THE EMERGENCE OF INDEPENDENT SCIENTOLOGY
It is difficult to overstate the shock and bewilderment of the people who suddenly found themselves outside the Church. Many had spent most of their adult lives working to make Scientology better known and to deliver the benefits it promised. Now in middle life they were suddenly discarded and out of work in a world which would hardly recognise their skills.
By and large they did not accept that they had done anything wrong enough to justify their expulsion. What they did not know was how many other people it had happened to. Slowly word started to get about of the extent of the damage Once this happened groups of expelled Scientologists gradually came together and started to rehabilitate themselves.
A number of Missions and field auditors slowly resurfaced under new colours. In one instance a group in Australia tried to call itself the Reformed Church of Scientology. The courts upheld the claim of infringement of trademark and they had to change their name. The vigilance of the RTC ensured that groups and missions found it safer to avoid any featuring of Scientology or Dianetic names, although they were in fact delivering the same services.
There were a lot of very experienced auditors and case supervisors now on the outside who had come together both to patch each other up and then help other casualties. In due course some of these set themselves up on a commercial footing to deliver the range of services previously available exclusively from the Orgs and Missions of the Church. They found they were able to be viable at far lower prices than the Church was now charging.
The image of these independent groups delivering Scientology and Dianetic services was usually much less religious than that of the Church. The emphasis was put instead on improving the ability level of the individual. Names started to appear like the Centre for Personal Enhancement, The Clear Mind Mission, and The Health and Ability Centre.
Probably the largest group is the Advanced Ability Centre in Santa Barbara, California. This formed around David Mayo and is probably the leading force in the independent movement. They provide advanced
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auditor training and technical advice to independent groups all over the world.
A variety of magazines and newsletters have sprung up to explain and promote the position of the Independents, Their letter columns provided the opportunity for many Scientologists to express their own personal views publicly, which had never been possible for them within the Church. The main UK publication, though it circulates throughoUt the world, is 'Reconnection'. By its title however it proclaims that its readership is largely among disconnected or inactive Scientologists. None of these magazines could be expected to recruit new people to the subject or are even likely to be comprehensible to the uninitiated.
There has been considerable interchange of help and ideas between the various Independent groups but no move to join up in any formal way. Perhaps this is because of the natural fear of losing the freedom they now have to a centralised controlling structure similar to that operated by the Church.
The initial enthusiasm generated by those Scientologists who had fallen out with the Church did create a very heady and exciting atmosphere within the Independent movement. Whether this goodwill and cooperation will continue and be able to hold together a loose federation is in some doubt. Already signs of differing views can be detected. These are fallen out with the Church did create a very heady and exciting atmosphere within the Independent movement. Whether this goodwill and cooperation will continue and be able to hold together a loose federation is in some doubt, Already signs of differing views can be detected. These are particularly obvious in relation to future expansion and tactics for dealing with the Church.
The Church has remained implacably hostile to those it expelled in 1982 and those who have supported them. The Church usually describes the Independent delivery centres as 'Squirrel Groups'. It accuses them of short-cutting and adulterating the laid down processes and procedures for delivering services and training auditors. It claims that only the Church delivery centres, and those bodies it authorises, are both legally entitled to deliver Scientology services and training and can be trusted to do it 'standardly'.
The Church is determined to stamp out the Independent Groups, despite its major contribution to their having come into existence. It aims to gain a legally enforced monopoly on the delivery of Scientology services and the training of auditors. Initially it went to law for Injunctions to stop the individual Independent groups. The courts however seemed to have been unwilling to grant such blanket suppression prior to cases being heard.
The Church regards itself as entitled to use active harassment tactics in the course of collecting evidence. It made use of private investigators for visible surveillance which also aimed to exert a degree of intimidation.
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So intrusive did this become that in one case that the California Superior Court issued an injunction to stop the Church, the RTC and their investigators from harassing the AAC Santa Barbara. Under its provisions these parties may not go within 5 yards of the premises of the AAC Santa Barbara for a period of 3 years.
The Independents are not however able to claim that they have completely clean hands'. In November 19E3, three of the most prominent Independent Scientologists in the UK went to the Advanced Org in Copenhagen and fraudulently obtained the NOTS (NED for OT's) materials. They did this by masquerading as Sea Org Members. As a result their leader was jailed briefly in Denmark and a case brought against all three by the Church in the UK. This awarded damages to the Church for theft but has not supported their claim to a monopoly of the use of the stolen documents. The Church has appealed.
Most recently the Church has intensified its legal activity against the Independents with a Writ in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The problem for the Church has been that such a fragmented group as the Independents are difficult to pin down for prosecution. It has solved this by citing up to 100 Defendents, not all of them yet named. The first few named individuals were the three who undertook the alleged theft from the Copenhagen Advanced Org. Also included on the list are the AAC Centres in Scotland, East Grinstead and California (in that order!).
