How To Escape From Scientology’s Sea Org

2008 06 Sea Arrrgh - I Joined the Sea OrgIt’s supposed to be near-impossible to leave the “church” of Scientology’s elite paramilitary offshoot Sea Org, but Vocativ reports that Jillian Schlesinger found a way:

On the morning that 29-year-old Jillian Schlesinger finally decided to leave the Church of Scientology, she awoke early and wondered whether she was losing her mind. Was she about to do something she’d always regret? A native Californian, she’d spent most of her life in the church. Her parents were Scientologists, as were her friends—basically everyone she knew. If she left, they’d disown her. On the other hand, if she stayed, her misery would continue. Either way, Schlesinger knew her escape attempt would change her life forever.

She was not just a member of the church, she was part of its elite, the Sea Organization, Scientology’s management body of members who sign contracts promising to serve the group for a billion years. She lived at Scientology’s big blue West Coast headquarters on Sunset Boulevard, known as the Pacific Area Command, or PAC Base. Every day, she went to work with hundreds of other Sea Org members, all dressed in starched uniforms—khakis and button-downs for men, skirts and neat blouses for women. The facility, once a hospital, is monitored by security cameras and armed guards. Everywhere she went, someone, somewhere, was watching her.

Scientology is an American religion predicated on the teachings of the late science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Founded in 1954, it is a highly insular faith rooted in ideas of American self-help and psychotherapy as well as Eastern mysticism. It maintains, as many religions do, that society needs healing, and also purports to be the only group with a cure. All the problems of the world, according to Hubbard, are rooted in psychic traumas known as “engrams,” which Scientologists devote their lives to identifying and dispelling through a lengthy therapeutic technique known as “auditing,” in which members revisit their past horrors until, through sheer repetition, they are neutralized, and human suffering is relieved…

[continues at Vocativ]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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26 Comments on "How To Escape From Scientology’s Sea Org"

  1. mannyfurious | Apr 11, 2014 at 4:13 pm |

    The LDS church isn’t much different, but the Scientologists are safer targets for the media because one has never run for president and they don’t own an entire state….

    • Anarchy Pony | Apr 11, 2014 at 4:13 pm |


      • mannyfurious | Apr 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm |

        I guess the good side of the media assault against Scientology is that the entire movement has been marginalized and publicly disdained for so long that I honestly don’t ever see them gaining any kind of meaningful cultural friction of any kind. I mean, they have been exposed as a cult of weak-minded loonies. There’s a part of me that wishes something a little more powerful like the LDS church would suffer the same fate.

        • gustave courbet | Apr 11, 2014 at 10:05 pm |

          I would say that literally adhering to any religion or quasi-religious philosophy is intellectually untenable. Most of us have just become numb to the strangeness of religious dogma via continual proximity (myself included).

          • mannyfurious | Apr 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm |

            Oh, I agree. But there’s still a difference between what Scientology and the LDS church are doing and what most other religions are not. I’ve known many Christians of many denominations (including from cultish evangelical sects) who left the church and they weren’t utterly shunned by their families and friends. Not that the various churches necessarily made such exoduses (exodi?) a pleasant experience for the defectors, just that it wasn’t anywhere near the level of what Scientology and LDS church are known to do.

          • gustave courbet | Apr 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm |

            Good point, although I’m not as familiar with the church of LDS, aside from their strange beliefs. The church of Scientology is a textbook example of totalitarian dogma run amok though.

    • Echar Lailoken | Apr 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm |

      There’s a big difference. I could list many, yet I feel it’s likely a waste.

      • mannyfurious | Apr 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm |

        Well, I’m sure there are many differences. There are also many commonalities. I currently live in a town with a high LDS population, and I know people who would leave the church if their entire life wouldn’t be turned upside down if they did.

        • Echar Lailoken | Apr 11, 2014 at 6:09 pm |

          I have a feeling you are exaggerating.

