Nothing will save you from the meat grinder of Scientology if the Nazis at the top get even a little whiff of a person daring to doubt or to indeed, think for themselves. The following story has been told time and again in the history of Scientology but more frequently the last few years as Scientology continues to implode. Doubt is fought with the most potent weapon at the disposal of the fanatical lickspittles who cringe at the feet of David Miscavige. Their weapon, the one that they claim they don’t have, is disconnection. If you leave your friends and family will kick your butt as you walk out the door. They will be forced to leave you in the dust or else they too will be kicked out; and that of course means no more services. But yet for all of that people DO leave, all the time. Here is the story of another brave man. Hear what Ryan Hogarth has to say:
I was born into a Scientology family. My grandmother knew and worked with LRH in Rhodesia. She moved to South Africa in 1966 with her two sons, Robin & Simon, to work full time for Scientology. Both Robin & Simon also joined staff. My parents, Simon & Anne, met at Joburg in 1970.
That makes me, I guess, a 3rd generation Scientologist. My wife (Melissa) and son (Tyler) have both served on staff. Between the three of us we have given 46 years of staff service to Scientology in South Africa.
My gran passed away in 2003 and my mother and father are still in the Sea Org.
JOINING THE SEA ORG
My mom was transferred to OSA US in 1985 when I was 13 years old. I was recruited into the Sea Org within 4 days of arriving in Los Angeles. I was just so happy to be out of school and out of South Africa it seemed a perfectly smart thing to do. There would be no more formal schooling beyond the primary school I’d completed.
I loved LA and loved being in the Sea Org there. Although I was only there for just shy of 3 months I felt I’d made a home there. Sadly we all had to move back to South Africa. My mom’s replacement didn’t work out.
I was posted in OSA and I spent the entire 25 years on staff in OSA, both Sea Org and Class V staff.
For the first 7 years of my staff career all my posts in OSA were internal– recruitment of staff, hatting, ethics. In 1989 I met Melissa, my future wife. She was a DSA from Port Elizabeth. She was gorgeous and I was in love almost immediately. Our relationship was verboten since she was not Sea Org. But somehow we still managed to get married in spite of this in July 1989.
LEAVING THE SEA ORG
Melissa never got to join the Sea Org as she was asked to fill the DSA Joburg post “temporarily” which became permanent. Although she wasn’t an SO member she stayed at the SO base and was expected to work an SO schedule.
In July 1991 two years after our wedding Melissa fell pregnant. As it was now Sea Org policy that Sea org members were not allowed to have children I would have to leave. This was a particularly rough period of time. Melissa was viewed with great suspicion, the thinking being that she had “done this deliberately”. She faced particularly brutal ethics action and at 6 months pregnant was doing deck work sanding floors and facing an aggressive committee of evidence. I don’t dwell on regrets much but when I do it’s around this period and how I didn’t do enough to prevent my pregnant wife being treated this way.
At the age of 19 our son, Tyler, was born on the 13th of March 1992. Melissa was on post until 10pm the night before he was born. In fact we went to the hospital from the org. Any doubts, upsets or confusions in my life evaporated at the moment I held him in my hands. Nothing gets you focused like a new life that depends completely and utterly upon you.
6 months after his birth we left the Sea Org base and began life on our own as parents and full time Joburg staff. Our first residence out of the Sea Org was a cottage rented to us by a Scientologist for R25 a week. We were almost immediately behind on the rent, not making enough money to cover this tiny amount. We were broke constantly and on more than one occasion I walked around collecting empty cooldrink bottles to get the deposit on returning them in order to buy milk & bread. Life was a continual financial struggle. We didn’t have a car or any family to assist. Melissa’s family lived in Port Elizabeth and mine lived in LA. During all of this we never doubted our commitment to the church and ultimately changing the world. Life continued in this fashion for the next 4 years.
However it got the point where we couldn’t continue. Melissa took two leaves of absence. First in 1996 and again in 2000. Both times she returned when we believed that “things were really going to turn around now”. In 2001 Melissa was recruited to be the Chaplain. Ken Krieger convinced Melissa & I that she would make more than sufficient money as a Chaplain from selling materials so she rejoined and went to Flag to train.
THE IDEAL ORG & BECOMING THE PRESIDENT
In the late 90s Joburg Org was situated in the city centre which by that time had deteriorated to the point where fewer public were willing to come to the org, particularly at night.
We decided to find a new building out of the city. This was a local decision borne from necessity. We involved our OT public and a search began. Pandy Katakuzinos in 1999 found the perfect building and the Corbett’s put up the money (which was later repaid by Sea Org reserves).
