Scientology Ruined My Life
SALLY JESSY RAPHAEL
Air Date: July 9, 1991
SALLY JESSY RAPHAEL: This is Val and Emma, two sisters who say they're worried sick about their mother. Three years ago, Val and Emma's mother Dorothy abandoned her family and went to work for what they say is a dangerous, bizarre, religious cult known as the Church of Scientology. They say that their mom has been brainwashed to believe that the Church comes before her own family. Now, just last Sunday, in a desperate attempt to rescue their mom from the clutches of the Church, Val and her brother secretly videotaped a conversation. Val questioned her mother with hopes that she would snap out of it.
VAL: [amateur videotape] Every time I come up, I can't see you. You know, your vacation has been changed. And, you know, maybe the first year, I understood that. The second year, I didn't think it was very considerate. And now I'm upset.
DOROTHY: I was doing dishes, I was producing. And I have to tell you that that was probably the best two weeks I've ever spent. I mean, I totally, totally have affinity for that gallery.
VAL: What does affinity for a gallery mean?
DOROTHY: A liking for it, a love for it.
VAL: You got to like washing dishes?
DOROTHY: Loved it. I loved it.
VAL: Something is definitely wrong here. Nobody likes to wash dishes 14 hours a day. Are you making under $5,000 a year or over $5,000 a year?
DOROTHY: I'm probably making about $5,000 a year. I mean, and then [unintelligible].
SALLY: Val, does your mother know that she was being photographed, videotaped?
VAL, Wants Mother to Leave Church of Scientology: No, no.
SALLY: That meeting you just had with your mom, which we saw on tape, now that was the first real conversation that you've had with your own mother in three years? What was it like talking to her?
VAL: Well, my mother is different now. She is, like, real fragmented. I could talk to her, and every once in a while, I'd get a little piece of coherent information, but then there was a lot of incoherent stuff coming out. So it's like somebody scrambled her mind, and there's a million jigsaw pieces of this puzzle that are just thrown on the floor, and she's just trying to pick up little pieces here and there. And any time I'd try to get an answer out of her, I would get some kind of cult lingo.
SALLY: Right, that you probably didn't understand.
VAL: Yeah, there's a lot of things. She told me, later, from my sister, Emma, found out what exactly she was talking about.
SALLY: How did you know about the lingo, Emma?
EMMA, Wants Mother to Leave Church of Scientology: Well, I was involved in the organization 13 years ago, I was on staff.
SALLY: In Scientology?
SALLY: For a long time or a short time?
EMMA: I spent seven months with them. My father told me that if I joined the staff they would train me and give me a career, and I didn't have any hopes of being able to go to college because of my financial situation. So I thought, "Great, a golden opportunity." And I spent 14 hours a day working and getting nowhere and not really getting any training and just under a lot of stress. And so, I had left.
SALLY: Now, what got mother involved in Scientology in the first place?
VAL: I think what got my mom involved was, she had eight children. She devoted her life to us. When the littlest one left home, I think she had a little bit of empty nest syndrome. She had a poor marriage. And I think she wanted to work on her marriage and she also wanted to do something with her life. My mother is a very loving, very Christian, gentle kind of person, and she thought that she was going to help save the world.
SALLY: But what's wrong with this? I know you two are desperate. I talked to you just before the show, and you are absolutely desperate.
Mother seems to have found a life. What's wrong?
VAL: What's wrong is that she's 60 years old, they've got her working 14 hours a day. She'll set a vacation, Emma and I will drive 600 miles to see her, and then all of a sudden, the vacation is changed. There's something wrong with the work place. And this cult is a for-profit business, and I want everybody to understand that; they are making big money. They are not paying my mother. She's not even making living wages.
SALLY: Is that true what we saw on the tape?
EMMA: That's true, yes.
SALLY: Under $5,000 a year.
VAL: Under $5,000 a year.
SALLY: For how many days work? Six days a week?
[crosstalk] EMMA: Six days.
VAL: Well, of course, they study on their own time. She can't see her family. So everything --
SALLY: So that's why this is the first time in three years you've seen Mom?
EMMA: They control her every moment.
VAL: That's right. She has to get permission from them. She has to call them in on her day off. She has to call in and get instructions. She had to call them and get instructions how to handle me, because I was questioning them. And because I question her and what is going to happen to her, she is going to have to impose punishment upon herself, because I have asked her to take a vacation.
SALLY: I'm not quite sure I understand. You asked your mother to take a vacation, she has to be punished by herself because you've done that.
