News

In Ron We Trust – Part 1

Sunday Independent, Life Magazine, July 10th 2011

Scientology gets a bad press, often being portrayed as a money-making cult built on lies that makes virtual prisoners of its members. So Joanna Kiernan asked some of Ireland’s practising Scientologists a few simple questions about their religion, what it has done for them and their lives, and what they think about society’s negative attitudes towards Scientology. We promised to let them answer in their own words. Photography by Agata Stoinska

Anita Kelly, 37, Receptionist, from Wexford

How did you become a Scientologist?

My friend introduced me to Dianetics in 1992.

What has Scientology done for you?

It has helped me in many areas of my life, in work, personally and in relationships with others. My confidence has grown greatly and my marriage is better and stronger than ever even after 19 years.

Are you more prosperous/intelligent/ successful as a result of Scientology?

I would have to say yes.

Are those who say bad things about Scientology lying?

I do know people who have said things that are not true and in my opinion they do not really know what it is all about and have not found out for themselves and have listened to others who themselves do not know what Scientology is.

Why is there so much criticism of Scientology and, indeed, Scientologists?

In my opinion, they do not know exactly what Scientology is and does, and how it helps one in their life.

Is Scientology a cult?

No.

What do you believe as a Scientologist? What are your beliefs around this world and the next?

I do believe I have been here before.

Do you have any children? Are they Scientologists?

Yes, I do! They will choose themselves if they want to become Scientologists when they are older. They’ve done some courses on study to help them in their schooling and one of my sons did a confidence course to help him communicate better and get a part-time job.

How young can you become a Scientologist?

You can become one at 18 years old.

How does Scientology differ from other religions?

It is practical in its teachings and one can use it in life to improve your life and those of others. You also go by what is real for you and you make your own opinions and choices.

Have you ever given money to Scientology?

That is a personal matter, really. Well, if I want to buy a loaf of bread or a car, I will buy them, and if I want to support my religion and take courses or Auditing [spiritual counselling] I will give a donation for them. In terms of how it helped me and others, it is worth far more than I have donated.

Why is Scientology so popular among those in Hollywood, such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise?

It is also just as popular to non-famous people, and, in my opinion, they must have found something that has worked for them.

What is the one thing about Scientology you feel that people would be surprised to learn?

How simple it is to apply to one’s life and how it’s all to help you in your life and enable you to help others. Scientology has betterment groups to help in society such as programmes to help with drugs, crime and other social-betterment activities to actually help society improve.

Bernard Duffy, 90, retired, from Newcastle, England, living in Dublin

How did you become a Scientologist?

I attended a free lecture in 1956 at the American College of Personal Efficiency, 69 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, which was set up by L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, when he himself lived here in Dublin. These lectures improved my self-confidence, which in turn increased my self-worth and my ability to handle life.

What has Scientology done for you?

It has helped improve my ability to find out things for myself. It has increased my self-confidence and made me more able to understand people and their problems.

It also increased my ability in my profession, which enabled me to start up my own company.

I am more able to handle life in general and am not affected by any obstacles that present themselves. I overcame my self-consciousness and shyness and thus I am able to converse with anyone.

Are you more prosperous/intelligent/ successful as a result of Scientology?

Yes, because of what I have mentioned previously, I have become more intelligent and successful in life generally.

Are those who say bad things about Scientology lying?

I have never heard anybody say anything bad about Scientology.

Why is there so much criticism of Scientology and, indeed, Scientologists?

I have never been criticised for being a Scientologist. In fact, friends have said, ‘You seem to be doing all right, so there mustn’t be anything wrong with Scientology.’

Is Scientology a cult?

No.

What do you believe as a Scientologist? What are your beliefs around this world and the next?

The creed of Scientology states that all people are equal in rights regardless of race, colour or religion and that all men and women are basically good.

The aims of Scientology are a world without crime and without insanity where people are free to prosper in life. What I believe personally is that I am a spiritual being who is immortal and who returns to another body after this life.

