My wife, Sindy, who you probably know if you know me, was the IAS Membership Officer at the org for 2 ½ years. As most staff members do, she went through her trials and tribulations. She learned to do her job pretty well and evolved to where she was pretty good at getting people to donate to the IAS.
As time went on, she grew more and more distraught at what was going on in the area of sales and donations, not just IAS donations but all the donations that were being pushed as well as the various sales, especially of the Basics.
Myself, I did not get into that too much. I never liked trying to make sales of any kind, and I was generally able to avoid it (or at least do as little as I could get away with) during my whole time on staff. I generally stayed in the courseroom and fortunately, since Supervising was my primary duty, I was probably the one who got the least pressured to get donations and sales, even when it was an “all hands” activity. So I did not actually feel the reg pressure, on a day-to-day basis, as some staff did.
So I have to admit, that even though my wife was extremely unhappy with what she considered to be over-regging (stating this often made her feel physically ill) and though while listening to her, I could see the same outpoints, I was actually kind of oblivious to the outrageousness of it all. I saw that a lot of things were wrong but I was not looking at the overall scene. I was looking more at my life and my students, how to make ends meet for me and my wife and how to get my stats up. Her disagreements were major, and though I could see them, I didn’t understand their severity.
Sindy’s contract ended at the end of November 2009. When the ED and the HAS met with her regarding the re-signing of her contract, she told them that before she would consider signing another contract, she would need to meet with the DSA to have her concerns addressed. Sindy mentioned to the ED that she did not trust David Miscavige as Sindy had been told, by her seniors, that many of the very orders that she disagreed with came directly from him.
Again, this occurred at the end of 2009, which was not too much later than the release of a St Petersburg Times exposé on the church. This exposé contained several articles and a series of videos highlighting the experience of many former execs at Int Management. The spoken and written testimonies of these former senior execs all claimed instances of physical violence perpetrated by David Miscavige and inflicted upon Sea Org members at Int. Subsequently, there was a rebuttal published by Freedom Magazine (a church publication) in an attempt to nullify these claims.
The St Pete Times articles and videos had absolutely nothing to do with Sindy’s apprehensions. She hadn’t even read them (neither had I) and didn’t even know they existed. It was what she saw going on in the org that caused the misgivings, not anything that any outside source was saying.
That’s the first thing I want to emphasize here. Her misgivings about the way the church was being managed had nothing to do with any publications made by any newspapers, magazine articles, TV shows, internet publications, etc. Up to this time, she hadn’t seen or read any of them. It was about things that she witnessed and experienced IN THE ORG, while on staff. It had to do with the constant over-emphasis on taking in money, with a lack of attention on helping people as individuals.
The ED’s response to Sindy’s origination (that she did not trust COB) was to give Sindy a copy of the Freedom magazine issue that was published to “dead agent” or rebut the claims of violence, by these former Int execs, against David Miscavige.
Having Sindy read this magazine turned out to be a big mistake (from the viewpoint of someone who wanted to make COB look good). It was the way in which this magazine was written that turned the tables for Sindy. To her it was obvious the church was hiding something and after much personal trauma, it was the tipping point that got her to want to “cross the line” to find out what was really happening in the management of the Church of Scientology, doing this by reading Internet information that was not being disclosed by the church itself.
It’s ironic that, prior to reading the Freedom magazine, Sindy knew nothing about what these people were saying about Miscavige and church management. Now, by giving Sindy the Freedom mag to read, the ED was introducing Sindy to the fact that people outside the church were accusing COB of violent actions and severe mismanagement. Until then, she thought she was the only one who had disagreements with him.
The ED, in my opinion, assumed that the only way anyone could have a bad opinion about David Miscavige would be to have gotten “Black PR” about him from “SPs”, so this magazine (in her mind) would handle whatever negative ideas she had about him. The result of the ED’s action was exactly the opposite of what she had intended. The ED did not realize that Sindy had gotten ZERO Black PR from outside sources and that giving her this Freedom mag to read was going to open up a whole new can of worms.
The only reason I can tell you what was going on with Sindy at the time, was not because I observed it in detail (even though she is my wife and I live with her) but because she told me all about it later on, after I had become involved. Again, to some degree I was oblivious, not to the situation, but to the severity of the situation at first.
That is, until one Sunday evening in February 2010. She had been researching the church on the Internet for maybe a couple weeks, and she hadn’t told me yet, but now she was about to let me know. Before she did (but only on that day), I knew something major was going on. I had gotten enough clues to realize that a point of no return had been reached. I could finally see that I was in a position of having to confront an enormous decision in my life.
I remember standing in the kitchen of our apartment, while she was in another room at the computer, and thinking to myself that I had to be willing to have the outcome of our discussion be whatever I thought was right, even if it meant having to break up with my wife, no matter how much I loved her. I didn’t want to leave my wife and the idea of leaving Scientology was a completely foreign concept up until then. I was nervous and uneasy and I was trying to calm myself and remind myself that in my past, whenever I had successfully handled a tough decision, I had to be willing to experience anything.
I can only imagine how it must have felt for her in anticipation of showing me what she had discovered and wondering how I was going to take it.
Sindy then proceeded to tell me that she had been researching the Church of Scientology on the Internet and had discovered some extremely disturbing things that were going on in the church, especially at International Management level. She said she believed them and that it explained so many outpoints that she had observed. She told me about the culture of physical violence that had developed at Int Management, along with other other extreme human rights violations, all of which were either perpetrated by or done on the orders of David Miscavige. She said that she could no longer support the church as it had become a criminal organization. To top it off, she said that she had complete certainty in the validity of the claims and had decided, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she would no longer support the church in any way.
It appeared we had hit a potential tipping point for our marriage. What if we were in complete disagreement about our individual stands on whether we should support the church? Would it be possible for us to stay together? How could I stay on staff and be married to someone who was totally at odds with what the church was doing?
I could see that I had something big to confront. I was not ethically in a position to demand that she change her stand on the matter, especially since I had no knowledge of what she was telling me about. I knew I had to respect her ethics and her principles.
Next…The Decision to Look