VAL: She told me that she would be considered a "PTS," potential trouble source, because she is supposed to have me under control. And, like she said, she's never had me under control. And then she'll have to go to a book and she'll have to pick out what her crime is, because I've asked her to take a vacation. And then, once she's decided what her crime is, she has to pick out conditions. Now, if she doesn't pick out the appropriate conditions, then they will help her pick out conditions. Now, that's what the 14-hour dishwashing was. She evidently committed a crime a couple years ago.
SALLY: So she washed dishes for 14 hours.
SALLY: Now, the last time you tried to get through to mother -- and we have eight brothers and sisters here who are desperate to get their mother back, out of Scientology -- you were sent a book called Can We Ever Be Friends? It came with a tape or something.
VAL: That was what she was told would get Emma and I back in line.
SALLY: And what does this book say?
VAL: Well, this book -- I took it to be just propaganda from them. My mother and I have never been enemies; we've always been friends. So I kind of thought on the face of it, "What's the point?"
EMMA: Well, why is asking to spend a vacation with my mother an enemy type of action?
SALLY: Oh, OK, I don't know, actually.
EMMA: I mean, why is that wrong?
VAL: Why should a 60-year-old woman not have a week off to see her children? You know, the first year, I thought, "Well, my mom wants to have a new life, that's fine." The second year I thought, "This is kind of different," you know. I really think that the family should be connected. And the third year, I thought, you know, "Eighty-four hours a week," I think it's boiling down to about $1.19 an hour, no benefits. I mean, what is retirement? What about health insurance?
EMMA: My son doesn't even know his grandmother. He's never had a time to spend with her, because he was about 7 when she got involved. And, before that, he was too young to remember her. And that, for me, is very hard, because he --
SALLY: Describe her now. You said she appeared to be deprived of sleep, not able to think clearly.
EMMA: It's like I have two mothers. There's an old mother and a new mother. My old mother was bubbly, happy-go-lucky. She loved to travel. She loved to cross-stitch. She just loved life and she loved people. She loved being with people and my new mother -- You have to feed the conversation. She doesn't offer anything. She doesn't want to travel. She's passed up opportunities to travel. She's just a completely different person and there's no bubbling. The bubble is all gone.
SALLY: Besides taping that and bringing it to us, what are the eight kids going to do to rescue mother?
VAL: Well, I think what needs to be done -- This cult is a business for profit. And if they paid their taxes and if they paid their employees, or their workers, whatever you want to call them, their volunteers, like any other business in America has to pay their taxes and their employees, they would be brought to their knees. So I think that everybody needs to start doing a little bit of talking, and a little bit of networking. Let's talk to our politicians. Let's get the Department of Labor off their rear ends and, you know -- My mother ought to be paid a living wage, for God sake. She's 60 years old. They can't afford to pay their people.
SALLY: Oh, so that might give you mother back. You know, in reading this, Can We Ever Be Friends?, it kind of leads you to believe that anyone who questions Scientology should themselves be questioned.
VAL: Right, and we --
SALLY: So, if anyone attacks you, you attack the attacker.
VAL: That's right. We have been told that there are certain people in Scientology that want us out of their way.
SALLY: Want the two of you out of their way?
VAL: Yes, yes, that came back through our mother, through another sister.
SALLY: Are you afraid?
VAL: No, because I think fear -- I am, but I'm not, because I think fear stops people from doing what they need to do. And I'm not going to be stopped.
EMMA: Besides, if they start attacking people and the world sees that, then they've just buried themselves. I mean, what do you think the world will see when they see that?
SALLY: Next, a woman dying of cancer who says the Church of Scientology is to blame. We'll be right back.
SALLY: I sure hope you're going to stay with us for this whole program because I think the topic is absolutely fascinating. Now, if you just joined us, we're talking about the Church of Scientology with people who say the Church has destroyed their lives. Val and Emma, what is Scientology? I mean, you know, we've been talking about is now for a whole section. Can you just say what it is?
VAL: Do you want to try?
SALLY: "You want to try?" Yeah.
EMMA: It's a business, but they portray themselves as a religion. And they're, I think, out to save the world, like, they're going to offer some psychological help to people. And then what they do is they draw them in, take their money, take their time.
SALLY: So it could be a religion and it could be a philosophy?
SALLY: All right, a combination.
VAL: I don't know much about it.
SALLY: It's hard to put your finger on that. This is Roxanne. Roxanne grew up, like most girls, with lots of dreams for her future. I think you were going to be an opera star, were you not? But when Roxanne turned 18, the dreams were shattered when she joined the Church of Scientology. Roxanne says it was this Church that destroyed her life. And recently, she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now, she feels that Scientology contributed greatly to her illness and may be even to blame for it. Today, Roxanne doesn't know how long she has to live. What happened? You were in the Church when you got sick. What happened?