Do you have any children?

Yes.

Are they Scientologists?

No.

How young can you become a Scientologist?

As young as a person wishes.

How does Scientology differ from other religions?

The true definition of a religion is a philosophy of life. Scientology is very much a practical philosophy of life.

Have you ever given money to Scientology?

Yes, I have paid money to cover the costs of courses I have done.

Why is Scientology so popular among those in Hollywood, such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise?

Scientology is popular with many people from all walks of life.

I would also imagine that many budding actors and actresses in Hollywood see that there are so many successful artists using Scientology that they look into it for themselves.

What is the one thing about Scientology you feel that people would be surprised to learn?

That Scientology has a number of groups working as volunteers in society.

Viktor Madarasz, 26, self-employed, originally from Hungary but living in Dublin

How did you become a Scientologist?

When I was younger, I used to take all sorts of street drugs. I wasn’t addicted; I just didn’t want to be left out of the fun. But on one occasion it was too much and I felt something changed. After this incident I just never felt as bright as I was before and I was tired all the time. I lost my motivation, even though I wasn’t even 20.

I was desperately looking for solutions and answers to what had happened to me and that’s how I found a book called Clear Body, Clear Mind. It explains what drugs do to the body and the mind and how to get rid of them. I read the book and it made sense to me so I did the programme called The Purification Rundown, which basically clears up your body from the toxins by using sauna and vitamins.

This was really helpful and I have gone on from there.

What has Scientology done for you?

I have had many successes by using Scientology.

On the counselling side, I got out of the past, where I was stuck because of the drugs. People who have ever taken drugs know exactly what I mean.

I used to work in a nine-to-five job, but since I am in Scientology I started my own business and I am using the technology in management, marketing and how to communicate with people.

Are you more prosperous/intelligent/ successful as a result of Scientology?

Yes, one of the most obvious things that I improved by Scientology was my communication. I personally think that communication is a vital factor to succeed.

Are those who say bad things about Scientology lying?

Only the ones who are generating the lies. But unfortunately, in today’s society we get our opinions from the television, radio, newspapers and from our neighbours. Whatever they tell us, we just accept it as true, instead of deciding it for ourselves.

Why is there so much criticism of Scientology and, indeed, Scientologists?

Just look at history, all the great ideas and movements got attacked.

Is Scientology a cult?

I think first everyone should look up the word cult in a dictionary, then do some research on Scientology, what it does, what are its principles, and so on, and then decide for themselves.

What do you believe as a Scientologist? What are your beliefs around this world and the next?

Belief is a really good thing. Faith gives you power and hope, but knowledge is far more valuable for me as it gives me certainty. I don’t know about the next world, all I know is that something needs to be changed in order to have a next world.

Do you have any children? Are they Scientologists? How young can you become a Scientologist?

No, I don’t have any children yet, but when I will have, they will decide for themselves if they want to be a Scientologist or not.

How does Scientology differ from other religions?

It is not based on opinions.

Have you ever given money to Scientology?

Yes. I don’t know the exact figures but I spent way more on drugs, smoking and alcohol. The best investment that you can ever do is self-improvement and learning how to help others.

Why is Scientology so popular among those in Hollywood, such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise?

I guess simply because it worked for them.

What is the one thing about Scientology you feel that people would be surprised to learn?

“The ultimate freedom depends on knowing the ultimate Truth. Truth is not what people say it is, it is what it is. And Truth, quite remarkably, sets one free, just like philosophers have said down the ages.” L Ron Hubbard

Zabrina Collins, 33, businesswoman, from Donegal

How did you become a Scientologist?

From the age of 11 I had been looking into religions and philosophies. There are many wonderful and interesting religions but somehow I always found something within them I disagreed with. When I was 22, I walked into a Scientology organisation in Sydney, Australia. I read some books and did some courses and I found something I could agree with and that worked for me!

