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Ebner Undercover: Scientology, Spy Magazine, 1996

“If you really want to enslave people, tell them that you’re going to give them total freedom.”

- L. Ron Hubbard

From 1991 Time cover story.
According to Scientology (and stemming directly from Hubbard’s “vision”), 75 million years ago, an evil ruler named Xenu implanted “thetans,” or spirits, in volcanoes on the planet Teegeeack (known more recently as Earth). All humans are made up of these thetans, which are basically good but terribly misguided little buggers. The problem, you see, is that things called engrams, which come from early traumas, cause us spiritual pain and unhappiness. We all got ‘em; we all gotta get rid of ‘em.

I am an ex-drug addict who has solicited prostitutes in my day. I’ve also masturbated and inhaled at the same time, and I have been arrested more than once in my life. I dropped out of high school, and I’ve been under psychiatric care. Oh yeah, and I owe the IRS roughly six thousand dollars that they are well aware of.

In the language of Scientologists, the above information reflects what they include in their “Dead Agent Packs”-dossiers of all the dirt they dig up on people critical of their “religion.” Often they disseminate damaging information like this to the friends, family, landlords, and employers of anyone who dares speak of–or worse, publish anything derogatory about the “church.” So what I’m doing here is Dead Agenting myself before we begin, beating them to the punch.

Recently I spent two weeks undergoing an initiation to Scientology for this magazine. My experiences constituted only the beginnings of the beginnings of what this cult is all about, but it was enough to leave me strung-out with fear. watching my back, and wondering where the next element of harassment was going to come from.

Scientologists don’t like it if you leave. Even if you leave quietly. There is a saying adherents fondly quote: “The way out is the way through.” Deep thoughts passed on by decade-dead megalomaniacal psychopath Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, in whose writings church followers find a labyrinth so complex, so full of elitist jargon and weird science that those trapped in it cannot see that the way out is the way through the fucking door.

So, of course I had to join…

Day 1, Descent

Deep in the churning bowels of Hollywood, just off the Walk of Fame, I find my gateway to the promised “Bridge to Total Freedom”—the Los Angeles Dianetics Testing Center, where, for free, I can take the Personality Test and the Novis IQ Test.

“Is anything bothering you?” asks a fat, bespectacled, pock-marked dweeb named Richard.

“Yeah, Dick,” I mutter, mentholated cigarette dangling from my lips. “I wanna quit smoking.”

“Scientology can help you with that,” assures Richard in scripted mantra, through what I’d soon understand to be the trademark Scientology sweat-on-the-upper-lip smirk. Richard then tries to sell me a paperback copy of Dianetics—the Scientologist’s bible of “The Modern Science of Mental Health,” written by Hubbard, the self-proclaimed source of all things Scientological. I balk on the book and get cracking on the testing instead.

The tests take an hour, during which Richard, a 20-year Scientology veteran, performs menial janitorial labor around the center. My results come in with a “very good,” respectably high IQ of 130. My personality profile, however, falls deep into the “unacceptable state,” with my rock-bottom scores indicating me as being heavily “depressed,” “unstable,” and “nervous,” and with a near complete “lack of accord” thrown into the psychotic soup for good measure. Naturally, that measure would be my willingness to sign up for the Hubbard Dianetics Seminar at the low, low cost of $125 (credit cards accepted). It is a bargain that nets me a beautiful, hard-bound copy of Dianetics, as well as a paint-by-numbers style workbook.

With assurance from Richard that “Scientology could help” repair my totally fucked-up personality, we shuttle over to the menacing, big, blue Hubbard Foundation. Along the way, Richard regales me with stock-in-trade anecdotes of how Scientology is responsible for the successes of Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Nicole Kidman, Kirstie Alley. Isaac Hayes even lives at the Celebrity Centre Manor Hotel, for crying out loud.

In a registration office at the Foundation I meet Ramaldo Flores—a slick, six-year veteran who, glancing at my low test scores, deems me “suicidal.”

“Not to worry, though,” he soothes. “You’re in the right place, with the right technology.”

Acting quickly, Ramaldo ushers me up one flight to a classroom where I meet my supervisor—a brutally clean-cut robot named Phil with that Scientology smirk tattooed on his sweaty upper lip. Turns out that Phil had “read Dianetics in the Navy about 20 years ago, and after taking time to understand every word, Scientology changed {my} life.” Funny, he still looked like a sailor.

After devoting only five hours of my life to this cult, somehow I have already signed my name, address, and phone number to all kinds of seemingly irrelevant paper work. Tomorrow, I am informed, my coursework will begin. In a collegiate daze, I amble out across the parking lot, noticing troops of zoned-out, militarily outfitted men and women marching around acres of Scientology real estate with a malevolent glare in their eyes as jarring as the afternoon sun.

Scientology may be one of the most dangerous and well-financed cults in existence. In less than five decades, it has crafted its own strange brand of mind-control techniques and cultivated a security and intelligence apparatus called the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), which now rivals those of numerous developed countries. Scientology also relies on the obedient labor of both grunt-level workers and the 3,000-plus elite staffers who work for what the cult calls its Sea Organization. These maggot legions actually dress in pseudo-seaman’s garb, including dark blue suits adorned with ribbons and nautical lanyards, and hold ranks such as captain and ensign. This naval obsession stems from Hubbard himself, who was known as The Commodore. If you’re already thinking “wacko,” something on the far side of Captain Crunch, wait–it gets better.

According to Scientology (and stemming directly from Hubbard’s “vision”), 75 million years ago, an evil ruler named Xenu implanted “thetans,” or spirits, in volcanoes on the planet Teegeeack (known more recently as Earth). All humans are made up of these thetans, which are basically good but terribly misguided little buggers. The problem, you see, is that things called engrams, which come from early traumas, cause us spiritual pain and unhappiness. We all got ‘em; we all gotta get rid of ‘em.

So what do we do? Simple counseling sessions with something called an E-meter–a crude lie-detector-type device that Scientologists claim measures mental energy, locating and ridding you of troublesome engrams. Called auditing, this process isn’t cheap. At rates that rise rapidly to $1,000 an hour, you can become what’s known as an Operating Thetan, or OT.

