Peter and Abby Lazarnick

Interview conducted by Ed Hattaway

Part One

April 1 , 2001


Transcript of Part One

Ed Hattaway: Peter and Abby Lazarnick were in Scientology through a WISE organization and they are going to share their story with us.
Pete, why don't you start by telling us how things were before you got involve din Scientology and the Church of Scientology?

Pete: Well, things were great. I was in practice and we were doing very, very well in practice. We have seen large volumes of people, having a lot of fun, enjoying ourselves and making a lot of money at the same time for the service we were delivering. So, as far as I was concerned, we had a great practice. Now, we were with a practice management group and the practice management group definitely helped us. And we were putting away, (to Abby) how much were we putting away for a week or…

Abby: It was about $5,000 a month.

Pete: $5,000 a month, we were socking away every single month in the bank.

Abby: At least, mm-hmm.

Pete: So, it was going very, very well. We were happy. The money was accumulating. We were having a great time in practice. The patients were satisfied. Things were going very well. We were on top of the world I would say.

Interviewer: Great. And then what happened that led you into the Church of Scientology?

Pete: Well, the management group we were with, Singer Consultants, which I think David Singer is an excellent consultant. I think he does a great job. But they also are connected with the Church of Scientology. And I was introduced to…

Interviewer: Before you go into that, how do you mean connected with the Church of Scientology?

Pete: Well, there is an organization in the Church called the WISE Group, which-I forget what it stands for-I think it's Worldwide Institute of Scientology Enterprises…something like that. And when you are a marketing group, you can be part of this WISE organization and that licenses you to teach Hubbard's material. So it's Scientology materials when it comes to management or self-improvement to a certain degree. And Singer Consultants is part of the WISE Group. So, therefore, they were licensed to utilize Hubbard's data-Hubbard's teaching and that's how I was introduced to Scientology through the Singer organization. Through Singer Consultants. And basically, the way they do that is…I know the way they used to do it, I don't know if they still do it this way. But, they would introduce you by having you come out of the room and they would ask you if you are happy with certain things. And how certain things are going in your life and how certain things are going in the practice. And then they make recommendations based on what you are unhappy with. That certain Scientology services or certain services that they would provide, specific services that they would provide would be good for you, help you, you know, in life. Help you in the practice and just help you in general. And then they would introduce it that way. It was kind of innocuous, very-well, I wouldn't say covert but very subtle-how they would introduce that. And I was introduced that way. And then decided that I would like to investigate it some more. And I think it's because of the subtleness of it that it's real interesting that you would kind of want to do it more. You know, so they're not pushing it on you. At one time, I think that they were and it didn't work very well so they became much more subtle about bringing your attention to the Scientology services that could provide you help. And they were hooked up with the WISE organization, which is part of the church. And therefore, they were able to get in and bring it to you that way. And that's how we started. We started with the Scientology services that way.

Interviewer: So, it went from being just a business consulting type of thing to then being more of a personal improvement kind of a thing through the Church of Scientology, is that correct?

Pete: Absolutely. Yeah. Now, I don't-I'm not a victim in any way. In other words, I felt that it was something that I wanted to do and at the time, it was. There's no doubt about that. It was something that I was very interested in and I wanted to do and they provided the runway so to speak or the lead in for me to take part in the Church services. No doubt about that.

Interviewer: And then after you got involved, then what happened?

Pete: Well, it was real interesting at the beginning. I was in a local organization, the Atlanta organization. Atlanta org is what they call it. And went there for services and that seemed to be okay. In other words, I would have services there and, you know, I would come home and I would feel okay. But nothing, nothing mind boggling at all, like, Abby would say, "Well, how did it go?" And I would say, "Well, it was fine." And really, I'll keep coming back to this point. When I would do services, it was no more enlightening to me really than going to see a good movie or making me feel as good as seeing a good movie. And I'll keep referring back to that because that's about the most punch I ever got out of any of the services, really.
Interviewer: But we're talking about paying a little bit more than the cost of going to a movie, right?

