I am age 30 and have been researching and getting involved with Scientology for over ten years now. In my youth I read LRH's science fiction and enjoyed it. I consider him one of my many influences as a writer. Yes, Heinlein, Eddings, Salvatore, Zahn, Adams and numerous others are better. But LRH was my first exposure to long meta-plots. Clancy, King, Cussler and others followed. All my life I have been a writer and a reader. LRH was the same, and he influenced me. I will never forget that he did this and I have trouble believing he was nothing more than an insane con artist.
I didn't find out what Scientology was until 1997. I grew up in a divorced family and then Mom married a diplomat who moved us to Taipei for seven years. In America I lived in small towns like Santa Fe, New Mexico and Beaumont, Texas. In 1997 I started college at the University of Texas in Austin and saw a Scientology church on the drag. I felt strangely compelled to avoid the place. There were posters in the windows that had odd messages and the people who went in and out looked and acted weird. My favorite bakery and second favorite video arcade were both right next door to the place, though. The Baptist church I attended was across the street and so was the school of architecture where one of my girlfriends had many classes. I couldn't exactly avoid the org entirely. I just decided to ignore it. I had other concerns.
In 2000 I was on an Internet message board and somebody protested the movie Battlefield Earth with a link to Operation Clambake. I went there, learned a lot about Scientology, and was horrified. I felt justified in avoiding the Austin Org more than ever. Reading Jon Atack's books and other critical studies of Scientology backed up my feelings. I didn't want to protest, though. I would rather be a fool than a hater. In the next five years, I graduated from college, pursued a career in private security (today I build computer chips), almost got married (longer story than this), and pretty much ignored Scientology. I felt that was best. If they were bad, they would die on their own.
I watched them grow on the campus, though. The arcade and bakery I visited lost their leases and the org expanded into their former homes. This bothered me. I even stormed into the org on one occasion and cursed them for shutting down the arcade, then ran off laughing before anyone could respond. I was that convinced they were an evil cult. That happened in 2004.
In 2006 I began writing my celebrity fanfiction. My first story was highly praised and I thought "heck, I can do this." I'm the kind of writer who really gets into my characters' heads and for my second story I decided to base a character on Erika Christensen. She is an actress I have always loved. I never knew much about her, though. I researched her for the story, found out her religion, and was shocked. I knew I wanted to write her and I debated how. I tried to make her a corrupt psycho hypocrite like I thought all Scientologists were. That wouldn't come out. Then I tried to make her a repressed drone with OSA monitors keeping her in a bubble. That didn't work either.
Finally I made her a Scientologist free spirit, a person who lived the religion's values in a good way. She knew of the abuses but was determined to not continue them on her part. Erika also had many friends among her peers who were the same way (characters based on John Travolta, Catherine Bell, Lynsey Bartilson and other famous Scientologists I liked). Critics of Scientology were surprised when they found out what Erika was really like and they too became her friends. I researched Scientology heavily using both pro- and anti- websites in order to make things work. I ordered and studied many books from Amazon. I also read Erika's interviews. The character flowed out perfect.
The story was highly praised again. However, I was also flamed by numerous trolls who accused me of "promoting an evil cult". I had to explain to them that was not my intent. I just wanted to do something I enjoyed. I tried to write more of my Erika character in order to get that across.
In the summer of 2006 I put out stories where she stood in opposition to ignorant fanatic Scientologists. Tom Cruise asks her to evangelize the church like he does, she calls him a disrespectful prick. Travolta whines about the poor reception for Battlefield Earth, Erika tells him: "Relax, that wasn't your best movie. It was a big understandable mistake. You'll live."
Soon after I started putting out this series, I was banned by my biggest publisher for "promoting an evil cult and endangering us with possible lawsuits". All my stories- including the ones about Keira Knightley, softball pitcher Cat Osterman, and the X-Men that in no way included Scientology- were taken down from the site. Someone I thought was a big fan of mine protested my banning to the publisher, and she banned him also. Then he severed communication with me and I had to find out secondhand that he actually considered me weird and a Scientologist (I never was).
I really got disturbed by this. I resented being called a cult shill and hearing the same applied to celebrities I liked. I tried to sort it out by writing a story where Erika directly conflicts with OSA. They try to blackmail her into becoming a fanatic Scientologist using the paparazzi and she cries after being forced to turn the tables with her own blackmail (her chief OSA adversary is into BDSM). Then she joins a movement to reform Scientology so this sort of thing will stop happening. I showed an editor named Linda Kingery the story and she told me: "You're wrong. Scientology is not this way. I was in the church for years and they let me rout out of the Sea Org because I thought that would save my marriage. I know about the bad stuff in Scientology but it gets blown out of proportion. We're not all corrupt blackmailers any more than all Muslims are al-Qaeda members." I was surprised again. Especially since I write for adult sites, places I thought no Scientologist ever went.
