In Scientology the role of the Chaplin is similar to the duties of a priest. Unlike the auditor, who is also considered a counselor like the Chaplin, is the person who audits* a scientologist in what’s called a session. The Chaplin’s main purpose is to handle civil disputes between its members. When a person receives marriage counseling, which Jason Lee & I did, its facilitated through the Chaplin. Its suppose to be the Chaplin’s job to be fair & use the tools of their religion to mediate between people having difficulties. And that included a divorce. But it was after the damage had already been done when I realized what a Scientology Chaplin actually did as opposed to what I was spoon fed to believe.
I’ve said this before but it was the experience of my divorce that opened my eyes to the truth about what Scientology really was. Since suing another scientologist is a suppressive act, the Chaplin & Tommy Davis (who I once thought of as a friend & worked in the presidents office at the Celebrity Center in L.A) worked together in tandem on my divorce & forced me to drop the original attorney I’d hired to handle it for me. I never got a proper answer on why Tommy got involved & to this day I’m still resentful because of the way it was done. He & the Chaplin said it was Scientology policy that I was violating by suing Jason for a divorce, one that had serious consequences. So, I was instead assigned a scientologist attorney that I didn’t chose. This was to be an in-house situation, one that could be contained by Tommy & the church. It was also him, along with Jason who argued in their own favor rather than through a lawyer. Jason was of course assigned a non scientologist attorney that the church knew beforehand but they both were only used to draw up documents. Nothing else. I met my assigned attorney one time for 5 minutes. It was Tommy, who represented Jason in the presidents office those days against me. And me, by myself, for myself. The arguments were mostly about what you’d think they were, the division of money & assets.
Jason & I had nothing when we met. We suffered financial hardships like anyone else & at one point even lived in the garage at The Ribisi’s house. As Jason eventually began to make more money our quality of life improved & we bought our first house. Very very different from those garage days. But in Scientology, it’s all about exchange* & I made my own money too. It wasn’t enough to compare with Jason but in my role I literally took care of everything except paying the bills. Besides chasing my own dreams & auditioning & photography, I took care of literally everything. On top of that, I managed to take Scientology courses & get audited at the Celebrity Center, eventually reaching grade 5* which is just below clear.* That alone was a full time job.
I went to the church to begin what I thought would be a discussion on the terms of the divorce. As I was sitting there, Tommy handed me a document with a little sticker of a red arrow at the places where I was suppose to sign. California law is pretty simple in divorce cases. It’s split down the middle, fifty-fifty. Since I had sought my own divorce attorney before the church knew, I was at least aware of this fact & how much money I was fairly entitled to receive. With Tommy & Jason hovering over me in the presidents office, I read their proposal. They wanted me to accept half of what the law states. No matter how much I tried to reason with them or explain the devaluing effect it was having on me, Tommy & Jason just kept repeating the same thing over & over: it was out-exchange.* To make a long story short, I disagreed with these terms. We argued for 4 hours straight. I finally convinced Tommy to let me leave & come back the next day. We argued for 4 more hours & they wouldn’t budge a single dollar. That last day I was browbeaten by these two men to the point where I broke down in tears & gave in. I signed the damn thing & walked out the door. They’d won a pyrrhic victory & seemed pretty proud of themselves. I no longer trusted them.
It’s honestly sad all the ways people can manipulate another by putting the fear of loss into them. The loss of family members & friendships, the loss of support, the loss of your spirituality. But especially the loss of dignity. It was surreal because being told by a so called leader in my religion that I wasn’t worth half as much as I thought I was, was unreal. Or that it’s really all about money & who’s the bigger celebrity.
But I saw them. I saw who they really were. I saw they’re real motivation & it wasn’t enlightenment & ethics. It was what they bloody wanted it to be & they used Scientology policy to get away with it. I call that sick.
I begrudgingly accepted the terms of the agreement against my will & moved on with my life in the best way I could. I had one foot in Scientology & one foot sneaking out the door. But the doubts eventually gave way & began coming at me fast & furious. I started getting angry…..real angry.
