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

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/ATOfaVS https://imgur.com/a/TPn1fmh

Documentaries, curated by u/dmt_burrito:

edit: EX-girlfriend

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

Comments: 2682 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

rob1322769 karma

...on the basis of being denied the refund they offer within 90 days.

I didn't realize that Religions had 3 month return policies?

ShowMeThePeepeeTapes1778 karma

Yup, I went through this with my own friend as we tried to get him out. Tax exempt religions have to adhere to some iteration of an IRS-imposed refund policy. http://www.xenu.net/archive/infopack/17.htm

exscientologist999991298 karma

This. It was part of the deal when they went tax-exempt. Granted they try to make it super difficult to actually execute the refund, but that's where the CC companies came in

abcriminal2508 karma

Were you familiar with Scientology before going in? With all the controversy surrounding the cult, I find it strange that they can still get new followers..

exscientologist999991504 karma

This is surprising to me even with hindsight. I had stopped with friends at a small CoS mission in my hometown when I was young and tried the "cans". My parents scoffed when they heard I went there and explained it wasn't a real thing, but it didn't seem serious. Especially as a young adult exploring my own ideas, and having a girlfriend who was very into it already, my judgement was definitely skewed. The church has a lot of money and a strong frontface if you haven't seen or heard the criticism. It is DEFINITELY possible to fall for Scientology and I think it's important to spread the news and regulate the malicious org more heavily.

sickboy22121707 karma

The church is known to go after high-profile past members pretty harshly.

Since your experience was shorter and you didn't go as far in, have you noticed any work from the church to make your life miserable ever since you left?

exscientologist999991526 karma

Great question and something I've been concerned about. I am certainly not high profile, and while I perhaps chummed the water with my wallet, I get the sense that they were more eager to be rid of me (see Suppressive Person shit) than to risk me starting drama. My (now ex) girlfriend stayed in it and that is a huge asset they didn't want to lose. I of course still get calls and mail despite my requests, but I think that's on account of their poor data systems. I'm very lucky I was in for a shorter time, because I think that made it easier to legitimize the refund.

BondMi6892 karma

This story is missing a lot of details. You kind of yadda yaddaed over the most interesting parts. You said you went in with your girlfriend and left cause your friends talked you out of it. How was your mind opened? What actual craziness were you exposed to that flipped the switch in your head to get out?

exscientologist99999920 karma

I took my girlfriend back to my hometown to introduce her to my family and friends. I was excited to talk to my friends about my involvement in Scientology, knowing it was niche. My friends were immediately concerned, but unable to be too critical in person because my girlfriend was always present and never left my side. We took a road trip with my GF and two childhood friends, and on the way back we ended up visiting a CoS. My friends were spooked by the whole experience, but again, didn't say anything in front of my GF. One of my friends seemed genuinely interested during our tour, and agreed to take a 200-question Oxford Capacity Analysis home with him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Capacity_Analysis

A couple days later, I texted my buddy, asking if he had the chance to fill out the questionnaire. At this point, he called me on the phone and asked me to make sure my GF wasn't able to hear our conversation. He proceeded to expose his true concerns for the first time. It turns out, my mother was worried sick about me, and really disliked my girlfriend, but didn't know how to talk with me about this. A lot of people were concerned for me, but were nervous to confront it. My buddy rambled about how dangerous the CoS is, and how the questions on the paper were exactly like the disturbing interrogations in a film called "The Master," and how I needed to watch the documentary "Going Clear" as soon as possible.

It became apparent that my girlfriend, and the other CoS staff members we had been in contact with, wanted me to know as little as possible about Scientology from the outside perspective. My friends arranged an intervention, and pretty soon I realized that the people I grew with were begging me to leave the CoS. The church staff on the other hand were primarily interested in knowing what rumors I had heard so they could debunk it. Red flag AF. I took my friends' advice to heart, did my own research, and got out.

edit: changed the link to something third party so we don't give anyone any ideas...

brtt3000739 karma

Did it not raise suspicion with you that you had to pay all this money and sign an agreement and release form? The step from $30 for a thing to $2500 seems a bit steep. What made you think this was reasonable?

exscientologist99999469 karma

It was honestly part of the mentality being pushed on me by my girlfriend. I was infatuated with the idea of being more open-minded and flexible and not so calculated about my every move. It is a big step, and it occurred a few days after, and in direct response, to a fight with my gf. This seemed like as good a way as any to prove devotion. Right? Right...?

