Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Jefferson Hawkins finishes off our series on Scientology ethics with a reprieve

ScientologyEthicsJefferson Hawkins was once the top marketing executive for the Church of Scientology and helped it reach its greatest extent with the famous “volcano” TV ads in the 1980s. He’s told his tale of getting into and out of the church with his excellent books Counterfeit Dreams and Leaving Scientology, and he’s helping us understand the upside-down world of Scientology “ethics.”

Jeff, you’ve really done a great job educating us about Scientology’s system of ethics in this series. We hate to see it wind down.

JEFFERSON: Well, at last we have come to the end of the Introduction to Scientology Ethics book. The last chapter is called “Conduct of Justice and Forms of Redress.” It’s all about the forms of recourse that Scientologists have if faced with any injustice in Scientology. I imagine these things were written when Hubbard was in a benign mood or when there had been an obvious miscarriage of justice.

In the first section, he urges Scientologists to always “keep the door open” to miscreants so that they have some hope of returning to Scientology. “Expulsion without hope of reinstatement puts people into total hopelessness,” he says. This is a typical Scientology point of view — anyone who is expelled is in a hopeless state of mind.

THE BUNKER: Most of the people who have been “expelled” that I’ve met seem to be pretty relieved to be out of Scientology.

JEFFERSON: Of course. But if you’re inside, the idea of being expelled seems like the end of the world. So they always “leave the door open” by telling people they can “contact the International Justice Chief.” Of course, there’s no one on post and you won’t get an answer!


THE BUNKER: So walk us through some of these forms of recourse.

JEFFERSON: “Gradients of Ethics and Justice Actions” is a list of 36 possible Ethics actions from the lightest (“Noticing something nonoptimum…”) to the most severe (“Expulsion from Scientology”). This was supposed to encourage people to use the lighter touch first, before jumping in to Comm Evs and demotions and so on. Just to give a taste of this, here are the first few:

1. Noticing something nonoptimum without mentioning it but only inspecting it silently.

2. Noticing something nonoptimum and commenting on it to the person.

3. Requesting information by Ethics personnel.

4. Requesting information and inferring there is disciplinary potential in the situation.

And so on right up to expulsion. You notice there isn’t one that says “Noticing something nonoptimum and asking the person if they need any help with it.” God forbid there should be any empathy or compassion in the system!

THE BUNKER: So this was supposed to get executives to lighten up a bit. In your experience, was this scale used?

JEFFERSON: In practice this was usually ignored, and executives would pretty much jump to whatever Ethics gradient they felt was needed. But sometimes you could forestall an action if you pointed out that an executive had skipped too many steps. It was one of those things that smart staff members learned to have in their quiver and use if necessary.

The next section, “Ethics Review,” gives some more of the guidelines of Ethics. For instance, it states that no Ethics action may order a person to training or auditing, but it may suspend training or deny auditing as a disciplinary measure. For instance, if the person is declared PTS, their training and auditing is suspended. It also states that no one may be removed from post without a Committee of Evidence.

I used this on more than one occasion to handle an arbitrary post removal. Hubbard also repeats his message about using a “light touch” when applying Ethics. He says:

Scientology ethics are so powerful in effect, as determined by observation of it in use, that a little goes a very long ways.

Try to use the lightest form first.

Students are quite caved in by it when it is applied, by actual observation.

Our lines are too powerful and direct and what we mean to a person’s future, even while he or she is nattering, is so well understood down deep that ethics action is a far worse threat than mere wog law.

THE BUNKER: You can see that Hubbard well understood the power of this “Ethics Technology” to control people.

JEFFERSON: Yes, and this is something that those who have never been in Scientology may not fully understand. Scientologists have been convinced that the Church holds the power to grant or deny them “their eternity,” so threats by the organization to cut them off or deny them services are taken very seriously — they are literally taken as a matter of life and death. A threat to deny them “the tech” can send a Scientologist into a serious depression. Hubbard adds:

You are threatening somebody with oblivion for eternity by expulsion from Scientology.