Still with me? Of course, Scientology doesn’t stop there. Hubbard, in his deluded wisdom, devised ever more steps for the disenfranchised to progress through, including eight echelons of spiritual development, denoted as Operating Thetans I through VIII, along the “Bridge” to total bankruptcy. Costs in this progressive scheme can sometimes reach into six figures.


Before Scientology

After Scientology

Lisa McPherson, after Scientologists in Florida killed her with quack medicine and unlicensed doctors

Day 2, Confession

Crazy. As I enter the Big Blue, I spot Richard smirking at me. Then Ramaldo slithers toward me, waving. A girl I recognize from the Testing Center acknowledges me, and some bizarre skin-and-bones structure with a name sounding like Kelp extends a hand, asking, “And you are…?”

“I’m Mark,” I say.

“Ahh! Mark Ebner!” he exclaims. Now how in hell does Kelp know who I am? Could it have been those forms I signed? Hmmm…

Phil dispatches me down to a screening room to view videotapes on the life and times of L. Ron and the process of Dianetics auditing–whereby the bad, bad “reactive mind” is diminished toward the state of “clear”; where, as Hubbard would have it, we all function in the pleasurable state of using only our “analytic minds” to the utmost, free of all those silly, annoying engrams, or mental images of painful experiences.

Yawn. At this point, I’ll take painful experiences for a ticket out of here, but. . .

Back with Phil, I must conjure up tales of my reactive mind at play and record them on a work sheet, then duly turn it over to him. Which of course means that my painful scenarios now become the property of Scientology, Inc., no doubt to be used against me later.

If you think about it, how clever in design is this “religion”? Only by confessing painful, personal information can you hope to be helped. At the same time, of course, you are divulging private facts about yourself to organizations connected with people who will have absolutely no qualms about using
them against you should you cross them. The Commodore sailed a wacky ship, but the course he navigated seems ingenious at times.


Day 3, By the Book

I finish my workbook assignments today in a roomful of old folks, foreigners, and children (who would be safer playing in traffic). Phil seems to enjoy reading my “painful experiences,” but then, he gets a kick out of the E-meter, so go figure.


Day 4, Prayer

I am supposed to start my auditing sessions today, but Phil thinks training drills are in order first. I learned the auditing techniques via workbook, so it is now up to me to practice this form of dressed-down hypnosis on a sailor-suited rag doll seated on a chair across from me. When I finish with the doll, I have to practice the procedure again with another “preclear,” a sad sack named Rob.

Despite Scientology claims that it’s not hypnosis, auditing assuredly mirrors the hypnotic induction therapy I’ve received in the past. In 10 easy steps, the preclear runs through traumatic experiences in his or her life, repeating them aloud to the auditor again and again, until they reach a state of “cheerfulness” about them. How can this work? Try saying the word “ball” 50 times aloud, over and over, until it doesn’t mean anything to you anymore.

During our session, Rob admits to me that he “really enjoys” these auditing experiences. Again and again, he insists on relating tales of the humiliation he felt as a fat kid on the baseball field. By this time I am praying only that I don’t get paired off with a dork like him in future sessions. Prayer–that’s the ticket, but they don’t encourage that in this religion.


Day 5, Reduction

More practice sessions. I am placed in an auditing room with a woman who cannot follow the simple, repetitive format of Step Six (“go back to the beginning of the incident and go through it again”) as I recount the loss of a dog while in a “trance.” Her misguided attempts at “reducing” the trauma of my incident fail so miserably that I finally just fake finding a place of cheerfulness and my session ends with a snap of her fingers.

Now I get to audit her, acting as though I were one of them. Almost immediately, the woman begins crying over an incident that happened in an airport or something; then later became nearly hysterical over a sister who pissed her entire family off by deciding she wanted to be a flight attendant.

Most counseling sessions involve some surrender of will. Likewise all religions. Where Scientology moves from dubious to dangerous is in the fierce possessiveness it shows for its members.

Is Scientology a cult? “I’d say so,” says the outspoken Robert Vaughn Young, who ran Hubbard’s public relations during his 20 years in Scientology. “One of the primary characteristics {of a cult} is something that excludes dialogue or any definitions outside of the parameters of its own system of information. Hubbard said it was a ‘scientific method’ that could be tested, but if you say you want to test his method, they consider you to be attacking.”

The Creed of the Church of Scientology, written by Hubbard in 1954, states:

We of the Church believe…That all men have inalienable rights to think freely, to talk freely, to write freely their own opinions and to counter or utter or write upon the opinions of others.

However, explains Young, “if you were to write something saying Hubbard was a megalomaniac–well, see, the thing is, now you are lying. You are free to utter upon the opinions of others, but you are not free to lie. So they would say, ‘This is a lie, therefore you are not free to utter it, and now I am going to sue you.”

Scientology may litigate more, and more aggressively, than any religious outfit in the world. The OSA operatives harass people via a Fair Game Policy (which Scientologists claim they discontinued, but is alive and well), which licenses them to, in Hubbard’s words, lie, trick, sue, and/or destroy anyone who has been declared “fair game.”

After a Time cover story about Scientology ran in June 1991, the church not only sued the magazine for libel, it also sued former member Steven Fishman and his Florida psychiatrist for $1 million each for “defamatory” comments they’d made that appeared in the article.

While the $416 million suit against Time is pending, attorneys for Fishman came up with an ingenious way to fight back: at a Christmas party held at the Scientology Celebrity Centre, several celebrities–including Juliette Lewis, Kelly Preston, and Isaac Hayes–were subpoenaed for depositions to be given in the case. Not long after, Scientology lawyers dropped their suit. The Time case goes to trial in January.

Meanwhile, the church is doing legal battle with alienated former members who have been posting on the Internet copyrighted teachings and damning testimonials about the church’s darker side. Young, always active on the hugely popular Internet newsgroup, alt.religion.scientology, predicts the Internet “is going to be to Scientology what Vietnam was to the United States….This will be their Waterloo in the end,” says Young.


Day 6, The Elect

I meet my new auditing “twin” today—Steve, another human skeleton. He seems nice enough, but because he is “farther along the Bridge” than I, he can only audit me rather than it being a mutual session. So..more subconscious subterfuge, at least until tomorrow.

