Thursday, January 10, 2019

Binging on Scientology...

Somehow, I missed that Leah Remini has continued her series on Scientology.  I watched the first season of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath her A&E series about leaving the "church", and I read her 2015 book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.   I've also read other books about Scientology, including Going Clear and Ron Miscavige's bookRuthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me.  There were a few other books I read, too, including one written by David Miscavige's daughter, and another written by a less well-known author who was in the Sea Org.  I no longer have access to my reviews of those books.  Maybe I'll reread them, if I find the time and patience.  Scientology is both fascinating and heartbreaking in what people will do for it.

Since I've been binge watching the second and third seasons of Leah Remini's show, I've got Scientology on the brain.  It's not a bad thing to be thinking about Scientology, since it distracts me from other things I could be obsessing over, like Donald Trump's infantile behavior as the POTUS.

Story after story highlighted on Remini's show, which she shares with former Scientology high ranker, Mike Rinder, reveals how this so-called religion breaks up families and friendships and ruins finances.  It makes one wonder how in the world someone could fall for it.  It's obviously a damaging cult.

I've written a lot about cults on this blog.  People get into them for all kinds of reasons.  I think many people are vulnerable to cults when they have trouble in their lives.  They may be looking for someone or something to help them fix the trouble.  Maybe they have marital problems.  Maybe they have financial problems.  Perhaps they're involved in the arts and wish to get a professional break.  Scientology is chock full of celebrities, although I'm not sure how many mingle with the regular people.

With any introduction to a cult, there's a friendly invitation.  The people are warm, loving, and extremely accepting and welcoming.  They love bomb the investigator, make them feel important and accomplished.  They flatter the person, appealing to their ego until they think they've found heaven on earth.  Scientology requires its members to take courses in order to climb up the "bridge" to total clarity.  The initial courses aren't that expensive.  Pretty soon, the person becomes accustomed to spending the money for them.  It goes from $50 to $100 for a course to $50,000 or $250,000.  The higher you climb, the more it costs.  And you are constantly expected to keep climbing.

I listened to the people interviewed for Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.  Some of the stories are just heartbreaking.  There were a few from people who'd had loved ones that committed suicide.  More than one person lost family members in the form of "disconnection", meaning their family doesn't acknowledge them.  One woman, Mimi Faust, spoke of being "turned out" at age 13 and forced to fend for herself.  Four years later, when her Sea Org mother called her for a visit, she showed up, only to be confronted by Scientologists wanting her to join the slavery of Sea Org.  They detained her for a short time, trying to pressure her into signing a "billion year contract".

About ten years ago, when we were living in Germany the first time, my husband Bill was really interested in Scientology.  He didn't want to join; he'd had enough of a bad experience with "churches" when he was LDS.  He was just fascinated by what Scientologists did to people who dared to speak out about them.  At that time, "Anonymous" was big on YouTube.  I seem to remember listening to a lengthy video by former Scientologist and actor, Jason Beghe, who has been mentioned in Remini's series.  In 2009, Leah Remini was still a faithful church member, although she'd already gotten in trouble because she dared to ask where leader David Miscavige's wife, Shelly, was when she attended Tom Cruise's and Katie Holmes' wedding in Italy.

Ex Scientologist, Jason Beghe... I remember him from Melrose Place and 1st and Ten, an HBO series.  O.J. Simpson was also on that 80s era show about a fictional football team.

What really strikes me about Remini's show is that in every episode, she includes statements from the "church" about her "hate campaign".  I can't imagine who in their right mind would be convinced by the church's statements trying to smear Leah Remini.  She comes across as very credible to me.  And I have read enough books about Scientology to believe her.  In fact, I remember My Billion Year Contract, the book I read by Nancy Many, who described living in a parking garage while slaving away in the religion.  There she was, a U.S. citizen over age 21, basically imprisoned by this cult.  She had to escape her situation.  She did not have the power to just walk out.  How in the world could this happen?

But then I realize that Donald Trump is our president and understand that sometimes things aren't as simple as they seemingly should be.  

Today, I'll probably watch Remini's special about the Jehovah's Witnesses.  My cousin was a JW for years, although I never got the chance to talk to him about it extensively.  He's left the JWs and is now much more normal.  I've read a lot of books about the JWs, too...

I really think people just want to belong to something.  Some people feel like these cults make them special.  When you're in a group situation and you've been separated from the rest of the world, it can seem like leaving that cult is the hardest thing in the world to do.  My heart really goes out to some of the people Remini has had on her show.  While a few have managed to save their families-- and Remini's show is even credited for being behind one formerly high powered member's decision to leave and reconnect with her daughter-- too many others won't leave.  I think Remini is very brave to share her story and allow others to come out of the shadows with their stories.  One way abusers keep abusing is to keep victims shrouded in secrecy.  Speaking out is the best way to shed light on their inhumane practices.

I'm not sure if Remini has interviewed Nancy Many, but her story was one of the first I read about Scientology.  Here's the link for those who want to read it.

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