Archive for July, 2010

Despite my goal of using this blog to expound on the differences in Scientology before the appearance of the RTC, it occurred to me that there is one thing about the ex-Scn community online that seems, to me, to give more power and energy to the organization that is the cause of dissent in the first place. So until I get my scanner working and can wow all 12 of you with pictures of the old days, I’ll talk about that thing.

And what is that thing? It’s the concept of being anonymous.

Back in the 90’s one of the most active sites on the internet was a Usenet group titled alt.religion.scientology. I was a Usenet junkie for the primary reason that I used some of the other groups to buy, trade and sell collectibles in a market that I had some knowledge about. I stumbled on ARS – the acronym for the group – purely by accident.  I was sucked right in.  At the time the main personality on ARS was a very vocal, very arrogant and very abrasive ex-LA Org auditor named Dennis Erlich. I knew Dennis from my time in Los Angeles in the 70’s. I never felt a connection to him,  I don’t know his heart, so to speak. My description of him may be inaccurate. Probably not, but I felt the need to throw out the possibility I’m wrong just in case someone reading this thinks Dennis is the nicest guy on the planet.

On ARS almost everybody was anonymous. Erlich and a few others used their real names and while I found Erlich to be pretty much an asshole, I respected the fact that he had not one shred of fear for the RTC or it’s legions of lawyers. When I decided to begin posting I adopted a false identity as well. My mother and brother were my primary motivation for hiding behind a userid. They were still doing courses and so forth and I couldn’t think of a single reason to disrupt their life by being open about who I am. I guess it was the right decision at the time… for them. But I still always felt a bit dirty for expressing my opinions while hiding like a little girl behind the skirts of anonymous userids.

When I decided to start this blog I absolutely knew I would not hide who I am. I lost interest in ARS by 1996 or so and besides, the World Wide Web along with it’s graphical interface came along and now we don’t need those clumsy embedded threads of yore to have a coherent conversation. Plus, we have pictures now! See ->

Who, me? I got nuthin' to hide! No really!!!

So why are you anonymous? What are you afraid of? Spam? A bevy of satanic attorneys descending on you armed with subpoenas?  A team of covert operatives kidnapping you in the night and dragging you back to the dungeon in the desert? Hell, looking back at the 90’s and ARS, it was stupid of me to be anonymous then. What exactly did I imagine I was protecting my mother and brother from to begin with? Scientology? Or the RTC? Bullshit. It makes no sense if you think about it. If I’m so smart and insightful that I saw trouble, suppression and downright criminality when I first laid eyes on the RTC then doesn’t it make sense that the only real way to protect my family in Scientology was to enlighten them? To aid them in getting as far away from the criminals as possible?

Of course it makes sense, now, to not hide. Whatever imagined damage I deluded myself into thinking I might do becomes moot when people die or when you realize they have disdain for you because of a personal choice regarding spiritual enlightenment. Anonymous, when it comes to the supposed goal of stopping Miscavige, is little more than being a chickenshit and not having the conviction that underlies the words. Your opinion may differ, but that’s how I see it. Back 15 years ago I was having nothing more than a little fun posting on ARS and remaining anonymous. I wasn’t protecting anybody. When my mother passed away she had recently paid thousands of dollars to Flag and had actually been audited at AOLA in the last year or so of her life. All this despite being seriously physically ill, weighing barely 100 pounds and needing a Sea Org cadet to assist her in painstakingly walking from her crappy little room at the complex to the useless auditing sessions she had been hard sold.

I protected my mother from nothing. Certainly not from David Miscavige, the iron-grip of the Sea Org and the criminal nature of his vision for extracting tens of millions of dollars yearly from the veins of those who are convinced they’ll be trapped as thetans unless they fork over the cash. When she knew that she would never get better, many months before she died, she allowed my brother to “borrow” her advanced payments at Flag. What a sham.

Anonymous is a trick, people.