ROXANNE, Says Church of Scientology Destroyed Her Life: Yes, OK, I was involved for 13 years.
SALLY: How much did you spend with the Church in 13 --
ROXANNE: Roughly $100,000, between $80 and $100,000.
SALLY: You are a very rich person.
ROXANNE: I had my own business and I worked night and day. I did some work for the Church of Scientology, as well. I worked night and day, often weeks on end without sleep, and I did make some money. I had credit cards and I gave them roughly that amount of money.
SALLY: A hundred thousand?
ROXANNE: The last, say, two or three years, that I was involved, I became ill. And I kept telling them, "I'm ill." And I wouldn't -- maybe not go so far as to say I blame them. The Church of Scientology did not give me cancer, or something like that. But I kept saying, "I'm ill." And I kept being told -- It was heavily implied to me that it was a mental thing, that if I gave them another $6,000, another $12,000, that I would be OK, that I wasn't really ill. I was taken by Scientologists --
SALLY: Did they tell you that it was psychosomatic, that the cancer --
ROXANNE: I was trained for 13 years to believe that there is no such thing as illness, that it is psychosomatic. Read Dianetics and it says it in there. And I got up to the top of the Scientology charts. And I was not supposed to be ill. There is no such thing as illness in Scientology; it can be audited out. You can pay and have it removed, because it is all in your mind. And I was so heavily trained to believe that that I felt that I something was mentally very, very wrong. And --
SALLY: Are you afraid of being with me now?
ROXANNE: Very much so. Yes.
SALLY: I mean, the lady I talked to backstage and the lady I'm talking to now -- pardon me -- is --
ROXANNE: I'm scared to death, Sally.
SALLY: Why are you so frightened?
ROXANNE: My brother is still involved. I love him dearly. We're 11 months apart. We were very close. He will not speak with me right now, because he's not allowed to, because of the Church of Scientology. SALLY: Unlike your mother.
ROXANNE: They do not like people who speak out against them.
SALLY: Are you afraid that being with me, somebody is going to do you bodily harm?
ROXANNE: The possibility exists. I know people that that has happened to.
SALLY: OK, I now respect your fear, and the audience understands that, so if I ask you any questions that you think will jeopardize -- This is hard.
ROXANNE: Just being here.
SALLY: Yes, just being here jeopardizes it.
SALLY: OK, you gave them 100,000, they told you your disease was psychological, and one night, some people came to visit you?
ROXANNE: OK, I had been ill. For the last two or three years I was involved in the group. I was iller and iller. I went down to Florida on my own volition, to try and see if I could do something about my condition. And it was not going well. I called 911, emergency, and went to the hospital. Some Scientologists came and got me from the hospital and brought me back to the hotel. And, at that point, I decided I didn't want to be there. I didn't decide that I didn't want to be in the group; I decided I did not want to be there. I did not want to have their auditing, which is their counseling. And I woke up in the middle of the night. I wasn't sleeping well anyhow. And I went to the airport and I left. And I went back to Los Angeles, where I was living at the time. They sent about five people there. I said, "No, I do not want to go back down there. I'm ill." I just wanted to rest.
SALLY: This sounds like a spy thriller.
ROXANNE: It was a nightmare, at the least. It was a nightmare at the least. They woke me up in the middle of the night, had already packed my belongings into a Winnebago -- this was around January 1st, a year and a half ago -- and escorted me physically to the recreational vehicle and drove me --
SALLY: Wait a minute. "Escorted me physically" is kidnapping, right? ROXANNE: Whatever words you want to use. I don't know what word to use for it.
SALLY: Escorted -- OK.
ROXANNE: Escorted me, physically, without my volition, into this Winnebago, drove me down to Florida, put me in a little apartment, had a guard at the front door, a guard at the back door, no telephone. Both my parents tried to contact me while I was there. I tried to get them to mail letters for me, which they would not or did not mail. And I stayed in that room for four weeks, stating, merely on a daily basis, at least for two of those weeks, that I'm being held there against my will, that it was illegal, and that I did not want to be there. And finally, the day they let me go, they gave me a declaration. That's part of their ethics policies they have declarations.
SALLY: Why did they finally let you go?
ROXANNE: Because I kept saying that every day, and I refused to get their auditing and counseling.
