“Accused — prosecuted — found guilty -and sentenced right there on my door step. And here is my certificate of doom.”
For Scientology watchers, spectacular news this morning. Familiar television and movie character actor Michael Fairman, a longtime member of the “church,” has made public the document which declares him a “Suppressive Person” and tosses him out of Scientology.
Like the director Paul Haggis, who also made his unhappiness with Scientology’s leadership plain, Fairman is not leaving the organization quietly. Posting his expulsion letter at Marty Rathbun’s blog, Fairman blasts Scientology for dismissing him after he had spent years promoting the church with work in its videos and television commercials. Despite all that work, the SP letter vaguely accuses Fairman of various deficiencies, such as “financial irregularities.”
“I have been debt free since early 2010, and am supporting two households.
I make car and insurance payments on my Mercedes…So what ‘financial irregularities and out-exchange’ are they fucking talking about?” Fairman writes.
As Rathbun points out in his introduction to the posting, when Scientology declares someone a “Suppressive Person” or SP, the document listing that person’s “crimes” is held within Scientology and kept secret.
“To date, very few high profile Independents have ever seen their own declare orders,” Rathbun writes, referring to the increasing number of “Independents” like himself who have left the church and its diminutive leader, David Miscavige, to practice L. Ron Hubbard’s ideas of Scientology on their own. “Well, leave it to Miscavige’s outfit to get careless with one of the highest profile declare orders ever written. Michael Fairman’s badge of honor mysteriously wound up in his hands. And not surprisingly Michael has a few things to say about it. So, what follows are Michael’s publication of and commentary on his own declare order. And with it goes perhaps the last, remaining shred of credibility such orders may have once carried.”
Go here to see the entire “Suppressive Person Declare” on its own. It’s a remarkable document, and one we rarely get to see outside the inner halls of Scientology.
The document opens by announcing that Fairman has been declared a Suppressive Person and has been ejected from the church. It then makes this accusation:
Michael Fairman has been pretending to be a Scientologist while covertly attempting to divert unsuspecting Scientologists in good standing off The Bridge to Total Freedom. He is not a Scientologist and has also participated in squirrel activities with a squirrel individual…
Like much in the declaration and Fairman’s response to it, this stuff is swimming with Hubbardisms and church jargon, not all of which we’re going to try to unravel for you. But for the uninitiated a few notes: Scientologists who advance in their study of Hubbard’s “technology” are said to go up “The Bridge to Total Freedom.” They do this by participating in increasingly expensive “auditing” sessions — a kind of counseling — which must be done under strict conditions of church control. Increasingly, however, former high-profile members are objecting to Miscavige’s leadership of the church and are flocking to Marty Rathbun, once the second-highest ranking member of Scientology. Rathbun, who lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, is encouraging these disaffected members to continue to practice Hubbard’s methods outside of church control. The church refers to such people as “squirrels.”
Continuing with its somewhat vague accusations of Fairman, the document then states, “Investigation into Fairman’s background shows a long unchanging pattern of out-ethics and of squirreling the most basic Scientology principles.”
Fairman responds to this by listing his long track-record of loyalty to Scientology, which included acting in many of its in-house films.
In addition I hosted the IAS’s 8th Anniversary Gala Show on the Freewinds and was presented with one of the first copies of “What Is Scientology?” I was invited to perform in the initial readings of Mr. Hubbard’s pulp fiction stories at Author Services. I was a voice actor on four recordings of Mr. Hubbard’s pulp fiction stories at the Mad Hatter Studios. And I performed for several years in Christmas Stories at Celebrity Centre Int in the company of many, if not all, of Scientology’s luminaries. (These events helped raise funds for the LA Police Dept to buy toys for kids.)
Fairman later goes into a long, and for close Scientology watchers a very familiar, tale of how much he gave up over many years to remain a paying member of the “church.”
In 1993, for example, Fairman says he was “debt free and had 8K in the bank,” but he was encouraged to pay for three additional levels of auditing that would take him to the highest levels of training in Scientology.
I found myself in the FSO office depleting my bank account and maxing out about a half dozen or more credit cards. With assurances from all that my career would leap into affluence after getting onto VII, I increased the credit limits on most of the cards to pay for the services, accommodations and airfare. My wife was to accompany me so we could conceive a child at Flag, and she purchased L-11 with her own money. This left me deep in credit card debt and she was broke.
