An Offer You Just Can’t Refuse

Columbus, OhioAn enterprising tipster passed on this e-mail invitation, which broke records in all sorts of ways for the lamest e-mail from the cult in a while. It even surpasses the single-question e-mail I highlighted a while ago that promised oodles of miracles in two short sentences, but this one does fall woefully short in the area of grandiose promises.

As short as the e-mail is, the analytical conclusion at the end suggests that something so brief can actually be quite revealing about how things are going inside the cult at the moment.

The Smoking Gun

Here is the e-mail received by my tipster, in its entirety.

From: "Stan Booth" <sbooth@asho.org>
Date: Dec 7, 2013 11:43 AM
Subject: Hi from Stan ASHO
To: <An enterprising tipster>

HI <Enterprising Tipster>,

Do you come by the Columbus org much? I am setting up a
Christmas banquet that you are invited to.

L, Stan ASHO
Citizens search desperately for parking so they can take courses at the Columbus org. Obviously, they are not fully in touch with their OT powers yet since they haven't "postulated" a parking space right in front.

Citizens search desperately for parking so they can take courses at the Columbus org. Obviously, they are not fully in touch with their OT powers yet since they haven’t “postulated” a parking space right in front.

It turns out that there are no non-stop flights from the city where my tipster lives to Columbus.  Of course, there aren’t a lot of direct flights from anywhere to Columbus other than a couple of major airline hub cities like Atlanta and Dallas.  Hell, there are only a couple of nonstops from New York City to Columbus on any given day.  It appears that the only reason for anyone to go to Columbus is because they have to go there, not because they want to. So for my tipster to answer quite truthfully that no, he doesn’t come by the Columbus org much, is kind of obvious.

Given the airline situation with no non-stop flights, my tipster figures that he would have to spend the better part of an entire day traveling to get to this mind-blowing gala holiday event and then most of another day getting back. Never mind about the regging that’s sure to be a big part of this festive event; spending top dollar to get last-minute airfare to spend two days attending an event where he’ll be served mediocre catered food and regged for everything he’s got just somehow doesn’t seem like a great idea at any time of year, much less so close to the holidays that the airways will be jammed with snot-nosed kids flying to see the grandparents, kicking the seat back constantly, whining about whether we’re there yet, and all the other stuff that makes me glad that we in Global Capitalism HQ don’t have to fly commercial any more.

Sea Org vessel "Thetan One" docks on the Ohio River prior to unloading its cargo of Sea Org missionaires sent in by David Miscavige to get the stats "straight up and vertical" before the advertised Christmas banquet.

Sea Org vessel “Thetan One” docks on the Scioto River prior to unloading its cargo of Sea Org missionaires sent in by David Miscavige to get the stats “straight up and vertical” before the advertised Christmas banquet.

The other really interesting thing about this is that the e-mail comes from a fairly senior official at ASHO (American Saint Hill Organization), an “elite” org that is supposed to be all about higher-level training.  But having an upper level org sending out fund-raisers to get people to come to cities far outside their usual orbit for a Christmas banquet, rather than having the local org staff themselves send out the invitations, just smacks of desperation.

I talked to a source who’s familiar with life in the Columbus org, and he pointed out that Columbus is struggling even more than the average Scientology org these days. The population of the Columbus combined metro statistical area is 2.35 million.  Assuming 15,000 Scientologists in a total US population of 310 million, you’d expect to see a grand total of 113 Scientologists in the greater Columbus area.  And if you assume 25 of those are staff, you get a grand total of 85 card-carrying public. According to my local expert, the only reason that Cincinnati (just 100 miles down the road) is doing better, with its own recently opened Ideal Org, is that the husband-and-wife team running the Cincinnati org had much better fundraising success due to their personal efforts. With a weaker management bench, the slightly larger Columbus area just isn’t moving the needle.

Analytical Conclusion

There is a point to all this that goes well beyond the quest for a couple mildly funny chuckles to be had at the cult’s expense.

The fact that higher-level orgs are working to produce events for local orgs and to get people from ludicrously inappropriate locations to come to them is a further leg down in the decay of the Class V org system.  As various commenters have noted before, it appears that, once again, Miscavige is sacrificing the periphery of the empire to protect what have previously been the more profitable parts of the business, most particularly, the courses and auditing offered at Flag, the “Mecca of technical perfection.”

But if Miscavige is willing to sacrifice the “outer” orgs to protect the “senior” orgs, why is he having senior staff at the “senior” orgs put on events (note that the e-mail said that author Stan Booth is “setting up” a banquet, not just inviting people to a banquet). In other words, it sounds like Stan at ASHO is in charge of the event, not just using his mailing list to get people to come.  Somebody who ordered him to do this must think producing an undistinguished local event in a second-tier market is the most profitable use of Stan’s time.  So that means that ASHO is hurting for business as well, probably because their business has been cannibalized by Flag.

The other relevant point is that if there’s no one in the Columbus org who can be trusted with responsibility to plan and execute a fairly simple event, then it is possible that the cult is hemorrhaging trained staff at a sufficiently rapid rate that they simply don’t have anyone locally who can put on an event.

