You know how kids run up to a haunted house, knock on the door, and run away as fast as they can screaming—all so that they can get a tiny thrill and tell their friends about it? That’s basically what Scientology is like in Los Angeles. In fact, I quickly made a lot of friends on my trip to LA as we excitedly swapped creepy stories about how the Scientologists had tried to brainwash us.
Scientology considers itself a religion and was developed by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. The religion claims to have the answers to solve all the problems of humanity, which anyone can access by joining the church and paying a ton of money. Rumor is that they even believe in aliens.
It is nearly impossible to travel to LA and not have an experience with Scientology. The organization owns a lot of properties and the buildings are often disguised as free museums or stores so that people wander in off of the streets, not knowing what they are getting themselves into. Young members of the church, many who look like they are in their teens, stand outside the buildings handing out flyers that don’t actually say “Scientology” on them, trying to entice people inside by offering free movies, free museums, free personality tests, or the promise of answers to all their life’s problems. Really, if they want to lure unsuspecting people in, they should just offer free candy.
On my first day in LA I walked by what looked like an interesting bookstore. I recognized L. Ron Hubbard’s name on ALL the books and knew that it was a Scientology building. I entered out of curiosity but only stayed for a few minutes because I was too scared to be there alone. I declined an offer to do the free personality test, which I’m pretty positive would have said I have a horrible personality and needed to join Scientology ASAP. So I left with a stack full of pamphlets and a free DVD, all of which ended up in the garbage.
My next encounter with Scientology was at the L. Ron Hubbard museum (AKA actually just another place to recruit people). This building was a lot scarier because no one was in it. I spent about 15 minutes standing outside, working up the courage to go in.
When I went in I met a nice young girl from China whose name was Rainy or Stormy or some sort of weather condition. She offered to give me a tour and I told her I would go but had to leave in 20 minutes because I was meeting a “friend,” which was good because I later met people who were trapped there for hours. I had read that you should never give your name or any real information to representatives of the church, because they allegedly bombard people who write negatively about them with junk mail and are rumored to have done extreme things such as framing people for fake bomb threats. (I’m a little worried about writing this post.) However, when Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady asked me my name, I couldn’t think of any lies and told her my entire life story!
She took me on a tour of the museum, which was really creepy. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, which is too bad because I saw some pretty weird stuff. Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady worshiped L. Ron Hubbard and the entire museum was about his “achievements” and how he is the greatest, smartest human ever. There were creepy manikins everywhere depicting him flying a plane and in Boy Scouts, but the weirdest part were all the oil paintings, which resembled historical paintings of Christ, except with L. Ron Hubbard in them. Keep in mind this is all 100% serious.
Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady showed me the books that changed her life. They were basically a bunch of self-help books written by L. Ron Hubbard that help people develop skills to fix themselves and the world. This is all good in theory, except for the fact that if they really wanted to help the world, and these books were the key, shouldn’t they make them free on the Internet? I would have suggested this, except for the fact that I didn’t care and wanted to hear about the aliens! But Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady wouldn’t tell me anything about aliens and kept deflecting to the line “Scientology is not about believing, it’s about doing.” OK, whatever.
Next I participated in auditing, done with an E-meter machine which measures energy in the body. The person being audited holds two pieces of metal that are attached to the machine while a small electrical current passes through their body. The auditor asks the person questions and the person tries to work through their issues based on the readings. Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady asked me to try the machine and think of something stressful or horrible in my life. I couldn’t think of anything and just pretended that I was doing it. When she asked me to tell her in detail what I was thinking about, I had to make up a giant lie about how something horrible happened at work. I was super paranoid that this machine allowed her to read my mind and was even more freaked out when she looked at me after I thought this and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not reading your mind.”
At the end of the tour, Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady asked me if I wanted to buy any books, and I politely declined. I pretended to be interested in joining Scientology so that she would let me go and not kidnap me, which seemed to work. I left with a million pamphlets, which went straight into the garbage. They should really consider the free candy instead. Overall, I thought it was an interesting experience…to say the least.