Why Irish (Ex-Scientologist) Eyes are Smiling

Categories: Scientology

PeteGStPat.jpg
Pete Griffiths, driving the snakes out of the Emerald Isle
We have a St. Patrick's Day special report for you today, and we hope it's early enough in the day that half our readers aren't soused already.

This week, yet another story about how badly Scientology is faring in Ireland reached us as the Irish Examiner reported that the mission in Dublin is existing on foreign interest-free loans.

After the jump, we have an interview with ex-Scientologist Pete Griffiths, who helps us understand the situation in Ireland. But first, we wanted to point out what a unique situation exists in that country.

Scientology, through its advertising and through spokespeople like Karin Pouw, constantly asserts that the church is growing at an unprecedented rate and that millions of new people are joining each year. The church wants us to accept that idea without showing us any hard data about membership or revenue (and dupes like Nightline repeat those assertions without facts).

However, there is one place where we can get reliable information about Scientology's health. Ireland is the only country in the world that requires the church to open its books, that forces it to show its actual state of affairs. And In Ireland, the only place in the world we have hard, verified financial information, records actually show that Scientology is experiencing a disastrous drop in revenue since the Anonymous movement started in 2008.

Yesterday, by Skype, I had a conversation with Pete Griffiths, who lives on the west coast of Ireland but regularly takes the train to Dublin to protest at Scientology's mission in that city.

We talked about how the newspapers in Ireland have relentlessly focused on the finances of Scientology's mission there in recent years because, well, it's the only place in the world where newspapers can get reliable and regularly disclosed financial information about the church.

Like in the UK, Scientology is not recognized officially as a church in Ireland. But Ireland takes things a step further and requires Scientology's Dublin mission to submit its revenue figures annually to the nation's Companies Registration Office. Members of the public can then search those records and access them for a small fee. (And people have done just that.)

Ireland's biggest dailies, the Irish Times, the Independent, and the Irish Examiner have been keeping a close watch on those records, and each of them have reported how severely the mission's revenue has dropped since 2008. From Gordon Deegan's report in the Examiner...

Financial documents lodged by the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin Ltd with the Companies Office show revenues fell 14%, from €193,509 to €166,086.

This followed the church's revenues more than halving in 2009 from €484,070 recorded in 2008.

As a result of revenues further decreasing in 2010, the church's operating surplus dropped 98%, from €68,292 to €1,391. This compares to a surplus of €271,804 in 2008. The accounts are for the 12-month period to the end of Apr 2010, but were only signed off by the board on Feb 20 of this year.

Nearly a decade ago, the Dublin mission had to settle out of court with a woman named Mary Johnston who sued the church, saying that its practices had harmed her. To this day, the mission there is still paying off interest-free, foreign loans that it needed to pay that settlement, which was estimated at €2 million.

And today, with such reduced revenue, the balance on those loans has actually gone up: "The outstanding amount on the loans increased during 2010 from €370,304 to €376,383," Deegan writes.

But Griffiths tells me that money woes aren't the Dublin mission's only problem. At this point, he says, the church has hardly anyone left.

Although the Dublin mission's Gerard Ryan told the Examiner that Scientology has a "few hundred adherents," Griffiths says an ex-staff member managed to get a copy of a "call-in list" and shared it with other members of Ireland's anonymous movement. The list contained the phone numbers of all local members, so that they could be called-in on a moment's notice to attend an important event at the mission.

It had 40 names.

"They're sinking fast," Griffiths says.

Griffiths himself got involved in 1987, when his brother told him and his (now ex-) wife about the book Dianetics. They were living in England at the time.

PeteGBW.jpg
Pete, without the costume
"She bought the book from the local organization, so they called her, asking how she got on with the book. I can remember feeling put out because they'd called her and not me," he says with a laugh.

After taking a personality test -- which revealed, naturally, that he was in dire need of help -- he joined. "I had heard it was kind of culty, but with my brother and my wife involved, it didn't really matter," he says.

Before long, he and his wife joined the staff. "We were promised pay, but it never came. You put up with stuff simply because you think you're doing the right thing."

After three years, however, what little savings they had was gone, and things were getting "unbelievably bad," he says. "We had one child and one on the way...We blew the org, but we still wanted to do what we could to help Scientology. So we opened a mission. But it was impossible to keep it staffed up. Basically, we got kicked out. But we stayed on lines with the local org until we eventually drifted away."

Griffiths had spent most of his time working for Scientology in England, but he had also done a short stint at the Pacific Area Command ("Big Blue") in Los Angeles, and a conference at Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida.

