At that briefing, they will be told for the first time about major changes coming to the Church of Scientology — changes that we first told you about in June.
What has been rumored for months is actually here: Scientology leader David Miscavige is taking one of the biggest risks of his life and is revealing the alterations he is making to L. Ron Hubbard’s “standard tech.”
But is the Church of Scientology actually ready for his “Golden Age of Tech 2″?
Here’s the mailer that went out this week to church members, which was forwarded to us by one of our tipsters. Note the large, if subtle, number “2” lurking behind the “Golden Age Of Tech” badge in this image, and the reference to the “next phase of the Golden Age of Tech.”
A little background may help the uninitiated understand why we say this is a huge gamble by Miscavige, and one whose timing is particularly risky.
In 1996, a decade after the death of L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige revealed his first “Golden Age of Tech,” which made significant changes to the way auditors were trained. These were supposed to be improvements, but for Scientologists who believe that L. Ron Hubbard’s ideas and processes cannot be improved on, it was highly controversial.
Jason Beghe has explained in interviews that his disillusionment — and that of many others — began with the Golden Age of Tech, when he was asked to redo expensive levels of training. As others have told us, they remember thinking, “if the church discovered errors in training, why do we have to pay for the fix?”
Since then, resentment about the way Miscavige has altered Hubbard’s original books and teachings has been building. In 2007, Miscavige republished “The Basics” — Hubbard’s essential books of Scientology teachings — saying that many errors of transcriptions had been found in them. Scientologists were put under intense pressure to buy multiple sets of the new books, which, with new editions of Hubbard’s lectures, were sold for $3,000 a set.
Even loyal church members couldn’t help thinking it was more cash grab than anything else.
There’s just no doubt that Miscavige is facing an exodus of longtime, loyal members in recent years, many of them fed up with the way he has made changes to Hubbard’s original “technology.”
And now, he’s doubling down.
In June, we first revealed what we had heard about the “Golden Age of Tech 2″ after some key defections at the Int Base brought word of what was coming. Here’s what we wrote then…
Church members will learn they have a lot more to pay for…
— Finally, the new Mark VIII Ultra e-meter will be released, and each and every Scientologist will be expected to purchase one, at about $4,000.
— Because the new e-meter has to be written into materials, an entirely new “Bridge” is going to be released, with a new structure and with new pricing…
We’re told that part of the reason for the Bridge do-over is to rewrite materials for the new e-meter, but another reason is that Miscavige is trying to address the bad press over how expensive Scientology is.
If you’re new to Scientology watching, you may have some basic understanding that church members are taught that we are immortal beings who have lost a sense of our true nature, and through church founder L. Ron Hubbard’s “auditing” we can wipe away the fog of countless lifetimes of trauma and become “clear.” Then, moving along increasingly more expensive levels of auditing (also known as Hubbard’s “technology” or “tech”), we can perfect the ability to “exteriorize” from our mundane bodies and get more control over our immortal inner “thetan.” This process of increasing control and power is known as “the Bridge” and can cost years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to ascend.
Our source on this says the many steps up the new Bridge are going to get split out with individual pricing in order to give the impression that prices are lower, even though that’s not really the case. One step on the current Bridge costing $2,000, for example, might get broken up into four smaller steps at only $500 each.
Miscavige’s overhauling of materials has caused serious strife in the organization before. In 1996, he announced “The Golden Age of Tech” and said that some training levels were in error, and after fixing them, required many Scientologists to redo training that cost them tens of thousands of dollars. In 2007, he republished Hubbard’s essential texts in a new package called “The Basics” and pressured all members to buy multiple sets of them at up to $3,000 per set.
At Int Base, the new Bridge restructure and pricing is being referred to as “Golden Age of Tech II” — a name that had been leaking out among ex-Scientologists in recent weeks.
It’s not clear yet whether members who have already moved up the Bridge will have to redo its steps once it is repackaged and repriced. But my source told me there’s no question that every church member will have to shell out for at least one new machine. (The Mark VIII Ultra has been in the pipeline for nearly a decade, as Carnegie Mellon University’s Professor David Touretzky reveals in lengthy notes about its development. Other rumors had it being priced lower, under $1,000. But my source says Miscavige wanted it cheaper to produce, but even more to buy.)…
With this step, Miscavige is taking a huge risk. Discontent over his first redo of Hubbard’s technology — the 1996 Golden Age of Tech — has never really died down, and was one of the key reasons for the exodus of longtime, loyal church members, some of them very high profile, like actor Jason Beghe. With intense fundraising driving away even more people like Dave and Synthia Fagen, Miscavige risks another wave of defections by announcing yet another alteration of Hubbard’s tech and even more demands for re-payments.
With all of the discontent that is tearing apart the Church of Scientology, we’re stunned that Miscavige would reveal such significant, and expensive, new changes to the Bridge. We can only wonder if he realizes what a risk he’s taking, and whether he’s aware of how it may only increase the disillusionment of longtime church members.
We’re looking forward to learning more about the changes ahead as these briefings take place around the globe in coming weeks. Tipsters, you know what to do.
UPDATE: We haven’t heard from Jefferson Hawkins in a while, but we’re sure glad he showed up to give us his thoughts on this development. Here’s a look at the comment he left below:
Having worked on the inside of Scientology’s marketing, all I can say is “here we go again.” The marketing problem Scientology has, and has always had, is how to keep the faithful coming back to spend again and again. Particularly if you have few if any new people coming in. Particularly if you really have nothing new to offer them. Hubbard solved it by constantly coming up with “new technical breakthroughs.” That kept people coming in and, equally importantly, kept him popular, relevant, and indispensable. Miscavige can’t do that. No Scientologist would put up with “new developments” from anyone but Hubbard. So he has to repackage and re-release, all based on the idea that he has a special inside line to what Hubbard “really” intended. He can always claim that Hubbard’s “true intentions” have just been revealed in documents “recently discovered in archives.” Miscavige has worked to position himself as “the only guy who truly understands Hubbard.”
These repackagings and re-releases have been going on for many, many years. People know about “The Basics” where all of Hubbard’s works were supposedly gone through and every error and typo discovered and corrected so the materials are now “fully on-Source” (conforming to Hubbard’s original vision and intentions). What many don’t know (and what Scientologists fail to remember) is that that EXACT SAME CAPER was pulled in 1991. All the materials were re-released then as “now fully on-Source.” And they will pull this caper again.
“Golden Age of Tech 2″ is another of these repackagings, and yes, Scientologists will have to buy everything again, do every level again, and buy the new e-meter. They will be told how vital and earth-shattering this new meter is. They will not be told that these meters were made in Taiwan eight years ago and have been sitting on a shelf gathering dust ever since.
And James Byrne? Really? They are scraping the bottom of the barrel for credible spokespeople. James has been around forever of course, and yes, he was on the Apollo with Hubbard, but never really a Scientology technical expert. He’s a sort of poor man’s Captain Bill Robertson. He was the guy they’d send in when an area was deemed to be “out-ethics” and he would muster the Sea Org staff in ranks, force them to march and drill endlessly, military style, and impose draconian discipline. At best he was a cheerful, if not very bright, hail-fellow-well-met. At worst he was a bull-headed drill sergeant. Hard to imagine they’d trot him out for a technical briefing.