In this book, I have tried to explain what Scientologists believe, what they do, how Scientology started and is expanding, and what happens to a person once he joins Scientology. One question I have not yet answered is the one that is most frequently asked of me — "Why do people join Scientology?"
For one thing, they haven't read this book — or anything else that really tells them about the group. Most of the people who attend the introductory lecture or visit the Org out of curiosity know nothing about: the people who joined and found that their emotional difficulties were being aggravated instead of alleviated; the people who spent thousands of dollars on Scientology in one year; and the people who were harassed after they left.
The Scientologists have done everything possible to keep these stories private. Not only have they sued and harassed those who have spoken out publicly against the group, but they have also tried to discredit them by sometimes "revealing" their supposed "crimes" in lurid and ludicrous detail.
While the people who join Scientology usually have not had a chance to hear the Scientology critics, they also haven't heard the Scientologists themselves either. They do not really know what Scientology has to offer or what they are getting into. Those who join the group spend quite a bit of time in it before they find out what the Scientologists really believe, about the Scientology auditing process, or even that there is a Scientology auditing process.
That's because Scientologists are very evasive about their activities, usually answering (or avoiding) questions about what Scientology is or what Scientologists do with such statements as "it's beautiful," "it'll make you free," and "you'll have to try it for yourself." In fact, people have to try it for themselves for quite some time before they discover how deeply involved both financially and emotionally they have become. Sometimes, by that time, they are too deeply involved to leave.
For the deeper a person goes into Scientology, the deeper he may have to go into Scientology. The more courses he takes, the more time he spends with Scientologists. The more time he spends with his new friends, the less time he spends with his old friends. If he leaves his job and goes to work for Scientology, as many do, he will soon be living and working only for Scientology, spending time only with Scientologists, and, as many people who have met them have discovered to their dismay, talking only about Scientology.
But while this may explain why they stay there, it does not explain their initial attraction to the group. I think one thing that attracts people to the group is its appearance. It appears to be religious (ministers, clerical robes, etc.) It appears to be scientific ("Scientology"). It appears to be involved with technology (the E-meter). It appears to have a philosophical body of knowledge (Hubbard's writings). Another thing that attracts them is the appearance of some of the people themselves.
Although by now it may seem that Scientologists have crazy stares, talk gobbledy-gook language, and act as if they're from outer space, the usual initial impression that most people acquire when they walk into an Org is that of people who are young, very attractive, and often, intelligent.
Furthermore, many of these young people are unattached, so that single or lonely people are attracted to Scientology's social life. Some people join Scientology because they have already met their mate — a person who was or became a Scientologist. Some of the most ardent Scientologists admitted that they initially joined or became interested in the group because their spouses or loved ones were Scientologists and the only way they could continue to see that person, or have something in common with them, was by joining the group themselves.
In addition to those who join because they are seeking a mistress or a mate (a person), many people join because they are seeking a group to which they can really belong and be a part. Scientology is really just one big family. Hubbard, of course, is the father, and his wife plays the role of the mother. Scientologists are children who, if they're good, will be taken care of; if they're bad, and protest or question anything, father says they will be expelled from the family unit.
Everything in their life is planned for them. There are certain courses for them to take and certain goals they must achieve in each course. If they disobey, or balk at any level, the punishments are rigidly set forth. Fortunately for the Scientologists, Hubbard treats his children somewhat kindly — so long as they don't ever grow up and try to leave his home.
Like any family group, or in fact any group, Scientology fulfills some of the personal needs of its members. Someone with a strong desire to be respected by others can easily become a Scientology minister and be treated with the reverence generally accorded to men of the cloth. Someone with feelings of intellectual inferiority believes he can have his I.Q. raised by Scientology, and can, in fact, get a (Scientology) B.A. or a (Scientology) Doctorate degree. Someone who feels lonely has a place to go to and friends to see once he joins Scientology — Scientology brings meaning into his life where once there was only emptiness.
The man I described in the first chapter who said that before he discovered Scientology he used to lie in bed and stare at the ceilings may not have been that different from some of the others who joined. But now that man has a place to go and something to do. People understand what he's saying because he's speaking their language. People look him straight in the eye when he talks to them. People like him now because he has the same goals. More important — now he has some goals. He is working hard to bring everyone into Scientology so that together they can all save this world. It would be a laudable goal, too, except for one thing: no one is allowed to disagree with or criticize the manner in which the Scientologists think they're going to save the world.
When all is said and done, what Scientology has to offer is merely their treatment or processing. They believe that it is our only road to salvation. The Scientologists like to say that there can't be two sides to the truth. Since they believe that they have found the truth, those who disagree with them are wrong. Perhaps. Sometimes when I am most skeptical about the efficacy of their methods, I think back to what one Scientologist said (using typically inflated figures) about their membership: "Fifteen million people can't be wrong." But history has often proven otherwise.