SALLY: I'm beginning to understand how you feel, Val. You said to me, "I haven't said what I think about my mother." If she's brave enough to talk about this with her brother, then, can I get you to say that? Or will it endanger you?
VAL: Well, it might endanger me. It might endanger my family. It might endanger my mother.
SALLY: If you'd rather not say it, it's fine.
VAL: No, but I think public awareness is real important right now, because I'm a believer that if you stay intimidated, then you can't help the ones you need to help. My mother is -- You just feel like, you know, her mind is so fragmented. And I feel about her like I did, or do my son, like, when he had to have stitches, you know, when you need to help them. Can I have a Kleenex?
VAL: They're just more vulnerable. And you need to protect them, just like you need to protect your child that is unable to protect themselves.
SALLY: Do you feel that way about your brother?
ROXANNE: I'm concerned about my brother. My brother was on drugs, very heavily, before being involved with the Church. And I'm frightened that he won't have the support system there, if he does decide to leave, because it's very difficult to leave. My life crashed. And I don't want him to use that as a support system. Would he make the choice to leave?
SALLY: Roxanne, have the doctors said that if, when you said, "I'm ill," if you had gotten earlier cancer detection, that this would have prolonged your life? Is that the crux of what was said?
ROXANNE: To me, there's no question about it, that if I had sought help earlier, that my life would be prolonged. I have stage 4 cancer, which means it's spread quite a bit, and it takes time for cancer to spread. If it had been caught when it was just its original tumor, and I had had that removed, it would be all over right now, meaning that I wouldn't have to be dealing with the problem. I've been told by two specialists that it is terminal. And I have one who told me one-to-two years, one told me about -- right now, about 10 months to live. And, had I caught it earlier, two or three years ago, before it spread --
SALLY: You're sure you want to spend that remaining time talking about this?
ROXANNE: No, I don't. I almost backed out.
SALLY: Why are you doing this?
ROXANNE: Because I feel that, especially with people involved in Scientology, such as, you know, Tom Cruise now is on the headlines, and people are gullible. I was so naive. I believed everything that I was told by Scientologists. I never questioned one thing. I know people do question it. I didn't. I completely, 100 percent, was into it for all those years. And I hope that, maybe, by telling my story, I can help someone else to not have to go through what I went through. I can honestly tell you my life is happier now. I feel more joy, and I have a life now. And I did not have a life for 13 years.
SALLY: That's worth it. If that's the way you decide to spend your time, then I applaud you.
ROXANNE: Thank you.
SALLY: An inside speaks out. Someone in the Church of Scientology tells us about it, from the inside, when we return.
SALLY: I told you it was going to be absolutely fascinating. Hana Whitfield knows about the Church of Scientology from the inside. She was a close confidante of the founder of the Church, L. Ron Hubbard. She even lived on his private boat for many years. But now, Hana says, getting out was the best thing she ever did. I want you to talk to us about your experiences with the Church, if you will, Hana. Now, does the Church take these ads on television, it says L. Ron Hubbard's name, and then it says Scientology and there's a book involved. Correct?
HANA, Former Scientologist: That's correct.
SALLY: The book is called?
HANA: Dianetics: Modern Science of Mental Health.
SALLY: Because we've seen all these ads. OK, go back and tell us a little bit -- I mean, how long were you with Scientology?
HANA: I'm still embarrassed to say it, 19-1/2 years, especially in front of all these people.
SALLY: And you lived on the boat and you were in the inner workings of this?
HANA: Yes. Well, I started off at the bottom and fairly rapidly worked my way up. I was promoted upward. And I got into a position of being a senior executive. And, when we were on the ships with Hubbard, I was the captain of one ship, I deputy captained another ship. I was a deputy to Hubbard in the United States for two years. So I held some fairly senior positions.
SALLY: Did the Church do the things that these people are saying that it did?
HANA: Absolutely. And it still does them today.
SALLY: Did you do these things knowingly?
HANA: No. The amazing thing is, when I was in the group, I was never involved with money, with finance; I was involved with legal matters, only for a very short period of time. And those are the two main areas that are the dirty areas in Scientology. They are the ones that were run by the old guardian's office that did the covert operations against Scientology's enemies that --
SALLY: Wait, wait, wait, covert operations against Scientology's enemies?
HANA: Yes, yes, they ran covert intelligence gathering missions, put together programs to destroy people like Paulette Cooper, after she wrote her book in the '70s, I believe, which was the first major book that came out that was critical of Scientology.
SALLY: So there was the phrase, "Attack the attacker."
