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An Open Letter from James R. Lewis PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 19 January 2011 20:48

I received the following letter yesterday from James R. Lewis, a religious scholar who has written several papers on the Church of Scientology. I am publishing his article in full without alteration. - Thoughtful

18 January 2011

An Open Letter to:

Scientologists, Ex-Scientologists, and Critics of the Church of Scientology

James R. Lewis

[This letter may be re-posted, as long as it is reproduced in full, without alteration. JRL]

I am an academician and a specialist in the field of new religious movements. Particularly during my early career, much of my research focused on the alternative religions that have been labeled “cults,” and on the controversies in which they have been involved. Though I have sometimes been criticized as a “cult apologist,” in point of fact my views on such groups are nuanced and often critical (in this regard, refer, for example, to my online essay, “Safe Sects?” http://www.religioustolerance.org/safe_sec.htm). It should especially be noted that my views on these matters generally conform to the consensus views of mainstream scholars of new religions (i.e., my views are not unique to me). As an academician, my primary audience has been other academicians. Thus, over the years, I have ignored the often ad hominem criticisms that have been leveled against me online by individuals involved in the cult controversy.

However, two things have happened in recent years that have prompted me to address these matters – particularly as they involve the Church of Scientology (CoS) – in a more personal way: (1) My edited collection on Scientology, published by Oxford University Press in 2009, had the effect of raising my profile in the cult controversy. (2) As the result of the defection of large numbers of upper level Scientologists, the Church of Scientology has received increasing media attention – which has had the effect of calling further attention to my Scientology anthology. Thus it seems that circumstances have been pushing me to set forth some of my views on CoS – both academic and personal – in a public way. Hence the current “open letter,” which I hope will be widely distributed (and not quoted out of context).

I should preface my remarks by noting that academicians are ill-suited to participate directly in public controversies, in part because, as a group, we do not think in sound bites. Also, in almost any controversy, all sides of the conflict tend to boil issues down to black-and-white, good-vs.-evil terms, and sometimes adopt a belligerent attitude of “you’re either for us or against us.” I anticipated this reaction when, in the introduction to the Scientology anthology, I asserted that “This volume will...likely end up pleasing no one engaged in the Scientology/anti-Scientology conflict....”

Predictably, critics trashed the book as a public relations exercise, “obviously” paid for by the Church of Scientology. However – as any informed observer could easily have anticipated – CoS hated the collection, particularly the Xenu chapter, which one of my former contacts in the Church characterized as “blasphemy.” Another chapter described CoS’s attempts to suppress scholarship that the Church viewed as presenting Scientology in a negative light. And there were other critical evaluations peppered throughout the text. But, because the book as a whole was not a negative exposé, many anti-Scientologists dismissed the whole collection as a “whitewash.” For its part, the Church of Scientology soon stopped communicating with me altogether, meaning that I have probably been re-categorized as an SP as a direct result of my book.

In this Open Letter, I will not rehearse the social-scientific analysis of the cult controversy that is the consensus view of mainstream new religion researchers. Rather, I will focus the discussion on my evolving understanding of the Church of Scientology.

Neither I nor the great majority of new religions specialists view ourselves as defenders of groups like Scientology. Rather, we are interested in understanding social-psychological processes and the dynamics of social conflict. The fact that many of our analyses undermine the more simplistic accusations leveled against controversial new religions makes it appear to critics caught up in black-and-white thinking that we have made a conscious choice to defend “cults.” However, to the extent that we have chosen to defend anything, we understand ourselves as defending good science against bad science, and, in some cases, as defending religious liberty against the threat to religious liberty posed by the least sophisticated forms of anti-cultism.

My orientation to the study of new religions is informed by the fact that, for three years in my early twenties, I was a member of a controversial new religion, Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO (I have recently described my defection from 3HO in an online article, “Autobiography of a Schism” http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb03/ivk/mjr/pdfs/2010/articles/lewis_2010.pdf). Though I held certain negative feelings toward my former organization after my exit, these feelings were on par with the feelings one might have about one’s ex-spouse following a divorce (i.e., bad, but not extraordinary). Additionally, I had a number of positive experiences during my term of membership in 3HO that served to balance out my negative experiences.