And that, in turn, is a hint that at least some parts of the cult are coming close to the brink.  In my (as yet unpublished) “cult collapse scenario,” I note that the cult can (and it certainly has) continue operating for quite a long time without new recruits, and they can continue to operate for a long time with a diminishing pool of existing members. But one thing they cannot operate without is enough staff to keep the doors open.

One of the way the cult has been trying to keep the doors open after massive native staff defections is to hire people from outside the US and bring them in on a “religious worker” visa.  That works well enough for jobs at Flag, say, where they don’t need to have great English skills to wash dishes in the restaurant, etc.  But when you’re in a local org, at least some percentage of the staff needs to have enough English language skills to negotiate with vendors, to handle such things as setting up catering services, which could involve fairly complex menu choices.  That’s not the sort of thing you can expect someone fresh off the boat to master all that quickly.  So if the Columbus org is running out of native English speakers on staff, that suggests that the usefulness of the foreign staff project may be reaching its end.

But keep in mind: this is a single data point, and the analytical conclusions based on a single data point could very well be wrong.  So I’m treating this discussion as a hypothesis of what might be happening, rather than as definite assertion that this is happening.  It would be really helpful if we all keep our eyes out for data points that either confirm or reject any of the potential conclusions here.

72 thoughts on “An Offer You Just Can’t Refuse

  1. Michael Leonard Tilse

    Hi John,

    I think that this email might not be laden with as much significance as you think.

    In the sea org, there are the upper level orgs, ASHO, AOLA, Celebrity Center, Flag, etc.

    In each of these orgs, and for a long time, have been what are called “Tours Registrars.” A Tours Reg’s job is to travel to lower level orgs and missons and troll the field there, including staff, to get them to sign up and commit to coming to ASHO, or whatever, after they get finished at the local org.

    Typically there is some small ‘event’ or talk where the tours reges talk about the wonderful upper org and all the unique services there and the friendly atmosphere, yada yada yada. They dress to impress and give the sea org ‘competence’ the hard sell.

    They get lists of current local scientologists from the local regs and interviews are scheduled with them, personal contacts are made. The local scientologists are signed up for their Saint Hill Special Briefing Course, or “Special case debug” or some other upper level service. They get a commitment and perhaps a down payment or even a paid in full for a service. AOLA would reg for OT levels, Clearing Course, OT Preps, all their special services. Flag the same way.

    So a “Christmas Banquet” would be arranged for by the reg working at ASHO, but he would get the local org staff to do all the setup arrange for refreshments and all that. The Local orgs do this because it pulls in people who have drifted off-lines and they get a crack at them too. It would be all arranged and then the tours reg team, (usually two or more) flies out to the org and does the dog-and-pony-show for two or three days.

    Well done, these tours can sign up thousands of dollars in services advance payment and ‘re-vitalize’ local org public on ‘getting up the bridge.’ it makes the sea org and the upper level orgs more ‘real’ to the lower org public and staff.

    The tours are also where the sea org members on tour have interviews with potential recruits. They will always try to sort through likely public and try to convince them they should do the best thing for scientology and the planet and themselves by joining the sea org.

    There is usually tacit agreement that current ‘paying public’ on current services and current staff are off limits for sea org recruitment. But staff toward the end of their local contracts or young people with not too many resources or the children of older scientologists are prime targets.

    I was recruited into the sea org by just such a tour. It was IIRC, Ruthie Silverman and Bob Harvey from ASHO.

    As to the promo going to someone far from Columbus, it could be that the person had moved, or they were sending emails to ‘everyone’ in order to score a few hits. If that person had ever had ANY association with Columbus org, then they would be on the contact list. I don’t think it is a sign of desperation when the normal actions could explain it. There is essentially no labor costs to the sea org, so there is no need to be targeted or efficient with promo.

    This seems to me just regular ‘plunder the local orgs for people to move onto their next service and recruit more staff’ operation done by sea org orgs.

    Flag has their ‘world tour’, AOLA tours, ASHO tours, Freewinds tours, IAS Membership tours, Super Power tours, CST tours, etc. There was always some kind of ‘event’ or something going on.

    Sea org staff there for other kinds of missions are always looking for recruits and that info is forwarded back to special ‘recruiters’ who’s job it is to sign up staff.

    This was all the normal flow of recruitment and local org events and tours for as long as I was in scientology.

    Reply
    1. John P.

      Michael, thanks for your perspective.

      On the one hand, there are all these operations that I didn’t know about before to use people from upper level orgs to get people into lower-level orgs for whatever reason. It sounds like a potentially more effective process (when done right) than what it appeared from the lonely e-mail that I received.

      On the other hand, the e-mail is still a pathetic example of an invitation to an event. First, it went to someone who is completely out of the candidate pool. My tipster got the biggest kick out of getting an invitation from somewhere he’s never been.

      Second, it didn’t explain anything about the event other than “Christmas banquet.” So if it were all this razzle-dazzle like you explain, why on earth would they keep it under wraps? Why not a nice photo ad like Tony’s doing in the Sunday Funnies, even if it’s one re-used from another event and another org? Given how easy it is to do high-quality color images these days, they almost have to go out of their way to come up with e-mails that are this lame.