Anonymous reduces the power of those who hide. People who have things they are embarrassed about remain anonymous. People who lack conviction are anonymous. Spies are anonymous. You know, if I was Miscavige I’d be laughing at the fact that the huge presence of Independent sites and attack sites hasn’t really stopped  anything.  So, I fucked up. I ought to have worked harder to get my mother and brother to understand why I no longer wanted to have anything to do with the CofS.

I recall one lengthy conversation I had with Wally, back when the LA Times printed the OT3 information and made Xenu and body thetans public knowledge. Wally is a good little soldier and refused to “look”. I laughed at him. I asked him how many reports he’d read of spontaneous combustion happening after people read the article? Was there a plague or sudden onset of mass insanity in the streets? He refused to accept what I was trying to tell him – that perhaps the OT3 materials weren’t really harmful. That maybe, just maybe, the whole idea of secrecy wasn’t about protecting us fragile thetans from Xenu, BT’s and insanity… maybe it was secret because it was more attractive that way. The influence that a reg has in selling OT levels is greatly aided by the notion that they are so powerful and dangerous that they must remain secret.

Utter crap.

I’m a Class VIII auditor. I’ve done OT3, NOTS, some L’s and a couple thousand hours of other auditing on my “case”. There is absolutely nothing dangerous or harmful about anything on any of those levels. On the other hand, there are quite a few things which might cause embarrassment for some. Like the concept of spaceships parked in orbit dumping compressed packages of thetans into volcanoes which had just been nuked. Now that… that is something that deserves to be covered up. Otherwise you could end up like Tom Cruise,  sheepishly explaining it away or dishonestly suggesting it’s a case of what’s true for you is true for you. All on national television.

This –

Could end up making you do this –

I received a phone call yesterday evening from a friend and former co-worker of mine. She is someone I first met in 1969 in LA. Though we haven’t actually spoken to one another for probably 20 years, in my mind when I think about her  I think “friend”. She said she had read this blog and tracked my number down via a mutual acquaintance. She called to offer her condolences about my mother passing away.  So why haven’t we spoken for 20 years? I dunno… because she is still on lines and I’m not? At least I think she’s on lines. But she read the blog. She knows enough of the same people I know to understand 100% that I am not even close to being anything but a Scientologist who has a long-term disaffection with the people who run Scientology.

See? That’s what we have now. People who are in Scientology can only talk to people who are no longer in Scientology under the condition on anonymity.  Maybe not so much for my friend who called me last night, she isn’t the type to be easily ordered about regarding who she can and cannot talk to. But definitely for quite a few of the folks who post on the dozens of popular Independent sites. Seems to me this just makes Miscavige more powerful.

The flip side to this anonymous culture on the Net are the outspoken people like this guy Marty Rathbun,  or Arnie Lerma and a host of others who are perfectly fine with people knowing exactly who they are and where they stand. While I may look at folks like Rathbun with a certain level of distrust, I can’t fault the guy one bit for being open, honest and apologetic about his transgressions. I’m not going to sit in judgment on him, or any ex-SO people who, for all intents and purposes allowed and even facilitated the crimes Miscavige committed that everyone is so pissed off about. It’s not my place to forgive or determine value of another human being. So my trust is a bit thin, but it is strengthened by the fact that most of these ex-SO guys who committed these crimes and are now using the Internet to fight against their former boss are not anonymous. They are open and clear about who they are. That’s strong stuff.

Which makes me wonder… how much stronger would the effort to rid Scientology of it’s criminals be if the internet was full of people who weren’t hiding their identities? How many of you are there? A hundred? A thousand? Ten thousand? Not that I’m suggesting the Independent Field ought to organize and throw the bums out. Too often that’s a case of “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss”. On the other hand, what would you anonymous souls do if Miscavige was tossed out? Would you suddenly feel that it was safe to be known? Would you flood the Orgs and start buying services? Would you finally join the Sea Org?

