In recent years we have heard about the ‘religion’ that has enticed so many into its organisation. We hear even more about people trying to stray away from the clique. I sat down with Pete Griffiths – Ex Scientologist, to understand why it is so important to leave the Scientology body and just how hard it can actually be.
Scientologists follow the beliefs and teachings of a man named L. Ron Hubbard. They lure you in “step by step” says Pete Griffiths and it all begins with a simple personality test.
After being promised an interview and no one following up on this I decided to go undercover to the Scientology headquarters on Abbey Street and see what this test involves. I answered 200 questions that are aimed to make you reflect on your inner self which include “Do you spend much time on needless worries?”and “Can you trust the decision of your judgement in an emotional situation in which you are involved?”. After completing the test, it is corrected and you are presented with a graph that indicates the highs and lows of your emotions and characteristics. The man that was dealing with me chose to focus on my flaws and read from a sheet of paper with what they gathered was wrong in my life. He turned around reached for a Dianetics book written by L.Ron Hubbard and encouraged me to buy it today as it would be my ‘immediate medication’.
Speaking to Pete, he warned me that the book was the first step. If you were to “buy into the ideas” you were slowly letting them influence you and “once you get in you really are on a treadmill”. He first came across the book when his brother asked to meet with him one lunchtime. He told him he was reading Dianetics by L.Ron Hubbard and encouraged Pete to read it. “It’s only a bloody book, what could possibly go wrong,” Pete used to think, but as he was sucked further into the organisation he soon found he would actually become “worse off”.
Within the organisation you are banned from talking, watching or listening to anything that is bad about Scientology. In Pete’s early years of being a Scientologist he was called in and warned there was going to be a documentary on Scientology that evening, they were all warned not to watch it. “You can’t watch TV if it’s going to be detrimental”, this was all part of their secretive system.
My life was terrible – I couldn’t understand why nothing was working because I was doing everything I was supposed to
They began assigning him missions, He was giving personality tests like the one he had once taken and he was good at it. He brought on many followers to the force but after four years of a devoted scientologist his figures dropped – “The one thing you cannot do in Scientology is do badly.” He was at one stage declared bankrupt “my life was terrible – I couldn’t understand why nothing was working because I was doing everything I was supposed to”. They had stopped assigning him missions. For a further 14 years Pete still considered himself a scientologist. It wasn’t until he began reading and listening and watching the things he was told not to that he realised he needed to get out.
You get in step by step and you get out step by step.
For Pete he had a lucky break. Because he hadn’t done any missions in years he could disconnect himself from the whole society almost easily. For others it’s a different story. “It’s worse than you think,” Pete explained. They have what is called a “suppressive person” which is anyone who is telling you bad news about Scientology and encourage you to stay away. He now works on trying to get people out of the organisation and would be known as a “suppressive person” by the group. He shared a story of a girl who was completely devoted to this ‘religion’ until she was told to distance herself from her mother because she was one of these “suppressive people”. She is now an ex-scientologist.
The ex-scientologists hold conferences and protests throughout England and Ireland to encourage and help others out. “It’s not easy,” Pete told me, “but the protests have a big influence”. In the run up to the ex-scientologists conference that took place July 2012 Pete noticed how the Dublin Scientologists did all they could to blacken his name, “they have attacked me – in typical scientology ways” spreading malicious rumours and untrue stories. “If they can’t find anything on you they make it up”, but Pete did not let any of this phase him and went ahead with a successful conference. He still continues to “try and reach those that are still in – we’ve woken up to it” he tells sincerely.
Overall Pete and fellow ex scientologists have managed to get five members out of the Dublin Scientology organisation. “If everyone knows the truth the whole thing collapses.”