THE CHURCH SINCE 1983
By mid '83 the purging within the Church was over and the knives were put away. The new management seems to have settled down to do the best job it can of getting the Church moving forward again. They have a lot going against them however. First there are fewer competent or experienced staff to work with. The best people have been drawn into the centre in the UK, principally to Saint 11ill, to fill the gaps left by the purges. This has left the local Orgs with few experienced staff of any calibre.
Then there are the new pricing levels. The 5% monthly rises had been going on from 1982 until late 1984. The effect was to triple prices of auditing and training. It is arguable that these may have been underpriced before. However the effect on book prices is the most indicative of pricing levels. A slim hardback volume of about 100 pages had previously sold at about L5. With the compound rises its price reached nearly L20 by late 19841
The predictable result of these spiralling price rises was lower volume sales. The Church staff had always been trained to sell aggressively and Church members were familiar with being pestered with phone calls to buy their next service or come into the Org to discuss their next auditing action. During 1982 and 1983 the pressure exerted on members increased and caused a lot of bad feeling and further demotivated many already wavering Church members.
Members of the Church in the UK receive regular mailings from their local Org, Saint Hill Advanced Org, Copenhagen and Florida. During late 1983 and early 1984 this mail reached almost tidal proportions.
There has been some attempt to tidy up the pricing in 1985. Some book prices have been reduced. Special bulk discounts have been offered to people willing to commit themselves to large purchases of services Most notable of these is the 'I want to go to OT Club'.
Further discounts are now available to people willing to join the new 'International Association of Scientologists'. This form of membership replaces the old International Membership and automatically deprive previous Life Members of their membership. They will now be required to rejoin on the new terms.
74 THE SAD TALE OF SCIENTOLOGY
As mentioned earlier, the Church has returned to its litigious ways In addition to the major legal suits in England, Scotland and California against the AAC largely built around the theft of NOTs materials in Copenhagen there have been other local suits of delivery groups and field auditors. Its main aim is to eliminate all unauthorised use of Scientology and Dianetics materials, claiming this to be infringement of copyright
Throughout 1984the Church publicity machine continued to blame its troubles on the actions of those who were expelled or had subsequently left the Church. Although not given such prominence now, all references to breakaway groups or individuals are as 'squirrels' who are by definition adulterating the technology and undermining the work of the Church.
Representatives of the Church frequently try to discredit the people who are the visible leaders of splinter groups by word of mouth slanders. These relate to their personal ethics, sexual activities and mental health. This is known as 'Dead Agenting' in Scientology PR Terms. It means if you can discredit the person who is making a criticism, then the criticism will be disregarded.
The effect that all this has on the people on the sidelines is to convince them that the Church is not interested in repairing the damage. The Church may have had justifiable reason for purging itself of what it saw as damaging elements within its ranks. Many innocent people were however hurt in the process, some of whom may have been willing to come back if some gesture of reconcilliation had been offered. Outsiders interpret this as indicating that the Church is really more interested in maintaining a narrow base for financial gain rather than achieving a broadly based movement for the benefit of mankind.
Many previously active members of the Church will have decided to hold back while hostilities continue. Some might have been willing to pay the current prices for services if they knew this money was to be invested in further expansion. They may object to seeing it used for funding legal costs and other wasteful activity, and therefore do nothing. It is possible that the Church is actually losing more than it gains by maintaining this conflict atmosphere.
The Church is now making efforts to increase the flow of new members in at the bottom. The main emphasis for this is on 1950's style Dianetics auditing. This has been done by promoting sales of Dianetics- Modern Science of Mental Health and offering a trial block of 5 hours auditing at an advantageous price. While some success may have been achieved here, difficulties are encountered in moving interested new people onto the higher priced Scientology auditing and training services.
The major problem that still afflicts the Church in the UK is a gulf
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When Hubbard was obviously there as leader of the movement, relevant new ideas were emerging and being developed. Much of this material was barely digested at the time and the Church now finds it convenient to re-issue both administrative and technical bulletins that suit its current purposes. This selective use of Hubbard's material is done in such a way as to imply that he is still at the helm, although the copyright dates show that the bulletins were usually from the 50's and 60's. The Church cannot promote new thinking as this would undermine the pre- eminence of the figure of LRH. Although there is a tremendous fund of material to draw on, a certain sterility seems to come from the lack of an up-to-date perception of how to apply these ideas today.
Attention is concentrated on getting members who are already Clear on to the higher levels of the Bridge, up to OT VIII. There is development work going on in the Church to get the next OT levels ready for release in the name of Ron Hubbard. However, as the basic research work for these involved David Mayo, it is possible that the Advanced Ability Centre may have these available before the Church. Development work has taken place in new areas and most recently the Church has produced the 'False Purpose Rundown'.
