“Hell, it’s extortion,” said the vet. Ex-Scientologist story #445

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Lee Shewmaker, 71, is a veterinarian. Originally, he’s from Kentucky, and he speaks with a pleasant twang. He operates his animal clinic in the Florida town of LaBelle, on the Caloosahatchee River, about halfway between Ft. Myers and Lake Okeechobee. Lee serves the local community not only with his clinic, but also with a converted RV so he can take his practice on the road for large animal care.

Like other professionals, he was recruited into Scientology through something called Sterling Management Services. In 1990 he signed up with Sterling to help him manage his business — vets, chiropractors, and dentists are targeted by Sterling, which licenses L. Ron Hubbard’s management “technology” from the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, WISE, a Scientology front group.

Lee’s short involvement with Sterling (only about six months) led to his becoming a Scientologist at a San Francisco mission, then later the Los Angeles org and ultimately at Scientology’s spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida.

Lee estimates that he gave Scientology half a million dollars over his career.  “I spent too damn much money. I borrowed a bunch of money and gave it to Scientology for my Bridge, and it was too much,” he says.

Like other Scientologists, he was encouraged to spend increasing amounts for services as he went step by step up Hubbard’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.” He was also encouraged to give donations for various church causes, including the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) which acts as Scientology’s legal defense fund. He was also hit up to pay for copies of Hubbard’s pamphlet The Way to Happiness to be distributed to the public, along with Scientology’s various building schemes.

But when the economy went sour, Lee realized that he needed to scale back, and fast.  “Four or five years ago, I was telling them, hey, I’m in trouble.”

Lee says he had put too much money into Scientology while his business was experiencing a downturn. The combination had the potential to put him underwater. But when he tried to explain why he couldn’t make more donations or spend more on courses, he says the church reacted with threats.  “Of course they kept threatening to send me to ethics. Hell, it’s extortion,” he says. “They withhold services unless you give them more money. They want you to donate to the IAS, The Way to Happiness, and a lot more.”

Over his lengthy career in the church, Lee had progressed into the upper level teachings of Scientology, reaching Operating Thetan Level 7 — just one below the highest spot on the Bridge, OT 8. But as we’ve documented previously, many Scientologists get stuck on OT 7, sometimes for years. And every six months while they’re “on the level,” as they say, they are required to go to Flag (the ‘mecca’ in Clearwater) for interrogations and other expensive services. Often, however, when members go to Flag, they find themselves stuck in “ethics” investigations that can take weeks and cost huge amounts without making progress on the Bridge.

Lee made his most recent trip to Flag for the New Year’s Eve event four months ago, a lavish affair which featured Scientology leader David Miscavige giving a two-hour presentation about the church’s successes in 2013.  “It was a big deal, man. But I’ve always felt it was a big hoax. They talk about all this good they’re doing, but you don’t see it anywhere else. You don’t see it in the newspapers. You don’t see it on the TV news. You only see what their camera crews are putting on. Because all they get is bad press,” Lee says.

While he was there, Lee stuck around for his OT 7 semi-annual update.

“I went for my refresher. They kept me in ethics forever and ever. I told them, hey, I have to go home.”

Not only had he been away too long from his business, but he’d also, once again, been talked into spending a large amount of money. This time, he was convinced to spend $5,000 on a new Mark Ultra VIII E-meter — the new machine that Miscavige wants every member to purchase for the new “Golden Age of Tech Phase II” technology update which he released in November.

Tired of being held up without progress on his OT levels, Lee decided to return home.  “I told them I’d be back in a month or so. But I’m not going back,” he says.  Besides his disaffection with Miscavige, Lee has more immediate concerns at home. With his business doing about half of what it was five years ago, Lee recently decided he needed to seek protection in court.  “I had to file bankruptcy. I got foreclosed on.” He has submitted a payment plan to the court to get him debt-free in five years while he carries on with his business. “The bank’s fighting it, but so far it’s working,” he says.

Then, two weeks ago, he got a surprise visit. It was a couple of ethics officers from Flag, who showed up at his house and demanded that Lee turn over the E-meter he had bought just a few months before. They handed him a check for the full amount he’d paid — a little over $5,000 — and took the machine away with them.  Had the church somehow heard that he’d decided not to go back?

“I think they were more concerned about the bankruptcy,” Lee says. “What they’re scared of is the bank might come after them.”

With so much of his money in the church, he explains, his creditors might go after Scientology to get their money back. He figures that’s why Scientology is so ready to cut off ties with him, and sent out two Masters-At-Arms to retrieve his E-meter.  Looking back, Lee talked about the good things he says he took from Scientology, and other things that have long bothered him.  “I’ve had a lot of wins. I probably wouldn’t be around here if it weren’t for my being in Scientology,” he says. But those “wins,” he points out, tended to come during the initial, low-level Scientology courses.

“I think they’re a bunch of fucking crooks. Especially after I got into the upper levels. It wasn’t like this when i was in the lower levels. Yeah, they did a lot of regging [fundraising], but not for the IAS. That’s really increased in the last two or three years. I’m tired of that shit,” he says.

He’s also left with a bitter taste in regards to his children. Neither of them are church members, but Lee says his son, J.L., went through a traumatizing incident in the Caribbean.

“I took my son to the ship when he was 15 years old,” he says, referring to the Freewinds, Scientology’s private cruise ship. “They talked him into a basic study course.”  But when they tried to leave, J.L. was held against his will — ostensibly for missing a few questions on his course.  “My son hates Scientology,” Lee says.  And as for his daughter, Bridgitte?  “They talked me into firing my daughter. They said she was suppressive.”

Today, Lee regrets listening to Scientology and firing his daughter because she was “suppressive” (had negative intentions toward Scientology). But things turned out well — Bridgitte works for another veterinarian firm, and D.L. works for the state’s animal control division. Lee says his wife has never been involved in Scientology. “She went with me to the New Year’s Even event, and hated it,” he says.  He admits that it was difficult for him to be the only dedicated Scientologist in the family. But now, that makes it easier for him to leave.

Recently, Lee reached out to Karen de la Carriere, hoping to find information about how to continue his studies outside the church, as an independent Scientologist.  He still has affinity for L. Ron Hubbard and the ideas underlying Scientology. But as for Miscavige?

“I think he’s a damn criminal,” Lee says. “All he’s worried about is the money.”

 This was taken from Tony Ortega’s blog and can be read by going here:  http://tonyortega.org/2014/05/01/scientologys-e-meter-police-and-the-horse-doctor-of-labelle-florida/

Here is something on the subject of David Miscavige.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuUQkDowPMg

 

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Published in: on May 15, 2014 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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