Between the extreme racism and all the chemtrail talk, it was not a particularly easy task to figure out the bizarre views of the failed comedian that defaced Eurydice Dixon‘s memorial. One thing in particular did stick out to me, though: his claim to be an ‘independent Scientologist’.
Like many people, I had assumed that the practice of Scientology and the Church of Scientology itself were inextricably linked. It didn’t even occur to me that there might be people who adhere to the tenets (whatever they might be) and practices of Scientology outside of the organisation. By all appearances, the Church of Scientology is monolithic: there are no denominations within the Church, you don’t tend to hear of ‘casual’ Scientologists who just believe some of the less weird stuff. It seems like if you’re into Scientology, you’ve got to buy completely into the Church.
Given all the stuff about 75-million-year-old space volcanoes and aliens, it also just seems like the sort of belief that people wouldn’t come to unless it was, well, part of joining what appears to be a celebrity-infused cult. I was hideously wrong, it turns out. For a variety of reasons, there are a bunch of people attempting to circumvent the Church of Scientology in their practice of Scientology.
Take, for example, the California Association of Dianetic Auditors, an organisation that claims to pre-date the actual Church of Scientology itself by over three years. Or the Association of Professional Independent Scientologists, which seems to interchangeably also be known as the International Freezone Association. There’s the Advanced Organization of the Great Plains, which offers online courses in auditing; the Ron’s Org (the name stands for ‘Ron’s Organisation and Network for Standard Technology’, in case you were wondering); Free Zone San Francisco; the nondescriptly named Religious Liberty League. All of these are associations that work either to teach Scientology or promote Scientology, all while rejecting the Church.
These organisations occupy the ‘Free Zone’, the name given over to Scientology beliefs outside of the Church. The term comes from the ‘Free Zone Decree‘ (released in 1982 by former Church member ‘Captain’ Bill Robertson) purported to be an ‘official’ decree from the ‘Galactic Grand Council’ declaring that Teegeeack (or ‘Earth’, as we sometimes call it) be a ‘Free Zone’ in which it would be free from “external political or economic interference” from “non-planetary” agencies or powers. I am sorry about all the scare quotes but, well, there you go.
If you are to trust the website scientologymyths.info, which gives a very strong impression of being a Church of Scientology propaganda tool, these freezoners aren’t to be trusted:
Freezoners. . . are groups who alter Scientology technology and form their own groups to apply this altered technology. They are small in number and fairly insignificant to the Church. I understand the largest Freezone group is in Germany, which makes sense, since Germany is well behind the curve in supporting religious freedom.
Freezones are not religious in nature, they are money making ventures, originally started by Captain Bill Robertson.
They claim they cannot trust the current Church management structure (which was set up by L. Ron Hubbard) because it is not what Hubbard would want. They have had many criminals in their midsts. . . . Many of them are declared Suppressive Persons by the Church and freely admit so.
At least one part of this is true: most of these organisations are not happy with the current structure of the Church of Scientology, believing that it has moved away from L Ron Hubbard‘s vision. In particular, while they mostly refuse to say it outright, they seem to take umbrage with David Miscavige, the leader of the Church.
Independent Scientology represents a simple answer to a mad man who thought he could monopolize and corporatize spiritual existence.
That simple answer is “NO!”
From the Association of Professional Independent Scientologists:
The [APIS] are a professional body of individuals, auditors and groups who believe they should be free to practice the original philosophy of Lafayette Ron Hubbard. They believe that, since the death of the founder of the movement, the Church of Scientology has completely strayed from the original philosophy and purpose of the group which Hubbard first researched and developed. As the members of APIS do not wish to participate in the practice of an altered philosophy they have elected to practice their chosen philosophy independently of the church.
From the Ron’s Org:
The goal of the Ron’s Org is to freely apply the technology and philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard as he originally developed them . . . The Ron’s Org initially consisted of people who were in the Church of Scientology and who didn’t agree with the way the Church came to misunderstand and misapply L. Ron Hubbard‘s technology and so were expelled of (sic) left by themselves.
More explicitly, the website Ex-Scientology Kids lists one of the main reasons for people turning to independent Scientology as the belief that “true Scientology doctrine was and is corrupted by David Miscavige and [Religious Technology Center]“. By the Church’s own description, the RTC (of which Miscavige is the head) “holds the ultimate ecclesiastical authority regarding the standard and pure application of L. Ron Hubbard’s religious technologies“.
While it seems absurd enough that Australia could sustain a population of regular Scientologists (the 2016 census showed 1,684 Scientologists), you will be thrilled to learn that the APIS has a dedicated Australia and New Zealand branch, dedicated to the ‘new renaissance of beingness in Australia & New Zealand’.
There you go folks, the world’s weirdest ‘religion’ somehow gets even weirder.