With the afternoon free for me to be me, I decide to get away from the mind matter of Dianetics and explore the Scientology angle at–what better place–the Scientology Celebrity Centre.

Those who have the most freedom in the organization–enjoying comfort levels and privileges made possible by the cheap labor of grassroots members–are the celebrities of Scientology. The list runs from the obvious to the truly absurd in personality. The humorless Tom Cruise, workout buddy of Scientology chairman David Miscavige, cuts the perfect Rondroid profile: humorless, elitist, defensive, basically emotionless, and angry. Cruise’s past and present wives, Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman, are also Scientologists. Said to be beyond the level of OTIII, here is what Cruise has mastered off the set:

After achieving the state of “clear,” joining the ranks of about 50,000 who came before, he is supposedly immune to illness and free of his reactive mind. As an advanced operating thetan (with his godlike abilities fully restored) he can now create life; he can create universes; he has cause over matter, energy, space, and time; and he is free of the bonds of the physical–functioning totally on the spiritual.

(Question: If Cruise is all that, then why couldn’t he create a hit out of Far and Away? Just asking.)

Other high-profile celebrities with Scientology ties include Priscilla Presley and Lisa Marie Presley Jackson, Anne Archer, Sonny Bono, and Chick Corea. Some may find it an uneasy relationship. Scientology needs its celebrities–Hubbard called them Opinion Leaders–and will go to lengths to keep them in the fold. When the carrot doesn’t suffice, Scientologists know where to find the stick.

In
the suit against Time source Steve Fishman, Scientology’s former head of security, Andre Tabayoyon, filed a 60-page deposition declaring that cult leaders keep special files on the stars that contain supposedly confidential information derived during auditing sessions. However, he went on, “the contents of such folders have been culled and used against people. . .{as they could be against} John Travolta {and others} should they ever attempt to leave the Scientology organization.”

The deposition was submitted to the court as part of a dispute over who should pay costs after Scientology withdrew its suit. The Church of Scientology submitted its own declarations, denying the contents of the affidavit and attacking Tabayoyon’s credibility and knowledge of events.

But sources interviewed by SPY confirm Tabayoyon’s depiction of a dichotomous world at Scientology’s security-obsessed camp in California, Gilman Hot Springs. He points to celebrities’ receiving perks like an apartment with a $150,000 gym and private chef; a Mercedes convertible, two motorcycles, and a motor home; and a $200,000 celebrity-use-only tennis court.

So celebs are given special treatment. So a couple hundred thou doesn’t sound like a huge expenditure for an organization that is raking in untold millions annually. Except where do you think the money comes from? From legions of lost souls who go ahead and shell out every dime they can squeeze from their credit cards. Not only that, but who do you think does construction and upkeep on these celebrity digs? Yep, those same scrubs.

On the other side of camps, like the one at Gilman, out-of-standing members toil in the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) to work off their Scientology sins. This practice of using labor as punishment–either for breaking the rules or failing to meet work quotas–is widespread in Scientology. Banishment into the RPF can last several months, during which time members may not speak unless spoken to; must perform menial, often degrading tasks; subsist on a diet of rice and beans; endure terrible living conditions; and wear armbands denoting their lowly status.

Robert Vaughn Young served 14 months. “It’s brutal simply because of the hard work you have to go through. There are people over 50 in there, 65 even–working for a few days around the clock, which we often did. I suppose if I had been 25 and in the military l wouldn’t have minded it so much physically. But, in fact, if you’re working slow, you’re admonished and undergo additional penalty even for the fact that you just can’t do it. They would say, ‘Don’t give me excuses. Just make it go right.’ For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I was being driven to the edge, other than as a point of control.”

Tabayoyon, in his sworn declaration, charges that RPFers at Gilman helped build apartment cottages for use by the likes of Cruise, Travolta, Alley, Edgar Winter, Priscilla Presley, and other Scientology celebrities. Even more frightening is how Scientology has taken the industry of celebrity and pitted it against the entertainment business in an effort to influence public opinion. Last summer, for example, Presley Jackson called MTV and threatened to block its use of any of her husband’s or father’s work if it broadcast a negative segment on Scientology. MTV ran the story, but watered it down.


Day 6 cont., Mammon

I drive up the stately entrance to the Celeb Centre and explore the well-manicured grounds, peek into the “two-star” restaurant, and maneuver to the bookstore, where I inquire about the Purification Rundown. After all, if I clear the body, the mind will follow, and hey, I did come here to quit smoking, didn’t I?

The bookstore clerk with the fixed stare gladly escorts me through the mansion’s ground floor to the registrar’s office, where I am greeted with vichyssoise warmth by Rachelle Shay.

She offers a confusing explanation of the difference between Scientology and Dianetics (Scientology being the tech-no-spiritual realm, Dianetics the realm of the mind). Then she guides me through the Purification Rundown, a daily regimen of vitamins (the niacin, calcium, and magnesium cocktails), and oral shots of olive oil to loosen my fatty tissue, along with a program of running and sauna sweating, where it is suggested that I may experience acid flashbacks–sign me up!–and recurring “sunburns” manifesting the release of residual drugs and radiation from my system.

Rachelle hand-holds me as we pass through a vaguely comical underground “French” village, or what I would imagine as a downscale version of La Petite Monde at Euro Disney–complete with a tiny theater. The Purification area is like a small health club with–my god!–women and children lining up for potions and being escorted into saunas. Vichy, France, ring a bell? I’ll take “Collaboration with the Nazis” for $2,000, Alex.

Back upstairs, Rachelle encourages me to sign up for the Purif now. Total cost of the program, with discounts: $1,790. Clear body, clear mind, clear spirit…clear bank account? The hard sell has begun.

I tell Rachelle that my savings are prudently reserved, not available for such an outlay of cash. No problem! She makes a play for my credit cards, but they too are maxed out. No problem! She simply gets on the hammer to a numbers guy named Nick, who instructs her on which of my cards will be easiest to get increases on, and she even dials my MasterCard 800 number for me.

Following instructions, my card turns gold, and altough I can use my new fortune now–I hang up and tell her I won’t be receiving the new card for a week. No problem! She strongly suggests that I put the balance on my American Express card now, and pay it off later, with my newly established credit line.

