I look back now and wonder why I have stayed in the Church of Scientology as long as I have. And then I look to all those who are still “in”, and to my “friends” who I will undoubtedly lose by leaving, and I wonder what it will take for them to see the light. Someday, there may be a study that will attempt to answer these questions. However, the following are some of the reasons why I at least have had an extremely hard time leaving no matter how horrible the conditions became.
1) There’s no alternative: I was led to believe that to forsake the Church is tantamount to eternal damnation, because there is nowhere else that I can benefit from “standard” Scientology. Everything else is “squirrel” and suppressive. However, the truth is that LRH made sure that the technology of Scientology (other than the uppermost levels) is entirely available to everyone. For this reason, it’s impossible to ever be cut off from the benefits of Scientology as long as I am willing to read and apply what LRH has written. Therefore, I do not need to be so deathly afraid that I would be doomed if the Church decided to bar me from the Bridge. Because, even without the Church I would still have LRH.
2) Personal integrity: I feel an obligation to not withdraw my allegiance from a group that I have sworn to support. To walk away from the Church feels like a betrayal to all those who have relied on me, and supported me over the years. I value their friendship and don’t want to upset them. Plus, I am heavily invested (both financially or emotionally) and to walk away requires admitting that I was wrong. However, once I saw the truth of the situation I could no longer stand aside. It was a matter of integrity that I do something about it. And when given no other recourse to effect change, the only solution left was to withdraw my allegiance.
3) Disconnection: Even though the Church officially claims that this policy is not enforced, I can assure you that it is. [See “Disconnection as a Condition”] In order to leave, I would have to walk away from not only my girlfriend, but all my close friends and associates who are members of the Church. Fortunately, I do not have family or children of my own who are Scientologists; otherwise, I’d have to leave them too. Still, I would basically have to start my life over, and the level of trauma associated with that would be significant.
The truth however is that it would hurt them more than it would me. And there’s nothing that says that I have to disconnect. I can continue to communicate and attempt to bring them around. And if they continue to shun me and call me insane, well either they are cowards, in which case I wouldn’t want them as friends anyways, or they were never my friends to begin with.
4) The “bubble”: The Scientology world is for the most part created inside a “bubble” of reality. Great care is taken to isolate every Scientologist from the “external influences” of critics and ex-Scientologists. And a great deal of effort is spent on creating internal PR to keep everyone informed of only what is deemed necessary, and to hide that which is less savory. I’m fortunate because my immersion has been limited compared to those who have been born into Scientology, or who have been drafted into the Sea Org, and have very little education or experience outside of the Church.
Even though I have always felt like something was fundamentally wrong with the Church, I still forwarded all the PR lines like a good little drone, and never really pulled the strings necessary in order to find the truth. I was willing to look the other way and give the powers-that-be the benefit of doubt as long as I was allowed to continue to go on course and get auditing. It took a great deal of independent research, and then my own bubble getting popped with injustice, before I eventually opened my eyes.
5) It’s all my fault: It has been hammered into me that whatever situation I find myself in — I’m the one who “pulled it in.” Whether it was trouble with my studies, lack of results in auditing, or failures in my personal life, it was always what I did. The Church could never wrong. Then, if I leave or “blow off,” it only proves my guilt. And if I speak up or complain, then I’m just “nattering” and it’s even further proof of my overts and withholds.
This mindset is then cemented with the suppressive use of Confessionals in order make my crimes public and prove to me how wrong I am. [See “HCO Security Checks”] And if I but think a critical thought about the Church or its management, then I am considered “disaffected” and I will subjected to even more Sec Checking that will not conclude until I repent and prove my loyalty by making exorbitant “amends.”
The truth is I am responsible. I am responsible for getting involved with such a suppressive group. And I am responsible for doing something about it in order to ensure that the technology of Scientology remains in the hands of only those who truly intend to use it for the benefit of mankind.
6) Scientology is the “greatest good”: The apparency is that the Church represents Scientology which is the “greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics.” In other words, as long as Scientology is expanding and the Church is actively clearing the planet, even though there may be some outpoints, they are small in comparison to all the good that is being done. Therefore, the summary conclusion is that leaving for whatever reason could never be ethical. In fact, leaving is considered a “suppressive act.”
However, the problem with this reasoning is that it assumes absolutes. First, it assumes that the Church and Scientology are co-terminal, which is not true. Scientology is the applied religious philosophy originated by LRH. I still whole-heartedly support this. The Church on the other hand is a religious organization incorporated for the purpose of forwarding the aims of Scientology. To assume that an organization which is made up of aberrated individuals could never be corrupted to the point where it was no longer forwarding those aims is extremely naive.
The truth is that it’s all a matter of viewpoint. Leaving may be considered evil from the viewpoint of the Church; however, if the Church itself were evil, then wouldn’t that be the greatest good?
7) Suppression: Finally, I believe the vast majority of Scientologists are PTS to the Church. It’s very similar to the “middle class” situation described by LRH. Because, most of the people I know in Scientology would admit that there is something wrong, yet they still frown on me actually trying to do something about it. In fact, those who have fought me the most in trying to get Scientology applied have almost always been those within the Church rather than anyone on the outside. “Stop being such a “flat ball bearing” and “Let someone more qualified handle it” were a couple of the most common sentiments. This was then followed by the advice that I should clear up my own misunderstoods, because if I disagreed with the powers-that-be, then I must be the one who is wrong.
I realized however that it is not me they are actually worried about. They are worried about what would happen to them if I were right. I am threatening their comfortable little “bubble” (see above.) They fight me because they are AFRAID. They fight me because they are afraid of what they would lose—their friends, their family and their jobs—if they were to stand up like me. Therefore, I must be the one who is wrong.
“The middle class wants the world of a job and order and even hypocrisy and cops because they are AFRAID. They hold their narrow views because any other views may disturb their twenty-year house mortgage, the store, the job.” …
“Many of them are caught up in the mystery of why they are snarled at and have no conception of the middle class as a formidable and jealous force that goes psychotic when it feels anyone may get away from the treadmill and threaten their uneasy and doomed lives.”
-LRH [HCOB 16 April 1982]