I showed the blackmail story to my best friend, trying to figure out where I had gone wrong. This girl, "Sam", is a law enforcement psychologist and the woman I almost married. We're still close. She told me Kingery was right. Sam knew this because her good friend "Tara" was a Scientologist, had been one longer than we'd known her. Now this surprised me even more. Tara had been my personal tax assessor for nine years and I knew she was a smart woman. She was also black, bisexual, and an assistant youth deacon at the UT Baptist Church. She had never mentioned Scientology to me once, never pressured me to convert, never treated me poorly where I didn't deserve it. Yeah, she was a bitch, but the kind that keeps you on point. I went to her and demanded explanation. She asked if I knew what a Freezoner was. I didn't. Tara told me, with Sam's help. It turned out Sam was a Freezoner too. Both flirted with Scientology as spiritual counseling, although they were mainly into Christianity and Judaism respectively. They used the Austin Org as a resource library and course college. The staff did not know they lacked allegiance. Or if they did, they didn't care.
I was shocked again. This burned me out in regards to my writing for almost two years. During this time, I went online on numerous occasions and debated Scientology with people, mostly on IMDB. I usually took the pro side, aided by my Freezoner friends. I was insulted, trolled, ridiculed, called a "clam", told I should be ashamed of myself, so on and so forth. This really got me pissed. In December 2006 I decided to join the Austin Org. I would rather be on the side of the oppressed than the oppressor. No church could possibly really deserve this much defamation, not even if all the bad stuff I had heard were true. I confessed what I had done in opposition to the church (the arcade rant and the way I had felt) and asked forgiveness. The staff gave it to me without any cost. I did not directly reveal my fanfiction or that Tara and Sam were Freezoners.
While inside Scientology I was reminded of my own experiences with Christianity's issues. I heard repetitive messages in LRH's videos and writings that were contradicted by other texts and seemed to sponsor hatred. I observed Scientologists trying to live their beliefs in a good way, similar to my own fictional character based on Erika and my Freezoner friends Tara and Sam. I saw fanatics denying the abuses were real when the evidence was right in front of their face. I heard them insist Scientology was the only true religion and when I argued otherwise, they told me to read more scripture, take more courses, and so on. I was only public, never Sea Org or even staff, but I still got bothered. I was very troubled.
Sam, a Clear who had joined the church for research purposes (she wanted to do a term paper on the the psychology of Scientologists), tried to keep me on an even keel. Tara, an OT-V who had been on staff briefly and also been through the RPF, helped too. Meanwhile my own family members, who had heard the opposition to Scientology espoused by shows such as South Park and articles like Time Magazine's expose, alienated themselves from me when they found out what I had become.
In March 2007 I decided I could not take it anymore. I stood up in the middle of an LRH birthday celebration service after I had heard him say "this org should take off like a rocket" for the fourth time on a TV. I shook my head and walked out. No one stopped me. Over twenty people had walked out before me, no one stopped them either. They did offer literature, but they didn't demand money or "overt confessions". I was grateful. Sam followed me outside minutes later. Neither of us have ever returned to the Austin Org for audits or courses since that day. Tara still goes on occasion and we have other friends inside too, but they understand that we don't wish to be Scientologists. They are happy to give us occasional audits for free and discuss scripture with us, including forbidden stuff. Like many of the ex-Scis here, we have a lot of issues on our minds.
I resumed writing my fanfiction in August of this year. That includes the Erika stories. I published a revised version of the blackmail story earlier this month. In it, Erika's brother and friends are victims of Fair Game as well as her. She helps her friends make their peace with Scientology, recruits her brother into the reform movement, and sees that the evil OSA agents who did the blackmail are punished. DM, who is afraid of a schism within his church, fully cooperates with the main minister on the reform side who orchestrates Jessica's punishment, Melissa Prynne (fictional character named after Hester Prynne of "The Scarlett Letter" and a good Scientologist I met while inside). By this point DM percieves the harm fanatics are doing to his church and wants to stop being one, even though he's still cooperating with them in some ways- he doesn't want them causing a schism either, my fictional DM has a conscience. Other Scientologists are going off the reservation and staying bad.
The story has received naught but praise thus far. I intend to continue it, barring further burnout or other issues. Tara and Sam pledged to help me and have even given me license to base characters on them. Anybody here wants to do the same, feel free. I will not put you directly in my stories without your permission. I respect you and recognize you are not public figures like DM, Erika, Travolta and Cruise.
I still debate on IMDB in order to justify to myself and sort out my feelings in regards to Scientology. Now I'm going to do the same here, as much as I feel necessary. If people think I am a douchebag at any time, they are free to tell me. If the wonderful inspiring women who run this place wish to ban me, they're free to do that too. They are also free to delete my posts. I want them and everyone to know, however, that I have never once been harassed or threatened by Scientology in three years of writing fanfiction about their celebrity followers and criticizing their church online. Never once. Critics have harassed me and I have not enjoyed it. I know the church is bad and that my leaving it was the right thing to do, but I do not consider myself bitter. Nor do I consider myself a cult shill or whatever other dehumanizing label you want to give me. I am simply DRE, free man.
I hope those who read this understand me better. I promise not to make any other post here nearly so long. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go eat breakfast and play some PS3.