It was actually a room mate of mine that had worked for $cientology at the Philadelphia Org that told me about the "church." He was never too clear (no pun intended) on why he had left the church (and he had indeed left) but talked of low pay, stats and the inability of "clears" and OT's to demonstrate the supposed benefits. I think he still held onto a lot of what he had picked up in the church (wouldn't read anything without a dictionary nearby and seemed to really enjoy the "flush" that you get with high doses of niacin) but he had, I think, reached the point where his skepticism kicked in and he saw the church as something less than perfect.
Anyway....he told me about the LRH Birthday Party that was being held in March and told me I should go and see for myself. So...I did.
I have to admit that they were very slick and they showed a lot of things that were very impressive. They talked about the new "Scientology.org" web site (in 1995 the web was still pretty esoteric to a lot of folks) and showed the (then) new orientation film.
With all of the promised benefits and me being at a low point in my life, I was moved to near tears.
While I was at the "birthday" a kind older gentleman came up and asked about me. I told him about the room mate (he really lot up at this and encouraged me to give him my roomies phone number or get him downtown to the org...it was on West Peachtree then) and how he had told me to see for myself. Well, Yogi told me to enjoy the "party" and he would see me after. He did catch me before I left and the next thing I knew I had agreed to come down for the "personality test."
It was uncanny how accurate that thing seemed to be and when Yogi spoke with me about the results I was once again moved to the point of tears. I really thought I had found some answers and some place that could really help.
But then the conversation turned to money. Well...I had never heard of a church that charged for services and I was a little bit apprehensive...not to mention flat broke. But Yogi encouraged me to buy some books and a course and come back.
Things went fine for a time although I can't say I agreed with everything LRH had to say. Being a curious sort I went to the library to see what I could find on LRH and came across Jon Attack's "A Piece of Blue Sky" and some other books as well. I read everything I could find.
Anyway....things went OK and I was still ready to give the church a chance. But then one day I was talking to Yogi and mentioned that I was reading "A Piece of Blue Sky." Well...that didn't go over too well. he told me that it was all a bunch of lies and that I should not read any books about Scientology or LRH other than what was available at the org.
That raised a real red flag for me.
But the final kicker was one afternoon I was talking to Yogi about LRH and how he promised that Dianetics was a breakthrough treatment for mental illness. Yogi agreed that Scientology could help anyone. But then I told him how during the breakup of my marriage I had suffered with depression and gotten counseling.
He immediately wanted to know "what kind" of counseling so I told him that I had seen several counselors including a "Licensed Clinical Social Worker", a psychologist and a psychiatrist.
Needless to say this caused a problem and led to what felt like an interrogation. When I volunteered that I had in the past been on Prozac, well, that was it! Yogi told me that I could co-audit with someone outside the church but that I could not have services directly from the church.
I was basically being shown the door! I couldn't believe it. It was devastating because I thought I had at last found the help I was looking for. And it seemed somehow dishonest that on the one hand LRH and the church promised that they could help the ill but on the other hand the fact I had taken an antidepressant during my divorce more than a year earlier meant I was beyond help and was not welcome in the church.
At that point I really started to dig into whatever I could find out about LRH and $cientology.
What they did when I was shown the door was not the actions of a sane organization. Indeed, it threw me back into a terrible state of depression for a time because they had built up my hopes so thoroughly and then yanked the rug out. But after a short time the depression left and as I learned more about LRH and his "church" it all turned to anger.
The "church" had just made themselves a life long enemy. Alan