Scientology in LA

You know how kids run up to a haunted house, knock on the door and run away as fast as they can screaming, all so that they can get a tiny thrill and tell their friends about it? That’s basically what Scientology is like in Los Angeles. In fact, I quickly made a lot of friends on my trip to LA as we excitedly swapped creepy stories about how the Scientologists had tried to brainwash us.

You might be wondering, what is Scientology? Scientology considers itself a religion, and was developed by L. Ron Hubbard, a well known science-fiction writer. The religion claims to have the answers to solve all the problems of humanity, which anyone can access by joining the church and paying a ton of money. Rumor is that they even believe in aliens.

It is basically impossible to travel to LA and not have an experience with Scientology. The organization owns a lot of properties and the buildings are often disguised as free museums or stores so that people wander in off of the streets, not knowing what they are getting themselves into. Young members of the church, many who look like they are in their teens, stand outside the buildings handing out flyers that don’t actually say “Scientology” on them, trying to entice people inside by offering free movies, free museums, free personality tests, or the promise of answers to all their life problems. Really, if they want to lure unsuspecting people in, they should just offer free candy.

On my first day in LA I walked by what looked like an interesting book store. I recognized L. Ron Hubbard’s name on ALL the books and knew that it was a Scientology building. I went in out of curiosity but only stayed for a few minutes because I was too scared to be there alone. I declined an offer to do the free personality test, which I’m pretty positive would have said I have a horrible personality and needed to join Scientology ASAP. So I left with a stack full of pamphlets and a free DVD which ended up in the garbage.

My next encounter with Scientology was at the L. Ron Hubbard museum (aka actually just another place to recruit people). This building was a lot scarier because no one was in it. I spent about 15 minutes standing outside, working up the courage to go in.

When I went in I met a nice young girl from China, whose name was Rainy or Stormy or some sort of weather condition. She offered to give me a tour and I told her I would go but had to leave in 20 minutes because I was meeting a “friend”, which was good because I later met people who were trapped there for hours. I had read that you should never give your name or any real information to representatives of the church, because they bombard you with junk mail and have done extreme things, like frame people for fake bomb threats, who write negatively about the organization (I’m a little worried about writing this post). However, when Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady asked me my name I couldn’t think of any lies and told her my entire life story!

She took me on a tour of the museum, which was really creepy. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, which is too bad because I saw some pretty weird stuff. Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady worshiped L. Ron Hubbard and the entire museum was about his “achievements” and how he is the greatest, smartest human ever. There were creepy manikins everywhere depicting him flying a plane and in boy scouts, but the weirdest part were all the oil paintings, which resembled historical paintings of Christ, except with L. Ron Hubbard in them… Keep in mind this is all 100% serious.

Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady showed me the books that changed her life. They were basically a bunch of self help books written by L. Ron Hubbard that help people to develop skills to fix themselves and the world. This is all good in theory, except for the fact that if they really wanted to help the world, and these books were the key, shouldn’t they make them free on the internet? I would have suggested this, except for the fact that I didn’t care and wanted to hear about the aliens! But Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady wouldn’t tell me anything about aliens and kept deflecting to the line “Scientology is not about believing it’s about doing”. Ok, whatever.

800px-Scientology_e_meter_blue.jpg
Scientology E-Meter. Image source: Wikipedia

Next I participated in auditing, done with an E-meter machine which measures energy in the body. The person being audited holds two pieces of metal, attached to the machine, while a small electrical current passes through their body. The auditor asks the person questions and the person tries to work through their issues based on the readings. Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady asked me to try the machine and think of something stressful or horrible in my life. I couldn’t think of anything and just pretended that I was doing it. When she asked me to tell her in detail what I was thinking about, I had to make up a giant lie about how something horrible happened at work. I was super paranoid that this machine allowed her to read my mind, and was even more freaked out when she looked at me after I thought this and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not reading your mind.”

At the end of the tour Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady asked me if I wanted to buy any books, which I politely declined. I pretended to be interested in joining Scientology so that she would let me go and not kidnap me, which seemed to work. I of course left with a million pamphlets which went straight into the garbage (they should really consider the free candy instead) but overall thought that it was an interesting experience to learn about another religion.

Have you been to LA and had any encounters with Scientology? Leave a comment below.

28 Comments Add yours

  1. Monica Graff says:

    I’ve never been on one of these places, but now I’m curious! The E-meter looks particularly sci-fi.

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    1. Jessica Lim says:

      It’s pretty interesting. If you can go with a friend because some parts are really creepy.

      Like

  2. mrawf3rd says:

    Fun read! Your blogs on Los Angeles are great!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. zizeloni says:

    Very interesting! I will try to visit a Scientology place! Not alone for sure 🙂 I think I will be too polite to say no and then I will end up staying there forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      I met a girl who went to a centre and they separated her and her friend and wouldn’t let them leave. They wouldn’t tell her where her friend was so she had a barge into every room in the centre! So be polite but stern or else you’ll be there for days. 🙂

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      1. zizeloni says:

        Oh really?? That sounds horrible 🙂 I will be careful if I ever visit one of these places!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Globetrotter says:

    Really interesting post! I didn’t know it was as prominent in L.A. I like all of the L.A posts. Looking forward to the next!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the heads up. At least I’ll know what to expect if I go to LA!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      Thanks for reading! Yes, I was very surprised by how present the religion was in LA. It’s even a big part of celebrity culture.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Whenever Scientology is mentioned, the first celebrity that comes to mind is Tom Cruise.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Beth says:

