Mike Rinder has teamed up with Leah Rimini on A&E’s Scientology and the Aftermath to expose their (and many others’) truths about Scientology. It is mind blowing. If you haven’t been watching their A&E series, I encourage you to do so. It not only takes you inside the world of Scientology (sea org, the bridge, etc.) but it is the heartbreaking stories of those who have escaped and are fighting for their families.
For me, this series has not only helped me understand more of how people get hooked into Scientology; there are great parallels to how people get hooked on drugs or stuck in abusive relationships. It is NOT ok to simply say, “well they’re stupid, who would fall for that, who would stay in that.” That’s dismissing the pain, the brainwashing, the hell that many are living in. The better angle is to try to understand their plight so you can combat their miseducation with truths, love, and support instead of criticism and judgment.
Let’s take a look at drug addicts, for instance. People often look at addicts and say – why?? Why stay in that life? Who wants to do that? Well you’re right – most don’t WANT to be drug addicts. Most didn’t set out to become an addict. I’ve always said – if the first time a person went to do drugs they had to go down some seedy back alley, go into a drug house full of hookers and fiends, and get drugs from a guy while guns are pointed at them, people probably wouldn’t start doing drugs. But many people’s first time is at a party amongst friends. It seems like fun. It almost seems harmless. Everyone you know and value are doing it, etc. etc. Now, once people get hooked they’ll go wherever they have to go to get their fix. But initially, the packaging was “right.” Just as it’s often “right” for people who ultimately get hooked into abusive relationships, or a cult, or anything else that requires a level of manipulation and brainwashing.
This one woman’s story was soo touching. I can’t remember her name, but her son’s name is Sammy. She joined Scientology in the 70s. She was on her way to a weed party when one of her friends said, “you don’t need to do that, that’s not good for you.” She agreed. She didn’t go to the party and over time she met his friends – Scientology members – and liked their philosophy. A group of people who didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs and were big on self-improvement. At a time when she was yearning for a community, just wanting to belong (what most of us want if we’re honest with ourselves), this group seemed to fit. She ended up rising through the Scientology ranks, also bringing her family into the fold. Over time she was severely, mentally abused. However, she knew that if she walked away from the church she would lose her family so she suffered as long as she could. Once you walk away from the church you are considered an enemy. Your family and friends that remain in the church are no longer allowed to associate with you. Walking away from the church is essentially walking away from your entire life. That is extremely tough. Many people couldn’t fathom or survive it. This poor woman hasn’t seen or communicated with her son Sammy in over three years. It is heartbreaking. And there are many of these stories.
If you are interesting in learning more about the struggles of breaking from Scientology, I would encourage you to start with Paulette Cooper’s writings and explore from there. Explore both sides with logic and an open mind and make your own decisions. My prayer is that if you cross the path of someone who is trying to escape any type of abusive relationship, you will encounter them with a spirit of love, acceptance and assistance instead of criticism. And if you are a person who needs help, I hope you will come to understand that there are resources that can lead to a better way of life.