HANA: Exactly. And, if possible, "Ruin him utterly," meaning these are Hubbard statements, out of his own confidential policies: "Ruin your enemy utterly. Destroy him. Obliterate him." I found these things out after --
SALLY: This is America -- This is now in America?
HANA: Sally, I found out about these things after I left the group. I had no idea --
SALLY: Why did you leave the group?
HANA: Because I got so ill and so suicidal that if I had stayed, I would have committed suicide.
SALLY: You said financial was a big area of this organization. What are we talking about in terms of money? What is this Church or philosophy worth?
HANA: To call it a church is actually incorrect, and I just want to add this, it is not correct that all the churches have tax-exempt status. That is not correct. Scientology and current leadership advertise it as such, but it is not. Select churches have tax-exempt status, but not all of them.
HANA: When Hubbard died in '86, he was attributed to be worth close to $2 billion. And most of that money was in tax havens at that time, in Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. And now there's a new tax haven in Cypress. I don't know, currently, what this organization is worth.
SALLY: But you're talking billions and billions. Speak to me about rehab.
HANA: Clarify that for me.
SALLY: Were you involved in part of the organization where you did rehab?
HANA: Rehabilitation Project Force. Yes, I was --
SALLY: What is that?
HANA: It's a group within Scientology, to which its dissidents are assigned, people who speak out, people who protest, people who are critical of the organization, but they're still Scientologists. They're taken by force, as I was. Somebody said, one is taken involuntarily but not kidnapped. And I was put into this group. We lived in the garage in the Clearwater Hotel, the Fort Harrison Hotel. We had to run everywhere. We were not allowed to speak to anyone outside our group. We were treated like, my husband calls it a concentration camp. We worked 12 hours a day, we studied eight hours a day. We slept very little. We were considered the dirt of Scientology. And I was in it for a year.
SALLY: In it for a year?
SALLY: If someone came up to you and asked you to donate money to some group -- For example, if somebody came to me and said -- because it's a particular interest of mine -- "Would you give money to Narcanon?" you probably would, right? What most people don't know is that Narcanon is a group known to have a very strong connection with the Church of Scientology.
HANA: Narcanon is part and parcel of Scientology. It will not admit it in its literature. In its literature, it adamantly states it is not connected, in any way, to the Church of Scientology.
SALLY: But it is, in your opinion?
HANA: It is part and parcel of Scientology.
SALLY: And it is in the opinion of Time magazine. Now, they've listed a number of groups also affiliated with the Church of Scientology. I'm going to ask you for a sentence on them. Criminon.
HANA: Criminon is supposed to handle crime, supposed to eliminate crime. It's a front group of Scientology.
SALLY: Sterling Management Systems.
HANA: It's a front group of Scientology.
SALLY: What do they do?
HANA: Its purpose is to recruit professionals into Scientology, because professionals have more money than the people on the street. That is true. That is absolutely true.
SALLY: Way-to-Happiness Foundation.
HANA: Its purpose is to promote good public relations, and, when one finds out that Scientology created the booklet, one then feels good towards Scientology.
SALLY: Applied Scholastics.
HANA: It's a front group.
SALLY: Sounds good. I'd give money to schooling.
HANA: It's a front group of Scientology.
SALLY: What does it do?
HANA: It teaches Hubbard's educational methods.
SALLY: Citizens Commission on Human Rights.
HANA: Its purpose and goal is to eliminate psychiatry from the world and put Scientology in psychiatry's place.
SALLY: Concerned Businessman's Association of America. I'm wondering how many of these people I've given money to is what I'm thinking. What do they do?
HANA: They are a front group, as well, and are supposed to promote Scientology -- It's business, Hubbard's business management techniques, into the society and businesses at large.
SALLY: Health Med.
HANA: It's supposed to promote Hubbard's medical breakthroughs in eliminating toxins from the body.
SALLY: And a book called Diet for a Poisoned Planet. That isn't even sold on those commercials.
HANA: No, it isn't.
SALLY: But it's a Scientology book?
HANA: I believe so. I don't know too much about that one.
SALLY: And the Association for Better Living and Education.
HANA: That's the group that runs all the ones you've just mentioned. And it is situated in the Scientology building on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, ABLE, for short.
SALLY: When you worked, for part of your time, you worked in Exit? Is there something called Exit?
HANA: Exit counseling or consulting.
SALLY: Yeah, what is Exit counseling?
HANA: My husband and I -- It's the word used to describe the work we do now. Since we've left Scientology, we now work with families who have a loved one in Scientology. We help them to educate the loved one, so the loved one can make an informed choice as to whether to continue working for Scientology or to leave the group.
