Karen's Scientology Story - Why I am Against Scientology
A letter to both Scientologists and non-Scientologists
My name is Karen Wolff, formerly Karen Mitchell. I am 27 years old. I was born to Scientologist parents and raised in the Church of Scientology. I have spent thousands of hours studying and practicing its methods. I worked for the Church as both a volunteer and paid employee, occasionally, from 1992 to 1996. I joined the Sea Organization in January of 1997, and left in the fall of 2000. I was peripherally involved with Scientology from then until approximately 2004.
I was originally a steadfast and enthusiastic follower of the Church. However, it has become apparent that the neglect, exploitation, suffering, and abuse that I personally experienced was not as isolated as I believed. Upon discovering its widespread nature, through discussions with others who were in the Sea Org or raised by its members, I have realized that it is my duty to step forward with my own story. It has become apparent that the Church cannot or will not police itself, nor will it allow any outside entity to scrutinize or regulate it.
I do not do this lightly.
I do this in the hope that it will persuade others who have remained silent to also speak up. I do this in the hope that the Church, as a group, will turn a critical and intolerant view inward. I do this in the hope that those who have covered up crimes to protect the name of the Church will be exposed, removed from authority, and prosecuted. I do this as a small token for those who will never be able to speak for themselves.
For my actions, and because I no longer hold its tenets true to an absolute, the Church will label me their enemy. I am an enemy of any people who work within the Church actively committing or perpetuating crimes.
However I will never consider any individual Scientologists my enemies just because of their personal religious beliefs. Following the path of their religion is their right.
Those Scientologists who were once my friends remain so in my eyes; should any one decide to continue talking to me despite the church saying they can’t, I would welcome their company, and be glad of it.
I will not recognize any attempts to force my brother to “disconnect” from me. Scientology does not have the right to interfere in my family, who are eternally mine and will always have my love and support, no matter what their spiritual beliefs.
There are those who the Church has labeled as evil and bad influences, and forbidden any Scientologist to contact in any way. I do not and shall never recognize the right of the Church to tell me who to talk to. I will continue to communicate with and call my friends anyone who I want to. This will be another reason for the Church of Scientology to label me and take me to task. I don’t care. I do care about my friends – and trust my own judgment about who is evil and who isn’t.
I challenge any Scientologist who is at all involved in a disconnection or knows someone who is “Declared a Suppressive Person”, to think and question for themselves. Despite the pressure that the organization will bring upon you, or perhaps because of it, I dare you to stand up.
I have been silent for a long time. There are many reasons for it.
In the beginning, I was a child, and like many children I did not have the ability to judge my own situation from an exterior point of view. I knew only my own life, and had nothing to compare it to. I would have been shocked at a suggestion that I was being abused.
As I became aware that things were not as they should be, I was still a child and not strong enough, not brave enough to come forward. I saw what happened to those who questions or objected, and learned not to.
I was also silent out of a desire to protect the Church. I had been taught, and therefore “knew” that the Church of Scientology had to be good. Therefore my own experiences must be invalid or isolated incidents. I could not see why I would injure or damage an organization for one, small person’s unhappiness. Now years later I see the fallacy in that logic. Why would a group that treated me so not also treat others the same way? We all were silent together, never knowing that the other was also suffering, and never imagining that our own happiness might not deserve to be sacrificed. Therein lies a great weapon for the Church. This is one that I hope to obliterate.
When I left the environment of Scientology, I kept any knowledge, opinions, or feelings locked in a metaphorical box. It has taken me time to open that box and realize what is in it, from my new point of view as an adult. Perhaps my years away from the Church will give room to discredit me. Perhaps people will say that my life story is outdated. But some things never become unimportant due to age. And there are many more stories newer than mine, and worse.
I stayed silent for a little while out of fear; fear of losing my family, my friends, my security and safety in my new life. I am fully aware that there will be repercussions for my actions. But with the understanding that something must be done comes a need for me to set that fear aside.
I cannot speak for other people, only myself. I do not have any copies of damning paperwork, or exciting or flashy or gruesome photos, or juicy gossip about someone inside the Church. What I do have is my story. Contained within it is knowledge of criminally negligent treatment of children, substandard working conditions, and a failure to care for or about its own parishioners and employees. It’s just the story of one child, one girl, a drop in the sea. It’s just a little window into a world that some people don’t know exists. I hope others will join me with their stories, because we are an army – we just don’t know it yet.
Scientologists, this lack of compassion and insistence upon not seeing any wrongdoing has spread like a cancer. It is destroying your people. I implore you to take a hard look at your priorities, that which drives your actions, and their true results. Perhaps, for instance, money is not the best focus for a church.
Words are not enough; to claim “the greatest good” or “to save Mankind” does not make it a fact. I ask you to beware those justifications which can cover any sin imaginable. Frankly, what can be done in the name of the greater good frightens me to no end.
There are good things in and about Scientology. I will never deny that. Unfortunately, that a group or philosophy is partially good does not guarantee that the rest of it is. In some cases, like this one, the harm done dramatically outweighs any good.
There are many of us who have left Scientology forever. Perhaps you should ask why.
The Church would have you ignore our words “for your own protection” and “to save you from enturbulation”. But maybe you are stronger than they give you credit for. Maybe you should make up your own mind instead of doing what someone else tells you to. I have faith that you are capable of such a thing. You should, too.