"Naked in the Spotlight" Mark Janicello translated Interview

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This is a translation of an interview Janicello gave to www.theintelligence.de
Copied from: http://nakedinthespotlight.blogspot.com/

A Conversation with former Scientologist Mark Janicello
April 19, 2011 (www.theintelligence.de) | From: gvp (Translated from German)

The title of his Autobiography „Naked in the Spotlight“ says it all. With brutal honesty, Mark Janicello questions his development as both man and artist. His analysis of the circumstances that stalled his once promising singing career is unflinching. An Italian-American, who has been singing onstage since he was 4 years old, defies easy categorization. He is an actor who sings. More than that, he is an opera singer who sings pop music. But most importantly, he is an entertainer with a very strong point-of-view. Janicello joined Scientology in 1993, shortly before moving to Zurich with his family. However, his membership had devestating effects on every area of his life. Gesine von Prittwitz interviewed the Author.

Numerous Hollywood Celebrities are members of this controversial organization. Can you explain why so many members of the entertainment industry are attracted to Ron Hubbard’s philosophy?

Naturally, I can only speak for myself. If you want to know what Tom Cruise thinks, then you will have to ask him yourself. Personally, I was fascinated with the idea of being involved with something that was „essential to survival.“ That’s how Scientology is „sold“ to its believers – as essential to survival, not only for the individual, but also for the society and for the entire planet. I wanted to be more than just an entertainer. I can only imagine that a lot of my colleagues from the entertainment industry felt or feel the same way.

Why did you join Scientology ?

I had big problems in my personal life. After numerous attempts with other types of therapies, a friend of mine in New York introduced me to Scientology. They answered my desperate questions in a confident and highly-competent manner. They, and only they had “all the answers.” Period. End of discussion. Instead of searching for my own solutions, during that very difficult time in my life, I was relieved to let them take that responsibility over for me. That’s how it all began. (By the way, my friend in New York also left Scientology.)

When you moved, did you understand how disputed Scientology was in Europe?

It became clear pretty quickly that Scientology was surrounded by controversy, but I could have never, ever imagined that it was as extensive or as explosive as what I personally experienced. Of course, at that time, I barely understood German – that probably explains a lot of it.

One often hears about draconian methods, from brainwashing to labor camps with regard to their believers -- as well as the accusation that Scientology uses “dirty tricks“ to silence their critics. Did you experience any of the above?

First of all, you would really have a hard time to brainwash someone like me. That said, if someone is truly convinced of something, they can really “sell it” to another person. However, I don’t believe you can categorize that as brainwashing.

You can find idiots in any organization, philosophy or religion. I do not doubt for a moment that Scientology has a few idiots who would try to use blackmail, coercion or dirty tricks. However, they never tried it with me.

That said, I know from first-hand experience that people can be destroyed using “dirty tricks.” It happened to me, but not from Scientology, rather from their enemies.


What is your opinion on the criticism that Scientology hides behind “religion” to cover it’s business interests?

The longer you are away from Scientology, the more you can understand this critique. In my opinion, Scientology acts much more like a “service organization” or a “university” than a religion -- at least in the normal sense of the word. Their product is “spiritual counseling” and they charge fixed prices for their counseling or courses. Personally, I think that Scientology – like so many other religions – has compromised it’s basic philosophy through it’s own greed. I find it questionable to categorize this kind of an organization as a religion. There’s simply too much money changing hands.

You have stood up for Freedom of Opinion and Freedom of Religion. Critics would would say that you are simply following Scientology’s own line of attack. Many feel that Scientology uses the smokescreen of “religious freedom” as an all-purpose weapon to fight any and all criticism of their practices and/or their own human rights violations.

If you want to classify an organization or a person as criminal, then you must go to court and present evidence. Rumor and opinion carry no legal weight, only facts. According the constitutions of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, not to mention the Constitution of the European Union, or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which was signed by all members of the European Union) the freedoms of opinion and religion are guaranteed rights.

Either we have laws, or we don’t. Whatever one’s personal opinion of the Scientology Organzation, until it has been tried and convicted as illegal in a court of law, a person living in a democracy, should have the right to choose and practice their own personal belief or philosophy in peace. I still support that position.

In your autobiography you wrote that “I was the poster boy for religious discrimination in Europe.” Did you never suspect that your personal fight for human rights was being misused by the Scientology Organization for their own PR purposes?

Hindsight is always 20/20. At the time, I was fighting for my own and my families survival. I did nothing wrong or illegal, but was being punished, as if I were the worst criminal. Had Scientology made any effort to help me get out of that terrible situation, I would be able to answer “No” to that question. Unfortunately, in my moment of greatest need, the Scientology Organization simply left me to die. You can draw your own conclusion from that.

Mark, you left Scientology in 2003. Did you have other reasons for leaving besides your personal disappointment?

Naturally, my personal disappointment was enormous. I really don’t want to speak about the philosophy itself. First of all, (similarly to the Freemasons) a lot of Scientology’s philosophy is confidential and only is revealed as you reach certain levels in that belief. I was not a highly-trained Scientologist. For that reason, I will not comment on the “upper levels” of Scientology. I certainly have an opinion about a lot of things, but it is only that: my personal opinion. I left Scientology. I think that speaks for itself.

Just because you left the Organization, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you no longer believe in Hubbard’s teaching, or does it?

Through my experiences being the grandson, son and brother of pentecostal ministers; the duet partner of a gospel-singing mother; and from my years with Scientology, I developed my own philosophy. It goes like this: “A religion or a philosophy can give you the tools to work with, but the only person who is going to save you – is you. Period.

Over the years, you had many opportunities to publicly distance yourself from Scientology. Why didn’t you do it?

I am as stubborn as a mule. For years, I simply refused to believe that I would be required to publicly distance myself from Scientology in order to be able to work in peace. I thought I would be able to do that without making my personal decision public. More importantly, I secretly still hoped that somehow, someday Scientology would finally do the right thing and come to my aid. I was wrong on both points. I underestimated the enemies of Scientology, and overestimated the Church.

What do you hope to achieve with your book?

Despite all the reporting and articles that were written about me regarding Scientology, I never once had the chance to refute, rebut or tell my side of the story. I want to close this chapter in my life once and for all. After promoting this book, I will never speak publicly about Scientology ever again. That‘s over.

Until now, your departure from Scientology has created no real problem for you either with the organization or it’s members. Do you think that will change after your book has been published?

Even if I am not officially „excommunicated,“ most probably, I will lose contact with a lot of people in the church. Public criticism is simply not welcome in the Church of Scientology.
 
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