"I have no idea how we got by. We had no money at all," he says.

After drifting away from Scientology in 1994, a few years later he moved to Ireland.

Another decade went by until, in 2008, Griffiths says he met someone who said they were on their way to protest at the Scientology mission in Dublin.

"Why would you do that?" he remembers asking, and he was told to look online for an answer to that question.

"It didn't happen instantly, but within three months I kind of realized, oh my God, it's a con, my deepest fears have proved true," he says. "It took another year -- May 2009 is when I just walked along to my first ever protest. Now I'm trying to help others get out. It's almost become a career."

Griffiths says a small but very dedicated network of ex-Scientologists and other members of Anonymous keep the pressure on the Dublin mission.

"In 2008 to 2009, you could really see the effects of Anonymous on a small mission," he says, citing the huge drop in revenue reflected in the mission's financial records.

"Protesting outside, you can see that there's less of them," he says. "We know them all by name. We kind of know exactly what they're doing. They're sinking fast."

Griffiths says he assumes the same thing is happening around the world as more people become aware of Scientology's alleged abuses through the Internet or at protests.

I asked that question of Mike Rinder, Scientology's former top spokesman, who made a trip in October to speak in Ireland.

"When there are actual, independent facts, nothing they say holds water. Everything that they present is exposed as a lie," he says about the church's pronouncements of explosive growth.

"In Ireland, the place is disappearing and being propped up by outside funds. And the only reason they prop that mission up is that it's the only Scientology in all of Ireland," he says.

I asked him if it was the constant protests by Anonymous that he thinks have contributed to the dwindling fortunes of the Dublin mission.

"I believe that. I believe that there are more independent and ex-Scientologists in Ireland than there are current church members -- by a factor of 10," Rinder says. "And I'd love for Karin Pouw to try to prove that statement wrong."


**********
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at tortega@villagevoice.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories, which tend to come out each and every morning at 8 am, but can suddenly appear at any time of the day. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories. As for our regular features, on Thursdays we do a roundup of world press, on Fridays we visit L. Ron Hubbard on the yacht Apollo circa 1969-1971, on Saturdays we celebrate the week's best comments, and on Sundays we publish Scientology's wacky and tacky advertising mailers that people send us.

As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.

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106 comments
Strelnikov
Strelnikov

I was figuring some of the foreign orgs were doing badly, but this place is on life support.

PattyMoher
PattyMoher

"It had 40 names."

"They're sinking fast," Griffiths says.

Pete Griffiths is by far one of Ireland's best SPs.  I have so much love and respect for that guy for standing up and doing what's right.  Thanks Pete! and thanks Tony for reporting on the story.

Scientology the fastest shrinking religion in the world! 

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

I like it how Pete is so real and hardcore about dealing with his past involvement,seeing things for what they are and calling bullshit out, and acting on it too.Every active Ex-Scientologist has my full respect. They know why.I might elaborate on that later. For now, I want everyone to celebrate St. Patricks Day!

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Mike Rinder to the courtesy desk!

The ever persistent and fun Pete Griffiths, and other effective protesters around the world, could use some help. Can you rally some of those independents to join in and make an impact standing outside the orgs and missions of the world holding picket signs and showing some love to lost members?

Here are some suggested signs:

It's OK To Have Doubts.Your family misses youCall 866-XSEAORG for helpNobody deserves the RPFSeek the TruthThere's a Squirrel at the TopI'm here because I care about you

Thanks!

Alex Mohr
Alex Mohr

"Ireland is the only country in the world that requires the church to open its books, that forces it to show its actual state of affairs."

Actually Tony New Zealand is another country that forces the CoS to open its books due its registration as a 'charity'. Financial documents going back to 2008 can be obtained from this charities register - http://www.register.charities....

These contain details of the infamous 'exchange losses' that the church blamed in an Australian Senate inquiry in 2009.

In addition to New Zealand we got a rare glimpse into the financials of the Church of Scientology Australia last year as part of the Fair Work Investigation. The financial documents for 2009 can be found in here - http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Doc...

Xique
Xique

I get a kick out of Pete's get up, his picture really made me smile.  I 've been in Pete's shoes, and I know that same feeling of realizing your worst fear, discovering you've been conned and feeling utterly floored. It's been a year of clarity for me and I love that, and yet this residual ill feeling I have , at the moment, is a bit of sadness.  It's a  total and complete disappointment in myself  for having allowed this to happen to me. Ever onward!

