For today’s post, I am indebted to an supporter of osteopathy, who has provided some interesting information about the activities of Narconon, which recently opened a small facility in the UK
Narconon is a Scientology front group, which claims to provide paid drug rehabilitation treatment, but actually delivers Scientology indoctrination.
The website Osteobiz, aims to coach osteopaths on the business side of their occupation. In one entry, the author warns about a range of cons and swindles which osteopaths are liable to be exposed to.
One of these is headlined “The Drug Rehab Centre Scam”… and that’s where Narconon comes in. Continue reading
A few days ago, I came across a Facebook page for “Scientology Plymouth“which contained the remarkable image at the right (there is a larger version below, after the break).
At first glance, it looks rather like a building decorated to celebrate a Nazi rally. It is, in fact, a rendering representing the old Royal Fleet Club / Hotel in Plymouth (UK) – a old building with 50 rooms, two ballrooms and a number of kitchens.
If you follow this blog, you will know that this place was bought by The Church of Scientology for £1,000,000 in 2010. Over the intervening years they have claimed, time and again, that it is going to be renovated to a high standard, and become an ‘Ideal Org’ serving the South-West of England.
Presumably, this image represents what they hope to achieve – however, many of the renovations presented in it are simply not possible.
To illustrate this, I went to the building to take a picture of the real thing for comparison purposes – and discovered some interesting developments. It is possible that the Ideal Org project in Plymouth (the only one in the UK which is self-financing) is on the move again.
I have never been involved in Scientology. This blog is an attempt to understand why clever, capable people accept its doctrines (which are, in the face of it, bizarre and incoherent) and follow its practices.
One approach that I have taken is to examine Scientology training and assess whether or not this has an influence. It seems to me that Scientology’s nine ‘training routines’ do, beginning with TR0 (AKA Training Routine Zero).
In TR0 two people are requited to sit close together and stare fixedly at each other for prolonged periods of time. Research shows that unchanging sensory input can lead to a form of sensory deprivation, which has strange effects – including a dissociated state (you feel detached from you body) and ‘strange face’ hallucinations.
Scientologists constantly practice their Training Routines, so they are soon able to slip into altered states of consciousness almost at will (the likely reason for the strange, unsettling ‘thousand yard stare’ they apply to protesters).
It has seemed to me that such compelling experiences, interpreted according to Scientology doctrine – for example as evidence of a ‘previous life’ – which could be a powerful incentive towards conversion.
First, I have to reconcile the fact that, during online discussions I am occasionally told by some ex-Scientologists that they had no hallucinatory experiences during the TRs, and by others that had compelling, life-changing experiences.
I think I can do that now, thanks to something I have recently learned about myself. Continue reading
This is Life: an Introduction to Scientology | Reg Sharpe | Graphis Press Ltd | 1961
Download as .pdf (click on text link ‘Download in Browser’).
As I have described in a previous post the Church of Scientology not only has a list of banned books, but this list consists of works written by Scientologists in good standing which were once published with official approval and sold through orgs.
In 1983 (three years before Hubbards death) all of these texts were withdrawn, and only books by L Ron Hubbard were permitted. Scientologists are not allowed to read them, now. Only books by Hubbard himself are deemed to contain ‘true Scientology’.
“This is Life” is a book about Scientology published in 1961. It has been written by a very prominent Scientologist of the period. Reg Sharpe was the personal assistant of L Ron Hubbard and the book was clearly endorsed by Hubbard himself, so it was quite influential among Scientologists.
The full text can be downloaded from the link above. This is a direct scan of an original copy of the book which, as far as I know, is available nowhere else online.
Blown| Lauren Halsted Burroughs | 2016 | ISBN 978–0-692-68160-2 | Read Online
There is currently only one other novel (that I know of) set in the closed social world of Scientology, “The Symphony of Lief“, by Paul Y Csige. “Blown” is a welcome addition to this tiny sub-genre.