When I first became interested in the cult controversy as a subject of academic inquiry in the mid 1980s, I was struck by the uniformly negative picture painted by “deprogrammed” ex-members of controversial groups – a picture that contrasted sharply with the mixed evaluation I had formed of 3HO. I suspected these negative evaluations were shaped, at least in part, by the deprogramming experience itself. So I surveyed former members – both deprogrammed and non-deprogrammed – and found that the data strongly supported my hypothesis. (In this regard, refer, for example, to my “Apostates and the Legitimation of Repression,” Sociological Analysis 49:4. 1989, and my “Reconstructing the ‘Cult’ Experience,” Sociological Analysis 42:2. 1986. Parts of these papers reappeared in my Legitimating New Religions. 2003.)

I first made contact with the Church of Scientology during this period for the purpose of locating former Scientologists to whom I could send questionnaires (this never worked out because of CoS’s ill-conceived policy of disconnecting itself from ex-members). A few years later, the Scientology organization became enthusiastic about the conclusions I had reached, and later referred to my research in some of its legal cases – in large part due to the fact that this research called into question the hostile testimony of deprogrammed former Scientologists.

CoS subsequently decided that I was an ‘ally’ (a quasi-technical term within the universe of exotic Church jargon). From that point forward, I was sometimes (but not frequently) asked to write letters of support, usually in response to specific conflicts. I was also once asked to testify as an expert witness in a Scientology court case (to which I agreed, though I never did testify). Additionally, during the years I lived in Santa Barbara, California, I attended various Church events, particularly events at the Hollywood Celebrity Center. Finally, during the ten years I lived in the Midwest, I regularly invited Scientologists from the Chicago Org to speak in my university classes. (As part of my approach to teaching courses on new religions, I invited representatives of many different groups to speak in my classes – not just Scientologists.)

I was, of course, aware of CoS’s unpleasant history, particularly its often vicious attacks on perceived enemies. But, as I got to know Scientologists on a personal basis, I was informed – and came to believe – that the illegal and truly onerous attacks had been discontinued following the dissolution of the Guardian’s Office in 1983. (Unfortunately, the systematic harassment of high-profile ex-members and other critics has become de rigueur in recent years.) And while I disliked certain aspects of Scientology – particularly certain aspects of the Scientology organization – my personal experiences with Scientologists over the course of the past two dozen years have been generally quite positive. As a result of my recent book and as a result of this letter, they may never speak to me again, but I still like and respect almost everyone I knew within the Church.

One aspect of the organization that particularly impressed me was the Church’s social outreach activities, such as the Literacy Crusade and Criminon. Though often dismissed by critics as “front groups,” or as elaborate PR exercises, it is clear that, at Source, these activities are serious enterprises. At several junctures over the years of my acquaintance with CoS, I even requested support for undertaking an academic study of these enterprises. These requests were always denied (for which, in hindsight, I am exceedingly grateful).

I was not prompted to re-think my basic evaluation of the Church of Scientology until relatively recently. This came about as a consequence of several different factors:

(1) The defection of large numbers of long-time, high-ranking Scientologists, who reported intensive abuse at the highest levels of the Church. I am aware that CoS’s position on this has been to deny everything, and to accuse these ex-members of conspiring to concoct a negative picture of events. I find the official response unconvincing.

(2) The sacking of Heber Jentzsch. I knew Heber from when I first began to communicate with CoS in the mid 1980s. I respected him and came to regard him as someone I could trust. Retrospectively, I can now see that my evaluation of Heber significantly shaped my evaluation of the Church. So when he was taken off the front lines and consigned to some dungeon (figuratively speaking) in Gilman Hot Springs, it served to confirm, to my mind, what the high-ranking defectors were saying.

