Blown for Good
Blown for Good
Author(s) Marc Headley Cover artist Rectoverso Graphic Design Country United States Language English Subject(s) Scientology Genre(s) Non-fiction Publisher BFG Books Publication date November 5, 2009 Media type Hardback Pages 383 ISBN 0982502206 OCLC Number 436342246 LC Classification 2009931081
Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology is a non-fiction book about Scientology, written by Marc Headley. It was first published in the United States on November 5, 2009. Headley's mother was a Scientologist and he joined the organization at a young age. He worked for the organization at its international headquarters in Hemet, California, called Gold Base for 15 years, and left in 2005. The book details his experiences working as a member of Scientology's highest-leadership group in the organization called the Sea Org, as well as the management style of Scientology leader David Miscavige.
Scientology representatives would not comment on the substance of Headley's statements in the book, but asserted in comments to media in November 2009 that the author was involved in frivolous litigation with the organization. Headley said that in response to his speaking out critically against the organization, he was deemed a Suppressive Person within Scientology and subjected to the practice of disconnection, whereby his family and friends in Scientology were instructed never to speak to him again. He said in interviews that private investigators have monitored him, dug through his garbage, and followed him as he took his children to school. He stated agents of Scientology contacted his employees and stated he was an "anti-religious extremist".
Blown for Good received positive reception in reviews and media coverage. The editor in chief of The Village Voice described the book as a "remarkable account", and the associate editor of Catholic Online called it "a bold insider memoir". The book was discussed positively by commentators of the KFI program The John and Ken Show, and The Observer noted Headley's book goes into detail regarding "allegations of systematic abuse and bizarre episodes" within Scientology.
Marc Headley was raised in Los Angeles, California. Headley's mother was a Scientologist, and she brought him up within the organization from an early age. He began work as an employee for the organization at age 16. Headley worked out of the organization's international headquarters in Hemet, California, for 15 years. In 2005, Headley escaped from the international headquarters of the organization. He received the help of police during his escape from the organization.
After leaving the organization, Headley started to write about his experiences in Scientology. His writings were published in the media including news magazines, publications on the internet and other websites. In 2008, Headley was invited to speak in Hamburg, Germany, at a conference discussing abuses within Scientology, alongside actor and former Scientologist Jason Beghe. In 2009, Headley lived in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and two children, where he was a business owner.
The foreword to the book is written by former high-ranking Scientology official Mark Rathbun. "While Marc Headley and I were stationed at the same international headquarters property of the Church of Scientology’s elite Sea Organization for nearly fifteen years, his views of some of Scientology founder Hubbard’s writings and my views differed greatly. I never had time to write or send the note because I could not put the manuscript down. I was gripped by Marc’s personal story," writes Rathbun. The book's title is a reference to the Scientology jargon word "Blown", meaning any individual who leaves the organization without prior permission to do so.
Headley recounts his 15 years as an employee of the Church of Scientology. He details what it was like to work for the organization out of its international headquarters called Gold Base near Hemet, California at Gilman Hot Springs. He describes what life was like as an employee of the organization headed by Scientology leader David Miscavige at the secluded 500 acres (2.0 km2; 0.78 sq mi) facility, also known as International Base or Int Base. Headley was a member of Scientology's highest-leadership group in the organization, the Sea Organization, or Sea Org.
Headley worked out of the film-production studio facilities of Scientology from 1989 through 2005. He held multiple positions while employed by Scientology at Gold Base, and these mainly focused on the production of video and audio materials to disseminate the message of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. He helped originate scripts of videos whose goal was to introduce new members to Scientology methodology. He would also supervise Scientology presentations presided over by leader Miscavige. Headley reproduced thousands of copies of audio recordings of speeches by Hubbard, and he was often faced with repercussions from Miscavige if production quotas were not satisfied. Headley describes an incident where he says he was physically attacked by Miscavige for making a sarcastic comment.
In 1990, Headley was selected to undergo the Scientology practice of auditing, and he was told that his partner for this would be Scientologist and actor Tom Cruise. Cruise had recently finished the film Days of Thunder. Cruise was paired with the author because Headley was both relatively low on the scale of Scientology courses, and young at the time at age 17, so he would not have been viewed as a risk to speak to the press about his experiences with the celebrity. "[Cruise] was going to do his auditor training and he needed someone to audit and this person had to be low on the bridge. That was me," writes Headley. According to the author, he worked with Cruise on Scientology methodology called Training Routines, for hours at a time each day. These techniques were intended to give the practitioner a better control over one's mind. Headley worked with Cruise for a total of three weeks.
