Mike Rinder has an excellent blog post discussing the SeaOrg and it’s “religious retreat” ship, Freewinds.
In his post he refers to the SeaOrg as “a paramilitary organization that runs scientology in accordance with Hubbard’s policies and directives.”
My post is not in any way a challenge or refutation of Mike’s. He spent his life in the SeaOrg and if he says something about it then that is the truth of the matter. Mike lived it so he knows.
The purpose of this article is to tear away at Scientology’s “Shore Story” concerning the SeaOrg.
That they are a religious order.
Scientology, both overtly and covertly, looks to Catholicism to defend their actions. Where Catholics have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, known as Confession, so too Scientology, who have decided to give themselves the ability to forgive sin.
Frustratingly this Corporation Cult must grasp at the traditions and symbols sacred and special to other faiths, without understanding or respect, in an attempt to bolster their claims of being a religion.
In the book What is Scientology by Steven Greene, the SeaOrg is described thus: “The Sea Organization in Scientology is equivalent to an order in the Catholic Church. The Sea Organization is composed of dedicated members who undergo training so that they could dedicate their whole life in the service of Scientology. This is what they call the ‘vow of service’.”
According to Scientology’s website “The Sea Organization is a religious order for the Scientology religion and is composed of the singularly most dedicated Scientologists—individuals who have committed their lives to the volunteer service of their religion. The Sea Organization is a fraternal religious order and is not incorporated.”
Also it says “Positions in the Sea Organization are analogous to that of members of religious orders in other religions.”
No. They aren’t.
First and foremost, anyone considering entering one of the many religious communities within the Catholic Church believes that they are being called by God to a life of prayer and sacrifice. Though there are multiple Orders based upon different Charisms (the unique way a particular Order follows) fundamentally they share the same objective. A life dedicated to prayer and worship, the abnegation of self in humility for the glory of God and being a physical witness to the world. (Some, as damaged and deranged humans fall far short of that goal and I acknowledge this.)
That there are so many Orders with such varied Rules (way of life) is an indication of God’s desire to respect free will, He provides choices for those He calls to a religious vocation.
A vocation to the religious life is NEVER forced and it is NEVER irrevocable.
In my own case, the process was many years of discernment that began when I was in the 10th grade. I communicated with the Postulant Director all through high school (a Postulant is what the person is called in the first step. They live with the community but are still considered lay people and can leave at any time.) When I finally went to meet the Franciscan Community, I spent several months getting to know them before I finally became a Postulant. A year later I was received into the community as a first year Novice which entailed classes and working alongside the other Sisters in the Convent. During this time of formation both the young Sister as well as her Superiors watch to discover whether this is the proper path for her to take. The door is always open for the person to decide to leave and if that decision is made there is no fuss, no threats, no papers to sign and no “Routing Out”.
The Novitiate time can last several years before the Novice is permitted to make her Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Even here there are no shackles placed, the Vows that the Novice makes are temporary and are renewed over the next few years unless she comes to the decision to leave.
The process towards Final Vows is long and designed to ensure the individual is truly where they want to be.
A religious order is prayer-centric and God focused. Those living in Community strive for holiness while acknowledging their faults and failings.
Practically speaking, unlike with the SeaOrg, the Religious gets a full nights rest, three normal, healthy meals a day along with coffee break, and at least an hour of recreation time every day. Medically the Nuns and Monks are cared for fully and ALL elderly Religious are cared for and respected until the day they die. In the case of my former Order, one of our apostolates (duties like teaching, nursing, caring for unwed mothers, etc) is caring for elderly priests. No one is off loaded because they can no longer produce.
Again, in the case of the Community I was in, we had what we called an Open Cabinet which was stocked with anything a Sister might need such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, etc.
Discipline within the community is hard to describe because while no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, this is seen as a chance to practice humility so normally a Sister takes it upon herself to admit her fault and ask for forgiveness. There is never violence, shouting, humiliation or confinement. Nothing is forced or coerced nor is anyone ostracized for any reason. Punishment is not meted out in any form and nothing is recorded or noted in a blackmail file.
The SeaOrg is not a religious order.
There is nothing of humility or prayerfulness about it.
The SeaOrg is not even a real Community, rather it is a group of people who police one another, take each other’s inventory and who are worked in such a way that relationships are weakened.
It constantly amazes me that our government granted a religious tax exemption simply on the say so of Scientology.
Hubbard, himself described the SeaOrg as initially an upper management organization.
