One individual who, as recently as nine months ago was on staff at one South African org, is today happily volunteering full time for a Catholic mission near Pretoria. This person has held executive and technical positions in orgs, is an OT, a trained auditor, and claims she is having the time of her life in her new-found faith of Catholicism.
This article is not written by her, nor did she give any direct input to it – nor would she approve its being written. It is my personal cogitations as someone close to her – my own musings on what might drive a trained Scientologist to such a path, for she is far from being the only one. I personally know of another ex-executive who has recently found contentment in Catholicism, and many others who readily admit to all along having attended mass (and synagogue, for that matter).
Before looking at why our ex staff member might find such solace that the org could not even remotely approach, a rapid-fire history lesson is called for. Scientology in its relatively brief 60 year history (this year is that anniversary) presents a highly condensed parallel of the Catholic Church’s own 2,000-year history: it (like Scn) completely squirreled its tech to suit the Roman Empire pagan population (okay, Miscavige hasn’t exactly done THAT); it destroyed all competing sects and dogmas quite brutally in Europe at least (the only exception being the Irish Celtic Church, but nobody defeats the Irish!); it launched the Crusades (IAS’ crusade against the psychs ring a bell?); it suppressed its public with the Spanish Inquisition, burning heretics at the stake (makes expulsion seem utterly mild); both are fantastically rich; it split as a result of the protestant Reformation (which Scientology is going through right now).
More recently, it has also experienced a depth of bad publicity due to widespread allegations of sexual abuse by priests, much like Scientology for mostly different reasons. But that is where the similarities end – because the Catholic Church has emerged from its crisis stronger than ever and according to population surveys is attracting new converts due to its culture of transparency, compassion and the new Pope’s earthy charisma. Congregations attending my local Catholic Church spill out the door. This is from my personal observation – just as only four people in my local org’s course room (over a weekend!) has been my own personal observation.
That aside, after numerous discussions with our ex-staff member I have compiled a report on the fundamental differences between working for the org and for a Catholic mission that prompted her decision:
- There’s no Sandra de Beer (frankly, the list could end right there).
- She earns even less pay at the mission (in fact, nothing) but receives three solid and highly nutritious meals a day and fairly luxurious accommodation.
- She works about 4-6 hours a day, which leaves her enough time to still do some of the personal work admin as well as doing tele-sales for her brother-in-law’s business, for which she earns 10% commission (and that alone has earned her more than a couple of years’ pay on staff).
- Love is in the air. Think that’s a joke? When does ‘love’ ever get mentioned in Scientology? Never. Instead we get ‘out-ethics’, ‘criminal exchange’, ‘CICS’, ‘DB’ and a host of other endearments. Catholics feel love for God and for their fellow man.
- The word that most frequently passes her lips in describing the Catholic faith is ‘compassion’. Many people don’t realise that a person who all at once leaves staff, Scientology and much of their family is akin to an abused and traumatised spouse – THEY NEED COMPASSION, and it is not to be found in the Church of Scientology, It is to be found elsewhere, including Independent Scientology.
- She did once fall into a condition of treason, and the handling she got was more compassion and a mild rebuke. Not threats of expulsion, disconnection from all family and friends and the end of her hopes of eternity.
- She can come and go as she pleases. Having a family, there are frequent calls for her to return home and no stop is placed on that. They appreciate the volunteer work she is doing and frequently validate her. In contrast, while the org always ‘promised’ she could have time off for family vacations (etc), in practice so much stress (CI) was placed on her request that the final ‘CSW OK’ was usually only given literally moments before the rest of the family left on vacation. Unsurprisingly, they ceased including her in holiday plans.
- Rather than working with illiterates sleepwalking through a PE course they couldn’t understand because English isn’t their language – in other words, it’s just a stat – she works with people who go to the mission on a religious retreat. That means they may care just as little for the religious dogma, but they actually want to be there and are having a ball because it’s a holiday.
- Scientology no longer offers spiritual guidance (rather financial ‘out-guidance’). Other churches such as the Catholics do.
- They also have fundraisers! Oh yes, it’s a once a year dinner and ball that costs R180/head.
- The mission gets the ultimate accolade – charitable funding from Lotto. Scientology doesn’t, and I wonder why?
- No musters, no Command Teams, no constantly changed hats and all-hands, no incessant lying, no make-wrong – you name it, what we’re used to in Scientology simply isn’t there. And while the Catholic Church may have invented Excommunication, it’s a fear so remote that people cannot even begin to understand the angst it inspires in Scientologists.
Is her new allegiance strange to her family? Not at all, her husband (an OT himself, and apparently still “in”) completely supports her decision. The Catholic Church has changed enormously – something the RCS has signally failed to do. If anything, it is Catholics and others who have gained the ability to ‘think for themselves’ while in-the-bubble Scientologists remain rigidly glued to their fixed ideas.
What people find in Catholicism is humility and an honest willingness to debate how the Church and its doctrines fit into the modern world. Nobody purports to hold the truth about anything – unlike Scientologists who too often are walking ser facs. This essay isn’t meant to encourage people to become Catholics – but for all of us to see that if they can do it so can we. Change is never too late.
Maybe we can still recover the spirit of LRH.