We needed around R1.2 million to renovate. Fund raising began by asking public to put money into the org for services. We really felt we could do it this way. By late 2000 we abandoned this approach and went for straight donations. Something like this had never been done before so there was general agreement and excitement. By mid 2002 renovations were complete and we were ready to move! The problem was we just couldn’t get the okay from “uplines” to move. Months went by with our new building standing there, empty but ready! In late 2002 we received a briefing and brand new plans. The building was going to be huge! We were going to build an extra two buildings, and add a level to the main building. The size of the org doubled. “Ideal Orgs” had been born! The budget shot up to over R17 million.
Two things happened with Miscavige that unsettled me. The first was when he gave a briefing to all staff and Sea Org. During his briefing a CMO crew member was falling asleep (she had been up for days prior). Mid sentence Miscavige snapped his fingers in her direction and yelled “YOU! Get out! Now. GET OUT!”. Humiliated she stood up from the front row and walked out past everyone.
The other occurred in the exec space of the org, which Miscavige was using. I walked into the area heading to my office. No one else was around. He was eating in the conference room. He saw me and said antagonistically “What are you doing here? You are not supposed to be here!” I was flummoxed and froze on the spot. He then bellowed with laughter and said “Just kidding”.
From the opening I assumed the title of “President of the Church of Scientology Johannesburg” It is a PR post and essentially translates to “spokesperson”. I took to it with vigour and for the next 6 years I was an active and frequent spokesperson for the church. Over time this morphed into being the national spokesperson although this was never official but no one else would or could speak to the media. In those 6 years I appeared on local, regional and national television, radio and print media. I actually developed working relationships with some journalists, relationships which I have maintained to this day.
In 2005 I got myself in hot water. I was interviewed by a national magazine. They asked the question “How much does it cost to get to OT VII?” My thought in answering the question was that we always skirt the issue of money like it doesn’t exist. So I decided to be open about it. I said “around R700 000”. This was a terrible underestimation as it was. When the article ran I got a Knowledge Report and a cram for answering the question.
Also in 2005 I was asked to come to LA to be in the President’s office and be an International Spokesperson. By then Heber was long gone and, as I would find out later, Mike Rinder was in the hole. I already had differing opinions on how the media should be handled. I felt my views on how to do it would not be accepted. I said that I would likely land up on the RPF fairly quickly so let’s rather not waste each other’s time.
The period between November 2003 and May 2005 were the best years I ever spent on staff. We were left alone to do our jobs. We never got to the level of staff pay that had been promised but everyone ignored that because it was a good time to be on staff and we were making progress. Don’t get me wrong there were a fair share of bizarre orders but the pain pleasure ratio was finally in proportion. In March 2005 we were announced as St. Hill Size at the Int March 13 event. A Universe Corps team arrived in April to audit the staff to OT. We had a huge public event. Staff were happy, public were happy. We had made it! All the years of hardship had been worth it. I had the most amount of auditing I’d ever had to that point. I went from nowhere on the bridge up and onto NED within 5 months. Melissa went clear.
Despite the excitement things were changing. In early May I was called to an urgent meeting along with other org executives convened by Ken Krieger. With a straight face he told us “50,000 people have to watch the May 9 event!”. The event was 10 days away! I thought he was out of his mind and pretty sure everyone else in the room thought the same. But we all nodded and gave a firm “Yes sir!”. Off we went to work out what unusual solutions we could come up with. We spent in the region of R60,000 or more trying in vain to attain this target.
This for me was the end of the honeymoon. Soon the org was again under financial stress, the Sea Org were back in the org micromanaging and it felt an awful lot like it had for all the years prior to the move.
By the end of 2005 the Universe Corps was falling apart and by May 2006 they were all gone never to return save one brave but vain attempt in 2008.
BASICS AND THE BEGINNING OF THE END
The hype around the Basics began, I believe at the start of 2007. We were hearing about a major overhaul of all the books of Scientology and that a “new breed of Scientologist” was coming. This was the release of the Basics which was to be the worst two years of my Scientology staff career.
Whatever org pattern and structure existed completely fell apart. EVERY staff member had to contribute to sales. Either directly or through “recoveries”
At the same time there was continued push on Ideal Orgs. Even though we were in one we had to get a Test Centre, we had to help the other orgs become Ideal. To add insanity to stupidity we had IAS targets as well. At one point, during 2009 it was Basics sales during the day and two Ideal Org events and one IAS event per week.