      Separately, the fact that these guys on tour are constantly looking for people to join the Sea Org sounds skeevy beyond belief. I get the image of Jerry Sandusky and some of his friends checking out the kids for their after-school programs.

      Reply
  2. Michael Leonard Tilse

    Re: Immigrant staff on religious worker visas.

    I think this is almost exclusively sea org organizations. I really doubt the local Class V orgs do any of this. They don’t have the time or the resources to do this kind of stuff. I could be wrong.

    Reply
    1. John P.

      I have heard of foreign workers at orgs including NYC, but I don’t have enough data to know just how widespread the practice is.

      Reply
      1. Michael Leonard Tilse

        Me either. I suppose it could be a way to get cheap, uncontaminated staff who are unexposed to the entheta so common in the US.

        Or, might be a dumping ground for those sea org from other countries who can’t stay in the s.o. so they go to lower orgs rather than losing their visa.

        But remember, there are a number of posts in lower orgs that are sea org members only: LRH Comm, Flag Rep, FBO(flag banking officer), and probably most OSA DSA posts.

        It’s probably a combination of all three. I’ve been out of the orgs for over 10 years so I haven’t seen it.

        Reply
      2. Drat

        Those foreign workers may be SO staff, likely there to keep the doors open. At one Ideal Org I know, all contracts were signed at more or less the same time and so expired at more or less the same time. The staff who hadn’t blown by then didn’t renew, and the org practically collapsed.

        Reply
      3. Scooter

        Sydney and Melbourne org.s here in Oz both use Taiwanese on religious visas as slave labour. They are supposedly supported by the orgs but end up either going back to Taiwan (and then “having a Freeloader Bill to pay”) or working for pennies for some sciloon with a cleaning company or some such. Otherwise they can’t eat on staff “pay,” let alone pay rent, buy clothes etc etc..

        There’s horror stories out there about this but the govt. departments neglect it here in favour of the sexual slavery cases for some stupid reason.

        Reply
  3. Unloyalofficer

    I know Stan. He is an “advance man” been doing it for years, he is actually pretty low on the org board. Stan’s a pretty sincere decent guy, been in the Sea Org most of life. His wife divorced him when she left the RPF. He must be in his 50s by now. Spending his whole life in SCN. I did some advance man duties for AOLA back in 03-04, and worked with Stan some, it was actually pretty fun being an advance man actually, a lot of nice perks go with it, sure you had to survive on fast food, and Starbucks, sweet talk the holiday inn staff to giving you a nice rate, so you don’t sleep at the motel 6, but you got independence, made your own hours, slept in, shoot I even went clubbing a times. Much better than dealing with PAC and was fortunate to not have to spend much time there.
    I was going to add more about tours but Mr. Tilse did a fantastic job of conveying what I wanted to say on the tours.

    Reply
    1. Scooter

      This is starting to make sense (if anything in this toxic cult ever does.) If Stan’s an advance man, since when did a Christmas banquet become a Tours event? And he’s obviously got soooo few names to call for it that he’s trying people who live absolutely nowhere near Columbus. And, as I said earlier, there’s no “bait” for the Tours reges to follow up on here, like “a Class IX auditor to interview you” or “a free session with a Flag-trained ….”

      It really does smack of desperation to get “bodies” to a “banquet” and Stan’s gonna get heavily sec-checked and possibly RPFed unless he gets those stats up – without him getting the bodies there, the reges can’t get any money and obviously ASHO’s doing it VERY tough when their advance man is clutching at these sort of straws.

      I’ve sec-checked Tours folk before when I was at FSO and they do have a better life than those stuck at the base, but they certainly get hauled over the coals when they no longer bring in the bucks. I know one girl got RPFed not for “crimes” but just down-stats – anything else gotten was just to justify her RPF assignment.

      Reply
  4. Drat

    I agree with Michael to not read too much into it. Besides the Tours aspect, SO staff have been bypassing Cl.V staff since forever. I regularly get e-mails from all sorts of orgs asking all sorts of inane questions (well, lately I seem to have “fallen” off some mailing lists).

    What I find more telling is the way e-mails are written. Not this one, but I got an e-mail from the ED of my local org recently, and she sounded so dispirited. She’s been the ED for 20 years or longer, and she seemed to be struggling to put on a brave face and find something nice and encouraging to say. She’s always been such an upbeat lady I found the change startling, and will be keeping an eye on it.

    Maybe lack of money will break the organisation, but I doubt it. This group has survived because of people’s sheer will and determination. Their loss of faith, hope and dawning understanding that they have been had is what will end this, faster than we think.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      “Their loss of faith, hope and a dawning understanding that they have been had is what will end this, faster than we think.”

      This is my read too…the spirit of the remaining staff will disappear before the stockpiled money. That spirit has been deteriorating for some time.

      Were Miscavige to be arrested or leave for any reason at all, it will create an implosion and collapse. The church will not vanish, but it will be diminished almost beyond recognition.

      And I’m not giving Miscavige “credit” for keeping the church going. Its just that he is almost the last visible executive remaining from the days when the whole organization was relatively healthy and objectively growing. Folks that do not want to admit that Miscavige is evil (even to themselves) still hope that everything is going to turn out OK, but doubts seems to be growing everywhere.