“These are some of the factors which were not thought of particularly or designed. We kind of got into the Sea Org activity sort of gradually and accidentally, and we moved further ahead not actually on a planned idea. We just knew it was going all right in this direction and we kept going further in this direction. And the further we went in this direction, the more we developed in this direction why, the better things were getting, and as a result it sort of evolved into what we are now. It wasn’t some idea that Ron likes the sea so we will all go out into some boats. As a matter of fact the basic history of the Sea Org is that we had a crew training program at St. Hill and then we got the Diana and it came south under vast duress. And then we got the Athena and it came south and got repaired under very vast duress. But meanwhile the-then called the Enchanter carried out quite a few very vital and quite successful missions and the Athena, carried out some very, very successful missions. These were ship missions. And then this ship came along to be used as an AO. And when it could no longer be used as an AO, we suddenly realized that it was a better operating ship, just as itself, than the others and so retained it and continued to operate with it…And what we’ve actually done is evolved into a very high level-you might say-management unit (be one of the best ways to describe it). But we really are sort of a management unit. We actually, probably, are Division Five, Earth-Qual Earth. That’s probably what we are. And we feel our way forward and we make progress.”
—Welcome to the SeaOrg Pack, 1990, Why The SeaOrg is Successful; lecture given on 17 October 1969, pg 35.
“Now, when you look over the entirety of the Sea Org you find out, then, that for Qual Five, Division Five, Planet Earth to be only composed at this time of about three hundred guys and gals is absolutely fantastic, when you figure out we’re already handling one, two, three, four, five-five organizations, six or seven ships and the management activity of Flag. And this is done by about three hundred guys and gals? Oh, wait a minute, that’s impossible. Every government knows absolutely that to organize and to handle that much and so on, it would easily take four or five hundred thousand people.
And in the degree and what we really accomplish for our numbers is fantastic. The one guy who never seems to find out about this, really, however, is the Sea Org member. He just goes on doing his job.”
— Welcome to the SeaOrg Pack, 1990, Why The SeaOrg is Successful; lecture given on 17 October 1969 pg. 40
The truth of the matter is that country after country was investigating Hubbard and his Cult. They were not welcome in many places and were looked upon with suspicion by others. LRH was freed from the restrictions of inconvenient things like Laws when he was in international waters.
As in all other areas of Scientology the main objective is income. With better organization and management comes better ways of routing money into the coffers.
In An Open Letter to a SeaOrg Recruitment Officer written by Nate Jessup for L. Ron Hubbard, Commodore, 31 October 1968, pg 2 Jessup states “The SeaOrg is an organization of conquest. Not a ‘free offer’ for mamby-pambies who don’t like to pay money.”
None of this sounds like anything even remotely resembling the spiritual or religious.
As Hubbard grew into his role of Commodore and Great Leader, his approach to ruling those under him became more and more vicious and unforgiving.
This can best be seen in how he inflicted punishments on the crew. Hubbard was constantly trying to come up with ever worsening consequences for the slightest infraction. Even to declaring children Suppressive and confining them to a chain locker.
LRH was so obsessed with what he called “Ethics”, that on October 3rd, 1968 he issued Flag Order 1426 which read: “After tech is in solid, the next step is admin, forming the system by which to handle the paperwork of the planet. So to meet with the great wins of the SeaOrg in just under two short years, The SeaOrg purpose is restated as-
The purpose of the SeaOrg is
MAINTAINING THE EXACT DEGREE OF ETHICS, SCIENTOLOGY TECHNOLOGY AND POLICY ON THE PLANET.”
Nowhere does Hubbard indicate that the SeaOrg is a religious order, rather he places on them the responsibility to be the conscience and judges of the world. This is so far the opposite of what religious life is all about that there simply is no comparison.
The monastic life is not about pride or numbers. It is not about policing others, forcing compliance or obedience or destroying the individual in favor of a communal mind.
In order for there to be a religious community there needs to be God.
There needs to be Spirituality, prayer and the acknowledgment that you are following a call from the heart. The role of a religious community is to make God visible to the world in humility, joy and freedom.
The SeaOrg is in it for the money and the prestige it thinks it deserves. It is another branch of the cult tree sharing one root-
Make money. Make more money. Make people make more money.
I would ask why it is that all Scientology needs do is claim something is true and the government bows in submission. The only reason either Scientology or the SeaOrg is holding the title of “Religion” is because David Miscavige said so. There is nothing at all religious, spiritual or Godly about this cult of manipulation, malice, abuse and greed.
Like Taryn Teutsch aligning herself with legitimate groups that are helping victims of domestic violence, Miscavige placing the SeaOrg into the same category as true monastic communities does nothing but lessen the value and efficacy of what they stand for.
Sadly, our government is apparently Cult Whipped and is unable to find its backbone.
Maybe it’s in a chain locker on board the Freewinds…