The author describes a 2004 event where Tom Cruise was awarded the organization's Medal of Valor from Miscavige; video of which was leaked to the Internet in January 2008. Initially, a video of Cruise planned to be shown at the event featured other celebrities including Will Smith appearing on camera and praising the actor. Miscavige disapproved, and instead instructed Scientology staff to create a video where Cruise would speak about himself and his views on being a Scientologist. "Dave Miscavige later said that his Tom Cruise video was one of the most important videos that had ever been produced," writes Headley. According to Headley, Scientology employees at the compound in Gilman Hot Springs were made to watch clips edited-together of Cruise, as a form of inspirational material. The clips of Cruise were edited to only include material that reflected positively on the celebrity Scientologist.
Headley outlines behavior patterns of Miscavige in the book. He recounts an incident where Miscavige instructed his management to participate in a game of musical chairs to the Queen song "Bohemian Rhapsody". According to Headley, the Scientology leader ordered 70 executives to fight for chairs while the music was playing, and said that only the last person remaining would be allowed to stay at Gold Base. The other people would be moved to remote Scientology facilities. The Scientology staff competed with each other for chairs during the game and some became emotional because they thought they would be ordered to locations where they would not see their families. Miscavige later stated no one would have to leave the facility. "Turns out it was going to cost a fortune to fly all these people all over the place and the logistics were not finalized as to how to ship everybody off to the different continents. Dave had called down late during the night and said that he was not willing to waste one single cent of Scientology's money," explains Headley.
Headley states he gained approval to sell old Scientology materials on eBay in order to recoup money for the organization – he was later accused of embezzlement for doing this. In 2005, when he knew he would be faced with being sent to the organization's prison-like program the Rehabilitation Project Force, Headley decided to leave. Leaving Scientology would mean becoming separated from his wife Claire, who he had been married to for 13 years, and his other family members, due to the Scientology practice of disconnection. Headley left Gold Base on his motorcycle but was followed by Scientology security guards, in an incident which resulted in Headley falling off his bike by the side of the road. Riverside County, California police arrived, and they helped Headley safely get further away from the Scientology compound. From there he traveled to his father in Kansas City. He was later reunited with his wife who had also served Scientology as an employee at Gold Base. Prior to his wife's escape from Gold Base, she was monitored closely day and night by the organization.
The author credits multiple sources that he says introduced doubts into his thought processes about his conditions while living at Gold Base. He writes that he listened to The John and Ken Show on KFI, and that their discussion of Scientology allowed him to think more critically during his time at the compound. He says that viewing Conan O'Brien make fun of Scientology celebrities changed his views on individuals that the organization had only spoken of internally with reverence.
Response by organization
Us Weekly contacted a representative of the organization for comment on Headley's statements in the book, for a November 30, 2009 article on Tom Cruise and Scientology. The magazine reported that the representative, "would not confirm or deny" Headley's description of his experiences practicing the Scientology auditing technique with Cruise. The Scientology representative told Us Weekly that Headley is "currently engaged in a frivolous lawsuit against the Church." A spokesman for Scientology gave a comment to The Sun about the book for a November 14, 2009 article, saying, "Marc is currently suing the Church and he has written the book to flank his litigation."
In an interview on The John and Ken Show on KFI, the author was asked if he experienced retaliation from Scientology for speaking critically about the organization. He said that he had been issued a declaration that he was to be considered a "Suppressive Person" by members of the organization, and explained, "That's basically the thing that goes out to anyone and everyone who is in Scientology, saying, 'This person is a Suppressive Person, and you can no longer speak to him ever again.' If you are in Scientology, and you speak to somebody who is a Suppressive Person, you yourself can be declared a Suppressive Person." Headley said when he left Scientology the organization gave him a "freeloader statement", a bill for US$62,000, for courses he had received in Scientology. "It's actually illegal, because they are basically charging me for on-the-job training – in California you can't charge somebody for on-the-job training. It's of no real value, but you don't know that, when you're in Scientology. You think, 'Are they going to garnish my wages, are they going to sue me?' You don't know," said Headley. The hosts asked the author if he had been harassed by the organization, and he stated he had experienced this form of retaliation as well. "I've dealt with that. They've had people at my house, watching my house They've had people following me taking my kids to school. They've contacted my employees at my business, that I'm a 'anti-religious extremist' and a member of 'an internet hate group'." Headley said most of those contacted by Scientology found these actions by the organization "laughable" because they knew him personally.