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between the highly committed staff of the Church and the world outside. The staff live on very little and are kept busy six and a half days a week in their jobs. Thus they do not have a chance to have much contact with people and issues outside. They have no realistic idea of the costs of the services they are trying to sell. Many of them are virtually monastics and regard money as a necessary evil which they have disowned on the way to their personal salvation.
The Church claims to have the sole right to extend the knowledge and use of Scientology throughout the world. How likely is it to achieve a widespread of acceptance of these ideas in the foreseeable future? On present showing the chances are not high. To do so the Church would have to change Scientology from being a narrow cult based upon a small number of highly committed members to a genuine popular movement.
Firstly it has the self-imposed disadvantage of being called a Church when it appears to the popular perception to be something else. Quite apart from whether Scientology qualifies as a religion, there are two practical reasons why it became a Church. The first was to get respectability and freedom from attacks by the medical and psychiatric vested interests, including some government bodies. Secondly it gave it certain financial advantages in the United States and some other countries.
The emphasis on describing itself as a Church is probably a little unproductive today. It may still have some financial advantages but being
76 THE SAD TALE OF SCIENTOLOGY
a Church gains little respect or interest from the man in the street in the 1980's.
It may have been the obvious step in the 1950's to avoid interference from the establishment but the climate now is different. The medical profession is no longer held in the unquestioning awe that it was. Medical Psychiatry as practised in NHS is also recognised to be failing to cure or prevent increasing levels of mental illness. Experimental Psychology is even opening up to some of the ideas and methods that Scientology has been advocating for years.
What is known as alternative medicine is now far more favourably considered by the population at large and is even popular with the media. The Church should probably put more priority on making available those parts of the technology that help the people afflicted with mental stress and chronic physical conditions. By helping to alleviate such conditions as migraines, allergies, sinusitus, lethargy, anxiety and stress, Dianetics and Scientology can establish creditability quickly and demonstrate its effectiveness. It can help people at a practical level to get back into control of their lives and achieve some peace of mind.
The other big difficulty that the Church has is its own staff and management. They are by and large dedicated and honest people but their very dedication creates problems in interacting with the man in the street. The concept of the Sea Org was a tough and disciplined central core of people to drive the Church forward. There is a lot to be grateful for in the achievements of the Sea Org over the last fifteen years but their personnel have little or no credibility with the ordinary people from whom they wish to recruit new Scientologists.
Even the non-Sea Org staff members are so coloured by the para- military style of the Church that they have the same inability to win converts among the general public. Recruitment is slow and laborious. At present the recruitment by the average Org of one new committed Scientologist per week would be considered brilliantly successful. Few commercial organisations could remain viable at such a low level of recruitment.
Large scale acceptance of Scientology and Dianetics in the future can only be achieved by building bridges back to world outside. The Church seems to have operated hitherto on a narrow base of members who were willing to commit themselves, and most of their time and money, to Scientology. It has been critical of those who were unwilling to make this level of commitment and usually ended up antagonising them.
The movement of Scientology and Dianetics now operates in a much more liberal climate than the 50;s and 60's. Far more people are prepared
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to have an open mind about Scientology but they need to be permitted to go at their own speed. It has usually been implied in the Church in the past that anything less than 24 hours a day commitment is not enough. Many can and want to contribute on a more modest scale and their contributions are of value. It will be necessary to change attitudes within the Church to make it clear that less committed contributions are valuable and welcome. It was these contributions of effort from ordinary people that was one of the ingredients of the success of Saint Hill Foundation Org when Ron Hubbard ran it.
Today the pressing need is for large numbers of field groups where new people can learn about Dianetics and basic Scientology from people who they can identify with. These groups represent much more realistic entry points than the austere Orgs where new people at the moment are likely to be frightened off by the youthful intensity of the staff there.
From the people thus recruited some will in due course go on to the higher levels of spiritual gain available through the Orgs and Advanced Orgs. However those who do not wish to advance to those higher levels should still be appreciated and cherished as valuable members of the movement.
The institutional paranoia also needs to be dismantled. Fear of enemies and attacks have encouraged the defensive posture of 'He who is not with us is against us!' Too many people have been put into pressure situations to ascertain their loyalty and commitment to the movement. In many cases that has caused the potential supporter to become inactive, and maybe later a critic.
What are chances of the Church changing its style sufficiently to bring about these changes? To do so it would have to review some of the practices which were laid down in Hubbard's Admin Tech. While the principles of most of the Admin Tech are sound, they tend to be followed slavishly within the Church and with little judgement or discretion. To modify them would however mean questioning the written work of Ron Hubbard. This is not a likely occurrence in the near future.
To bring about the necessary changes the Church would also need to become a little more democratic. Most of the people who were expelled or left the Church were mature people who came to the conclusion they could not get their voices heard. They did not feel that unquestioning acceptance of military style discipline was vital for success. At present no mechanism exists for upward passage of ideas on Church management or strategy. The authoritarian style of the Sea Org is probably too well established to allow this to happen for the foreseeable future.
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