      When Miscavige exits, the still faithful won’t be able to fool even themselves any longer. There is no one waiting in the wings to replace Miscavige. Everyone who could has fled for their lives, is too old or has been neutered in The Hole.

      There may be an attempted “truth and reconciliation” effort after his departure to try and figure out WTF happened. There may even be some sort of attempt to cobble together a management council to rescue what’s left of the church. But the folks on board today (mostly) do not have any meaningful management background from the outside world. They look to the Hubbard’s “policy” garbage for everything, or wit to be ordered by someone else. I don’t think there is enough intellectual horsepower left in the organization to reorganize and move forward in any effective manner.

      Add to the above the completely broken brand (as viewed by the general public) and I expect some sort of court appointed Special Master being assigned to account for and distribute whatever assets exist to various stakeholders, following a long, painful and ugly series of civil (and possibly criminal) trials.

      Reply
      1. Drat

        Bird of a feather flock together, as they say. My (admittedly esoteric) theory is that those who still need the experience will continue it. If you have been watching the South African blog and comments there you will have noticed several people voicing the desire to do it all over again, “only this time without the bad stuff”. They don’t seem to be aware of what they sound like, even now. You find this more or less throughout the indie field. They were unable to/preferred not to organise in the past due to litigation/lack of manpower. They may reorganise with a network character to continue to run each other’s lives and ensure right conduct in members. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

        They may limp along quite successfully. With the official church going down in a blaze of litigation and bad PR, it may be easier to claim they are the good guys, and there are always people willing to dabble. I’m pretty certain they will end up in the same place, sans the exorbitant prices. A vicious lot out to control you under the guise of help.

        Of course, LRH’s convincing and demonstrable return would change everything. We’d have the new Buddhism on our hands.

        Reply
        1. Missionary Kid

          I predict that if they do it all over again, “only this time without the bad stuff”, they’re going to end up disagreeing among themselves which elements are “the bad stuff” because they don’t have a dictator to determine it and hold them together with threats.

          Reply
          1. Drat

            I think there are one or two quite eager to be urged to be unwilling takers of the crown. I guess they need it. Maybe it will be a Holy Roman Empire of little Scientology Kingdoms and Duchies, each a lord or lady in his own castle, in a game to see who’s the rightest of them all. Now my bitterness is showing through…

          2. Anonymous

            The way what passes for “policy” in the church is currently written, it really cannot operate with a top tyrant in charge. All the executive “strata” and AD Councils in the world can’t facilitate the ugliness necessary to make the beast breathe.

          3. Missionary Kid

            The fighting that will take place over who is the true Pope of $cientology will cause those kingdoms to dissolve as well. They won’t have the financial wherewithal to hold up or engage in anything but a self-destructive fight.

            Once people leave, there will always be a hard-core group unwilling to recognize the a $cientology is one big con, but the great majority, once out of the clutches of Co$ will have the blinders removed, and understand how restricting to the mind it is. They will not want to have anything to do with a resurrection of $cientology.

          4. Drat

            I hope you’re right.

            Edit. I came across a thread from 2008 on ESMB or OCMB today. They were saying “soon, it’s got to collapse, someone has to sue DM for assault and battery, it’s going to be soon”.

            Yeah, any time now. I realise we’re in it for the long haul, like LRH said 😉

          5. Missionary Kid

            I doubt that someone will do that soon. COB has too many brainwashed minions who will be willing to testify that DM didn’t lay a hand on them. Co$ is very experienced at perjury and confabulation and making someone look crazy.

            Back to the topic of who will wear the crown. How much love, or even like do you have for $cientology? Even if would stake a claim for some belief in LRH’s writings, you aren’t willing to have someone else be the arbiter of what is right, are you?

            I maintain that whoever wears a crown for a duchy of a segment of Clamland, is going to find it pretty much empty.

          6. Drat

            To determine what is “right” in Scientology would require a thourough hands-on understanding of all aspects and that one had studied hundreds of hours of lectures and read tens of thousands of pages (R&D vols, Red vols). I don’t have that background, so of necessity would need to rely on someone else being the arbiter. The person who’s decision I would trust at present would be Marty’s, as so far he has not been inclined to force compliance with his views on it, nor has he been too concerned with how others lead their lives. (He is doing this anyway, and doubtless other people will do the same with a different take.) There are some in the indie field who seem overly concerned about people’s right conduct, a trait found in extremist groups and fanatics (and neighbouring elderly ladies aka as Dragon Ladies).

            I would be interested in an unbiased examination of auditing without any expectations and ignoriing all claims, to learn what it actually does, if anything.

            I get angry and sad when I watch indies perpetrate the hypocrisy. Ironically, it upsets me that they stick their noses into other people’s business, when I am doing just that by being upset about it.

            I feel nothing re the tech, neither loyalty nor faith, love or hate. I would like to see the corporate structure go, and don’t wish to witness the infighting and superciliousness among indies. That I will turn away from. I do not have a stake in this, other than that I am still searching for ways to let it go. It has cost enough of my life already.