Still, I resist. Let’s wait a week, darling, okay? Okay–in the meantime she’ll set up a physical exam for me. My doctor? Nope, definitely a Scientologist physician. Forty bucks? Okay, I’ll bite. Been awhile since my last physical anyway.


Day 9, Angel

At the rundown Angel Medical Center, I’m greeted by a starry-eyed Anju Mathur, M.D. She seems professionally delighted that I am going to do the Purif. Given my drug history, she insists I take an AIDS test as well as a liver panel. You see, she explains, I will be sweating in a sauna with other Scientologists, and she would not want to endanger them with the risk of exposure because, “Sweat is a bodily fluid.” I wince as she thrusts a syringe into my arm that will leave a bruise for weeks.

Call a Scientology organization and ask what it can do for, say, asthma. A phone call to one of its outfits got a promise of a “guaranteed” cure for the ailment based on L. Ron Hubbard’s “asthma rundown.” Registrars will promise you a life free of illness and psychological maladies. The promises, like almost everything else, sound scripted.

A recently disaffected Scientologist (and established entertainer) confides: “I was brainwashed from the second I walked in because of the way they insisted I’d get better and successful, and my stomach problems would be healed. While spending nearly $35,000 on auditing, I was constantly sick, and never got well.”

Finally, she met someone who talked to her for hours and taught her that Scientology was a scam, that the tech does not work and that Hubbard was not God. She underwent a minideprograming, and she learned the expensive trade secrets in the upper levels of the bridge were science-fiction garbage. She was coached on how to get her money back, and after protracted efforts, Scientology reimbursed her in
full to avoid publicity problems.

She’s one of the lucky ones.

Another woman, call her Marge (most who leave the cult fear further harassment if they speak out against their experiences, and so prefer to remain anonymous), got roped in by way of her job. Her boss’s hard sell, coupled with the articulation of the nobility of all goals Scientological–”You are trying to go free, you are fighting the biggest fight of your life”–almost cost her her health and her sanity.

“Well, I got routed onto the Purification,” explains Marge. “I have never done drugs in my life, yet I was on the Purif for almost five months. It was a nightmare beyond my wildest imagination.”

During her time on the Purification Rundown (“sweating out toxins” in a sauna), Marge suffered panic attacks, dizziness, and nausea. One day, she was found blue-lipped on the waiting room floor, hemorrhaging. Instead of taking her blood pressure or calling an ambulance or even a doctor, they explained away her bleeding as “restimulation” from radiation she had absorbed from ultrasound testing she’d had years before.

They attributed her panic to “a really bad event” she went through “a long time ago.” She was remanded to the program, and when she finally snuck off to a noncult doctor, she was diagnosed with heatstroke and anemia.

Hubbard’s tech, policy, and doctrines are never wrong. Anything adversely affecting the physical or mental health of a Scientologist gets hung on that individual as something that either happened to her in the past, or as something she brought on herself.

Priscilla Coates, volunteer chairwoman of the L.A. branch of the nonprofit Cult Awareness Network, calls this common cult tactic “doctrine over person,” meaning that doctrine never fails, only people do. “Hubbard wrote the manual of justice that still applies,” she explains.


Day 10, Transformation

Intense sessions with Steve today. All my past misery and suffering reduce to a chuckle. I even threw in a tale of adolescent cross-dressing just to make him feel useful. With that final purge, I break for a snack at the canteen, where they sell black T-shirts with slogans like Psychiatry Kills.

Later, I am whisked to an examiner’s office, where I finally get my hands on the cans of the fabled E-meter. First I have to write an essay about my experience, or “wins,” with the seminar. I whip off a page about my increased awareness of the Reactive Mind and the need to eradicate it. A false-smiling fat lady with piercing blue eyes hands me a couple of tin cans alligator-clipped to wires attached to the E-meter.

She takes notes on my readings on the meter and on my answers to her perfunctory questions, repeating “Your needle is floating; that’s a good sign. ” Then she abruptly stops, signs me off on a few more documents for my dossier, and routes me back to the classroom, where I am introduced as a graduate of the Hubbard Dianetics Seminar.


Day 11, Release

My last day at the Hubbard Foundation. I meet with registrar Joe Bueno. Joe is a clear veteran of Scientology, rated OTV, or an Operating Thetan privy to the most hideous of Hubbard’s science fiction secrets.

His commission-prompted plan is for me to stick with the Dianetics side of things: do my Purif there at the Dianetics Center ($2,000) and proceed on the Professional Dianetics Auditing Route, starting with a course valued at $300. Okay, counting prior expenses, if I continue on with this horseshit, I’d be in for close to $3,000 without even getting within bile-spitting distance of the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars state of clear. Later, Joe. Much later.

In the weeks after I walked from Scientology, my phone rang all day with calls from various registrars trying to get me involved again. My personal physician has since explained the pricey Purification Rundown as “utter bullshit, pie-in-the-sky stuff that is far from being physically sound. In fact, it could be dangerous–especially the niacin intake, which can cause…liver damage, especially to a liver as susceptible as yours.”

I’m also smoking more than ever now, but that’s okay. Fact is, many Scientologists smoke, emulating their late chain-smoking source of their apparent sickness, L. Ron Hubbard.


Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this cult, brutal tactics and financial pressure aside, is its recent attempts to go mainstream. Through fronts, such as the Way to Happiness Foundation and Applied Scholastics, Scientology has targeted the classroom as a means to disseminate its literature in a get-’em-while-they’re-young drive.

Other dubious organizations with ties to Scientology include the ironically named Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights, the Concerned Businessmen’s Association of America, and HealthMed–all of which spread the word of Hubbard.

The city of Shreveport, Louisiana, for example, paid eighty grand to send about a 20 firefighters through Scientology’s chemical detox program before an independent consultant labeled the regimen “quackery.”

For hundreds of thousands of dollars and year upon year of brainwashing, you get secrets and revelatory experience tantamount to the understanding of a bad episode of Star Trek. Except, that’s not it. Out of Scientology since 1989, Robert Vaughn Young likens his two decades in to a bad trip:

“There’s a policy letter that Hubbard wrote where he just says, literally, ‘If you have the tech and use it, it will protect you.’ This is as close to the human shaman as you can get. You can’t be harmed. This creates…alters a state of mind so that your judgment becomes so bizarre that suddenly you believe you’re invincible. You’re immortal, you’re invincible, Hubbard is not wrong.

