Page 8 - May-June 2021 Edition of The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper
P. 8

8                                       Children of Scientology

           Children of Scientology:

          Life After Growing Up in

                  an Alleged Cult

          For many raised in the church,

              escape presents a singular
         problem. “They have an identity
          to go back to,” says one former

           Scientologist. “We’re trying to
              discover our identity in a


                      by Ash Sanders

        Scientologists have special words for the
        people gathered at a sleek Airbnb townhouse on   of self-improvement to control and abuse its When Gordon grew up, she decided the
        a mild day in September 2018.  They’re           members. They also accuse the Sea Org — an organization wasn’t for her. She remembers
        irrational, or “banky.” They’re putting off bad  elite group of the religion’s most dedicated walking out of the Commodore’s Messenger
        vibes, or being “downtone.”  They’re full of     members — of being a front for forced labor and Org in Clearwater, Florida, after being ordered
        negative energy, or “chargey,” and they won’t    surveillance, and criticize the church for tearing to write confessions of her crimes as part of the
        contain it — they won’t “get their TRs in.” But  apart families, demanding that parents church’s “ethics handling.” It was the last straw
        the people sprawling on the living room’s vinyl  disconnect from children who oppose the for Gordon. (The church says she was not called
        wraparound couch don’t use those words to        religion. As these accusations have snowballed, for ethics handling in Clearwater and says that
        describe themselves anymore. Growing up in       the church has held its ground, continuing to her account is fabricated.).
        Scientology, they say they were constantly told  deny that the church has anything to do with
        to be stoic. Now that they’ve left, they’re tired  forced labor and family separations. It claims You might expect a person like that to be
        of jargon about repressing emotion. Instead,     that its beliefs and practices help members to frazzled, a mess. But if anything, Gordon knows
        they’re looking for new words to describe        “freely experience their emotions and live life to she’s too calm, too competent. In fact, for years
        themselves—new ways to express the               the fullest.” It calls the Children of Scientology after leaving Scientology, Gordon could barely
        psychological     consequences      of    their  an “anti-religious hate group,” full of people that feel at all. Growing up in the church, she says,
        upbringing—and they’ve traveled all the way to   they say have a vendetta against the church, and emotions like grief or frustration were
        Brooklyn to tell their stories. They’ve already  accuses this magazine of “pandering to anti- discouraged, while enthusiasm and serenity
        landed on one new way to think about             Scientology propaganda” by publishing the were celebrated. So Gordon stuffed away her
        themselves—a phrase that helps illuminate why    group’s claims. But for Gordon, Children of feelings to survive.
        it’s so hard for them feel things.  They call    Scientology isn’t about hate, or vengeance. After
        themselves the Children of Scientology.          a lifetime of bending over, Gordon is trying to Her experience is a common one.  And,
        Psychologists call them SGAs, or Second          show others — and herself — that it’s possible according to many of the ex-Scientologists I
        Generation Adults.                               to unkink what’s crooked so they can finally spoke with at Gordon’s gathering, it’s not just
                                                         stand up straight.                               prevalent — it’s baked into the religion in
        Christi Gordon is an SGA, meaning that she —                                                      something known as the emotional tone scale.
        like everyone she’s invited today — grew up      When I first meet Gordon, she looks like the The scale was developed by Scientology
        immersed in Scientology before eventually        opposite of crooked. She’s tall and thin, her founder L. Ron Hubbard, who created it in order
        cutting ties. SGAs aren’t like people who join   blond hair swept up in a sensible twist. As I enter to gauge a person’s life-force energy, or theta.
        and leave cults as adults. “Many first gens      the kitchen, she’s busy arranging snacks on the The current scale goes from -40, or  Total
        choose to leave their families,” Gordon          kitchen table and refreshing people’s drinks. Failure, to 40, Serenity of Beingness, ranking
        explains, “but ours were stolen from us.         Everything about her manner exudes emotions from grief and anxiety to cheerfulness
        Scientology hijacked our parents’ hearts, minds  competence and confidence. She doesn’t look and enthusiasm. Emotions on the low end of the
        and time, and it hijacked our childhoods.”       like someone whose mother left her at the Cadet scale aren’t just discouraged — they’re signs of
        Gordon was never taught how to be a kid.         Org at the age of nine, a church-run “boot bad theta, which must be converted to good theta
        Instead, she was expected to be what             camp,” as she calls it, where Gordon says she so a person can progress spiritually. According
        Scientologists like to call an “adult in a small  lived with dozens of other “neglected and to the members I spoke with, the tone scale
        body,” taking care of herself, by herself, and   abandoned” Scientology kids and one adult. She became the basis for punishing emotions that the
        repressing the fear, grief and loneliness that   was stuck taking care of infant babies in the church deemed negative, and Scientology’s
        came with that. She says the experience is like  nursery and trying to avoid the parasite mission became almost indistinguishable from
        bending over your whole life, trying to avoid    outbreaks that flared up in the squalid living the project of repressing “bad” emotions.  The
        hitting a ceiling someone assures you is there.  conditions.                                      solution to coping with these bad moods wasn’t
        And once you realize there is no ceiling, you’ve                                                  to express or acknowledge them, the Second
        already grown up crooked. Gordon believes that   The church acknowledges that Gordon enrolled Gens explain. The solution was to go through a
        people transitioning out of Scientology don’t    in the Cadet Org, but disputes the idea that it’s a series of communication drills, or  Training
        just need a home, or a job—although they often   boot camp.  They describe the Cadet Org — Routines, some of which critics say are designed
        need that.  They also need a support group, a    which was dissolved around the turn of the to leave believers in a state of hypnotic calm—
        community where people can put new words to      Millennium — as “a facility that provided and then to keep the effects of those TRs in, or
        real emotions and experiences. And that’s what   children of Sea Organization members with an contain them.  The result?  A generation of
        the meetup today is all about.                   excellent basic education and Scientology children who grew up numb, unable to feel or
                                                         religious instruction.” They claim that Gordon even recognize basic emotions.
        As more people leave Scientology, more people    lived in a converted Quality Inn that was
        like Gordon are speaking out.  They call the     regularly inspected by the county health                                 (Continued on Page 9)
        church a cult, and claim that it uses the promise  department.
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