Translation: Peter Steenkamp (This translation used by permission).
AMSTERDAM – The Scientology Church Netherlands, located at the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal (a street) in Amsterdam, is recently confronted with a massive exodus. According to former big bosses of the sect, during the last few months at least 50 of the approximately 150 active core members stepped out.
The management talks about “mutiny” in internal documents, as always whenever there is the slightest doubt about the teachings of the founder L.Ron Hubbard. High-ranked Scientologists have been flown in from outside of the country to avert the crisis in Amsterdam.
The desertion from the expensive sect (years of study of the basics of L.Ron Hubbard easily requires an investment of hundreds of thousands of Euro`s) can, according to the apostates, be traced back to a number of causes. On one hand, slowly but surely a separation came into being between Trade Marks (adherents who think along fixed lines, who think that the Church of Scientology has the monopoly on the teachings of Hubbard), and the “Independents”: Scientologists who discover that it can be done a lot better, more enjoyable and especially cheaper outside of the straitjacket of the Church.
On the other hand, a number of adherents also turned their back on the “Org” on the Nieuwezijds, as the head office of the sect is called internally, because of a fraud scandal. Scientologists have swindled fellow adherents and non-adherents for hundreds of thousands of Euro`s via little companies inside and outside of the country. A large part of that money has via-via ended up in the coffers of Scientology, according to the victims. Both of the movements are busy organizing outside of the sect. The victims of the fraud scandal are preparing legal claims with help of a lawyer. The Independents have united in a new, much more liberal movement with their own website, www.ronsorg.nl, which stands for “Ron`s Organization and Network for Standard Tech”.
The deconstruction of the controversial Scientology-sect is caused by a “gradual awakening”, says Caspar de Rijk, who was in the early 1970s one of the founders and also the director of Scientology Netherlands. “Scientology is really a sect, you are an adherent, you worship Hubbard, you are never allowed to do anything the Church forbids and for the rest you are allowed to pay through the nose. But at a certain moment people find out that it can be a lot different. More and more people are discovering that now.
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Taking a break?
A large problem has always been, according to De Rijk, that Scientology “strongly manipulates the mutual communication of the members”, among others via the notorious system of sanctions, the so-called “ethics”. You are not allowed to talk to your family anymore, you are not allowed to talk anymore with people who are critical. You aren`t allowed anything anymore. So before, you never discovered that you can also be a Scientologist outside of Scientology. Internet, New Age in general and other factors have changed that. What Hubbard one day started, is now being reduced again to normal proportions.”
The failed American science-fiction writer Hubbard launched his pseudo- philosophy Scientology in the 1950s. All of the misery in the world, so Hubbard made up, can be traced back to the tyrant Xenu, who attacked earth about 70 million years ago with thermo-nuclear weaponry. Since then, man is afflicted with Thetans: invisible but very vile little creatures that seriously frustrate our functioning. getting rid of all this negative ballast can only be done in one way: by endlessly following courses with Scientology. With those courses, after some years one can get all kinds of impressive titles, like “Operating Thetan”, OT for short, but it doesn`t come cheap: “Some people do invest hundreds of thousands of Euros, especially if you study in the USA or Denmark.” says De Rijk, himself “OT” on “Level 5”. The mainstay of Scientology in Amsterdam is the recruitment practices in the city centre. Passers-by are accosted in the street with the request if they want to undergo a “personality test“. People who say yes must fill in a lengthy questionnaire at the Org (“are you a slow eater?”) and is put on the E-meter (a kind of lie-detector), and the test result is always that the person must go into therapy as soon as possible – with Scientology. Also, Scientologists run a number of “management offices” (Like Silhouet BV) that offer companies to test their personnel. There also the result is regularly that the tested person should go directly on Hubbards “Bridge to Clear”. “They are only interested in money, nothing more” says former director De Rijk. Recently, says De Rijk, an evening was organized for apostate adherents, which drew almost 50 people. They all had something like “golly, outside of Scientology we can do the same thing, but without all that indoctrination and intimidation. After that a kind of explosion followed among Scientology adherents: fantastic that this is also possible! That is what is going on now.”
MILITARY De Rijk started doubting a few years ago for the first time, after he was taken hostage for some time by thick-necks of the sect in Copenhagen (where a large department of Scientology is located). “I was with the Sea-Org, a para-military elite-department, with ranks and standings of the American navy. If you disagree with something, have criticism or are angry about something, you are interrogated and put on the E-meter. Then you are tested for bad intentions – but I did not have those, so I refused.” According to the “ethics” of Scientology, such a refusal is considered a capital crime: the adherents are not expected to think for themselves or to have an opinion of their own. Because of that, in line with the jurisprudence of the Sea Org, De Rijk was transferred to the RPF, the Rehabilitation Project Force, for internment in a kind of re-education camp. “And I refused that too.” says De Rijk. “Then they panicked a bit, because that apparently never happened before. Then they locked me up in a room with a few bodyguards for an afternoon. They considered me a danger of course at that moment, because I also had a high OT level. I was then thrown out, and so I started thinking bit by bit: what am I still searching for here? And what are others still searching for here? For sometimes a thousand dollars per hour.” For Scientology Church Netherlands (rumored to be loss-making for years anyhow), the departure of dozens of active members must be a large financial drain. Not only does the sect miss out on income, on the site of Ronsorg apostates are also accurately instructed on how course moneys and donations can be reclaimed by the International Association of Scientologists in East Grinstead, England. With such a reclaim action Scientology will go to great lengths, warns Ronsorg: “What you can expect, is that they will try to make you change your mind by pushing all of your buttons that are known to them.” Scientologists are continually being “audited” for years during their stay on the “bridge to clear”. During that, very personal things also come up for discussion, that will be put in a file. Future deserters or apostates with wild plans only need to be reminded that they once, for example, cheated on their spouse or have used drugs, to make them change their minds. Scientology does not hesitate to start extensive smear campaigns and to use member`s files for that. The apostates who have been swindled for hundreds of thousands of euros by other Scientologists via national and international little companies, take measures. They study on reclaim procedures and damage claims with a lawyer. “Soon a special foundation will be established and we will come out in full extent” says a spokesman.
The management of Scientology has until now reacted fully according to protocol on the massive exodus. Against a few apostates an “SP declare” is issued: a declaration (that is hung up like a kind of death sentence in the “Org”) that a certain member is from now on considered a “Suppressive Person” – The worst that can happen to you with Scientology. SP`s are allowed to be tricked, prosecuted or lied to, or destroyed according to internal “ethics”. They are excommunicated because they “went into communication with and joined a group that is declared Suppressive”. Another serious crime is also that they have given “non-standard materials” to other Scientologists “hoping that they would join this Supressive group”. The number of excommunications is limited, by the way, for strategic reasons: It is hard to explain internally that more than a third of the active membership is suddenly “suppressive”.