The number of Scientologists in New Zealand is very small, less than a couple of hundred. But when it comes to ruining lives and making scandals size really does not matter. The following is an excerpt from the “Christchurch Press,” dated February 2, 2009.
If that was a fork in the road, Genny Long went the other way. She was 16 and living in Christchurch. It was the 1970s and her boyfriend’s family ran the Church of Scientology franchise here — within the clerical language that Hubbard is said to have adopted largely for tax purposes, the office in Christchurch is known as a “mission”.
So she dabbled in Scientology, beginning with a communications course. She says now that she had trouble talking to her parents — typical teenager — and this helped. It was basic general knowledge — listening and not interrupting, keeping your cool in an argument. But in her naïveté, Long thought these were techniques that Hubbard had invented.
It was quickly beneficial. She began to feel superior to her parents and others. “We were encouraged to feel that we had information and knowledge that they didn’t have,” she says. “We were encouraged to put ourselves above them. That makes you feel good. That’s the hook.”
She went into auditing next, following the procedures set out in Hubbard’s founding volume, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. It was only recently, doing a psychology paper at university, that she realised these ideas weren’t wholly original either.
“It’s a trap for young players, not having that information and that knowledge.”
Her boyfriend became her first husband. They went to Sydney and worked in the Scientology centre there. She trained as an auditor and kept searching her own mind and past for the causes of things that ailed her. Once you exhaust your immediate memory, you move into experiences at birth, in the womb, past lives.
Like the way she tried to cure her asthma. As she spiraled through past lives, she concluded that she had been a soldier in a war, gassed by an enemy. So the asthma is a psychosomatic reaction to that old trauma – problem solved.
“You feel so elated and floating,” she says. “You write a success story and say: my asthma is cured, I’ve found my initial engram. But that night, you start wheezing.”
And there is another side to a cure that doesn’t take. The church says that if auditing doesn’t work, you must have “undisclosed crimes” — negative feelings about Hubbard and Scientology. And you will need to do sessions on those.
It’s all so Orwellian. Accusations of thought crimes. Show trials of those who are’t performing. As an auditor, she was encouraged to get her statistics up — increasing chargeable hours, essentially — and if she didn’t she must be “actively suppressing” statistics. Those found to have thought crimes wore grey armbands and were kept away from others as untouchables.
This part started to worry her. She had been on staff for nearly five years, and was tired and pregnant, when it clicked: was she really happy or was everyone else happy? So she and her husband resolved to get out. And that’s when the harassing phone calls and visits started.
Such a long way from the high hopes she had when she first went in. “I wanted to see a better world,” she says. “I honestly thought that Scientology would produce a better world. I thought I could help the world.”
She sealed those years away as a time she would rather forget, but recently it’s come back. There was the paper on cults she did at Canterbury University and there was her discovery of the worldwide anti-Scientology movement, Anonymous.
Here she is appearing with Aaron Saxton, an anti-Scientologist activist.