Following the recent news of a ‘mutiny’ at the Amsterdam, Netherlands office of Scientology, the cult – a commercial enterprise and a hate group masquerading as a religion – is getting more bad press (and TV-coverage) in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam daily, Het Parool, today carries an article in which former Scientology recruiter John Leemhuis explains why he has left the organization and joined the ranks of other defectors who, while still pursuing Scientology’s ‘tech’, want nothing to do with the so-called ‘Church’ of Scientology.
Leemhuis was a ‘body-router’ – as recruiters are known within Scientology. For the past ten years, he worked six days a week encouraging people on the street to take the cult’s ‘personality test’ (a discredited, pseudo-scientific recruitment tool). He was paid €40-€50 ($45-$57) a week.
Het Parool writes, Leemhuis (44) was willing to talk with us, but only on the condition that we wouldn’t talk bad about Hubbard. “In a previous piece you called him a faile science-fiction writer, but I disagree with that. Hubbard’s techniques are fine, a science. The only problem is that Scientology misuses that science.”
In order to continue his prescribed Scientology courses on the ‘Bridge to Clear,” Leemhuis found it necessary six years ago to go into debt for tens of thousands of guilders – not much in comparison, but Leemhuis received a discount due to his work as a body-router.
“I have been paying off the loan ever since, and in essence that is true for everyone in Scientology. Everyone gets into debt, and everyone works from 9 in the morning till 11 at night. If at some time you are not ‘on staff,’ as they refer to being present at the ‘Org’ (Scientology ‘mission’), they immediately call you. Where are you? You’ve got to study! You must come here, now! Yes, they reason like this: as long as you’re busy, you can’t think. That’s what keeps Scientology going: people who make themselves completely dependent and who don’t get a cent in return. And then there are inheritances and donations. Ik know people who, in guilders, have paid half a million ($260.000). A friend of mine borrowed a total of Dfl 300.000 ($156.000). [See The Cost of Scientology]
Some five years ago, Leemhuis started doubting due to a number of incidents. For example, Paul Rood – a prominent Scientologist – every so often was doing an estafette, by bike or on foot, for world peace in general, and Scientology in specific.
“He was going to bike to The Hage, then to Brussels, and then to the Yugoslav Republic. All for publicity of course. Well, at some point I went with him in his van, en take this from me: if he was going to be met somewhere with much fanfare, he would get on his bike for the last kilometer, then load the bike back into the van and on to the next stop. I can not stand that kind of dishonesty. But if you said something about it at the Scientology office, then immediately yet another investigation was started against you, and the result was that you were not considered OK.”
Aside from that, Scientology has drastically evolved, says Leemhuis. “In the past it was all about Hubburd, about the ideals. Now it merely is a money machine. It is all mind-control, PR, and money, money, money. Nothing else.”
“A good friend of mine fixed all computers for them, but he wasn’t ‘on staff’ nearly as much as I was, because he works a regular job. So they simply post a notice that he has to work on his ‘ethics’ – which means other Scientologists are not allowed to talk with you, and you have to better yourself. That boy did absolute nothing wrong, but everything and everyone must simply be registered and manipulated. That has nothing to do with Hubbard. He stood for gathering knowledge, freedom, gaining control over your life. The Church of Scientology does exactly the opposite: limit your freedom, and use you.
That development has in the past few months, as reported earlier, led to a true exodus: around 50 active members (out of 150) have left the sect. Leemhuis confirms: “I estimate that at present some 60 people have left.” Those sixty people, including Leemhuis, all want their money back. Doesn’t this lead to financial problems for the Dutch branch?
Leemhuis: “Yes, but they have been in financial trouble for years. First we we housed at the Nieuwezijds in a building from De Slegte, at a rent of DFL 10.000 ($5200) a month, and even that we couldn’t always pay. We had to leave that building, and now we’re a litte further up the street in a building that rents for Dfl 40.000 ($20.800) a month! The telephone service is regularly cut off when there is no money. And that is now going to get worse.”
Bit by bit a picture emerges of a ‘church’ (apostrophies in the original article) of which only the leadership remains behind, in the form of the ladies Julia Rijnvis and Maria Koster. “And that is going to happen,” says Leemhuis, who understandably is now considered to be an excommunicated suppressive person. While in the past he considered his great commission to be the winning of souls, he now does the exact opposite: “That church simply must close. No one should come there anymore.”
Nov. 3, 2003
SLADJANA LABOVIC en BART MIDDELBURG