Therefore realize that an ethics action need not be very heavy to produce the most startling results.

The next section, “Injustice,” is more of the same, the methods of recourse and the buffers against injustice. It states, for instance, if you get an illegal order and are forced to follow it, you can file a “Knowledge Report” with Ethics and that will, theoretically, absolve you from blame in any Comm Ev.

Hubbard repeats that you cannot be demoted or expelled without a Comm Ev, and you can request a Review Comm Ev if you believe there was an injustice. And the following section gives you the recourse if you feel you have been falsely accused by a “Third Party.”

The final section, interestingly, gives the rules for petitions. He states that anyone can petition any senior executive on any matter, and may not be disciplined for submitting a petition. But there are rules.

Collective petitions are considered a crime as they are “an effort to hide the actual petitioner,” and petitions may not demand a Committee of Evidence or punishment of any kind for executives.

THE BUNKER: I guess Hubbard was afraid the Sea Org Members would unionize and start collective bargaining.

JEFFERSON: And finally, there is a section about amnesties. These used to actually be issued. An International Amnesty applied to all Scientologists and was usually issued when there was a major milestone accomplishment in Scientology. This was supposed to wipe the slate clean for all Scientologists. I don’t recall when the last amnesty was issued, but it was many years ago. If memory serves, the last International Amnesty was issued after the IRS “War is Over” event in 1993.

THE BUNKER: Well, it seems that there were at least some safeguards in the Scientology Ethics system. But were they used?

JEFFERSON: As I mentioned, any smart staff member who wanted to survive in that environment generally had these memorized. If an overzealous senior or Ethics Officer tried to overstep, you did have a way of appealing — holding up one of these Policy Letters and saying, for instance, “You can’t remove me without a Comm Ev! It says so right here!” In earlier years, that may have worked to back off the hounds, and believe me, I used them to the max. But these safeguards were increasingly ignored. The last few years I was in the Sea Org, punishments were simply meted out by Miscavige and no one would question it. He would remove people from post for looking at him wrong, and often offload and expel people on a whim — or because he didn’t like them. By the time I left, these recourses were largely forgotten.

THE BUNKER: Jefferson, we’ve reached the end of the Ethics book. Thank you for walking us through it.

JEFFERSON: It was interesting to revisit this book after being out of that environment for nearly nine years. There is so much that you accept as a Scientologist that is really, in retrospect, crazy, but you only see it after you are able to get a bit of distance from it. I hope the series has helped Ex-Scientologists to better understand what they went through, and has helped the never-ins to see some of the control mechanisms we were subjected to.

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Introduction — the confusion technique; Ethics, Justice and the Dynamics; Honesty — overts, withholds, and motivators; Ethics and statistics; Ethics conditions; the Responsibilities of Leaders; the Basics of Suppression; the Potential Trouble Source; the Ethics Officer; the Knowledge Report; the Third Party Law; the Justice Code; the Comm Ev


Scientology turns over evidence to Monique Rathbun’s attorneys

We talked yesterday to Monique Rathbun’s attorney, Ray Jeffrey, about Monday’s upcoming hearing in her harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige.

On January 8, Scientology argued for its ‘anti-SLAPP’ motion, trying to convince Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip that Monique’s lawsuit should be thrown out because it infringes on Scientology’s religious rights. Waldrip granted Monique time to prepare her answer, and also ordered Scientology to turn over recordings that were made during years of surveillance of Monique and her husband Mark ‘Marty’ Rathbun done by the church. They had until Monday to turn that material over, and we asked Jeffrey if the church had done so.

“The Church of Scientology produced materials to us digitally, but has designated those materials as ‘attorney’s-eyes only,’ so we can’t even let our own client and her husband view those materials and help us prepare for the hearing,” he says. “We have challenged this designation, and we will bring it up to the court on Monday before the continuation of the Anti-SLAPP hearing. And we will most likely be asking for a continuance to ask for the designation to be removed.”

Once again, we’ll have Nick Rogers and Mike Bennitt on location on Monday to be our eyes and ears.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 30, 2014 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email