From Scientology to Sterling

July 1998

One of my best friends has become involved with Sterling. He was involved with Scientologyfor years, but finally saw the light and got out. A year or two later he joined Sterling--and tried to get me involved. He is an aspiring writer and is over at my place frequently to use one of my computers.

About a year after he left Scientology, he told me he had joined this great organization that was going to solve all his personal problems and help him find work. Both of us were out of work at the time.

He invited me to come to an "open house", which I agreed to. At that point I did not even know the name of the organization. The open house was a barbecue. When I arrived there, I noticed that only men were at the open house, which was at a beach in Los Angeles. Passing women were treated very disrespectfully; there were catcalls and sexist remarks. We ate dinner.

Then, after the meal, the testimonials started. Vacuous remarks such as; "Before Sterling, I was a lost soul; Sterling saved me." I immediately smelled a rat, and tried to leave. As I tried to leave the circle, I was grabbed and physically shoved back inside. This happened several times.

Finally, the sign ups started. If you wished to sign up for the weekend, you said "Fuck It" which meant "yes" in Sterling jargon--and they did have their own jargon. I told them that I did not wish to sign up at that time; that I needed to find out some more about the organization before I committed $500. My friend became very angry with me for not joining then and there, but to their credit, some of the other Sterling People said that I should not be coerced into joining. However, they still thought I should sign up for "The Weekend" at a later date.

I decided to do research about Sterling before making a final decision. I contacted the committee on cults of the Jewish Federation Council. When I read the information they sent me, I was glad I had not omitted to Sterling.

I am particularly offended by their (nude) "warrior" game--this perpetuates stereotyping of Native Americans. Their misuse of Native American rituals and ceremonies is also offensive to me--even more so is the way they distort these. They claim that this is "their own version" of Native American ceremonies. There is nothing more offensive to Native Americans than white wannabes doing parodies of Native American ceremonies such as the Sweat Lodge, Vision Quest, Sun Dance, etc.

I have noticed some changes in my friend. Most of his social interactions are now with members of his "team". Because he hangs out at my place a lot, I get constant calls from his teammates. They have demanded that he do some absurd things, such as attend meetings that run from 12:00 midnight to 3:00 or 4:00 AM in the morning. Most of his other teammates work, but they are still required to attend those meetings.

Every three or four months he must cough up a large sum of money for dues. Sterling can get downright vindictive when you don't have the money--you may be required to do fifty pushups; take ice-cold showers, etc. My friend was once ordered to take a cold shower and recite limericks over the telephone at the same time for three minutes.

Except for me, he does not see any of his non-Sterling friends as often as he used to. He used to be an avid scrabble player, and go to a scrabble club twice a week; now it is much less often, as the Sterling meetings often conflict with the scrabble club. He has asked if he could use my apartment for Sterling meetings, but I gave him a firm no. He used to be very supportive of me when I was looking for work; now he is often irascible. He is still trying--more subtly now--to get me to join Sterling. My answer is still "No", and I told him that one day he would become disillusioned and quit Sterling just as he had quit Scientology. Several of his teammates did.


Copyright © 1998 Rick Ross
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