SALLY: Could you help their mother?
HANA: I can't say straight out. We would have to get into communication, find out what the situation is, and so forth. There is a chance that their mother could be helped.
SALLY: Now, there are a number of celebrities -- who was it down here that was saying -- You were saying to me some of the celebrities, right? And people are interested. And they were reported by Time magazine to be Scientologists. Do you know who any of them are? Who? "Tom Cruise?" Somebody said, "Tom Cruise," right?
HANA: Yes, yes. I don't know him personally, but, yes, he is a Scientologist.
ROXANNE: Kristie Alley. I know John Travolta.
SALLY: John Travolta is one.
HANA: Priscilla Presley. Kathie Lee, Kathie Lee Crosby.
SALLY: Right. There's a lot of them. Is there not? And the voice of Bart Simpson, I think.
HANA: Yes, yes, and I've just heard that Patrick Swayze is involved, but not publicly, at this point.
SALLY: Why would these people -- Mimi Rogers, there -- Thank you for the list, who is ever producing the show. According to Time magazine, Mimi Rogers, Ann Archer, Sonny Bono, Chick Corea and Nancy Cartwright, who is the voice of --
HANA: And Demi Moore has been approached and has been courted by the top executives in Scientology, and was willing to sign on the dotted line, but her husband, Bruce Willis, grabbed her aside and said, "Demi, this needs a lot more investigation before we're getting involved."
SALLY: Next, a couple who nearly lost their twin babies to Scientology. We'll be back.
SALLY: I think it's very important, also, to say that Time magazine did a cover story, and we want to thank them for their participation and their help. I want you to meet Pete and Mary Jo Farrell [sp?]. They say they had no idea that they were falling, hook, line and sinker, for what they say, now, is a destructive cult. It nearly ruined their marriage and their bank account. In fact, the stress was so intense, it almost caused Mary Jo, who was pregnant with twins at the time, to miscarry. You almost lost the babies?
MARY JO, Says Church of Scientology Almost Destroyed Family: Yes. When Pete came back from California, he was ready to go back out three times before I was going to have these twins. I was entering my last trimester. He had emptied out our bank account --
SALLY: Wait, wait, we'd better start this story at the beginning. Somebody sitting here said, "We'd been approached." Who was saying that? Was it you? Yeah, OK. You two were approached. Is that the beginning of the story?
PETE, Says Church of Scientology Almost Destroyed Family: The beginning of the story is that I'm a veterinarian.
SALLY: I knew I liked you.
PETE: Thank you. As a veterinarian, in veterinary college, you do not receive any management training, how to run a business, how to take care of employees. Well, the Church of Scientology has a front group designed to fill that niche. And it is called Sterling Management Systems.
SALLY: Oh, that was one of the ones that we were just talking about.
PETE: And they have a very aggressive marketing scam, where they mail very wonderful brochures about how you'll be able to take vacations and increase your gross production and have a wonderful life, if you'll just sign on with Sterling Management Systems. And so, my partner and I did go to an introductory seminary. Having had no training at all in management, we were given some basic management ideas that seemed to be very plausible. And so we decided that we were going to join on. We were shocked at how much it cost to sign up. That night, we had to sign a $13,000 check. They would not let us come back the next day. We had to do it that night. They were going to keep us there until we were convinced that we had to do it that night.
HANA: Sally, I've worked briefly for Sterling and I know what the sales techniques are. The rationale is that if you let a client, a prospective client leave and think about it they will analytically be critical of their decision and back out of signing up, giving away $36,000 - $50,000.
SALLY: That's why the laws have a protection of certain days.
HANA: So it has to be done now. But why does it have to be done now? Because any doubt, any fear, any negativity he may have felt about signing comes from his subconscious mind, his reactive mind. It's controlling him. He mustn't let it control him.
PETE: As a part of the business training that we received, we were taught how to do hard sell, in other words, how to take a client and manipulate them into letting you do things with their pet -- in my situation -- that they ordinarily would not choose to do, simply by convincing them that, "This is the best. Don't you want the best for your pet?" "Don't you want the best for your life?" is how they convinced me. "Don't you want to be a better person?"
SALLY: So you were in this. And you were in it how long? And how much have you spent? And, weren't you suspicious about anything?
PETE: We had no background to judge the goodness or badness of their management training. And everyone that we talked to -- And they had a list, a phone list, of people to call, who were so supportive, and said, "These are great guys. They'll really help your business." We didn't realize that every single person on that phone list got a kick-back from the company for saying the good things that they did. So, at the time, we had no way to know that it was a bad situation.