“Well, at that point, it’s an incredible state that’s been created, that one day you will wake from and say, ‘Oh, my God. It was all wrong.”‘

Despite Scientology’s well-masked attempts to infiltrate mainstream institutions and thereby create more devotees to its dangerous and nutty cause, Scientologists are losing ground on some critical fronts. Recently the church paid out the biggest libel award in Canadian history for defaming an opposing lawyer.

Church lawyers are having some success putting the clamps on those who criticize Scientology and divulge its hokum online, but the word about Hubbard’s game has already been downloaded onto the hard drives of millions. Scientology’s leaders have long flown the flag of First Amendment freedoms to promulgate their views; now they want to cudgel into silence those wired critics who try to do the same.

I attended one last Scientology function, called Auditor’s Day ’95, which, in short, resembled a Nuremberg rally for the ’90s. No brown shirts present per se, but the lockstep uniformity of 5,000 Scientologists packing the Shrine Auditorium applauding to a slide projection of Herr Hubbard sent a chill up my spine as cold as the one I felt when I saw those children lining up for liquids at the Purification Center.

While waiting for the event to begin, I stood with a couple of Scientology women who asked a weasely OSA operative named Lazar what his office was responsible for. “We beat up Suppressive Persons,” he said jokingly through the trademark smirk.

No doubt, after this article, I will be declared an SP, and I’m certain my Dead Agent Pack will be disseminated. This does not frighten me. Heck, lie and tell the world I am gay or annouce that my AIDS test came up positive. You no doubt hold the threat of revealing sexual orientation over the heads of more than the odd celebrity to
keep them from defecting.

I’ve seen your Dead Agent packets. Nice job you’ve done slandering Priscilla Coates of the Cult Awareness Network, an altruistic housewife with two parking tickets on her record. Lemme see…what about the Dead Agent pack of lies you created about ex-high ranking Sea Org Scientologist Hana Whitfield? Your libelous reportage in the ironically titled org-speak rag Freedom Magazine falsely accused her of murdering her father. Your tactlessness in publishing and disseminating alleged photos of his dead body was also a sweet move in the name of religion.

As I ponder that creep Lazar’s offensive joke about Suppressive People, I am considering challenging Chairman David Miscavige to a fist fight but why bother? He won’t show up, for fear of getting served with a subpoena. Keep hiding, sailor boy, and don’t forget to look both ways when you try to cross the information superhighway. And by all means, duck, as the cult of greed that Hubbard built, and you usurped, comes crashing down upon you.


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99 Responses to “Ebner Undercover: Scientology, Spy Magazine, 1996”

  1. Gayle Miller says:

    In the mid-70s I worked for an entertainer (part of Lawrence Welk’s Orchestra). He told me one day he was walking down Hollywood Boulevard and “just for fun” stopped in to take one of those IQ tests. Apparently, he gave them his name and address but certainly did not give them his social security number. Nevertheless, within days they were calling him at home (unlisted number) and they knew his marital status, number of children, number of investment properties owned, amount of his savings and checking accounts. He said it scared the living daylights out of him. He immediately called his attorney and had an injunction filed to prevent their further use of his personal information. But even a couple of years later, just the mention of Scientology made the blood drain out of his face! So thanks for a thorough job of reporting. Since Nicole Kidman got married in Australia, in an Episcopal Church, it’s a safe bet that she isn’t a Scientologist any more.

  2. Anonymous says:

    My Boss is in Scientology. I can’t believe how stupid he is for getting involved in this crap. He is always trying to get me to read the goal setting and Mgmt books. He if fucked

  3. Claudia says:

    “Scientology doesn’t really address the soul; it addresses the ego.”
    L. Ron. Hubbard, Jr.
    in Penthouse Interview
    I think that just about hit the nail on the head.
    It seems to me that the “Church” of $cientology is an organization that people pay to hold something over their heads. Blackmail as a religion.
    And for those poor people who can’t pay their way to “clear,” there’s always Sea Org! It’s oh-so-satisfying being a part of $cientology… even if all you’re doing is assembling the luxuries for the people that can pay for that can afford them.
    Thanks for the article. Sorry you had to go through all that, but maybe now people won’t go so blindly into the machine.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is so unerving. I’ve been reading numerous reports about them and with all the consistent similarities between them, I don’t doubt the authenticity of this report. Does anyone have pictures or know of a site that has undercover pictures?

  5. crumpet trumpet says:

    While backpacking in Moscow I found a Scientology magazine and was totally fascinated with it – if Starship Enterprise had its own magazine, it would look like this. Like it dropped out of the sky or something.
    Like many I was subjected to those smug interviews. They target insecure people with no self esteem, who just want to belong to something. They just exploit people. It’s sick to think the celebs live off the money and labour of the lower ranks. I guess I’d feel omnipotent too if I was a celeb Scientologist.
    I saw the induction video and was horriffied at the closer – where the guy says, you could always go kill yourself.. that is really fucked up.. like suicide is your only alternative. So the chronically depressed, suicidal person is their target market.

  6. judy serrano says:

    idid my own research in to sciencetology and found out alot about it.check out for real PROGRAM STARGATE REMOTEVEIWING sciencetology and the CIA are working together on a mind tripping shit.like MAKE PEOPLE GET DREAMS BY THERE PSYCIC POWERS AND EVEN MAKING PEOPLE SICK.THEY NO WERE YOU ARE JUST BY THINking ON YOU AND NO WHAT YOUR DOING .there is a sight http://www.cia.gov. an if you search using the words from the progect stargate web they even admit to it. Also this what i found out sciencetology is basicly the same as the anceint greek relion 0RPHIC mythology check the web. judy

  7. Joe says:

    I am not sure what is more disturbing: Scientology or the posts here that state “All religion is the same.” …

  8. Anon says:

    We have the cockroaches here in Sydney too.