“Blown” is written by an outsider who is acting as a ghost writer for an ex-Scientologist. The content is based on her principal’s experience as a young, female, second generation Scientologist, who joined the Sea Org at an early age.
The Sea Org presents itself as equivalent to a monastic order, where the most dedicated Scientologists dedicate themselves to the cause. They wear pseudo-naval uniforms because the founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard served in the US Navy. Although his career was actually undistinguished, Scientologist are told that he was a war hero.
The reality of Sea Org ‘service’ is equally disappointing. Many members are children of Scientologists who are pressured to join, or recruited straight out of Scientology schools (Download Evening Standard article about the UK’s “Greenfields School”). Having had no meaningful education they are consigned to a life of manual labour, for example restoring buildings bought by the Church of Scientology.
At the same time, they are required to ‘study’ Scientology and are subject to direct control over every aspect of their lives. This occurs both indirectly (through the requirements of Scientology and practice) and directly (though the application of military-style ‘discipline’ that is indistinguishable from abuse).
“Blown” principally follows the lives of two sisters (Amory and Riley) and their friend Daisy through their early careers in the Sea Org, and shows how destructive this kind of total institution is to human relationships and welfare. Continue reading
Scientology and the Bible | 1967 | View Online | Download as .pdf (click on ‘Download through your browser”)
When L Ron Hubbard created Dianetics, it was presented as a rigorously scientific subject whose results were as reliable as mechanical engineering.
For a time, Scientology was presented in the same way – then Hubbard came under official pressure for the pseudo-medical practices mandated by his creation, and his incredible claims to cure disease.
In 1954 Hubbard decided to sidestep these difficulties (and avoid tax) by incorporating the Church of Scientology in California. Religious practice is protected in the US by the first amendment, which provides considerable protection for religious organisations (the legislature can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”). Also, religious organisations can apply for tax exemption.
Scientology’s exploitation of this provision has proved controversial. The problem is that there is no legal way of defining what is, or is not, a religion and US politicians and judges tend to steer clear of the question for fear of offending powerful religious lobbies.
While established religions may not approve of Scientology, they are also liable to see any attempt to deny it religious status as ‘the thin end of the wedge’, and support Scientology for fear of losing their own privileges at a future date.
In 1967 (the year in which this booklet was published) the US tax authorities withdrew tax exemption from the Church of Scientology and it took until years for them to recover that status. This text was likely a propaganda exercise designed to present Scientology as a bona fide religion by trying to associate it with the most widespread religious tradition practised in the US – Christianity. It prints extracts from Hubbard’s writings alongside extracts from the Bible, and attempts to argue that they are equivalent.
In a previous post, I noted that Google Maps had been (accidentally) pressed into service by critics of Scientology. First, the background.
In 2010 the Church of Scientology bought a historic building in Plymouth (in the UK). There is currently an ongoing campaign to persuade local government to refuse them permission to renovate it and use it as an ‘Ideal Org’. You can follow the campaign via this blog.
So far, the campaign has included a public meeting to put the case to local residents. The local newspaper attended, and took some photographs, which were included in a sympathetic article. This appeared in both the printed and online versions of the Plymouth Herald.
It seems that somebody downloaded one of these photographs from the online article and posted it on the Google Maps page for the Church of Scientology in Plymouth (which invites you to add pictures and reviews). A campaigner noticed this, and posted some more, not only only on the listing belonging to the Plymouth site, but also more than 80 others, internationally.
He expected these images to be taken down when they were noticed. What nobody realised at the time was that these sites are owned and operated by Google Maps, not the Church of Scientology. The owners can put up a link to their website, but that’s about it. Pictures and reviews cannot be removed by Scientologists – only Google can do this, and only if they violate their terms of service. The images have stayed put.
A week later, the campaigner received a message from his Google account (image right). These pictures had received 5,000 views. They are now approaching 10,000. That’s one person.
I initially thought that it was interesting and amusing that one man could give such a powerful organisation a black eye in this way. I now realise that his actions have more serious (and interesting) consequences for the Church of Scientology in Plymouth – and the whole world. Continue reading