Ex-Scientologist Story #407, “Where Are the Orgs?” Staffer asks.

ex-files-scientology21

How a Scientologist Loses Faith in His Church: A Case Study.

From the Village Voice Blog, 6/13/12 by Tony Ortega.  To read the full story go here: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/06/scientology_dave_fagen.php

One of the reasons Debbie Cook’s infamous New Year’s Eve e-mail had such a huge effect was that it provided a look from inside at what was tearing apart the Church of Scientology.

Cook’s e-mail spelled out in high relief what ex-Scientologists had been telling us were the issues causing so many longtime, dedicated church members to flee the organization. It had nothing to do with Xenu, the jokes of late-night comedians, the constant bad press, or even the global protests. Cook’s complaints were all about a cancer eating away at Scientology from its guts: a crisis in faith over the leadership of David Miscavige.

Now, just a few months later, we have another remarkable testimony describing in even greater detail the problems facing Miscavige’s church.

Dave Fagen has posted a book-length description of his decision to leave Scientology as a many-chaptered blog he’s titled “My Side of the Story,” and the document in its entirety reflects and amplifies Debbie Cook’s own litany of charges in very interesting ways.

After the jump: we’ve pulled out some of Fagen’s detailed and well-written explanations for what turned him against his church, we’ve also interviewed him, and at the end we have a bonus musical surprise.   The name Fagen should already be familiar to our readers. Dave’s wife Synthia has been an active member of our commenting community, and she was featured prominently in the big Tampa Bay Times expose, “The Money Machine” in November.

Dave has written his account with his former Chicago Org co-workers in mind, and he knows that his reader will naturally wonder about Synthia’s decision to talk to the Tampa Bay Times and whether he simply followed her out of the church. So he carefully explains how each of them lost their faith in the church and its leader, Miscavige.

Dave explains that Synthia was the first to have grave doubts because of her role at the org — which involved intense fundraising for the International Association of Scientologists. Dave was spared much of the fundraising drama. “I generally stayed in the courseroom and fortunately, since Supervising was my primary duty, I was probably the one who got the least pressured to get donations and sales,” he writes.

Synthia, on the other hand, was reaching her limit, and it had nothing to do with the battering the church was receiving in the press.

Up to this time, she hadn’t seen or read any of [the media reports]. It was about things that she witnessed and experienced in the org, while on staff. It had to do with the constant over-emphasis on taking in money, with a lack of attention on helping people as individuals.

When Synthia voiced her concerns, church management made a fateful decision — she was given a copy of Freedom, Scientology’s propaganda magazine.

It was an issue of the magazine that harshly criticized former church officials Marty Rathbun, Mike Rinder and others after they accused Miscavige of violence to employees in a major 2009 St. Petersburg Times project, “The Truth Rundown.”

Having Sindy read this magazine turned out to be a big mistake…It was the way in which this magazine was written that turned the tables for Sindy. To her it was obvious the church was hiding something…It was the tipping point that got her to want to “cross the line” to find out what was really happening in the management of the Church of Scientology, doing this by reading Internet information that was not being disclosed by the church itself.

By February 2010, Dave writes, he faced a personal crisis. Synthia, it was plain, was leaving Scientology, and he knew that he’d either have to consider for himself what had changed her point of view, or leave her.

I didn’t want to leave my wife and the idea of leaving Scientology was a completely foreign concept up until then…I had never read anything negative about it in years and I hadn’t wanted to. The idea of reading things like that on the Internet seemed like a very surreal idea to me.

Then, Dave made his own fateful decision: to trust his own intelligence and judgment. He would look at the material online to evaluate it for himself.

Do I not have the ability to judge data for myself? Why would I need an authority to tell me whether something is true or something is not true?

The result? Reading “The Truth Rundown” devastated him, Dave writes. Amy Scobee, Tom DeVocht, Mike Rinder, Marty Rathbun — these were not just any group of ex-church members. These were people who had been in Scientology for decades and had served it at the highest level. And they were all reporting the same thing — that Miscavige was a brutal person to work for, a man they had seen on multiple occasions assault his employees. For Dave Fagen, it rang true, and that astounded him.

