Interview - January 23, 2001
of Part One
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.
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.
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
Yeah. That's why I knew I had
and you know, the cameras everywhere?
to leave from the Coachman. Because
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
The motion detectors, yeah.
Even the staff
yeah, the staff will report you.
Over: Everywhere the Woodcrafts went in Clearwater, they were
followed by Scientology's cameras.
Bezazian: (Waving at Scientology surveillance camera) We see
Woodcraft: (To Scientology camera) Hello! We're baaaack!
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
Larry, tell me how you first got into Scientology.
It was 1975 and I was on vacation in San Francisco and I was
just sort of being a tourist, wandering around
at the city.
Now, where were you living at that time?
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.
At that time, how were you doing in your life?
Well, in reality
when I look back, you know
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.
But how were you feeling about it at that time?
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
am I going to do?" I was sort of searching.
So, it was sort of a perfect time for
Scientology to find you?
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.
Now, the registrar is the person who convinces you that you
should start taking courses or buy some auditing or whatever?
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.
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?
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
Sort of cool.
radical. Cool, yeah. Exactly. And that was the sort
of the vibe the place had, if you like.
You could put it that way.
So, what happened after you went to this first lecture?
Well then, it caught my interest but then, you know, my time
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
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
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
the hell is going on here?!" You know, (laughs) like,
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.
It was a matter of curiosity and it was a matter of suspending
your disbelief a little bit, wasn't it?
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
what interest could you possibly have in it?"
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
And yet somehow they had convinced you that maybe, just maybe
they really did have the secrets of the universe?
Well, they did. And now, years later, I still am baffled by
my mindset. I'm still, like, you know
How could they have done it?
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?
What was the hook? What was the hook?
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
So, somehow they were able to ascertain then that was your
kind of "go" button?
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
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?
And you thought that might be really true?
Yeah. I absolutely believed it! Like, you know.
Was there a particular person in San Francisco that was very
good at talking to you about these things?
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
They had him talk to you?
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'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.
So, you're on course in London. You're looking around thinking,
"I'm in a cult. What am I doing here?"
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
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.
And they were typed by the staff and they had a stamp with
But anyway, so that was my post and that was
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
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
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
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
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.
Now, this is the Apollo where they had the Sea Organization?
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
give me something." And she would say
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
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.
So when did you ever get any time off?
I never did. Never. Never. Not even like one day. Just
Now, why were you putting up with this? Why didn't you end
it? Weren't you exhausted?
I was exhausted. And like, you know, I don't even know how
to answer that.
Were you determined to persevere to find out the answers to
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.
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
You learned how to end it.
And they'd say, "Your needle is floating." And then
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
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
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.
But, in truth, you were thinking, "Okay. This isn't the
level for me. But I'm going to get through this level
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.
to Lawrence Woodcraft