          7. Missionary Kid

            I’m just a personality on the internet. Please take this as unsolicited advice. Use as discard it as you wish. I won’t be offended if you blow me off.

            I have never been in, however, I do have experience with (and I was unaware of it at the time) an offshoot of Dianetics. The process I used was co-counseling, and what we did was called auditing, however, no e-meter was used, there was no set list of questions, and in using the process, I was in charge of my own process.

            The focus was for a person to reveal one’s own feelings, and thus liberate one’s self from the negativity associated with past events. I functioned both as an auditor and as the person being audited. Sessions were an hour long, with half the time functioning as the person talking, and the other half as an active listener who kept the talker speaking about feelings. If they seemed to be avoiding a subject, it would be pointed out, but if they said they didn’t want to talk about something, it was not pursued. Nothing was written down, confidentiality was emphasized, and contact outside of counseling was discouraged. It was nearly free.

            The organization that it was done through was called Reevaluation Counseling, and I found out recently that the founder was a franchise holder for Dianetics who was removed by LRH. I knew none of that when I was involved.

            It has been labeled a cult, and charges that criticism of the founder or the process are supposedly suppressed. When I was involved, I barely knew who the founder was, and didn’t care. I looked on the theories it was based on as simply a framework, and not as fierce dogma. Maybe the group I was involved with was loose.

            The auditing I did helped me get rid of the anxiety and pain that surrounded some devastating events.

            I also have experience with professional counselors, psychs, if you will. Everything from psychiatrists to social workers who were trained in counseling.

            I would say, however, that a trained professional is far better at focusing my mind to the changes that I needed to make. I have also worked for a county mental health – not as a counselor, and it was in alcoholism. I’ve also read research on counseling. The most important characteristic is the empathy of the counselor. It doesn’t matter what their degree is in.

            My opinion is that the reason that LRH was so intent on attacking psychs is that they are far better at helping a person than $cientology. The whole attitude towards drugs that $cientology has was somewhat justified in the 1950s given the crude drugs available.

            The technology that LRH based his theories on could be characterized as like the use of a telegraph. This, however, is the internet age. We don’t just transmit words a letter at a time, we can communicate with voice and video to each other. The same is true of the drugs available. They are not a panacea, and they often have side effects that are undesirable, but they are far more effective than anything that could be envisioned by Hubbard.

            The drugs available today, however, have subtle effects that should be monitored by a shrink. They are very individual acting. What works for one person may well not work for another. They are not a panacea.

            In terms of seeing a counselor, I consider myself a consumer of services, and, as such, that I am in charge of who I see. There are good psychs, better ones, and some not so good. It’s up to me to choose. If I’m not getting results from what I’m doing, I need to change my psych. A good one will challenge me to take steps to change my behavior. A bad one will try to push me into a box or a particular way of thinking.

            As far as I’m concerned, if standing on the corner naked and dumping bat guano one’s head helps them out and it doesn’t harm them or others, that’s fine with me. Scientology, IMO, tells people how good it is at solving your problems and has them declare it at the end of any sessions. It also harms people financially and psychologically.

          8. Drat

            I am in touch with a therapist, seen him a couple times. I guess I’ve been avoiding the issues with many handy excuses (money needed for other emergencies). Thanks for your advice, I’ll take the hint and ask to see him in January.

          9. Missionary Kid

            I’ve just discovered that there are several different groups that espouse Reevaluation Counseling. I could well have been involved with one of the offshoots.

            The entry in Wikipedia that you get depends on whether you spell counseling with one or two l’s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reevaluation_counselling is the entry for general co-counseling.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reevaluation_counseling send you to the entry on the founding group of RC

            It was 20 years ago that I was using it. I could well have been involved with an offshoot group.

          10. Drat

            Funny, how many lives this has touched. I never learned much about offshoots. Curiosity would have been smothered in the fear of squirreled tech and subsequent ostracism. Now I’m happy to stick with my talk therapist and watch things from afar.

        2. Anonymous

          The total body of work that represents Hubbard’s writings on the topic of Scientology is such a bizarre collection of contradictory thoughts and impulses that its is really hard to make any kind of broad statement that might tie it all together.

          I like these quotes from Justice Latey in the famous 1984 England High Court ruling:

          “Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious…. In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous.

          It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has as its real objective money and power for Mr. Hubbard, his wife and those close to him at the top.

          It is sinister because it indulges in infamous practices both to its adherents who do not toe the line unquestioningly,
          and to those who criticise or oppose it.

          It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn
          from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.”

          The above is pretty good consolidated view on the church’s more obnoxious practices.

          This quote below, from California Superior Court Judge Breckenridge, speaking of L. Ron Hubbard, in a different 1984 decision provides some insight into the source of the problem:

          “The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements. The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness and aggressiveness
          against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile.”

          If Ron does come back [ 😉 ] he definitely has some explaining to do.

          Reply
          1. Drat

            Yes, reading those two excerpts saddens me. It is a shame it didn’t end there.

            Former members will carry on and are already doing so. You can’t stop them. We can only hope they will be more honest about results and only target consenting and infomed adults.