  9. Amy says:

    As far back as 1999, Kidman started dropping hints in interviews that he was not a scientologist. It became somewhat obvious while she and Cruise were promoting EWS and doing separate interviews that she was as far apart from him in that area. When Kubrick died, the first place she went to was a church to light a candle for him. When they did divorce, she stated that she was not a scientologist and when Cruise was asked by Diane Sawyer if she ever was, he claimed that she didn’t join up.
    Katie Holmes is now a practising scientologist and Cruise is no longer hiding behind the falsehood that you can be a scientologist and practise another religion, when he was asked he said they were “just scientologists” and nothing more. Cruise’s mother, sisters, their kids, all live with them and they are all practising scientologists. Tough crowd.

  10. Clips says:

    We’ve got them in Melbourne as well. I went and had my e-meter thing done. Before I was asked a question the auditer guy would tinker with the dials. I reckon the needle’s on a timer.
    The Melbourne Scientologists don’t really push the hard sale like some of the other stories I’ve heard. They’re obviously not too keen on being clear and freaky-spirit-free.

  11. joanne says:

    ..maybe we can get the people to boycott the artist who are members of scientology, thereby allowing them to rethink their option. I was a big fan of John Travolta, but after this….

  12. Cindee says:

    I just amazed and shocked that anyone can fall for this crap. I mean its stupid!! Reading it you would have to be a complete dumbass to even fall for. Sorry if I offend but its like reading a sc-fi book. Its crazy they actually can make people believe it. I do believe celebs have great influence over a lot of people. You would think reading about scientology and laughing at how stupid it sounds would prevent anyone to go any further. But I guess anyone desparate enough to want answers to life will grasp to anything. Just reading on how much money it cost for all the weird tests it just screams scam!! I feel sorry for those that truly fall for this. I still just can’t understand how anyone can actually believe what this cult teaches.

  13. Jasmine says:

    Joe, Matty, and Antman…Scientology WAS banned in Victoria for about 5 years, I think from either the late 70s to ’83 or from ’83 to ’87…anyway, it is alive and well, and if I see another story about Moron Packer and Stick Figure Baxter with their Scienpossy on their whackout wedding, I’ll punch something…Kate Cebrano is also sucked into it, but she’s a 2nd gen Scientologist.

  14. dee says:

    I was the first Scientologist to learn of the death of Quentin Hubbard in 1976. I was the one who answered the phones that day in Las Vegas Org when the Metro Police called to inquire about it. The events that followed made me run away from the church and go into hiding for about ten years.
    I had been on staff for about six months and was one of those ‘scrubs’ you describe. I had joined the church a little more than a year earlier in LA.
    I was one of those believers, mainly because I wanted desperately to believe in SOMETHING and they had good answers to tough questions.
    I left Scientology a couple of weeks later as internal security checks implied my complicity and I knew (from a paranoid training in the USAF) that I was suspected and was well aware of the ramifications of being declared an ‘enemy’ of the church.
    Thinking I was about to fall under the boot of the OSA, I quietly disappeared, telling noone my plans. It was a lot like escaping nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.
    While I had access to most of the literature and tapes as a staffer, I still had mixed feelings about Scientology and decided there was a way to determine the truth. I went back to my WOG ways and waited. I waited for two things to happen; The first being some form of reprisal that never came, no doubt a result of my disappearing of the radar for ten years. The second was the death of L. Ron. I surmised that if he was indeed as powerful as he claimed, I would die before he did. It didn’t happen that way. About ten years after I disappeared, L. Ron died. Since my understanding was that this was impossible (assuming he was right), the last vestiges of belief finally fell away.
    That was twenty-one years ago. I still have mixed feelings about the church but I know that it is in fact a truly dangerous organization, bent on power and wealth at the exclusion of its rank and file members. I joined the staff because I was promised free auditing as a staff member. This was done only after exhausting my financial resources. By that time, I had given them everything I owned and wanted more. I was hooked.
    This turned out to be perhaps the greatest mistake I have ever made. The free auditing never happened, I lost a wonderful job with a great future and for the last eight or nine months, lived in abject poverty, sharing a house with six other staffers as it was all we could afford and eating only every other day or so. In the meantime, we were worked as dogs. Either we were making copies of brochures, folding them or walking around town stuffing them into people’s doors. It was a twelve to fourteen hour day with no days off and no time for anything but work. For this, our compensation was often less than twenty dollars a week. We were fortunate though. In Las Vegas, one can eat at many of the places that offer free meals to gamblers. I know this was the only way I was able to survive the experience.
    Because we had no money and no cars, escaping was very difficult. I managed to save enough money to get a bus ticket back to LA where it would take me several years before I was back on my feet, even if I spent most of it looking over my shoulder.
    Scientology loves to talk about traps but they never tell you;Scientology IS a trap.

  15. spninja says:

    Brilliant and dangerous work. I truly hope the Scientology goons don’t hurt or harass you too much.
    For anyone calling Scientologists “stupid”, please reconsider. Scientology uses a wide array of thought-reforming tactics, like hypnotic trances, forced confession, isolation, loaded language, all of which have been mentioned in this article. The list doesn’t stop there, though. It doesn’t really matter if you are smart or stupid, it matters if you are wise to their tactics before they start using them on you. Part of their whole thing is “learning on a gradient”– they indoctrinate you a bit at a time, and few ever see the big picture. They feed you bullcrap that SOUNDS plausible in small doses, and start brainwashing you, completely unaware of it, almost immediately. KNOWING about their lies and psychological and emotional tactics ahead of time is the key to not being suckered in.
    And remember that those perpetrating the crimes are also the victims. They know not what they do. They for the most part truly mean well, but have been convinced utterly by the organization that Scientology is the ONLY way to do good in this world. I do not believe they are evil people, just that they are doing evil things without realizing it.
    The best we can do is to spread the truth about Scientology.

  16. Mo says:

    I can’t beleive anyone can fall for this junk, poor humans .. some of us are so weak and mentaly sick. it is too bad. This cult is getting some singer (France d’Amour) in Canada and it is to bad.

  17. Nakiwarai says:

    well guess what Scientologist? I’m about to inherit my father’s multimillion dollar estate. You screwed me out of $30,000 in a period of 3 years. You, all of you, will soon find out what Hell means. I will destroy you all, eat you alive, and send your souls back to Lord Xenu. Suck this, faggots!