I don’t think so. Miscavige is a bad actor, that’s for sure. But is he also convenient? Someone want to tell me what you think is going to happen when his time is up and he blows or is jailed? I’m curious.


My name is David Stokes.


The first contact I had with Scientology was in 1960. My mother, Dolores Stokes, got involved about 1958 via a man by the name of Red Shea. Red opened one of the earliest Scientology Centers, or franchises, in Dallas, Texas.

Red Shea and Dolores Stokes. They might as well have Been Errol Flynn and Grace Kelly.

By 1966 I had received about 200 hours of auditing, much of it co-auditing, and I had done quite a few of the old courses like the Comm Course, Objectives, and so forth. At the end of 1966 I quit High School in El Paso and moved to Dallas. My mother and brother Wally had gone to Saint Hill earlier that year. I went on staff at the Dallas Center which had been purchased by Alan C. Walters, a large man from Australia. From there I was given a job at Alan’s new Center in Saint Louis. I worked there and then went off to Saint Hill myself at the end of 1967.

At Saint Hill I did the solo course and audited R6 solo. Hubbard had moved the Clearing Course to the flagship, The Royal Scotsman, and so I went there in 1968 when it was in Valencia, Spain. I audited the CC and OT1 on board the ship. And yes, I knew exactly who David Miscavige was because the little prick was there at the time. When I attested Clear I was the 911th person to do so.

Boyce Weeks and Fred Hare. On the Royal Scotsman in Valenica. This was about February 1968 in the galley. We were preparing for a night of drinking and nefarious behavior in town.

I then returned to England and so impressed the high-rollers at Saint Hill… probably because of my charming ways and terrific good looks… that I was asked to become the Clearing Course and OT1 supervisor at Saint Hill. I agreed and did that job for several months until they wanted me to sign a contract for the newly formed Sea org. It sounded pretty suspicious to me so I declined. Alan Walters, who was back at Saint Hill at the time, paid for me to go to his newest center in Boston.

At the Boston Center fall of 1968. That's Edie Tabachnik with the puppet on her head. I tried to look older than 18 but usually couldn't pull it off.

That place was a mess. It was being run by this crazy ugly woman named Flo who was having an affair with a married guy named Pat Something-or-the-other. At least one of the other Dallas people was there for a while, a nice gal named Sandy Mehr. Flo and the Pat guy spent all their time racing around Boston is a souped-up Ford Mustang so I essentially ran the Center. When Alan sent Sandy off somewhere I was ED of the place. I was 18 years old and we kicked some ass for a while. But then I got into a power struggle with a guy named Rick Hull and, not being one for power struggles, I called Alan and told him I was outta there. I stopped off in Dallas and did a little auditing at the Richardson, Texas center (I was Class IV at the time) but since Hubbard was getting ASHO set up I decided to head out to California. I arrived there about 6 weeks after ASHO opened it’s doors across the street from the Rampart Police station.

At ASHO I became a Public Officer, then an Ethics Officer and then the Div 6 Director. It was a rocking place. Eventually I decided hustling people for phonied up success stories was a bad way to spend my time so I routed onto the SHSBC (Class VI). I ripped through that course and then did some auditing for bucks on the side, went up to Santa Barbara and did some auditing there and even donated some hours at the newly formed Narconon. Then I met a chick from Las Vegas… a showgirl no less… and off I went to the desert.

In Las Vegas I worked at the Org as a Qual auditor and then at Bruce and Danielle Harrall’s Center. Great times were had by all. My wife, the show girl, wanted to leave Vegas so we went back to LA in about 1971. I did some field auditing and she went to work as a nude dancer at the El Rancho. That was one of the first all-nude clubs in California and it was convenient to the LA Org. Lots of pretty young Scientology ladies paid for their bridges by getting nasty on the runway at the El Rancho and other nearby clubs like Monty’s. Stephanie, my wife, was a bit of a control freak and so we parted company rather than extend the struggle for 2D domination. Off I went to new York City to see the lights. I only stayed 6 weeks or so. The New York Org was pretty gross. It was filled with weird looking people in heavy clothing who all seemed to have dark circles under their eyes. Not for me.

