5 Weird Realities When Scientologists Run Your School

Everybody's heard of Catholic school, but Scientology school? You might think that America's premier space-alien religion would offer a wild and kooky education full of phantasmagorical good times. Sadly, you would be mistaken.

Scientology Schools Try To Hide The Scientology

5 Weird Realities When Scientologists Run Your School
Scientology Media

Catholic school announces itself right there in the title -- if you go to Catholic school and you're surprised by the "Catholic" part of it, you probably really need more of the "school" part. But Scientology schools? Not so much. Renaissance Academy and Mary's School House and Greenfields -- nice names, huh? You'll have to do some research to discover they're affiliated with Scientology, though. At the Delphian School, where I went, you have to dig down about three pages into the "About Us" section of its website before the name L. Ron Hubbard is mentioned at all, and then only as a "philosopher" and "educator."

Chris Ware/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Among other things.

Delphi is a technology school, of sorts (we'll get to that in a second), but don't get confused -- Delphi is named for the oracle, not the programming language. They claim their program is non-religious, but the 10-foot-high mural of L. Ron Hubbard covering an entire wall in the reception area might give a different impression. I attended and graduated from Delphi's flagship campus in Oregon, where I did not learn any programming languages, but I sure did get programmed.

Not only does Delphi teach Hubbard's Study Technology, it also teaches his Communication Technology and his Ethics Technology, which involves learning about his Eight Dynamics -- literally the core belief of Scientology. A significant (but undisclosed) percentage of the more than $40,000 tuition is "flowed uplines" to Applied Scholastics International, a subsidiary of the Association For Better Living And Education, which is a whole lot of words to avoid saying "the Church Of Scientology."

At Delphi, students study on their own in ominously silent "course rooms," which are patrolled by "supervisors" noting errors on clipboards with pink paper. That may seem like an Orwellian setpiece to you, but don't worry -- they're just there to enforce Study Technology. That's totally not an Orwellian-sounding phrase at all!

Study Technology is mostly about understanding words and modeling concepts in clay. Hubbard said that if you yawn or look away from your study material, like any normal person is bound to do, then there's a word you don't understand. That's what the supervisor with his pink clipboard is for -- to make you look up words in the dictionary until your eyes fall out of your head. So you'd better not yawn or, Xenu forbid, look around -- because the Study Technology supervisor will punish you with words.

5 Weird Realities When Scientologists Run Your School
The Delphian School

"Now sit there and memorize everything from 'Tedious' to 'Unnecessary.'"

But the modeling concepts in clay part seems like it would actually be OK, especially if you're the artistic type. There was one kid who would spend hours crafting the most beautiful sculptures. He got in trouble for it, of course. Delphi does not encourage that kind of artistic sensibility. The supervisors literally told him to make stick figures just like everybody else. That poor kid didn't last long. His final act of rebellion was to purposely fail the examination for the human anatomy course. (All Delphi students always get 100 percent on their exams. If they miss a question, they are required to restudy it until they pass.) This kid intentionally messed up his answers about the reproductive system so badly that he was required to represent that system in clay. His response was to sculpt the most fabulously pornographic depiction of Michelangelo-level copulation ever created.

He was expelled from the school.

5 Weird Realities When Scientologists Run Your School
The Delphian School

"If you guys ever get hungry, I left a bowl full of clay reproductive organs for you to eat."

The Source Material May Be Ridiculous, But Humor Is Banned

5 Weird Realities When Scientologists Run Your School
Galaxy Press

Delphi, of course, puts the literary works of Mr. Hubbard right up there with Shakespeare. If you have not had the misfortune to read much Hubbard, then I will spare you the misery and let you know that his writing is terrible. Hubbard's abominable Mission Earth books feature aggressively bizarre stereotypes like Miss Pinch and Miss Candy, two psychopathic lesbians who have sex with dogs, and Torpedo Fiaccola, a mobster hitman who psychiatrists have turned into a necrophiliac. But don't you dare laugh at it.

Galaxy Press

All classics of literature have covers like that. I'm pretty sure that space ogre is
on the front of Ulysses, too.

L. Ron Hubbard hated being laughed at. He called it "joking and degrading," and it is a very bad thing. Thus, the things that kids tend to do -- horsing around, playing childish pranks, perhaps cracking jokes at the dog-fucking in their homework -- are actively punished by Scientology.

One time a group of boys slipped out after curfew to play a noisy game of kick the can. When enraged adults armed with flashlights appeared in the dark field, the kids scattered like shadows. For the next week, every boy was interrogated alone like a suspect in a terrorism investigation; stories were challenged and corroborated until finally a weak link squealed under pressure. The boys found guilty were forbidden from leaving campus for the next month and had to perform menial chores until the adults were satisfied the miscreants had learned their lesson.

5 Weird Realities When Scientologists Run Your School
The Delphian School

"I want that lawn as dampened as your childhood whimsy!"

Another time, an enterprising jokester taped mustaches on the pictures of L. Ron Hubbard that ominously hang in every room in the school. There was a two-week witch hunt until the student was caught -- and expelled. It seems awful and severe to deny a child an education, but keep in mind what kind of education we're talking about here. It was probably the best thing that could have happened to him. "Expert in necrophilia and aliens" just doesn't look that great on a resume out in the real world.

You're Encouraged To Become Orwellian Junior Spies

5 Weird Realities When Scientologists Run Your School
The Delphian School

Delphi requires students to write "knowledge reports" when they become aware of the transgressions of their peers. If a student is aware of another's transgression, yet fails to write a knowledge report, and the transgression is discovered, then both students are punished. Students have been expelled from Delphi for failing to snitch.

Church Of Scientology

"Snitches get stitches" vs. "Transgressors get thetans."

Remember those boys who got in trouble for playing kick the can after curfew? I didn't play, but I knew about it and said nothing. I didn't exactly think we needed to enforce an illicit-can-checkpoint system, lest the situation devolve into, god forbid, red rover. But another student buckled under the adults' interrogation techniques and squealed. The kids who had broken curfew were restricted to campus for a month, but I was restricted to campus for two months -- because I hadn't snitched. That obviously creates an aura of paranoia and mistrust, which isn't super great for education. It's like going to school in East Germany before the wall fell.

Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Assuming the Eastern Bloc was really big on dictionary memorization.

If you're sensing a theme here but can't quite place what it is, it rhymes with "mystopian mightmare."

Eventually, every student is required to take a course called the Basic Study Manual, where students do "Training Routines." These involve mostly staring at each other for hours, until you can do it despite any distraction. If you've ever wondered why Scientologists are so crazy-eyed, that's the answer: They've specifically trained for hundreds of hours to be experts in the crazy-eyes.

5 Weird Realities When Scientologists Run Your School
Church Of Scientology

Though, to be fair, crazy eyes are better than L. Ron teeth.

There are mental effects, too: When I did the Training Routines at age 15, I experienced bizarre hallucinations and physical reactions. Many years later, I used LSD for the first time (so that I would become ineligible to join the Sea Org, but that's another story). I can't begin to tell you how similar the hallucinations are between Scientology's Training Routines and hallucinogenic drugs.

And suddenly so much of Tom Cruise's behavior makes a whole lot of sense.

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For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Disturbing Things I Learned In Scientology's 'Space Navy' and 5 Ways Growing Up Inside Scientology Was A Nightmare.

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