I could imagine being in a state where I am wondering day-to-day whether or not I am going to get physically beaten in some way. And this is happening at Int management of the Church of Scientology!

Dave kept reading. If the church was not being honest about conditions for upper management, what else was questionable? For one, he began to realize, Miscavige’s constant claims for ever-growing expansion just didn’t add up.

The church claims that there are 10,000 orgs, missions and groups…Where are they?  Last I knew there were about 175 Class V orgs. This would mean that the Class V orgs average 45.7 missions and groups per org.

I know that for Chicago, there are about 5 missions and one field auditor that I know of who actually audits. (If it’s more, I apologize for overlooking but it isn’t much more than that).

I’ve been to Flag [Scientology’s spiritual headquarters, the “Flag Land Base” in Clearwater, Florida] and I’ve known staff members from all over the world and I have never heard of one single org having over 10 missions. And as far as “groups” are concerned, I don’t know what the church is considering a “group” to consist of, but I’ve never heard of any org that had anything that could be considered to be anywhere near 45 of them. In Chicago, I never saw anything like what I would consider a high number of highly productive field groups.

If my org had 45 missions and field groups, I’m sure that after being on staff for 25 years, I would be able to name more than 5 missions and one field auditor in the area.

My point here is not to belittle the hard-working staff members of the church, it is to get them to actually look at what is going on. The claim of 10,000 orgs, missions and groups is a false report! And that’s another extreme out-ethics indicator.

And also the church was claiming that it has over 8,000,000 members!

Let’s just say that Flag, ASHO, AOLA, AOSH UK, AOSH ANZO and AOSH EU* each had 10,000 people in their local areas that would be considered to be public of those orgs. (I doubt that it is anywhere near that high but I could be wrong. Check for yourself if you want but I’m using this as a generous assumption.) That would be 50,000 Scientologists right there. [*Acronyms for advanced orgs in Los Angeles, the UK, Copenhagen, and Australia.]

That would leave 7,950,000 members of the church to account for as affiliated with 175 Class V orgs. You know how many church members that makes per org? That’s 45,428.57 members per Class V org.

Last I knew, my org had, without a doubt, no more than 1,000 active members. And that is a very generous estimate. Sure, there may be many hundreds of times more than that amount in the Central Files, but the overwhelming majority of those folders are of people who only bought a book and did nothing further. And then I would say that there are at least a few thousand in there who once were active in Scientology but haven’t done anything in Scientology for many years. In my book, that doesn’t count, and if that’s the basis for the 8,000,000 members, to count anyone who ever bought a book or ever had even just one contact with an org or mission, or isn’t actually a Scientologist anymore, then I call that a STAT PUSH and also another false report.

(In fact, I’ve personally seen a videotaped court deposition of Scientology president Heber Jentzsch given years ago during which he admitted that the claims of millions of members is exactly that — a number reflecting the amount of people who have ever, since Scientology’s beginnings in the 1950s, purchased even a single book or taken a single course, whether or not they ever had any other interaction with the church. As we’ve reported earlier, the number of active members of the church is probably closer to about 40,000 around the world.)

For Dave, the claim of millions of active members, and 10,000 orgs and groups, was completely alien to his own experience.

I would think that if Scientology was undergoing “explosive growth”, that there would be some more new orgs popping up in the world. (And I don’t mean just new buildings for orgs that already exist.)…  In my org for my last 5 years on staff, I don’t recall ever having more than 110 bodies in the shop in any week and I would say most of the time it was less than 100. That is no more than it was 15 years earlier. So you need to actually look in orgs to see if Scientology is expanding, not just listen to what someone at an event says is happening.

What was worse, Dave writes, is that the few people the org did attract weren’t getting the kind of training that would produce “Class VIII auditors” — the best counselors for Scientology’s spiritual training.

