10.16.2007

Stories told by flowers: Escaping $cientology

No one wants to admit they were sucked in by a slimy, mind-controlling cult. Well, here I am admitting it. Yup. Got sucked right in. Hook, line and sinker. It's an awful thing, waking up one day and realizing you've been had. Really had.

Actually it doesn't quite work that way. The waking up takes a little while. There are clues and hints as you go along that all is not right. But, being the good cultist, you ignore these and keep your head firmly in the ground (or up your butt, peeking out your bellybutton, depending on your "in-ness"). The indoctrination is slow and subtle. At each step of the way, what you're being told about the cult and what you're doing in the cult seem reasonable. Seem reasonable. That's important. You see, if you were really thinking like your usual self, you would clearly see that nothing of what you are told or what you are doing is logical. Big difference.

Think for moment: what would your reaction be if someone said, "We can totally and completely solve all your personal problems. All you need to do is take this free course." Sound too good to be true? That's because it is. But if you're in some emotional pain, or you're young and 'searching' or you like the idea of having THE answers or maybe you just want to be led around by your nose, a free course that claims to be the SOLUTION sounds really wonderful. Let's go, where do I sign? There are many reasons people walk into the clutches of cults like the Moonies or Scientology or Amway Quixtar. And there are very good, well written books on the subject of mind-control as practiced by these cults. I recently read Steve Hassan's Combatting Cult Mind Control and, although his experience was with the Moonies, his description of the techniques used to 'trap' people applied perfectly to Scientology. I highly recommend this well-written book to anyone who has been in a cult, knows someone who's fallen prey, or just wants to understand how a cult works.

Well, this isn't a story about $cientology exactly. It's about a visit to a Caribbean island, I think it was Barbados. And the connection to $cientology is that they have a lovely ship that sails the Caribbean and is used as a 'religious retreat.' What that means is that $cientologists can go live on this ship for a few days or a few months and take courses and get other services. It's very expensive, but it's fun being there. The food is outrageously good. The side trips are wonderful, when you can get 'permission' to go. The ship is called the Freewinds and I made two trips, both at the request of my local $cientology organization.

I was really fortunate on one of these trips to have an opportunity to ride around the island and see lots of different things -- caverns, cafes, beautiful architecture, and incredible views. I'm not big on tourist-type shopping, but I really love the natural things and the people.


The coolest place we went was an orchid garden. A BIG orchid garden. I thought I'd gone to heaven:



My husband Kimball and I are very lucky -- we woke up. Even if it took us a little long to realize how ridiculous $cientology is, the important thing is we got the hell out. We've been 'declared suppressive' because we've spoken out against the cult and none of the people who were our friends are allowed to speak to us. It's such a bizarre experience to walk into a store and see someone you know and like and they won't even look at you. Weird. $cientology cannot allow the 'innies' to have conversations with the folks who have left. The bubble might burst.