An Ex-Fanatic Speaks Out

The Forbidden Side of Scientology

By the Reverend Murray Luther

This is the first entry in a series of reports and commentary on the ever controversial Church of Scientology. I've been a member for roughly thirty years, and as of this writing I still remain in good standing. I've received hundreds of hours of Scientology counseling, and have attained some of the highest spiritual levels that it offers. I've also done significant amounts of training in the delivery of Scientology counseling, as well as courses in the administration of Church management policies. I've been a Church staff member, and have done many hours of volunteer work as a Scientology activist. On top of all that, I'm also an ordained minister. I speak from a wealth of experience.

Murray Luther isn't my real name. For the time being, I've chosen to publish my reports anonymously because Scientologists are forbidden to make public statements regarding Scientology without prior approval from the Church's PR and Legal departments. And saying anything critical about Scientology, the Church, or its founder L. Ron Hubbard only compounds the crime. Because I've chosen to speak candidly about my Church experiences and opinions, I'm committing an offense of the most heinous sort.

In the event that the Church discovers who Murray Luther really is, I'll be expelled from the group and Scientologists will be forbidden to communicate with me in any way. The Church's quaint policy of shunning its dissidents is an outdated and backwards practice that has no place in modern society. Although my excommunication is perhaps inevitable, I'd prefer to initiate my own "coming out" at a time of my own choosing.

For the most part, Scientologists are decent and well meaning people with a sincere desire to help others. But too many times I've seen over-zealous Church staff and management take undue advantage of their own good people. I've come across too many instances of abuse and incompetence that now compel me to speak out. I can no longer sit silently, uninvolved and watch innocent people get hurt.

Although I'm well acquainted with the militant approach of eager Scientologists trying to forward their religion, I believed that in the end, goodness was ultimately served. Not too long ago, I started to have some second thoughts about this. I began to wonder about the human cost, if the ends were actually justifying the means. Even the most noble of causes loses its virtue if you find that your sense of right and wrong has been compromised.

There was a time when I believed Scientology was a benevolent religion dedicated to the good of mankind. While this may in part still be true, in recent years I've had to adjust my view. What I once considered enthusiastic dedication to a worthy spiritual purpose, has taken on the specter of religious extremism. I started to wonder if perhaps the Church of Scientology had stepped over the line.

Dedicated Scientologists are intensely motivated to make extraordinary sacrifices of their time and money - often at the expense of other aspects of their lives. While that alone is hardly a crime, I think it's worth noting that extreme self-sacrifice is a common trait found among many fanatical groups. When Scientologists become zealots, they end up compromising their personal values in favor of what they believe is a greater good: devoting their lives according to the dictates of the Church of Scientology. Consequently, dedicated Scientologists come to view their religion as senior to everything including life itself.

The Scientology zealot serves as an illustrative example of the basic mindset of the religious fanatic, a true believer who's prone towards unusual and excessive behavior. And let's not forget that Scientologists are hardly alone in this single minded zeal towards their religion. Religious extremism is a worldwide phenomenon that both history and current events have shown to be troublesome and at times even destructive.

I avoid calling myself a Scientologist these days. Although there are certain Scientology principles that I still embrace, the thought of being a Church member has become distasteful to me. Frankly, it's gotten embarrassing. Scientologists seem unaware of their own fanaticism and how it adversely affects the public at large. In recent years I've grown weary of discussing Scientology with the general public because it so often involved having to explain and downplay all the anecdotal stories of mistreated people.

I found myself less and less willing to use PR spin to clean up other people's messes. I won't do it anymore. The ends no longer justify the means. Rather than continue to explain away these messes, I've decided to evaluate and discuss them instead. In subsequent reports I'll provide candid analysis of the Scientology movement, past and present, as well as my opinions regarding the Scientology movement.

It's not unusual for the Church of Scientology to attack their critics with accusations of slander, fraud, and various other ungodly deeds. Scientologists like to use words like "religious discrimination," when speaking about their critics. The Church is quick to label their opponents as "anti-religious extremists," and members of "hate groups." Because I now publicly oppose their rigid orthodoxy, I suspect that I might get similar treatment. Such is the price of dissent in Scientology. Such is the arrogance of its Church.

Murray Luther is the pen name of a Scientologist who's been in good standing with the Church for over twenty-five years. (c) Copyright Murray Luther 2004. All rights reserved.