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The Bully Pulpit

March 15, 2010

When I was a Scientologist, it was a point of pride that we were a tough, combative religion. We used to brag – and the Church still brags – that we were “not a turn-the-other-cheek religion.” If you dared to attack us, we’d attack back. “Attack the attacker” was the mantra.

Recently, I had the opportunity to get another viewpoint on this. I came across an interesting open letter written in 1995 by entertainer Steve Allen to the then-President of the Church of Scientology, Heber Jentzsch. Steve Allen, for those too young to remember, was the original Tonight Show host, before Johnny Carson – a very funny and intelligent man.

In his letter, Allen says:

“If I may make a suggestion to you folks, whatever your purely religious views are, you’re entitled to them and they are more or less in the category of not anyone else’s business.

“But I also suggest that it is not because of those views that your group doesn’t have a very good reputation. There are other churches that, in the opinion of non-members, have some truly bizarre beliefs but no one dislikes the individual members as a result of those beliefs…

“But –again –the same cannot be said of Scientologists. And if I were you it would occur to me to wonder why. So, to save you a little wondering time, I’ll tell you why right now. You have the reputation as just about the worst bullies this side of the National Rifle Association.”

After leaving Scientology, I had to learn the difference between standing up for one’s beliefs and bullying any dissenters into silence. When I first got on to some of the chat boards, I found myself handling people who disagreed with me by attacking them personally. That was what I was conditioned to do. I soon found that was not the way to get across one’s point.

People tend to admire those who courageously stand up for their beliefs. But they condemn those who attempt to bully their detractors into silence. There is a big difference. And it’s a difference the Church has not learned, and probably will never learn.

“Attack the attacker” is the maxim we all learned. But what constitutes an “attack”?

Unfortunately, the Church considers anything that questions the authority of the Church to be an “attack.” And anything which might damage the reputation of the Church – even if factual and documented – is an “attack.”

If a whistleblower reports on abuse within Scientology, that’s an “attack.”

If anyone reports on the factual conditions within the Sea Org – pay, hours, restrictions – that’s an “attack.”

If anyone mentions an incident embarrassing to Scientology – say, the suicide of an OT – that’s an “attack.”

If a reporter dares to even ask about Scientology’s upper level materials – that’s an “attack.”

If anyone criticizes David Miscavige, that’s an “attack” on Scientology itself.

If anyone challenges the efficacy of Scientology or disputes their claims – it’s an “attack.”

And what do you do with attackers? Why, of course, you attack them.

Personally. Viciously.

You dig up any dirt you can on them. You find anything you can to impugn their character. And you launch a nasty, brutal campaign of character assassination. The aim is to destroy them, to shut them up, to make it so that no one will ever listen to their opinions again.
Sure, that’s the way to handle all these “attacks.”

Scientologists call it “being tough” or “not turning the other cheek.”

But don’t be surprised if the world calls it by its true name.


  1. March 15, 2010 5:08 am

    Your mention of Steve Allen brings back memories of this man. Probably one of the most creative people ever in the entertainment industry. Creative composer and musician, hilarious comedian, writer, actor. The guy could do it all. And he found time to try and put ethics in on the dramatizations of some “Scientologists” who daily spit on LRH’s very FIRST policy: “Maintain friendly relations with the environment and the public.” Imagine the difference had that first policy been given its due as a senior datum these past 60 years. He wrote it on 8 or 10 March 1950. DM, Tommy One-Note & C0. literally spit on that policy every day when they get up in the morning and when they go to bed at night.

  2. March 15, 2010 5:57 am

    I agree with you Joe.

    For some reason some “Scientologists” and I use the word advisedly consider *any* criticism to be an “attack”. Those currently in control of the Church even consider an ethics report on their corrupt activities to be an “attack”, correctly querying an illegal order to be an “attack” etc.

    Leaving the only places for a Scientologists to air out the Church’s dirty laundry on the web and in the media!

  3. VaD permalink
    March 15, 2010 8:08 am

    I’d say that byllying and attacking the attacker is their “price of freedom”.
    Remember this one: “Price of Freedom is constant alertness, constant willingness to fight back!”
    It’s right within the creed of IAS.
    So, scientolosists pay this price – with “donations” for campaigns against defectors, dissenters, whistleblowers…

  4. March 15, 2010 11:51 am

    Well, they don’t really have any choice really. It is rare that they could refute the actual allegations of abuse as they are usually true. That leaves the options of:

    1) Say nothing
    2) Try to dead-agent the source
    3) Actually fix the outness (ha ha).

    Of course they should fix the outness, but any acknowledgment of wrong-doing on the road to reform leaves them open to a flood of expensive law-suits. I don’t see that happening unless court-ordered.


  5. March 15, 2010 2:58 pm

    As an individual critic who was subjected to Fair Game bullying for years, I was privileged to know and be a friend of Mr Allen. One time he even invited me to his office to tell him about my work helping ex-cultists. At his request, I gave him a box of tapes of my music so he could pass them around to others. He was a brilliant and caring man. – Dennis Erlich

  6. imominous permalink
    March 16, 2010 2:51 am

    A great example of Scientology lies and bullying can be found at or .org.

    This site, created and run by Scientologists, has a facade that claims to champion the rights of religions, but if you look at the “religious extremists” pages, every one of the people featured are critics of Scientology.

    According to Scientology, I am a terrorist, a drug dealer, and a rabid alcoholic. I’ve had exactly two DUIs in my life; one in 1984 and another in 1991. Since I ride a motorcycle only, I wouldn’t be here writing this if what they say is true.

    Some people are intimidated and cowed by Scientology tactics. I am not one of those people. In fact, I wrote up my experiences and sold them to a local website:

    They pulled me in. I’m riding this nuke all the way down, until their leaders are jailed, their assets sold off, and their name is only read in history books. RAWR!

  7. Rebecca-Tribecca permalink
    March 16, 2010 8:54 am

    This is a great post, thank you Jeff.
    After 30 years and all the way to OT 8, I had been there, done that.
    I moved on and there was no turning back.
    I kept my sadnesses to myself for a long time.
    Some 3 years ago I found a life coach called Dr. Stephen Covey who authored the phrase
    WIN/WIN and I had life changing cognitions and expansion from his books and tapes.
    I could not believe it.
    I was raised to believe ONLY LRH had the wisdom of the universe.
    Covey does not believe in domination and hierarchy.
    He believes in empowerment of the being.
    Recognized as one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, he coaches and is invited to Fortune 500 companies
    to coach admin principles and self conduct.
    He has quite a good organization structure with tours and seminars all over the globe. Offices in 123 countries without one instance of refund or one single law suit.
    I have never EVER seen one attack on him, he has NEVER has any negative media, on his presentations,or his orgs, or his best seller books.
    Scientology’s SO and Staff take the word “bullying” to a new level due to the trickle down effect from INT BASE. Outright cruelty and in many instances sadism. Beatings should not be part of any Church. Sleep deprivation is a violation of human rights.
    Scientology could learn a few lessons from Covey on how to help human beings without abuse and how to be out there without getting the blow back of attack.

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