Unique Experience-LiveIamA South Pole winter-over who worked at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station for 12 months straight AMA!
Dec 3rd 2016 by AStrangerWCandy • 40 Questions • 182 Points
Hi everyone, I’m Leah Remini, author of Troublemaker : Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. I’m an open book so ask me anything about Scientology. And, if you want more, check out my new show, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, tonight at 10/9c on A&E.
I JUST watched a documentary on Antarctica on neflix about McMurdo and Scott base yesterday. Super interesting. As I understand it during the winter you get no supply shipments for several months with the only communication to the outside world being internet. How fast was the internet? Could one reliably play online gaming in Antarctica? Did you experience T3 syndrome? Would you do it again? What was your favorite thing about it?
How much did you pay to the church throughout your time there?
I was the network engineer. There is no online gaming at the South Pole. We have three different satellites that provide Internet access for about 11-12 hours a day. Each satellite provides a different speed ranging from 1.5 Mb to 30 Mb for the entire station. The satellites also shift their uptime by about 4 minutes per day so part of the year it's up during normal working hours and part of the year its up while most people are sleeping.
It's true that from mid February to mid October no planes come or go from the South Pole so we have to make due with what we have on hand. We do have limited ability for 24/7 communication via phone and e-mail by utilizing some Iridium modems.
Why a Wii, and nit a WiiU, ps4, xbox, etc?
Particular reasoning, or just cheap and small and nobody's donated anything else yet?
Is it true they record your meetings and blackmail you with the recordings?
There are PS3's and XBox 360s as well. People played Call of Duty and Halo also.
Yes, every "therapy room" is equipped with cameras and listening devices, as admitted by the "Church." Do they use it for blackmail? No, they use it to discredit you when you speak out.
What's your opinion on countries potentially launching mining operations or similar in Antarctica?
Was there a secret group of people or friends you had in the church that doubted it? Or did you feel alone.
Probably not a great idea on the continent proper from an employee safety standpoint. I am not super familiar with the Antarctic peninsula where it is a lot less frozen so I honestly can't speak intelligently there. Plus like most people I much prefer to see the continent as pristine as possible.
I felt alone. If you ever confided in friends then you were (as policy dictates)... reported and turned in. Very 1984, very George Orwell.
What's the best way to be selected to work there? I'm currently studying applied math, but it's always been of mine to do research there. Are most of the workers engineers? biologists? environmental scientists?
Considering that Scientology is consistently painted in such a negative light how did you maintain the commitment to Scientology for so long?
Hard to classify "most". In the winter there are about 9 grantees that work on research. We also had two research assistants that were Leidos contractors. So that's 11 "science" positions plus two meteorologists that were also contractors out of 46 people. We had 5 IT staff members, 4 galley staff and the rest is pretty hard to classify as it is power plant mechanics, carpenters, facilities engineers etc... so I guess trades.
The best way is persistence in applying. I have no experience in coming down as a grantee so I can't speak to that but I applied for 5 years before getting selected. Some people get selected the first year but IMO if you have a decent resume if you just keep applying you'll get a callback eventually.
Because i was taught to believe that the controversy was due to people being unaware of what Scientology was truly doing in the world which was good things. I also felt the press was focused on making fun of Scientology and not what was important, so it was easy to turn away from the information. And also a major part of Scientology is learning how to fight your critics. If i wasn't fighting I wasn't being a good Scientologist.
What's the vibe between McMurdo, Scott, and Palmer?
I understand they're wildly different from a size and scope standpoint, but is Palmer the stepchild because it's not in the circle? McMurdo feels like a metropolis in comparison.
Was there a single breaking point that convinced you to leave the church? Or was it a long term struggle with the decision?
Metropolis is probably generous for McMurdo :P It's more like a small coastal town in Alaska. I've never been to Palmer so I can't speak to that but Pole is a very small close knit community where you get to know everyone. Whereas McMurdo to me seems more like you get to know the people you work with and a few others.
Long term struggle, however, seeing the "church" attack those who were speaking out, those who gave their life, life savings, their children to this organization that were once considered exemplary Scientologists or staff members of the church to being liars, bitter apostates, and what ever vile sophomoric, vitriolic adjective they can find overnight says a lot about the organization.
What odds do you give of the whole thing collapsing once Miscavige dies?
The policies of the "Church" are the policies of the "Church." They will not change, and there will be someone right behind him ready to pick up where he left off.
What is the most unusual 'corrective action' you've seen them physically do to someone?
The most abusive thing that I've experienced is seeing the victims being further victimized by an organization that claims these things did not take place... from physical, to sexual, to mental abuse.
do you remember what your initial reaction was upon first seeing the course materials for OT3?
Yes my first reaction was "Are you all fucking nuts?" and then I looked at my mother and said "What kind of bullshit did you get me in?" My only option was to leave, but at the time my family was not ready to go. The "church" told me I didn't need to believe it, just do it. And they always pose this question: "Are you ready to leave everything you've ever known?"
I actually do not know. Ask the LAPD.
Why do you think there are so many people in the entertainment industry in the religion?
If you really look at the numbers at the entertainment industry, in comparison to the small number of scientologists that are celebrities, the number wouldn't even register. I think Scientology has done an amazing job convincing people that there is a great number of celebrities in the "Church."
I've been a huge fan since the early days of KoQ (was watching at 11, now 24!). Did you ever find that your religion interfered with your work in a way you would turn town any potential jobs, either for your own religious reasons or advice received from members?
I was punished for doing Stuff magazine because it was too racy. They would not want us to do anything that would be considered not "becoming of a Scientologist." I see they have since changed their stance of what they believe is "becoming of a Scientologist."