    I have been to their “museum” called Psychiatry: Industry of Death. They made me hand over my camera before I could go in. I thought I’d be able to wander around and look at exhibits on my own, but they herded me and a handful of others into a room to watch an anti-psychiatry movie. Then we could look at the exhibits, which stridently accused psychiatrists of being behind just about everything awful that’s happened in the past couple of centuries (including the Holocaust and 9/11). Not that I don’t think psychiatrists have been responsible for some nasty stuff, like lobotomies. But Scientology blames them for EVERYTHING bad, ever. And their claims seem way over the top. I would have made notes about their claims to fact-check them, but the woman in charge of my group was monitoring us closely and I didn’t want to call her attention to me with my suppressive note-taking.

    I finally was able to scurry away from the group and leave, but of course, I couldn’t just dash out the door–I had to retrieve my camera! Fortunately (and somewhat surprisingly), the guy at the desk promptly turned it over, and he didn’t even attempt to delay my departure.

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    1. Jessica Lim says:

      I saw the outside of that museum. A lot of people go into that museum because they have no idea that it’s a Scientology museum and just think it’s a funny/weird free museum.

      I am not surprised that they blame psychiatry for the Holocaust and 9/11. I made the mistake of saying that the auditing process was like therapy. The tour guide did not like that! She gave me a huge lecture on how therapy is not real and ruins humanity and is basically the root of all evil.

      I also had a similar experience where they wouldn’t let me walk around on my own. I think it’s weird that they are so secretive. If you really believed all these claims, wouldn’t you be shouting them from the roof tops?

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  7. So interesting! Thanks for posting about this, it seems like a bizarre and fascinating religion, though I don’t know if I would be comfortable going into their recruiting zones!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      Thank you for reading! If you want to stay away from the recruiting zones stay out of Hollywood!

      Like

  8. lonesojourns says:

    A thoroughly interesting read! I’m so tickled and intrigued by your experience…I’ve heard about Scientology and how all some famous Hollywood stars are kind of involved in it one way or another…aka T.C. and his wife. Hahaha…hmmm, so did you reveal your real name to the Rainy/Stormy/Weather Scientologist Lady? =P

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    1. Jessica Lim says:

      I was so nervous that I was going to be brainwashed that I couldn’t think of a fake name, fake country to be from, fake job or anything fake haha! The lady was nice but she was very interested and a bit obsessed with my job. I work in marketing and editorial design and she was a little obsessed with how many important people I could “impact”….

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      1. lonesojourns says:

        That is really really creepy…I’m glad you survived the experience though…heh 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. mckan1974 says:

    Great story! Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Funny thing, the E-Meter is nothing but a basic ohm-meter you can buy in any Radio Shack or electronics store. It measures the amount of resistance (ohms) your body possesses – the current of electricity passed through the two metal handles which are powered by a small battery. Everyone’s resistance is different and can be affected by how much water or coffee you had to drink that morning, if you had salt recently, and even the conditions (temperature/humidity) of the room’s environmentals.
    Scientology is no different from any other religion – they claim to have all the answers and want people to conform to their beliefs and customs. It’s just a different set of beliefs and customs than the mainstream.
    Glad you survived and were able to tell a good story! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      Thanks for reading! You are right, Scientology is quite similar to other religions and I believe that the majority of Scientologists are kind with good intentions. It was great to experience another religion but I think that a lot of people have strange or negative experiences with Scientology because they try to recruit so heavily and have some questionable tactics like isolating people who they are recruiting and being very secretive or deflecting when asked about their religion. I also found that they really tried to sell people things which made a lot of people I met very uncomfortable. I would have liked to have learned more about their actual religious beliefs but they focused on the sales pitch and deflected all my questions when I asked them anything about their religion.

      That’s interesting about the E-Meter! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      Like

  10. My son got interested in Scientology once upon a time ago when he was a teenager. Intrepid single mom went too cuz she was not leaving him alone to disappear into the Maw. Once he was over it, I extracted us post haste. It has a few interesting concepts but L. Ron Hubbard is not Jesus Christ Superstar in my books. They do not take extraction light heartedly.

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  11. You’re brave to have done the E-meter machine! Well, you can’t avoid seeing the huge Scientology presence on Hollywood Boulevard. I wouldn’t even take candy from them.

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  12. John says:

    If this post later disappears and we start seeing how Scientology “may not be as crazy as I thought,” I’ll know what happened. I’ll keep your story alive even if you… even if you… I’ll keep the truth alive!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessica Lim says:

      But Scientology isn’t as crazy as I though… Just kidding! 😉 Thanks for keeping my story alive!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for sharing! I lived in Santa Barbara and I would walk past one of these Scientology stores/churches every day but I never braved going in for fear of being brainwashed or something ha. There was never anyone in there either! This sounds fascinating though, intrigued to take a look now next time I’m in LA!

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  14. This reminds me of the time when I visited New York in 2013, my hotel that I stayed at, was pretty much next door the their Scientology building, which was also a tall building. Whenever I walked by, they were encouraging me to come inside and watch a video, but I declined, the only good thing about was, when I was a bit lost looking for my hotel, I could see the massive Scientology sign and I was like “YES! Found my hotel!” The only time Scientology helped me. Hahaha, good article 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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