          2. Anonymous

            What is sad is that one can go to almost any point in the church’s history and find multiple examples of egregious lies and abusive behavior, deliberately implemented to further the hidden goals of the tiny few at the top, yet the minions below carry on wondering why the church is always being “attacked.”

          3. Drat

            They continue to believe the lie that SPs want nothing more than to destroy mankind’s only hope, a lie that is backed up by the tantalising (paraphrase) “only piece of OTVIII data to be made public”, namely that a person dramatises a failed purpose. Thus those persons trying to stop Scientology are really people who in some longe forgotten eon had failed in the attempt to free thetans and are now trying to entrap them. So the people “out there” are deluded and in need of help and know not what they do.

            Earlier this year I stumbled across a copy of David Mayo’s Ability Center magazine online. Change the names and dates and it could’ve been recent instead of 30 years old. But when you’re “in” you don’t know you’re walking on a well-worn path.

            As I’m sure you realise.

  5. Eclipse-girl

    This is OFF TOPIC , and perhaps not my best.

    When you do not post John P., I am here multiple times a day refreshing, hopeing for a new piece.

    You have made me addicted in a very short time.

    Congratulations, I really mean it. Most of us are addicted to this place and understand the demands on your life mean you can not do this daily, but I really have a hard time with the weekend withdrawal.

    Reply
    1. John P.

      That is very kind of you to say that. I should have posted something to let you know I needed a night off. Due to bad weather in NYC and a few other things going on, one night off quickly became four.

      Reply
      1. Eclipse-girl

        You do so much when you analyze the various lines of information that you have access to

        If you need the rest, if you personal jet has to deal with weather or super model #1 needs some reassurance, we understand.

        I will stand up in the meeting and admit to being addicted.

        Reply
      2. WhereIsSHE

        I was in NYC this weekend, and I can attest to the conditions and the difficulties they presented.
        Beyond the fact that it was a SIGNIFICANT (annual) weekend in the CITY for lawyers who are in a certain SOCIETY (*deal making time*)…
        It was a crazy, SNOWY, WINDY MESS!!!
        Just walking a block was bizarre for this time of year, and that’s from a rather pampered perspective.

        Glad you weathered whatever storms arrived your way since my last visit.

        Keep up the stellar work.
        xoxo
        WIS

        Reply
        1. John P.

          I can only imagine. The gala Federation of Ruthless Courtroom Predators annual holiday bash must have been quite the shindig, even if all of you together couldn’t figure out who to sue for the bad weather! :-)

          Reply
          1. WhereIsSHE

            More like several high end events, any of one which would put those ridiculous scilon galas to serious shame.(It is near impossible to fathom how those who attend do not see how stuck in the mid ’80s those events are! Sort of like 1985 is calling: it wants it’s garrish prom night back!)

            And I should have been accurate in my description: far more than just lawyers in attendance.

            http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/12/pennsylvania_society_2013_rife.html

  6. KJP in Portland

    Thetan One is obviously not a seagoing vessel. A 40 knot wind would blow that thing on its side. Therefore, it’s gotta be for river use only, and a calm river at that (remember, we have rivers as big as the Mississippi out here, and have seen 5′ wind waves on them).It looks pretty hokey too :)

    Reply
    1. John P.

      Given some of the stories about Hubbard’s adventures sailing the Apollo and the rest of his motley fleet, it appears they were not exactly seagoing vessels either. It’s a miracle they didn’t get themselves killed.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I’ll have you know the Royal Scotman (sic) was one of the finest cattle ferries ever to float the Atlantic.

        How dare you insult its majestic hulk!

        Reply
    2. Kitz

      I’ve read the tales of those not so lucky going over the Columbia’s bar, and I’ve seen those waves at Astoria more than once! I’m not sure you could pay me enough to go out from Astoria…..

      Reply
  7. Science Doc

    I’m traveling around Australia on a mix of business and pleasure. Today I’m in the downtown central district of one of their larger cities. Very nice and very livable. Only complaint is that their dollar has caught up with the US dollar. I’ve finished my meetings for the day and looked at going out to the local org to take some photos. It is not close or in what I would call the best part of town, so I think I’ll play tourist instead.

    Reply
  8. Still_On_Your_Side

    That invitation comes across as unwelcoming. It certainly would not cause me to go out of my way to get fed, even if I was very hungry. In fact, it is almost passive aggressive: “if you are really, really alone on Christmas, and you just happen to be in Columbus, I am putting together a banquet, and, I guess, we could fit you in.” Every recent church leaflet, promo or brochure comes across as either flatter and flatter each week, or more and more manic. Either way, I think it’s a safe bet to say that the mood of the church must be unstable.

    Reply
  9. OrangySky

    Great post, great comments.
    Whether or not this is a sign of anything, it’s a pretty pathetic excuse for an “invitation.” It’s so unenthusiastic and offhand – though perhaps a welcome break from the multiple exclamationitis that afflicts so many of the CO$ communications these days.
    I love that you put these things together, John P. Just a little sliver of an email like this may not mean much statistically, but metaphorically, it’s a sliver of a glimpse into the cult’s decline.

    Reply
  10. Scooter

    I think the most significant thing about this email is that it seems to follow the Hubbard advice of what to write to someone in Central Files when you’re trying to “get in comm” rather than the usual SO “come to this event or we’ll find your Ethics Why.”