(3) The marketing of “new editions” of L. Ron Hubbard’s basic works. New, slightly “corrected” editions of Hubbard’s basic books have been issued, and Scientologists have been asked to purchase as many sets of volumes as possible so that complete sets can be donated to libraries across the globe. This has been done in the name of the utopian ideal of “clearing the planet.” But placing books in libraries seems an ill-conceived strategy for spreading any sort of message in a digital age. I was a guest at a Scientology workshop not too many years ago where I observed the very hard-sell tactics used to unload these multi-volume sets. It was transparent that this was a fund-raising ploy rather than an effective strategy for disseminating the message. Though I know Scientology has regularly been accused of using unethical methods for raising money, I felt that this was a particularly disingenuous tactic – and yet another symptom of the dysfunctionality of the Church’s top leadership.

This Open Letter is not an apology for anything I have written in the past on Scientology or on the cult controversy. I stand by, and am quite happy with, my body of work up to this point. Rather, in light of new information I have been receiving on the Church of Scientology, there are certain aspects of my scholarship that I would like to clarify and supplement as they bear on the current controversy.

In the first place, I should say that the only article-length paper I have ever written on CoS is my chapter on the growth of the Church in the Scientology anthology. In that piece, I criticized the claim that Scientology was the “fastest growing religion in the world,” but I also painted a picture of an expanding organization enjoying healthy growth. Though the statistics I collected (from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) did not go beyond 2001, more recent data from the 2006 New Zealand and Australian censuses have continued to support this picture.

However, current events have completely overturned my evaluation of the CoS as a rapidly expanding religion. The relatively recent defection of large numbers of long-time, high-level Scientologists – some of the organization’s most experienced administrators and others with expertise in delivering the highest levels of Scientology technology – bodes poorly for the future of the Church. In particular, the pattern of solid growth I analyzed just a few years ago seems suddenly to have ground to a halt.

According to the pseudonymous ‘Plockton,’ who claims to have contacted ARIS (American Religious Identification Survey) researchers directly, the ARIS estimate for the number of Scientologists in the U.S. for 2008 was 25,000. (I referred to ARIS data in my chapter on the growth of Scientology.) This contrasts sharply with the 55,000 figure from the 2001 ARIS survey. (“2008 ARIS Study on Scientology Membership in US – Important Data.” Posted March 28, 2009 at: http://ocmb.xenu.net/ocmb/viewtopic.php?t=30372.) The drop in total numbers was likely less dramatic than these figures indicate (due to sampling issues discussed by Plockton in his posting).

In 2011, there will be new national censuses in the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, all of which will produce figures for total numbers of self-identified Scientologists. So by 2012, it will be relatively simple to contrast these numbers with prior census data. The figures derived from these comparisons will indicate whether membership in the Church of Scientology is growing or declining. Assuming the latter, these statistics should decisively refute David Miscavige’s claim that, under his leadership, CoS has become “the fastest growing religion in the world.”

Secondly, I have seen my research on former members of controversial new religions misrepresented. To clarify what should already have been transparent: The central point of comparison in my several articles on new religion apostates was between deprogrammed ex-members and other ex-members who left their respective movements on their own, without outside intervention. As mentioned earlier, I found a highly significant difference in the post-involvement attitudes of these two sets of apostates, a difference that called into question the veracity of statements made by deprogrammed ex-members about the religious groups to which they had belonged. My questionnaire data had nothing to say about individuals who defected without this kind of an intervention, except that they were likely more objective about their membership period than their deprogrammed counterparts. So, to be perfectly clear: anyone who cites my conclusions about deprogrammees as a way of dismissing the testimony of voluntary defectors – including the testimony of individuals who left the Church of Scientology – is either consciously misrepresenting my work or stupid.

Finally, another criticism leveled against the Scientology anthology was that it should have included a chapter on ex-Scientologists, and perhaps another chapter on the Freezone. I think this is an appropriate critique. I will therefore be undertaking systematic research on former Scientologists and on the Freezone – research that will be reported in future publications. If any ex-CoS members reading this Open Letter think they might be interested in participating in this project, please contact me at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

James R. Lewis


DM's fifth column fails again PDF Print E-mail
Blogs - Thoughtful
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 08:46

Following up on the attack on Marty's website yesterday, now someone going by the name LT has shown his true colors by sending out some idiotic propaganda this morning in the form of an email from " This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ."

