Scientology's Sales Pitch: "Pure and Simple Blackmail"

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In concert with the SP Times article series on Money in scientology, the Village Voice continues it's own excellent coverage.

Click on the link for the full article.

The SP Times series, with most of it still to come, has already made us much more aware of how the "regging" process works, and how Scientologists constantly endure a hard-sell approach not only to pay for auditing services, but to make outright donations for new buildings, for memberships, and for books they already have copies of.

(I still can't decide which of Hy Levy's revelations hit me the hardest -- that in 16 years of 12-hour days pressuring fellow church members to fork over huge amounts of money he'd taken a total of five days off work; that after raising about $200 million for Scientology over his career while making only $50 a week, he was sent off with a severance check for $500; or that he was so dedicated to his job he considered his dying mother a "distraction.")

Tobin and Childs once again reach deep to bring us the facts and hard-to-get numbers:

Scientology rings up astonishing sums: $100 million a year just from services sold in Clearwater, a minimum of $250 million since 2006 for the International Association of Scientologists, tens of millions for new church buildings called Ideal Orgs, and untold millions more from selling new volumes of church scripture.

When you're paying workers only $50 a week, those kinds of sums really go far.

In today's installment, the SP Times duo flip the coin and look at some church members who were the subject of Scientology's high-pressure sales pitches.

Watching his video, I couldn't help liking Orange County, California Scientologist Luis Garcia. He finally got fed up when a Scientology VP named Bob Adams tried to pressure him into buying 32 sets of the "Basics," the newly remastered set of books and lecture CDs that Miscavige announced in 2007. (The books alone cost about $450 a set, with the lectures, sets cost $3,000.)

On the other hand, Garcia apparently was a pretty easy mark over the years:

Through their climb in Scientology -- Rocio Garcia reached the second highest level, OT VII -- they contributed $510,000 to help build a new church in Orange County. They donated $340,000 to the Super Power construction project in Clearwater and $65,000 to an initiative to preserve Hubbard's writings on titanium plates. Luis gave $50,000 to Scientology's membership group, the International Association of Scientologists.

The previous day, Tobin and Childs wrote about yoga instructor Brian Culkin, who has been mentioned here at Runnin' Scared previously, because he managed to give Scientology more than $300,000 even though he was involved in it for only about a year:

Culkin describes a nightmarish scenario, with teenagers and other church members hitting him up from the time he arrived in Clearwater with pitches for donations in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Scientology responded to the SP Times by saying that all churches ask for donations.

Sure. Of course they do. But can you imagine your neighborhood Presbyterian church announcing that it had got the commas and semicolons cleaned up in the Bible, and now asked all of its members to spend tens of thousands of dollars for new books or risk losing their eternities?

Or worse. As Lisa Hamilton, formerly a high-ranking "ethics" officer at the Clearwater base explained to Tobin and Childs, it was made clear to members that the way to make up for transgressions was to buy more copies of books.

She said one parishioner declared "suppressive" by the church bought 20 sets from a senior Sea Org officer, hoping it would return him to good standing. Similar offers were made to former Sea Org members who wanted to stay active in the church but couldn't. They had left the staff without paying their "freeloader debt" -- the bill for services they'd received for free while on staff. "That to me was pure and simple blackmail," said Hamilton, who oversaw base personnel, security, ethics and other areas.

Wow. And this thing is only beginning. We hear the duo will take tomorrow off, publish part 3 of their series on Wednesday, and then give us parts 4, 5, and 6 on Sunday, Monday, and the big finish next Tuesday. <snip>

And as usual, the Comments section is great reading!

fedup 1 day ago
It really is sick to think of working 12 hour days for 16 years.. my mother did it for close to THIRTY... after all that time and NO commission.. whoever thinks that the 2% commission is in place they are mistaken..taking money from going uplines to DM??? Good luck! She didn't even get a severance, just you aren't making enough money anymore, goodbye! Now she gets to live off of her daughter while trying to re join the workforce when most at her age are retiring and going on Social Security. The church's response that they do not expect staff to solicit donations aggressively or go into debt is a complete lie and makes me sick. Almost as sick as Mark's letter.. have you ever been on staff or in the SO Mark? Ill family members, children, hell anything that takes you away from producing (making $$$) is considered a distraction with the amount of pressure people are placed under. I didn't even know my mother that well until I was in my late teens and was old enough to start courses at the local Org so i could see her... then I did my own 10 year stint on staff and trust me I regret plenty of "distractions" that I should have attended to. Hopefully these other installments get into the financial ruin and neglect of people after they have given all they can both monetarily and physically!
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