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This Morning phone-in transcript

Transcribed by Lance S. Buckley

In studio:

Richard & Judy: Husband-and-Wife Daytime TV host team.

Raj Persaud: Regular Psychologist [Prior to break, an interview with Heber Jentzsch. I am waiting for a tape so I can transcribe it. This transcript joins the program just after the commercial break...]

Richard: "... their first adverts go out tonight on the satellite channels and they're saying they could soon come into your living rooms on terrestrial television. It's caused a big row, er, we had a bit of a row earlier on with er... now what is he? International President? [J: "Yes"] of Scientology [J: "Scientology International"] Thank you for all your calls about the interview. Yes, it was an up and downer. Um.. and Raj is here."

Judy: "You were saying, just to finish that off, you were saying that actually having looked at, in fact having taken their so-called aptitude test, it really is, it's it's not what you would call a proper qualified psychiatric assessment."

Raj: "No I mean obviously the very best kind of assessment is to have a professional assessed one. But it certainly is the case that there are some personality tests around that are very good, and can be helpful. But this doesn't seem to be one that's been properly validated. The other thing is, I mean I took the test a long time ago, I was a medical student and curious about this thing. I tried to retake it again in the last week because I knew we were doing Scientology on the program, and when I went in to the same place, they wouldn't let me take it."

Judy: "Because they recognised you"

Raj:"I think so, and they said I had to go to a celebrity Centre and have a celebrity test."

[Chuckles from all around the studio]

Richard: "You're not a celebrity!"

Raj: "I kept telling them that!"


Judy: "Oh well."

Richard: "Who's taking the calls today? Is it you Judy?"

Judy: "That's what it says there. Ok, right, let's first go to Martin from Dorset. Hello Martin. Hi."

Martin: "Hello?"

Judy: "Hi, good morning. Um.. you said you were 5 years in the police force [M: "uh huh"] Umm..] you actually believe in Scientology, I mean you think it's a good religion."

Martin: "Well I'm a scientologist, uh... yeah. I know that it works for me. But I'd like to say that scientology is not a belief. Scientology is ah.. like a journey. You do certain courses, you get certain religious counselling, as a result of doing that you come to certain conclusions for yourself about your own life. It's not a belief and it's not somebody else telling you what to be."

Judy: "But you have don't you, you have to believe in the existence of, ah.. the spirits inside us all that are called thetans, and you have to believe that they are at war with.. what' the other one? what's the.. you can tell me actually Martin.. what.. the thetans are constantly at war with the evil side [R: "Engrams"] the engrams. Yes?"

Martin: "Well.. It's almost correct. we are a spiritual being. I've always believed that I'm a spiritual being. Umm.. Always have done ever.. since I can remember. But scientology gave me certainty on that. Now if you want.. you don't have to believe to believe you're a spiritual being or not. You can do scientology courses and they will just help you to improve certain areas of your life. Financial, or... administration or whatever."

Judy: "So like therapy, or counselling yes?"

Martin: "The counselling is auditing yeah? You can do counselling or you can do courses. They're 2 different things, there's so many different services you can get within scientology."

Richard: "Martin, just stepping away from your belief in it as a religion, [Martin: "Uh huh"] Would you accept that all religions, whatever they are, once we've embraced them, whether they're valid or not, provide us with a security structure. Something on which we can peg our natural beliefs and our tendancies. As you say you had a natural tendancy as a child to think you are a spiritual being. I think I'm a spiritual being. I believe in the spirit myself. But scientology gives you.. you know.. a discipline within which to live."

Martin: "Exactly, yes. I agree with that."

Judy: "Raj, what would you like to say?"

Raj: "Martin is making an important point which is that he's had a very positive experience of this new religious movement, and it is fair to say that a lot of people do have positive experiences of them. But at the same time Martin, one of the key things that worry phychiatrists and psychologists about new religious movements, is one thing, um.. which it that often you have to accept completely.. the creed. I mean is there anything about scientology you might disagree with or don't believe in quite so strongly?"

Martin: "[pause] Umm... I don't know. I mean as I've gone through I mean I read something and generally I find it to be true. If I don't find it true, then, you know, I just leave it and maybe go on to something else."

Raj: "But you see.. What I'd like to say is you're not quite answering the question there, and usually when I ask scientologists this, or people in new religious movements, I say is there anything about the belief system, is there anything about L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of scientology, is there anything he said that might not be true? They never really answer that question. I mean is it really the case that L. Ron Hubbard, for example, got everything absolutely right? There's a very authoritarian structure to a lot of new religious movements. With this blind obedience to the leader. And there's no questioning that the leader could have got anything possibly wrong. Do you think L. Ron Hubbard, everything he wrote, was absolutely right?"

Martin: "Well, from what I've... I mean.. maybe, maybe not. I mean I can't say that everythuing 100% is right. What I can say is that a majority of what I've read has helped me to understand..."

Judy: "I suppose you could say that not all Christians believe that there was a virgin birth, and that, you know, Jesus Christ arrived in a manger..."

