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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.

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.

Click links for larger images:
Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8, Page 9, Page 10, Page 11

ebner spy

Reader Feedback

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

  1. Matty says:

    I have been doing some research into this so called “religion”, and I have really enjoyed reading your experiences. I am from Australia, and thankfully Scientology has been banned from practising in our country. So, if you ever feel that those bastards are comin’ to get you, you’re welcome to move down under!

  2. James says:

    Good god. This is both scary and depressing. I weep for you guys in the states. So far this insidious cult has not invaded the British conciousness although one can’t help but suspect it’s only around the corner. It’ll probably be imported by Ralph Fiennes!

  3. Ben says:

    I just wanted to commend your work. This is truly an astonishing article.

  4. All I have to say is WOW. I look forward to reading your stories in the future.

  5. Keiko says:

    I hope you got one of the “Psychiatry Kills” t-shirts as a souvenir.

  6. James says:

    Funny, In Austin, TX there is a scientology church on a street dubbed “the drag”
    The church Is precariously close to UT…and the drag is teaming with pedestrian Traffic everyday.
    I once walked in with a friend, and the place just reeked with a cult vibe, from the skeleton shell of a woman working the front desk, to the propaganda all over the walls, to the poor souls taking tests.
    Needless to say, We got the fuck out of there pretty damn quick.
    I hope we stem this psychotic cult soon, or else I fear I will lose all hope in humanity
    The bottom line? Some people are dumbasses

  7. matt says:

    Better man than me. I would have gone around screaming, “I am BATMAN!” until I annoyed them into submission. But all jokes aside this is a great peice of literature that needs to get out there. Scientology is dangerous and is infesting our culture, awareness needs to be spread to stop their propaganda.

  8. Bill says:

    I recently visited the Church of Scientology and Information Centre in Toronto. After being approached by a Volunteer Minister sporting the “trademark smirk” and asking “which one of you guys is the Leader?” we watched a 45 minute film that was a clear attempt at brainwashing. The host of the video spent the final 6 or 7 minutes spewing some garbage about “immortality” this and “clear” that. His final statement, and I quote, “Sure you could walk away from Scientology and never speak of it again, but you would be stupid to do so. You could also shoot yourself in the head or jump off a bridge. Scientology offers you immortality. You can spend the next trillion years in happiness and prosperity, or slam the door of tomorrow in your face. The choice is yours.”
    Apparently they’re big on scare tactics too. They must revert to that when drugging doesn’t work. Good article Mr. Ebner, very insightful.

  9. BlackMonday says:

    Scientology is bullshit. Their false beliefs and lack of confidence in medical technology led to the death of my grandmother shortly after I was born. Her ailment: emphysema. Easily treatable, she bypassed treatment and passed away. After reading this article, I now understand why. Stop these evil bastards that permeate our society with their cult beliefs and false doctrines. Their ideas are so laughable that only the most feeble-minded individuals could possibly believe them. Sorry Grandma, but you were wrong. So is Grandpa. Now, thanks to my grandparents, I lead a life free of the cultish doctrines of ANY organized religion and I have never been happier. War in the name of any god is downright hypocricy, and will most assuredly lead all those involved to the very “hell” (or whatever they want to call it) they are trying to avoid and save others from. I now weep for all of mankind and their need for “spiritual guidance.” Your weakness will destroy us all. Only the strong survive, and we humans, as the feeble parasites we are, will never last in the grand scheme of things.

  10. KGB says:

    Cool article.
    Exactly what I expected. A religion that takes credit cards…..
    May the Lord make you Platinum.

  11. Evan Stone says:

    Scientology IS IN BRITAIN. They leave cinamon scented booklets around promoting a very reasonable rules for living. Bit of a take on the 10 commandments but adjusted for the current world. It’s a very gentle introduction, no force involved just soft suggestions. At the end of the booklet you can choose to seek further information, that’s up to you. A lie is nevermore convincing than when the fool is conned into using their own resources in discovering the ‘truth’. It’s a decent ploy, exactly the approach I would take to control susceptible people. However morals and ethics exist outside of scientology.

