As the Church of Scientology was stalling the opening of their new Ideal Org in downtown Santa Ana, they told me the media would be alerted about the big debut. I never got the memo.
But if I did, it likely would've said, “You're not welcomed.”
That was the message I got Saturday when I walked three feet into the ceremonies in front of the former Santa Ana Performing Arts and Event Center at 505 N. Sycamore St.
Well, after a nice young lady asked for my name and I responded with, “why do you need to know?”
I told her my name. She stepped away for a moment, returned, and told me it was a private event. Indeed, a private event for the busloads of thetans that had to be shipped into the bowels of a boiling Santa Ana so as to cover for the fact that no one else gave a damn about the opening of what L. Ron Hubbard would refer to as an “island of sanity,” otherwise known as an Ideal Org.
I was then told that a representative would speak with me, which turned out to be their thinly disguised effort to finally put a photo of me on their files. While I spoke with a lady who didn't want her name in the story, a portly fuck-of-a-man decided to stand several feet away and snap photos of the most handsome reporter in Santa Ana. I smoked my cigarette and stared directly into the lens.
The lady — let's call her “Miss Anonymous” for ironic shits and giggles — told me the event was for “parishioners” only, and the new Orange County location was necessary, as the so-called church continues (cough) to grow (cough).
No longer in the mood for sweet seques, I asked about the alleged physical and financial abuses in the organization, including those from former executive Debbie Cook, who told the world that the Church of Scientology is pretty much a fundraising machine. Cook blew the whistle on Scientology after she was confined in “The Hole” at its international base in Hemet.
The church sued Cook, saying she violated a signed non-disclosure agreement when she left the group. The church settled with Cook and her husband in April. Neither party got money in the settlement, and Cook and her husband agreed to no longer talk crap about the church.
Miss Anonymous called the allegations “bologna” and said Scientology apostates are looking for money and “should move on with their lives.” She's been a Scientologist since 1977.
So, not being allowed to mingle with the Scientologists and give a fair-and-balanced report of the day, I moseyed around until I found a group of protesters who were more than willing to talk about their former lives inside Scientology. Along the way, several Santa Ana Police Department officers reminded me that I wasn't allowed inside the event, nor in the surrounding buildings.
The protesters taught me a lot about the church. What I learned from their picket signs:[
"(President David) Miscavige lies about expansion.”
"Your org is not the only one that's empty.”
"2 Deaths at Narconon Arrowhead in ½ year.”
"Lisa Marie Presley Ex-Scientologist.”
At this point, I noticed the portly man was back at it, this time, across the street, shooting photographs of the protesters and moi. Naturally, I fired back with the phone camera. Smile!
Apparently I wasn't the only one to get the boot. Garry Scarff, a 47-year-old man from Hollywood, who said he used to run spy operations for the church, said a henchman grabbed him by the back of the shirt and told him "you're not coming in.”
He also said he was in a nearby Starbucks earlier, when another Xenu crony told a Santa Ana Police officer that he was "one of them.”
According to Scarff, the officer then asked for his identification.
"A lot of Scientologists believe anybody who criticizes them is a criminal,” Scarff said.
He said he showed the officer his identification, and even spelled his last name for him.
As the crowd began to hoot and holler inside, two young bimbos scurried by, mocking the protesters by blowing kisses at them and asking if they were going to join the partitioned-off party.
Tory Christman, a 65-year-old former Scientologist from Burbank, said the group harassed her from coast to coast when she finally broke free after 30 years.
"They are 100 percent not a religion,” Christman said. "They are a cult. Look at both sides. They can't say look at both sides.”