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Scientology’s Version of Family Values: The Group is Everything

GroupthinkClaire Headley is taking us on our journey to train as Scientologists. In 2005, Claire and her husband Marc escaped from Scientology’s International Base after many years as “Sea Org” workers. She spent years working with Scientology’s “tech,” and was trusted to oversee the auditing of Tom Cruise. Go here to see the first part in this series.

Claire, you’ve taken us through Scientology’s staring contests and the beginning of its snitch culture — when you were asked to turn in, at only 10 years of age, people who might be disloyal to the church. So what’s next?

CLAIRE: Next for me was the Personal Values & Integrity course, which included “overts and withholds” and The Way to Happiness.

But on a side note, I thought I would point out something. Because I grew up in Scientology, even at 10 I already knew all the terminology and basic concepts when I was taking these courses. The experience might be somewhat different for someone who had simply come in off the street.

THE BUNKER: That’s good to keep in mind.

CLAIRE: So Personal Values & Integrity course is your first introduction to O/Ws – overts and withholds, or, to the world outside, moral transgressions against the codes and values of the group of which you are a part.


This is where you’re first introduced to the idea that critical or bad thoughts come solely and only from your transgressions against the group.

In other words, the only reason you’ll ever have a bad thought about Scientology or anyone in Scientology is because you have done something wrong.

THE BUNKER: And almost as bad as committing a bad act (the “overt”) is hiding it from Scientology and not admitting to it during auditing (the “withhold”). In fact, not giving up that secret has grave consequences, isn’t that right?

CLAIRE: The Overt Motivator Sequence teaches you that any time something bad happens to you, you have “pulled it in” — you committed a crime or a transgression and therefore karma comes knocking at your door. That’s the reason the bad thing happened to you.

This is also where you first learn about justification and natter. “Natter” is when you talk bad about others, also stemming from your transgressions.

THE BUNKER: So once again, you are being conditioned to believe that the group is everything, and identifying who or what may be harming the group takes precedence over your own troubles.

Up_The_BridgeCLAIRE: As a child learning this, the most destructive part was that it was made to seem bad to think critically about things — and thinking critically is a basic part of any good education, and in my opinion a really important step towards learning to think and evaluate for yourself.

Personal Values & Integrity is also an introductory course, so we’re still at baby steps here, not yet to the point of the “KSW” [“Keep Scientology Working”] approach to training Scientologists. But we’ll get to that.

For someone new, chances are that this will be their first experience with an O/W write up — a very common tool used in Scientology.

This is where you write up your transgressions, including writing time, place, form, and event, and by doing so will bring about an “as-isness” — in other words, you will relieve yourself of the burden of your transgressions and feel better for having confessed.

Doing an O/W write up is part of the course. Other than that it’s the same as the previous course — essays, demonstrations and a few drills to practice application of the theory.

THE BUNKER: Claire, we managed to get our hands on a checksheet from this part of the training. Can you tell us about some of the material in it?

CLAIRE: There are common L. Ron Hubbard quotes used during one’s training as a Scientologist, often repeated over and over in different forms. Today, you also learn these with “patter drills” — where you say the quote out loud to a wall, over and over again until you can do that perfectly to a pass from the supervisor. This type of drill started in 1996 as part of David Miscavige’s “Golden Age of Tech.”

But back when I was doing the course the following were some of the quotes I learned and had to drill with, write examples of, and write essays about.

For instance, from the checksheet: “A Scientologist who fails to use Scientology technology and its administrative and justice procedures on the world around him will continue to be too enturbulated to do his job.”

The point is that you are indoctrinated from the outset that the only solution to any problem you run into in life is solved exclusively in Scientology.

But Scientology accepts people of all denominations, you might say? True, but that’s so they can get people of other denominations through the door. Thereafter, gradually at first, and then forcibly later on, other denominations are referred to as “other practices” and are considered as a sign that you are PTS — a Potential Trouble Source connected to someone who is a Suppressive Person. This, for example, is where Penelope Cruz hit a brick wall in her progress in Scientology, since she did not want to give up practicing Buddhism.

Here’s another example: “Walk around the org or outside and spot where several people are on the tone scale. Do this until you are confident that you can obnose where a person is on the scale. Do not ever tell a person where you think he is on the tone scale (that would be an evaluation); make the obnosis and keep the results to yourself.”

This is a common drill that is done often as you progress through Scientology. The Tone Scale is detailed in Hubbard’s book Science of Survival. Each tone level is detailed, starting at 40.0 Serenity of Beingness, all the way down to -40.0 Total Failure (Death is 0.0). This is where homosexuals are pegged by Hubbard as 1.1, Covert Hostility.

So again, right off the bat, anything other than a straight “clean” human being is already being severely dealt with in terms of progress in Scientology.