  12. Annabelle says:

    I recently read an article in some random celebrity rag about Katie Holmes and the “purification rundown”. In fact, almost any article involving Miss Holmes mentions something about Scientology. It creeped me the hell out. Being a lover of all things creepy and macabre, I honestly thought about stepping inside the Scientology Center on the Drag (I live in Austin, TX) to grab a few pamphlets and learn just how truly schizo these people are. Thank you for saving me the time and effort, buddy. This article was just what I wanted to know, with the exception of one thing: where these nuts are keeping their automatic weapons and purple kool-aid.

  13. Annabelle says:

    I recently read an article in some random celebrity rag about Katie Holmes and the “purification rundown”. In fact, almost any article involving Miss Holmes mentions something about Scientology. It creeped me the hell out. Being a lover of all things creepy and macabre, I honestly thought about stepping inside the Scientology Center on the Drag (I live in Austin, TX) to grab a few pamphlets and learn just how truly schizo these people are. Thank you for saving me the time and effort, buddy. This article was just what I wanted to know, with the exception of one thing: where these nuts are keeping their automatic weapons and purple kool-aid.

  14. antman says:

    Yah, from the looks of your article, the parrallels between scientologist’s and terrorist’s are evident, I am happy to say though, that the cult’s movement has not reached eastern ohio. At least not to my knowledge.

  15. Josh T says:

    Wrong matty (from first comment) Scientologists don’t have religion status (thus have to pay taxes) by they can exist. Shiny new “church” in the middle of brisbane right now. Save us Xenu!

  16. Freddie says:

    Very very good article. You seem like a brave man :)
    I visited the small Scientology church in Stockholm/Sweden with my girlfriend, who were doing a study on the church. It was spooky. The guy who were to be our guide was waiting for us when we arrived, and we were about 15 minutes to early. We were shown pretty much of the compound, including a room made for children auditing?. the guy really tried to work us into the cult. I think he asked me 5 times if I wanted to take that personality test. (oh btw, friend of me did the personality test 5 times, got the lowest grades everytime eventhough he answered differently:)). I cant do anything else but feeling sorry for these people. The brainwashing is so clear when you stand outside like we do.

  17. Gerald Shrodinger says:

    People Should investigate Mormonism also. It’s not as crazy as Scientology buy there are some similarities

  18. Black Tuesday says:

    Fucking brillant article, it’s only a matter of time until this shit pile of a “religion” comes crashing down upon itself. I’m sure then people will be jumping out of windows, just as if the stock market crashed, due to the amount of money they invested into it.

  19. Wackadoo P Smackers says:

    This is clearly a trick to find out who is against scientology. I won’t fall for it! I’m on to all of you! I’ll go get audited and then I’ll be able to read all of your minds! I know what you are planning! I know you’re out to get me!
    Wackadoo P Smackers
    Thetan Six from the Pleaides System

  20. Janelle says:

    “People Should investigate Mormonism also. It’s not as crazy as Scientology buy there are some similarities”
    no there aren’t.
    I’m an ex mormon, I left the mormon church a few years ago after growing up strictly mormon. So I know just about everything there is to know about what it means to be mormon. But I haven’t been affiliated with them in any way for years, so I am the last person to be defensive or protective of them.
    The mormon church is generally doing good in the world and benefitting its members. It is not a cult. It’s just an organized religion, with the same virtues and flaws as any other organized religion.

  21. Cashish says:

    I suppose you can see the similarity to Mormons in that both religions were started by delusional, narcissistic con men. Joseph Smith was a polygamist and a “stone reader???. Anyway, great article. The scientologists have booths set up all over the NYC subway terminals and parks proselytizing this crap. Hopefully this makes some people aware of what it actually is.

  22. doomedmission says:

    Props. The more light that can be shed on these damaging cults the better. I believe in freedom of religion, even though the roots of all organized religion can be seen as fanatic when seen from anothers perspective. However, when a religion begins blackmailing members to prevent their leaving and sueing and threating those who shed light on their beliefs, then it becomes a danger to society.
    It will always amaze me how religions like this, that seem so fanatical and strange (ie fundamentalists in Islam, LDS or Christianity), only continue to balloon in profits, members and control. Maybe with articles like this people will begin to think for themselves.

  23. ELI says:

    If only some of these millions of mentally trapped people had decided to worship South Park instead of L. Ron Hubbard, the world would no doubt be a much better place.

