Aaron Smith-Levin: Growing Up in and Escaping from Scientology

Aaron Smith-Levin entered the orbit of Scientology when his mother joined the organisation when he was four years old. As he was growing up, his entire life revolved around the “church”, and he joined and advanced through the organisation, eventually becoming a member of the “Sea Org”, its innermost circle, signing its “billion year contract” dedicating himself to it.

After being commanded to “disconnect” from his family, he eventually became disillusioned and left the organisation, which he how describes as a cult. He operates the Growing Up in Scientology YouTube channel and is vice president of the Aftermath Foundation, a support organisation for those who wish to or have left Scientology and Sea Org.

An excellent introduction to the curious world of Scientology is Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book Going Clear.


This is so bizarre yet strangely fascinating.

In 2008, Wikileaks published the “Operating Thetan” documents, which reveal some of the esoteric beliefs and practices within Scientology. An archived copy of the documents is available here.

The following video shows an amusing exchange between a reporter and Scientology spokesperson Tommy Davis as they discuss Xenu, the alien dictator described in advanced Scientology scriptures:

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Keith Henson, who sometimes posts on this site (@Keith_Henson), was a major contributor to the disclosure of Scientology’s secret documents. and unleashed a fierce campaign of Scientology’s signature lawfare against himself, resulting in his declaring bankruptcy, applying for political amnesty in Canada, and eventually serving prison time in California.

Scientology may be a small organisation (Aaron Smith-Levin estimates the worldwide number of those “inside” to be less than 35,000 and shrinking), but the force they can muster when they believe they are threatened is formidable and intimidating. This is the organisation that took on the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and won, with the IRS capitulating in 1993, as summarised in the Web collection “Scientology versus the IRS” which notes that the IRS granting Scientology a tax exemption “ended 26 years of what the Church itself has described as a “war” against the IRS, in which it used extraordinary and in many cases illegal tactics — bugging of government offices, theft of mountains of classified files, private detectives pursuing senior government officials, thousands of lawsuits, full-page attack adverts in US daily newspapers, and so on.”


Here is South Park on “What Scientologists Actually Believe” from Season 9, Episode 12, “Trapped in the Closet”, first aired on 2005-11-16.

On February 8, 2013, while appearing on the Opie & Anthony Show, Jenna Miscavige Hill, the niece of the Chairman of Scientology, David Miscavige, admitted that she first learned about the story of Xenu from watching this episode.

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I wound up impoverished by the cult, but it was not an entire loss, I got two academic papers out of the mess that are still being downloaded about once a week after 15 and 20 years. They are linked off the Wikipedia page about me if you want to read them.