UPDATE: Well, it’s two years later, and much has changed — though much has not. I reread this post today, and it still rings true. I wanted to share it again in case you need to hear a hopeful message through the constant barrage of negativity.
I’ve been wanting to write this post since about 6:00 pm on January 6th. But I held back, so I could sit with it a bit longer and gather my thoughts.
I also wanted to see the response from those who are still backing the Trump agenda and QAnon after all this. I knew what I’d see: Blind faith. Refusal to believe that they were lied to. Complete and utter certainty that the people in the above photo were patriots, doing their duty to save this country from ruin.
I get it. As someone who was involved in a high-control group (i.e. cult), I was unsurprised at what happened on January 6th. Angry to the point of shaking for an hour, yes — but unsurprised.
What happened that day was the result of years and years of programming. I experienced cult programming myself — and with the help of what I can only imagine are guardian angels, was able to break free of it. So I know what it looks like.
The people who perpetrated this heinous crime will be punished — yet there are millions more who weren’t at the Capitol that day, but who feel the same way. Those are the people we need to be thinking about right now. They’re still, to a greater or lesser degree, under the spell.
It’s mind control, pure and simple — but it’s not so simple, and that’s the problem.
Mind control is a slow, deliberate process. Think of the old frog boiling analogy (with apologies to my frog-loving friends): Just put a frog in cold water, then slowly raise the heat. He’ll boil to death and never realize it.
It happens over years and years. People you trust send you articles and tell you they are fact and that you have to read them. They align enough with your current world view that you go ahead and look. Plus, you want to believe your friends — why would they steer you wrong?
Then you start looking for more information on the same subject. Pretty soon, you’re being fed a daily diet of conspiracy theories on social media — but you don’t know they’re conspiracy theories. You believe them to be true. Your friends believe them to be true. Your religious leaders believe them to be true.
It may seem crazy to you that people truly believe that the United States is about to be taken over by a group of satan-worshipping pedophiles. But it’s not crazy to hundreds of thousands of people in this country — maybe millions — including some members of congress.
Before you just dismiss this with an offhand, “They’re all nuts”, take it a few steps further and try to put yourself in their shoes for a minute.
What if you TRULY believed that this was fact? What if, in your deepest heart of hearts, you were terrified that the country was going to become instantly communist and all your rights and freedoms would be taken away? Wouldn’t you do whatever it took to “take your country back”?
I know from where I speak. As a die-hard Scientologist, I was certain of the following:
- Scientology had the only answers to mankind’s ills — without Scientology, the world would come to an end. Period. Everyone else was working hard to drive mankind deeper into the morass, but we would succeed — over any amount of dead bodies — and create a beautiful future for everyone else.
- I was inhabited by “body thetans” — thousands of disembodied spirits living in my body — who were responsible for all my problems, as well as the world’s problems. It wasn’t me — it was them. And my job was to get rid of them through specific Scientology processes.
- Outside of my body thetans, the one group responsible for all the evils of the world — including the holocaust by the way — were psychiatrists and psychologists. We would have done anything to rid the world of these evil beings, since they’d been wreaking havoc on this sector of the universe for millions of years. Yes, I said millions.
Sound crazy enough for you? Let me paint you another picture:
Every few months, Scientologists would gather at big international events. They don’t do it now — either COVID or their shrinking numbers have seen to that.
Anyway, these were basically PR events to tell the faithful about all the wonderful things Scientology is doing around the world. They’re built on lies — I know this because when I was in the Sea Org at Golden Era Productions, I helped write the scripts on occasion, helped put the events together, and wrote puff pieces about them afterward.
But knowing if these things are true or not doesn’t really matter to people who go to these events. They just want to hang out with others of their kind and get affirmation that they made the right choice by becoming Scientologists.
Big rallies and events… like-minded individuals on fire to change the world and wanting to be right about the choices they’ve made… sound familiar?
At these Scientology events, whenever they’d announce that someone “bad” was gotten rid of — like, say, a psychiatrist had been put out of business, or a well-known Scientology critic had died — the cheers would be deafening. I watch the Trump rallies, and I’m reminded of the kind of wild-eyed zealotry I’d witness at every one of these Scientology events.
Before you think that I’m trying to disparage QAnon supporters, let me assure you that I’m not. I don’t hate them. In fact, I may have more empathy than most, based on my past. Do I condone their actions? HELL no. It’s just that I’m way past the “Us vs. Them” viewpoint that I had as a Scientologist.
If you think this is a one-sided situation, I invite you to take a closer look.