So we did sign up. We went to California. We learned all of this Hubbard philosophy and how to change people around and judge people. And then, the kicker is, they tell you that, "Well, doctor, the real way that you're going to help your practice is to make yourself a better person. And the only way that really exists in the world to do that is through the services of the Church of Scientology. So we want you to sign on for this." And, as hard as it may be for you all to believe it, we did sign on. I mean, hearing these other people's stories, it seems incredible. But we had only seen good things. We had never heard a single bad thing. And really, also, we were not good consumers, because we did not pursue information about Sterling Management Systems. We didn't call the Better Business Bureau. We didn't call anybody else to find out if they were good or bad.
SALLY: Although, I'm not so sure that the Better Business Bureau or anybody else would make an opinion. You said you were a little suspicious.
MARY JO: I was a little suspicious, because, when Pete came back from California the first time, we both were going to go, his partner Mike and -- We were all going to go, leave my kids, who I never leave, I mean, for 14 days and go. But then, in the meantime, I got pregnant with twins and my doctor didn't want me to travel.
SALLY: How did you get out of the Scientology?
PETE: Well, it was all for Mary Jo.
MARY JO: Peter's partner came back before, from California, from the Church of Scientology, first. He came to me, in my kitchen, and said, "I don't want to upset you," because I was, you know, this huge, pregnant woman. He said, "But, there is something wrong with Pete. I don't think this is right. Did you know he just emptied out your bank account, maxed out your credit cards, and he's going to destroy our business?" And I said, "Oh boy, I've got to deal with this right now, because I'm not losing my husband to anybody." Because we had a wonderful life. He came back from California believing that he was a bad person, a bad father and husband and a terrible veterinarian. [weeping] He's a wonderful man and he always was.
SALLY: Let's take a break, we'll be right back.
SALLY: Pete was saying that no one ever said anything negative. So maybe, I guess that's what we're kind of trying to -- not say negative, but at least inform. Steve Hassan, who has been with us before, is a former cult member. And he has been involved in helping people get away from cults for about 14 years. Now, we've been hearing a lot about what people call cults today. Just how dangerous are they?
STEVE HASSAN, Cult Awareness Network: Cults, or --
[Note: WARNING! The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) was recently bankrupted and bought up by Scientology. We strongly recommend you do not contact them for assistance.]
SALLY: I have to get you to stand up.
Mr. HASSAN: Sally, cults are definitely proliferating. And Scientology is one of the more destructive cults. And they're very powerful. And they use PR very, very well. And, as you can see, not just young people are being recruited by cults, like it was in the 70's, but now, elderly people, professional people. People are being vigorously and deceptively recruited.
EMMA: I'd like to ask a question if I could. I don't remember your name, but you used to be in the --
EMMA: Hana. What happens to my mother. She's 60 years old. She should be retiring or near retirement. On $5,000 a year, what is she going to get in retirement? And what do they do to her?
HANA: She will be worked as hard as they can work her. We call the members of the group now -- I mean, Hubbard was practicing slave labor, basically. She will be worked as long as she has a breath in her body. And then, when she either gets ill or she's unable to continue on, she will be dismissed from the group. She will not get a pension. She will not get health insurance, medical insurance, life insurance. It doesn't exist. SALLY: Is this a cult? Is this?
Mr. HASSAN: Oh, absolutely.
SALLY: Scientology is a cult?
Mr. HASSAN: Any organization that's an authoritarian pyramid structure with someone or some group at the top that has all the knowledge, all the information, that used deception in recruitment and mind-control techniques, including putting phobias in people to make them fearful that if they ever leave, terrible things are going to happen to them; controls information, tells people who they can talk to and who they can't talk to, what they can read and what they can't read. Any group that uses fear and guilt manipulation to make people dependent on the authority figures is using mind control and is using cults. And it's not just Scientology. There are thousands of these groups. They could be a political cult, it could be a psychotherapy cult or commercial cult.
SALLY: We have to be on the watch for them. Is Scientology --
Mr. HASSAN: I don't mean to generate fear, but to be a good consumer. People have to realize, if a group is legitimate, it will stand up to any scrutiny, and to always get all the facts. Not just depend on what the group recruiter is telling you, but to take time out and do the thorough research. And, in that way, you can protect yourself.