Pete: (laughs) Yes. Unfortunately, that's true. Yeah, the cost of going to a movie today, I don't know, is seven dollars or something like that? And those services, I think our clear package that we bought was $20,000 or $22,000 at the local org and then for Abby, it was the same thing. It was about $20,000 for her clear package, too.

Interviewer: It's $20,000 each?

Pete: Each. Yeah, that's correct.

Abby: But also, I want you to know that when Pete first got involved in Scientology, I did not. It was not something that interested me. I was very concerned about the monies that he was spending. And when we would get call after call, I mean, phone call after phone call from these people wanting to…more services and do this and do that. And they would say to me, "Are you a Scientologist?" And I would say, "No."

Pete: (laugh) She said no!

Abby: Just to end the conversation because you could, I mean, we were barraged with calls from various different places. So, even though Peter did get involved, I just let him do what he wanted to do but it was not something-in the beginning, for at least a year-something that I felt that I wanted to participate in.

Pete: Really, I should have listened to her, to tell you the truth. I really should have listened to her. But, you know, at the time, I really wanted more. I wanted to be happier to just tell you the truth. And I think that's one of the things-the questions they always ask, are you happy, you know? And how many people are going to say, "Well, everything's perfect." It wasn't perfect at the time, of course. Things were going well but it's almost…

Abby: It was better than it was after.

Pete: Oh, yeah. There's no doubt about that. But, you know, I wanted to do more. I wanted to help more. I wanted to be more. I wanted to do a lot more. I wanted to, you know, I wanted my purpose. I wanted to understand my purpose more and help more people and do more things and move into different areas, like speaking and training and consulting and things like that. And so I felt like doing these services with Scientology would allow me or would help me to be better at consulting, be better at coaching, be better at promoting, be better at all these things. So, it was kind of, "Well, let me try this and see how it will work." And there was always another…there's always another ring. You never reach the point where you finish. There's always something else that keeps coming up. Like, once you finish one service, then they promote another service to you.

Interviewer: Do you have an example of that?

Pete: Well, yeah. There are…as far as the way the Scientology, quote, bridge is set up, you have one side of the bridge, which is auditing, which is about self- improvement and what they call "clearing the being." In other words, clearing the being from dissatisfactions, clearing the being from upsets, clearing the being of their reactive mind, so to speak. Clearing the being so that they are more functional in life so that they can do more and have more and be more. That's one side of the bridge. Then the other side of the bridge is called the training side of the bridge where you train in different areas so that you can be, that you can handle life better. One area that they make sure that you clear up very quickly is if you have had any kind of drugs in the past. And that doesn't mean illegal drugs, necessarily. It could mean just environmental things, like pesticides and they want to clear your body out of those things so that you can function better. Well, they make you go through a rigorous detoxification type program with saunas for four or five hours, six hours and different types of vitamins and minerals and oils and things like that. So, then, after you do that, then you would be-either side of the bridge, whether it's auditing or whether it's training-you pick what you want to do or you do both at the same time. So, one thing would be is once you learn what they call study technology, how to study properly, then you would go into the…you wouldn't just be finished learning how to study. Then, there's another advanced study technology, so to speak or an advanced course in study technology, so to speak. And then after you do that, there are other courses that you would take, life improvement courses. There would be other types…there's always something else. It never ends. I mean, if you did Scientology, in my opinion, like a four year college, it would probably be your BA, your BS. (laughs) I'm talking about 8 hours a day, five days a week, you can just keep going and going and going. And of course, you're paying for all of this. You're paying constantly for all of this and you're paying some very, very heavy money-a lot of money-to take part in these services, whether it's the auditing side where you're trying to clear yourself out so you can function better or if it's the training side so you're more knowledgeable of how to deal with life. And I'm not saying all the things were bad. A lot of the stuff was very good. A lot of the stuff helped me as far as the training goes. The auditing, I really never got much out of. I mean, I kept doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it and you know, it's like, it's kind of like, it will come together soon. You know, I'll have these wins soon or something will happen soon. If you pay more, you'll go to the next level and then you'll get what it is that you want. If you pay more, more, then you get to the next level and you'll get what you want. And it just seems like they continue to bait you and hook you to keep going up and up and up the bridge. But when you're going up and up and up the bridge with the levels-because I went to what they call clear and then what's called the Sunshine Rundown-I just never got really what I was looking for. I never really got the happiness or the practice getting better. See, the practice was good, like we talked about at the beginning. But once I started doing these Scientology services and paying all this money, I dwindled the bank account. I mean, we did probably $125,000 easily on these services. And I'm dwindling the bank account and then the pressure is on. I'm not making the money I used to make. I'm not as happy as I used to be! See, I was looking to get happier and make more money. At the same time, what occurred was that we were becoming less satisfied, really dissatisfied with life and making less money! So, what was promised never occurred. The happiness, the, you know, with family and friends and the fact that you'd be making more money when you do these services. But just to clarify something-Scientology services and WISE services are connected and intertwined but they are separate, too. Because Hubbard has a lot of management technology which goes into the WISE trained sector. But then he has other technology like I talked about like handling drugs, study technology and there are many different forms of the study technology that you can learn. So there's a lot of things here. So, WISE specifically is a part of the Church of Scientology that uses Hubbard's technology to help you in management-to help you run your business better. And that's the part I was taking a lot of courses in. And it didn't seem to be helping at all. Now, when I was with Singer just doing the chiropractic consulting, that helped. There was no doubt about it. But then once I got into the Scientology training and the Scientology management technology, then that's when I started to see things dwindle and start going backwards instead of forward. I couldn't understand why. I mean, I kept doing the service. I kept paying for the services and doing the services and paying for the services but it wasn't getting any better. And it spilled over into the household, too. I was not happy.

