Never Gonna Give You Up
On my last trip to LA, I had lunch with an old high school buddy. He told me, with some surprise, that he had been recently contacted by the Church of Scientology.
Some background: my friend took a few courses and did some auditing back in 1968-69. We got into Scientology at the same time. After about a year, he decided it wasn’t for him and left. It took him several years to get off the mailing lists. But after he changed addresses several times and threatened legal, they stopped sending him stuff.
Now, suddenly, 40 years later, they’re baaaaaack.
My friend was surprised, but more than that, he was seriously creeped out. “How did they find me?” he wondered. He felt like he was being stalked.
Well, it’s all explained in an e-mail from the Pasadena Org, announcing what they laughingly call “The ARC Project.”
“There is a Brand New Game at Pasadena!! We are the first Class V Org on the planet where the field has demonstrated such willingness and competence on the files project that we have been asked to go one step further….
“It’s called THE ARC PROJECT and you can ALL be part of it!!
“The Purpose is to build full understanding between the Org and everyone in our Central Files. The full understanding does not yet exist for some of the folks who have gotten lost in CF. So we restore the ARC by getting the basics in first – locating each person in CF and confirming their contact info. They can then be helped back onto or further up their Bridge!
“Our hat is to be the detectives and locate the people and confirm that they in fact are at that number or live at that address. Then they can be accurately represented in the Org Addresso and approached effectively by the Org or by industrious volunteers and FSMs!!
“Talk about a game where EVERYONE wins – WHAT FUN!!
“There is a variety of hats you could wear – from detective, to in-putting data in Addresso, to phone calls to confirm we have found the right guy, to pulling and returning our beautiful new CF folders, to helping with food/water and signing up more Volunteers for the project, to name some of them. There is definitely something for EVERYONE!!
“All eyes are on Pasadena and the whole wonderful LA field!! Please come in and help us RIGHT NOW so we can set ANOTHER RECORD in completing the ARC Project!!!! We are Trend Setters – movers and shakers – SO MOVE ON OVER HERE AND LET’S SHAKE IT UP!!
“Please come in NOW and BRING YOUR FRIENDS – let’s show the rest of the planet how it’s done…AGAIN!!!”
Okay, Trend Setters, let me get this straight. It’s a project to find people on the address list who are no longer in touch with the Org, who haven’t been in touch with the Org for many years – in the case of my friend, 40 years. People who have decided, for whatever reason, not to continue with Scientology (or to continue it in another location, possibly even as an independent). People who have made it clear through their actions that they no longer want to be contacted by the Church of Scientology. People who, many of them, have spent considerable time and effort to get OFF the mailing list so the Church is no longer wasting paper and postage on them.
And now, with a lot of effort and “detective” work, the Church is hell-bent on finding these people again, putting them back on the mailing list, and contacting them to sell them more Scientology.
One has to ask, what part of “I’m not interested” don’t they understand?
I know, I know. There are those who would proclaim “everyone on Earth is a Scientologist, they just don’t know it yet.” Or “once a Scientologist, always a Scientologist – they’re just ‘inactive’ or ‘temporarily off the Bridge.” I was guilty of this myself when I was working in Church Marketing. It was well known that the bulk of the Int Addresso was “inactive.” We called them “inactive Scientologists.” It never occurred to me that, in all probability, many of these people were no longer Scientologists at all.
So here we have Project ARC, “to build full understanding between the Org and everyone in our Central Files.”
Which raises the question, what definition of understanding are they using? What definition of ARC are they using?
Because there’s no effort to understand the reality of the people they contact. No, the project is all about enforcing the Church’s understanding on them. The Church understands that they are all still Scientologists. The Church understands that they all have to be gotten “back onto their Bridge.” That’s the Church’s “reality.” To hell with the public person’s reality.
In other words, enforced affinity, enforced reality, enforced communication – and enforced understanding.
I’m reminded of a lonely middle aged man who finds his “little black book” in a trunk in the attic, listing the girls he dated in high school twenty or thirty years ago, and he begins a campaign to call them all and “rekindle the old flame.” Dude, sorry to break it to you, but they’ve all moved on. And there’s a reason they haven’t called you in decades.
If the Church is really serious about increasing their membership numbers, how about dusting off some of those old Planetary Dissemination Campaigns. The ones that actually worked.
But that would be work. That would be hard. It would require staff and money and expertise. It’s much “easier” to browbeat staff (and now, apparently, volunteer public) to call long-neglected mailing lists of people who aren’t interested and give them a ton of enforced reality.
What is it with the Church that they can’t let people go? If you blow the Sea Org, there’s a whole “blow drill” to get you back, Dozens of staff are mobilized, and in some cases PIs are hired to track the person down. When John Brousseau recently blew, they sent 20 Int staff and unknown numbers of PIs to Texas to try to get him back.
And now they’re trying to “recover” anyone who’s ever bought a book or done a course, attempting to mobilize field Scientologists, hat them as “detectives” (PIs?), and get them to search out and find these people.
And if they don’t come back, what will you do? Mobilize field Scientologists to follow them around in black SUVs?