the RPF after she voiced strong disagreements with the way senior management was treating staff members by not allowing them to sleep, subjecting them to devastating interrogations, and pushing them to the breaking point for imaginary disobedience.
She described several times in which this treatment brought her to the brink of losing her mind, times during which she could not remember who she was, where she was, or anything about her identity. Without question, they were trying to break her to keep her from being a threat to Scientology.
Tragically, we will never have a chance to hear Lisa McPherson's story of imprisonment and abuse, or why it happened. Scientology succeeded in literally destroying her life.
Several women have told of the heart-breaking series of abortions they were forced to undergo on orders of senior management. Because L. Ron Hubbard's view of children was that they are nothing but a distraction from production, these women were considered to be disobedient to have become pregnant and were not only ordered to have abortions but were given no financial assistance at all.
Thus one woman told of having to spend the day waiting in line to obtain Medicare, having to lie about her circumstances so that Scientology would not be linked to her abortion or her poverty in any way. Some of these women have had multiple abortions and finally escaped when they became pregnant again and could not bear to abort another child. The scars of such experiences can never be erased.
Others have told of senior management's obsession with illegal weapons, stockpiling AK-47s and Uzis, and of afternoons spent conducting shoot-a-thons, using photographs of critics and blown staff members as targets.
Moreover, Scientology has virtually unlimited funds - they boast of spending a million dollars a week - to pay high-priced attorneys and private investigators to intimidate and harass critics and former members. Their cynicism and relentless vindictiveness knows no boundaries, and they will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who tries to stand in their way.
Given all of this, it is difficult enough for someone coming out of the devastating experience of Scientology. From what these people have described to me -- and mind you, these are the lucky ones, the ones who found the strength within themselves to escape -- they come out of this nightmare terribly disoriented, psychologically and emotionally numb, and with no clear understanding of what has happened to them. This gives rise to a succinct definition of a Scientologist: an individual who has been subjected to the behavioral modification procedures of Scientology, but who doesn't have the slightest idea what has actually been done to them.
For some of Scientology's victims, the stigma of being a Scientologist is so ingrained by the cult's indoctrination that it can never be erased. For others, only competent exit counseling, intense therapy and time can repair the damage associated with having been a Scientologist. A key purpose of the counseling and therapy is a greater understanding of the Scientology experience, one which is not simple for anyone I have ever known who has been in Scientology to verbalize.
So what are some of the characteristics of the Scientology experience on a conceptual level? These are some of the characteristics that have helped me to understand the basic sociopathology involved in this cult:
If you don't want people to recognize that you're a predator intent on possessing everything they have as your own, put on a kindly voice, make them laugh at things that have given them trouble, flatter them, and offer them help in removing whatever is blocking them from living a life of greater abundance.
If you don't want people to recognize their true vulnerability to outside influences (like you), tell them that in reality they are completely separable from any aspects of themselves that they consider vulnerable. Tell them that their essential nature is both non-material and "static" - which implies that they can't really be affected by anything. Weave tales that speak of their immortality. When they finally accept the idea that underneath appearances, nothing can affect them, they won't be able to recognize the fact that you are affecting the essential core of their awareness in ways they never even suspected.
If you want people to be unable to recognize the fact that you're taking control of their behavior, tell them that the only way they can be controlled is via factors in their midst that you want to help them be rid of. Go to great lengths to demonstrate that you are trying as best you can to free them from things that might control them against their will or against their best interests. If the act is convincing, it will be a long while before they finally suspect what you're actually doing.
If you don't want people to realize they are becoming the effect of your will, tell them that your goal is to place them back into their rightful position as cause over their own environment. Tell them that your only interest is in seeing to it that they reach a state of greater freedom and power.
If you don't want people to recognize how little they know about the structures and functions that grant them awareness, make a list of all the common assumptions about the mind, put them all together into one big package, embellish it with something called "new discoveries" and teach the subject like a university professor would teach physics.