What has Scientology done for you?

Primarily it has given me tools to help other people. I actually always wanted to be a psychiatrist, since I was very small. I went to Queen’s University, Belfast, to study psychology, with the idea of becoming a clinical psychologist. I have never been able to help someone with what I have learned on that subject. I have, however, helped hundreds of people with what I have learned, after only a few courses in Scientology counselling. I decided that I would become a volunteer in the Scientology organisation in Dublin because people really need help and I could do that.

Are you more prosperous/intelligent/ successful as a result of Scientology?

When I first came into Scientology I was working as an office worker in a large travel company — basically just a cog in a big company. I now have my own very successful company with offices in the city centre. This I attribute to what I have learned in business administration in Scientology and the competence I have gained working as a volunteer in Scientology. I now have a means of financially supporting my family with a lifestyle that far surpasses what I would have had as a general office worker.

Are those who say bad things about Scientology lying?

I think there are definitely people out there that do not want others to get better. Luckily most people are not like that and when they find out what Scientology, is they agree that it is a good thing.

Why is there so much criticism of Scientology and, indeed, Scientologists?

I believe I answered that above.

Is Scientology a cult?

No.

What do you believe as a Scientologist? What are your beliefs around this world and the next?

I believe that everybody can get better and achieve whatever they want in life.

Do you have any children? Are they Scientologists? How young can you become a Scientologist?

My husband and I have a little eight-year-old girl. She has studied some of the children’s courses that are available in Scientology. They include: Learning How to Learn, How To Use a Dictionary, Grammar and Communication, and the Children’s Communication Course. As you can see, they are all aimed at her school education. I would like my little girl to get the best out of her education and these courses have done that. When she is older, she can decide if she would like to do more in Scientology or not, but that is her decision to make, not mine.

How does Scientology differ from other religions?

The main focus of most religions is spiritual freedom. I believe that you cannot be free if you have to follow a lot of rules, or are forced to believe something that you don’t agree with.

What I like with Scientology is that you can evaluate any data you read and decide if it is true for you or not — and that is absolutely your decision to make. Because of this, Scientology can be used by anybody of any background.

Have you ever given money to Scientology?

Scientology does quite a lot of fund-raising for international disasters like 9/11, the Australian bushfires, the tsunami disaster relief programme and recently the disaster in Japan, which we held a fund-raiser for last week. I make donations to these causes as and when I can.

Why is Scientology so popular among those in Hollywood, such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise?

Scientology is actually very popular with millions around the world. Because some famous people use Scientology to help them, — and, obviously, it does help as they are excelling in their careers — doesn’t mean we all have to be famous.

What is the one thing about Scientology you feel that people would be surprised to learn?

It actually works. It is very practical and does exactly what it says on the tin! Because it addresses life and the problems that life poses, one would think it would take a long time to learn and be very complicated. But Scientology is the simplest study you will ever do.

Siobhan Ryan, 48, Chiropractor Assistant, from Dublin

How did you become a Scientologist?

A friend of mine introduced me.

What has Scientology done for you?

It has given me a method to use in order to understand and improve my life and my beliefs.

Are you more prosperous/intelligent/ successful as a result of Scientology?

As a result, I am all of the above, in comparison to how I was before I started using Scientology, I was a recluse and not succeeding in my life.

Are those who say bad things about Scientology lying?

The main source of information, ie the media and the internet, are outlets for certain people who alter the truth and quote things out of context. There are various connotations made that are deliberately designed to make Scientology look bad.

Why is there so much criticism of Scientology and, indeed, Scientologists?

It is actually a relative few who are critical but this can seem many more than it is when their lies are repeated in the media and on the internet. Any new religion in history has been criticised by the vested interests of their day.

Is Scientology a cult?

No, Scientology is not a closed, secret group for a select few, it is for everybody, from any walk of life, any creed, any race and our doors are open always to everyone.