Aa
Aa

The cult's official "excuse" that the reason why Scientology is doing so badly in Ireland lately is due to the poor economy there is, in my opinion, pure bullshit.

I've never been in Scientology, but I knew someone who was - someone who apparently got in rather deep at a time when he could least afford it. After losing a well-paying government job, he ended up losing his house, his car, and selling most of his possessions, and even after finding somewhat-decent work, was always flat broke and never able to get back on his feet. I knew he did Scientology, but he never mentioned how much Scientology was costing him - not surprising since he owed me money. At the time, I always wondered where in the world his money went (as did his girlfriend, who complained he was living off her and never paid for anything). But since learning about how Scientology operates, I have no doubts where the bulk of his paycheck was probably going.

It makes me understand why Scientology has been so successful penetrating Hollywood's artistic fields, as these are people who are generally unemployed and underemployed for most of their careers, and therefore among the most susceptible to the false promises that Scientology offers. I understand that most states prohibit employment agencies from charging job seekers - as the potential for abusing the financially desperate abounds. Yet Scientology is basically doing this very thing, promising the unemployed and underemployed that the expensive programs they sell will enable them to land a good job (along with everything else in life).

I think the recession in Ireland could have been expected to make the Irish people easy marks for Scientology, so it's a pleasure to see that even despite the desperate times there, the cult is struggling like never before.

Ivy Mapother
Ivy Mapother

Ireland, France, Germany, Israel, Russia, Spain...does anyone else see a trend here? I bet Thursdays suck in those countries.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Peter Griffiths, doing more to help in Ireland than any $cilon ever could. Thanks for the international reporting Tony.

OTVIIIisGrrr8!
OTVIIIisGrrr8!

We in RTC quite agree that it is virtually impossible to make a Church of Scientology successful in a land known for its chronic drunkenness, poverty, crime, and a fanatical devotion to fist-fighting as a way to settle life's problems. Scientology actually does much better in Russia where these same problems exist but there is at least some modicum of rationality sprinkled into the rare Russian lapses into sobriety.

* 440 million new people join Scientology every year.

* Every 3 seconds a new Scientology group forms

* Every 6 seconds Scientology stops a Psych from drugging a child

* 190 million people purchase a Scientology book each and every day

And yes none of these happens in Ireland where we in RTC maintain a bleak outpost that operates based upon foreign loans. Scientology is in Ireland for only one reason and that is to spy on the rock group U2. We have targeted U2 as a celebrity group we want to recruit into Scientology.

COB has ordered that he hear the plaintive voice of Bono praising COB as the genius who brought us Golden Age of Tech and the Ideal Orgs. We want Beautiful Day reworked:

The Orgs are in boomShooting up through major groundThere's plenty of auditing roomsPlenty of auditors in this town

You're in luck And the reason that you want to shareYour engrams are unstuckYou're moving up the Theta stairs

You've found a friend in COBTo take you out of your R6 BankCOB can lend you a handIn return for caaaaash

It's a beautiful dayNeedle falls, you feel like It's a beautiful dayDon't let your cogs get away

You're on the roadBut you've got no exteriorizationYou didn't come from the mudFrom some Psych's imagination

You love this TechYou love it when your needle blows down

You've done the levels twice overAnd COB has worked for you...

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

Hahaha! Elizabeth, you made my day! LoLYeah. I read it at either, Operation Clam Bake or Ex Scientologist Message Board, not sure which one? That's why I always write David Miscaviges full name, hehe.

IRELAND IS WINNING!

LoyalOfficer
LoyalOfficer

I believe that this is how things are playing out all over the world. The heavy regging leaves the normal public with no cash to take courses. So the local Orgs take a huge hit cause Ankle Biting Davey has taken all the $ for his Ideal (empty) orgs. And I would bet dollars to doughnuts that he is throwing one of his hissy fits because the Orgs can't pay for themselves and there "no excuses, make it go right"  I am happy that Napoleonic Moron is in charge, he cannot and will not change gears to make in a world with information, literally and ones fingertips. I don't think the "church" will die slowly by attrition (of which it is well on its way) There will be a massive implosion, and I optimistically think Debbie Cook has pushed the plunger 

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

"I believe in an idea, an idea that a single individual who has the right heart and the right mind that is consumed with a single purpose, that one man can win a war. Give that one man a group of soldiers with the same conviction, and you can change the world." - Captain America

Yeah, the quote may be fictional, but so is scientology.

Thank you Pete Griffiths and countless others. You are winning the war in Ireland against the intrusive, parasitic criminal organization of scientology. David Miscavige can't win against the fighting Irish, haha!