He says "We, the Independents, have been deceived." Oh yeah, right... "There is no large-scale independent movement as Marty as tried to sell us." He says he's "really disturbed" because the Indie movement is really only 7 1/2 people using hundreds or even thousands of pen names.

You know, there is stupid and then there is David Miscavige.

There is missing the boat and then there is missing the entire ocean.

Obviously the CoS robots are under orders to not-is the size of the Indie movement because, as per usual, their reliance upon DM's convoluted Frankenfurter brain + his complete inability to select the correct target + the idea that the Indie movement is actually helping people (which drives him wild)... instead of using LRH's Data Series has led them to a wrong Why. Apparently they think the only reason the Indie movement exists is because "We, the Independents" think it is a "big movement."

For once it's actually true that size doesn't matter. The size of the Indie movement is irrelevant. What does matter is our message.

The reason the Indie movement has caught on and continues to grow is because it is based on a correct Why.

The handling for the Church is to blow the whistle on the subversion of the Church of Scientology by a corrupt self-appointed sociopathic dictator. The program is to get in Ethics. The purpose is to reopen the Bridge which has been slammed shut by out tech, out ethics and off policy actions all emanating from David Miscavige.

It all started with Scientology-cult and it continues to grow. Scientology cult was the first application of LRH's multiple viewpoint system where Scientologists could blow the whistle and start pulling the overts (exposing the crimes) of the Church of Scientology. To date, we have impinged and have forced large changes to take place: including getting them to knock off some of the forced abortions, and extortion of ex-staff through illegal freeloader's debts. Yet the organization continues to commit continual new overts daily. So we have a lot more ethics to get in before the this organization shows any faintest glimmer of sanity.

Scientologists have joined the Indie movement because they agree with the purpose as stated above; because they are sick and tired of the abuse and corruption and stealing of their money; and because the fundamentals of Scientology include "doing something about it"; making a safe environment; and having the courage to state what you have observed. Scientology is all about auditing; so we are auditing. It is about truth; so we are simply embracing that.

The Church of Scientology is NOT what LRH envisioned. It is about as off purpose as it could possibly be, handing out free lightbulbs to passers by in San Francisco to lure them in for a "tour." Raping parisioners for every last cent and stealing their children, too. They have no routes for new people in because DM has poisoned the Church's image and because today the Church has failed to deliver so the public stay away in droves. So much so, that now DM orders his Golden Era Productions to hire hundreds of non-Scientology "extras" (actors) to fill in empty seats at the last 2009 IAS Event.

The torch of Scientology and all it represents has passed to Independent hands.


Pour it on! PDF Print E-mail
Blogs - Thoughtful
Sunday, 18 July 2010 21:37

is-fullTruth makes friends in all places. The strongest people in this world -- that's what they stand for.

I received an email today from an individual who has been following our struggle in Scientology-cult, Marty's blog, Jeff's blog, Amy's blog and more.  As she explained, her name is Spike and she posted a song on YouTube to salute the spirit of Independent Scientology and the FreeZone. Although she is not a Scientologist herself, she supports our struggle against Miscavige and so wrote this song, inspired by a phrase in one of the "Little Dickie" stories. I thought it was a terrific work of art and I think you will get a bang out of it like I did so here she is performing "Pour it on":


Spike spoke about the song on her new blog which you can visit here. Here is what she said:

Now that I’ve got a blog of my own, I can post this song I wrote for Marty Rathbun, Mike Rinder, Amy Scobee, Jeff Hawkins, Steve Hall, and all the other Independent Scientologists and FreeZoners. Your struggle has inspired me. Pour it on!

Here’s the lyrics:

Pour It On

Pour it on, pour it on, pour it on, pour it on

As the rushing water wears away the stone,

Pour it on, pour it on, pour it on, pour it on

Wash away the lies and let the truth be shown

From the land of justice flows the river of freedom,

But there’s people banned from drinking there,

Now it’s time to stand and let the cleansing waters of truth flow everywhere


Pour the truth upon the lies and watch them crumble,

Pour on light to chase the dark away,

To the dim confusion, pour out all your knowledge to change night into day


Now it’s time to re-connect the disconnected,

To reclaim our future from the past

Let the time come soon when every single prisoner emerges free at last!


