Ever have those moments when thoughts come at you in rapid-fire succession? It happens to me all the time. Like just now.
I was sitting on my couch watching ad after ad on TV for “the best Christmas present ever” while looking at ads on my social media feed to “give your pets a great Christmas with this new toy” while thinking about how I’m liquidating a store by selling lots of clothes at 50% off to Florida residents who really don’t need another sweater.
Then I thought about how much I already have and that I don’t need anything else.
Then I thought about money and how I should make more.
Then I thought about WHY I feel that way: In scientology, I was indoctrinated that money was EVERYTHING.
It’s a slippery slope, I’ll tell ya. Now I’m thinking about all the ways that the sea org showed me just how greedy scientology is.
Sounds odd when you think that scientology is supposed to be offering spiritual freedom, right?
It also seems odd when you realize that the majority of sea org members make little to no money.
Well, except the regges. Who are the regges? These are the staff members whose entire job is to extract money from people for scientology services and materials. “Reg” is short for “registrar”, the person who signs you up, i.e. “registers” you, for service. Sounds innocuous, until you realize that the only way you can sign up for service is to pay money.
Scientology is a business. It’s all about extracting the most money from the most people. And when it comes to regges, I’ve never met a more cutthroat group of individuals in my life.
How I was trained to extract money
Soon after I started on staff in the mountain view scientology mission, I was put in charge of the public division. The entire purpose of this division is to drive as many people into the mission and onto service as possible. I had to learn pretty damn quickly how to extract money from people.
I was trained in “hard sell” like nobody’s business. I was put through my paces, believe me, and I got a lot of people to start basic services at a few hundred dollars a pop. But when it came to the big money, I wasn’t good at it. I felt uncomfortable asking people to mortgage their houses, cash in savings bonds, go in debt up to their eyeballs, all to pay for scientology services—go figure!
That’s where Jeni came in. She had been doing it for years and was a master at it. She could get people to do the most insane things to pay for their “clear package”, the services needed to get all the way up to the state of clear. She’d get them to take out loans from wealthy scientologists, bust their 401Ks, spend their entire inheritance, whatever it took. Man, it was ruthless.
I thought I’d seen it all. Until I ended up at flag in Clearwater, which is the highest level service organization for scientology. That’s where I learned just how insane it could get.
Flag registrars: the most cutthroat of them all
The regges at flag pulled in millions of dollars a week. When I left in 2007, there were weeks when they’d make three million dollars. Now, was flag delivering three million dollars’ worth of services a week? Hardly. The amount of money they have on account for “undelivered services” is in the hundreds of millions.
Just where is all that money, you may ask? I’d imagine a lot of it is in the fancy new organizations that scientology keeps building to show how they’re expanding. Except the organizations are just beautiful, empty buildings. They are a great tax shelter, however. Or maybe the money is going to all the fancy, high-priced lawyers scientology uses to defend themselves in the many lawsuits filed against them.
But I digress. Back to the flag registrars. the most revered of all staff members. They were viewed as the elite of the elite, got lots of bonuses and time off, and were treated with kid gloves if they did anything “unethical” like taking money off a person’s credit card without their authority. Oh believe me, it happened all the time.
No scientologist would prosecute, however, because it was always looked upon as an “internal scientology matter”. If you went to law enforcement about a crime another scientologist may have committed, YOU would be the one in trouble. It’s a suppressive act to go outside of scientology to handle such matters. Pretty neat trick, huh? That’s how cults roll.
To give you an idea what kind of adulation I’m talking about when it came to flag regges, I’ll describe a weekly staff meeting. We’d go over the prior week’s statistics from every department and talk about upcoming business. If the GI, or “gross income”, was up, it was a PARTY. If it was down, it was a nightmare.
If the GI was up, there was always a “staff member of the week” and it was almost always a registrar. There would be great fanfare, huge applause, lots of rewards, blah blah blah.
Oh, you may ask, what about the people actually delivering the services? Well, they were okay and all, but not at the level of the regges. They would be praised if their “VSD” or “value of services delivered” (another money statistic) was up, but if it was down, they’d be raked over the coals in front of the entire staff.
It was so bad during the last months I was there, that the auditors delivering the highest levels would have to audit all day and then stay up well into the night—like 3 AM—to sell books and lectures because everyone had a quota to meet before going to bed.
Again, MONEY IS EVERYTHING TO SCIENTOLOGY. It’s something I saw over and over and over again.
It makes me sad to think of all the people who’ve given millions of dollars to an organization that does nothing but take, take, take.
On the other hand, It makes me happy that I’m no longer a part of that money machine.
So here’s to a joyous holiday season filled with love, friends, and fun. Stuff? Not so much.