  24. happened to me says:

    hallo, around 15 years ago, i as 20years old girl with many problems resulting from living in foreign country and after break with my bf i walked in Vienna with tears in my eyes in famous vienna shopping road, and an older guy stopped me and asked me what wrong with me – to make it short i went with him to this centre, i made these test – all looked so serious – i got even orange juice – and was told the same like in your article – that i am over intelligent but suicid endangered – then as i had almost no money, he said he can help me – and i was desperate that time – and brough me a book that he first wanted about 30$ for, but then when i said i have only 5, he gave me it very generously for 5, and also talked to me about these trainings and stars who are so powerfull and succesfull etc. this made be a bit unconfortable, as what i hate is when someone tries to force me to do something or to “enter” some uber group (i come from former eastern europe, and i hated it there too – i think this aversion against group pressure saved me for scientology)
    at home i started to read the “psychological” book and after about 10 pages i couldnt believe, that someone could call this science – and the celebration of that hubbard made me think on hitler or stalin, so i never read more than these 10 pages, and i cant even remember where the book got lost
    after few years later the same man again asked me on that street if i am interesting in psychological test and i told him, that i strive for freedom from any group pressure – so there is no better group or lesser group for me – i dont want any group on this world to have influence on my life
    and everytime i read about scientology (that days i didnt know it was called so -i had only that book dianetic) i am thankfull to my mind, who let the rings bell sooo loudly that i escaped

  25. fycin says:

    I didn’t think Nicole Kidman was a Scientologist. Wasn’t that supposed to be a big reason for their breakup? (Apart from Tom’s being gay, of course.)
    Scientology truly scares me. It’s amazing that people can’t see that a religion that bases its allure on the celebrities who join it is not a religion at all, but a bullying attempt at a popularity contest only available to those with money.

  26. fycin says:

    i just realized that what I said seemed like I wished I had the money to be a Scientologist. Yikes. you know what I meant.

  27. Xenu's daughter says:

    I will avenge my Father!
    P.S. Scientology is in Ohio but thus far, not N.E.,though

  28. Friends, do not let your precious, precious thetans be viciously stolen from you by murderous scientologists.
    Join the First Church of Xenu.
    We have punch and pie.

  29. Boovy says:

    Great article, kind of have to feel sorry for the poor saps who are so mentally weak they believe Scientology will help them. Just hope with more articles like this more people will be discouraged to join a cult with such mindless, idiotic premises.
    By the way if people would like to join my new church, Kabbology…just send me a crate of beer and youre in, how a religion should be!

  30. Anonymous says:

    you know, I actually thought Scientology sounded semi interesting from one book I read. but thanks to your in depth article i think they are nuts. How the hell is this allowed?
    Thank you.

  31. James says:

    antman did you say Brisbane? Damn it not here in Australia, just when i thought it was safe..

  32. Xena Xanax says:

    Wow! This article, like the one that appeared in Rolling Stone, is so informative.
    Scarily, your experience is very much like the one had by the writer at Rolling Stone. It seems this “church,” goes to great lengths to ensure the slaves stick to the script.
    Such a shame that with all the information available, people still get sucked in.
    I’ve read the 1983(?) Penthouse interview with L. Ron, Jr., and was completely flabbergasted. Black magic, Satanism, L. Ron, Sr.’s obsession with trying to impregnate women with Satan?
    Thank you for this article. Hopefully, it will keep just one person from joining that horrifying cult.

  33. Kif says:

    A brilliant article, and one that I found both disturbing and enlightening. I feel sorry for children who are brought up into Scientology, since there is pretty much no way to get out then. I’m just glad this cult hasn’t made much progress here in the UK.
    I find it sad that this ‘religion’ is riding the wave of it’s Hollywood members so much as well. Abusing one’s status to show this imperfect cult to a nation driven by the media? It’s sick, but it’s almost unstoppable.

  34. Anonymous says:

    is Katie Holmes that weak? She seemed like a smart gal what is she doing?