Like other longtime Scientologists that I’ve talked to, Fairman found himself stuck for a long time on OT VII, the second-highest level of training in the church. He indicates that he was training on it — and paying — for a decade, from 1994 to 2004.
In 2003, he says, despite all the money he had already spent from his bank accounts and credit cards, he was presented with a bill for $28,000. He stopped auditing soon after that.
(Jason Beghe, another character actor who left Scientology in recent years, estimates that he spent about a million dollars during his dozen years in the church.)
Ironically, it was only after he had stopped auditing and then ceased all church activities in 2008 that Fairman’s career suddenly turned around. (One of Scientology’s most repeated claims is that its “technology” will lead to career success.)
A year later, Fairman became aware of Paul Haggis’ defection, and he began doing his own research into problems in Scientology. He also looked into Marty Rathbun’s independence movement — and then he went to Rathbun to begin counseling outside the church.
On January 16 of this year, Fairman writes in another posting at Rathbun’s blog, he was visited by Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis and a member of Scientology’s covert operations wing, the Office of Special Affairs:
Mr. Davis explained that the matter of great importance and concern was the fact that I had been audited by a member of a squirrel group in Texas; and that this had to be addressed and handled immediately. Since I had told no one about my trip, I asked him how he came to know of it. He replied that he “just knew”. He also “knew” that I had posted the wins and extraordinarily positive experience from this auditing under a pseudonym on a blog written by a declared SP. Had they surveilled me? Had they taken photos or video of my visit? How did they know that the pseudonym was me? Mr. Davis said he “just knew.”
One threat that Fairman says Davis made to him: if he was tossed out of the church, Scientology would have to re-shoot all of those official films that featured him, and the church would then sue him for the cost!
After Fairman refused to let Davis come into his house, he heard from an old friend:
Monday afternoon I received a call from another friend (my best friend) a Scientologist, whom I’ve known for twenty-five years. He asked if it were true that I had left the Church. I said yes and he asked if he could come to my home and discuss it with me. I said he could, if he came alone. He promised he would. Later that day he arrived and we began to talk. Not ten minutes later there was a knock on the door – it was Tommy Davis and two more friends. I asked them all to leave but they persuaded me to let them stay.
As in the case of Paul Haggis (see his complete story in the fantastic piece by The New Yorker‘s Lawrence Wright), Scientology’s strategy was to attempt a sort of intervention to convince Fairman not to leave:
Again there was a knock on the door. Three other friends had arrived, and I was told there were two more on the way. Now very angry, I insisted that the conversation be ended, if the others did not leave.
Fairman says that part of the reason he was able to fend off this attempted intervention was that he had been reading some of the remarkable defection narratives that have surfaced lately, and that we have been writing about at Runnin’ Scared. Fairman indicates that he read both Marc Headley’s stunning escape narrative, “Blown for Good,” and a book by Jefferson Hawkins, “Counterfeit Dreams.”
Like so many of Scientology’s recent attempts to shore up its image and rein in defectors, Tommy Davis showing up on Fairman’s porch only backfired. Fairman writes:
If I had the slightest sliver of doubt regarding my conclusions (which I do not) about what the current Church of Scientology has become, that doubt would have been dispelled Sunday — spying on me; officials show up at my door without warning, and albeit in a civil tone, threatening and intimidating me with a law suit and expulsion, warnings of consequences to my friends and family — if I did not come back to the “path from which I have strayed”. Officials who have, even before they arrived at my door, informed friends and family of my “transgressions”? , What kind of Church is that? Is this what LRH intended?
As for the SP declaration, it is a remarkable document in part for its inanity. It’s hard to imagine any other “church” excommunicating a member with the following words:
Michael Fairman is a squirrel.
Fairman, in response, had this to say directly to David Miscavige:
“in response to this piece of crap you have published on my behalf — PPPPPTTTTTTHHHHH!!!!!!”
Take it from a longtime Scientology watcher. It’s really hard to imagine, even only a few years ago, a high-profile, actor Scientologist expressing something like that to the organization’s dictator-for-life.
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard’s organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga — Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story — How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection — A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum — The ‘Crash’ Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape — ‘Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle’
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation — Scientology’s former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross — Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked — Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back — Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack — The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 23, 2011