Thank you Spike for setting an awesome example for everyone to follow by showing the world how to POUR IT ON! -- Thoughtful

2010 Independent’s Day Celebration PDF Print E-mail
Blogs - Thoughtful
Wednesday, 07 July 2010 06:28


As announced on Marty’s blog, the first Independent Scientologist wedding was held at Mike and Christie’s house in Tarpon Springs, Florida on Saturday, July 3rd. Mike Rinder was the Scientology minister. It was a joyful occassion to say the least and you will soon be able to watch it yourself on video.


On Sunday, July 4th, was the first Annual Independent’s Day party!  I designed a logo, a flag, and a couple of banners for the occassion. There was a pool party, great stories, great food cooked by Mike and even fireworks. While Jackson and Michael Laws were lighting fireworks, a PI hired by the Church rolled to a stop a few yards down the lane aiming for the fireworks and people who were standing in the middle of the quiet neighborhood street. The PI floored the accelerator. Jackson stood his ground and the PI swerved at the last minute failing to do any damage at all.




Coffee shop protest

So the next morning we all had coffee at Starbucks in downtown Clearwater across from the Flag training building and the Coachman Building on the corner of Ft Harrison and Cleveland.


Secretive Scientology security guards watched from a safe distance. As soon as they saw my camera, they scurried away which got everyone in our crowd laughing. Tiziano walked over and caught them trying to figure out who was present by comparing photos on a clipboard. He said I can tell you who's there. It's not a secret!


Dramatizing the missed withhold of near manslaughter from the night before, OSA took drastic action by demanding an armed SWAT team from Clearwater police... okay, come on I'm joking about the SWAT team, but these total goony birds DID call the police! Can you imagine how insane that must appear to the Clearwater police -- to call the police on a bunch of well dressed people having coffee at Starbucks? Oh, brother. Anyway, a lone officer arrived who pointed out it was not against the law to drink coffee. Jim Logan got in comm with him and he was a sharp and intelligent professional gentleman who clearly understood the real situation. This brings up an interesting situation which is the reality gap. When one refuses to deal in reality... what happens? Well, I'm sure if Rod Serling was here he would tell us that as one journeys into unreality he or she finally arrives at the last waystop: delusion -- as illustrated in the curious case of the Church of Miscavige. In situations like this, when the rest of the world is just dumbfounded at how whacking crazy the Church is acting, the DM-bots are doing high fives -- congratulating themselves for "putting in ethics!" It's no different from some guy just ripping someone apart in the city park... only no one else is there... and giving high fives to a tree. Everyone else is looking at him and thinking "Wow, that guy has been sniffing crazy glue."  The reality gap is getting wider and wider.


Of course we had a good time at our coffee shop protest with plenty of laughter, stories and smiles.



















After the party, those with an early plane went to the beach while others went fishing. At Clearwater beach, the sea gulls swarm around like IAS regs after money.





I noticed that David Miscavige’s intentionally unfinished 12-year building project to scam Church parishioners out of hundreds of millions is still “incomplete” -- why finish it as long as it works as a cash cow?


And downtown Clearwater which once thrived is now largely deserted since no one is allowed to do any shopping. So much for supporting local businesses. Here is what actually happened: (1) Through RTC Reps David Miscavige declared going shopping “out ethics.” (2) By cutting off customers, he starved out local businesses and drove them into bankruptcy, (3) Any liquid cash brought by Scientology public could then more easily be re-routed into the pockets of David Miscavige via the IAS for “urgent Church programs and defense” but really so David Miscavige can live wealthy. Because Sea Org staff and public are not allowed to come and go freely, he is basically a slave-holder shielded by a cloak of religion, dealing in human trafficking and growing rich through extortion.

But alas, Miscavige’s master plan has backfired: the “friendliest place in the world” is a ghost town.


BTW, according to Shelly Miscavige before she “disappeared,” Dave was having an affair with Jenny De Vocht. God, it’s good to be free from that immoral, hellish perversion of everything L. Ron Hubbard stood for.