Richard: "But most are quite comfortable in admitting that, and I think what you're saying is that when you.. I think that most Christians would say well no I think a lot of things are metaphors in the bible. I think a lot of things that Jesus is alledged to have said and done are probably metaphors, but you ask a scientologist you say, and most of them are a bit iffy."

Raj: "Well the this is that there's free discussion hopefully in a healthy group, or a healthy whatever, and you can question the authority structure. But this doesn't seem to happen in new religious movements, this is one of the things that worries us about them, when there is no question..."

Richard: "What botherd me, to be honest, in our interview with their spokesman, with the.... president ealier, was the readiness to go on the attack, which seems to be at odds with a religion which is meant to be all embracing and all loving, all understanding. I find that strange."

Judy: "Well look, obviously Martin, it worked for you, and you felt that you had benifited from it. Thank you very much for calling. We'll take a very different call now, from Nina in London. [Quizzically] Nina?"

Nina: "Nina Miscow." [Showbizz buddy]

Judy: "Oh Nina! I thought for a second...I thought hang on.. oh right! [worried] You're not a scientologist are you?"

Nina: "No no no! But I did have a brush with the scientologists in the late '60s. I was on holiday from Scotland where I was living, with a friend, we saw this.. we were having to kill time and we saw this little sign that said free personality test. And went down and took the test. I was told that because I was in such dire need of help that I should do their course which cost something like 300 pounds. We're talking late 60s, which was a lot of money... well it's a lot of money now! This friend I was with was told that she was so wonderful and well balanced that she needed to take a test and study with them to be a teacher, which also costs 300 pounds. Well of course she seemed to fall for this, but I was not quite so impressed. The whole point being that I went off back up to Scotland, where I was still living at home with my mother, and I was then bombarded, week after week, year after year, with these incredibly friendly letters. "Dear Nina, It's a long time since we've heard from you. Whan you're next in London why don't you.." signed Martin, Henry, Lucy.. whoever. They went on long.. I mean we sent them back "Not known at this address" we tore the contents up, sent them back in the envelope, and long after I'd left home my mother was still getting them. I rang my mother this morning and said how long did those letters keep turning up, and she thought something between 7 and 10 years!"

Richard: "Good God"

Judy: "I think the crux of it really is this money stuff. I mean you know, if you go to church, if you go to a normal church, all you might have to contribute is to the collection, and actually you don't even have to do that. But this seems so closely related to money all the time."

Raj: "Yes, I think that's a very important issue. In fact anyone who's getting involved in a new religious movement, or who's children might be thinking of getting involved, that's a crucial question to ask. How much of a financial investment is this going to be? Because you're quite right. If there's a lot of money involved, that does raise some very worrying questions. Another very important point is, that the true mystic, someone who's genuinely had a mystical experience, leading a kind of mystical lifestyle, shuns materialism. And usually one of the characteistic of a true mystic is they actually end up being poorer as a result of their beliefs. But the problem with a lot of new religious movements, is the true mystic at the head of it, seems to do rather well financially out of it. I only have to think of one Guru in America who has a Rolls Royce for every day of the year! In what way id that a genuine mystical experience? The true mystic ectually ends up financially worse off as a result of giving up..."

Richard: "I'm sure Mother Theresa doesn't have a bank balance running into several noughts..."

Judy: "Yes, and the truly religious person gives rather than takes."

Raj: "Exactly. I'm interested in Nina, because she's a very confident person. Did the test, when it said there was something wrong with you, did that affect you in some way? Did you actually begin to believe it might be true?"

Nina: "It did... it was reasonably convincing. it was a fairly good version of, you know, like a woman's magazine one. It was superior to that. They said to me 'your one saving grace is your sense of humour' which seemed to me to be fairly sort of true."

Judy: "So you were awful apart from that? That's the only thing you had going for you, your sense of humour."

Nina: "Absolutely."


Richard: "Looks like they got you bang to rights then..."

Nina: "If I had been less secure about myself, or going through a bad patch, or not having a family structure around me, or you know, been depressed, I could easily have been sucked into that. And I think that's the pernicious thing. That's the thing that worries me. I mean, since that time I've taken an interest in seeing how the church has developed and I must say that the thought that John Travolta and Tom Cruise are scientologists, really lessens them in my eyes. I keep thinking what's wrong with these people?"

Richard: "Well I must say, all religious beliefs to an outsider seem strange. The virgin birth is a peculiar notion isn't it? Many people don't accept it, including people within the Christian church, but the thought thay you.. you.. what was it? Thee thee.. [J: "Thetan"] that you're a thetan from another planet... Tom cruise thinks that? *snort*"

Nina: "I bought a book, because you really couldn't escape from there without buying a book, by L. Ron Hubbard, and it was such gibberish! I mean it was such gobbledygook, psychobabble nonsense. You know, you couldn't get past the first page."

Richard: "He's alledged to have said, isn't he, in 1948 when he was still a science fiction writer, and I stress alledged, even though you can't libel a dead man... he's alledged to have said that if you wanted to make a lot of money, start a religion."

