London, Nov 4 : With most wondering what the Scientology religion is all about, a top Scientologist escapee has come out and revealed just what goes on in the shady "celebrity religion", in his book.
While A-list followers like Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, and John Travolta have credited their faith in the religion as the secret of their success, common man John Duignan said that it cost him everything and everyone he held dear.
Duignan, 45, who had lost everything when he became a leading figure in the church's British branch, revealed that he was so brainwashed that he would have killed for Scientology.
In the book, in which he reveals about his nightmare with the cult, he also penned down about how another member was driven to a suicide bid when she was "rehabilitated" after trying to leave. Duignan, who had never heard of Scientology, revealed how it all began in 1985 when he was approached in the street by a pretty girl who offered him a free personality test. "The test is a clever recruitment device because it appeals to people who are searching for something. I was unhappy and latched on to the prospect of gaining confidence. I probably needed proper psychological counselling but I got nothing of the sort. The result of my initial test was Urgent Action Required," the Sun quoted him as saying.
"These friendly people seemed to have the answer in Scientology and I surrendered myself to it," he said.
After he joined the religion, he was taken through a gruelling regime, during which he was grounded in the Scientology doctrine, with sleep deprivation, brainwashing and so-called counselling, as its way of teaching.
"On one occasion I sat on the floor while others shouted in my face and flicked things into my eyes," he said.
"It went on for hours. I wasn't allowed to react or blink. You're suppressing your natural reactions and that helps Scientology creep in to take over your mind.
"I saw myself as a soldier for Scientology. I believed it was the only route out of oblivion for mankind.
"The doctrine teaches a human's body doesn't matter because it is the Thetan, or soul, which survives.
"If I'd been told someone had to be eliminated because they were a threat to Scientology I could have justified the killing. They'd just lose their body, which isn't needed," he stated.
The harsh conditions Duignan endured were in stark contrast to the luxury enjoyed by stars at the glittering Scientology Celebrity Centre down the road.
It was until a chance encounter with actor Tom Cruise that Duignan started questioning the religion and his faith.
"In 2004 Tom was welcomed to the annual International Association Of Scientologists Gala Ball as the Most Dedicated follower," he said.
"I was working in the grounds and Tom came out wearing a bad fake beard. It was pathetic.
"Scientologists look upon Tom Cruise as one of their best assets, but it was him who made me think twice about the cult.
"I was earning 15 pounds a week, doing my best to spread the word. I had no privacy or time to relax and was afraid or stressed all the time.
"Yet I wasn't as dedicated as Cruise? It hurt," he stated.
When he made his escape bid two years later, Duignan knew that he would be hunted by the sect's intelligence wing, the Office of Special Affairs (OSA).
"Members who try to leave Scientology are subjected to the Rehabilitation Project Force," he said.
Despite the risks he still went ahead with the plan and managed to escape to Dublin, and rebuilt his life in his native Co Cork.
"I gained nothing. I still bear the scars of my time in the church," he said.
"But I'm now studying for an arts degree, getting to know my family and putting the past behind me," he added.
The story has been published in the book, The Complex by John Duignan (9.99 pounds, Merlin).