This letter is in response to recent comments made by Uriah Hall on Twitter
Dear Mr Hall,
Respectfully I would like to try and correct the misconception that people who are lured into Scientology are “stupid”.
Scientology, like any cult, does not begin their recruitment by laying all their cards on the table. Prospective members are not told about Xenu, or the other bizarre practices.
Recruiters don’t sit someone down and explain to them that they can achieve immortality and Super Powers.
Or that Thetans live in their heads.
The process is long, slow and insidious.
Scientology promises people the ability to better themselves and the world. Who would not want to be a part of something so wonderful?
New members are shown reasonable ideas; that they can overcome some past trauma that is holding them back in life. Some are promised that if they take a few courses they will become more successful in business, make more money, go farther.
It is not stupid, gullible people who just fall for the insanity.
Even the fact that so much has been exposed about the cult cannot be used against those who seek something better, something more in their lives. Scientology denies every story, every claim about their abuse, fraud and hate. Their spiel is well crafted and very convincing, portraying Scientology as just another religion with detractors who don’t know the truth.
Look at the recent Super Bowl commercial. It was created to be emotional, intense and intriguing. It holds the promise of something more if one just reaches out and seeks. Nowhere does it say anything about Scientology’s beliefs or that they have a Super Power building in Clearwater, Florida where elite members go to hone their powers.
Through their many front groups they create the illusion of a benign, humanitarian organization out to change the world into a utopia.
Long term, steady psychological, emotional and spiritual manipulation over months and years slowly conditions the person into unquestioning obedience because to do otherwise means facing personal shame and Scientology punishment. Those who are born into the cult are raised to believe that anything bad that happens to them is their fault. All members are taught that if they question cult policies, rituals or doctrine it means they are guilty of hidden crimes. No one wants to be punished for doubting or questioning.
Leah Remini asked where David Miscavige’s missing wife, Shelly was and was subsequently forced into months of mental torment called Sec Checking.
All for simply asking where her friend was.
Scientology is much like any domestically abusive relationship. One would not say to an abused woman that she is stupid for finding herself caught in such a predicament. No one enters a relationship knowing that they will be abused and used.
Someone who grew up being abused will not understand how terrible their life was until they get help through therapy. Survivors of such abuse are not stupid. They are victims.
While the abuses, human rights violations, financial fraud and other crimes committed by Scientology are horrible and the Xenu story and promises of Super Powers are indeed crazy, none of this is revealed to potential new members.
Scientology must be stopped, however at the same time those who are trapped in the Sea Org must also be considered with compassion combined with tough love.
Fair Game, disconnection and abuse are evil but those who carry out these policies are conditioned to truly believe they are doing these things to make a better world for all.
Scientologists are people who began with the best of intentions. Good hearted people who have become lost within the darkness of a psychologically manipulative cult.
Why would a woman allow herself to be branded like the victims of NXIVM?
Because they have been brought to a place where they are unable to freely, logically think independently anymore.
Those who are lured into these groups and victimized are not stupid. They are lost and in desperate need of rescue and they do not even know it.
We cannot excuse or accept the bad things they do, however we also need to remember that these are people who deserve help and compassion.
It is a difficult, frustrating, often confusing line, but a line nonetheless that needs to be acknowledged.
Scientologists are taught that the outside world is inferior and filled with terrible people. Were a member to see your comments, they would feel that this teaching was validated and true. Those who may be struggling right now, considering leaving the cult, could be detrimentally affected and change their mind out of fear of hostility and judgment.
I hope that I have, perhaps, given you a different perspective on this issue.
Thank you for your time.
5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Uriah Hall”
All very true (of dark cults) and so well stated. I’ve had family deep in the ISKCON (Krsna) movement and am now being approached by “Avatar” both of which sound(ed) like selfless personal growth models. It is very subtle – and everywhere!
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Another well stated message Stefani. I appreciate what you are doing. God bless you!
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More never – ins need to continue to talk about scientology and the dangers it poses to, well, everyone!. Sometimes the public does not trust the words of those who have left scientology because you are correct: scientology does a REALLY good job at discrediting what escapees have said . By talking openly and freely about ALL the bad that scientology does (and the very little good) instead of making those inside feel ‘stupid’ and embarrassed, we should be embracing those leaving with open arms, no judgement and most importantly with kindness. 🙂
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Well, said, Stefani. I appreciate all that you do!
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Great post! Uriah Hall has talked about his own struggles with confidence and self-esteem and their impact on his athletic career. If he or someone on his team is fortunate enough to read your essay and these comments, I would suggest that they check out Dr. Gabor Maté’s work, as well as the work of Margaret Singer, Robert Jay Lifton, and Steve Hassan, to get some deeper insight into the mechanics of undue influence. Reading the accounts of ex cult members, whether they be blogs, essays, articles, or books, would also help him to empathize with the personal struggles of these people and understand how their vulnerability predisposed them to being duped and manipulated. And, as you noted, people who have never been in a cult, but have in interest in seeing them exposed and neutralized, can get informed about them and educate their friends, families, and associates about the points you articulate.
Thanks for continuing to write about these issues!