Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Former high-ranking Scientologist claims that organized Scientology is dead

As reported by Tony Ortega of The Village Voice in his Runnin' Scared blog on September 3, 2010:

Adding to Scientology's woes, some of the people who have been making defections in recent years are turning around and writing damning tell-alls.

Regular publishers won't touch these books -- even though some of them are actually very well written -- so the authors have had to go the self-published route.

Last year's killer I-escaped-from-Scientology narrative was put out by Marc Headley. His Blown for Good made for a gripping read, about a low-level grunt who spent years at Scientology's secret HQ in the California desert until he finally made a mad dash for freedom.

This year, we can report that Headley's book has been equaled. In Counterfeit Dreams, ex-Scientologist Jefferson Hawkins not only provides his own dramatic tale of getting sucked into and ultimately escaping from Scientology, but Hawkins was no low-level scrub.

He, maybe more than any other single person, may be the reason Scientology ever became as popular as it did, with L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics setting sales records in the 1980s.

It was Hawkins and his ideas for television ads (the "volcano" TV spot, for example) that propelled Dianetics to meteoric heights, leading many to wonder if Scientologists themselves weren't just buying up the books by the truckload to make sure it topped the New York Times Bestsellers List...

...Hawkins' impressive book takes a reader through his introduction to Scientology in 1967 to his defection in 2003. Along the way, he became the marketing genius that helped Scientology grow to unprecedented heights -- only to watch it go into serious decline under David Miscavige, the Scientology leader who took over after Hubbard's death in 1986...

..."Scientology is supported, in fact, by a few thousand wealthy members. Some of these, like Tom Cruise, Nancy Cartwright, Craig Jensen (Diskeeper), Sky Dayton (Earthlink) and a few others are very wealthy and contribute millions.

"My own opinion is that organized Scientology is dead. I do not see them recovering from Miscavige's abusive rule - he has destroyed the entire management structure of the Church and has 'revised' the 'tech' of Scientology to the point where it is largely useless."

Like Headley, Hawkins says Scientology has shrunk to only small numbers of active members. Headley had put the number at about 10 to 15,000, but Hawkins says it's more -- closer to 50,000. But that's minuscule for an organization that claims to have millions of members worldwide.

Perhaps better than any other defection narrative that has come out, Counterfeit Dreams carefully and clearly spells out so much of the bewildering Hubbard jargon that characterizes Scientology. And Hawkins himself may be one of the best people to write a history of the organization -- his career mirrors so much of Scientology's arc, from its hippie era early growth to its 1980s apotheosis, to its decline and increasing paranoia under Miscavige.

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