Rossiya 1: Cults and False Prophets: The cult of cash

Сults and False Prophets: The cult of cash 1

Broadcast date: February 25, 2015 (Rossiya 1)

Interview date: October 27, 2014 (Moscow)

Segment on Scientology

English Transcript

 


Street preacher: Jesus saves, not Buddha! Jesus saves, not Muhammad! Jesus saves! Now is the time to let go and let God! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ! Are you happy?

Narrator (Alexander Klyukvin): What exactly is this organization? Officially, its face is that of top Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta. But its true face is that of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder.

Gerald Armstrong (Former archivist to Hubbard, the founder of the Scientology cult): The man was a pathological liar. He was unscrupulous and, essentially, a psychopath.

(Actual English audio: I was inside the organization for twelve and a half years. A lot of that time, I was very close to the founder and who ran the whole thing, L. Ron Hubbard.)

Narrator: Perhaps no one in the world knows Hubbard better than one of his former close associates, Gerry Armstrong.

Gerald Armstrong: I was inside the organization for 12 and a half years. A lot of that time, I was very close to its founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

(Actual English audio: I was inside the organization for twelve and a half years. A lot of that time, I was very close to the founder and who ran the whole thing, L. Ron Hubbard.)

Narrator: Today, Gerry Armstrong is forced to hide from his former associates.

Gerald Armstrong: They have published discrediting information about me around the world, what Scientologists call “black propaganda,” and this has continued for 33 years.

(Actual English audio: I’ve been threatened myself [inaudible], and [inaudible], and they have published what they call “black propaganda” about me around the world.)

Narrator: What kind of power does this organization possess if it pursues its critics with such tenacity and ingenuity? According to the most conservative estimates, the Church of Scientology has monetary assets of around 4 billion dollars. Moreover, the Hubbardists do not pay taxes.

Alexander Dvorkin (President, Russian Association of Centers for Religious and Sectarian Studies): In the United States, Scientology has the right to lock up its members. If they run away, it has the right to catch up with them and convince them to go back. Obviously, “to convince” is an elastic notion. It has the right to censor their correspondence. It has the right to punish them by depriving them of food or cutting their sleep time. And it has the right to force women to have abortions. According to a court decision, as long as these practices have a doctrinal character, the court cannot intervene. As a result, Scientology has the right to do all these things.

Narrator: Remember that all this is happening in the United States of America, which calls itself a bastion of personal liberties and the land of the rule of law. What went wrong? Why is this organization granted such powers?

Gerald Armstrong: Hubbard was an intelligence officer of the United States during the Second World War. He got busted from that position. But, nevertheless, he had some experience in intelligence work.

(Actual English audio: Hubbard was an intelligence officer in the U.S. during the Second World War. He got busted from that position. But, nevertheless, he had some experience …)

Narrator: One of the first procedures for recruits to the Church of Scientology is so-called “auditing,” which is, essentially, asking questions using a lie detector.

Gerald Armstrong: They record everything you say on video and audio during the process. You must reveal everything you feel embarrassed about, that you would rather hide, every illegal thing you’ve done, everything for which you could be convicted, all your sexual history, your sexual thoughts, and all this is written down.

(Actual English audio: During the auditing process, they must reveal anything that is embarrassing in their life, and criminally, anything for which they could be prosecuted, all their sexual history, their sexual thoughts, anything they’ve ever done, anyone they’ve ever been with of either sex.)

Narrator: Once novices have shared their secrets, it is much easier to get them to start sharing their income.

Archpriest Dmitri Smirnov: Every cult is a pyramidal structure for extracting money from the population, so all cults are very rich. They teach every follower that 10 percent of all personal income should be given to the cult, so all cults get rich very quickly.

Narrator: Possessing considerable resources and huge amounts of damaging information apparently went to the heads of the Hubbardists to such an extent that they launched an offensive against their own government. And they failed.

Gerald Armstrong: In 1977, the Federal Bureau of Investigation — the FBI — raided Scientology’s intelligence bureaus in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Eleven Scientology intelligence personnel, including the wife of L. Ron Hubbard, Mary Sue Hubbard, were charged with activities against the state, convicted, and sent to prison.

(Actual English audio: In 1977, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, raided Scientology’s intelligence bureaus in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Eleven Scientology intelligence personnel, including the wife of L. Ron Hubbard, Mary Sue Hubbard, were charged and convicted and sent to prison for intelligence espionage activities.)

Narrator: The Church of Scientology was on the verge of collapse. It seemed that the organization was about to crumble into dust.

Alexander Dvorkin: Until about the mid-1990s, the United States was leading the fight against cults. The most high-profile trials related to cults took place in the United States of America … the most famous investigations. Moreover, cult members were sentenced to jail in the United States of America, not just ordinary cult members, but cult leaders or senior officials. But apparently, in the mid-1990s, someone had the idea that, if a phenomenon such as cults is impossible to defeat, then it’s better to use it.

Gerald Armstrong: A head of the bureau of the FBI — I believe it was in San Francisco — wrote that Scientology’s intelligence network was as powerful as that of the FBI itself. It is a private world-wide intelligence organization. Every Scientologist spies on everyone around him. Husband reports on wife, wife reports on husband. Children report on their parents, parents on their children.

(Actual English audio: A head of the bureau of the FBI, I believe it was in San Francisco, his name was Ted Gunderson… Scientology’s intelligence network was similar to, and second only to, the FBI. It is a private intelligence organization. Husband reports on wife, wife reports on husband, children report on their parents.)

Narrator: The Church of Scientology has thus proved itself a remarkable instrument: an espionage network where agents don’t have to be paid for their work. On the contrary, they were constantly providing money to the cult. Hubbardist branch offices began opening around the world.

Alexander Egortsev (Journalist): In 1999, during searches at the Moscow office of the Hubbard Church of Scientology, prosecutors, special forces, police, and investigators found and seized hundreds of folders that the Hubbardists, for some reason, maintained on members of the State Duma, famous Russian politicians, Russian state agencies such as KGB, FSB, OMON, the Interior Ministry, prominent members in the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church, and well-known journalists.

Narrator: The Scientologists were particularly interested in Russia’s closed cities.2

Russian officer (1997, in Yubileyny, town in Moscow region): Some truly difficult people made a proposal to organize a Scientology club at the Officers’ Club in a territory in which two research institutes are located. After the request was denied, they bluntly made threats against me, even insinuating that they’d have me fired for the rejection.

Alexander Egortsev: They tried to pressure some governors to have enterprise directors take administration courses developed by the Hubbard cult.

Narrator: Some materials published by the Church of Scientology are classified as extremist in Russia. However, the organization itself is considered a religious association. As a result, it is even granted tax exemptions.

Alexander Dvorkin: If any action is taken against Scientology, the State Department immediately issues a protest.

Narrator: Today, cults and their victims have vanished from TV screens and the front pages of newspapers. As a result, many of us have the impression that cults have simply disappeared. But this is not true at all.

Alexander Egortsev: The flyers are usually green and white and they say: “The environment in Moscow is very difficult. Answer five of our test questions, and you will find out how greatly your body is contaminated with chemical residues and other harmful substances.” The questions are worded so that you can only answer one way. No other answer is possible. “Come to our rehabilitation center. We will help you and offer you a special technology to cleanse the body.” They invite you to take the test and they say: “You’re very contaminated. It’s so good that you came to see us! If you’d waited another month, you would’ve had to be hospitalized for an operation. But God saved you. For any problem you have, we have a first course. It costs such-and-such a sum. Come on over!” And then the indoctrination and involvement in the cult begins.

 Notes

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