The complaint by the Church includes Racketeering; False Description of Origin; Receipt and Concealment of Stolen Property; Statutory Unfair Competition; Breach of Trust Breach of Contract; and Trade Secret Misappropriation. The Church has obviously launched a vehicle for a major legal battle that it is prepared to pursue to the highest level. By leaving open the list of Defendents it can add other individuals and delivery centres that may emerge and that the Church sees as a threat to its monopoly.
Unfortunately the process of law is slow, even in the United States. It is unlikely that a final judgement will be given (without further appeals) in less than 5 years. The cost of fighting a case lasting that long is of course very high. The Church obviously believes that it can generate the funds to pay the costs of prosecuting such a major undertaking. The Independents however can have no such certainty as virtually all its legal costs will have to be paid for out of contributions made for that purpose.
While nobody can make reliable predictions about the legal outcome, the likelihood is that the Church will not get legal support for its monopoly claim. However, if the Independents fail to fight the case up through Courts through lack of funds, the Church will win its case and legal
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monopoly by default.
The income sources of the Independent movement are limited to revenue from auditing and training. Firstly they are anxious to keep their charges affordable and realistic. This is to show that they do not have the same financial motivation as the Church for doing the work that they do. It means however that they do not have the resources that the Church can allocate to fighting legal battles.
Secondly the Independent groups have relied largely for income on the victims of the purges and those who felt unable to go along with developments in the Church. Mostly they operate therefore among a relatively small number of committed Scientologists. This is obviously a finite market. One indication of the difficulty of generating a steady flow of traffic is the fate of the UK's most prestigious Independent delivery point. This was opened on a grand scale in a castle in Aberdeenshire early in 1984. By the end of the year it found it could not cover its overheads and has relocated in less prestigious premises in Edinburgh.
There are many inactive Scientologists who have stopped their auditing services or training progress in response to the recent upheavals. These people are described by both sides as 'sitting on the fence'. Comparatively few of these have moved into the Independent field. Arguably there is no such thing as an ex-Scientologist. Once one has perceived the gains and spiritual certainty that can be obtained from the technology, one can never close down completely one's awareness of the further benefits it could give one.
Most of these people are therefore in the market for a return to Scientology. However relatively few have actively committed themselves to the Independents. This would be in part because the Independents may not be a long term phenomenon and the Church's stance is that anybody going to a breakaway group for auditing services would have great difficulty getting back into the Church at a later date. Despite the incentive of prices for auditing at the Independent groups being only 10% to 20% of Church prices, many people are still unwilling to commit themselves.
Even if all or most of these uncommitted people come off the fence onto the side of the Independents, it is still doubtful if there are enough of them to provide a healthy level of growth. The Independents therefore need to address the problem of bringing new people to an understanding of Scientology and the gains that can be made from it. They have the same difficulty as the Church has of communicating effectively with those who know nothing of the subject. Without a steady flow of new people however, the Independent groups will not generate the volume to keep their technical personnel fully employed. This will lead to their dispersion
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and put their ability to deliver Standard Tech in jeopardy. Unless they fir a new key to effective recruitment of new people then the possibility their gradual disappearance is very real.
They would not be the first breakaway movement from mainstream Dianetics or Scientology to see their early high hopes fade away. There have been several waves of breakaway movements in the past. In the fifties there were many based on Dianetics, such as Humanics, E-Therapy and Synergetics. In the 1960's the most notable Scientology breakaway groups were Amprinistics, Deductivism and Abilitism. All these have either disappeared completely or have declined to minor followings by comparison to the Church of Scientology.
What are the chances that this breakaway movement can prosper when the others failed to make a lasting impact. One difference may be that the initiative this time came from the Church. Large numbers of experienced and qualified staff were expelled in one major purge. The perceived injustice of this will give a continuing motivation to prove the Church wrong and themselves right. The vociferous claims by the Church that the Independents are adulterating the technology will stiffen their resolve to keep it 'standard'.
A further factor is the sustained aggressive response towards them by the Church. This continuing threat may give further strength to their purpose. Some smaller groups or individuals may give in to legal pressure and agree to stop delivering Scientology services. Others may move themselves out of danger of attack by switching to other therapies or philosophies as a 'logical' progression from Scientology. The major delivery groups are more likely to be moved towards a more formal association than they had originally intended, for their own legal protection. Thus the Church may by its own actions be contributing to the chances of the survival of the Independent Scientologists.
Nevertheless the crucial factor in the successful development of the Independents is finding a formula for bringing completely new people to an awareness of what Scientology and Dianetics can do to improve their lives and well-being.
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