The Crushing Certainty of Scientology (Ep. 240)

Seven years ago, a documentary aired on HBO called “Going Clear – Scientology, and the Prison of Belief.” The documentary is based on a book of the same title by Lawrence Wright and tells the story of a handful of people who joined The Church of Scientology. One of those people is a friend of mine called Spanky Taylor, who is my guest on this week’s episode. Shortly after the documentary aired, (which you can watch for free on You Tube,) I wrote about it on this page, and congratulated Spanky for doing what few in her position manage to do – break free from the clutches of a cult.

If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, you’ll understand just how insidious this organization is. And if you pay your taxes, you’ll no doubt share my outrage at our government’s decision to call this organization a church and grant them tax-exempt status. It is truly mind-blowing, utterly inexplicable, and something the IRS should reverse immediately. But if you’ve ever been swindled, or conned, or betrayed, or found yourself in an abusive relationship of any kind, you might find my conversation with Spanky to be of particular value. Because Spanky – like every other person who has ever been manipulated – not only allowed it to happen, she stayed in that relationship long after she knew it was hurting her. Which begs the obvious question – Why?

Why do we stay when we know we should go?

It’s easy to look at a cult – especially one as transparently venal and corrupt as Scientology – and marvel at the truly ludicrous things people will believe. And it’s tempting to dismiss such people as gullible or weak or foolish. But how many of us have stuck our head in the sand, rather than confront the painful truth of our own situation? How many have lingered in a toxic relationship, long after we knew it was hurting us?

Like the frog in the boiling water, most people are capable of believing anything, a little bit at a time. And then one day, we look at the water bubbling up around us and wonder how it got so damn hot. I’ve been there, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. That’s why I wanted to talk with Spanky Taylor. She’s awesome, and brave, and I appreciate her willingness to share her story. You will, too.

Listen to the entire conversation here.