Lawrence Woodcraft Interview

Part One

"The London Org"

Video Interview - January 23, 2001


Transcript of Part One

Lawrence, Astra and Zoe Woodcraft join Bob Minton and others outside Scientology's Clearwater apartment complex, the Hacienda Gardens. Zoe Woodcraft had plotted to escape from this building while she was still in Scientology.

Voice-over: Recently, Lawrence Woodcraft and his daughters, Astra and Zoe returned to Clearwater, Florida. This was the first time the family had come back to Clearwater since Lawrence helped his two daughters escape from Scientology.

Bob Minton: Your dad said that, you know, you had mentioned to him the problem you had…how to get out of here because there's motion sensors on the fences…

Zoe: Yeah. That's why I knew I had…

Bob Minton: …and you know, the cameras everywhere?

Zoe: …to leave from the Coachman. Because…

Bob: Yeah.

Zoe: Yeah. I knew I could never… We thought about it. We thought about me driving up here to the…him driving up to the Hacienda and I would just jump in. But you just can't do it. You can't get through the fences, the security guards, the cameras.

Bob: The motion detectors, yeah.

Zoe: Even the staff…yeah, the staff will report you.

Bob: Yeah.

Voice Over: Everywhere the Woodcrafts went in Clearwater, they were followed by Scientology's cameras.

Tory Bezazian: (Waving at Scientology surveillance camera) We see you!

Lawrence Woodcraft: (To Scientology camera) Hello! We're baaaack!

Voice Over: But the cameras that really mattered were back at the Lisa McPherson Trust where Lawrence Woodcraft agreed to sit down and talk about his experiences in Scientology with Stacy Brooks.

Stacy: Larry, tell me how you first got into Scientology.

Lawrence: It was 1975 and I was on vacation in San Francisco and I was just sort of being a tourist, wandering around…looking at the city.

Stacy: Now, where were you living at that time?

Lawrence: I was living in London. And in actual fact, I had an American girlfriend who lived in Los Angeles. So, I had visited her in Los Angeles and we had expected to get married. But it broke apart. We broke up so, then I thought I'll go to San Francisco and check it out. So, that was when I was there. So, I was wandering around San Francisco a little bit sad, you know. So, I happened to wander by the Scientology Organization there and they invited me in to take a personality test. And so I did and…you know, initially I was a little bit turned off because, you know, there had been so much bad press about Scientology in England. You know, and it was considered a cult and really…weirdo's. But curiosity got to me so I wandered in. And I attended a lecture on, you know, the reactive mind. And how, you know, bad experiences remain with you and can make you less able.

Stacy: At that time, how were you doing in your life?

Lawrence: Well, in reality…when I look back, you know…I just graduated architectural school. You know, I had my license and the job market was good. And so, you know, I had several Media lined up with big firms in London. You know, so really, the world was at my fingertips, you might say.

Stacy: But how were you feeling about it at that time?

Lawrence: You know, the broken relationship that I'd had with this girl was in my mind, you know? So, I was kind of down, really, you know, wandering…I was really kind of just wandering around San Francisco thinking, "What am I going to do with my life?" You know, "finish college…what am I going to do?" I was sort of searching.

Stacy: So, it was sort of a perfect time for…

Lawrence: Yeah…

Stacy: Scientology to find you?

Lawrence: I was vulnerable, you might say, yeah. Yeah, exactly. And so, the person who I discovered was like a registrar spoke to me and they were…you know, I explained what I had been through. And, you know, I was kind of searching for something in life, I guess.

Stacy: Now, the registrar is the person who convinces you that you should start taking courses or buy some auditing or whatever?

Lawrence: Yes. Right. And so, they were very sympathetic. And they said, "Well, you really need Scientology because, you know, the higher levels of Scientology can explain to you the very meaning of life and the reason we're here." You know, and questions like, "Is there a God? What's it all for? So, really this is going to help you be more able. It's going to help you be a better architect. It's going to help you in every aspect of your life." So, I was interested. It sort of caught my interest. You know, even despite the bad things that the press and the government said about it back in England. I thought, you know, this is a good group of people and they've just been attacked for no good reason.

Stacy: So, the information that you had heard about Scientology or that you had read about Scientology wasn't of enough concern to you to outweigh the friendly faces that you found at the San Francisco Org?

