One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about being somewhat public with the fact that I’m a Scientologist, is that I end up getting approached somewhat regularly by students looking to interview or ask questions about Scientology for a school project.
The most recent of these was a girl who had to turn in a video of our interview for a school project, and graciously allowed me to post the full interview online should others end up with the same questions. Her last question, though, was one I’ve gotten quite a few times in the 24 years since the first website I made that noted I was involved in Scientology, which is:
“What are some misconceptions of Scientology held by society today, whether it’s social media or people or internet trolls, that you feel it is important to just clear up or debunk?”
I like her question, and her intention behind it, as she genuinely wanted to know my views, and how my faith has been misunderstood by the general public.
Seeing as her questions and curiosity did lead to a great discussion on religion (both recorded for class as well as afterward) I wanted to provide the full content of this interchange, so you might understand a bit further what it’s like from the viewpoint of a Scientologist.
Student: What are some misconceptions of Scientology held by society today, whether it’s social media or people or internet trolls, that you feel it is important to just clear up or debunk?
Tad: So, that’s tough and I almost don’t want to give them extra airtime. There’s two classes of things that I that I’ve seen about Scientology: there’s the stuff that’s all the way made up like completely made up like, “the Scientologists can’t talk to their children for a year” you know? Or “Scientologists can’t say no to their children.” That’s another one I heard – I’m like “Where’d you get that? You made that up…you know you made that up right?”
There’s stuff that just totally just…somebody dreamt it up because it sounds like, “Nobody knows that it’s wrong so I can just say it,” sort of a thing right?
So there: you have that class of things. Then you have another class of wackiness, where somebody will take a place – a Scientology-related place that really exists, a practice that really exists, a person that really exists, and then make up story about that which didn’t actually take place and then say “Scientologists do this.” Then you go “Okay, so the fact you said three things that were right and seven that were wrong doesn’t make this story 30% true. It makes it a 100% false story about a real place.
It’s those ones that unfortunately, I think, get the most airtime because those are the hardest stories to punch in the mouth.
I used to work for the church a long time ago and so I’ve been around a lot of stuff. I’ve been around people at local levels and at regional levels and at international levels, I have been to church openings and worked on some of these big programs.
Student: Where did you work at, in the church?
Tad: I worked in Personnel, I’ve worked in Ethics – so when people talk about, you know what happens when people get kicked out of the church that was one of my jobs actually. So, I know exactly how that works and it’s not how people say it works. But I also worked doing Internet stuff – like I said I’ve been doing internet since I was 18, and so I ended up kind of getting into a bunch of Internet stuff and so a lot of marketing, a lot of handling of things happening online so it’s – so I’ve seen a lot.
So when somebody comes up to me and says, “You know – you know Scientologists do this..” or “This happened,” I go ,”Wha… that’s there’s no way that could happen.” You know? But now the burden of proof is upon me to disprove the thing that you said happened.
It’s hard for me to give you proof that a made-up thing didn’t happen.
Tad: Like, that’s almost impossible. “Prove you’ve never hit someone.” Like, so do I now get an affidavit from every person I’ve ever worked with that says, “Yes Tad never hit me.” You know? Plus, get a video statement – like some of the burden of proof that you would have to come up with to disprove a random story is really hard.
But honestly, that’s the unfortunate part about the way that media works. I can write a story that says, “I super like Scientology and it makes me feel good,” and it will get one click and that will be me when I check to make sure the story posted just fine. Right? Maybe my dad.
So, nobody wants to read that. But if I said, “I was wronged. You want to hear about how I was brutally mislead.” Everybody’s like, “Dude I need to… you know I’m with you man!” That stuff gets airtime, that stuff gets clicks. It’s social-media-friendly, it’s you know…clickety-click-click, let’s-pile-on-with-the-comments.
But that puts me in an interesting place. Like, like I end up end up on the back foot sometimes somebody says, “Well you know – you realize that everybody’s beaten there.” Like “No they’re not, where… NO.” You know? But then I end up having to say, “Well c’mon – so (a) I was just there, I was at the Church headquarters at Flag, just now. Shall I show you a picture of my sister who works there right now? Cool? Look, see her smiling. Like…what do I need to do, take a video of her talking?
It makes it makes that sort of thing kind of kind of weird but this is, I guess, this is just why to just keep being out there. This is why I don’t mind doing an interviews too. Because, you know, you’re obviously respectful and real and are … you don’t have an ulterior motive of like, “I’m gonna talk him into a corner. I’m gonna watch him squirm.” I can tell it’s not your point.
But unfortunately there are those out there that that – you know, I’ll post something out there on Reddit or something like that and then there are questions that people ask me specifically geared so that it can be a “do you still beat your wife type” type question. “No matter how he answers this, we are gonna jump down his throat,” kind of a thing. So <<shrug>> oh well.
Anyway – to answer your question, I don’t necessarily have any specific misconception to take up.
But part of the reason why I don’t really feel the need to take up a specific misconception is that if somebody’s ever confused about, “What do Scientologists believe about X,” what we believe is sitting there in the books and those books are for the most part already sitting in libraries. A lot of us have personally donated to campaigns to make sure they’re sitting in a library so you don’t even have to buy it. You know just walk there. You go to your public library, there’s a set of these books that are sitting there that somebody like me actually put some money into making sure that they were there so that you wouldn’t even have to guess at it. You just walk in there and check one out.
That’s it. Those books ANSWER what we believe. What we believe isn’t what is in that crazy National Enquirer article that was there just to entertain people while they’re trying to make their kids not pick up a Three Musketeers bar at the grocery.
Student: Well thank you so much for letting me interview you!
Tad: You’re welcome! And yes – just if anything else comes up you’re like, “Dammit I should have asked him about that,” then then just fire it my way – I’m here.
Student: Thank you so much this has been great!