  35. Ann says:

    In response to the comment by James about the Austin “personality test” area: About 14 years ago, I took that test (forgive my ignorance and naivety, but I was merely 19 or 20 at that time) with two friends in Austin. It was in the same or close to the same location, and we were not aware at that time that the place was related to Scientology. In fact, I don’t believe there was any religious propaganda up back then. Additionally, I thought I recalled paying for the test ($5) or something. It took about 45 mins to an hour for us to complete, and they “counseled” us on our results immediately. My two friends were done counseling in about 10 minutes; however, the guy talked to me for roughly a half hour. I had the personality of a doormat (“please walk on me”), and since my mother had passed away when I was a child, I had a bit of money from a life insurance policy. The questions were geared toward fishing this information out of people, IMO. They recognized a fool with money. The “counselor” lauded my people-personality and asked if I’d be interested in a part-time job (and with an interest in people, sociology, and psychology, it looked like an exciting possibility), and I said I was interested. The guy mentioned that he had a sort of “training manual” for life he wanted me to check out and asked me to come by another day and get it. I said I would. When I never came back, the guy began calling me and hassling me about the book. He told me it was called “Dianetics” by R.L. Hubbard. One of my roomies recognized the name and warned me against it, saying it was a cult. I kept trying to brush the guy off, but he called a half dozen more times and became aggressively insistent about coming to my house to give me the book. Finally, my roommate (a male) got on the phone and told the guy that we’d call the cops and report harassment if he didn’t leave me alone. He never called back. Lucky me!

  36. antman says:

    Wow, scientology is big in n.e. ohio that is scary, not only because its spread to the midwest, but because n.e. ohio has around as many people as about 15 states do total. maybe well find a way to ground up scientologist’ into gasoline to solve the fuel crisis, but until then i guess i’ll pay 3 bucks a gallon.

  37. Ross says:

    Unbelieveable, totally. Very good article.
    The worrying thing is, all religion is exactly the same – just pushed over centuries to people who had no scientific knowledge.
    People in this day and age have a vast amount of information at their disposal, and hence can think for themselves ‘hold on – this is a crock of ****’.
    Religon = male greed + power + weakness = war.

  38. susan says:

    Absolutely fantastic article.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Ignorence is bliss………

  40. Lisa says:

    Thanks for this great artical, it refreshes my plain hate and disgust just as im starting to get used to Tom Cruise and his BS.
    Anyway, to the first post, Just letting you know this cult is alive and well in Australia, they have quite a few set ups in each large city. But hopefully with the help of Mark here, they can be exposed for what they really are.

  41. Jooj says:

    Oh my god, anyone can just have a strange dream and make a religion out of it….. I clicked the link from a few posts up scary stuff.
    “Xenu is airborne! – 05/04 21:21:05 John Smith, Minister of TruthIt has come to our attention that the good word of our Dark Lord has taken to the skies, spread by airplane to the unbelievers of Hollywood. We welcome all efforts to spread Xenu’s message, and encourage new visitors to become acquainted with our precepts and beliefs, found in the Manifesto and FAQ. We’ll soon have much more up on this site, and you’re encouraged to sign up for our email list below to be sure you’re informed of it.”
    Im going to start a religion from my dreams about Gremlins, I think it has a supernatural meaning that needs exploring and only I can bring it to the eyes of others. lol
    Pick a religion or make a new one!

  42. jooj says:

    uhoh. Am i allowed to copy and paste or will they come after me with Sub-tronic laser nuetro guns?

  43. Vonda Thompson says:

    Your article was wonderful and I actually enjoyed the writing style – wrote any books?
    The really sad thing here is that most of the people that end up in a organization like this were seeking help for a problem they couldn’t handle on their own. If something, even something bogus like “auditing”, helps you through bad times, I am all for it – to each his own etc. However, the brainwashing aspect is disheartening and causes more problems with already messed up people. And as to the “pay as you heal” program…. there should be a law! I am from Alabama and although we have our share of crackpot religious people (I am a baptist my self ha ha) at least they put it out there and let you take it or leave it.