Abby: Well, and quite honestly, it is definitely not exchange in abundance. For what they charge you for and what you get in return, it isn't even close. And I would say, if I had to use words to describe Peter at that time in his life, it would be totally frustrated. He began to gain weight. He wasn't as happy in the practice. He wasn't as pleasant to be around. He was totally frustrated. I could not understand but yet, again, they continued to, "Well, you need to do this now." You know, "In order to have that, you need to do that." And of course, it's all money and money and money and we're looking at kids' college education funds and, you know. But, he believed and kept putting and putting and putting and he wasn't getting…he wasn't getting from it what he should.

Pete: And then finally, I went in to the Mecca of Scientology technology which is called Flag. That's in Clearwater, Florida and my first trip there was real interesting. When I got there-to Flag-you didn't really know what was going on. So, I was kind of like open to whatever would occur. You know, I really didn't know what to expect. And it was not like a…they talk about it as being a first class hotel. And it was no way any of that. I mean, they didn't even have phones in the room when I got there the first time. And it was pretty…I know they do now but they didn't then. And when I got there the first time, one of the things they do is they have somebody who greets you. Now, I thought this was just a person who greets me (laughs) and they're like somebody from the hotel that says, "Come on over. Let's have some lemonade or some champagne." No, this person-what they do is they-this person is what's called a registrar. Her name was Dominique and she was from France. And I remember her very clearly. She said, "What course are you on?" I said, "I'm not here for training. I'm here for auditing." And she goes, "No, you must, must be on a course!" And I'm kind of figuring, "Well, maybe if you must, it's something that I should do." You know? And then she just takes me and walks me over to the course room and says, "You've got to start on this course," a study technology course. And I didn't want to do it but I said, "Well, maybe this is the way it works here." You know, it's like they sit you down and you start studying and studying and studying and you work in this course room. But it wasn't something that I wanted in my own free will to do but it was something I thought I needed to do to be at Flag and do the other services, the auditing services. They never made that clear. And I was very unhappy about that. I was very unhappy the way I was handled when I first went there. As a matter of fact, it was just a disaster the first time I was there. Then I go into the registrar's office with…her name is Sonia and she's a registrar there. And you know, I mean, basically they want to befriend you but you can see right through them. I mean, they're not looking for your good. They're just looking for the money. I mean, there's no doubt about it. And if they find out-which I found out-that you don't have the bank account that they think you have, then you're not as important on the list anymore. I'll tell you that for sure. But you would be registered for hours. I mean, hours upon hours for different things. Not just from the Flag registrar who is the person you sit down with and they start finding out how much money you have, what course that they recommend next. They have a design on your pocketbook. They have a design on your bank account. They have a design on your wallet. And it's not a very comfortable thing. You're sitting in this room and it's an open room. You're sitting in this room and it feels more like you're being grilled and you have to be very defensive and you have to work at keeping your money. And they're just trying to trap your money and tell you what you need. And some of them are better than others. One of the registrars there, Paul Miller, I worked with him sometimes and he would fall asleep in the middle of this. I mean, this sounds ridiculous. It sounds absurd. But he would fall asleep while he was talking to you. He'd just start snoring while he was talking to