PETE: I need to tell you about mind control, because that's a word that you think, "Oh," you think, "Brainwashing," OK. Well, mind control is what happened to me. And I wasn't brainwashed. I did not know that anyone was trying to manipulate my mind, at all. I felt and told everyone that I made every conscious choice all by myself. No one forced me to decide to sign that $34,000 check. No one told me that I should do anything. I made all the choices, OK. And that is the difference between mind control and brainwashing. Because you are manipulated into making that choice, by them, unbeknownst to you.
SALLY: I don't still understand, if I saw that whole list of all the organizations to join, some of them sound like they're giving such wonderful help to people. And most of us today really want to be helpful because people just aren't interested. What precautions do I take not to get involved in a Sterling Management or a this or a that?
Mr. HASSAN: Well, I think the crucial thing is consumer awareness and to realize that, just because you're solicited by a glossy brochure, or you're given a free personality test, or whatever, that the group is legitimate. Ask questions. Find out who is the leader. Find out what is the background. You can go and trace organizations, in terms of going to newspapers and magazines. There's the Cult Awareness Network, which has files --
SALLY: Wait, Hana, would they tell me that this was Scientology-based? When he says, "Be a good consumer," is there anything --
Mr. HASSAN: No. Well -- No, you can't count on groups telling you, "We're with the parent group."
HANA: It depends. No. The best thing to do is to go and do one's own research in the library, because there is now positive stuff put out by Scientology, and there is negative stuff in libraries. And if -- A rule of thumb is, if it sounds too good to be true, be suspicious.
SALLY: It usually is.
Mr. HASSAN: Right. And the more grandiose the claims, the more you should be skeptical about it and do the research.
PETE: All of the consulting firms that Scientology has out now -- Sterling is not the only one. There's Hollander Consultants, there's Iron Wookitz [sp?] and somebody else and Singer. Those groups are directed at professionals: dentists, chiropractors, doctors. There's also groups -- I just saw one that's going for computer technology people. So they're trying to work their way into all aspects.
SALLY: You have some quotes from the Cult Awareness Network about Scientology.
Mr. HASSAN: Yes, actually, Sally, in the Time magazine piece, which is excellent, and the L.A. Times did a six-part series last year, the executive director, Cynthia Kisser, of the Cult Awareness Network said, "Scientology is quite likely the most ruthless, the most classically terroristic, the most litigious, and the most lucrative cult the country has ever seen. No cult extracts more money from its members."
SALLY: Take a break, we'll be right back.
SALLY: You were saying that a reputable organization allows the scrutiny and answers questions. We asked Scientology five times to please appear on the show so they could tell their story. They sent us this, The Story That "Time" Couldn't Tell. Now, this is an insert in what?
HANA: USA Today.
SALLY: USA Today has printed this in their newspaper as an insert. Is this backed by Scientology?
HANA: Oh, yes, that is printed by the Church of Scientology International.
SALLY: Why would USA Today put these in their newspapers?
HANA: Because Scientology has probably paid them I don't know how many millions to put that into every edition of USA Today.
SALLY: And how would we, as the --
HANA: They've done that in an attempt to show that the Time magazine article is full of errors and full of untruths. They have attempted to give their side in that particular piece.
SALLY: I see.
HANA: So Scientology has tried to exonerate itself in that piece against what was mentioned in the Time magazine article.
SALLY: Aren't there lawyers that handle all these cases?
SALLY: Can they do anything?
HANA: Well, there are a number of very brave lawyers in the United States, who are, slowly but surely, making headway against Scientology. The group, and Hubbard, if he were alive, would never admit it. They'd never admit it in public, that every single case that has gone to trial -- whether Scientology filed it or someone else filed it against Scientology -- Scientology has lost that case. Every single one that has gone to trial in front of a jury has been lost by Scientology. Scientology will never admit that.
Mr. HASSAN: I'd just like to say that a number of authors have written books about it. The latest one is called A Piece of Blue Sky, by an ex- Scientologist, Jon Atack. And the Church went to the Supreme Court, trying to suppress this book for years, and finally the Church lost that. And the book is available. And anyone who wants to know the definitive research work on Scientology to date, it's A Piece of Blue Sky by Jon Atack.
HANA: It's an excellent book. There was just a case due to come to trial this week in Los Angeles, Bent Corydon v. Church of Scientology. SALLY: So there are cases. HANA: He's the author of a book. SALLY: Take a break, we'll be right back. [Commercial break] SALLY: USA Today is my favorite newspaper, but this is not my favorite thing. I guess the answer is, next time anybody asks you to join an organization or anything, to be the intelligent consumer and try and find out as much as you can. And we wish you all a great deal of luck. Thank you for being with us today. Copyright (c) 1991 by Multimedia Entertainment, Inc.
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