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
"I don't care what they're going to do to me," she says.
Still, she declines to disclose what she does for a living, out of concern the church will try to ruin her.
According to Scobee, spying is a common church practice. She says she filed a restraining order after a Scientologist tried to run her husband off the road.
"We lived in Florida for a year, and they had up to three, sometimes four [people] on us," she says. "It's just nuts. . . . They go to people's houses that I've talked to and say shit about me. That's one of the reasons why people don't speak out—because they are so intimidated."
Lombard claims that while Scientology envisions itself as a family-friendly church, if one member of a family becomes critical of Scientology, the church won't hesitate to break up the family.
"I know mothers who don't ever see their kids ever again," she says. "That's why . . . I'm willing to let everybody in Orange County know about that because, you see, they're going to start this big building in Santa Ana at some stage in time, and I don't want people to not know about this. They should be informed."
* * *
On a warm January morning in Tustin, volunteers at the Church of Scientology's Orange County headquarters scurry about the slouching office complex at Irvine Boulevard and Red Hill Avenue. In the midst of a major relocation to downtown Santa Ana, boxes are stacked in several rooms. The volunteers are engrossed in what they call the File Project; thousands of files must be moved to Santa Ana. A friendly young woman who has reached Sea Org level tells me that information is kept on every person who walks through the door. She declines to be interviewed and tells me to call the church's LA office. Three messages later, a church spokesperson provides an email address to which questions can be sent. In response to an emailed list of specific questions, a church official complained about unfair media portrayals and outdated allegations of abuse, which she denounced as "lies."
The woman gives a quick tour of the aging facility; showing off several offices, including the Processing Center, in which a director oversees the auditors who screen pre-Clears, people who are new to Scientology. Posters adorn the walls in nearly every visible office, edifying believers with tiny reminders of the Scientology lifestyle. An E-Meter is seen in the window of a room dedicated to upper-level adherents. Students new to Scientology quietly read in one of the larger rooms while an auditor awaits them in a pre-Clear office.
The tour guide points out a sauna room with exercise equipment. Scientologists engage in a purification program that takes its cue from a Hubbard book titled Clear Body, Clear Mind. A brochure for the program says that while no one can live in a bubble and escape "the global toxic menace," there is something one can do to rid the body of accumulated toxins: "enroll into and complete L. Ron Hubbard's Purification Program at your nearest Church of Scientology."
The program claims to open one up to a new level of personal well-being and spiritual improvement through a combination of nutrition, running and sweating in a sauna bath, which will rid the body of toxins and their effects on the minds of spiritual beings. "Through extensive study and testing," the program claims, "the Purification Program stands as Mankind's best solution to this modern day toxic scourge."
There is no specific diet for the program, but fresh vegetables are recommended.
The tour ends with a peek into what the guide refers to as Hubbard's office. In fact, she says, every org keeps an office for Hubbard. Presumably, one never knows when a thetan of his titanic stature might invisibly drop by for some deskwork. Nobody goes inside the room, she adds. On top of a large wooden desk rests a magnifying glass; waiting patiently next to a globe on a credenza is Hubbard's E-Meter.
* * *
A few weeks later, on the sidewalk across the street from Orange County Scientology's future home at the corner of Sycamore and Fifth streets in downtown Santa Ana, Lombard stands defiant. The church is moving on without her. She has seen achievement in leaving the religion after emptying her spirit into all of its rituals and shrinking into a shadow of the woman she thought she would be. The streets are quiet outside the apparently empty building, which used to house the Santa Ana Performing Arts and Event Center. Lombard gazes at the pallid, looming structure, which sits between a collection of small Mexican shops on one side and First Presbyterian Church of Santa Ana on the other.
"I'm extremely happy we're out of it," she says of the church. "Happy there's no one walking around here."
Just then, a thin, middle-aged man dressed in a blue shirt and black jeans steps out of a portable toilet in front of Scientology's soon-to-be Orange County headquarters. The man glances at Lombard from a distance, then crosses the street and stands next to her for a moment. Without a word, he marches back across the street and disappears into the building.
This article appeared in print as "The Spyentologist: How Paulien Lombard's quest for truth brought her from Scientology spy to church traitor."