you. He has a narcolepsy disorder or something. (laughs) It's not even funny but the fact is he would fall asleep. And then, he'd have a cigarette in his hand and when the cigarette almost burnt him, that's when he would wake up. And he'd start talking again. I mean, it was the most bizarre thing. I know it sounds crazy. It's the most bizarre thing that you would ever see. So there's a lot of bizarre things going on there. Now, one of the things I wanted to get when I went to Flag was I wanted to get to a point where I absolutely had control over everything in my environment. That's what I wanted. I wanted control of everything in my environment. And I felt like that would lead to my happiness. And they talked about all kinds of things. They talked about, "Yeah, you'll be able to have…you'll be able to go exterior where," you know, "your being out of your body and you can control other bodies and control your body." I mean, "Okay. Show me." I asked one of the registrars, I said, "Show me. I'm going to stand behind that wall over there and I'm going to hold up a certain amount of fingers. You go out of your body, come around the wall and tell me how many fingers I have up." And you know what she said to me, Sonia, about that? She said, "That's ridiculous. That's party games. We don't do party games here. If we wanted to, we could tell you how many fingers you have but we won't do that because that's like a party game trick." And I said, "Well, you're telling me that you can do all these things and that I would have the ability to do all these things. How do I know that?" "Well, you're just going to have to read Hubbard's technology and understand that this can be done and understand how it can be done. And then work on that with your auditing and your training as you are here." And I know it sounds kind of way out and sometimes you think, "Well, how would a educated a person who has been through college for 8 years do any of these things?" Well, I'll tell you, some…the people that they really prey upon are the most educated. If you think about another thing that the people who came, you know, the people who designed the German concentration camps and the furnaces and everything else, those were all PhD's that designed those things. So, it's not just the amount of education that makes somebody want something or act weird about things. It's basically, it's a want or a desire. If you could find-and this is…they're very good in Scientology-if you could find out a person's wants or desires, you can get them to do almost anything, within means. And in this case, it's basically giving money. And money obviously is not the most important thing, you know, time and happiness and those things are much more important to me than money. So, if I could give somebody money to get those things that I wanted then I was willing to do that. And I believed that I was going to get these things. But, really didn't. I got the opposite. It was just amazing and just keep baiting, just keep holding the carrot in front of you and dangling that carrot and saying, "Well, you just need to go here and next thing, you'll have that." And it just kept going on and on and on like that. And I really felt betrayed, absolutely betrayed.

Abby: And I know you were beginning to say something about your first trip to Flag. And what happened there-and before you tell it-I do have to say, I was at home at that time when the kids were younger. And every day I would wait for that phone call, couldn't call Peter because they didn't have phones in the room. He had to wait until he, until the pay phone was free and he would get on the pay phone and he would call me. And one day, he's up and one day, he's down. And one day, he's up and one day, he's down. And quite honestly, it got to the point where, you know, with three kids at home, it was hard for me to deal with wondering who would be calling me that night. Was it going to be the happy Peter or was it going to be the frustrated Peter? And when he was happy, it made me happy because I knew things would be better. But it never lasted. The next day, he would be frustrated-something happened. (to Peter) Go ahead and tell them what happened.