It was with this backdrop that one April morning while sitting in my office I had an epiphany: I could leave! This was a thought I never allowed myself to have. My staff contract would expire in January 2010 and I would leave.
In July 2009 I was reading the daily “Google Alert” for media on Scientology. I saw the name Marty Rathbun. Marty was a god from my standpoint. He was at the very top of my command line. I trusted him implicitly. I assumed he was making a media statement and since I hadn’t heard from him in a while I was keen to hear what he had to say. The story was the “Truth Rundown” in the St. Pete Times. It took several minutes for me to realise that Marty was not talking FOR the church. He was out and what he was saying was being confirmed by Mike Rinder the second most senior person on my command line. Time stood still as I watched, in slow motion, my life shatter in front of me.
For the next two days I did ZERO post work. I locked my door and read EVERYTHING I could find on the Internet. I cannot adequately explain the feeling of your entire life’s purpose and goals unravelling before you. But that’s what was happening. I got to see that the madness and mayhem in South African Orgs was not a localised problem. It was a global pandemic.
Over the ensuing 8 weeks I continued to read, I made contact with Marty and others. My decision to leave was now more firm than ever.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE BUBBLE
In November 2010 I was asked to go to OSA Int to route off staff. After initially refusing I went. I had 28 days of straight security checking and little bit of case clean up at the end. For the most part I was treated very well which probably had a lot to do with the prevailing mood at the time, being just 6 months after the devastating “Truth Rundown” series of articles in the St Pete Times. I was very open – I told them everything I had done, everything I had read, everyone I had been in comm with. I asked all the questions I had. Some were handled well, most poorly. I read Mike & Marty’s declares which didn’t handle much. As for questions about the Int Base and “the hole”, these were categorically denied. I made a decision to accept what I was being told at face value and to see how it all panned out.
While “seeing how things panned out” I would not interact with anyone outside the church or any websites outside of official Scientology.
On my final day as a staff member I was collected by my brother who lives there. We got into his Jeep and hit the Pacific Coast highway. It was around 11.30pm. We cranked up the music and I sang my heart out. I was done! I was free! I was on my own. I had not been that happy in well over 5 years.
I arrived back in South Africa on the 20th of February and began my new life. I was 38 with no career, no insurance, no medical cover, no savings and a mountain of debt (most of which was Scientology materials related).
But Melissa & I had never been happier! Our life was OURS! Ours alone.
In the 3/12 years since I’ve built a successful career as a professional speaker and a budding career as a writer. I have had the considerable honour & pleasure of meeting and working with some of the greatest business thinkers in the country.
I tried for a short while to stay connected and work on projects but it became plain that nothing inside the church would change. It was the same old same old. Fund raising, promises and regging. Additionally Melissa & I realised that this group is so small and so toxic it was claustrophobic so we made the decision to build a life completely outside of Scientology which we have since done.
At the same time I tried to reconnect with every friend I had ever left behind, both Scientologists and not. I had come to see that I had lost connections for a variety of ridiculous reasons ranging from “he’s not a Scientologist” to “he’s not an upstat Scientologist”. The time spent reconnecting was incredibly therapeutic and it became my policy to always be open to communication, if it was genuine & real. People may well cut their comm with me but it won’t be me with them!
For a long time Melissa & I thought we had left it all behind us and it would become a dimming part of our history. However two things happened:
I rediscovered L. Ron Hubbard on my own terms and came to appreciate in a very personal way the value in his work. This appreciation came mostly from being able to reject some of his writings at my own discretion. It made those parts that are truly profound even more so.
Melissa & I began receiving calls from people asking, firstly, “what happened to you guys?” and secondly “what the hell is going on with our church?”
The first point made me realise that the philosophy is important enough that it deserves a chance in this world and that it will never get a chance as long as it remains in the hands of the church as it is now.
The second point got me talking openly with Scientologists who had themselves observed the outnesses within the church. We answered their questions.
This served to put me on the radar and over time it became a greater problem. In March this year I met with an OSA Int person who had come to do PR work for the opening of the Pretoria Ideal Org. We had a long, frank and robust conversation. He eventually asked in exasperation, “Well, what do you want Ryan!?”
My answer was that I wanted Scientologists, the many very clever Scientologists who had built this church to have a platform to openly discuss and debate what the church is doing and to have a say in the direction it takes. The response was simple and direct “Ryan, you know that will never happen.”
I told him there was then no point in us talking further.
To read the entire blog entry go here: http://www.mikerindersblog.org/ryan-hogarth-steps-forward/
Are you interested in seeing proof of Scientology’s growth? Are they growing or do they just own a bunch of empty buildings?