Amid all the shocking tales of disconnection and other horrors the Church of Scientology perpetrates upon its members, it can be easy to forget that these members (and ex-members) are also constantly subjected to an array of smaller annoyances that the cult has apparently perfected in an attempt to drive its parishioners mad. Chief among these annoyances is an absolute inability to maintain any semblance of good record-keeping.
I got a stupid letter from the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles (AOLA) the other day. I normally put that stuff straight in the recycle bin, but this letter caught my eye because of the name of the addressee.
It’s a long story but I thought I would share it as a cautionary tale and yet another reason to stay away from the Church of Scientology: not only will you receive junk mail from them for literally the rest of your life – they will bugger up your name somehow in a daily reminder of just how annoying Scientology really is.
A Central Files Tale of Woe
I have more than the usual number of surnames for an American male because of three things: a) I was born out of wedlock and my mother chose to use her maiden name as the surname on my birth certificate, b) nevertheless, for a while, I still used my biological father’s surname, and c) my mother married my stepfather when I was three at which time he adopted me and I took on his surname. So – three surnames before age three.
Yes, it’s always been a lot of fun dealing with government records, but the government ain’t got nothing on Scientology.
Both my biological parents were staff members at LA Org (where I had my name-giving ceremony – please don’t call it a christening 😜). Any Scientologist, ex or not, will tell you about the ridiculous amount of (junk) mail the cult spews out in an endless stream of dead trees. Once a name goes in Central Files, there it stays until the end of time, including misspellings, alternate names, and dead people.
My first name is Derrick. (My middle name is Shane, which I prefer, and which also gives us Shanester, the handle I use on the internet.) The name Derrick can be spelled about four different ways. One day when I was ten years old I received eighteen copies of the same flyer from AOLA, all iterations of “Derrick” spelled and misspelled six different ways in various combinations with all three of my surnames. It was ridiculous. My mother couldn’t stand it anymore and she took all the flyers to the Org to demand that they clean up their records. Which they sort of did. To this day I get at least two copies of everything from AOLA, and, unfortunately, also LA Org, ASHO, Flag, and Saint Hill (UK!).
But the one thing my mother did definitely take care of in 1978 was to get her maiden name (my birth certificate surname) off my Central File record. That name was Jennings. Literally since 1978 I have never seen any mail from any Scientology organization that still had “Jennings” as my surname.
What the hell! How is this possible? (See for yourself in the attached scan.)
Not once since 1978 – and now, in 2015, they somehow exhume this ancient record? The mind boggles.
The icing on the cake is the obnoxious “statement” where they are clearly “postulating” that my forthcoming donation will get me back and winning on the Bridge. And the letter is from the org “examiner”? Classic Scientology.
Ugh. Scientologists are pushy wankers. How about you get my damn name right, you jerks?
I shared this tale of woe with the folks at the Underground Bunker where I received some advice and background on why the cult insists on maintaining all of these incorrect names. Short answer: how else are they going to claim there are eleven million Scientologists? “New Names in Central Files” is an important statistic in the cult, and the poor sucker responsible for that statistic will be punished if this stat “goes down”.
That’s part of how Scientology does its math: 1 Derrick = 18 dedicated Scientologists in the World’s Fastest Growing Religion®.