Peter: Well, yeah just to get back to why you were up and then down. I mean, when you go there, you are expecting, you know, this is supposed to be a Church. It's supposed to a sanctuary. It's supposed to be of harmony and peace a place for you to relax and a place for you to improve yourself. But they don't allow you to do that there. I mean, when I was there, I would go from the registrar-they would take you from the registrar's office where they're trying to get you to buy more services, Scientology services whether they be auditing or training-and then you would be moved to another registrar which would be something about a ship project to give money to the ship or a library project to get Hubbard's books into libraries around the country. And then you'd have the International Association of Scientologists. So, it's kind of like they take you. When they know you have a bank account, they take you from one area to another area to another area to another area and they continually try to extract money from you for every single thing that you have. And it became abusive. It really became so abusive that, at one point in time, I mean, I was just like spinning. And I fell down a flight of steps. I mean, it sounds funny and I sprained my ankle terribly. I mean, this was my first trip to Flag. And I was bleeding, I cut myself, I rolled into a big potted plant and the pot broke. It's funny now but I cut my hand open it was bleeding all over the steps and people were just walking past like it didn't matter. I had to find an infirmary and it was terrible, one of the worst experiences of my entire life! And I thought that this was going to be great, you know? I thought this was going to be something-I'm paying all this money for it. You know how much we paid for our L's? Fifty thousand dollars. Let me repeat that, fifty thousand dollars for L10, 11 and 12. If you saw three good movies, Godfather One, Godfather Two and Godfather Three, well, Godfather Three I won't count because that wasn't so good. But Scarface…if you took three of those movies and saw those, I got more out of those movies, more enjoyment out of those movies than I did my L Rundowns. More fun, more enjoyment, more happiness from a movie than I did from the L Rundowns! Now, I'm not saying I didn't get anything out of the training. I think the management training was good. Some of the management training that I got was good and I was able to use that to a certain degree. But the auditing really just felt like it caved me in. It didn't help me. It made me worse. And I kept going back to get…because they kept telling me, "Oh, you need a review on these L's," because the L's didn't work. They said, "You need a review of L11 or L12." And if you did this review, then, "Well, obviously, we missed something. We've got to get that missed something handled." And I would go back because I want to get improved! I want to get fixed! Because I felt all screwed up. It was just not working out the way I wanted it to. So, I went back and back and back and really didn't get the results. Never got the results that I wanted. Never got the results.

Stacy: And the answer was always…it was never, you know, it was always you. It was something in you. And then all of a sudden now they're doing the L's in a different order. Well, they realized that the order that they were doing or whatever the processes were, weren't the right ones so you had to then pay for the privilege of redoing it. It was never that they did something that wasn't right or, you know, it was always something within you. Now, I know for me, I probably got more out of the auditing than I did the training side of it. And I had a very good auditor here in Atlanta, Diane __________ and I really enjoyed it. Quite honestly, she was a great listener and that really is, to me, what auditing is about. Being able to speak while somebody listens. But for the price that they charge, I probably could have gotten somebody to listen and get the same result. I enjoyed my auditing and then when I went to do my Sunshine Rundown, I CCRH? Clear certainty? CCRD. Clear Certainty Rundown. After Peter's experience at Flag, there was no way that I wanted to go to Flag. So, somebody recommended that I got to the Miami org, which I did. Because I told-you know, it wouldn't be as-it would be easier to get through. So, I go to the Miami org and I do my set ups. And all of a sudden, I go into a room. There, I expect to sit down and begin my CCRD, Clear Certainty Rundown, towards clear, the level that Peter explained earlier.

Interviewer: Which is really what you do after you have reached the state.

Abby: The state of clear, correct.

Interviewer: Okay.