I knew we were not making auditors, I knew that auditor training was virtually replaced by the Basics courses being done in the Academies…  How many Class VIIIs have you seen made in the last 15 years? Personally, I don’t know of any public who became permanent Class VIIIs within that time…

The Golden Age of Tech [Miscavige’s controversial 1996 re-working of Hubbard’s training regimens] was supposed to have solved, utterly, the problem of not being able to make volumes of perfect auditors anywhere in the world. That was the main claim. From 1996 on, we were supposed to witness and experience the biggest training boom in the history of Scientology.

Instead, Dave writes, it had the opposite effect as people found themselves suddenly obliged to re-do expensive training.

I personally know of at least two auditors who were auditing before the release of the Golden Age of Tech who are no longer auditing. One of them was my auditor and was my personal favorite. He was told, not too long after the GAT release, that he was forbidden from auditing at all until he completed his certainty courses. He was one of the best, if not the best, auditor I have had. He hasn’t audited in about 15 years.

Instead of making auditors, the church seems focused on only one thing: raising money. Members endure constant appeals for money, but never hear how the money is spent.

In the last couple of years, when I was working in the church, there was at least one major fundraiser of some sort just about every week quite in addition to the daily fundraising required…  When you donate tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IAS, or when you spend late nights at great personal sacrifice trying to get others to donate tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IAS, don’t you think you have a right to know exactly where the money all goes?

Instead of accounting for its spending, the church turned over very different kinds of documentation, Dave writes. When he expressed his own doubts, he was given thick “dead agent” packs about the former officials — Rathbun, Rinder, etc. — who had gone public.

Each one of these sources of information had an individual pack of papers written about them, stapled together. In other words there was one packet for Marty Rathbun, one for Mike Rinder, one for Jeff Hawkins, and so on…

Dave writes, however, that he saw nothing in the packs that he would consider worse behavior than what any average person in the church might have done — after all, during auditing, every Scientologist is required to cough up embarrassing past behavior as a requirement to spiritual advancement.

And again, the church’s strategy backfired badly. Rather than convince Dave that Rathbun and the others were not to be believed, the “dead agent” packs instead convinced him that the church had assembled the packs by culling material from supposedly confidential confessional files that members compile during their auditing.

[They] were gotten from people’s PC folders [a “pre-clear” is what a Scientologist is called during his early period, when he will likely divulge most of his or her embarrassing past behavior] or ethics folders [information compiled during security interrogations] and now they were actually being revealed to me by someone from the church in order to discredit the person!…It was not something that should have been divulged to me and was written by the person with a trust that it would be kept confidential…  The last affidavit I read was one by Russ Bellin, an exec at International Management, where he made the typical claim about how great a leader David Miscavige was and how much of a privilege it was to work under him. And as I was reading, that is when I realized that I didn’t believe one word of what Russ Bellin was saying, and not only that, that there was no longer anything the church could say that was going to get me to decide to continue to support it any longer.

Dave’s mind was made up, but he writes that he made an attempt to “route out” properly, and waited to hear about his case — but only heard from others that he had been declared a “suppressive person” or SP. It dawned on him what that really meant…

In my opinion, the real reason we were declared, aside from whatever supposed policies we were said to have violated, was because now we knew too much and now our comm line with the people we know inside the church had to be cut by enforcement, so that we could not tell others what we know.

Looking back, Dave knew that Synthia had seen far worse than he had in her position raising money for the IAS. Often, he writes, she saw highly questionable activities as the emphasis was always on bringing in more money…

Sindy was on staff as the IAS Membership Officer and she witnessed and experienced many things that were not only wrong, they were extremely wrong. Confirming people for events who couldn’t speak English, just to get bodies into the event seats; reporting people as event confirms who really weren’t confirmed; brushing off new public without taking care of them and their questions because the staff concerned were too busy calling people for the basics because they knew they had to make their quotas; people who weren’t even Scientologists being called up as much as 60 times in a day; minimal attention being put on pc’s and students because everyone had to be on basics sales no matter what their post was (except me, I already mentioned); public having their accounts debited, without their permission so that multiple sets of books could be purchased for other people they didn’t even know about; people being persuaded to buy multiple sets of books with the idea that they should sell them to others, with the result being that the books uselessly sat in boxes in people’s basements; Ethics Officers and MAAs telling people that they could, or had to, buy their way up the conditions by buying more books; the big push to get books donated to every library in the world resulting in libraries still not having them or, in at least one known case, selling them off for pennies; using books as an immediate solution to disasters where people really needed food, water and shelter on an emergency basis rather than books, but using this as a reason to sell more books; the list goes on…  She saw these outpoints day in and day out. She wondered whatever happened to the spiritual aspect of what was supposed to be a church. Like, why all this attention on sales, money, getting every possible penny from people that could possibly be gotten. This wasn’t what she got into Scientology to do.