THE BUNKER: In Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear, he describes Tom Cruise being assigned to do this exercise by his auditor, Marty Rathbun, who sent the actor out with his handler, Tommy Davis, to sit in a car at a Home Depot parking lot and judge the “tone level” of customers leaving the store.

CLAIRE: That’s right. Now here’s an example of the instruction to write up your overts and withholds (and again, as a comparative note, I can tell you with positive certainty that anyone who has been in Scientology for any length of time has done hundreds of O/W write ups — I started at age 6 in the Cadet org):

“Now write up your own O/Ws with C/S OK. Start with the first dynamic and get all O/Ws off. Then the second dynamic, etc., and through the rest of the dynamics. Do them per the W/H system. These O/Ws are totally confidential to your supervisor and C/S, no one else. They will not be used against you. The point is, that this is your chance to come fully clean. After the O/Ws are complete, present them to your supervisor. Then get an exam and write a success story. The write up goes to your pc folder.”

“C/S OK” means case supervisor authorization. A case supervisor is the person who supervises your case — when you start in Scientology a pc folder (preclear folder) is made for you, and thereafter notes of anything you do auditing or in regards to your “case” such as auditing sessions are recorded in detail. The case supervisor has to give authorization for an o/w write up.

You have to write up your transgressions to a “floating needle” on exam or meter check. The idea is that if you’ve “come clean” and confessed to all your crimes and transgressions, then you will have a floating needle when you pick up the cans of the E-meter.

THE BUNKER: Wow, that’s a lot to take in, particularly for a 10-year-old. But we can see how the conditioning is getting ramped up, week after week. And how about the cost, Claire?

CLAIRE: As I recall, the course pack was $50 and the course itself was $200. We’re still at the introductory level here so prices haven’t started sky rocketing as yet.





Karen_BlackWe’re fans of Karen Black, a singular actress who is mostly celebrated for her remarkable work in 1970s classics like Five Easy Pieces (for which she was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar), The Day of the Locust, and Nashville.

She’s also a longtime Scientologist, and last year, on April 15, we saw her take part in Scientology’s science fiction awards show, Writers of the Future. What we didn’t know was that she’d been fighting cancer for a couple of years. In November 2010, she was diagnosed with ampullary cancer (a form of intestinal cancer). Since then, she’s had successful surgeries, but the disease keeps coming back. Now, her husband Stephen Eckleberry has gone public with her ordeal in a GoFundMe site seeking to raise money so Karen can go to Europe for a two-month experimental treatment.

We’re hoping the best for Karen, and it’s good to see her fans have already exceeded her funding goal.

And we’ll take this opportunity to remind you that Underground Bunker favorite Kate Bornstein is also fighting cancer, and the many people who love her have been contributing stunning amounts to her GoFundMe campaign — we hope to see her reach her funding goal very soon.



Scientology never gives up, you have to give them that. So even though the movie version of L. Ron Hubbard’s 1980 novel Battlefield Earth has gone down as one of the worst big-budget movies ever made — and a disaster for John Travolta and the church — that hasn’t stopped the church from thinking people actually want to see this book in another form.

Yesterday, websites that cover comics erupted with laughter when it was reported that three well-known artists have agreed to turn Battlefield Earth into a graphic novel.

We can still hear Travolta’s voice in our Terl action figure: “Exterminate all man-animals at will!”


SMERSH Madness: Sowing the Seeds of World Domination!

As we announced on March 1, we’re joining bracket fever with a tournament like no other. It’s up to you to decide who should be named the new SMERSH, the traditional nemesis of Scientology. Cast your vote for who’s doing more to propel the church down its long slide into oblivion!

Our second regional final, to determine the champion of the Athena bracket!


Marc & Claire Headley detailed their harrowing escape from Scientology’s International Base in Marc’s 2009 book, Blown for Good. They sued Scientology and lost, it’s true, but few couples have done more to expose the hardships of the church’s fanatical inner corps, the “Sea Org.” Also, they keep having kids, which is in part a way of thumbing their noses at Miscavige, who denies SO members the right to have children. (Previously: The Headleys defeated Luis Garcia in the first round and Katie Holmes in the Sweet Sixteen.)

Gerry Armstrong has paid a terrible price for a simple act: he wanted the Church of Scientology to be more honest about L. Ron Hubbard’s actual history. The former church worker was hounded by Scientology lawyers with the help of credulous courts to such a degree that he lives in Canada because he can’t set foot in the United States. All of Hubbard’s biographers, from Russell Miller to Lawrence Wright, owe a huge debt to Armstrong for finding and securing crucial original documentation of Hubbard’s life. (Previously: Armstrong defeated Jenna Miscavige Hill in the first round and the Ex-Scientologist Message Board in the Sweet Sixteen.)

Go to our March 1 post for the latest tournament results.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 26, 2013 at 07:00


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