Abby: And this is to go and see if, in fact, there are certain check lists and things to determine if, in fact, you are what you say, you have attained that state. And I go to sit down and here, I am ready to start my auditing and I am told that because of something-and I don't even remember what it was-that now the auditors in Miami will go back to Flag to do some more training. Because obviously, what they had been trained on-and my question is-if they needed more training, what about all the other people that got services there to go clear? Was it that their services were inferior? So, now here I am. I have my…I am scheduled to go from Atlanta to Miami back to Atlanta, I have a full-time job. I am in charge of all the finances. We're talking about payroll coming up in the middle of the week. I had scheduled just enough time to get everything done to get back so that I could handle what I do on my regular job. And now, I'm being shipped to Flag. And they hand me this huge box with all my folders and they tape it up so I can't open it and I mean, I am dragging…Here I am going through the airport, this busy airport, where I have to totally reschedule all my plans with this huge box that weighed-felt like a ton at that time-that I finally started just kicking it through the Miami airport on my way to Flag. Get to Flag-I mean, they weren't prepared for me! They never should have expected me in the first place! They had this area that you have to go to in order to get checked in. So that when you do your auditing, you go to this area and when it's your turn to go in, they call you in. Well, the English speaking section was so full of people that they could not accommodate me. They put me in the Spanish speaking section. Now, here I am with a bunch of people and I don't know if they are taking advantage of me or not because I don't understand what anybody is saying.

Pete: Abby doesn't speak Spanish, so…

Abby: And the only reason they did that was because there less people in the line up in this Spanish speaking HGC (Hubbard Guidance Center) than in the English speaking and they thought I would get more services. Quite honestly, I think they just kept passing me over because I didn't understand anything that was going on. And I would call and I would check in with Peter. I was so totally frustrated that Peter really, if it were not for Peter, I would probably still be there after all these years never having received the service. But he kind of…if it wasn't for Peter and his calling and just really speaking up, what they finally did was they finally moved me to yet another are where they could get me through a little bit quicker. But, it's like, what you have to go through, what you pay, for the services that you pay, they should roll out the red carpet for you. And people should not have to go through the hassles and the aggravation and the frustration that they put you through. And I mean, I finally did make it through but if it were not for Peter, like I said, I feel like I would still be sitting there today just being passed over and pushed aside. And they don't care. It's like the cattle call, you know?

Peter: I was calling people up every day to make sure that her services were handled and working with people that already knew because I had been down there already. And I will say, the first time I was down there was the worst. It got a little bit better as I progressed and got down there and they came to know me more. So, but one of the things that was real interesting-when you do a service, after you finish a part of a service or an entire service-you go to what's called Qualification. I forget the exact name of it but it's when you sit down and you attest that you got from the service what you were supposed to get. And then you would write up a success story or a testimonial about what you got out of that service. And I realized this pretty quickly. The first time that I wrote down, you know, "this isn't exactly what I thought it would be. It's not that good. I didn't get anything out of this." What they did with you was they would send you to what's called "Ethics." And you would sit in this office at Flag for an hour sometimes, a half hour sometimes, two hours sometimes, until you spoke to an ethics officer. And you had to explain to the ethics officer how it is possible that you did not get anything out of this particular service that you just did. And you realize that…when you're there, you have a certain amount of time-it's compressed-especially if you are running a business, like in my case I was at the practice. So, you realize that you have to get the heck out of there, like, within a three or four day period or a six day or seven day period, whatever you planned. Never works that way, you know? They say, "Okay. We'll get you done in three days." Six days later, you're still not done. So, what you learn is: after you do the service and they ask you to write a testimonial, you might as well just write the testimonial. Otherwise, you're getting sent right to Ethics to find out why it didn't go right for you. And they will question and interrogate you about, "So, how come everybody else…" you know, "Why didn't this go right for you?" "How come everybody…" you know, "this is what you're supposed to get. Why aren't you getting this?" It's kind of like they make you feel like you're the one to blame. You're wrong for not getting out of the service what you are supposed to get out of the service. Whether it's increased wealth or in your mind or happiness or you feel like you have a new life. Yeah, new life. When they talk about these new life rundowns or these different rundowns, they have great PR, great marketing, great promo, great…but the service was not what it's pretended to be.

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