2013 | Roslyn Cohn | DiffiCULT to Leave
Story by Roslyn Cohn | Joshua Finkel, Co-creator and director | Jake Anthony, Co-creator and musical director
Roslyn Cohn is a an actress. She was a member of the Church of Scientology for no less than 23 years. When she left, she did not write a book about her experience but mounted a one-woman show. This is probably the first dramatic performance which describes the Scientology experience written and performed by person who has been through it.
Cohn’s performance earned her a nomination for “Best Female Cabaret Artist of the Year” from Broadway World Los Angeles. Voting recently ended and the result will soon be announced here.
Watch the show (and read some background material) in a video window after the break
Scientology Can Fix That For You…
According to the account of a friend, Roslyn Cohn joined the Church because she was promised by fellow actors (who were members) that Scientology would cure her attacks of what seemed to be stage fright – before a performance she would shake uncontrollably.
Her show describes (with the aid of narrative, song and a few props) her progress through Scientology ‘training’, her disillusionment with the Church and her final break with the organisation.
After 23 years, she learned that her shaking (which Scientology had not cured) was actually a common neurological condition. Scientologists, of course, are strongly discouraged from seeking medical treatment for such conditions, or taking the medication that can control them.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
The extraordinary courage shown by Cohn in ‘going public’ in this fashion should not be underestimated. The Church of Scientology has a well-documented policy of persecuting both critics and disaffected ex-members who speak out against them. This policy was put in place by Scientology’s founder, L Ron Hubbard who gave it the name Fair Game.
The fact that Cohn can put on her performance at all owes much to the many brave people who, by refusing to be silenced, broke Scientology’s power to control the media and suppress free expression.
The story of a young journalist called Paulette Cooper provides an historical perspective. In 1970, she published a book entitled, “The Scandal of Scientology” (full text here). She was subsequently subjected to an extraordinary campaign of persecution by the Church of Scientology -including 19 lawsuits, an anonymous smear campaign and an attempt to frame her for making two bomb threats against the ‘Church’ (an offence that could have put her in prison for 15 years).
She was spared this fate only because the Church of Scientology was raided by the FBI in the course of an investigation into ‘Operation Snow White”. This was a highly organised attempt to infiltrate US Government offices (and those of other organisations) to gather intelligence and to ‘sanitise’ any records kept about Scientology.
One of the documents that was seized in the FBI raid described “Operation Freakout“in detail – the Church of Scientology’s campaign to drive Paulette Cooper to suicide. Her own account of this experience is well worth reading.
After these undercover activities were revealed, L Ron Hubbard (who had ordered them) went into hiding until his death in 1986.