Those of you who know me are aware I’ve never cracked open a Scientology book, let alone stepped into an Org. The only Hubbard material I’ve read is what I’ve had to read for my job, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s more than enough Hubbard to last me a lifetime. I’ve also read most of the books on the subject, from Jon Atack’s Let’s Sell These People A Piece of Blue Sky and Russell Miller’s Bare-Faced Messiah, to the heartrending survivor accounts written by such brave folks as Amy Scobee, Marc Headley, Nancy Many, and so many others – and I’ve gone to the footnotes and verified the material. In short, even as a “never-in,” I know more about the Cult That LRon Wrote than any sane person should.
There’s no doubt about it: Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was a narcissistic, abusive, drug-fuelled monster who created one of the most mind-bending, soul-sucking, money-grabbing organizations known to humanity. I’ve studied the “Training Routines” and seen them for the hypnotic inductions they are, and know, from my conversations with many well-trained professional psychotherapists, exactly why Scientology doesn’t work.
So, I’m certainly no fan of Scientology by any means. That said, I’m a fan of people, no matter what they believe. I also was in a cult, but that didn’t mean that I was foolish, or stupid, and it certainly didn’t mean that I was evil. It simply meant that I was mistaken – and we all make mistakes.
So it saddens me when I see ex-Scientologists or other critics of Scientology calling those still in “scum” or other insults – or worse, attacking those who have left the abusive group but still hang onto the ridiculous beliefs. I was over a decade out of my own cult (and had become a dedicated cult watcher) before I shed the web of magical thinking and faulty reasoning I had developed in my cult. Just as an ex-Jehovah’s Witness will sometimes still believe in Jesus and the Bible, not everyone who leaves an abusive religion will become an atheist. Many of those leaving Scientology will still find some value in the system they used in the cult. I might know that Hubbard’s theories were not only not his, but completely wrong, but that does not prevent someone else from knowing the opposite. We have a right to be wrong, but we do not have a right to abuse others.
If an Independent Scientologist has left the abusive organization, but still finds comfort and solace in a system that I know is total bullshit, I still have no right to abuse them, just as I have no right to abuse those who still attend their churches, synagogues and mosques, even if I don’t believe the “sky-father” they’re praying to is anything but a made-up concept. I know Scientology doesn’t work, but that doesn’t entitle me to abuse those who are mistaken about its utility. They believe it works for them, and no amount of insulting them will turn them from that belief.
When I was in my cult, people calling me names or insulting my beliefs only hardened my resolve to follow my leader farther – the theory of cognitive dissonance tells us that the more someone pushes you not to believe, the more you will believe. Calling people names and labeling them as the enemy will never work, whether or not they are in an abusive group, or have left the abusive group but still cling to the beliefs. Insults only separate; compassion and empathy are what bring people together.
So even though I hate the processes and the techniques of Scientology, I will never hate the people – at least not just because they’re Scientologists (folks like the odious Masterson brothers or the Cardone family are loathsome, not because of their beliefs but their actions). Those still in the clutches of the cult are to be viewed with pity, for the most part; I, too, was once a captured soul – what right have I to condemn someone who is still captive? Those who have come out and still practice Scientology are no longer culpable in the crimes of the cult, responsible only for their own actions – to them, I wish them luck on their path, but I will not insult them or denigrate their progress. If they’re no longer complicit in a destructive group, then their beliefs are no business of mine.
Simply put, there is no good reason to insult people – we are concerned with ending the abuses of Scientology, not punishing the people who were unlucky enough to end up in its snares.