So, Pete, "May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go, and guide you in whatever you do and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always.” :-)

That's why I love being here because it takes the courageous to stand out, to speak up against scientology a totalitarian regime that disguises its self as a religion. Even the men and women posting here are making a sacrifice and a difference. I read that OSA has a file on each one of our id's, especially if we mention David Miscavige's name (my file must be thick, lol) what religion does that?

If we are to succeed at beating scientology from ruling our planet it will take, the committed time, effort, and talents of each one of us.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all, especially to you Tony. What a great St. Patty's Day report.

Dean Fox
Dean Fox

It's disturbing that Ireland is the only country to require the church of scientology open their books; I don't think that is the case but have no evidence to contradict this claim.

Tax exempt and not for profit organisations seem to escape scrutiny far too often when those organisations should be open to more scrutiny because their status affords them generous support from the public purse in the form of tax concessions.

Villagedianne
Villagedianne

So who put up this loan to the Irish org?  Was it the "church" itself?  Or was it some poor hapless shmuck of a Scientologist who thought he was driving the snakes out of Ireland?

loulai
loulai

Maybe Scientology is counting each attached body thetan as an individual parishoner. that would explain the "millions".

scnethics
scnethics

Wow - great news!   Goooooooooooo Pete!!!

Jgg
Jgg

  Karin Pouw's statistics should be published on April Fool's Day.

DeckardCain
DeckardCain

I'm still amazed that some ex-Scientologists don't act on revenge fantasies when they realize they've sacrificed their money, time, family members, and decades for a complete con.  I guess that says quite a bit about most of their good characters (except Twittle and Twattle of Indie fame).  Most of the ex-Scientologists I've ever chatted with are fantastic people.

But every time I read another story of someone barely holding on financially, I am surprised we don't read about more attempted ninja-attacks on the wee leprechaun.  

RadioPaul1
RadioPaul1

We are very close where the folks that fear Disconnection wont need to fear it anymore. It is getting to a point were these folks know more people out and declared than in and good standing. You cant disconnect people when they already have blown. When that day comes, it will be all over for DM and Co.

Jgg
Jgg

  Ever hear the joke about the Irishman who was told by his doctor that he had only six weeks to live?  He was SO upset by the news that he got another doctor (I'm half Irish so I am allowed to tell this joke).

  If Karin Pouw says that there are 9,000 churches (or any other stat) you would be advised to check with another person, or use the internet.

Jgg
Jgg

  Karin Pouw would probably say that psychiatrists caused the 1848 potato famine.

Robert Robinson
Robert Robinson

Pete is indeed a great freedom fighter.  We could use more like him.  He is outspoken about the "church", but has a heart for those still trapped in the matrix.  Thanks for this post Tony.

Kate Bornstein
Kate Bornstein

Ahhhh, thank you, Mister Tony. I read the facts-and-figures article, but you found the story and context behind it all and now it makes sense. Oh, and this bit:

"The church wants us to accept that idea without showing us any hard data about membership or revenue (and dupes like Nightline repeat those assertions without facts)."

Well… SNAP! girlfriend.

xo

K

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

Yeah, like dead. The rest of Ireland is still alive though, even if troubled at times.

Lynda
Lynda

But the celebrities just keep coming. Did you see that the Presley girls are trying to get Demi Moore into Narconon? Like the poor lady doesn't already have enough problems.

V for Vacation
V for Vacation

Don't be disappointed in yourself for trying to believe in something and being temporarily inspired by something.  Be proud that you tried something that you thought would improve yourself or others -- regardless of how bad it turned out to be.  We're all human.  It happens to all of us in some way or another -- with religion, career paths, relationships, whatever.  The important thing is you're out, you survived, you're better now, and you learned something.  Ever onward is right.  Be happy, you've earned it.  

Tetloj
Tetloj

This cult feeds off the basic goodness in people and desire to better not just for themselves but for others - people you'll never even meet. Feel sad, feel deceived but forget the disappointment in yourself. Scientology 'got' many decent people, still 'has' many decent people. Never met a scientologist in my life but I reckon, given the right circumstances, I could fall for simple, save the world crap too. Working hard for something meaningful - nothing wrong with that. 

Commenter  Ne Plus Ultra
Commenter Ne Plus Ultra

If it helps, you're among people who truly understand -- many of us have been there and know that bit of sadness.  Some days it's not there at all and other days it feels like a 20 ton weight of embarrassment, guilt, shame.  It makes me feel better to come here.  There are genuine human beings in Tony's bunker.  They don't judge, they don't condescend, they just "get it" (except for the few who insist on asking "What kind of idiot falls for that crap?"  I don't find that helpful.)I'm happy for you that you're shut of the cult.  I've been done for about 5 years.  Happily done, from the very first day.  What a relief.

