Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Troubles in paradise

What I am about to write is going to shock and maybe upset many of my fellow Scientologists, assuming they ever find and read this. Scientology is going through a very troublesome period, with unprecedented attacks coming from this group called "Anonymous" and worrisome stats at many of the orgs. The leadership tries to deny it, but I think we have to be honest here, Scientology is in trouble. What sort of trouble? For the most part, marketing trouble. I have worked in marketing for a long time, and I know the signs of a damaged brand. Scientology has been damaged, and we are not going to help make things better by denying it. The biggest problem comes from the internet and groups of disgruntled ex-members and now, Anonymous, a group of mostly youthful people who have taken to picketing outside our Church one or more times a month. However the problems with Scientology as a brand go back further than when these masked people showed up in 2008. No effective advertising of Scientology was being done prior to Anonymous. Sure we had the test carts and some book drives, and the volunteer ministers. But there had not been any appreciable television or print advertising for some time.

While this is being done now, it unfortunately is coming rather late in the game. When Anonymous showed up in masks in 2008, they grabbed international attention and are still to this day showing up at least once a month in a major publication either online or off. Their attacks have badly tarnished the name of Scientology and they have put in the public's mind a notion that Scientology is some form of evil. While nothing could be further from the truth, that does not change the fact that this perception exists. What I want to know, and why I am making this blog, is why has our leadership not been handling this situation? Why is this group still able to attack us every single day for over a year? Why is there no attention being given to our damaged brand. Slick commercials are not going to save the brand at this point. Had the leadership gotten on top of this from the very beginning, had we been pushing the brand image of Scientology all along, we would not be in this unenviable position.

And who is responsible? Heber Jentzsch? Where is he? He is the president of Scientology, but he does not seem to be in charge. Instead control seems firmly in the hands of David Miscavige, who is chairman of the Religious Technology Center. Why is he heading all the IAS speeches? Why is someone whose job is supposed to be protecting the works of L. Ron Hubbard doing the tasks that should be handled by the president? Where is his staff and why are they not on top of these attacks?

These are questions that every Scientologist should be asking. Why have things been allowed to reach this point? I have seen ups and downs in Scientology and the orgs in the 17 years I have been a Scientologist, but things have never been this bad before. Morale is low, stats are down and we are not growing. David Miscavige says we are growing. But I am forced to admit that he is lying to us with a bald face. We are not growing. Scientology is shrinking and because of the failure to handle the attacks and misinformation, the problem is only getting worse. Yet David Miscavige and his team seem incapable of handling these conditions. If I did as bad a job on anything in Scientology, I would be declared out ethics in an instant. Yet no one seems willing to stand up and say what needs to be said, that David Miscavige is not handling the media and this group of protesters who are wreaking havok at orgs around the world.

L. Ron Hubbard left clear directions for how to handle attackers. Yet I see little evidence that much has been done outside of desperate attempts to stop protesting at Int and the PAC base. Orgs in other parts of the country are left to fend for themselves, usually by closing curtains and sending people home instead of confronting the attackers outside. Where is our confront? Where is our leadership? What is the office of special affairs doing? Certainly not their jobs.

One has to wonder if anyone is really willing to stand up and do anything inside the Church about this. We have been told that the psychs are paying the protesters. I believed it at first. Who else could organize such a massive attack as what we saw in February of 2008, and then again in March? The size of the protests have lessened since, but they have not stopped. We still get prank calls. We still get entheta and attacks against the Church scrawled on the sidewalks and left on nearby bus stops and telephone poles. Worse, sometimes we find copies of confidential teachings pinned up or openly referenced to. Why is this information not being protected? Who is pursuing the leaks?

More on this tomorrow.


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