If you don't want people to recognize you as someone they can't trust, preach the value of your definition of ethical behavior to them. Punish those around you for what you have defined as unethical behavior.
For an artful predator like L. Ron Hubbard, the rule of thumb is this: if you don't want your prey to recognize what you are doing to them, do and say things that they would never expect to see or hear from a predator.
In the inverted reality of Scientology, the soul of evil is bright and shining. The soul of evil is filled with happiness and hope and love. But deep inside, hidden away at the end of a maze of illusions, is the stuff of nightmares.
Let me show you what a Scientology-controlled society would look like.
In November 1996, a German task force was established by the Conference of German Ministers (IMK) to do a comprehensive investigation of Scientology. In their final report in 1998, Dr. Gunther Beckstein stated on behalf of the task force that:
This report has shattered Scientology's propaganda facade of a harmless religious community.
Scientology is striving for a different society, in which even non-scientologists will be "managed" by the Scientology "leaders of tomorrow" with what they consider to be superior methods.
Scientology wants to establish its own legal system that is binding upon everyone, with Scientology standards, but without any guarantee of the course of law, without the due process of law, without lawful and independent judges and without lawful administration.
Scientology disregards human rights (Article 1 of the Constitution) and the principle of equality (Article 3 of the Constitution), since only "cleared", "non-aberrant" scientologists are entitled to enjoy rights.
In a 1995 article published by the Federal Republic of Germany under the title "A Giant Octopus Which is Frightened of Nothing" ["Ein Riesenkrake, der vor nichts zurckschreckt"] in Die Weltwoche, Norbert Blum wrote:
"It is a matter of power. It is a matter of money. If we look at the world around us, then it rapidly becomes clear to us that we are dealing with a new form of sect that walks over bodies. I am thinking of the mass murders of the Solar Temple in Switzerland, the Aum sect in Japan, or the Davidians and militants in the United States. They fight their own battle and conduct entirely personal wars. We must prepare for this type of war, because war is not just when people are wounded or killed. .... Those who subjugate people in their innermost selves are conducting warfare. What I mean is the worldwide campaign of Scientology. There can be no pardon for that."
Many in this country consider it an exaggeration to compare Scientology to Nazi Germany; yet, clearly Germany today sees Scientology as utterly fascist. Germany is doing everything they can to stop Scientology and other totalist groups, because they recognize in them characteristics of another Nazi party.
In Greece last week, the press reported that Scientology has obtained military intelligence secrets from the Greek government following Greece's expulsion of Scientology.
Following a statement by Scientology's President, Heber Jentzsch's in Denmark last week that Scientology would be fully accepted within Europe during the next five to ten years, Spanish officials, the very next day, in their ongoing prosecution against Scientology, have requested thirty years of jail time for Mr. Jentzsch. Perhaps one day plus thirty years Mr. Jentzsch will also be accepted in Europe.
In 1996, the leader of Scientology in France was convicted of involuntary homicide when he was found to be responsible for having driven a Scientologist to suicide. Twelve other Scientologists were given lesser sentences relating to financial wrongdoing uncovered during the homicide investigation.
In 1997, a Milan court sentenced twenty-nine members of Scientology to between nine and twenty months of jail time for criminal association after they were found to have been defrauding members, committing extortion, cheating mentally incapacitated members, and evading as much as $50 million in taxes.
Three years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the largest single libel award in Canadian history -- $1.6 million - for attempting to smear Crown Prosecutor Casey Hill. Scientology decided to ruin Mr. Hill's reputation after Scientology was raided in a 1983 criminal investigation.
In 1991 Scientology in Toronto was criminally convicted for breach of the public trust after they stole police documents and spied on police and government agencies.
Twenty years ago the FBI viewed Scientology as a menace to society when it staged the largest raid in U.S. history on the Guardian's Office, OSA's predecessor. Today, however, Scientology has miraculously transformed itself into a "religion" and assaults Washington with an army of celebrity puppets who rub shoulders with the leaders of our country and wax lyrical about the "benefits" of L. Ron Hubbard's technology.