          • Thurlow Weed | Apr 11, 2014 at 6:23 pm |

            Essentially, same orgs, though.

          • Echar Lailoken | Apr 11, 2014 at 6:45 pm |

            And you know because you’ve seen the memes and hit pieces online?

            I was raised LDS, my family goes back to the beginning, and several members of my immediate/extended family are still LDS. I am telling you that you and Mannyfurious do not know what you are talking about. Even though I disagree with the LDS church I do value the truth.

            Both are religions that were formed in the United States by Charismatic leaders. Both require strict lifestyle regimens (diet, etc). The similarities pretty much stop there.

            The LDS church does not administer physical punishment, The LDS church is Christian (Scientology is based off of the O.T.O.). The LDS church does not require uniforms although there are dress codes (clean cut, clean shaven, modest dresses, no shorts above the knee, etc) however it’s mostly recommended for people that are in the bishopric but encouraged for all members. I can go on, but I’ll stop there.

          • Thurlow Weed | Apr 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm |

            I’m glad you escaped from LDS. But, there is no essential difference between it and Scientology as far as I can see. Both are a cult. I don’t care how many superficial difference there are.

          • Echar Lailoken | Apr 11, 2014 at 7:32 pm |

            I didn’t escape, I stopped going to church. Hopefully you escape from the cult of your ignorance. Idiot of a troll.

            Pull your head out of your ass and look up the definition of a cult before you shit more idiocy out of your mind.

          • mannyfurious | Apr 12, 2014 at 2:40 pm |

            Come on, dude. You’re right it’s not a “cult,” per se, but it is very “cultish.” You and I both know that there is “secret knowledge” in the LDS church that is revealed only as certain members climb higher up the hierarchy. Doesn’t that sound awful similar to whatever it is the Scientologists believe happens when you keep giving them more money?

          • Echar Lailoken | Apr 12, 2014 at 3:08 pm |

            Are all atheists members of the fucking idiots and arrogant assholes cult like Thurlow Weed, or are there differences in the culture?

          • mannyfurious | Apr 14, 2014 at 3:40 pm |

            I don’t know. I’m not an atheist. But good point, and I apologize for my sweeping pronouncements. Nevertheless, my own experience is that while atheists have a tendency to be more “rational” or whatever, I’d still rather spend some time with just about any non-evangelical religious person.

          • Echar Lailoken | Apr 14, 2014 at 5:14 pm |

            Noted, and agreed. I prefer weed and whiskey, although root beer floats and jello aren’t all that bad.

          • No dress codes? Doesn’t the sacred underwear count as a dress code?

          • Echar Lailoken | Apr 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm |

            I suppose, however I said no uniforms and that there is a dress code. They are called garments, and they are for modesty and protection from temptation. Much like crucifixes. rosaries or other religious/spiritual talismans. Not everyone wears them though.

          • Cortacespedes | Apr 11, 2014 at 6:34 pm |

            There’s always free agency in the LDS church. It’s a major tenet.

          • mannyfurious | Apr 12, 2014 at 2:37 pm |

            No exaggeration. I will admit that I only know of one member of the church who officially denounced the church and for the past three years whatever support system he once had has completely dissolved. His parents barely speak to him (his mom is more willing, but often does so in secret) and the entire church community has turned their back on him (again, some of his old friends will give him a hand from time to time, but do so in secret).

            But from knowing this individual alone, it makes much more understandable the plight of the handful of other friends/acquaintances I have who tell me they’d like to leave the church but don’t feel like it would be worth the effort to do so.

          • Echar Lailoken | Apr 12, 2014 at 3:12 pm |

            This is counter to my own experience. It’s typically me that does not want to associate myself.

  2. Thurlow Weed | Apr 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm |

    Cult quiz: How do you spot a cultist?
    1. S/he is being audited by Church of Scientology
    2. S/he has a high post count at

  3. Echar Lailoken | Apr 11, 2014 at 6:50 pm |

    My heart goes out to this woman.

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