coorslight15377 karma

I grew up in a religious household and my family would donate to the offering every Sunday (usually a $20). How do they justify you paying such large amounts for their tech/sessions/audits?

exscientologist99999389 karma

They actually highlight the distinction from a typical Christian church's donation strategy positively. Fitting with the sense that the individual is advancing themselves by participating and going up the bridge, they relish that the individual is responsible financially for their motion. $200/hr auditing is not ridiculous for therapy, but it's way more excessive when insurance doesn't help. Then you have to consider that the staff gets paid next to nothing and you realize how much money the execs/org is keeping

DontOverEatMe249 karma

Were you able to maintain your relationship with your girlfriend once your friends pulled you out from the church? I’ve heard they are brainwashed to disconnect from people like you.

exscientologist99999405 karma

No, I wasn't. In the end it became an ultimatum in which I was unwilling to consult staff of the church to see if they might change my mind (like she wanted) and she was unwilling to consider non-church-curated info (think Going Clear and other common criticism). I figured if this was the stalemate I was in with my girlfriend, and at a fundamental level she was unwilling to look at opposing views, it wasn't possible to stay together. I have contemplated my obligation/ability to help her leave, but she attributed much of her current success and potential for future success to Scientology tech. She's very in it, but has been cordial in breaking up.

DontOverEatMe162 karma

That sounds really difficult, but you did what was necessary. These people are living in a different dimension.

exscientologist99999169 karma

Thanks man. Ya human judgement is imperfect, and I am case in point

gdex86187 karma

I love a good con job and the logistics behind them so ...

Do you think if Scientology hadn't over played their hand going for so much so fast on one credit card that it'd send up a red flag with Visa you'd still be there?

Also did they do the thing where they gave you a script to get new credit cards opened to pay for your work up the bridge?

exscientologist99999182 karma

Oooooh, I like this.

I think I went by the credit card red flag honestly. I worked hard to put that money in their hands by making a paypal account and paying a rando. I largely attribute the turnaround to my friends saying woah, which feels like an inevitability in my case since I was eager to share this "good thing" with them and they weren't gonna let this slide.

No but I'd totally believe this is real. Their financial department was talented and stubborn. They liked to say "we'll help you find the money", which is oh so dark with hindsight

theHiddenTroll170 karma

What was the weirdest thing you've seen/experienced inside?

exscientologist99999354 karma

The propaganda is so heavy. There is idolizing imagery of LRH everywhere and so much content; books, videos, audio, images, kids books, pamphlets on how to help marriages, childbirth, etc. In the waiting rooms they have films going continuously about the IAS, and the various philanthropy movements they tout. Also when I see kids in the Scientology uniform vests running around, it makes my stomach turn. They might know nothing else during their lifetime, and end up the next protege like David Miscavige

pantless_pirate97 karma

Did you get your money back from the actual church or just your credit card company? Most credit disputes are actually just covered by the credit card company because it's cheaper than tracking down what actually happened and I imagine the lawyer in charge of your case saw the dispute was with scientology and decided to stay the hell away from it and they just covered it and scientology got to keep the money.

exscientologist99999127 karma

Money came back because the church let their opportunity to challenge the dispute expire (60 days). I like to think the cc companies swiped money from the church, but I suppose there's a possibility that the cc companies lost on this one. Not every day I sympathize with big banks, but they did me a solid here and I really hope the church is the one hurting rn.

Didn't know this was how disputes worked under the hood. Thanks!

escapesuburbia40 karma

Since you left, have you been followed at all by any Scientologists or any private detectives they employ?

Has any fake information about you been created or spread?

exscientologist9999944 karma

No not yet. I am aware of the possibility and am keeping my eyes peeled. I'm still a little jumpy since the first few days when I was leaving, but things are pretty calm now. I don't think I'm worth their time.

0528alwayswrong20 karma

Are you and your gf still together? Is she still practicing?

exscientologist9999925 karma

We are no longer together. She is still practicing and is completely dedicated to the CoS.

WorstVolvo4 karma

How stupid do you have to be to join Scientology in 2019?

exscientologist999992 karma


HammeredDog-6 karma

Only proof here is you joined and spent $. Where's the proof you left and got your money back?