Lawrence: Exactly. Yes. Because I could picture in my mind a British newspaper article saying that the Scientologists were banned from entering the U.K. And then it had a picture of them using the E-meter. And I remember thinking at the time, "What a bunch of whacko's! What a bunch of extremists!" But then when I went into the Org in San Francisco, everyone seemed so friendly and so open. And it seemed so hospitable, I thought, you know, I was wrong and maybe the fact that they were being attacked by the British government was a good thing. You know, maybe the government, you know…because this is kind of like, you know, through college, the whole hippie thing, the whole anti-establishment thing. I felt like, oh, if I side with Scientology, it's a little bit anti-establishment. You know, a little bit…

Stacy: …Sort of cool.

Lawrence: …radical. Cool, yeah. Exactly. And that was the sort of the vibe the place had, if you like.

Stacy: Mm-hmm.

Lawrence: You could put it that way.

Stacy: So, what happened after you went to this first lecture?

Lawrence: Well then, it caught my interest but then, you know, my time…my flight was within a few days. So, I flew back to London and started working at an architectural firm in London but then, you know, within a few weeks, I had, like, lingering interest to find out more about Scientology. And so, I looked up their Organization in London and then I went to it one evening. I just arrived. And, I mean, it was nothing like the Organization in San Francisco. It was tiny. And it looked like it was struggling. And like, it was kind of, like, as soon as they…I walked in the door, it was like, "Someone's here!" you know? (interviewer laughs) So, they kind of pounced on me and, you know, I saw the registrar there and they, like, imMediately said, you know, "You need to start on a course," which was called the Hubbard…the HQS course…the Hubbard…

Stacy: Qualified Scientologist.

Lawrence: Exactly. Yeah, which was, you know, I didn't even start with the smallest course. They put me on, like, a bigger course imMediately. So, before I knew it, I had written them a check. And, I was up in the course room starting, you know? And there were people up there doing drills with dolls and there was a big bust of Hubbard. I'm thinking, "Oh my God…I've…what the hell is going on here?!" You know, (laughs) like, "I'm…I'm in a cult," you know. So, I was sort of imMediately conflicted. I was thinking, "These people seem weird." But at the same time, you know, well, what are they all studying with such, you know, fervor and, like, I was led to believe they were studying the very stuff of life itself. You know, the history of man, the mysteries of the universe unraveled, you know? So, at the same time, my curiosity was risen, you know.

Stacy: It was a matter of curiosity and it was a matter of suspending your disbelief a little bit, wasn't it?

Lawrence: Exactly, yeah. Right. And even thinking, you know, the fact that these people were attacked made them kind of cool, you know? Made them…meant they had something to offer. But my parents, when I told them I was doing a Scientology course, my parents and my two sisters and my friends were horrified. They said, "What are you doing?!" You know, like, you know, "You just graduated college, you know, you're an architect! You're a…you've got a profession! What are you…what interest could you possibly have in it?" So…And then, I could never get them to see that it was a good thing. You know, I would explain to them about it. I even gave my mother a book to read but she really thought it was garbage, you know. She…I could never convince her otherwise.

Stacy: And yet somehow they had convinced you that maybe, just maybe they really did have the secrets of the universe?

Astra: Well, they did. And now, years later, I still am baffled by my mindset. I'm still, like, you know…

Stacy: How could they have done it?

Lawrence: What was I thinking? What was I thinking, you know? Because, I mean, I'm not an idiot. At this point, I had two university degrees from a good university. I was a professional person. And I still…I am honestly still baffled. What was I thinking? But…

Stacy: What was the hook? What was the hook?

Lawrence: I think the hook with me was that, you know, I had always been interested in like astronomy and, like, you know, I had always pondered like how did the universe start. Was it a big bang? Was it always here? And I remember as a kid, I was always, you know…my family were Christian and I was always talking with my dad, especially, you know, "where is God?" You know, "is there a God? Is he dead? Is he alive?" You know, "how did it start?" You know, "is there a heaven?" And so, I was, like, fascinated with those questions. And, you know, so far, no one had given me the answers but Scientology were like, "We have all the answers and…"

Stacy: So, somehow they were able to ascertain then that was your kind of "go" button?

