Sunday, February 10, 2013

Working in the Sea Org

After finishing the EPF a new recruit is quickly put to work. It is at this transition that you find out your job is much less "world saving" and much more "clerical". Most of the "posts" (what they call a job in the Sea Org) are average jobs: clerical, file keeping, accounting, sales, sales assistants, even janitorial and car mechanics.

These employees are paid at the most $50 a week, most of the time I was there I was making $20 or less.

This is the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles (AOLA for short). This is where I worked
A lot of the cases that the Church of Scientology has won in court have been based on the idea of a "ministerial exemption". This means that because the work in the Sea Org is religious in nature they don't have to follow wage and hour and child labor laws like the rest of the civilized world. This is because the US court system is apparently so afraid to take a peek inside a religion, that they fail to recognize that only 10% of any of the laborers in the Sea Org are working on something religious in nature.

Scientology is a giant business enterprise. They are centered on making a profit just as much as any other corporation. The US Government allows them to operate tax exempt and allows them to circumvent the wage and hour laws and child labor laws because they call themselves a "religion". This makes their business venture even that much more profitable.

Of the several jobs I held while working for the Church in the Sea Org only one of them was religious in nature. My first job was as a "go-fer". I basically went wherever I was needed, sort of like a temp.

My second job was working in the "Central Files" area. Central files is where a Scientology Church keeps all the contact information for anyone that has ever bought anything from the organization. Inside each folder is a compilation of all the correspondence sent to the person in question. All of the address information is sent up to the central church which manages an international list of contact information. I would say that about 20% of all the thousands of files were active and maybe 5% of those were duplicates. So even though the Central Files area took up half of the basement underneath the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles, most of it was wasted space. There was a huge effort to scan all the files for electronic storage while I was there and there was a huge effort to get new addresses for all of the "address unknown" files.

This is the AOLA Atrium. I had to sit in front of the committee that
investigated, humiliated and kicked me out of the Sea Org for being
gay right behind this room. If you look straight ahead to the wood panel
area, it was right back there
My next job was working as an assistant sales person. I sat with all of the people that convinced Scientologists to hand over their life savings or max out their credit cards or get a second mortgage on their houses. All so they can get some Scientology counseling. The sales people acted like financial gurus. They knew everything about how to get banks to increase limits, they even had connections at some banks that would increase limits for Scientologists. They knew how to convince banks to allow a second mortgage. I will stop short of accusing them of lying on financial documents, because I was young and I did not understand. However, I do think that they were able to bend the truth or create a convincing sob story to convince bank employees to make exceptions where they should not have. This is how the income from the organization was made and by far is where I received the maximum amount of psychological and emotional torture and abuse.

After that I was told that I was going to go on full time study to become a Scientology counselor. At first I was going to stay locally, but I was quickly told that I needed to do my training at the Scientology mecca in Clearwater, FL. I cried and at first I refused to go. I was quickly yelled at and threatened with confessionals if I did not comply immediately.

This is where I was in Clearwater
I originally refused because my family was here in Los Angeles and I knew that I was going to be gone for a long time. I knew I would not get to see them. I must have been 16 years old, close to 17. In the last couple of years doing the previous jobs I had gotten to spend maybe a few days at most with my family.

So after the threats and emotional and psychological leveraging, I left to Clearwater, FL and this is the closest I ever got to doing religious work. I was studying full time and receiving Scientology counseling.

If you want to imagine what it is like to work in the Sea Org think of it this way. Imagine all the complaints you have about your workplace. Imagine if you could never speak about any of them, under threat of being interrogated while connected to a lie detector. Imagine spending every day being yelled at by your boss. Not just normal frustration, you're talking pure, unadulterated anger. Fury even. This coupled with personal insults about your honesty and integrity. On top of that there is no way to change jobs and threatening to leave will only make things worse.

Everyone is treated as though they are a single, unimportant cog in a huge organization. You are never made to feel appreciated as an individual, you are treated the same as the rest of the group no matter how much work you put in. Information is highly compartmentalized, even to the point that it might hinder your ability to do your work.

This is one of the heaviest forms of indoctrination
that Scientology has. It teaches you not to trust
the outside world.
Every time you make a mistake someone questions your motives and accuses you of doing it on purpose. You might disagree, but you're not allowed to. You don't have a friend in the world that you can talk to about your frustrations or your sadness. You have to keep it all bottled up. You can't trust anyone because everyone is excited to report defectors or anyone who complains.

On top of that your Scientology programming teaches you that if you think something is wrong, then something must be wrong with you. I had been indoctrinated in Scientology since childhood and this was reinforcing it even more.

When I was in Clearwater, FL I was bunking with some fellow Sea Org members from the UK. One of my bunk mates and I ended up forming a relationship that must have lasted a couple of months or so. I don't really remember, it's such a blur. This was the first time that I ever felt love for a fellow human being on that level and I never have since. That is a big no-no in the Sea Org and really in Scientology as a whole.

Scientology is completely, 100% anti-gay. They view anyone who is gay as disgusting and evil. They believe that anyone who is gay, or anyone who doesn't fit Hubbard's idea of a "normal" human should be done away with quietly and without sorrow. They are really like a quiet version of the Westboro Baptists.

This is the type of machine I was shredding paper
in. It was enclosed in a small room full of dust.
I did not have a mask and my snot would come out
all kinds of different colors.
We ended up getting caught laying together one night by one of our other roommates and he ended up reporting us. We were both sent back home, me to Los Angeles and him to the UK. My heart was shredded to pieces. I was devastated. Not only did I have to deal with that, but now I had to sit in front of a committee of Sea Org members who judged me for what I had done. I had to endure confessionals for months and perform humiliating hard labor.

I had to work in book stocks putting books in cardboard boxes to be shipped out. After that I had to work filing moldy papers away. Both of these were in basement tunnels underneath L. Ron Hubbard way because I was expected to avoid any contact with other Sea Org members. Like I was some kind of contagion that could pass on my disease to people. The last thing I had to do was work in the carport shredding documents. Tens of thousands of documents on an industrial shredder. My snot would come out all different colors because of all the paper I was shredding.
This is what goes on behind closed doors in Scientology. Except without the "God hates" because Scientology doesn't believe in God. They consider anyone who is against Scientology or who doesn't fit the Hubbard-defined "normal" as evil.
The humiliating confessionals and labor ended a few days after my 18th birthday. I assume they extended it so I could sign the legal releases as an adult. They gave me $500 in exchange for signing some papers that said I was happy with my experience and that everything I did was of my own choice. Of course I am not sure how legally binding that is since I was a minor until just a couple of days before.
This is what my confessionals looked like. Except imagine tears and shame instead of a smile. A 16 year old kid in the chair holding the cans. And imagine that 16 year old kid talking to a grown man about his sexual proclivities.
This was end of my Sea Org adventure. I was given a ride home by Sea Org security and then I had to call my dad and tell him what happened. I found out quickly that not a single person had called him to warn him I would be coming home.

Now that I had finally been released from the hell of the Sea Org I had to face my parents.