There’s much more at Fagen’s blog. He’s structured the thing a bit oddly, and some of it may seem repetitive or full of jargon to an outsider. But he’s not writing for an outsider. His choice of language, the choice of structure, his references to other material — it all seems very smartly calculated to answer the objections of one of his former co-workers, or any current church member.

The Fagens have been out of the church for a little more than two years. That transition can be rough, and I asked Dave in a phone call Sunday how he and Synthia managed to make it.

“We had a minor struggle at the beginning, as far as work. But we were still making more money than before. Now we’re doing great. We have our own business. Somebody we know helped us out a lot to get it going. It just sort of evolved,” he says. “I make more money now on a bad day than I did in a good week then.”

Fortunately for the both of them, they were each the only Scientologists in their respective families — so they have not suffered any “disconnection” dramas after being declared SPs.

It took Fagen about a year to write “My Side of the Story,” and he expects that it will be read by his former friends still in the church. “Most of them are having grave doubts about the church,” he says.

I asked Dave if he’s now an “independent Scientologist.”

“I have a problem with that label. But I have to say, I still use Scientology,” he says. “I still use what I learned, and that makes me a Scientologist, you know. And I’m independent, because I don’t have to answer to anyone, including other indepenent Scientologists.”

He then added, “I no longer believe what L. Ron Hubbard said just because he said it.”

Published in: on November 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ex-Scientologist Story #405, Mother Chose Sea Org Over Her Child.

Mimi Faust’s Mother, Olaiya Odufunke: Her Life in Scientology’s Secret Service

From Village Voice Blogs, 8/3/12 by Tony Ortega.  For the full story follow this link:  http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/08/scientology_olaiya_odufunke_mimi_faust.php

Monday night, Mimi Faust revealed on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta that she had been abandoned at 13 by a mother who chose Scientology over her own children. By Tuesday morning, we had identified Mimi’s mother, Olaiya Odufunke, who died in 2003.

And now, we have a photograph of Olaiya (on the left, above, with Joyce Earl, another Scientology employee) that was given to us by someone who worked with her and can now tell us what kind of work the woman did that was more important than holding on to Mimi.   Olaiya (who also apparently went by “Gloria”) was a member of Scientology’s “Sea Organization” or Sea Org, the hardcore elite of employees who sign billion-year contracts and promise to work for the church lifetime after lifetime.

Mimi Faust

And inside the Sea Org, there’s a department Olaiya was assigned to known as the Office of Special Affairs — it’s the church’s intelligence, public relations, and covert operations wing.

In other words, Olaiya worked in what many consider Scientology’s secret service.

All Sea Org members — whether they’re in OSA or not — work long hours for little pay. We’ve talked to former members who worked 100-hour weeks, grabbing only a few hours of sleep a night as they were pushed to extreme limits while living with no privacy and often on meager provisions.

In that kind of work environment, there’s little time for anything outside Scientology work — no television, no reading of non-Scientology materials, no days off. And that’s why we hear about Sea Org parents essentially abandoning their kids — they simply have no time for them.

That’s the situation Mimi Faust was in as a 13-year-old. On Monday night’s show, she said that she was asked to “sign a contract” and work for the church, but refused. (Children of Scientologists are pressured to join the Sea Org and sign its contract at a very young age.) At the time, her mother Olaiya was based at Scientology’s administrative headquarters in Los Angeles, a former hospital painted blue that is known as PAC Base, for Pacific Area Command.