In an appearance on the Kevin and Bean program on KROQ-FM, Headley said he was aware of private investigators that followed him, and dug through his garbage. He said that Child Protective Services received an anonymous tip that his children were in danger and therefore had to come and do an inspection at his house. Headley said the Scientology practice of Disconnection was enforced upon him and he was no longer able to speak with his family members still in the organization. "When I left in 2005, before I even had a chance to contact any of my family, my mother, my sister and my brother were all informed that they would never be able to speak to me ever again. And I haven't spoken to them since the day I left. And if they do choose to speak to me, then they themselves can be declared a Suppressive Person, and then they won't be able to speak to anybody that they know that's a Scientologist," said Headley. As an example, Headley stated, "When my wife gave birth to our first son, I called her parents from the hospital room. And I called and I said, 'Hey, I just want to let you know, Claire's okay.' Click. They hung up. They've never seen their grandchildren."
The book was first published November 5, 2009, and was made available through the author's website at www.blownforgood.com and on Amazon.com. Blown for Good was selected as a finalist in the 2009 "Book of the Year Awards", by ForeWord Magazine. The Editor in chief of The Village Voice, Tony Ortega, described the book as a "remarkable account". Ortega noted, "Headley's story provides a damning account of life working for Scientology leader David Miscavige at the secretive desert base, where young people who sign billion-year contracts work 100-hour weeks for little or no pay with the ever-present threat that they may be pulled into hellish disciplinary drills, or separated permanently from friends and family members for the slightest perceived infraction." He concluded the review by commenting, "Perhaps the best service that Headley provides with Blown for Good is giving non-Scientologists the sense of what it's really like to work, day in and day out, in such a strange organization, from the lowliest laborer mucking out excrement in a Gold Base pond (Headley says shit was coming out of his ears and pores for days) to what kind of luxuries the celebrities and high-ranking members enjoy."
On the KFI talk radio program The John and Ken Show, commentators John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou talked about Blown for Good and discussed Scientology. One of the commentators said of the statements detailed by the author in the book, "This is, the Scientology cult, is I guarantee you, a thousand times more bizarre than you could have ever imagined. And what these celebrities do, like Tom Cruise, is a thousand times more strange than you could ever imagine. I have never read about behavior like this in my life, I can't imagine it. It's really weird." Paul Beaumont, Toni O'Loughlin and Paul Harris of The Observer commented that Headley's book, "details – as others have – allegations of systematic abuse and bizarre episodes" of experiences in Scientology. They noted, "Headley's book follows a year in which Scientology has been plagued by unwelcome revelations from high-profile defectors and fresh media investigation into its practices." Catholic Online associate editor and former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, Randy Sly, characterized Blown for Good as "a bold insider memoir". Sly reported on criticism of Scientology in the Australian Senate by Senator Nick Xenophon, and commented, "Headley provides vivid accountings of activities within Scientology that confirm the Australian Senator’s concerns." Sly noted, "A number of comments left on the Amazon.com website were from those who indicated they were ex-Scientologists and confirmed the author’s accounts." Ian Punnett of Coast to Coast AM commented that the song "We Gotta Get out of This Place", "certainly would be a theme of several of the chapters of Blown for Good".
Hamilton Nolan of Gawker described the book's design as "featuring a dramatic, action-scene-type cover", and called the work "a new tell-all book". Star described Blown for Good as an "explosive new book". Pete Samson of The Sun called the book "a revealing account of goings-on within the church". Perez Hilton wrote of the book's release that the "church of Scientology isn't going to be too happy about this", and commented on statements made by Headley in the book, "The more people speak out about their experiences in Scientology, the more creeped out we get!" The Flemish daily newspaper published in Belgium, De Standaard, noted the book discusses "remarkable experiences" the author underwent as a Scientology staff member. Mark Rathbun wrote in a post on his blog that he acknowledged he and Headley did not agree on all things Scientology, but thought the book had value, commenting, "Marc Headley and I don’t see eye to eye much on LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] and Scientology. He has his views and I have mine and they are often divergent. Nonetheless, Marc has produced a narrative of his life in the Sea Org that I consider an important read for anyone wanting to understand the current state of the church." In a 2010 article in New Humanist, Paul Sims noted, "Since its release at the end of last year, Blown for Good has made the kind of impact its author hoped. Having built up an online buzz courtesy of Anonymous, and sold thousands of copies in the US, Headley says he has been receiving letters and emails from Scientologists, many of whom have said the revelations in his book have confirmed their suspicions about the inner workings of the Church."
- A Piece of Blue Sky
- The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology
- Scientology and the legal system
- Scientology controversies
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- Blown for Good, official website
- Riverside County Sheriff's Department Police Reports regarding Marc Headley's Escape, Scribd
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