When I returned to LA I hooked up with a nice young lady named Jana and I took a job auditing in the Center in Omaha. Man, way too much snow there. So after about 6 months we went out to Santa Clara and I  audited along with Phil Spickler,  Pete Rundberg, Alan Hollander and a few other great people. The center, (now called a Mission) was owned by Kingsly Wimbush (another one of those  Aussies) and Malcom Chemenais, a strange dude from South Africa.

By late 1972 I had moved over to Alan’s Sacramento Mission.

Alan doing Sunday Service in Sacramento, 1972-73 era. Notice there is only a picture of LRH? That's because DM was still licking boots and eating swill onboard Flag somewhere. We were making new Scientologists.

I was the ED there and we had a terrific time sweating in the rice paddies and getting folks into the Mission. One of the great families from those days was the Hendersons. Chel Henderson is now Chel Stith and last time I checked she had Heber’s old job. At least until he escapes whatever dungeon he is being held in.

Working for Alan was a huge effort. I felt like kicking his ass on a daily basis but damn, he was too big! So after popping over to Salt Lake and helping him straighten the mess out at his new Mission there I told him adios and took $2500 and Jana and went to Fresno to open my own Mission. In those days you didn’t have to pay some demanding brigade of Sea Org zombies for the privilege of helping. You just had to help… and pay your 10%, of course.

Running the Mission in Fresno was a blast. We got hundreds upon hundreds of people in and on up the old Bridge and along the way I made damned good money. So I went off to LA and did OT3. Then the Class VIII course at ASHO. Aced it too, Thanks to David Aldrich. Then back to AOLA for the auditing requirements. My mother Dolores was the C/S in Fresno and she was awesome. My wife Jana then went through a weird period of her life, left me and ended up with a fuckwit by the name of Rocky Stump. That was short-lived, thankfully, and she settled out and married a guy from Salt Lake City. I understand they are still involved in Scientology. Good on them.

As for me, I kept on doing the job I loved.  We bought and remodeled a large building and I met and married a coy young Sicilian-bred lady named Cindy. She’s now an ex-wife but is great and is the superb mother of my two older children. Cindy came along with me on at least one of my extended trips to Europe to help out the growing network of Missions there. I’m not certain she liked Europe, but she didn’t complain openly. What a trooper.

Right about 1980 the Sea org started getting extremely pushy. I had been to Flag and done the NOTS stuff and despite what everyone in the Church says about David Mayo, the auditing was just fine. But back home the pressure was on. The new Mission Office at Flag (no longer the good old Mike Davidson one at St. Hill)  was a demanding and pushy bunch of fuckers. They saw money, they smelled it like blood in the water, and they sent mission after mission after mission to my place in Fresno to get the money and demand fresh bodies to sign up for a billion years.

The turning point for me centered around a couple I had gotten on line from Bakersfield. Nice folks. Relatively affluent but not very literate. They had real study and comprehension issues and my program was for them to get their full grades and do some basic study courses. Just the ticket and they were winning in the early stages. Well, down at ASHO the Sea org ruled. The top reg was a guy named Kenny Shapiro (who had entered Scientology when I was running the Boston Center) and the CO was a gal named Irene. I think it was Irene Howie. Kenny got wind of my Bakersfield people and sent a team of reg’s there and stripped those folks for $20K. For – get this – the full Class IV training package. They told those folks that they’d save a bundle by co-auditing. Too bad they couldn’t read, huh?

I was pissed. Imagine that. I drove to LA and confronted Kenny and Irene. They pretty much told me to piss off, they had the money and that was that. What became crystal clear was that while I was all about creating new Scientologists and following the guidelines of “making the able more able”, the Sea Org was all about getting the cash and getting the bodies in the shop. The Bakersfield couple never got their co-auditing, never got trained. They burned up the $20K in review auditing and ethics cycles. Then they blew.

