Declaration of Lawrence Woodcraft
Experiences in Scientology
I, Lawrence Woodcraft, declare as follows:
1. I am over the age of 18 years.
2. The statements herein are of my own personal knowledge and if called upon as a witness, I can testify competently thereto.
3. I joined the Scientology Sea Organization in Clearwater, Florida in 1986. This is the main group that Scientology employs to run all of their "churches" and various organizations. When I joined the Sea Org in Florida, I was promised that I would work as an architect, that my family and I would live in a two-bedroom apartment and our children would attend private school. All of these promises were broken. Instead we were all crammed into one tiny motel room, our children didn't attend school and I was made to work on interviewing scientologists at their service organization in Florida, not in architecture.
4. I was in the Sea Org until 1988, but after that I remained a "public" Scientologist, in other words still donating money to receive Scientology Services and training.
5. My ex-wife's name is Lesley and she remains in the Sea Org (we divorced in 1993.) I have two daughters; Astra, age 22 and Zoe age 16. Both of my daughters came under intense pressure to join the Sea Org (a Para-military organization to which a member is coerced to sign a contract of dedicated service to Scientology for 1 billion years). Astra did this at the insistence of her mother and other Scientology Sea Org members in 1993 age 14 in Los Angeles and Zoe went to an organization called the Cadet Organization which trains children from infants up to age 14, and prepares them to become contracted Sea Org members in Florida and other locations. Zoe started in the Cadet Organization at age 2 and stayed until she was 15 years old.
6. By the year 1994, I became disillusioned with Scientology in that I realized I was not getting the personal and spiritual benefits promised to me in Scientology. At that point I refused to purchase any further "services" from Scientology. I was working as an architect in Los Angeles and had several clients who were Scientology construction companies, who fed me work on a regular basis.
7. In 1998, my daughter Astra (then aged 19) abandoned her job with the Church in LA and flew to England where she lived with my sister. I later found out she was pregnant. I had no prior knowledge of this, or of her mistreatment by the church where she received none of the education she had been promised and was made to work in excess of 80 hours a week for years. The Church's security chief in Los Angeles named Jeff Porter accused me of being disaffected and causing my daughter Astra to break her billion-year contract and leave Scientology. Astra has formally left the church and she and her baby now live with me.
8. In 1998 my youngest daughter Zoe informed me that she also wanted to leave the Church and live a normal life with me in LA and attend school. When she told her mother in Florida of her decision, her mother and other Scientologists prevented her from leaving Scientology for the next two years. Zoe found it next to impossible to leave the Church with their permission. Her seniors in Scientology told her she would have to complete a program of reading references by Hubbard and confess to crimes she had committed against the Church. (Scientology believes that the only reason anyone would leave the Sea Org is because of crimes they have committed against the organization, Hubbard has written exactly this.) So Zoe valiantly attempted over a two-year period to read the references and write up her crimes, but each time she got close to completing her mother and her Scientology seniors would add more to the program in an effort to stop her leaving. In Feb of 2000, I flew to Florida to get her. She had figured out how she would escape from the Cadet Organization and we were to meet at the Clearwater Public Library. She had all her clothes jammed into a cardboard box that she had hidden in an alley. We drove up to the alley to get the box and Zoe was terrified Church security would catch us, or we would be seen on one of the many security cameras. She was very stressed, which for a 15 year old is not right. She also had the additional stress of knowing her mother, grandmother and brother (also in the Sea Org) would probably never speak to her again. After all the brainwashing and coercion she had been put through I still had to make it okay for her to leave Scientology. We took a return flight to LA. Getting Zoe to adjust to daily normal life is an ongoing process. When she enrolled in public school there were no transcript records of her education to turn over, as she had never had normal schooling and she had not been in school for the previous 6 months. She now attends a local high school where she is at least a year behind due to not attending school for extended periods of time.
9. In Sept 2000, I received a phone call from Wilf Betke of Parkstone Construction. I have known Wilf for 4 years and I have supplied him with many sets of plans for construction projects, with absolutely no problems or complaints. He said that word was going around that I was declared a "suppressive person" and he was no longer allowed to talk to me. A suppressive person in Scientology is a person who no longer adheres to the dogma of Scientology. Being labeled suppressive in Scientology also means I would be subjected to what is called Fair Game. Fair game means that I could be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist: may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed. I called another Scientology construction company, Boston Brick and Stone, who faxed me a copy of a letter they had received from the Scientology International Justice Chief stating that I was a suppressive person, and they could no longer hire me. Again, I have worked for Boston Brick and Stone for about 4 years, doing engineering projects for them and obtaining building permits. Boston Brick and Stone told me that as I was in the middle of several projects with them, the family that's owns the company were told they could no longer receive Scientology training and auditing until I finished up the projects. In all, 4 companies who regularly gave me work dropped me overnight. David Morse and Co. also dropped me for a ranch house I was designing for him in Ventura and I was being considered for some design work for Survival Insurance Co and was also dropped. This is all a result of being Fair Game. I was declared a suppressive person by Scientology because I helped my two daughters start a life outside of Scientology's control. I personally found it extremely stressful to deal with this period of my life. People who I had professional dealings with over a period of years and whom I counted as friends were suddenly my enemies. My work for them had been of a high professional standard, but the fact that I suddenly lost so much work made me feel like a failure even though rationally I knew this was not the case. I would have long telephone conversations with people who now despised me in that I had "attacked" their religion. In their ignorance of the activities of their own Church, they thought I could just go in and repent my "sins" and everything would be back to normal. I knew this was not possible and "forgiveness" would cost thousands of dollars and probably take years. Besides, I wasn't willing to "repent" on principle.