What do you believe as a Scientologist? What are your beliefs around this world and the next?

I believe and know that man/woman are basically good. And that they can solve their problems when they find the source of them. I know that I have had many lives and I know I will have many more.

Do you have any children? Are they Scientologists? How young can you become a Scientologist?

I have two children, 19 and 13 years. My youngest is not a Scientologist, he has only done a course on how to study and has not studied the philosophy of Scientology. His main passions at this point in his life are football and sports. My daughter has always been a philosopher and was very hungry as a child to understand things in life so she has done a lot of courses and is following that pursuit of knowledge with Scientology.

How does Scientology differ from other religions?

One of the fundamental differences with Western religions, but not with Eastern religions, is regarding the existence of past lives. Also, while Scientology very much recognises that there was a creator to this universe, there is no dogma on who or what God is, and that is left up to the individual’s own understanding.

It is also worth noting that Scientology is non-conversionary, hence there are people of all religions who also study and practice Scientology.

Have you ever given money to Scientology?

From time to time I do different courses, not necessarily on a regular basis. For these I give donations of anything from €50 up to a few hundred euro.

Why is Scientology so popular among those in Hollywood, such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise?

Scientology enhances an artist’s talents. They are, after all, the same as you and me and not exempt from the problems of life.

What is the one thing about Scientology you feel that people would be surprised to learn?

That it is very practical and that I have more fun and pleasure in my life now than I had when I was 20 years old.

Asia Kawczyk, 27, businesswoman, from Poland

 

How did you become a Scientologist?

I was always searching for answers about people and life in general. I have read a lot of books in my life, especially Buddhist ones, and I have looked into a lot of religions. When I came across Scientology and its materials it completed my search. I found Scientology to be a complete knowledge, with all the answers about life I was looking for.

I didn’t know anything about Scientology when I started, I just got interested in the Ups and Downs course based on the works of LRH [Lafayette Ronald Hubbard]. This course acknowledged the information I always had somewhere in the back of my mind, but which I never really validated. After this course, my life changed 180 degrees. I met my husband, got an amazing job as an artist, and ever since it just keeps getting better.

What has Scientology done for you?

Wow, that’s a big question! It has made my life so much better across the board! I was a successful and a bright individual before it, but with the knowledge I got about life, livingness and people, I became bigger as a person, more able to handle things in my life and, especially, more able to effectively help others who were in need. I became more confident, less worried, financially stable. I could keep going for pages!

Are you more prosperous/intelligent/ successful as a result of Scientology?

Absolutely!

Are those who say bad things about Scientology lying?

In my experience, those who say bad things about Scientology have a vested interest in saying those things, or are very uneducated about the subject. I have met very few people in my life who were saying bad things about Scientology, but if I came across one, I always found him to be in the above two categories: either there was vested interest, or ignorance of the subject.

Why is there so much criticism of Scientology and, indeed, Scientologists?

They are usually ignorant, not informed or biased. They don’t look into the matter for themselves before making a statement. Or have a vested interest in making negative statements.

Is Scientology a cult?

This is absolutely not what Scientology is. If you ever walk into our churches you will find out for yourself.

What do you believe as a Scientologist? What are your beliefs around this world and the next?

There are a lot of things that I believe in as an individual, regardless of Scientology, but what I have learned with Scientology is that the common denominator of life is survive.

Each individual is seeking to survive in eight areas of life, which we call the dynamics, the urges of a person to survive, and they are: the individual himself, his family unit, his groups, mankind, the living things of the planet, the physical universe, spirituality and the Supreme Being.

Do you have any children? Are they Scientologists? How young can you become a Scientologist?

I do not have any children yet. You can become a Scientologist at any stage in your life — whenever you decide to become one.

How does Scientology differ from other religions?

One aspect that I love about Scientology is that it does not make you believe anything, or push you to believe anything. The basic motto of LRH is: it is true, if it’s true for you. It allows you to study and digest each piece of data you learn, observe it in life and decide for yourself if it is true or not.