I decided to get farther away from the western epicenter of greed and corruption. I went up to see Kingsley in Santa Clara and told him he could buy my Mission for $25K. It was a price that I made up on the spot because how do you really value a Scientology Mission? He quickly agreed, wrote me a check for $5K and we drew up a contract for $5K every couple of months. I sold my house, grabbed the wife and kids and moved to Boise, Idaho in the middle of winter.

Here in Idaho I opened a new Mission. It was roughly March of 1982 when we got rolling. Like any new effort it was slow to start but was making good headway when I went, with my wife Cindy, to a Mission Holder’s Conference in San Francisco. What was that, October 1982? Yeah, I think so.

After the infamous Conference, where Miscavige and the RTC made their first appearance in the Field, I went home, turned the keys over to a couple here who wanted to keep the Mission going and I never looked back. I have no idea if I was declared or not. I spent at least a decade or 15 years fielding calls from Flag and old friends trying to ‘recover” me. Hell, even to this day, when my only public address is a post office box, it has no less than 6 or 7 pieces of junk mail from Scientology outfits all over the world every single day.

Now you have the short version. The long version will unfurl over the coming weeks, months and years as I add posts to the blog. I’m in no particular hurry. I’ll call things as I see (or saw) them. I’ll use actual names and won’t hedge even if the story is uncomfortable. Unless it makes me look bad… then I’ll lie like a dog.

Valence Shift

Posted: July 27, 2010 in Scientology ~ before the RTC

Los Gatos, California 2010 – Summertime

Two days before my 60th birthday I was sitting in the chapel of the Church of Scientology of Los Gatos. The reason me being there was remarkable is that I walked away from the Church of Scientology almost three decades ago. I hadn’t been in a Scientology building for 28 years until that Sunday earlier this year. The occasion that day was a memorial service for my mother Dolores. She had died earlier in the month. June 6th, to be exact. Same day as my father’s birthday and the kick-off of the Normandy invasion… D-Day… in 1944.

Dolores Stokes. At Saint Hill around 1966. Just beautiful.

I wasn’t uncomfortable being in a Scientology Church. I’m rarely uncomfortable around people, Scientologist or not. But I was stunned a bit. Not the kind of stunned where you reel back, gasp loudly and lose focus on your surroundings. It was the kind of stunned where you sit there and think – Well, fuck me.

My brother Wally was giving his version of a eulogy for my mother. I call it “his version” not to be snide. It was his version because essentially the eulogy was an abbreviated synopsis about him and our mother. The stunning part was early in the monologue when he told the story about how our mother had helped him as a young boy to overcome asthma by getting him some auditing. Which, of course, eliminated the asthma forever.

The problem with Wally’s memory of that event was that it never happened to him. It happened to me.

That’s why I had a “fuck me” moment. This person was standing there, emotionally, telling a story that was false. And tearing up over it. So, to correct the record – here’s what really happened.

Dallas , Texas 1961 – Summertime

In the summer of 1961, when I was 11 years old, Wally and I were staying in Dallas with my mother. She had been involved in Scientology for a couple of years at that point and was the significant other of a man named Red Shea. He had started a Scientology franchise in Dallas and that was where Wally and I spent a lot of our time during the visit.

Red and my mother took us kids to see “101 Dalmatians”. During the movie I had a severe asthma attack, a regular occurrence for me as long as I could remember. Those who have never experienced asthma simply need to understand one thing to imagine what it’s like – you simply cannot breath. You work your chest and lower abdomen, drawing deeply from inside trying to force oxygen into your lungs. Sitting down is scary and the idea of laying down is beyond frightening. Standing or walking is preferable, often bent over, hands on thighs to help facilitate the intake of air. I got up during the movie and went out to the lobby, gasping and wheezing as I worked to suck in air. The attack made me nauseous and I ended up in the bathroom throwing up.

