This is a true story. All the scenes depicted actually happened. The facts and settings are likewise accurate. There are three qualifications to those statements. (1) Some aliases have been used. Those names, and the reason for using them, are indicated in the end notes. Otherwise, all names are real. (2) Dialogue is largely based on memory and may not reflect the exact words spoken. And (3) I have taken literary license to substitute layman’s language for Scientology jargon in some places.
At one time I was Scientology’s No. 1 spy. My code name was “Ritz.” My handler was Scientology spymaster Don Alverzo.
As with any intelligence network, the code of secrecy runs deep. It took the prompting of an editor of my novel Masters of War, for which I used the pen name Conrad John, and unrelenting grief over the loss of contact with my daughter, Angie, to convince me to write this story.
The church has a policy of “disconnection,” a form of shunning. Members, such as Angie, must cut all ties with anyone who has been declared a “suppressive person,” as I was in January 2012, no matter the basis for the declaration, which can be arbitrary. It is Scientology’s form of excommunication. After a year without any contact with Angie, and her refusal to cash a check sent to her as a Christmas gift, I’d had enough. I decided to publicly condemn the destructive policy.
Speaking out, however, has its own consequences. I expect to be vilified for doing so by the current church leader and persons acting under his direction and control, which may deepen the rift between Angie and me. Therefore, I needed to first tell my story, not about the disconnection, but a far more important one that I’d kept to myself so thoroughly I had begun to discount its significance and historical value. After I began writing it, missing pieces of the tale from an unexpected source fortuitously landed in my e-mail inbox. I knew then I had to publish the story, no matter the consequences. Besides, the situation with Angie couldn’t get any worse: she has completely shut me, her mother and her brother out of her life.
The policy of disconnection was initially instituted by L. Ron Hubbard as a common sense expression of a person’s right to be rid of someone in their circle who is causing distress or holding them down. In 1968, Hubbard cancelled the policy “as a relief to those suffering family oppression,” and announced it to Scientologists in Ron’s Journal 68, an annual update to staff members throughout the world.
The policy was reinstated in 1982, however. The circumstances surrounding its reinstatement are controversial. Hubbard’s name was affixed to the re-established policy at a time when he was still alive (he died in 1986), but isolated from church management. His communication channels into the organization were severely limited, and some of the people around him had hidden agendas and were surreptitiously maneuvering the church into the embattled state it is in now. Whatever the circumstances, Hubbard had it right in 1968: the policy causes family oppression and helps create in the general public a disdain for Scientology. The policy should be forever abolished.
The Church of Scientology will never enter the mainstream of society with its current controlling management style and repressive policies. Such practices do not align with the basic tenets of the religion of Scientology, which teach effective communication, honesty, tolerance, and strong family values. Thus, opposing messages are being sent by the church – some attractive, others repugnant.
The church’s public position – that disconnection is voluntary, by choice of its members – is a blatant lie. Every Scientologist knows this. Serious consequences exist for any member who does not completely shun persons who have been declared. A member who refuses to do so can then be labeled “a suppressive person” as well and likewise be expelled from the church and shunned. So the decision to disconnect is only voluntary in the sense that a person “voluntarily” decides to hand over his wallet to a man who holds a gun to his head.
We live in the Information Age. When people hear of a product or service, or of a person or a business, or of any organization, one of the first things they do is search the Internet. Secret policies, practices and histories are no longer easily concealed. The best and only viable policy is transparency. The Church of Scientology, in accordance with the tenets of the religion of Scientology, should be in the forefront of a move toward transparency, not lagging behind, attacking anyone who dares to reveal or attempts to reform its policies and practices.
This book is a plea for rational reforms in the organization’s structure from one-man rule to a system with multiple checks and balances as called for by its founder, and the reuniting of my family and all the other families torn apart by the oppressive policy of disconnection.