In the late 1990’s, I was a Scientology “Clear”.
As a Clear, I was being told that I was “at risk” and in danger of dying or going insane if I did not buy my next steps on the Scientology Bridge to Total Freedom. This message was straight from the “technical” writings of L Ron Hubbard, which, as a Scientologist, was my religion.
It was a religion that had beliefs with coercive and mind-fucking sales techniques like these, from its Founder, baked right into it.
Back then, I had accumulated around $30,000 to $35,000 of crushing credit card debt for Scientology services. About $12,000 of that debt was being charged at around 25% interest because I had made late payments a few times. As a Scientologist I was told, and I believed at that time, that all I needed to do was get on a Scientology course and my financial life would turn around.
And so, as a Scientologist, I believed what I was told because it was, after all, my religion.
I had told them repeatedly that I was not going to go into debt any more for anything in my life, and that I had purchased this course (for $6,000) as the last thing I would ever go into debt for. I was going to go up the Bridge to OT without going into debt for anything else.
All the Scientology sales people agreed with me at the time – to get me to pay the $6000 for the course. They all agreed they would “work with me” – without going further into debt – to help me “go OT” over the next weeks and months while I attended the course.
I got onto course. I kept moving through the “No Interference Area”, the area on the Scientology Bridge To Total Freedom where you’ll die or go insane if you don’t keep moving. I believed, because again – this was my religion – that I needed to always keep learning more Scientology: Only then would my life improve.
The sales crush never stopped. Every day I came to course, I would be hit up to buy more and more things. From the time I left my car in the parking lot at one end of L Ron Hubbard Way to the door of AOLA 1 block away, I would be approached to buy something at least 3 to 5 times. Then, once inside the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles (AOLA), I would be approached by two or three or more of their sales staff to buy more things – despite the “agreement” with my registrars.
I had explained my finances multiple times to each of these Scientology salespeople, who worked at an organization which claimed they wanted to improve my life. Because they were my religion and they were there to help me, I’d told them how much money I made at my job, which credit cards I had, and what the balance was on each. I had explained to them that I was on course to get Scientology tech in on my life, to straighten out my finances, and to get out of debt. This financial situation of mine was explained to them in great detail, with reports and other documents, for hours at a time, over and over, for weeks.
But that didn’t stop the Scientology salespeople. Every single week, they continued to try to wear me down, to sell me my OT Package, by going into $35,000 more credit card debt.
After weeks of this, one of my Scientology Sales People, Tim Edwards, approached me with another Scientology sales person, David Sonnenfeld. These two uniformed men walked up and said that they wanted to talk to me before course.
In the Paramilitary Atrium-style of the AOLA office building – almost all offices on the first floor are devoted to sales and there were multiple people just like me, all being sold something. David and Tim walked me into a small room in the back and shut the door. They arranged their chairs in front of the door, facing me. My chair was at the back of the room facing them with a table between us.
The larger Scientology sales person, David Sonnenfeld, turned to me, reached back and flipped the lock on the door, and said, “Alanzo. We are going to talk to you about going OT.”
Tim Edwards began. He said that I had been “dramatizing” my OT 3 case for too long. And that my “OT case” was putting “stops” in my own way to going OT. He said that the debt I had accumulated for Scientology services were my OT case’s way of ensuring that I would never go OT, and that we were going to handle this right now.
I responded by telling him that I have done many Scientology ethics conditions and applied all kinds of Scientology finance policy to my credit card debt situation. LRH finance policy itself told me never to be this badly in debt. I insisted to them that going into more debt for Scientology services was not ever going to happen. I said that if they had another way for me to get my OT III package without going into debt for it, I was all ears.
I told them that, as a “Clear”, my self-determinism on this was quite strong, and so if they had it in mind that I was going to go further into debt for this, they were very much mistaken.
Tim Edwards maintained his steadfast, TR0 gaze into me, and impinged with this: “Until you are OT III, you have no self-determinism at all, Alanzo.” Tim then repeated that everything I was saying to him right now was coming straight from my OT level “case”, which does NOT want me to go OT.
Looking at it now, it seems completely obvious what these Scientology sales people were doing. But his statement at that time, like a person knocking on your bedroom door while you were dreaming inside, started to awaken me.
My credit card debt was such a daily and persistent problem, and it was so obviously caused by my involvement in Scientology, that I could no longer keep telling myself my life was getting better. A critical contradiction between what Scientology professes itself to be vs. what it actually is became too obvious for me to sleep through any more.
My Scientology religious teachings, from the beginning, taught me that only a “Clear” could be self-determined because he had cleared away his “reactive mind”. The “reactive mind” was the thing which ruined a Clear’s “self-determinism”.
I’d spent many years of money and time working to reach “Clear”. Now that I was a “Clear”, what they were saying finally made me see that the goal posts were being moved on me in a very profound, and way too obvious, way.
Here were two men who had me locked in a room, telling me that everything I was saying about my own credit card debt was insane. I needed to simply listen to them and do what they told me to do in order to be sane again, and so much more spiritually able as an OT III.
I opened up a thick L Ron Hubbard book on church policy and began showing them references about how Scientology organizations should never go into debt for anything.
They pushed the books off to the side of the table.
Tim then stood and blurted out exactly what they were ordering me to do:
- 1. I must open up another credit card.
- 2. I must pay for my OT III package TODAY at the “buy now” price of $35,000.
- 3. This would put me fully $75,000 in credit card debt.
- 4. So then I must declare bankruptcy for the whole thing.
Sitting in that locked room, with two uniformed Scientology salespeople facing me, I held up my finger and said, “Wait a minute. I got into Scientology to win at life, not to lose at it. Declaring bankruptcy is losing at life.”
Tim said, “Look at it this way, Alanzo: Let’s say you’re dead and you are looking back on this lifetime.”
“On one hand, you went bankrupt. But on the other hand, you went OT III. Which is more important?”
I stood up and started screaming.
“What??? What is this? The “Now You’re Dead Close”??? I’ve never heard of that one!”
The two of them stood up and pushed me back down into my chair.
I looked at them, at the room, at the locked door, and what I was being told. I thought about the dozen or so Scientologists, who I personally knew, who had declared bankruptcy. In a flash, I got exactly what was happening to me.
I lunged for the door and they tried to stop me from reaching the lock. I began yelling and cursing loudly as I struggled with them, disturbing other sales people working at this end of AOLA. Finally, because I was yelling at the top of my voice “LET. ME. THEFUCK. GO!!!!” I got past these guys, unlocked the door, straightened myself up, tucked in my shirt, and walked out. Everyone in the AOLA ground floor were silent, staring at me as I left.
I was still a Scientologist, but not for long. I would not be able to wake up and fully unravel Scientology, and all the coercive brainwashing techniques built into it, for many years.
After this incident, as a Scientologist, every move Scientology made toward me, every piece of mail, every phone call, whispered to me
Scientology is a complex labyrinth, a toxic pool of spiritual deception. This was the experience which, more than any other, helped to wake me up from it and to start finding my way out.
SO HERE’S MY SUCCESS STORY
Leaving Scientology was the best thing I’ve ever done. Thank you Tim Edwards, David Sonnenfeld, and the whole Advanced Organization of Los Angeles, for being fully who you were trained to be by L Ron Hubbard.
You finally started waking me up to what Scientology is all about.