The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper | Next | Prev | Cites | Index

Chapter 2

The Confessionals

... when matters of sex and perversion are introduced ... as is frequently the case, they are discussed and probed and dwelt upon sometimes for hours on end. The quality of the filth and depravity recorded in the ... files as being discussed ... almost defies description.
-- from the Australian Inquiry{1}

The "Church of Scientology," as they call themselves today, no longer claims to cure people of their emotional and physical problems. Instead, they say it's people's spiritual well-being that concerns them now.

The method is still basically the same, resembling a combination of psychotherapy and the Catholic Confession -- although Scientologists today emphasize their similarities with the latter.

The beginning Scientologist is called a "preclear" -- someone who is not yet free from his problems and difficulties as is a "clear" Scientologist. The "preclear" reveals intimate details of his past and discusses his present problems with an "auditor," someone resembling a priest, who is frequently called Minister or Reverend in the Scientology Church.{2}

During this Scientology "Confessional," which is called "auditing" and sometimes "processing," the preclear holds onto two empty tin cans -- usually soup or V-8 juice -- which are connected to a crude galvanometer Scientologists call an "E-meter."{3}

The preclear believes that the E-meter works somewhat like a lie detector. He is told that it is a "truth detector," however, and he therefore reveals increasingly intimate details of his life to his auditor while holding on to the meter.{4}

There are major differences between the Catholic and Episcopalian confessionals and a Scientologist confessional. First of all, before they will audit him, the Scientologists make the confessor sign a release form swearing he will never sue them.

Second, the Scientologists charge people for the opportunity of unburdening themselves and they charge a great deal of money for this privilege.

Third, the person has very little choice about what he "confesses"{5} because he is asked certain questions repeatedly, such as "Have you done anything your mother would be ashamed to find out?"{6} He must not only answer these questions but he must answer them fully and truthfully or else the "lie detector" will give him away.

Fourth, the intimate information he reveals to his auditor is not kept completely confidential.{7} As many as ten people may examine these files, since a preclear's records are available to all of his auditors (who often number five or six), plus the Director of Processing and occasionally the Ethics Officer, a type of internal police officer in the Scientology organization.{8}

In addition, Hubbard has access to these records. Portions of a preclear's files may be sent to the main Scientology headquarters at Saint Hill so that Hubbard can review them for research.{9}

Finally, in addition to not always maintaining complete confidentiality, cases have occurred (and they are certainly the exception and not the rule) in which some of the auditors have also failed to maintain a proper professional relationship with their preclears.

One reason for this may be the surprising physical intimacy that exists between auditor and preclear. In at least one exercise that is part of the Scientology auditing, the auditor and preclear are seated in chairs without arms, close together, with their knees intertwined.{10}

In other exercises the auditors may touch or move the preclear around, or touch his hands for several hours, moving them slowly in a circular motion, (an act which could surely become quite sensual after a long period of time).{11}

Ethical problems may have also occurred because many of these auditors are only in their teens or early twenties. Teen-agers, wrote a Scientology director once, "make the SWINGINEST auditors." Yet despite their age, these teens are supposed to remain objective and uninvolved while listening to what the Australian Inquiry described as "normal and abnormal sexual matters that are frequently dwelt upon in great detail and in an erotic manner."{12}

During these sessions, the preclear is encouraged to shed his inhibitions, and his reticence or reluctance to reveal the most intimate things may be disparaged. Scientology files have contained such statements as "pc (preclear) gets often the urge to move down to his sex organs. If he does that he gets restimulated." Or "pc has a bug about sending sexual beams at auditor," or even "pc disturbed because he came to have auditing and now wants to have sexual intercourse."{13}

Apparently, it's not only the preclear that has gotten sexually stimulated in such an atmosphere. One male auditor wrote on his preclear's file that she was "sexy as hell."{14} In another case, the Reverend William J. Fisk (a Scientology Reverend) was conducting his Scientology class in Seattle when Russell Edward Johnson, thirty six, a carpenter and building contractor entered the room.

According to the Seattle Times, Fisk shouted "This man is going to shoot me. Go get a cop. Please someone get a cop." But his plea was too late. With one bullet in his chest, fired by Russell Johnson, the Reverend was dead.{15}

During the murder trial it came out that Reverend Fisk, the one who was killed, was not only having an affair with Johnson's wife, but had revealed the fact to Johnson himself, boasting that Johnson's wife was completely under his control.

The wife also told her husband that she had been having an affair, and in fact, sued him for divorce on the day before the murder.{16} The wife, a mother of four children, had spent approximately $1,000 on Scientology, and had been going for help with her marital problems.

(If anyone is wondering what happened to Johnson afterwards, forget what you read in Anatomy of a Murder. In that book, a husband killed the man who had intercourse with his wife, pleaded "irresistible impulse" and went free. In this case, Johnson pleaded "temporary insanity" and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.)

Other ethical difficulties may arise because the auditors are just hastily trained layman. Their backgrounds are not checked or investigated -- they only answer a simple true false questionnaire about themselves.{17}

According to a United States tax case, in Chicago, the (Scientology) Reverend Justin agreed to audit a woman for $1,000 on the condition that he could move into the house with her, her husband, and their three young daughters.{18} After the Reverend entrenched himself firmly in the home, the husband saw that the Reverend was upsetting his wife and asked him to leave.

He refused. Nine months after he finally did go, the parents learned that the Reverend had secretly tried to see and possibly to remove two of their young daughters who were staying in a Girl Scout Camp. Girl Scout authorities stopped him and informed the parents.

The parents still suspected nothing until one month later the Reverend was found wandering around the halls of the young girls' grammar school looking for the three of them. The authorities took him to the principal's office, found out what he was doing, and called the wife. Several months later, three United States Marshals came to the parents' home looking for the Reverend Justin, saying there was a complaint against him elsewhere for molesting little girls.

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Citations & Notes

{1} initial quote [261]
{2} auditor training to be minister [277]
{3} V-8 juice [139]
{4} truth detector [29]
{5} forced to tell secrets [261]
{6} ashamed for mother to find out [25]
{7} (8) preclear doesn't know {that confessions aren't confidential} [255]
{8} (7) preclear's records available [255, 261, etc.]
{9} Hubbard gets records [25, 261, 255, etc.]
{10} knees intertwined {during one exercise} [14]
{11} touching preclear [16]
{12} abnormal sex discussed, no inhibitions [261]
{13} three quotes from preclear file [261]
{14} preclear "sexy..." [261]
{15} Fisk shot [134]
{16} why shot [144]
{17} auditors not investigated [255]
{18} story of Justin {a Scientology Reverend} [255]