I was in Scientology for three months, left, and got my money back, AMA
Diclaimer: Scientology is terrible. It's not a good idea for anyone to consider being a member. I hope from this post and this discussion that people realize that nobody is truly invulnerable to it. Posts like this (I know it's not the first) help to further the massive, but obviously incomplete, awareness about this cult. I can definitely appreciate the skeptics in the comments who have managed to interpret my comments as pro-Scientology, I merely meant to acknowledge the ways that the org can lure people in. To be entirely unambiguous: DON'T JOIN SCIENTOLOGY!!!! I CAN'T BE MORE DIRECT ABOUT IT. DON'T EVEN CHECK IT OUT. HELP YOUR FRIENDS TO AVOID IT OR LEAVE IT. IT IS A CULT. BAAAAAAAD. Please check out documentaries on Scientology at the bottom of the post.
My girlfriend had been a Scientologist for 5+ years and her mom for 15+. I knew about her involvement but we just avoided the conversation, which was easy because she wasn’t actively practicing and we were happy. When things were rocky in Fall 2018, she sought guidance from the Church and then suggested that the “Tech” would help us to get along better. I knew a lot of the bad things people say about Scientology, but I figured looking at her book (Dianetics) couldn’t do harm... then I figured seeing the welcome center at the Church couldn’t do harm... then I figured participating in a 7hr $30 course on Integrity couldn’t do harm... then I figured purchasing a $2500 12.5hr auditing session couldn’t do harm... then another session for myself, then I fronted one for her, and prepurchased the “Purification Rundown” for both of us -- suddenly I had spent $12,000 at the Church of Scientology.
While trying to make my final purchase for $5000 with a credit card, the bank denied it; when I called to authorize it they said that certain organizations had been flagged to protect consumers, because they had a disproportionately large correlation with folks who default on their credit card. This was a red flag that flew over my head, and the financial guys at the church worked diligently to find a paypal loophole.
A major difference between my girlfriend and me was that she kept her involvement in Scientology a secret. When I began to gain momentum in Scientology and felt it was improving my life, I was eager to tell my friends; this ended up being the key to helping me get out. My friends say that my mind was so open it could fall out, but that meant it was also easy to put back in. I have never been religious in any capacity and I tend to be a hardcore skeptic and technical thinker, but there appears to be real and exciting value when you are starting off in Scientology. It makes you feel important and capable of growth. A yearning to have a meaningful life, an overcommitment to a sinking relationship, and a well-designed cult nearly became a concoction for losing my family, my money and my sense of self.
I’ve spent the last few months attempting to get my money back and it has been a doozy. The organization is designed like a chinese fingertrap for its money and its members, and I’ve learned a few things in the process. I may have advice for recent defectors (believe me it’s common) who are trying to repair their life and finances. The silver bullet for me ended up being disputing the transactions with my credit card companies, on the basis of being denied the refund they offer within 90 days. I would have been squashed or led on if I tried to solicit my money legally from the Church, but by disputing the transaction and providing evidence to the credit card companies, I placed the ball in their court and they let the challenge period (60 days) expire. I have all $12k back now!
TL;DR girlfriend got me into Scientology despite my scientific disposition, I advertised it to my friends who intervened, and I was able to get my money back via credit card disputes
Documentaries, curated by u/dmt_burrito:
- Going Clear
- Scientology: The Shrinking World of LRH
- The Secrets of Scientology (BBC)
- LRH - Secret Lives
- Scientology - How to Spot a Cult
- Inside the Scientology Celebrity Centre
- One Day, One Destiny - Tom Cruise in Scientology
- Scientology: A Father's Story - Ron Miscavige Interview
- Scientology and Paul Haggis: 'It's A Cult'
edit: I am taking off for the day, but I’ll be back tomorrow to answer more questions! Thank you to everyone who’s contributing to this discussion, I don’t want any more “hardcore skeptics” or “technical thinkers” to fall for this stuff. This took off like crazy and I’m quite pleased. In addition, if anyone is involved in the church now or knows someone who is, I would be really happy to listen to your story and talk it out with you; dm me.
edit: disclaimer at top
edit: added documentary resources