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Sympathy for the Devil- part 2

September 9, 2001

The message was signed "Magoo/Tory Bezazian."
photo of Tory picketing
Wild Don Lewis
The Church of Scientology considers erstwhile loyalist Tory Bezazian "worse than the devil," so she wears fake horns as she pickets the church's Hollywood headquarters.

Today, more than a year after her very public defection -- the first in memory to occur on the Internet -- Bezazian is still adapting to her transformation. She has quickly become a highly visible foe of the church she served for three decades. In February, she was fined $100 by a judge for violating a court injunction against picketing Scientology's "spiritual headquarters" in Clearwater, Florida. But she does not seem entirely comfortable with her new role.

Although she has written about her experiences in Internet forums, Bezazian was initially hesitant to share her story with New Times. She later changed her mind, wanting to tell about her experiences helping the OSA fight its battles, and about how Scientology shields its members from negative media coverage and the Internet.

And she also wanted to talk about a man named Andreas, the most corrupt and evil human being on the planet, who one day shocked her by writing a kind letter.

Bezazian says her defection caught everyone who knew her by surprise -- church members and critics alike. But the seeds for her discontent had been planted years earlier.

Meeting her today, it's hard to believe that such a gregarious and effusive person could ever have been a part of what she herself describes as a cult. But Bezazian, 54, is clearly a former Scientologist -- her chatty conversation is filled with the corporate-sounding jargon that marks a longtime adherent of the Hubbard way of thinking.

Bezazian joined the church in 1969 after almost killing herself with heroin in San Francisco. She had ditched her parents' home in an exclusive and stifling suburb of Chicago to become a hippie, then had to be brought home on a gurney when a hypodermic needle turned out to be dirty. Recovering in Illinois, Bezazian was approached by a couple of Scientologists she knew. Their stories about an "applied philosophy" lured the 22-year-old to L.A. Once here, however, she worried that she'd made a big mistake: Scientology's quasi-military structure and obsession with large, Chairman Mao-like images of Hubbard felt Big Brotherish to a hippie deep into freedom of expression. But Bezazian learned to love Scientology, and stayed with it for more than three decades.

She'd become unhappy in recent years, however, partly because she could never rid herself of the space aliens in her body.

Like other advanced members of the church, Bezazian had learned about the aliens inside her only after spending years in the religion and parting with tens of thousands of dollars. In a financial arrangement which is probably unique in theology, adherents of Hubbard's faith must pay increasingly large sums of money to learn the basic tenets of their religion. Former church members and court records indicate that parishioners pay about $100,000 to learn the story of Scientology's origins, which is contained in something called OT III -- its Book of Genesis, as it were. According to a church spokeswoman, only about 10 percent of Scientology's adherents have reached this level. The rest are kept in the dark about Hubbard's strange tale of how his religion began. For them, Scientology is an increasingly expensive progression of classes that give them, they believe, a complicated "technology" for ridding their minds of scars left by previous traumas, some of them from past lives.

Upon reaching OT III, Bezazian learned Hubbard's revelation that Xenu, an evil galactic overlord, had banished millions of space aliens to the planet Teegeack -- now Earth -- in an attempt to solve a cosmic overpopulation problem. Xenu had packed the surplus aliens into volcanoes and pulverized them with hydrogen bombs, but some 75 million years later their disembodied souls, called thetans by Scientologists, had managed to survive. Invisible and incredibly resilient, some of the aliens, which Hubbard called body thetans, had taken up residence inside unwitting human beings. Clustered inside each of us, these interstellar parasites are the source of all human misery.

That ulcer eating away at your stomach lining? It's an ancient body thetan gnawing away at you. That arthritis in your elbow? E.T. feels right at home in your creaky joint. That anxiety you feel speaking in front of a group? Space aliens lurking in your head, tripping you up.

After absorbing this tale, Bezazian, like other Scientologists, continued on through higher levels in a process of counseling and classes -- collectively called "the Bridge" -- which was supposed to help eradicate body thetans. Only when Bezazian had chased off the last of the critters would she attain her true potential -- the unleashing of her own true inner thetan, the alien soul that piggybacking space creatures had held back and tormented. This would in turn produce in her a superhuman state that Hubbard referred to as "clear." Clears could wield amazing powers, Hubbard claimed, including total memory recall and clairvoyance.

The trouble was, no matter how hard Bezazian tried to move across the Bridge (and no matter how much money she spent), her church counselors, called auditors, always claimed to find more body thetans clinging to her.

For years she found herself stuck at OT VII, the second-highest level in the religion. Year after year, she diligently went through drills and tests trying to locate all of the body thetans infesting her system. The process mostly involved talking with auditors while hooked up to an "E-meter," an electronic gauge that measures tiny fluctuations in skin conductivity. Scientologists believe the erratic movement of the meter's needle while a subject talks indicates the presence of body thetans.

One of the things holding Bezazian back was the real mother of a body thetan that had taken up residence in her nervous system. She had epilepsy, which to the rest of the world is a serious, chronic illness. But to Scientologists, Bezazian's epileptic convulsions were a sure sign of a body thetan's presence


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