Lawrence: Yes. Right. Right. And they promised me that they had, like, "oh, we have levels now that are so confidential, we couldn't tell you them without blowing you away! But, as you go from level to level, you will have a full understanding of all of those questions." You know, "you will know how this universe started." "You will know," you know, about, "all about God. You will know everything but we can't tell you now because," you know, "there's so much information, it would…it would even make you sick if we told you now." "But," you know, "if you pursue Scientology in the full course of time, all of these things will be made clear to you. You'll be brought to understanding." So, I'm…like… "Wow!" You know? "And…at the same time you will become," you know, "you are a spiritual being. You will have abilities that you can only dream of!" You know? "You'll be able to leave your body and you'll be able to cause effects at a great distance. And you'll be…this will make you such a great architect," you know?

Stacy: And you thought that might be really true?

Lawrence: Yeah. I absolutely believed it! Like, you know.

Stacy: Was there a particular person in San Francisco that was very good at talking to you about these things?

Lawrence: Well, yes. There was…when I they found out I was an architect in San Francisco, they…there was a student on course there who was also an architect. And so they pulled him off course.

Stacy: They had him talk to you?

Lawrence: And they had him talk to me. And he had his own practice in San Francisco and he's going, "Oh, man. You know, you can't even make it in architecture without Scientology." You know…this… "You…you've got to have it. You can't make it." He said, "I've got my own business. I'm doing all of these projects." I went to see his projects. He's going, "You can't even make it without Scientology, you know, because people will put you down. You won't be able to communicate with people properly." You know, "You need Scientology to be an architect." It was like that. And I just kind of lapped it up. Again, what was I thinking, you know? I don't know. If I could go back and erase it and have a normal life, I would. But I can't, you know? I mean, I'm not turning around and saying all the things are negative. You know, I'm now where I am at. But if I could go back and just never have gone to San Francisco, believe me, I wouldn't have gone. I wouldn't have gone.

Stacy: Yeah.

Lawrence: So…

Stacy: So, you're on course in London. You're looking around thinking, "I'm in a cult. What am I doing here?"

Lawrence: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, around that time I met Leslie Woodcraft who was the executive director of the London Organization. And she was interested in me romantically so we started a relationship. And then she persuaded me to join staff and sign, like, a 2 ½ year contract. So I then became what's called the…my post was called the "LRH Communicator" which is the L. Ron Hubbard Communicator. And then I was responsible for, like, running around, getting people to write letters to Hubbard, which, you know, he would then answer. You know, about their wins in Scientology…anything, you know, how great it was. And then he would write back a reply. I later found out that, you know, he didn't actually see these letters.

Stacy: Right.

Lawrence: And they were typed by the staff and they had a stamp with his signature.

Stacy: Yeah?

Lawrence: But anyway, so that was my post and that was…my production was measured from that. And also, I was supposed to be the expert on the policies of Hubbard. And if I saw anyone not applying or following those policies, I was supposed to correct them. The fact that I really didn't have the first clue about…I hadn't even read any of the policies. But even so it was my job to implement them, you know? So, pretty soon, I would say I began to become disillusioned because, you know…I mean, I read a lot and so, I started to read more and more of the works of Hubbard. And I really started to think more and more that he was like an egocentric maniac, you know? I just couldn't hold that thought down. He would, like, you know…when I read his policy, "Keeping Scientology Working," he wrote, you know, in the strongest terms. "I am the only source of Scientology. Do not listen to anyone but me." You know, "I am the only one who has written anything that can save mankind from the mess they're in." You know, and he would say, you know, "No group has ever produced anything that's decent or worthwhile." You know, "Only a single man can produce something worthwhile." I thought, "Well, no group has ever come up with anything worthwhile apart from medicine, physics, chemistry, (interviewer laughs) you know? And I'm thinking, "I just don't," you know, "okay, some of what he writes is interesting. But then, I want to study other things," you know, "other people. Einstein is interesting," you know. "Newton is interesting. All of these people are interesting." You know, "Zen Buddhism is interesting. I don't want to be locked in to one thing especially when I consider that it's…the work is arrogant," you know? And, to me, it was a turn off. But…so anyway, by then I was married to Leslie and she had been on the ship with Ron Hubbard.

Stacy: Now, this is the Apollo where they had the Sea Organization?

