Scientology: Scrambling Brains


Scientology's doublecross

Saturday, March 20, 2004
Scrambling Brains

It was late June, 1980, a sultry Washington DC Saturday night and I ain't got nobody.


I opened my wallet. Uh oh, I had not been careful enough. I did not have enough cash to make it till Monday when the bank opened. I needed somewhere to cash a check.

I already had tried that earlier at a small store, who immediately refused when he found out where I was living (which is another story.) I'm milling around in this tide of humanity trying to figure things out when I am approached by a rather clean cut guy who is offering information about his "church." Quotes intentional. Since he is being so helpful, I ask him if his folks can cash a small check.

"Sure, if you buy something," he says. He suggests a course for $15. I say sure. He then takes me to a building at 1812 Ninetenth Street, a site that will raise hackles on some who read this.

For those not in the know, that's the address not only of the Washington DC Church of Scientology, but pretty much Scientology Central.

Naive me, I get my change and schedule the course.

The first day I show up, and there are two students, counting myself, and one instructor. Us students are referred to as "preclears" because we are not "cleared" of our mental impurities.

Well, how hard can this be?

The instructor places two chairs facing each other, and has us sit in them. Then he hands me a card and tells me to ask the other student the first two questions on the card. They are, if I remember, "Name something that makes you happy" and "name something that makes you sad."

He quickly answers. Then I am told to ask the questions again.

And again.

And again.

You can see where this is going I am sure. We go back and forth asking questions to each other until we are baffled and the answers are incredibly hard to come up with. At this point, I think the brain does a kind of flip flop, because it feels like you have just had this cathartic breakthrough of some sort, as if some door has opened in your soul and let some serious sunlight in.

Tears are the order of the day at this point.

On the way out, I pick up a copy of "Dianetics" (a book the Scientologists heavily promote) and a copy of their course list.

Once I am home and a bit calmer, I study the course list. Oh my goodness, now it is really clear (no pun intended) what is going on here. My course was $15. The next course was $25. Then $35, $45, and on upwards. Eventually, you were classified as a "clear" and you could buy a clear plastic bracelet signifying that for, I think, about $500.

And that's just the beginning. I understand that things are quite different in the Church of Scientology today. One of the major differences is that now the complete development from novice to the top costs well over a quarter of a million dollars US!

I called to cancel my second part of my first course. As I was working in the House of Representatives, I felt that it was not safe to call from our offices, so I used a pay phone. My boss had enough problems without a staffer that was a cult member!


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