Jim Conley and Bridge Pub are why I left…
I was only in the organization of Scientology for a year (I joined at the end of 2006, and left in 2007.) There were things that drew me to the religion and ultimately things that caused me to leave.
What I Liked
I liked the positive people at the local mission.
I liked the fact they had “answers” to my questions
I had several “wins” early on
Why I Left
The first indication that something was wrong with this organization came early on for me. My wife was not a Scientologist, and I was trying to get her some interest in the religion. I took her to the Celebrity Center in Hollywood and there my wife had a reaction while someone was giving us the “tour.” My wife nearly fainted (she got light headed and almost collapsed) as he was going over what a “suppressive person” is. To the Scientologists there, it was an indication that this was a trigger in my wife… and that she was being suppressed by someone. I also believed that as there is a family member who is very destructive in her life. Anyway, they took us to a room and instead of doing something to help her, they offered her a course we’d pay for. The course was called “Ups and Downs” (which I had taken already at local Scientology mission.) They pressured us into getting this course and ultimately I said, “well Hollywood is very far for us to drive, we would be better off taking the course at our local mission in Upland California.” They responded with, “but do they have a Spanish speaking course room supervisor?” You see my wife was a native Spanish speaker, her English was a 2nd language and she wasn’t too versed in English. The Scientologist here was, Athena. Athena spoke Spanish and was called in to talk to my wife about her near fainting spell. Athena did try to do a bit of discovery on what could be causing my wife this problem – but ultimately she wanted to sell her on this course. The course was $20 more then our local mission charged… but Athena informed us that the Course Room Supervisor at the Celebrity Center was a native Spanish Speaker from Mexico. When my wife arrived at the course room we discovered that the supervisor was not from Mexico, nor was she a Spanish speaker. When we brought this up to the supervisor, the supervisor went into a rage and vented about the people who are selling the classes under false pretense.
That was the first flag.
The second warning came when I got a phone call around October/Sept of 2007. I received a phone call from Bridge Publications… it was a young woman on the line who went on and on about wanting to help me. I thought she must be selling something but in the hour we talked on the phone she was just talking about Scientology and where I was on the Bridge. At one point, she transfers the phone to someone else, who then talks to me for another hour. The phone kept getting transferred till I had been on the phone call for over 4 hours. I had had enough. The last person I talked to on the call was a fellow named Jim Conley. Jim was an Australian and all about the “hard sell.” He convinced me to spend about $2500 on the cd’s and books for the courses. Little did I know at the time, that most of this stuff sells on craigslist.org for penny’s to the dollar. Anyway… I dropped the money.
One month later, Jim Conley is calling me again… and this time he leaves a voicemail wanting me to spend another $2000 on another CD package. I decide I’ll avoid him, so I stop answering the phone. In the course of 1 week (Thanksgiving Week) Jim called me over 40 times! He left about a dozen voicemails and on Thanksgiving day he called me twice! It felt very stalkerish. Many times Jim would chain call me… he’d call, then when he got voicemail, he’d call again, and again… But I persisted in not answering. My wife was getting tired of this and told me just to talk to him and tell him I’m not interested in spending money right now.
I chose to call Jim while driving to work one day. I figured that would limit the phone call to a specific amount of time. Jim began his hard sell… he told me about the product, and I told him my job was ending and I wasn’t in a position to spend money right now, as I was needing to get a new job. He then said, “Then you MUST buy these. Since you said that you must prove to the Universe that you have the faith that you’ll get a new job. This is the perfect way to prove that… buy these cd’s!” I declined. He told me he wanted to call me that night and I agreed.
Later that night Jim called me and started off with small talk. He told me how he lives in one of the Scientology properties as a caretaker. He showed me some pages in the Scientology Handbook that had photos of his kids, depicting various scenes. He tried to help me organize my life to get a new job… But ultimately he got back to buying these cd’s. I put the phone call on speaker so my wife could hear why I was avoiding talking to Jim. The conversation went like this:
Jim: You really need these CD’s…. can you put these on a credit card?
me: No…. my cards are near their limits.
Jim: Oh! I have the answer. Call up one of your cards and ask for an extension of credit.
Me: Um… no thanks.
Jim: These CD’s will change your life
Me: But I haven’t even finished my last cd’s….
Jim: These are different… they work differently with you… let’s see… does your wife work?