Lawrence: The Apollo. Right. And she had reached the level of Operating Thetan 3. So, then I would try and have discussions with her and say, you know, "Well, what is…what levels have you reached?" You know, "What did you get out of it?" "What are your abilities?" And she would say, "I cannot tell you." And I'd go, "Tell me…give me something." And she would say… we're married, you know? Let's have an open husband and wife relationship. And she would say, "I cannot tell you anything for your own good, you know. It could kill you." And I would go, "Come on," you know, "I can take it. I'm a big man." (interviewer laughs). Hit me! You know? About this time, it was very apparent that, to Scientology, psychiatry was evil incarnate, you know? Psychiatry was the most, you know, psychiatry was their enemy. And psychiatry, you know, would take people and electric shock them, drug them, anything that psychiatry did was evil. So I would say to my wife, "Well, you know, what about," you know, "number one, psychiatrists have been through medical school. And what about the psychiatrists who want to help people? And then what about the criminally insane? Who's going to take care of them? And what about the people with brain damage? Who's going to take care of them? And what about the epileptics?" And she'd go, "No! All evil! They're all bad." And I would go, "Well, how is Scientology cope with," you know, "okay, psychiatry is turned over to Scientology." You know, "all the mental hospitals, okay? What's Scientology's plan to deal with it?" And she'd go, "We haven't got that far yet." (interviewer laughs) So, I was, like, like, I like to think of myself as an intelligent person so I was, like, scratching my head. Asking questions, getting no answers, you know? And feeling that I couldn't speak freely. So then, you know, I was working at a regular job in architecture, like 9 to 5, to support myself and Leslie because…and then, every evening until midnight, I would have to go and work at the Organization. And then the whole weekend from, like, 9 in the morning until midnight Saturday and Sunday.

Stacy: So when did you ever get any time off?

Lawrence: I never did. Never. Never. Not even like one day. Just…

Stacy: Now, why were you putting up with this? Why didn't you end it? Weren't you exhausted?

Lawrence: I was exhausted. And like, you know, I don't even know how to answer that.

Stacy: Were you determined to persevere to find out the answers to life questions?

Lawrence: Yes. I still had faith that at the end of the day when I progressed in Scientology, done the courses and done the levels that I would have the answers. Yes, I still thought that. But at this time, they took me in session and gave me Dianetic auditing and the Grades in London. And my experience was that I was just awed out of my brains with the processing.

Stacy: Really?

Lawrence: I would like, you know…they would run, like, communication processes on me. I'd be in session and, you know, they would ask me a question. I mean, I'm thinking of a question, like, you know. "From where could you communicate to a friend?" And I'd say, "Oh. From my living room." "Okay. From where could you communicate to a friend?" "Didn't I just answer that?" (interviewer laughs) "Okay. I'll give you the question again. From where could you communicate to a friend?" "From a tree." (interviewer laughs) "Okay. From where could you communicate to a friend?" "From the floor." And this would go on for hours and finally, I got into the swing of it. I'd say. "You know, I just realized I could communicate to any friend anywhere and Wow!" I just learned…

Stacy: You learned how to end it.

Lawrence: And they'd say, "Your needle is floating." And then say…then, to my dismay, "From where could others communicate to you?" And it was like, "Oh no!" (interviewer laughs) And then pretty soon, "I could communicate to a friend from the basement. I just realized I couldn't do that before. This is a new ability." And they'd go, "Well, your needle is floating. Wow! Next process. From where could you communicate to your father?" And this would go on for hours. I can't describe to you the boredom and the frustration. And I felt…I felt at times I was losing control of my mind. And I probably was. Just…and it went on day after day. But then the worst part was that people would be saying, "You're going in session and getting your Grades. Oh, I'm so jazzed! That must be so great." And I'd be going, "Yeah. Oh yeah. It's great. Yeah." And they'd say, "Tell me all your wins." And…"I can communicate from my basement!" (laughs) I don't know. I just don't know. What was I thinking as an intelligent person? I don't know.

Stacy: But, in truth, you were thinking, "Okay. This isn't the level for me. But I'm going to get through this level…

Lawrence: To the next level. The next level is where it's at. Where I find out about the universe. The big bang. I find, you know, how everything started, you know, the stuff that even Einstein would be just in amazement at, you know. And I thought I can't wait to find out what it is.

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