My mother and Red were solicitous and a bit shaken by the severity of the attack. The other thing I recall from that evening was feeling better when we got to her apartment and she fed me some chicken noodle soup. The next day mother said that if I allowed Red to do some Scientology auditing on me there was a good chance the asthma could be eliminated. What was I going to say? I was 11 years old. Wally and I lived with my father in El Paso and he was married to a supremely evil woman. By supremely evil I mean she put us through a grind that some of you Sea Org members might think of as an RPF for kids, replete with terror, starvation and liberal applications of a leather belt on bare asses. Being asked if I wanted someone to help me was like asking a man dying of thirst if he wanted his water ice cold or room temperature.

I told my mother that I absolutely wanted the auditing.

So Red did a few sessions with me. Sorry auditors, I have no idea what he ran. Probably some Dianetics because one thing I do recall from the sessions involved me as a baby, crawling on a floor sucking in dust and other fine particles off the wood planks. After a couple of sessions I felt different. Not cured different. But intrigued different. Frankly, not many 11 year old kids are introspective about why things are the way they are. And even fewer of them are put in a situation like mine. Red was an imposing man and my mother was the epitome of an urban, cosmopolitan woman of the era. The Dallas Scientology Center was vibrant and populated by types of people that I had never been around. Artists, musicians, svelte women in black, clingy turtleneck sweaters, men who wore desert boots with slacks and worked at mysterious jobs. They laughed, smiled, joked and above all – they did not ignore me. Think back to when you were 11, how would the attention of adults, who sincerely seemed to view you as something other than just a kid, have altered your self-image?

I began the process of actually thinking about “me” and why I was the way I was as opposed to thinking about “me” and what I wanted or didn’t want.

The fact is… I didn’t have any more asthma attacks after the auditing. Not that summer, not the next, not even the next few decades. It was gone. Handled. And you can bet your ass that had a huge effect on me. It’s not like Scientology auditing was all I thought about, more like I wanted to know more about the intoxicating atmosphere, edgy people and excitement that pulsed through the Center. I did read one or two basic books. Not Dianetics, I was 11 and any of you who have actually read Dianetics know it’s slow going and a challenge for most adults.

So how did my brother, a Scientologist for 44 straight years, end up thinking that what happened to me had actually happened to him? I don’t mean for this initial entry to be an indictment of Wally. Not that I really care. After all, he did appropriate my experiences and use them in a public manner to eulogize someone I actually do care about. Instead I view what happened at my mother’s memorial as sort of a super-truncated example of how the Church of Scientology has transformed from the excitment, enthusiasm and honesty of the earlier era to the sort of slick, greedy and image-conscious corporation it has become today.

Mercifully, the memorial service was short. Wally had never once used the word “love”. In fact, I was the one person there who turned around in my seat and told the 20 or 30 people attending that I loved my mother and would miss her. I may have a prejudiced view here, but it seems to me that the personae the contemporary Scientologist is expected to exhibit does not include demonstrations of ‘wog reality’. So missing a recently deceased person might be frowned upon because only their body is dead, they, of course, are immortal and will return soon. Probably as the child of a nearby pregnant Scientologist who isn’t currently receiving PTS handling or being routed to Ethics.

What’s wrong with saying that you love someone who recently passed away? Particularly if that someone is your mother? The absence of the word in a setting where you would most expect it is perhaps one of the more subtle, but telling, aspects of Scientology today that separates it from the usual human experience.

So, there is a little synchronicity to how my first visit back to a Scientology organization tied in to the events that brought me into the fold to begin with. Yes, it’s true that having your brother hijack one of the most significant experiences of your life and then tell people it happened to him is just a little weird. But it’s a unique kind of weird… the kind that makes me want to tell the story as it really happened.

That’s what I’ll do. Over time, of course. Slowly no doubt. And I’ll throw in my interpretation of how I saw things from a time and place that most of you missed. I guess it’s fair that you missed my personal Scientology because I (thankfully) missed the one that happened after 1982. So we’re even. Right?