It is also a practical religion — a main practice of a Scientologist would be learning practical knowledge about life, through reading books and studying courses, it’s like a college of life! It’s mostly learning and applying what you have learned in your life, to help yourself and others, and enjoying the results.

Have you ever given money to Scientology?

You do not have to give any money to Scientology unless you want to. As a Scientologist you donate for the courses you study and the spiritual counselling you do, which we consider is a fair way to do it — you donate for the services you receive.

Why is Scientology so popular among those in Hollywood, such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise?

Often people who are now well-known celebrities were doing Scientology for years and nobody knew about it, but now that they are famous you hear about it. They often attribute a lot of their success to the tools for living they learned in Scientology. Being an artist is wonderful, but it’s also full of challenges and the environment is a very tough one to cope with. Scientology has specific courses for artists, which give them the very necessary tools they need to deal with this specific and tough environment.

What is the one thing about Scientology you feel that people would be surprised to learn?

That we are not a cult, you are free to join and leave at any point you want to, that we do help people get better, that you can reach higher levels in your life by using Scientology!

Alan Ryan, 50, Artist, from Dublin

How did you become a Scientologist?

I read the Dianetics book and became very interested and from that found out about Scientology.

What has Scientology done for you?

It has revitalised me as an artist, improved my relationships with others, I could go on and on.

Are you more prosperous/intelligent/ successful as a result of Scientology?

Yes, my personal income now, compared to what it was before, has seen a huge improvement. I also think that I am far better at just getting the job done, et cetera. I know from a test that my IQ has gone up by about 30 points, I think faster now and it’s easier to come up with solutions to everyday problems.

Are those who say bad things about Scientology lying?

In my experience, yes, and I have been involved for about 25 years!

Why is there so much criticism of Scientology and, indeed, Scientologists?

I suppose anything that is relatively new and controversial in its ideas, et cetera, is going to invite criticism or opposition. But also I think most of it is because of misquotes, quotes out of context, media coverage that is often negatively biased and unbalanced and rarely seems to honestly try to truthfully understand Scientology.

Is Scientology a cult?

Not in my opinion. A cult implies secrecy, closed off to society, etc. Scientology is very open to anyone on the street and is on the main streets of cities all over the world.

What do you believe as a Scientologist? What are your beliefs around this world and the next?

I feel that all religions share a belief that we don’t just die and that’s the end of it and you are gone forever more. I think that there is a common belief that the spirit lives on after the body dies. In Scientology the view is that when the spirit leaves his body after it dies, the spirit starts a new life in a new body.

Do you have any children? Are they Scientologists? How young can you become a Scientologist?

Yes, two. My daughter, 19, has started doing some basic Scientology courses, by her own choice. My son, 13, isn’t a Scientologist per se. You have to be 18; if you are younger, you need your parents’ permission.

How does Scientology differ from other religions?

It teaches that you are the spirit/soul, that the person is the spirit/soul. Whereas some other religions teach that you have a spirit/soul like a possession or that it’s like a part of you. Also it has specific techniques and practical methods that dramatically improve your awareness of yourself as a spirit.

Have you ever given money to Scientology?

If/when I want to do a course, I make whatever the donation rate is for that course, it could be €50 or a couple of thousand. It depends on how basic or advanced the course is.

Why is Scientology so popular among those in Hollywood, such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise?

Ultimately you’d have to ask them, but in my opinion I reckon it’s because it seriously enhances their artistic abilities. It’s probably one of the major things that Scientology does for anybody. In my experience, most people get a lot more interested in the arts as they progress in Scientology.

What is the one thing about Scientology you feel that people would be surprised to learn?

That it has a huge array of social/community betterment groups ranging from prisoner reform to human rights to abolishing illiteracy to drug addiction reform to natural disaster volunteer help.

 

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