To make another very long story short & some deprogramming epiphanies later, I bought the book ‘A Piece Of Blue Sky’ by Jon Atack. From there, I squeaked out some doubts by finally letting myself openly question Scientology. I got brave enough to bring the subject up to someone I believed I could trust. Which if you’ve read the Gawker story you know exactly where that road ended. Well, where all the roads end for the people who begin to muster the courage to ask about Scientology: labeled a suppressive person & heartlessly disconnected from. It’s weird too because all I had to tell Gay Ribisi was that I’d read a book written by a person who was against Scientology. She wouldn’t stay on the phone with me long enough to even get through what I specifically wanted to ask her. All she said was “Carmen, you need to go to the Org,* right now! And click. That was the last time she ever wanted to speak to me.
After I got the disconnection letter from her & Jason a few days later, it hit me pretty hard. But after some serious thought, I reached the point of acceptance & lost a little bit of the fear to challenge Jason & Scientology for a formal divorce. I called the previous non scientologist lawyer, who actually had his own experience with the church. He told me a story where his family had to rescue a relative from Scientology once so he was familiar with how serious it was. My lawyer told me the document I’d signed was illegal & quickly got it made invalid. From there, we formally began to assert my rights & sue for a formal & fair divorce.
It incensed the church. They had a full blown melt down. They began to overwhelm me with emails & phone call messages every single day. The Chaplin proceeded to use his place in the church to try to convince me that what I was doing was wrong & would result in dire consequences. I didn’t see how it could get any worse since I’d already been disconnected from by Jason & Gay. I ignored the Chaplin & he grew more & more hysterical. I ended up having to change my phone number. More than once.
It’s strange because that’s the nature of the beast for normal people to have a hard time believeing that such stories about Scientology could be the way I’ve described it as. But that’s exactly how they’ve been able to get away with everything they do, by relying on most people’s sense of decency & crying bigotry when their victims attempt to seek justice. Most people can’t imagine someone’s rights being so easily brushed off in favor of another, just because they’re a celebrity & have money or whatever reason I don’t understand. That’s usually not what most people’s values are based on. So I’ve included a document from that time period. It’s a letter from my lawyer to the Chaplin at the time when this was all happening. All I can say is – thank goodness for a fearless attorney.
Eventually the law won & I received what I should have from the beginning. It’s made Scientology hate me. But is there any other emotion they’re better at displaying except hate? It most certainly isn’t love.
And of course I never got a dime of the $50,000 back that my lawyer demanded. In fact, years later I discovered how the church continued to steal money from my bank account in the amount of almost $13,000. And this was even after my lawyer sent them a letter demanding they stop charging my credit cards. I have a copy of that document to. Maybe that’ll be the subject of my next post.
*Auditing is the name for what Scientology calls its spiritual counseling. It consists of many questions being asked by the auditor to the scientologist which then the scientologist answers. The auditor uses what’s called an e-meter, which is a crude lie detector machine. Although this is done in a private setting, the person receiving the auditing is made to believe it’s intimate & that their privacy is protected. But it in fact is not. All the information is written down by the auditor into a folder. It can & is used as a retaliatory weapon against those who’ve spoken out about Scientology’s abuses.
*Exchange & *out-exchange is serious business in Scientology. When a person is out exchange it’s considered a criminal act & a form of stealing. It’s like taking & no giving. Even amongst marriage partners & parents & children. There’s also a saying in Scientology that “exchange is as good as money.” What that means is that if you cannot pay for something but instead do something instead of payment, then it’s an acceptable exchange. Like a wife taking care of a household rather than pay bills. If she doesn’t, she’s said to be out exchange & can end up in ethics, which isn’t a choice. Ethics is the department of Scientology that holds reign over its members actions. From experience, going to ethics is scary & no one treats it lightly.
*Grade 5 is a level on the grade chart in Scientology.
*Clear is the state where a person no longer has a reactive mind & is considered at cause over m.e.s.t – matter, energy, space & time. Socially speaking, saying your “clear” is status enhancing for a scientologist.
*Org is short for organization. Like Sea Org means The Sea Organization. It’s also what Scientology calls their buildings sometimes.