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Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Truly Courageous People

I've been reading various forums and blogs. I've noticed that some people are talking about how "courageous" some of the new escapees from the Church of Scientology are.

I do understand that courage is, to some extent, subjective. For some, it takes a huge amount of courage to just get out of bed in the morning. For others, an activity like skydiving is just good fun. But on a relative scale, those who fought the church in the early days and whose lives were pretty thoroughly destroyed, they were really courageous.

I understand the Church of Scientology's OSA (secret police) are still pretty nasty, but the Church of Scientology's illegal and unethical actions, years ago, against Paulette Cooper, Larry Wollersheim, Arnie Lerma, Gerry Armstrong, Robert Vaughn Young and so many more, were much worse. None of us later escapees have had to deal with anything like those earlier illegal attacks by the church.

Back then, the target of the Church of Scientology's wrath often stood quite alone. There was no Internet. There was no support. There was no sharing of information and exposure of the attacks. There were no ubiquitous video cameras to record the church's crimes. Often these early targets didn't know what evil the church was capable of until too late.

Today, while the Church of Scientology still believes its actions are completely above the law, it has learned that people are watching, and recording their actions. And the church hates being recorded when they break the law.

Also, today, there are so many more critics, and so many less OSA staff, the Church of Scientology's "Office of Secret Abuse" is spread very, very thinly. I've heard of fairly prominent recent escapees who haven't seen any OSA operatives at all.

No, today, the risk of criticizing the Church of Scientology is much, much less. I'm certain that it does take some courage, especially for a True Believer, to speak out and expose the crimes of the church, but I think it is important to keep in mind those who fought the battle long before us, those who didn't have the support, those whose lives were ruined by the lies, criminal attacks, false accusations, spies and lawyers of the Church of Scientology.

Let's put the mantle of "courageous" on the correct shoulders, shall we?

If I were looking for a hero in the battle against the corrupt Church of Scientology, I would look to those who refused, from the very first, to go along with the church's lies, fraud, abuse and crimes. I would look to those who saw the corruption of the Church of Scientology and stood up for what was right despite the consequences to them personally. And I would look to those who stood up to David Miscavige the very first time he did something evil. Those are the courageous ones. Those are the people to admire. Those are the people we should be calling courageous. They had guts.


  1. Exactly!

    Since a few years, the Church of Scientology (CoS) "can't sneeze without a chop" -- to paraphrase Scientology scriptures :-)

    Those who stood up and spoke up to warn others -- at a time when the CoS was successfully bullying/shuddering people into silence, or working hard to destroy them -- are the ones to which we must be thankful.

    We build upon their work -- some are even still working hard toward bringing the CoS to full accountability.

  2. If there's any justice in the world, the hotel in Clearwater will be bought out by someone, renovated, and renamed the Paulette Cooper Hotel. THAT would be poetic.

    Seriously, that woman deserves full recognition by a lot more people based on what she went through. I admire the hell out of her for it.

  3. Indeed, many of the stories of the people who have left, as detailed by the SP Times, pale in comparison to the abuses against individuals who dared speak out in the past. Little of it is truly news to those who have been watching, nevertheless, every new voice is another victory.

    If those people are ever remembered as the ones who brought down the cult, let it be remembered that as with many other great acts in the history of mankind, it was made possible by the fact that they stood on the shoulders of giants.

  4. *applause*

    What more needs to be said? This is truth, pure and simple.

  5. This is a good point. It is useful to remember how hard it was for these early "pioneers" to go up against the Scientology system. At the same time it might serve to demonstrate that it is relatively "easy" to do it now. RELATIVELY easy. Hopefully this will encourage more Scientologists and ex-Scientologists to speak out against the current abuses of the "church". Sure, there can still be trouble in speaking out now, but a cursory study of the internet reveals virtually all of OSA's shenanigans so smart action can be taken to avoid their tricks.

  6. I certainly agree with you that the "Old Guard" deserves credit for their courage and a lot of what's happening now.

    That said, it's still the case that the Scientology attack machine will do what it can to discredit critics, even though it's not able to destroy them with the same zeal it once did. And let's not forget that that machine is STILL in the process of destroying some lives, such as Gerry Armstrong.

    I personally applaud anyone who stands up to COS, even if it may have gotten a bit easier. I doubt that there's any critic who's not glad that's the case.

  7. R.I.P. Shawn Lonsdale.

  8. I think those who leave the CoS now should be applauded for their courage, but for a different kind of courage.

    Yes, it's easier to leave and to criticize now that you have less to fear in terms of repercussions from the CoS itself. But it's still incredibly hard for anybody--Scientologist or otherwise--to turn one's life inside-out and walk away from years or decades of belief in something, especially if your sense of self was invested in that particular belief. Add in Scientology's particular brand of head-muckery, and the fears that have to be faced down in order to leave become even harder to confront.

    So while Scientolgists who leave now have fewer external threats to face, there's still a lot of internal anxiety that has to be pushed through and that takes a certain bravery as well.

  9. Well said Just Bill and I agree.

    Those early critics who bore the full vicious attacks from Scn alone and yet still had the courage to keep speaking out, deserve our utmost respect. When I left, almost 20 years ago, I made the choice to stay silent as I had seen the ruined lives of other critics I had known. Jerry Armstrong included. And other exSO and Int Mgmt staff like myself. Those who had plenty to tell. I had already given almost 20 years of my life to Scn - they took everything I had. All my money, my house, my business, my years of slave labor, my self esteem, my husband, other family members and nearly my sanity and my life. I just wanted to get the hell away from Scn. I felt weak and vulnerable against their ruthless abusive power. I was alone and I was scared. There was no Anonymous, no internet blogs, no support groups to trust, and I had no friends or any kind of social network, so I hid out while I slowly untangled myself and created a new life. I'm sure there are thousands of others like me out there.

    Then after all those years of distancing myself from Scn, they tracked me down and started harassing me a couple years ago. It was relentless. In an effort to get them out of my life, I began reading and posting online and doing what I could to support those, like yourself, on the front lines. I am grateful to all who have spoken out, but do not admire those who seem to have other agendas. Who are spinning their stories into personal gain. And if there is ever a shrine built to honor those who brought down Scn, every single person who helped should be included, but those early critics and those who have given so much should get their rightful place of honor. Kudos to them for their courage and strength!

  10. A lot of friends, great people, tried to accomplish something better by Scn!
    Almost all of them are out: some SPed, others paid their freeloader(!) debt after years of sweat shop!
    All of them never want to have anything to do with CoS

  11. I agree with you Bill. Those early on who had the courage to stand up and speak the truth have nothing but my admiration. Those people, in my opinion, are owed my deepest gratitude and I give that gratitude with all my heart.

  12. Indeed. We stand on the shoulders of giants.


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