Larry Anderson says Scientology did not deliver the spiritual gains it promised
If you watched TV in the past three decades, you probably saw Larry Anderson. He appeared on more than 30 shows, including Charlie’s Angels, Mork and Mindy, Desperate Housewives and Mad Men. He hosted three game shows and had bit parts in eight movies.
He got lots of parts but isn’t well known. Except to Scientologists.
Anderson starred in the Church of Scientology’s 1996 film Orientation, a 40-minute promotion central to church recruiting efforts. Translated into 15 languages, it has been shown at church facilities worldwide not only to potential recruits but also to parishioners and staffers, to get them more involved in Scientology.
At the film’s dramatic climax, Anderson is a portrait of rectitude as the background music swells and the camera zooms in:
“If you leave this room after seeing this film and walk out and never mention Scientology again, you are perfectly free to do so. It would be stupid. But you can do it. You can also dive off a bridge or blow your brains out. That is your choice.
“But, if you don’t walk out that way, if you continue with Scientology, we will be very happy with you. And you will be very happy with you.”
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Now, after 33 years as a Scientologist, the past 13 as the voice extolling the virtues of Scientology and the perils of walking away, Anderson is walking away. He says the church failed to deliver the spiritual gains it promised.
He also wants his money back, nearly $120,000 he says he prepaid for services never taken. A church policy says parishioners can get repayments, but if they do, they cannot come back.
Eleven months ago, Anderson met with Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis to discuss his request for repayment. Anderson, 58, put a tape recorder on the table between them.
The 90-minute tape affords a rare look at how the church dealt with a high-profile defector and his demand for his money.
The Truth Rundown — The St. Petersburg Times’ series of special reports: “High-ranking defectors provide an unprecedented inside look at the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige.”