Yesterday, we posted documents purportedly smuggled out of a trash bin of San Francisco's Church of Scientology by ethicstrouble, a self-proclaimed church member who has decided Scientology is a money-sucking farce and wants out. Two prominent ex-Scientologists agreed the statistics looked legit, even though the San Francisco church's president claims they aren't.
There's no denying that ethicstrouble can speak frankly and intimately about life inside the San Francisco org, to a degree that would make this an incredible hoax if they were making this up. (We refer to ethicstrouble as a genderless "they.")
We've made minor edits to ethicstrouble's answers for clarity and brevity.
SFW: Can you tell us about the setup of the San Francisco org? How many people are actually on staff at the church?
: There's a day organization Monday through Friday and a foundation organization that's nights and weekends. It's less than 80 people for each org -- I don't have the specifics in front of me. There's a few that have inheritance [they can live off of] .... Ninety-eight percent do have a second job. Some people are barely getting by with their second job. I know of three people who've taken out a mortgage and filed for bankruptcy a few years later. All their money went to Scientology.
One of the most upsetting things for me is the [Scientology] events where they're getting money from people and the way they just push people. I've seen them go until 2 in the morning pushing people, and a staff member will call the credit card company and get their credit limit raised so they can donate. It's disgusting.
SFW: According to the stats you sent us, there's very few people taking courses or new members coming in the door. How does the church afford that fancy historic building on Columbus?
ET: They own it. They paid it off in the last year or two. The org survives only because of deep pockets. Now almost all the events take place in the org because there's no money. In the old days, they were in a hotel.
SFW: Can you tell us about the layout of the basement of the org?
ET: The basement is the purification program and the auditing. At the bottom of the stairs to the right is the administration room. There's 18 to 20 auditing rooms. They're empty most of the time. Past that, you go down a hallway and they have a good-size sauna, a shower for the men and one for the women, that's where people do the purification and take the niacin.
There's a small lounge area and seven treadmills to do the exercise before go into the saunas -- you have to run for 20 minutes before going into the sauna. We're expected to do [purification] five hours a day, seven days a week.
SFW: Does the org talk about the celebrities in Scientology a lot?
ET: Not at all. It's not a big thing at all. It's a big thing for upper management probably, but not for the ordinary guy or gal in the church.
SFW: So how do Scientologists feel about the internet?
ET: Anything anti-Scientology is not talked about in the org. None of the computers in the org are connected to the Internet. You can do anything you want on the Internet [on your own time], you just can't look at sites that are anti-Scientology. For so many years I so believed and was told never to look on the Internet [for anti-Scientology websites], and I never did. You get in so much trouble if you look on the Internet. They make you do ammends and you're just tormented so you never do it, because you're afraid to.
Still, there are people getting busted doing it all the time. [People who are caught] have ethics interviews, they bring them in and show them the "true data." They say you're giving power to the enemy by putting a hit on their site. So if they have all these pageviews then that's giving them power.
SFW: How do people have to make amends if they are busted looking at an anti-Scientology site?
ET: People come up with weird ideas. They can hand out 1,000 pieces of Scientology promo, like hand out '1,000 Ways To Happiness' brochures. Or call up 1,000 Scientologists and make sure they're still in good standing, or do a security check to "clean myself up to make sure I won't do it again." People could say, "I wrote on the their anti-Scientology website that I was a Scientologist and I know the truth and the website was all lies."
SFW: So are the people constantly handing out Scientology brochures outside Old Navy at Fourth and Market doing penance for having done something wrong?
ET: Frequently. We also have staff that do that, but frequently, absolutely. Or they try to sell Dianetics at flea markets.
Tomorrow we'll talk to ethicstrouble about how they decided, little by little, that Scientology was a crock. And yes, Anonymous did play a part.
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