By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Hubbard's famed E-Meter is little more than two sensors connected by wires to a machine. Scientology claims that traumatic events in our current and past lives are recorded as "engrams" in something called the "reactive mind," that auditing on an E-Meter will help erase those traumatic memories and achieve greater spiritual awareness. Lombard says auditing at the time cost between $100 and $800 per hour; initially, it helped her deal with lingering issues from her past. However, she adds, she often made up false memories, a practice she claims is common for Scientologists, who put their trust in the E-Meter. After her courses, the Amsterdam org asked her to be a nanny for a handful of staffers' kids. She signed a two-and-a-half-year contract. Though not completely convinced of Scientology, she worked tirelessly for the group.
"I was more of a mother to these kids than their own mother actually was," Lombard says. "That's the nature of the org. As a staff member, you don't have much family time."
Upon learning more about the org, she was offered a position as an ethics officer—the group's tough disciplinarian, in which she would chastise those who strayed from Scientology's path. Lombard thrived in the position, but it was short-lived. Scientologists from America began coming into the Amsterdam org, Lombard says, as well as orgs throughout Europe, slashing positions and removing people from power. Executives in Europe either were fired or plucked from their orgs and re-assigned to posts in the United States, she says. "These people took it as an honor to be picked," she adds. "And, of course, we had no clue what was going on in America—no idea."
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Scientology in the U.S. was in the midst of upheaval among its leadership during the early 1980s, as Hubbard became increasingly reclusive because of FBI scrutiny. During this time, an upstart named David Miscavige, who grew up in the organization, began to amass his own power. After Hubbard died in 1986, Miscavige assumed power and still leads Scientology today. Lombard was eventually promoted to director of personnel, a position she held for five years.
Lombard met her husband at the Amsterdam org. When she became pregnant with a son, she wanted to take a break from Scientology, but she also hoped to enroll him in a Scientology school in England. (She refuses to identify her husband or the names of their three children, saying she doesn't want to bring more trouble on her family at the hands of Scientologists.)
Her young family moved to East Grinstead, England, where the Church of Scientology keeps its United Kingdom headquarters. They lived there for five years while Lombard taught Scientology courses in a tiny mission. Eventually, they moved to San Diego. Lombard and her husband liked that California had a thriving Scientology community, with its heart in Los Angeles. They also had a desire to travel to Clearwater, Florida, home of Scientology's Flag Service Organization, where advanced auditing is performed. Lombard's husband entered the jewelry business, and the family later moved to Irvine and Tustin, the latter city home to the Church of Scientology's Orange County headquarters.
By 1997, Lombard had been moving up in what the church calls "OT levels," and she traveled to Florida for higher-level auditing. In 2001, Lombard reached the level of OT 5. There are eight OT levels in Scientology, and Hubbard, as do all Scientologists, believed that an operating thetan (a word Hubbard used to describe the spirit within a person's body) could function without his or her body, whether he or she had one or not.
"It is not anything about God," Lombard explains. "It's just about self-discovery and self-awareness. They tell you at the end of all that you become 100 percent aware of yourself; you can pretty much [be in] a state of enlightenment. And that is what you strive toward."
Lombard estimates she spent close to $150,000 in auditing and other Scientology practices to reach OT 5. "That's even kind of on the low side," she says, "because if you really want to get up there, you probably end up spending for sure a quarter of a million dollars, if not more."
She was recruited to join Scientology's elite Sea Organization, made up of members who sign billion-year contracts with the group as a show of their dedication. "I had my kids, and I knew kids would not be very important in Sea Org," she says. "There's a lot of neglect that's been going on, and there are kids who have been damaged for life because their parents didn't pay any attention to them when they were in Sea Org, so I never wanted to go with that."
Lombard says she doesn't regret not reaching the hallowed OT 8 level. "To me, it's not worth much," she says. "I've seen OT 8s who are scared to walk around in the dark."
She says she has seen others disciplined harshly and punished financially as they struggled to attain higher levels. Lombard also says she knew a Scientologist who had not reached OT 3 when he watched the infamous South Park episode that openly mocked the church. She watched the episode, too, but only after she left the church.