(Note: This article first appeared on Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker and is republished here for archival purposes.)
Previously, we discussed Scientology’s very predictable and rather boring PR strategy of taking photos of smiling people — often local police — holding Scientology booklets, such as The Way to Happiness. But there’s another standard Scientology public relations image we’re all very familiar with: Scientologists showing off their new certificates.
Everyone in Scientology, from high-profile whales like Jim Mathers to the newest raw meat preclear must be photographed smiling and holding aloft their new “certs”…
This leads us to ask, “What is a Scientology certificate, and what does it really mean?” As defined by L. Ron Hubbard, a Scientology certificate is superior in every way to a wog (non-Scientology) degree:
CERTIFICATE, an award given by the Hubbard Communications Office to designate study and practice performed and skill attained. It is not a degree as it signalizes competence whereas degrees ordinarily symbolize merely time spent in theoretical study and impart no index of skill. (Aud 2 UK) Abbr. Cert.
True to Scientology’s deceptive legal structure, however, a cert is not awarded until, and unless, a Scientologist attests, or originates, to having completed the Bridge level or training course and writes a success story. The onus is on the Scientologist to claim success in the Bridge level or training course because L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, legally speaking, have never promised anyone anything:
A Scientology certificate signifies a skill or an ability attained as claimed by the individual Scientologist. A certificate is awarded as a function of the Scientologist’s attestation. This leaves all Scientologists completely vulnerable to future charges from the Church that they false attested. In this case, any or all of their certificates can be cancelled.
Sea Org and Staff members are particularly at risk of having all of their certs cancelled if they commit “HIGH CRIMES.” In Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard is called “Source” and so if a staff member cuts corners and fail to use only L. Ron Hubbard-approved methods, they are “Off Source” and are guilty of the high crimes of technical or administrative “degrades.” Per HCOPL 10 July 1986, the penalty for Off Source actions is brutal:
L. Ron Hubbard made it quite clear in HCOPL 10 July 1986 that everything was at stake in adhering to On Source policy:
Any Scientology certificate can be cancelled at any time by the Church of Scientology. Even OT VIII’s who have posed with COB RTC Mr. David Miscavige aboard the MV Freewinds can have their OT VIII certificates cancelled; no one is immune:
In addition to certs, Scientology also gives out awards in the form of commendations. All awards, even the most gigantic of commendations, are also subject to cancellation:
Scientology’s nuclear option for all certificates and awards is its infamous “SP Declare.” The Scientologist can say goodbye to every cert, award, and commendation they have ever received if they are declared a suppressive person:
Like the Sea Org, Scientology certificates and awards have no legal existence and are not legally binding upon the Church of Scientology in any way whatsoever. For example, many Scientology “Clears” have had Clear certificates revoked. The Church has claimed that these people “falsely attested” to having attained the state of Clear. In this example, the Church demands that these people pay more money to redo whatever actions are necessary to become Clear once again. This same thing can happen on the OT levels if the Case Supervisor deems a Scientologist to be a “bypassed case.” In this event, an OT who has spent the hundreds of thousands or more to get to OT VIII, he or she can be sent all the way back down the Bridge to Life Repair.
Finally, while Scientology’s certificates and awards are tenuous at best, Scientologists can and do become ruthless in their quest to maintain their certs. Scientologists disconnect from family and friends and undergo expensive sec checks and brutal “lower conditions” in order to maintain their Scientology certs and good standing with the Church. As we covered in our previous article on Disconnection, enlightenment in Scientology is extremely fragile and can be destroyed by even proximal exposure to SP’s, entheta, or reading the Internet. For this reason, Scientologists can destroy their own families and friendships in order to hang onto their certs and status within the Church.
In the final analysis, even if Scientology has a 16-lane expressway to OT, a Scientology certificate or award is, ultimately, only as good as the paper it is printed on.