Scientology declared that auditing is its “principal religious practice”.
Auditing, in all its forms, is the capstone for all Scientology’s religious claims. Without it one cannot attest to Clear. One cannot move ahead in courses or up The Bridge.
Scientology insists “only auditing provides a precise path by which any individual may walk an exact route to higher states of spiritual awareness.”
It would seem that any individual may not only walk the route, but also guide others along the way to enlightenment.
Children as young as 9 can enroll in auditing training courses.
In the course room they are treated no differently than their adult counterparts. After all, it is a Thetan being trained, not a child.
While minors may make up only a small percentage of trained auditors they do exist.
Chris Shelton, former Scientologist and host of the Sensibly Speaking podcast recalled two young girls, 14 and 15 years old, taking high level auditor’s training. These teens would be expected to know the material and would be prepped to handle any issue that may arise during auditing.
Including any potential sexually explicit material.
Shelton noted that rather than be apprehensive over the idea of young teen girls being trained in such mature, inappropriate subject matter, the adults were impressed and pleased by such precociousness.
Both Chris Shelton and Mike Rinder confirmed that minors who are auditors in training are subjected to one of the most grueling and explicit Scientology practices. The Johannesburg Security Check. (seen here)
“Have you ever raped anyone?
Have you ever been involved in an abortion?
Have you assisted in any abortion?
Have you ever committed adultery?
Have you ever practised Homosexuality?
Have you ever had intercourse with a member of your family?
Have you ever consistently made a practice of sexual perversion?
The Jo’burg Sec Check is an extreme example. However every auditor, minor or adult, has the very real potential of being exposed to such themes in everyday auditing as well.
Mike Rinder has written about this issue in his blog (here) where he writes, “Think about it for a minute. A 9 year old girl could right now be sitting down with a 50 year old man asking him about sodomy or sexual perversions.”
At what point does a “religious practice” become obscenity and thus qualify as abuse?
IS it a religious rite (or Right) for a pre-teen or teenager to be placed in charge of what is essentially a therapy session?
Setting aside the X rated material for a moment, Chris Shelton pointed out that the auditor is 100% responsible for what goes on in the course room.
A Pre Clear could begin climbing the walls, screaming, crying, dancing or experience a psychotic break and whoever is auditing at the time is held 100% responsible.
Can a minor truly consent to such an adult situation?
IS there any circumstance, religious or otherwise, wherein placing such adult matters upon the shoulders of a child is healthy or appropriate?
There is no possible spiritual necessity or justification for this. Rather the potential for mental trauma is real when one places such a burden upon the shoulders of an adolescent.
Seen in this light, auditing’s very real potential for severe psychological injury to those under the age of 18 vastly outweighs any imagined “spiritual advancement”.
During an auditing session, if the scenario Mike Rinder mentioned plays out for example, when held against the legal standards, is it a religious or abusive event?
What constitutes abuse?
“The standard of what is harmful to minors may differ from the standard applied to adults. Harmful materials for minors include any communication consisting of nudity, sex or excretion that (i) appeals to the prurient interest of minors, (ii) is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable material for minors, (iii) and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”
Florida further defines;
(b) “Child abuse” means:
1. Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;
2. An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or
3. Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.
(d) “Mental injury” means injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment in the ability of the child to function within the normal range of performance and behavior as supported by expert testimony.
Given the potential for a minor in Scientology to be faced with detailed sexually explicit material, whether as an auditor or while being audited, the question exists: At what point does a session become obscene or even pornographic in nature?
For a Scientologist it is not enough to confess that one has masturbated. As noted in The Sun’s article about Serge Gill, “Sun Online has also spoken to a total of five former members of Scientology – who made their own allegations – including being forced to undergo sexually explicit ‘confessionals’ about rape and masturbation as children.”
Studies over the past decade link multiple mental health challenges for children exposed to sexually inappropriate/obscene material.
“Exposure or over-exposure can also lead to some symptoms associated with depression and ADHD, symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, or suicidal ideation;”.
It is because of the potential risk for such mental injury to children that Harmful to Minors Laws were enacted.
Vitally important to this discussion is to understand that sexual abuse is not limited to physical contact.
“Non-contact sexual abuse: Not all sexual abuse fits neatly into common legal or psychological definitions. For instance, parents who have sex in front of their children or who make sexually inappropriate comments to their children are engaging in sexual abuse.”
By this definition then, verbal discourse between auditor and Pre-Clear, when one is a minor, during a session that devolves into the descriptive and sexually inappropriate is, in fact sexual abuse.
There can be no doubt that minors in an auditing session can and do become exposed to explicit sexual discussion with adults. With this in mind, the question arises; in what other setting would such conversations be considered appropriate, healthy or acceptable?
Obscenity Laws qualify the material as being for prurient use. Scientology insists the reason for detailed, explicit discussion is for confidential spiritual counseling.
Can Scientology prove that the documentation and storage of their auditing sessions are truly bound by the seal of privacy?
Part 1 of the series can be found here.
In part 3: Clergy/Penitent Privilege, The Conundrum of Mandated Reporting