How do the powers that be in Scientology keep their followers from reading anti-Scientology news, or your book? Why don't more scientologists leave?
Great question. Because very early on in the brainwashing process, L. Ron Hubbard's "technology" teaches you that outside sources (i.e. The news, the Internet, books, magazines) are ALL LIES and hellbent on destroying something decent like Scientology. The AMA, and APA, and all "governments" do not give scientology its due because they have a vested interest in not healing people and not helping people. And Scientology is in the business of making people better. So Scientologists are taught that their safest bet is to get their info from the only true decent people...and those are Scientologists. And if they look on the internet, if they read time mag, they will be met with punishment at their expense. And, as a Scientologist...you have to confess that you've read outside materials, and that will be met with punishment at your expense.
The policy of the "Church" does not allow them to come to me. Former high ranking Sea Org members like Debbie Cook and former members like Katie Holmes are forbidden to speak to other SPs. Certain members are forced to sign agreements that does not allow them to speak to ex members.
Do you personally feel like you're being watched/tracked/etc by the church for doing everything your doing?
I am. I'm okay with it because I knew what I was getting into and I knew the policies of the "church" and what would happen by my speaking out against it.
Are there any sexual malpractices that occur in the church?
I have read stories on the internet. I was told personally by a few people that I personally know that there was sexual abuse. When I was 16 and working for a "senior Scientologist" who was in his late 30's, he had sex with a 16 year old friend of ours. And the "Church" handled it internally. All abuses are dealt within the "Church" as it is an enemy act in the "Church" to prosecute another member. Please do not take my word for it, just google the words "Scientology and sexual abuse."
What do members actually gain from being a member? How is it made worth all the money and time they invest?
They gain a purpose. They gain a group. They gain a sense of accomplishment (awards, certificates). They gain an education that in the real world LRH states would be equivalent to getting a "PHD in life." You become an elitist. That you have all the answers in life. If you have a question about life, you are made to think that Scientology has the answer.
As old spirits in little bodies who have returned to Scientology... children are treated as adults.
You are so brave for telling the truth about Scientology. Why are so many other people staying quiet? What can we do to help?
Thank you! Watch our show tonight and spread awareness. It is bigger what people think. This religion is massive.
Yes, I feel very safe. I have the support of my family and friends. And, I feel strangely protected by the world at large.
How different would you say your view of Hollywood is now compared to when you were on Saved by the Bell and did your experience with Scientology effect these views versus if you never joined them?
When I was a Scientologist I saw Hollywood as a dark, lost bunch of souls that needed saving. Now I see it as any other business and that we're all just trying to do right by ourselves, right by our friends and family and that people outside of scientology are not bad.
What is your overall opinion on organized Religion now? Did your view on say Christianity change?
Yes my view of religion changed in that I am no longer a bigot against people's religious beliefs when it doesn't harm other people, promote killing people for their beliefs... like extremism. But if religion brings you comfort, hope, and a sense of community, I say "whatever works for you."
From what I've seen of Scientology, it seems like there is a major difference in treatment between celebrity "followers" and folks in Sea Org who are tortured, locked in the Hole, beaten publicly by Miscavige, etc.
Did the news of this mistreatment find its way to celebrities and general "members" of the Church who weren't in Sea Org? Or were people left completely in the dark?
No, and if they did hear about it, we were told that those claiming abuse were lying. Then I would have been interrogated and even punished for asking.
As a psychologist, I am curious what you observed as mental health 'treatment' with Scientology? In addition, I am aware the 'church' is against psychology; how was this opposition demonstrated within or by the 'church'? Finally, in your opinion how prevalent are mental health difficulties with the Scientology community?
Thank you for your time.
The "Church" doctrine thinks that fields of psychology and psychiatry are a sham. They deny mental illness and afflictions. They promote that you can heal your psycho-sematic issues with their "technology." They will get in the way of people taking medications. They will prevent people from getting the real medical help that they need. and in some cases have caused suicides because of it. Scientology is mentally abusive because we are all taught that we are responsible for everything.
I'm sure there were tools that helped me to be able to communicate better, not be nervous when I walked in the room. Acting classes would have been cheaper. Or maybe staying in Brooklyn a little longer would have been more beneficial to my acting career.
I don't want to destroy Scientology. I only want them to admit to the fraud that they promote, to not deny the confidential upper levels of the religion, so people can decide if they want to spend $250K and their lives doing it. That they admit to the policies of Fair Game. That they allow people to decide for themselves where they get their information. That they admit to disconnection and leave families the fuck alone.
Out of all the rumors surrounding Scientology, which one is true and hits home the hardest for you?
I don't what rumors we're referring to here. I haven't read anything that has been inaccurate.
We can (almost correctly) assume that celebrities receive special treatment because of their status - could you elaborate more on that? For instance, how would your experiences in the church differ from someone who is not a celebrity?
And a follow up - do you think that more celebrities would like to break free from the church but are afraid because of the repercussions? Is there any merit to the claim that there's so much dirt on them that could be exposed that they may not want to leave?
Hope you convince others to follow your path!
We had special course rooms in separate parts of the buildings. Any complaint we had about the outside world was met with agreement from the "Church." We were serviced differently, we had supervisors doing courses in our homes, giving special schedules to celebrities. Staff was interrogated by the Church. Often times there were Sea Org members working for celebrities in their homes, personally working for them. I know of one celeb who had a sea org member working in their home and sea org members were averaging $25/week. The labor laws don't apply to any church therefor they were made to work ungodly hours, forced into interrogations if making human mistakes around the celebrity.