List of Scientology security checks
In Scientology, the security check (or sec check) is an interrogation technique put into practice by founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1960. It involves an "Ethics officer" probing the thoughts, attitudes and behavior of an individual member by asking them large numbers of questions. The bulk of the questions deal with criminal or sexual activity or intentions, or other things that the interviewee might be ashamed of. The questions also probe negative thoughts that the person might have about Scientology or Hubbard. As with traditional auditing, the subject holds the electrodes of the E-meter, a simple lie-detector device that measures electrical conductivity in the human body, while they are given a series of highly probing, personal questions.
Hubbard described security checking as a remedy for "unreasonable action", specifically "the compulsion or obsession to commit actions" the person feels must be kept secret. Checks are given to all Scientologists on the Bridge to Total Freedom, every six months to all Operating Thetans, according to officials, "to make sure they're using the tech correctly", and to members who are leaving staff.
In a "Code of Reform" issued in 1968, Hubbard announced that he was cancelling security checks, along with the policies of Fair Game and Disconnection. However, later Scientology documents refer to the practice, and former members report that it still continues.
A security check resembles the confessional in traditional religions. However, it also differs from them in that it is not voluntary. Hubbard told security checkers that "you are not merely an observer, or an auditor, you are a detective."
Susan Raine of the University of Alberta observes that the questions asked in security checks show that L. Ron Hubbard was intensely preoccupied with scrutiny, surveillance and betrayal. She notes that this intense form of surveillance makes sense from a bureaucratic perspective as a way of making sure all individuals follow (and internalize) the organisational goals. Bent Corydon, an ex-Scientologist, compares security checking to the use of thought police in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. He writes that Scientologists are punished for having negative thoughts about Hubbard or Scientology and so learn to think only positively. David Mayo, another former member, reported that sec checks included the question, "Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about LRH?" and that such "discreditable thoughts" could land a follower in trouble.
In 1972, the South African Commission of Enquiry published a report on Scientology. It recommended that there should be legislation against sec checks. However, no legislative action was taken as a result.
HGC Pre-processing Security Check
Johannesburg Security Check
The Johannesburg (also known as "Joburg") Security Check was described by Hubbard as "the roughest security check in Scientology". An amended form continued to be used for some time thereafter.
Amongst Hubbard's list of primarily crime-related questions is the question "Have you ever slept with a member of a race of another color?" Other questions include:
- Have you ever embezzled money?
- Have you ever been a drug addict?
- Have you ever bombed anything?
- Have you ever murdered anyone?
- Have you ever raped anyone?
- Have you ever had anything to do with a baby farm?
Only Valid Security Check
The contents of the Joburg security check were later revised into what became "The Only Valid Security Check". Added to the Sec Check are new questions such as:
Auditor's Sec Check
This sec check, comprising 170 questions, was meant for staff auditors and field auditors.
Security Check Children
Designed to be applied to children aged 6 to 12. Issued by Hubbard as HCO Bulletin of 21 September 1961, also known as HCO WW Security Form 8. The procedure runs through 99 questions, such as:
- What has somebody told you not to tell?
- Have you ever decided you didn't like some member of your family?
- Have you ever taken something belonging to somebody else and never given it back?
- Have you ever pretended to be sick (ill)?
- Have you ever made yourself sick (ill) or hurt yourself to make somebody sorry?
Whole Track Security Check
This long Sec Check, consisting of hundreds of questions, takes stock of the subject's entire time track, including their "recollections" of any "past lives" they believe they have had. It includes questions such as:
- Did you come to Earth for evil purposes?
- Have you ever smothered a baby?
- Have you ever enslaved a population?
- Have you ever destroyed a culture?
- Have you ever torn out someone's tongue?
- Have you ever zapped anyone?
- Have you ever eaten a human body?
- Have you ever made a planet, or nation, radioactive?
Scientology researcher Jon Atack — a critic of Scientology, and himself a former Scientologist — explains in his book A Piece of Blue Sky that sec checks could be applied either as a "confidential" Confessional or as a non-confidential investigation. He alleges that former members have been silenced by the fear that their "confidential" secrets will be used in blackmail against them.
- Raine, Susan (2009). "Surveillance in New Religious Movements: Scientology as a Case Study". Religious Studies and Theology. Equinox Publishing. 28 (1): 63–94. doi:10.1558/rsth.v28i1.63. ISSN 1747-5414.
- Cooper, Paulette (1971). The Scandal of Scientology. New York: Tower Publications. pp. 85–92. OCLC 921001.
- Urban, Hugh B. (June 2006). "Fair Game: Secrecy, Security, and the Church of Scientology in Cold War America". Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Oxford University Press. 74 (2): 356–389. doi:10.1093/jaarel/lfj084. ISSN 1477-4585.
- Hubbard, L. Ron (1975). Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary. California: Church of Scientology of California, Publications Organization. ISBN 0-88404-037-2. OCLC 11210573.
- Reitman, Janet (23 February 2006). "Inside Scientology". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
- Farley, Robert (25 June 2006). "The unperson". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- Hubbard, L. Ron (29 November 1968) "Code of Reform" reproduced in Powles, Sir Guy Richardson; E. V. Dumbleton (30 June 1969). Hubbard Scientology Organisation in New Zealand and any associated scientology organisation or bodies in New Zealand; report of the Commission of Inquiry. Wellington. p. 26. OCLC 147661.
- Miller, Russell (1987). Bare-faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard. Michael Joseph. p. 289. ISBN 0-7181-2764-1. OCLC 20634668.
- Atack, Jon (1990). A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed. Lyle Stuart / Carol Publishing Group. p. 203. ISBN 0-8184-0499-X.
- Hubbard, L. Ron (23 October 1961) HCO Policy Letter, "HGC Pre-processing security check" quoted in Wallis, Roy (1976). The Road to Total Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of Scientology. London: Heinemann Educational Books. p. 149. ISBN 0-435-82916-5. OCLC 310565311.
- Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky, Chapter 6
- L. Ron Hubbard, HCOPL 7 April 1961, "Johannesburg Security Check"
- Hubbard, L. Ron (1961) "The Only Valid Security Check" Hubbard Communication Office Policy Letter, 22 May 1961
- Anderson, Kevin Victor; Board of Inquiry into Scientology (1965). Report of the Board of Inquiry into Scientology (Parliamentary paper 1-6502/65). Melbourne: State of Victoria. OCLC 152418521.
- Hubbard, L. Ron (1961) "Auditor's Sec Check" Hubbard Communication Office Policy Letter, 7 July 1961