Some of you may know Marsha and Steve Friedman, but for those of you who don’t, here’s a little information about these two new independents.
Marsha became a Scientologist in 1969 and introduced Steve to Scientology in 1973. They are well-known as Scientologists in the Clearwater community, where they moved in 1989. They are also well-known as successful business people who own and operate a national PR agency, founded by Marsha 22 years ago. The firm, headquartered until recently in downtown Clearwater, represents professionals, high-profile individuals and corporations in a wide range of industries. Their staff is comprised mostly of media professionals, and each month they arrange an average of 160 radio interviews, 20 local and national TV appearances and millions of potential readers in offline and online print. As well they market online, with Marsha having 70,000 friends and followers on the various social networking sites. She is also the author of the book, Celebritize Yourself, and is co-host of a recently launched national talk radio show airing weekly on Sirius/XM.
– Mike Rinder
Here’s Marsha’s story in her own words.
As I don’t know where this post will wind up in the wild world of the Internet, consider this an “Open Letter” to friends I know and those I don’t, people in the church or on the fence, public and/or staff.
While writing this letter might seem as evidence to those within the church that we have gone “to the dark side,” I’m actually writing this for the purpose of telling the truth and filling in the vacuum of data for the friends and family who have chosen to disconnect from me and Steve, and others who might become new friends.
To start, I’d like to share a little of my background. I became a Scientologist in 1969 and joined staff at the Miami Org as Marsha Ulan. I have fond memories of being on staff during that era, and can vividly recall those exciting days when new HCOB’s and HCO PL’s were released. Whenever this happened, we always stopped whatever we were doing to read LRH’s new breakthroughs. The energy and excitement were beyond compare; we knew we were part of a great new movement.
While still on staff in 1973, I introduced Steve to Scientology and shortly thereafter we got married. (We were raised together in Queens, NY, and have known each other since we were 7 and 8 years old.)
I finished my contract and left staff in March of 1974 to have our first child together. We’ve now been happily married going on 39 years in May, and are the very proud parents of 2 sons, a daughter, 3 grandchildren and a new great-grandson (whew…even hard for us to believe!).
In 1989 we moved to Clearwater to be close to Flag, and while I never went back on staff, I always volunteered for OSA whenever called upon. Over the years, we did a lot of services at Flag, including auditing on OT 7 until about a year ago when we routed off the level.
I had no idea when I routed out of the Flag AO last year that this journey would lead me here. And, quite honestly, in a strange sort of way, I have my auditor and FSM to thank for finding my path to this portal. You see, when Steve and I chose to route off of OT 7, it wasn’t conceivable to anyone in the Church that we could have made that decision without being influenced by people we were told are “the enemy.” Our instantaneous response was, “What enemy? Are we in some kind of war?”
Then we were accused of being associated with “friends of LRH.” We thought, “How strange, of course we’re friends of LRH and, yes, that is who we associate with.” And this wasn’t said tongue-in-cheek at all, even though it may seem that way. Truly, we were the best of soldiers. We didn’t dare read anything on the Internet about Scientology. We were told it was evil, enturbulating and could cause us great harm. While neither Steve nor I believed anything or anyone had that kind of power over us, especially considering we were OT and armed with ethics and PTS tech, we chose to simply follow the rules and do as we were told.
But, after routing off services and being free to think, read and experience whatever we desired, I decided to look and see who those “enemies” were and what exactly was meant by “friends of LRH.”
Once I started to look, I anticipated finding a volume of success stories and well publicized good works of the church by independent media coverage. However, the only pro-church coverage I found were press releases the church wrote and paid to have distributed by PR distribution services. But most important was what I found from independent news coverage – the harrowing stories of people who had been on staff, and the violation of their human rights.
After doing a lot of research online, when Debbie Cook’s email hit my inbox at the beginning of this year, I found myself in complete agreement with the points she raised. And, for the reasons listed below, on Tuesday, February 28th, I learned the church was planning to issue a declare on me and Steve. This was told to me over lunch by one of my closest Scientology friends of twenty years.
My crimes? Since I’ve received no communication from anyone at the church, or OSA, I can only speculate on their reasoning:
1. On January 2, 2012, I forwarded Debbie Cook’s email to 3 people with whom I had a close relationship: my brother and two friends. My brother did not respond to my email nor did he call or try to engage in any conversation. Rather, he sent me a Knowledge Report in the mail and after a 60 plus year relationship, he just disconnected from me. My sister-in-law disconnected shortly thereafter.
The initial response from my two friends was to say that while they didn’t agree, they still loved and treasured my friendship and would like to just agree to disagree. However, they have both since disconnected.
2. On February 8th, after receiving an email from two Scientology business associates asking to contract my company for services, I sent them a response letting them know of my agreement with the points Debbie Cook raised in her letter. As lines in the sand were obviously being drawn at this point, I felt it was only appropriate they should know my feelings, in case they preferred not to engage my company for this reason. (I never heard back from either person, even though one of them was someone I’ve known over 30 years.)