Our own media is asking serious questions about Scientology.
The Wall Street Journal, on February 24, 1998, questioned the methods used by Scientology to gain tax exempt status. The Journal suggested an "auditing session" for Scientology starting off with a question as to how the vast sums of money spent by Scientology to harass critics and litigate meets the IRS requirement that a 501 c-3 corporation spend its funds on charitable purposes.
We also have The New York Times stating on March 16, 1997, that "The great American religious saga of the 1990's may be the rise to power of a church that has successfully brought the Internal Revenue Service, the State Department and much of the American press to heel even as it did an end-run around the courts."
On September 16, 1998, we have the Boston Globe, telling us in an editorial that Scientology is "one of the great anti-intellectual movements of our time." This is the Boston Globe saying that Scientologists are unable to use their minds creatively because they have been indoctrinated into a rigid script written by L. Ron Hubbard.
Further, the United States has been warned by governments and judges all over the world during the last thirty years about the evils of Scientology, and yet we have other countries shaking their heads at the apparent naivete of our government. Clearly a massive education effort is needed to enlighten our government about this cult.
The Internet can be extremely valuable in this education effort. Yet I am concerned that supposedly informed Internet critics are missing the boat. One critic recently wrote that Scientology is just a "silly little cult that sometimes can be harmful but by and large doesn't really do much damage to anybody." Others think it quite acceptable not to blame someone for being unable to understand Scientology.
I strongly disagree with both of these sentiments. It is my firm conviction that we CAN blame people for not getting it, and in fact, we MUST. History has taught us many painful lessons about apathy, arrogance and ignorance. I consider attitudes reflected by these Internet statements to be the result of sheer laziness on the part of Netizens. They are not willing to invest the time to understand the fabric or construction of the Scientology experience. And if you don't understand it, you cannot maximize your effectiveness as a critic of Scientology.
One Scientology critic on the Internet, Kristi Wachter of San Francisco, recently wrote a letter to the editor of the San Jose Mercury News in response to a Scientologist's claim that "interest in Scientology has never been higher." Ms. Wachter certainly got it right when she stated that yes, indeed, interest in Scientology has never been higher: "Investigative reporters, government agencies and concerned individuals are increasingly interested in the evidence of Scientology's criminal and deceptive acts. And Scientology may have become the most-picketed church in the world, averaging a picket every day...."
This is the type of vigilance that is necessary to keep Scientology from running roughshod in the United States over our civil rights, the legal system, and the civil and human rights of its captives.
All of us here tonight know that our best source of truth on the nature of Scientology is former cult members. Yet, ironically, it has been my experience on the Internet that there is a prejudice against former cult members generally that interferes with hearing what they have to say. Intenet critics must overcome this prejudice if they are ever to comprehend the evil that is germinating through the looking-glass of this nightmare world, happening right here in the United States. The global nature of the Internet clearly enhances our ability to change these attitudes, which seem to be primarily concentrated in the United States.
In this way, we can hope that enough momentum will build, so that the United States will eventually take a stand against this evil cult. Scientology is both a menace to our society and to our way of life.
In closing I would like to quote from a review of the book Dianetics. It was written by Milton Sapirstein and published in "The Nation" in 1950. I first noticed this quote in the Washington Post on December 6, 1998, when Richard Leiby wrote about Lisa McPherson's life and death in Scientology. I was very taken by Sapirstein's grasp of this evil forty-eight years ago:
"The real, and, to me, inexcusable danger in dianetics lies in its conception of the amoral, detached, 100 per cent efficient mechanical man - superbly free-floating, unemotional, and unrelated to anything. This is the authoritarian dream, a population of zombies, free to be manipulated by the great brains of the founder, the leader of the inner manipulative clique."
The entire counter-cult community exists to ensure that this message continues to be heard. I personally am proud to be a part of this movement and to count you as my friends.
Thank you for your attention to my remarks tonight!