Me: Huh? Um.. no she’s a house wife…
Jim: WHAT????? IS SHE PREGNANT?
Me: No…. She just isn’t working right now….
Jim: We NEED to get her working… if she can hold a job for a little while, you can afford these CD’s!
Me: I really don’t want to put this on her.
Jim: How do you file your taxes?
Me: Ok, I don’t want to talk about that.
This goes on for an hour. Finally I tell him “NO” about 8 times. He hands the phone to a young woman named Urika who tries to (what I felt) flirt with me… and I told her I was not going to buy and I was going to go to bed now as it’s getting late.
Jim jumps back on the phone call and asks why I’m heading to bed.
Jim: Who goes to bed this early? What else is more important right now?
This is where it got weird. Jim began some type of mind control attempt with me.
Jim: OK Listen… Listen closely to me, ‘you WILL Buy these Cd’s’
Jim: OK OK OK Listen again, “YOU will BUY these CD’s”
Jim: Ok listen carefully, “YOU WILL BUY THESE CD’S”
Each time he tried different inflections on different words – emphasizing things slightly differently. Each time I said ‘no’ and honestly I began to laugh at him. It was just so stupid that he thought he could actually control me by his sheer will alone.
I ended up hanging up…. A few days later a package comes in the mail – it’s one of the CD’s I didn’t buy… and it was a charge of $900. I called Scientolgy Bridge and they reversed the “mistaken” order.
The next day another package of CD’s arrives – this time they didn’t’ charge me… it just arrived. I lost faith with Scientology as an Ethical org and called my credit card company to cancel my card and issue a new one to me.
Next I wrote my local mission and expressed my frustration with Jim Conley and Bridge Pub in their harassment of me. My auditor stated, “Yeah I just don’t answer the phone sometimes.” I was shocked that he, having more experience in Scientology then me, had no better way of dealing with these sales calls then just not answering his phone.
I was asked to come in and write a formal complaint. I did. Then I was given a tough attitude by the mission director that it was my fault… or my misunderstanding. The directory couldn’t seem to understand that my problem was with the constant amount of money being requested of me. Instead they interpreted the complaint as “not liking phone calls.” As though I had some weird button with being called.
Jim Conley’s behavior is what convinced me that Scientology was all about my pocket book.
The final straw with Scientology was my attendance to the IAS event in 2007. I attended the event in Hollywood California with my wife (who didn’t really want to be there.) We were told there would be “food provided” – yet the only “food” were a few cheese sticks here and there on trays. My wife was starving… We sat through a 3 hour or more video presentation of Scientology… and during that video something weird happened.
David Miscavage was on the video talking about how there was a core group of Scientologists who were acting as private investigators who were investigating various supposed SP’s around the world… and how they found enough dirt on a psychiatrist in Europe to have them arrested for sexual misconduct. But the weird part is where David goes, “Not only did we get her arrested on the sexual misconduct – but they also filed charges against her for practicing witchcraft!” He, as well as the audience, laughs and cheers.
But wait, wasn’t Scientology the bastion of religious tolerance and freedom? If anyone defends another’s beliefs (no matter how weird they may appear) shouldn’t it be these people? Why were they cheering that they got someone in some other country arrested on charges of witchcraft?
As we left the event, we were headed home and we had just left the tented area, when a older woman approaches me and asks if I could take some time to answer a few questions. I explain that my wife is hungry and we need to go get some food. She points to some cheese sticks and says “we have food” and I go… “No we need a regular dinner…” and she latterly screams. She screams, “SIT DOWN!” and thrusts a chair in anger, before me. I looked around and saw the Scientologist cop with the handle bar moustache watching what’s going on… others are staring… and I decided not to make a scene… so I took a seat at the table.
Another woman there asked if we could “give just a bit.” She said, “even if you could give a mere $100, that would really help” and I stood up with my wife and we walked out.
That was the last straw.
I wrote my mission that I was “taking a break” from Scientology.
I wrote Jim Conley and formally disconnected from him.
In looking back at it, I did have gains in Scientology… but mostly with Dianetics. Scientology auditing did nothing for me. I never was pressured to disconnect like some are. I wanted to disconnect from some people but my mission tried to get me to work things out instead. So I never had a disconnect pressure. But what drove me out was the financial pressure. To spend lots of money, with diminishing returns. But even with all that, there are times I miss the people. I miss some of the classes… and some of what I was taught did really help me 300% in my life.