3. Around this same time, I got about 5 or 6 messages on Facebook, stating I was Facebook friends with Debbie Cook and requesting I un-friend her. I didn’t un-friend Debbie Cook; I un-friended them instead.
The close friend, who over lunch told me of the declare coming down, said he was meeting with OSA’s Kathy True that following Saturday to “right this wrong.” He said he would contact me after the meeting to let me know what occurred.
I never heard from him again. After a very close 20-year friendship, he has disconnected from me, un-friended me on Facebook and had all of his family do the same.
At that point, I assumed a declare had been issued. Then, a couple weeks ago, I learned about a Facebook posting below, by someone I don’t know, which resulted in a lot of FB disconnections from Scientologists.
1:07am Mar 9
“Marsha Freidman and her husband Steve Friedman have been Declared Suppressive, I know this as a fact. This Declare can be seen and verified with any MAA or OSA terminal.
“As your Facebook Friend, I would most appreciate your removing them as your Facebook friend ASAP.
“Thanks in advance for your action on this,
Lastly, I learned from my son who works for a Scientologist (and former friend) of some false things being said about me by the church:
1. That the church has been trying to “handle” me for a year but I refused to take any calls, return any calls or speak to anyone.
This is completely false. No one from the church ever called, emailed or even stopped by my office (located until recently a few blocks away from Flag) to talk to me about any problems they had with me.
In fact, it’s quite to the contrary. This past Christmas I was very involved as usual in an event the church is associated with. In 1989 I founded a group that I later established as a non-profit called Cherish the Children Foundation, which championed for abused, abandoned and neglected children. For 22 years me and my organization sponsored a Christmas party for these foster children in which the church played a role as a co-sponsor. This past year was no different and one of OSA’s staff even attended the event, without one word spoken to me throughout the planning or at the event itself.
If perhaps this statement was referring to “handling” my husband, the situation there is that when he turned in his confidential materials and said he would no longer be auditing, both his auditor and FSM (at different times) visited him at our office. His auditor was furious about his decision, yelling at him in the driveway with accusations that he’s been “influenced” by enemies. His communication was nasty enough that he called Steve back later that same day to apologize. Then, two MAA’s called Steve (on the phone at the same time) yelling and threatening him about what would happen if he didn’t come into the Org to see them. Well, if you knew Steve, you’d know he doesn’t take kindly to being threatened. Without raising his voice, but with tons of intention he told them their threats were meaningless and they wouldn’t be seeing him. They hung up the phone on him and he has never heard from anyone at the church since then. So, if no longer wanting to audit on OT 7 is a suppressive act, he’s guilty.
2. That I broadly spread Debbie Cook’s email.
Completely untrue. I sent Debbie Cook’s email to three people.
3. That my FSM came to my house to talk to me but my husband slammed the door in her face.
Completely untrue. My last home in Clearwater that we lived in for two years was very close to Flag and my FSM had never seen it. It’s a high security condo building. No one can even enter the building to get to our unit to have the door slammed in their face.
What did occur was our FSM stopped by one day at the office while we were working. She arrived unannounced and went into Steve’s office. He was not happy about a prior conversation where she called him an “a-hole.” He told her that she didn’t have an appointment and asked her to leave. He never left his desk to close the door or slam it in her face. She got up and walked out and it was apparent she was upset. Right or wrong, I asked him to call her afterwards to apologize. He did and she accepted his apology.
To date, Steve and I have still have not heard from anyone from the church about a formal declare. Nor do we know what other untruths have been said about us in a goldenrod, which we understand is apparently available at Flag.
So, after being an upstat, loyal and dedicated Scientologist for 43 years, my journey has led me here.
It’s been very difficult at times to confront the lies I believed for so many years and the aberrations that exist within the church at the most senior level.
During this journey, I was so careful not to speak to my friends in any great depth of what I found. I was concerned it would enturbulate them and I didn’t want to create that effect. While I was being so careful to protect those I loved, they disconnected from me without any thought or reason when they were told the church had declared me a suppressive person.
If any one of those people were asked what they thought of me a few months ago, they would have declared me not suppressive, but rather their sister and friend, whom they loved and cherished. Yet with nary a question, they have disconnected because they were told we have gone to the “dark side” and are now suppressive people.
As I didn’t take the opportunity to speak candidly with friends before our declare, and had I known they would have disconnected from me so easily without even a question, let me say, here and now, what I should have said to them when we were still speaking.
To them I would say, honestly and truly, the only “dark side” that exists is at the senior level of management of the C of S and OSA. The entheta embroiled in the activities of disconnection and declares becomes very apparent when one is on the other side and subjected to disconnection and being declared.