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

Belgium and Hungary too.Both are major flaps, strategically.

bobx
bobx

Straight down and vertical!

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry

Wherever it came from, there was probably an accounting trick or tax-sheltering advantage to be gained from it.

anon
anon

The IAS war chest is my bet.

grundoon
grundoon

Karin Pouw herself seems to have dropped out of sight. Recent written communiques in her name seem actually to be written by David Miscavige. In Scientology every day can be April Fool's.

Too Much
Too Much

They have. Scientology customers in Los Angeles have returned after being swindled and murdered some of the people who swindled them. Also there was Epic Sword Guy.

The phenomena is known as "Another Satisfied Customer."

Billy Bob
Billy Bob

I think you're right.  A textbook perfect example of a "tipping point" is fast approaching in Scientology right now as more people are forced into, or choosing the "outside" demographic.I think we will witness this tipping point swinging into action very soon!

Ron
Ron

It's not churches, it's churches, missions and OTHER GROUPS. The number of churches and missions has been fairly constant for over 15 years, so these unnamed "other groups" must be booming. Well, at least the claimed number has been booming. Tracking back the claimed number over the last few years, it's obvious that someone was ordered to pad it like crazy--probably because no one was buying Scientology's claimed membership increases from 8 million to 10 million and beyond.

I'm sure that every empty org is told that Scientology is booming .. somewhere else. I guess it must be booming in a place where the Internet can't see it then.

Roggy McGee
Roggy McGee

Thetans love spuds.  Thanks to LRH's campaign to audit members of the nightshade family we haven't had another potato famine since.  Coincidence or KSW?

Hatchune Shun
Hatchune Shun

Alive and kickin indeed. Happy St. Patrick's Day Ireland.

Sid
Sid

Wise words.

The world has so many problems that it it could be easy to be inspired by an organization that claims it can solve all of them.

I'm afraid that through my own mistakes, I have learned one of life's toughest lessons: "if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is".

For me this is one of the tragedies of Scientology - the wasted energy of people who could have made a difference in other genuine endeavors.

Like many others, I gift money to several different charities each month. Each one tries to make an impact in their area of expertise. None of them will save the world, but each one  makes a difference.

Of all the lies in Scientology, "clearing the planet" is one of the nastiest; telling good-meaning folk that they can save mankind by handing over their money, and their children.

Xique
Xique

 You could not have said it any nicer, I thank you so much.

Jenny
Jenny

 What I was trying to say but I think you put it much better. Cheers!

Xique
Xique

 Thanks for your kind words, it helps. I think I am feeling some better this morning.

Xique
Xique

 What a relief ...exactly. I appreciate your reply to me, thank you. Shutting off the cult as you say, is a process in itself, a shift.  I refuse to let it keep me down, even though I do struggle with all of the emotions; guilt, shame, embarrassment!   Again, thank you.

DeckardCain
DeckardCain

I don't recall Epic Sword Guy as being a Scientologist.  From what I read he was just a nutter with a sword that happened to be near the LA Org.  

I know there have been accounts of Scientologists committing violent crimes but those are usually Scientologists that get caught doing something bad, like Mr. Hole himself, Rex Fowler.

Mr. N. Graham
Mr. N. Graham

 Maybe they're counting anyone involved in a Sci front org, such as students in Will and Jada's school.

V for Vacation
V for Vacation

xo

And thanks for contributing to these forums.  Many of us value your point of view.

DeckardCain
DeckardCain

Got it.  Thanks, Mary.  It's been awhile since I read that story.

I still wonder why no one has gone Jesse Prince on Miscavige's puny ass.

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Epic Sword Guy was a scientologist since at least 1990 ( I remember his name from 1980's in CA). He did L 10 in 1990 and later went nuts.

Introducing Mario Majorski, the Scientology Swordsmanh t t p : / / gawker . com /5098283/introducing-mario-majorski-the-scientology-swordsman

Not sure how true this is but according to a 2009 post at alt.religion.scientology called "Shawn Chiquette" a poster named Trooper (Karl King) wrote:

"He had put a lot of money on account at AOLA and ASHO for he and Shawn but later decided he wanted it back.  The church dragged out the repayment process, of course, and Mario, evidently, finally got tired of the delays and decided to bring it to an end, which he did. "

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