Raj: "Well there's another important point that Nina's made there, that is she went to do the test as a bit of a laugh, and I think that's crucial for how come she managed to elude the organisation in a way. Suppose she went and did the test, which a lot of people do, when they're feeling a bit low anyway [Judy: Something gone wrong in their lives] and that's why they want to do the test. And the test finds something wrong which confirms your worst belief about yourself, and that immediately offers a solution. And that's perhaps why this kind of situation might be exploitative to vunerable people."

Judy: "Alright Nina, thanks very much for ringing in. Actually I've just been talking to someone in our studio floor who's reading the book, and actually [chuckle] no I'm not going to name... don't turn the camera around... and finding it quite interesting!"

Richard: "Go on! Show this man!"

[Collapse of production crew into fits of laughter, as the camera is turned on the unfortunate reader of the book]

Judy: "Alright, sorry Lee. No, no we've got a far more serious call now..."

[They take a call from a woman who has a friend in another cult, which is involved with securing young people, often under age, for sex. They call themselves the "Friends of God". Lively debate follows on the legal avenues that can be explored in cases such as this, and of ways to get her friend out.]

Raj: "Your reaction, which is obviously very angry to hear this this, a terrible story, but it is a very common one. And the thing is that the cult in a way exploits that very often. They say things like 'If you tell your friends what we're doing they're going to be vey angry with us, or with you' so in a way that proves the cult right. So one of the strategies that we suggest is when you hear about what the cult's doing, is not to show too much of a strong reaction. Just find out more and more about what they're doing. But usually there's something that attracts someone into a cult, and you mentioned the fact this person was having problems with thir family. And one of the theories is that a cult provides a kind of replacement family if you're having trouble in your own family. Because they kind of look after you in a family like way. So one of the issues is to look at what attracted this particular person, and what difficulties this particular person was having, that the cult in some way helps her out with. And see if there's any alternative to that. The other thing is, the cult may be preventing her from doing things that she normally likes doing, because they've taken her away from her real life. And one thing to do is not criticise the cult, but subtly to get this person to pend more time with you and chat to them about other things outside the cult's life, and get them to do things that the cult forbids, to get them more interested in the outside world. One of the things that a cult does, is it denigrates the outside world, and that anything to do with the outside world is bad, and only things to do with the cult are good. And if you can begin to see that there are some things in the outside world that are good and fine and nice, she begins to be more attracted to living in the outside world."

Richard: "So you have to compete. Compete with the cult."

Raj: "Yeah, that's right, and provide competing activities and interests I think. And not be condemnatory of a cult too much, because that actually might backfire. The other thing is she herself may be beginning to have doubts about the cult, and if you're too critical about the cult to them, to the person that's already a member, they can begin to supress their own doubts."

Richard: "Because the cult members will be saying to them all the time 'They don't understand out there' and 'they will be angry, and that shows they don't understand'."

Raj: "And another thing is that one of the way cults work is they isolate people from their friends. Now you're a good friend who's still in contact. If you can get other friends of your friend whose in the cult, to meet with her, the more contact she has with the outside world, the more people she can talk to in the outside world, that will help a great deal. And that's one of the very powerful mechanisms a cult uses. Very often the cult retreats to a geographically remote locale. Think of Waco in Texas. And one of the ways that operates, is that is seperates you from peple outside the cult, so you stop hearing about external views of the world. That's a very powerful mechanism that will help get your friend, and rescue your friend, away from the cult."

Judy: "We've run out of time, but we haven't had time to talk to Maria, but Maria was saying that she was invited to one of these free personality tests in Manchester, and they told her.. are you there Maria? They told you that you were suicidal!"

Maria: "Yes I did, yes."

Judy: "They actually told you you were suicidal, and were you? I mean were you feeling particularly low and bad when you did the test?"

Maria: "No! Not at all! I was perfectly happy."

Richard: "How old were you when you took the test?"

Maria: "15"

Richard: "they told a 15 year old girl she was suicidal?"

Maria: "Yeah... *sigh*"

Richard: "Was this that guy on Deansgate in Manchester? [M: "yes"] The bald guy? [M: "I can't really remember.."] I know him. I know him. Oh I know the guy. And so they told you at 15 you were suicidal. [Maria: "Yes"] Brilliant. Nice judgement."

Raj: "But the thing is, the important thing was you had the confidence in yourself not to be affected by that. But some other people may not have been so confident in themselves, may have been very negatively affected by that experience."

Judy: [to R]: "Have you been to one of these tests or something?"

Richard: "I.. I.. Some years ago when I was walking past.. you know the Scientologist place on Deansgate, and there's this very sad looking guy that hangs around the town with a clipboard, and every time, well several times I went past, and every time he tried to get me to go in for one of these tests. And actually I will be straight. I said 'But you're a Sciemtologist!' .. 'No! It's a personality test!'"

Raj: "When I did the test, I was very worried the night before about revising for it."

[Total collapse of all into laughter]

Raj: "I didn't want to fail the personality test. It's very difficult to do the homework for it."

Judy: "Typical you isn't it. Typical you. Obsessive. Alright, we have to take a quick break now..."


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