But later in her life, from 2000 to 2003, Olaiya was with OSA in Clearwater, Florida.

“Her last post in Clearwater was the Clearance in Charge,” says Kirsi Ojamo, a former OSA employee who worked with Olaiya in Florida. “She would look into the quals of prospective parishioners and say OK or not for services.”

Kirsi Ojamo

Kirsi left Scientology in 2007. She’s from Finland and today lives in France. And she not only worked with Olaiya in Clearwater, she had the same job: clearing church members for services. (She sent me the photo of Olaiya and Joyce Earl. I then confirmed their identities with their former boss, Mike Rinder, who ran OSA during these years.)

I asked Kirsi to describe the job that she and Olaiya were doing.

Scientology is a very security-conscious organization. Not only is the church constantly on the lookout for outsiders trying to infiltrate it, it also constantly interrogates its own members to sniff out anyone who might be tempted to speak to the press or to law enforcement. Also, it wants to know when a member has secrets which might compromise them. If they’re hiding something, they are not allowed to get access to the church’s counseling, called “auditing.”

It was Kirsi and Olaiya’s job to get those secrets from church members coming to Clearwater — Scientology’s spiritual mecca.

“Let me assure you first that there was no priest-penitent privileged information. I would have access to anything I felt I needed from the PC or OT folder which was not technically confidential and above my level of processing,” Kirsi says. “The case supervisor would supply reports she felt [contained] relevant security data and submit the PC folder for my review.”

In other words, anything that a Scientologist had revealed in previous supposedly confidential counseling sessions — whether they were a lower level “Pre-Clear” or higher level “Operating Thetan” — was fair game for OSA.

“I would look into ethics folder data, and if I felt a sec check was needed, it got done before accepting for services,” she says. (A “sec check” — short for “security check” — is an intense interrogation done while a subject is holding the sensors of an e-meter, which Scientologists believe can detect when they’re holding back secrets.)

I asked Kirsi what sorts of things would disqualify a Scientologist from getting the services he had come to Florida for.

“Tax evasion is one. A criminal history — ‘Type B,’ in that lingo. Evidence of a family member or relative attacking the church. Yes, it didn’t matter if you were flying in from Iceland for your OT levels,” she says, meaning that how far you’d come didn’t matter — you had to get past Kirsi and Olaiya’s tough screening process.

Like other Sea Org members working at Flag, Olaiya was bused in from a nearby apartment complex, the Hacienda Gardens. Typically, workers there have little privacy and share space with multiple roommates.

In 2003, Kirsi says, Olaiya was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was sent to City of Hope in LA for treatment. “Unfortunately, she perished after eight months in their care. I held a service for her in Clearwater, and I also met Mimi there when she came to pick up some of her mom’s belongings.”

I asked Kirsi if Olaiya had spoken about her children. She said that Olaiya did talk about them, particularly Mimi, and “it was obvious she loved her,” Kirsi says.

“That was my impression, that she was not indifferent about her family to be sure.”

We’ve contacted Mimi’s representatives, and hope to be speaking to her soon.

UPDATE: It turns out Olaiya was a longtime member of OSA, and not just at the end of her life. We just heard from Simi Valley, a veteran Scientologist who recently defected and declared her independence from the church.

Here’s what she told us about Olaiya:

I knew her when she and I were both working at OSA US (based in LA) in 1988-89. At the time she was using the name “Olaiya Olayinka” and was posted in the Treasury Division.  Olaiya was tough as nails and totally serious about her job in the Sea Org. I recall one time she was sitting at lunch talking about someone who had irked her and she said, “I KR’ed her ass,” meaning “I wrote a knowledge report on her.”

A lot of the OSA staff walked around with a chip on their shoulder and were really bitchy at each other, so her remark was typical of the mood they were usually in.

No commentarly is needed on the about; we don’t really need any more testimony on how Sea Org parents neglect their children.

There are more and more stories showing up on YouTube all the time; here is one of them.

Published in: on November 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm  Comments (1)