    There’s no “bait” – like “a Class IX Auditor to interview you,” nor some local OT VIII “OL” who’s doing a talk. Nor is here any mention of GAT II. It’s unusual, to me at least.

    While Michael is right about Tours etc. pillaging lower orgs for everything they can, this isn’t the usual promo for such an event. This is the sort of promo I’ve seen used here in Oz in the past when they just couldn’t get customers anywhere near the front door and they had to try to actually talk to people rather than just order them.

    I’d love to know what Stan Booth from ASHO’s post is – that’d be info that would really help analyze this message’s import.

    Reply
    1. Galactic Patrol

      Stan Booth is an Advance Man for ASHO Tours. Which means he’s the guy who shows up and gets the staff briefed about the coming ASHO Tour and then he spends his entire day sending out stupid emails like this when he can’t reach people on the phone, to get them to come to the ASHO event.

      Reply
  11. Missionary Kid

    Here’s your chance to express yourself in an unscientific survey regarding the various outcomes that are possible in the lawsuit of Mosey Rathbun vs. David Mi$cavige and the various Scientology sock puppets that he controls.

    Since this poll uses Disqus, you can up-vote on as many outcomes you think are the correct ones, but you will only be able to vote once on each one. Down-votes will not be counted.

    I’ve anchored the survey at http://tonyortega.org/2013/12/15/sunday-funnies-scientology-celebrates-the-holidays/#comment-1167327042 Have fun. One nice thing about Disqus is that you can see how other people voted.

    Reply
  12. Derek

    I have additional information that might affect the conclusion to your analysis. Every Sea Org member in a Scientology Organization that delivers services directly to Public Scientologists is required to meet a weekly quota to a statistic called “Letters Out”. This is in addition to the statistic assigned to their regular position. Sea Org members are desperate to get that statistic up as much as they are their other, regular one.

    That’s why the short, one-line letters. It’s about quantity not quality, as directed by Hubbard. Direct quote, “Outflow is holier and more remunerative than inflow.” The quality of the letters being written, according to Hubbard, has no significant impact on the results they produce. Just the mere fact of putting letters in the mail guarantees an increase in income (holy crap that was a mouthful of alliteration).

    Reply
    1. ze moo

      The Hubs would have loved the Nigerian emails scams. There is a point where the content of any communication has to be up to some standard to influence the addressee. With a large enough mailing list you can always get some of the cat ladies to respond, but will you get quality customers. The ‘quantity over quality’ argument only works when discussing the merit of Russian T-34s vs German panthers or tiger tanks.

      Reply
      1. Derek

        “The stories of massive layoffs at Golden Era in Hemet and empty orgs are very widespread. The fact of eastern European labor imports to Clearwater are well known too. These measures do speak to saving overhead costs.”

        Layoffs? The cult doesn’t do layoffs. Eastern European labor are just cult members from Eastern Europe who signed SO contracts.

        Cult employees already work for free. $50/wk is an over estimate. As a Sea Org member I averaged $25/wk which fluctuated between $10/wk and $40/wk. I never made $50 in a single paycheck–I don’t think anyway.

        Cheap labor is not an issue and neither are massive layoffs. You can’t just pat someone on the back and say, “Thanks for the billion year contract, go home.” The ‘massive layoffs’ at The Hemet Complex weren’t people getting sent home. They’re locked up in a prison and sleeping on an ant-infested floor.

        Reply
        1. ze moo

          Where did the Hemet ‘layoff’s’ go? Transferred to another cost center? Or to an Idle mOrg? I have to agree with your ‘cheap labor’ argument. Thirty dollars doesn’t care if it is paid to someone from LA or Budapest.

          What about the ‘strategic alliance’ program that appears to be operating between several Idle mOrgs? I know I have read about this between Cambridge Ontario and Buffalo NY and another one between somewhere in Ohio and Kentucky or somewhere near there.

          Such ‘agreements’ only serve to share ‘whales’ between 2 or more orgs. That speaks to a nasty revenue problem. I am not ready to say that revenue problems are widespread, but they do seem to exist. Where can we find proof of revenue problems?

          Reply
          1. Derek

            There weren’t any layoffs in Hemet. They’re all in a makeshift office prison where they use buckets as restrooms and sleep on the floor and eat gruel.

            Scientology has always been teetering on the brink of financial oblivion. That’s how they avoided paying Larry Wallersheim for so long. Most creditors know better than to do any work with Scientology organizations because they never pay on time (if they ever pay at all).

            There are no business decisions in the management of Scientology or its money. You’re talking about the alliances of Scientology organizations as if there is an explicit business reason for it. It’s just part of the very inane activities that scientologists have always engaged in.

            In fact the reason that Scientology appears to be in such financial dire straights is because most of the money is in Miscavige’s metaphorical floor boards and is dished out hundreds of dollars at a time (except when paying lawyers).

          2. Eclipse-girl

            I can only hope you are correct.

            DM has had a shit load of $ to play with. Personally I cannot imagine having that much money without starting to spend it on others, or other charitable causes.