10. Scientologists that I had worked for would call me and apply pressure on me to go into the Organization and "handle" my declare. This was because they were used to working with me and found it difficult to replace me. I had such conversations with Wilf, Bob Roley, Don Hall of Boston Brick and Stone, and Fred Reno. I explained to them my upset with the Church was over the fact that my children were abused physically and mentally in Scientology and I would not back down. I would never expect my daughters to go back into Scientology so that I could maintain my business. This in affect was blackmail.
11. I obtained a copy of the order declaring me a suppressive person and it contained many lies, for example it states that I am a "squirrel", which in Scientology is someone who alters Scientology dogma. I have never done this. It says that I hindered the efforts to recover my daughters. They both decided to leave of their own choice and Astra was pregnant and no longer eligible for staff and therefore not recoverable unless she agreed to have an abortion. They also stated that I had not made "case gain" during my participation in scientology and that made me a "suppressive." Before this, when Scientology personnel were trying to recover me and get me to pay for more services, I was told that the reason I had had poor results in Scientology was that I had received low quality service as it was before the "golden age of tech." The 'golden age of tech ' consisted of major "improvements" that occurred in Scientology in 1997, when it was found that Scientologists were not being properly trained in the delivery of auditing. I emphasize that I never had any kind of hearing to establish any kind of guilt or to allow me to answer "charges" against me of things I had supposedly done to make me a suppressive. The first I heard was the telephone call that Scientologists were no longer allowed to associate with me.
12. I wrote a letter to the International Justice Chief and requested a hearing over what had happened. This was denied and I was told I would have to be interviewed by a church employee called Lisa Hamilton. I went in to the Los Angeles Head Scientology Office for this in Oct 2000. I had an interview, which was conducted with me connected to an e-meter (presumably in an attempt to see if I was being truthful.) Among other things, I was asked to list all my friends who were scientologists, what conversations I had had with them, what if any articles I had posted on the Internet, had I ever been on the Internet, had I ever seen anti-scientology web-sites, who was my service provider, what was my screen name. I was asked at length questions about the circumstances under which my daughters left the church. I was told that I would have to attend many more such interviews and purchase "security checks" (invasive interrogation) so they could get to the bottom of what was going on. I declined to attend unlimited interviews; for one thing I had to concentrate my efforts on rebuilding my business, with two daughters and a granddaughter to support, while a concerted attempt had been made to cause me financial ruin.
13. In summary, I was attracted to Scientology because of the claims that it could help improve your family life by bringing family members closer together, help a person with their personal life, and make them more able in their professional life, able to expand their business, make a better income and so on. In other words Scientology claimed it could help in virtually all areas of life. With this in mind I agreed that all my family could move to Clearwater, Florida. I sold my house in London and disposed of my business there. Looking forward to a bright future, my wife and I, two daughters and a stepson moved here in 1986. 14 years later, I had divorced my wife, my eldest daughter now has a 2-year-old baby and she and the 16-year-old missed major parts of their education. My 22-year old daughter has a bill from the church for $90,000 for the courses and auditing she received, but gets no child support from her ex-husband, who remains a sea org member. Their mother and brother will never speak to them or have any contact. Not even a birthday card, as the Church forbids this. While I give financial support to my daughters and try to help them complete school and college, the Church condemns me as a "suppressive" and treats me as a common criminal. They made a concerted effort to ruin my architectural business by forbidding any clients who were Scientologists to have any dealings with me. Even though these clients had been very happy with the service I had provided they all stopped calling me. In the Dissemination Manual, Hubbard says of enemies of Scientology, "If possible, of course, ruin him utterly". This is what the church tried to do to me. This is despite the fact that I am a licensed architect in the state of California, in good standing and a member of the American Institute of Architects. If I were an unethical or non-professional architect, I would have lost my license and be barred from the AIA. At this time I am unable to speak to my ex-wife and stepson as Scientology prevents them from having any contact with me. This is what Scientology has done for my family. This is what Scientology has done for me.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America and the State of Florida that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed in Clearwater, Florida this 24th day of January, 2001