Written by Thoughtful


Church of Scientology uses "pretexting" to spy PDF Print E-mail
Blogs - Thoughtful
Friday, 02 July 2010 16:55


“1.1 -- Uses sly means of controlling others, especially hypnotism.

“1.1 -- Ingenious and vicious perversions of truth. Covers lying artfully.

“1.1 -- Nullifies others to get them to level where they can be used. Devious and vicious means. Hypnotism, gossip. Seeks hidden control.”
(LRH - Science of Survival)

Ever hear the word “pretexting”?  Pretexting is a ruse where a private investigator lies about his identity or purpose to obtain data about another individual they can use to their advantage. This article is intended to warn you so you are prepared and won’t be caught off guard.

Pretexting is the act of creating and using an invented scenario (the “pretext”) to engage a targeted victim in a way that will likely result in victim divulging information or doing something that gives the other side an advantage. This is often done through a phone call or a text message. Examples to follow.

More than just a lie, it most often involves some prior research or setup and the use of assumed information for impersonation (e.g., date of birth, Social Security Number, last bill amount) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the target.

This technique has been used on myself, and on two other occasions when by a fluke I happened to be standing there: with Mike Rinder and another time Marty.

The ploy is intended to trick you into disclosing information such as your exact location. It’s run by private investigators working for Church attorneys.

A pretexter may use a variety of strategies to obtain personal information. In one scenario, for example, the pretexter might call an individual claiming affiliation with a phone company, survey firm or credit agency. In another scenario, a pretexter might claim to be a customer, client or employee of a company to gain access to phone or electronic records.

My experience

Last month I went to Los Angeles as a witness in an upcoming trial involving the Church of Miscavige

The night before I left, Miscavige wanted to know where I was so made seven pretexting attempts to find out where I was -- four text messages and three phone calls as follows. Now in their case, they mix it up with a little hacking:

7:31 PM 
PHONE CALL from 1 (214) [displaying my own cell phone number so it looked like my own phone was calling me]  TX, USA

7:32 PM
PHONE CALL from 1 (214) [displayed my own cell phone number]  TX, USA

7:33 PM
TEXT MESSAGE from 1 (410) 000-001:
FMR: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
MSG:Your account is over the limit please call 866-377-0940 ext 2592 to resolve this issue if we don’t hear from you the account will be disconnected(End)

7:43 PM
TEXT MESSAGE from 1 (410) 000-002:
FMR: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
MSG:Your account is over the limit please call 866-377-0940 ext 2592 to resolve this issue if we don’t hear from you the account will be disconnected(End)

8:07 PMfake-message2
PHONE CALL from 1 (214) 911-9111  TX, USA
This one I answered by accident. A woman said, “Hi, this is Sarah from the 911

8:09 PM
PHONE CALL from 1 (214) [displayed my own cell phone number]  TX, USA

9:25 PM
TEXT MESSAGE from 1 (410) 000-003:
FMR: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
MSG:Your phone repair is ready for pick up. please call 866-574-9536 ext 2000 thank you for choosing att

At right is a photograph of that last text message I received.

In addition, there were 113 failed attempts to hack into Scientology-cult.com on the same day, a spike.

How stupid is this?

I think I know who they've hired for their PI work. Napoleon Dynamite... who sub-leased the work out to his brother Kip... who in turn gave the job to his moron Uncle, the one who lives in an old van. I mentioned by sheer cooincidence I happened to be standing with Mike and later with Marty when the Church pulled the same stunt. But how do I know for sure it was the Church? Well, when it happened with Mike, I took a photograph of his phone.

You'll note the phone number is the SAME.



Written by Thoughtful

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An answer to the corrupt monopoly of Scientology

This website is a simple answer to those who tried to monopolize and corporatize spiritual freedom: An open gateway dedicated to helping people move up to higher levels of awareness and ability under their own steam.

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31 Factors for Scientologists to Consider

The Pertinent Manifesto"Scientology has been taken over by a self-appointed dictator, David Miscavige, who has turned the Creed of the Church of Scientology, the Code of a Scientologist, and the Credo of a True Group Member on their heads and instituted the virtual practice of Reverse (Black) Dianetics..."  Learn More...

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