    2. John P.

      Derek, thanks for the perspective. I just love the concept that, in Hubbard-land, “the mere fact of putting letters in the mail guarantees an increase in income.” This goes back to one of the biggest disconnects of Scientology from reality: they think there is inherently infinite demand for Scientology. And if they believe that, the first corollary is that if the org isn’t making the numbers, then it’s the fault of the staff. After all, demand is infinite.

      And thanks for the emphasis of what was clearly apparent: sending out lots of crappy e-mails is good for a stat. But inviting people in a way that actually makes them show up at the event is not anyone’s stat so it falls through the cracks.

      This freak show would never make it in the world of legit business.

      Reply
      1. Derek

        The best thing in my entire comment is the fact that I created a tongue twister that is difficult to say even in my head, “an increase in income.”

        I would have used revenue, but in Scientology revenue and income are practically indistinguishable since their costs are very little. The only thing that keeps them going is that they near their business model is nearly 100% profitable since they don’t pay taxes and their employees work for free.

        Reply
        1. Valerie Ross

          And not an incremental increase in income but an incessant increase in income based on non insincere . . . ok I give up. Good twist tounger.

          Reply
      2. Valerie Ross

        And thus the reason no one, no one, ever ever ever escapes a mailing list and it’s impossible to get them to stop calling you because damnit LRH SAID that if they call and write enough times, you WILL turn into a damn dollar sign. SurPRiiiiiiiiise. Not gonna happen.

        Reply
    3. Valerie Ross

      It really took me a lot of brain re-education to get past the outflow=inflow in the wog world too. I used to go ooh my money is low all I need to do is outflow – then make calls or whatever. No more money til payday no matter what I did. That’s why I chose to throw away EVERYDAMNTHING I learned in Scientology. I just have no clue if there was anything good in all that blather and it’s easier to rediscover the truth than try to dig through that tremendous pile of half-truths and cobbled together misrepresentations to come up with a possible gem.

      Reply
  13. John P.

    Everyone,

    I want to thank all of you who commented here for the great discussion. This is exactly what I’m trying to do with the serious research on the site — to put forth a theory of what’s going on and have people with a bunch of different perspectives jump in and grapple with it. The end result will be far more powerful than what any one of us could do by ourselves.

    It turns out this time that due to my perspective as a never-in, unaware of many long-standing practices of the cult, I completely misunderstood what was going on behind the scenes of this e-mail. In other words, I was mostly wrong. I was particularly wrong about the reason for an ASHO guy getting involved in a local org banquet. Michael Leonard Tilse did a particularly great job of providing a lot of background material, which was corroborated and expanded on by a number of others. Sure, I was right about some stuff — the lameness of the e-mail basically being an opportunity for someone to bolster stats without any real pretense of driving results that matter. But the “why” is what I simply didn’t get.

    In this spirit of cooperation and focus on the common goal: of getting the conclusions, the thinking and the supporting data right, I am able to admit I’m wrong in my reasoning without having to get defensive or worry about my image, etc. That’s a very rare thing.
    So thank all of you who took my best shot at understanding this bizarre message and for making our collective understanding so much better.

    –John P.

    Reply
    1. Drat

      Some more on the letters. I used to help out sorting the CF of my local org (probably every org’s eternal backlog). Per policy, letter registrars should have the folder at hand when writing a person. Apparently, this is rarely practiced, and letters are just fired out anyoldhow. This becomes abundantly clear because,

      a) the particles (letters, invoices) are stacked waiting to be filed (if the folder had been at hand the writer would have the filed the carbon copy immediately),

      b) letters often contain things like “When are you coming to do your Grades?” when the folder contents show the recipient has moved to a different country and is currently on OTVII.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      In some ways, you should be proud that your modern business mind did not grok the 1960ish Byzantine marketing “tech” of Hubbard. So much of the written church policy that is is in place today was conceived during a time when a long distance phone call cost $.25 to $1.00 a minute. The absurd reliance on “letters out” for org promotion is of an era when postal mail was the primary means of written communication.

      Hubbard’s admonition that quantity of letters out trumped the quality of their content, has been translated to: “Jam out a bunch of junk mail (or email) quickly and hope for the best. Ron said it would work.”

      When the mission network and Class V Orgs were going strong, sending a well thought of, articulate “tours” person from a senior org to tout the latest tech release would usually get a good audience in the door. A erudite tours person like John McMaster could be a huge draw, as he was in his day as the “Ambassador of Scientology.”

      There are virtually no large personalities like that left in Scientology. They have all fled the organization, or been nuetered if they chose to stay. Only wee Davey gets the limelight and even he can barely draw a crowd these days.

      Reply
    1. John P.

      KJP, I should have posted something. I have gotten tangled up in personal details (not difficult or dangerous, just extremely exhausting and time-consuming) for the last ten days or so. I’ve been so tired that I haven’t had time to do the daily summary or even to get to longer pieces that I have saved up. After I’m done hosting Christmas dinner, I’ll be back, this time with a list of predictions for Scientology for 2014. I will put out a few that I think are reasonably likely, and then we’ll open the floor up to come up collectively with about ten predictions for what will happen to the cult (not what we want to have happen), and I’ll publish that on New Year’s Day.

      Reply

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