Kevin Mackey was a Scientologist for 26 years. After being hounded for money to the point of throwing Scientology sales people out of his house after midnight, he came to the conclution that is was all they wanted was his money.
His story is recounted in the wonderful blog infinite Complacency by UK journalist Jonny Jacobsen. Her are some of the more pertinent parts:
“Scientology promises salvation from the life/death cycle,” wrote Mackey, explaining the incentive. He had been taught that he was “an immortal being with personal power that would rival the characters of Greek mythology…”
The OT levels are supposed to unlock these godlike powers – though former members who have done these levels have dismissed these claims as nonsense.
“Once on and committed to attaining the spiritual freedom promised from OT VII we were bilked for another 820,000 to 900,000 [Australian] dollars between us,” he wrote.
They were to spend the next 15 years trying to get through that level.
In 1993, Mackey flew to Florida, reputed to be one of Scientology’s top centres, to learn how to do the solo auditing he would need for this level. Auditing is Scientology’s version of counselling, or therapy, when the subjects go over their past – and their past lives – to discover what is blocking their spiritual development.
But unlike the lower levels, when you are audited by another Scientologist, those on the upper levels are expected to audit themselves. And in the six weeks he was in Florida he paid more than 35,000 Australian dollars to learn how to do this. For the next three years he went through the designated exercises several times a day, as required, and flew to Florida every six months for check-ups costing 800 dollars a day.
Those checks included confessional sessions in which he was expected to own up to any transgressions.
At the time, he thought it would take just a few years to get through OT VII.
But then in 1996 the movement suddenly released revised versions of all its training levels “… and we were told to return and retrain as we had been doing it all wrong.
“This was at our expense.” At the same time, Mackey noticed a significant change in the way the training was delivered. From what had been just a couple of hours, the mandatory six-monthly confessional sessions now lasted much longer: sometimes up to 36 hours.
One of Scientology’s “ethics officers” filed what was known as a “knowledge report” summarising the “crimes” that had been uncovered during the confessional.
And if the offences were considered sufficiently serious, the member concerned would be expected to make amends, wrote Mackey. As time went on these amends increasingly became donations of cash to the Church,” he added.
Offences could include failing to perform the daily training, taking alcohol or watching pornography. Those who had looked at critical material about Scientology or given a less than glowing account of their experiences in the movement were seen in a particularly poor light, wrote Mackey: these offences carried heavy penalties.
He recalled one Scientologist, a widowed mother of twins, being forced to hand over 60,000 dollars for having failed to lock away her worksheets properly after a session.
Also during this period, it became compulsory to get involved with all of Scientology’s various organisations, he wrote.
That included groups such as the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) to the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), an umbrella organisation for businesses run by members of the movement. And every one of them wanted a piece of the action, wrote Mackey.
“Some of these groups would ask for donations of up to $100,000 and if they sense any weakness of resolve would push until the parishioner would sell their house if they required…”
When they felt there was money to be made, the different Scientology organisations would work together to get the maximum amount out of a parishioner, wrote Mackey.
“I know of several people who were coerced into giving up inheritances and pushed to the point of bankruptcy from these actions, which the Church calls ‘reg cycles’.”
Nor were these hard-sell operators restricted to Florida, he added.
“I have had teams… come uninvited to my home and have to be forcibly thrown out after midnight.” That had happened on at least four separate occasions, he added.
“My wife and I were persuaded to donate around $200,000 Aus from the early nineties in this manner,” he wrote.
“After 1996 I endured another 12 years of OT VII…” and Scientology’s “capricious and relentless efforts to defraud us of our money,” he added.
The IAS would call them regularly to tell them they needed more money to fight the mandatory drugging of school children “…by the evil psychiatrists or defeat Nazi Psychs who were behind the German government’s dislike of the Church…”
The IAS even likened Germany’s campaign to the Nazi-era persecution of the Jews. So they handed over 80,000 US dollars.
Why they stood for it
In his letter, Mackey tried to explain how financially independent public members of Scientology could allow themselves to be subjected to this kind of abuse.
“When one begins in Scientology there is nothing weird or space alien about it,” he wrote.
“One learns to resolve conflicts, work more efficiently, live without the use of drugs or alcohol, communicate more clearly and study better.”
For a troubled newcomer, wrote Mackey, Scientology would be seen as Godsend.
But he added: “Once you have taken the bait and become hooked, the real Scientology is presented, very slowly, over the years. It slowly becomes the only chance the human race or indeed the whole universe has.” That, and the promise of the powers to be unleashed on the OT levels, helps explain why the paying Scientologists paid over such vast sums of money, he added.
Here is Kevin Mackey and others at a hearing before a committee of the Australian government.