  44. Tom Weeks says:

    Nice article. As an ex-scientologist and ex-sea org member I can vouch for its authenticity.
    About 15 years ago, thrilled by the promises of Scientology, I joined staff and eventually signed the billion year contract (not legally binding btw) to join the “elite” Sea Org. I thought they were elite, but soon after getting there I found out they hired anyone with a pulse. They signed up people (homeless kids) off the street. I was told it was an honor to be selected for membership, but that was just a recruiter telling me what I wanted to hear.
    Since L Ron Hubbard had “dropped his body” by the time I joined, I don’t know where the money went (that wasn’t my department) but it didn’t go to me or anyone I worked with. We all lived in crappy quarters, ate in a mess hall and worked seven days a week from about 8am to 10 pm with a few hours free on Sunday to do laundry and stuff like that. We did have class time,
    - all classes in Scientology.
    What bugged me was that complaining about Scientology in any way was subject to discipline (called Ethics). I thought I could see that everyone around me had some doubts about Scientology or the Sea Org, but no one would ever express them. I was married to a Swiss girl while I was there (by choice – there’s no forced marriage) and once I expressed a small doubt about Scientology to her while we were in the privacy of our bedroom. She told me I was “out-ethics” (meaning unethical). I ceased discussing my doubts with her after that.
    After a year, I told them I wanted to leave. I was given a list of things to do prior to leaving. Had I done the list, it would have taken me another year. So, in the middle of the night, I left without telling anyone. Escaping from that place was like a commando mission. I knew they wouldn’t try to stop me with physical force – maybe just alittle, but they would do everything to try and talk me out of leaving and, I think the article and following comments show how persistent they (formerly I) can be.

  45. Matty Cee says:

    E meters are a joke, you can cheat them with an awkwardly high theaten level and piss off the people doing the test. Sereously a GCSE kid doing electronics could point out how they work. This is my small encounter with ‘The Church of Scientology’…
    I live in the UK and was walking through the centre of a local city when I was approached by some chap with a smirk and a beard offering me and my girlfriend a free personality test.
    “Err, sure” says my girlfriend. I smiled and went along with it.
    The guy sits her down and gives her these metal tubes attatched to a box with what looked like a sort of volt metre in it. She was directed to loosely grip the poles and the wierdo asked her to think about when she was most sad as he fiddled with what I now know to be the e meter.
    He explained that her personality test indicated how she was depressed and he tried to sell her one of a number of books. Just as I was about to tell her not to I was sat down by another person for my free test.
    I was told the same things as my girlfriend but I noticed that the needle would move depending on how i gripped the metal poles. The harder you gripped them the higher your reading apparently. In an atempt to get a base theatan level the lady doing my test fiddled with a dial till the needle fell back down, at which point I released my grip causing the needle to move sharply down, again the lady fiddled with the device and I decided to hold the device as losely as possible.
    I figure the e meter must test for conductivity, if you grip hard you have more contact with the metal poles and that affects the conductance of the circuit. The sensitivity is then adjusted by the person giving you a reading. There are no theatans involved, just regular electricity…
    Once questions were asked I would squeeze the tubes. This would cause the needle to give me a high reading. I later learned (and correct me if I’m wrong) that a high reading means that you are happy and have obveously been in scientology for a while.
    She still tried to sell me the book.
    My girlfriend had no money or intention of buying their book, neither did I for that matter. But what was worse was that they wouldn’t let us leave without agreeing to buy their stupid book.
    “I thought you said it was free?”
    “The personality test is free, the book costs £8.”
    “I don’t really want it”
    “It is the first step on your journey to happiness.”
    “Oh, I have no money on me”
    “But you have been shopping” they point to our carrier bags. Busted.
    “Errm, we only shop with cards” quick thinking by my girlfriend.
    “There is a cash machine down there”
    “Ok we’ll be right back”
    We wern’t right back.

  46. zybch says:

    E-Meter = Skin Galvanometer
    All it does is measure the electrical conductivity of your skin, firmness of grip, perspiration and humidity and even what you had for dinner the night before can all affect the ‘readings’

  47. AC says:

    This makes me glad to be in the bible belt where it hasn’t seemed to taken a hold of anyone. I am a christian but any church that has not trancended into a cult isn’t as messed up as this (though some have weirder beliefs).

  48. phlyp says:

    The worrying thing is, all religion is exactly the same – just pushed over centuries to people who had no scientific knowledge.
    Not all religeon is the same ANTMAN, and certainly, not all cults are the same, but they are all cults!
    SCIENTOLOGY is quack science. Enough said.
    I can tell you as one who was in scientology for 3 years, religion once foind is wholly different from a cult!

  49. L. Ron Hubbard says:


  50. Jane Smith says:

    I have been in the First Church of Xenu for almost three months now, and I feel great! I joined shortly after learning the dangers of this cult and I had a strong desire to spread the word to stop it.
    Punch and pie, web forums dedicated to Xenu’s work, and flyers in half a dozen languages you can post all over town to stop $cientology. Best of all, it’s completely free and we don’t want your brain. (It’s probably far too scary a place for us to deal with. See a shrink.)

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