I recently got engaged in a discussion on Twitter, regarding attempts to get my religion properly represented in the media. It ended up pulling in She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named, who wanted me to come appear on her farce of a show to represent Scientology. The conversation culminated with the following statement by Sarah Daniels, an expert voice in real estate who’s no stranger to media appearances:
As answering complicated questions 140 characters-at-a-time on Twitter can be an exercise in infuriation, I made a video response, which I’d like to also direct to any other media outlet who would consider doing a piece where Scientologists and their beliefs might be discussed:
See, the mainstream media LOVES to depict stories of people who’ve been “wronged”. Where their life has been “tragically impacted” by something and they live “scarred and broken” because of it. Where their circumstances are not their own responsibility, but are because of how “wronged” they’ve been. The point, of course, is to generate viewer sympathy and keep their attention while you advertise to them.
But, as a tool for that machine, I’m probably the last person on earth that would make for a good interview subject for them.
Far from being scarred, broken and bitter, I live a life primarily composed of activities of my own choosing. I have a good job doing work that I love, I have three beautiful children that love spending time with me out on the trail exploring nature, and I have a beautiful wife I’ve been married to for 17+ years. My relationship with my church, though, more than anything doesn’t lend itself to the corn & games media narrative, as it’s been overwhelmingly positive. I’m a second-generation Scientologist, having decided to pursue such a path on my own accord. In addition to my professional career, I’ve been a staff member of the church in local, regional and international capacities, and – shocker – my experience was positive. I loved the work I did, and honestly found it immensely fulfilling. I continue to have literally hundreds of close friends who are staff members and Sea Org members, and really enjoy interacting with them.
So, if my experiences are positive, then what would I talk about?
I answer questions all the time about life as a Scientologist, so I guess I could go there. Like:
What are my core beliefs?
What requirements does the church put on me, with respect to my schedule or my day-to-day life, or things that I “must do” because I’m a Scientologist?
Am I allowed to be on the Internet? Am I allowed to watch TV?
Am I allowed to associate with non-Scientologists?
Do I secretly worship alien overlords in a hidden underground sept under my house?
I run the Scientology Parent website, so I could answer all manner of questions about Scientology and the family, which some folks might find interesting. I’m personal friends with literally hundreds of Scientologist families and their kids. So, I have literally hundreds of topics I could speak to on that line, things like:
Do we allow women to use medication during childbirth?
Do kids have to get a Scientology education?
What happens if our kids decide they want to pursue a different religious path than I did?
That might be of some interest.
Or, I’d be happy to talk about my time as a Church staff member. My wife was a staff member of the church when we met, and for the two of us, our time on staff was filled with simultaneously some of the most difficult yet personally fulfilling work we’ve ever done in our lives. My wife always worked in the area of Scientology training, teaching the materials themselves, and I worked alternately in personnel as well as years working on the Church’s internet properties. My dad, my mom and my sister all still work for the church as well, so I have a deep well with which to draw from, in terms of personal experience.
I know, however, that A&E’s financial motivation on their series depends on painting the church in the worst possible light, so all of the subject matter above would make for an episode they’d fine nauseatingly positive. But if anyone else happened to be brave enough to counter their media machine, and do a vignette on what being a member of the Scientology community is actually like, I’d be all for appearing and telling my story.