Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief


FULL DISCLOSURE: For several years in the 1980s I was one of the judges for the “L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Awards.” I was never completely comfortable in that role, but let’s face it, those fuckers were rich, and they knew how to throw a party. They flew you to L.A. every year for a week of celebrations, all expenses paid. Then in 1989 (I think) they brought us to the United Nations, no less, where they took over the Security Council room for ceremonies. That night we looked down on fireworks along the length of the Hudson River from the 50th floor of a fine hotel.

We were kings of the world, masters of the universe.

That was my last time. I could no longer pretend to myself that my participation was not contributing, in some small way, to the excrescence on humanity, the weeping sore that is Scientology.

Too bad. It was a lot of fun while it lasted.

I say this without intending to condemn those others in the SF field who also participated, and those who still do. Nor especially those who submit stories to the contest. It’s a good way to get yourself noticed, to get a foot in the door of the real SF world. I was brought into the WOTF fold by my dear friend Algis Budrys, as sweet a man as ever lived (with one of the sweetest singing voices, too!). He was running the contest, and did so for a long time after I left. He assured me there would be no Scientology proselytizing, and other than a reverential tour of the L. Ron Hubbard Archives on Hollywood Boulevard before one ceremony (during which, as I recall, we judges were hard put to keep straight faces and refrain from snickering), there never was.

Like I said, the WOTF is ongoing, and while I find that an increasing number of writers have decided the way I did, I won’t condemn those who are still associated with it. I had my shot at the freebies, and I’m not ashamed of it. You get your swag where you can. I just couldn’t continue doing it, that’s all. Now, on to the movie …

I don’t think I learned anything new about (I’m tired of typing “Scientologists,” so from now on I’ll just refer to them as “Assholes”) Assholes, but I’ve been aware of them for some time. I think I may not have quite understood the degree of some of the horrors perpetrated in the name of LRH (as the Assholes refer to Hubbard; they have an acronym for everything) and his high priest, David Miscavige, and his Holy Acolytes, Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The willingness of Assholes to use any means, legal and illegal, to stifle or even destroy their critics is, I think, fairly well known. But the degree to which the higher-ups abuse, torment, and exploit Assholes themselves may not be. And here is where this movie exposes Cruise and Travolta as the pieces of shit millionaire Assholes they are. These celebrities and others use people from what’s called the Sea Org to do their gardening, housekeeping, car and motorcycle maintenance, and possibly the upkeep of Travolta’s fleet of five private airplanes, including a Boeing 707. Sea Org members are paid 40 cents an hour. Not by Cruise or Travolta, by the Asshole “Church.”

That whole “church” business … The Assholes may be the only organization in the world that fought the IRS and brought it to its knees. By filing over 2,400 lawsuits, most of them against individual IRS agents, they made themselves such a bother that the director bent over and dropped his pants. Now, I’m not fan of the IRS (who is?) but this is fucking scary. Maybe the scariest thing about the Asshole “church.”

Being an Asshole is not cheap (except for Assholes like Cruise and Travolta). You pay for each of almost infinite levels of “auditing.” No matter how many times you are audited, they can still find “engrams” clinging to you, so you pay more. And here’s the thing. Until you have paid your way to what they call OT (for Operating Thetan) III, they don’t tell you what being an Asshole is really all about. Then it is revealed to you, in a locked chamber, written in his own hand by LRH, the creation story. And brother, is it a doozy. Any pulp science fiction magazine in the 1920s or ‘30s would have paid half a cent a word for it. LRH got paid considerably more to sell this swill to Assholes:

Seventy-five million years ago the Emperor Xenu ran a huge galactic empire. The people were just like us, wore clothes and drove cars just like ours in the 1950s. But the empire was overpopulated, so Xenu froze billions and billions of people and transported them (in starships that looked exactly like DC-8s, without the engines) to Earth (which was called “Teegeeack”) and laid them out around volcanoes. Then he blew them all up with atomic bombs.

Problem solved! Only every person has a soul (which Assholes call a “thetan”) that is immortal. These mightily pissed-off thetans are still around, and attach themselves to everyone. And the only way to get rid of them is … you guessed it! Pay a lot of money to Assholes.

It’s pretty sad to see one of the more prominent former Assholes, Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis, recalling his reaction to all this. Here he has audited his ass off, paying who-knows-how-much money to claw his way to being Clear, then becoming an Operating Thetan I, then an OT II, and now, he’s an OT III! He is taken into a secure room and a steel briefcase is opened in front of him. There it is! The manuscript in the sacred hand of LRH Himself! It has never been duplicated! This is the only copy! He’s about to learn the Secrets of the Universe! He starts to read … and what the fuck is this shit?!?!?!?!

Like I said, very sad. Everyone should see this movie. There are some who think the Assholes are in trouble (though they are still very rich), with only about 50,000 members worldwide. They no longer have any deep dark secrets about Galactic Overlords (which is something they never talk about). Too many Assholes have defected over the years and it’s all out there now on the Internet, available to anyone savvy enough to look into it the next time some Asshole on the sidewalk asks you to take a “stress test” with his bullshit e-meter. Man, I hope so. You gotta figure that if that Asshole buttonholed you with “Listen, man, let me tell you about the Galactic Emperor Xenu and how he is at the bottom of all your troubles!” about 99.9999% of potential marks would hurry away. Wouldn’t you?