  18. Robert Brunner says:

    I was reading some of these comments from the young women who were in the group and thinking that joining Scientology might be a pretty good way to get laid. I’m not joking. Think about it, they’re young and vulnerable and obviously searching for something and open to new ideas. I’m an older hairy guy and it would be difficult to find a better opportunity. Are there alot of younger guys already in the organization? How should I go about signing up where there are the most women?

  19. Jillian says:

    This is so funny-I just read today that Scientologists want to dispose of gays quietly and I was like, “what?!?” lol…I didn’t think it was true! W-o-w. Natzi regime all over again. My friend Clayton and I got pulled into the “church” or whatever on Hollywood Blvd. about 7 years ago and they were really aggressive about getting us in. Everything you talked about happened when we were there. This woman told us “her hair dye” all came out in the sauna b/c everything fake about her was leaving, all the toxins. It was then I thought, “yeah-I spend real money on my hair-no thank you.” lol…stupid religion. I’ve noticed it’s all of the stupid celebrities that belong to it too. I can understand wanting to be healthy and why people with drug and alcohol problems flock to this but um, ever hear of AA morons? lol…

  20. Ra says:

    I’m late to the party in commenting, forgive me. I read on this and god, I felt sympathy pain. Ebner, you’re great for going through that crap to warn us. I feel like going in, doing stuff that doesn’t cost money, and when they ask for some, flip them the bird and leave. Damn, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and The Force makes more sense.

  21. anon says:

    Just wanted to thank you, 12 years too late, for writing this.

  22. TypeKey says:

    You, my friend, are a dead-set legend. Nice piece.

  23. Jetpilot says:

    I was laughing at the authors wit, but its a scary cult. Since the article was written (96) we have seen Tom Cruise get divorced, married, procreate(?), do wacko stuff & rise in douchebaggery, South Park Parody, Germany Bans Scientology and more internet exposure of the total bull crap that is Scientology. It’s truly amazing, sad & funny. I don’t mind rich Celebs getting ripped off, but the ’91 Time Mag article, heart breaking. BTW Time Mag won in 2001. Good!

  24. Jace Cohen says:

    Do you guys know that scientologists believe the holocaust never happened? What a bullshit “religion”

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  26. Vishwas Gaikwad says:

    This is really scary. It is good fortune that majority of people are still not scientologists. I feel people should make it a mission to oppose these lies and boycott scientologist celebrities. The worst part was reading about children being drawn into it, government and its agencies should strongly oppose them before even the government it taken over by these mad people.
    It all feels like the games/role plays most of us play during childhood, one guy decides he is the king and orders others to follow his instruction, only this is a game played by adults and for a “clear” reason (to become rich off innocent victim’s hard earned money). It is beyond me how can people fall for such an absurd religion founded by a science fiction writer.
    If people are really so dumb, I am tempted to start my own religion based on some novel idea.

  27. Mepja;a says:

    I first read F. Paul Wilson’s CrissCross, which seemed to have a spoof on Scientology but then when I read Tom Cruise’s latest autobiography by Andrew Morton, I realised it wasn’t so different after all.
    Kudos for going in to find out the real story. Your account helps give a fuller picture to whatever else I’ve read on it so far.

  28. countessK says:

    I think it is so funny that you write this tongue in cheek article about Scientology and people actually believe it. I understand that you are an entertainer, first and foremost, why don’t they?
    You’ve really worked hard at taking innocent words and actions and making them seem really dark and sinister. I think you could take the tale of a virgin with a bag of gold walking through a beautiful park at high noon and turn it into a tale of dark and hidden evil. How creative.
    I laughed and laughed. The funniest part is how you irritated you were when your own auditor couldn’t get the questions right but how cavalier you were when auditing someone else. Interesting.
    I hope no-one whose life could have been re-vitalized by Scientology actually believed you. That’s ultimately between you and your God, I suppose.

  29. debt types says:

    This is an amazing read despite it been quite old. The scientology website is not offering “free” courses on a basic level and I would advice anyone with a little time on their hands to take the first 2 courses to get a feel for how things operate and take in how strange things are. Some of the concepts are possibly useful on a basic level but there is no sense in over the top obsession and one track mind that people who get sucked in possess.

  30. dragonslayer says:

    the worker scrubs are fairly brainwashed into doing few things; but they are all focused on getting the money from people and protecting the”tech”. Like any colony organism their response to any threatened attacker is a poisonous swarm.
    They live and breathe this crap and are 100% focused on it while the rest of us experience life, love and the pursuit of happiness. They don’t.
    They continue to hungrily move towards the next objective until physically stopped. Thus, their tenacity sets the model for every terrorist cell group in the world. Quietly focus, infiltrate, manipulate and consume or destroy anything in it’s way.
    This is the way they infiltrated groups like Cult Awareness Network, The U.S. government offices, book publishers, the American Psychiatric Assn., etc. Yes, if they can bribe their way into the IRS, they can probably fluff enough bullshit to entice the cia to look into anything they might have. But, the scino’s don’t have anything of their own. This I know from inside experience. What they would do, however, is steal tech the cia has, or that KGB had…this is where they get more dangerous as a terrorist organization because they can and will use it against individuals and our own government.
    I’m hoping the Fed’s are smart enough to be onto this, but maybe someone should get a list going that takes the “Concerned Businessmens” front group (cell group for influence and power connections) and others and make a list of who of the founders are connected to who and show the founding members, their businesses, and the links to others so anyone can lookup a name and see if they’re dealing with a scion spy.
    Even wonderful sentinel’s of our basic freedoms, like Anonymous, should have predictive measures, like lawyer references, and instant legal response packs ready for instant access because the scion style is to wait it out and then undermine individuals, consume and destroy.
    Anyone got a can of RAID and a map to the hidden nests?