As I’ve said before on this blog, there is no such thing as “Us” and “Them” — there’s only us. We’re all human. But in our current society, many don’t see it this way.
I read comments on social media posts from both sides of the political aisle. Most of what I see is name-calling: Libtard. Trumpanzee. “You’re in a cult!” “No, YOU’RE in a cult!” It would be laughable if it weren’t so damaging. You see, when you’re in a cult, the last thing you think is that you’re in one.
Case in point: When I was in the Sea Org working in Scientology International Management, Waco happened. Heaven’s Gate happened. Both times, my friends and I were utterly shocked at the whole thing. Then we looked at each other and said, rather self-satisfyingly, “Wow, I’m so glad we’re not in a cult — so glad we’re actually doing the right thing about all the world’s problems.”
And that’s the viewpoint. When you’re in a cult, it’s all about creating enemies. It’s all about Us vs. Them. But you don’t have to be in a cult to have an Us vs. Them mentality. Look at the United States right now: So many liberals think conservatives are evil, and vice-versa. This creates such wide divisions that it’s almost impossible to breach them.
There’s only one way to reach through the morass of mind control.
When I was fully, completely dedicated to Scientology, nobody could have told me I was wrong. I would have just dug my heels in and felt even more righteous. So how did I decide it was time to escape after nearly 20 years of indoctrination? It took a long, long time. And it comes down to two words: love and respect.
In 2003, after 10 years on the International Scientology Base, I was kicked out by David Miscavige (long story — it’ll be in my book) and spent the next four years at the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida. While I felt deeply ashamed that I’d been kicked to a “lower” organization, there was one bright spot: I would be able to speak to my family on a regular basis, for the first time in 10 years.
You see, when I was at the Int Base in Hemet, California, there was no communication. All incoming and outgoing phone calls had to be done through a “switchboard” and were heavily monitored. Letters from the outside were opened before they got to us, and often never reached us. One particular time, my brother called for me and they wouldn’t put him through. “But I’m her family!” he shouted on the phone. Their response? “We’re her family now.”
So imagine my surprise when I found out we could make phone calls from the office where I was working at Flag. (I’m certain that’s been clamped down now — after all, it was the catalyst to my leaving.)
Once I discovered this, I made a call to my mother when nobody was around. We worked out how she could call me regularly after that. And she did — once a week, like clockwork, for four years. And in all that time, not once did she say anything about how I should leave and come home. I can’t imagine how impossible that must have been for her, considering my parents lived an hour away from Clearwater and they could have just come and grabbed me if they wanted to.
But she never came to get me — and never said a disparaging word about Scientology. Instead, she talked about the family, life at home, her work, my work… mundane things like that. And she always ended the call with these words: “I love you very much.”
Sit back and take that in for a moment. This is a mother, who thought she would never see her child again, suddenly able to be in communication with that child. Instead of doing the one thing that would have guaranteed I never left — criticizing Scientology, thereby making her an enemy — she did the opposite. She reached out with love, never making me wrong for my viewpoints, just letting me know she was there for me.
And it worked. Four years later, I left and never looked back.
So I understand these QAnon believers. And I also understand that some of them may be at a point now where they’re thinking maybe they made a mistake. But I need you to know how hard that is.
I know exactly what it feels like to realize that everything you put your faith in, was actually harming people. I felt angry… ashamed… manipulated… deceived… the betrayal was enormous. I was incredibly delicate at that point. So if anyone had said “I told you so” it may have just sent me over the edge.
But they didn’t. Instead, they said, “I missed you. I’m so happy you’re here.”
I learned a lot about love and respect from my family and friends after I got out of Scientology. And I also learned just how powerful it can be to truly listen, without judgment — even when you vehemently disagree.
Love, compassion, and respect can do miraculous things.
I hope the events of this past week were the catalyst for some to snap out of their QAnon fog. As I said, I know how hard it is. Many will choose to remain steadfast in their beliefs, but I truly feel that many will not. We need to be there when they decide that maybe, just maybe, they were not thinking clearly about all this.
If you have a friend or family member who’s in this situation, my advice for you would be this:
- Don’t react.
- Listen some more.
- Don’t react some more.
- Talk about things you agree on — common interests like movies, childrens’ antics, fashion… whatever.
- Never, never make them wrong for what they say or believe. Just be there for them.
You might think this is impossible. It’s not. Ask my mom. She got her kid back after 20 years.
So I guess you could say, from this ex-cult member, that the answer to this — however Pollyanna-ish it may sound — is love.
It’s okay if we don’t agree. Let’s all try to have some compassion, live our lives the best way we know how, and love all over our friends and family.
For me, that’s the only way.