But, like an auditing session – where you blow chunks of charge and see the world as bright and shining – that’s what it’s like to be on the other side, where suppression is non-existent. I’m talking of the suppression of being told who you can and can’t talk to, what you can and can’t read, what you can and can’t think, what you can and can’t do, where and how you spend your time and your money. Now that we’re on the other side, that suppression doesn’t exist anymore. It’s the most wonderful freedom Steve and I have experienced in a long time. The sad part is that until the suppression came off, we didn’t even realize how other-determined we had agreed to be.
We have personally experienced the off-policy regime that currently exists within the church. The following are just a few specifics that speak for themselves.
1. Steve and I have been declared but we never received any communication from the church about this status. Instead, we have heard only rumors that we have been declared – with NO prior ethics or justice actions, or Committee of Evidence held as clearly defined in policy.
2. Parishioners have disconnected from us, some who are directly in comm with the MAAs office, even though the policy on disconnection was cancelled in Ron’s Journal ‘68, (an LRH lecture of 1968). The existence of this LRH reference is completely ignored by the church. At the same time they have reported to the media that disconnection is not practiced. Is it really okay for any person or entity to force you to disconnect from those you love, be it family or friend? What kind of a church does this?
3. We have been “crush-regged” for the IAS and for fundraising for Ideal Orgs. Yet there are numerous LRH policy references against fundraising, many of which can be found on http://www.friendsoflrh.org/COBvsLRH/. Can anyone truly deny that crush regging exists? We’ve all experienced it. On many occasions I have been regged by my auditor after finishing up at the examiner, by my D of P, Board I/C and examiner. Finishing a checksheet cycle in qual was usually accompanied by a reg cycle with the Cram Officer, Qual Consultant or MLO. And, the bigger reg cycles usually included the D/ED and MAA, and oftentimes an FSM (other than our own) or an OL in town.
By no stretch of the imagination could we be considered wealthy. But we gave when we could – $100k to the IAS and thousands more to library donations in addition to the hundreds of thousands for bridge cycles over the years.
But the reg cycle that took place in the last quarter of 2010 turned the corner for us. After being detained for over 3 hours with a host of people, some using verbal force to try and close us to take out a $100k second mortgage on our home (to no avail), we realized we were no longer giving because we wanted to; it was now being demanded of us. I was told the donations were necessary because the church was building a “war chest.” The irony is that while one of LRH’s stated aims for Scientology is “a civilization without war,” money is being accumulated for a war, which flies in the face of LRH’s intention. When I finally got to look at this, I asked myself, “What war is the church fighting?” I know what I was told by the Church powers that be, but I didn’t feel I had enough data to really understand what I was told. When I started looking, I saw the evidence to support the fact that, yes, this church IS at war. But unfortunately, I found that the war is against anyone who dares to expose the off-policy injustices and crimes being perpetrated.
Debbie Cook is just one example. There are many, many other individuals who have come forth with similar or worse stories of their own. And these very well documented stories all live online.
The question you have to ask yourself is, “What if? What if any of these reports of abuse at the highest level of the Church are true?” When I asked myself that question, I realized I could never stand proudly and look myself in the eye, if I didn’t do something to expose the dirty secrets that are very well-known to the rest of the world, but unknown to those on the inside who choose not to look.
To those still in the church, think of LRH’s essay on Personal Integrity.
“Personal integrity is knowing what you know. What you know is what you know and to have the courage to know and say what you have observed. And that is integrity and there is no other integrity.”
And, think of the Code of Honor which says: “Your self-determinism and your honor are more important than your immediate life. Your integrity to yourself is more important than your body.”
Another important reference is an LRH quote from 9 Dec. 1952 PDC tape called “What’s Wrong With This Universe:” LRH says, “Man’s degradation always stems from his first desertion or breakage of really the Code of Honor. He breaks the Code of Honor and after that he starts downhill and he gets worse and worse and worse and worse because his trust in himself is worse and therefore he can’t trust what his own energy is or anything else.”
If anything I’ve said resonates even to the slightest degree, then you owe it to yourself to do as LRH says, “Look, don’t listen.” Even if you decide the data you find is not true for you, at least you’ve taken responsibility to “know.” The other side of the coin is to not know, and that’s when you mess with your integrity.
Personal integrity is the one thing no one can ever take from you. Only you can give it away.
While our SP declare was intended to negatively impact us, it’s actually been a very freeing action for both of us.
Our lives are good. Steve and I feel very fortunate that we’ve never been solely dependent on Scientologists for friends, employees and clients. We have a successful business with a wonderful staff and a great stable of clients. And, thankfully our business is doing well.
I know many people who have experienced disconnection from the church are not as fortunate as we are in this way. But, just as we have created close friendships and business relationships with people outside the church, from all walks of life, we know others can do this too in time.
At the end of the day, Steve and I have chosen to maintain our Code of Honor and our personal integrity. We’re able to freely enjoy our family and friends, to keep our business flourishing and prospering, our clients happy and to live our lives to the fullest, all while contributing to the happiness and survival of others.
In summary, due to all that has happened and the off-policy regime that exists, we’re happy to announce our formal resignation and disconnection from the current C of S.