  31. DS3M says:

    This article was a great read.
    Thank you to Anonymous, and South Park, and the death of and OT (Hayes) for reminding us all how crazy and off base this shit is.
    I’m buying a fawkes mask for the next event, even though I knew only one scientologist, and he was a fuckoff asshole anyway, and even though I dont give a flying Fuck what those wack-jobs wanna try and do to me.
    Bring it on Bitches!
    I’m one of those rare SP’s that actually wants the conflict – The more BTs and shit the better.
    Fuck, the more BTS I can accumulate in/on my body and around my reality, the more I will be protected from and avoided by you cult-y weirdos and your BT-Vision goggles.
    If only the rest of the world (and voices in my head) would leave me alone.
    God, I need a psychiatrist, a xanax, and a stiff drink.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Anyone notice the dianetics.org ad at the end of the article? … interesting and suspicious

  33. Tim Fuller says:

    Complete information on the pernicious operations of the cult is available on the website:
    xenu.net
    Enjoy.

  34. Anonymous says:

    scientoligy blackmails ask tom andjohn

  35. Anonymous says:

    Well after reading this I have a new thought on John Travolta and his relationship with Scientology. I thought all this time that the church was protecting his image, pretty well known that Travolta likes the young men, and in fact they have him possibly trapped in staying with the church. Maybe he cannot leave because they will expose him publicly. Maybe the case with whatever dirt they have on Tom Cruise. Hmmm…just a thought. Fascinating subject, such a protected and secret world.

  36. Devin says:

    I also recommend checking out xenu.net for more sordid details about this cult. This rabbit hole is pretty deep, and it gets even weirder.
    Anyone who thinks that Scientology is just another religion – or, for that matter, that all religions are the same – is obviously unacquainted with either.
    Thanks for descending into the belly of the beast for the greater good, Mr. Ebner. I wish I had your courage.

  37. karl anglin says:

    If Scientology is so helpful shouldn’t Tom Cruise
    open Scientology centers in Baghdad, Iraq and
    Tehran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia?

  38. Anonymous says:

    Since people are still posting here so shall I.
    “..maybe we can get the people to boycott the artist who are members of scientology, thereby allowing them to rethink their option. I was a big fan of John Travolta, but after this….”
    This is one of the best things to do because it’s easy for everyone to do. Withhold your support. Look for lists of practicing Scientologist stars and do not see their films or spend money on their DVD’s I know it hurts a bit because I really like Will Smith and I would love to see “Happyness” but refuse to support. I will wait until it comes to broadcast television.
    If Hollywood gets the clear message that Scientologist stars are not supported, or popular, then they will not be hired. If the stars are not working, they cannot credit Scientology for their success, in fact, just the opposite.
    “Keep hiding, sailor boy, and don’t forget to look both ways when you try to cross the information superhighway. And by all means, duck, as the cult of greed that Hubbard built, and you usurped, comes crashing down upon you.”
    He didn’t, now Scientology will cripple itself under the weight of it’s own tactics.
    We Are Legion

  39. Mike says:

    I think the scariest part of Scientology is the (the name is slipping my mind right now) camps that they use FORCED LABOR — how can that NOT be illegal in this country? That is the one thing that confuses me most about Scientology. I understand it to be a scary and outrageous cult, but the fact that they get away with essentially slave labor blows my mind. Something has to be done about it.
    Live free or die. Don’t fall for the amount of bullshit out there these days!

  40. Babylon Slim says:

    Ebner. We know where you live. We know your dogs names. We know that you went to Bard and who you did ear ringers with and partied with when you first moved to L.A. We know that you really did not go to South America to see your dad when working on that film your good friend got you a job on. (Even tho you showed up with a “Welcome To Sunny Florida” clock tucked under your long sleeves after 2 days). WE know ALL.
    You held the cans. We will wait. We are clear… see through, actually.
    -Bubba Sez

  41. xenu's penus says:

    all your thetan bases are ours

  42. rose says:

    Thank you for the excellent job you did on this report!
    Please check out
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfdL_2FVn9M
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_WrQPFEn4s&feature=channel_page
    There are ALOT of similarities between the house of yahweh cult and scientology, more than i knew..

  43. SP 32608 says:

    Just moved to Florida. Flag is close. My resolve to help expose this cult (robbers of self-determination) is unflappable. Any and all coward OT posers are our “Fair Game”. The professionals in the area associated with Scientology will be exposed for what they are and what they peddle. Their infiltration into the educational system will not happen on my watch. We are watching, waiting and biding our time…

  44. colt59 says:

    not so cocky now, with that cigarette hanging out of your face, sorry bad joke. yea i remember them, i remember their little “office” on hollywood blvd, on the left side of the blvd heading west toward the ocean, how they beconed you to “come in and change your life.” wow, what a flash back, and i’am not even on drugs. i was there in the early 1980′s, from what i read it sounds like i was there before you, i only remember one movie star involved in sciencetology (excuse my spelling,) back then. i went in, i took the test, and like you and thousands others ” i was going to die” if i didn’t join, at least thats what they told me. how could this be?? i lied on ever question, i picked the greatest answers?? nobody passes the test boys and girls, were all fucked up! and thats what they feed on. doesn’t matter how happy you feel walking in, what matters is how a low life mange dog they make you feel walking out, i never joined so i can’t confirm the above writers experence, but i can honestly say “thats what my life would have been like if i joined” i just know it, it’s something you just feel in your heart. they told me i would die, if i didn’t join. gods truth. 35 years latter i’am still here, and i am quite happy. the 12th paragraph of day 1 did creep me out though, it sounds alot like the writings of the orancha book, a book that my personal friend who hoboed accross the united states in the early 60,s and 70,s read and told me about. very, very, simular. cerleberties, their necessary, of course their treated different, duh!! intisements, they don’t know what the fucks going on in the lower levals, and don’t give a shit, they are nothing more than poster childs. i don’t have an axe to grind, i never joined, but i believe this guy, or girl 100%

  45. colt59 says:

    jesus christ rose, are you sure your ready to retire to florida?? hell I’am 50 and don’t have half the spunk…get your ass back up up here. ya hoo, gedda up, you still got lots of fire, still lots of fight left..hope hubby see it lol.

  46. Art says:

    Scary stuff. Great article.

  47. Thanks for this great post.if you have more information elsewhere let me know.

  48. Magnetic Bar says:

    thanks for the great post.

  49. Paul Gallagher says:

    Excellent article by a brilliant writer.

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