Story by MIRAZ RASOUL
Jeffrey Aylor was only 13 years old when he made the decision to join Scientology.
That decision changed his life forever.
Aylor was born and raised in a Scientology family in Los Angeles, Calif. Aylor was approached by Scientology’s Sea Organization when he was a pre-teen and joined shortly after. “They asked me if I was interested in helping people, and I was just a kid, it seemed like a good idea to me at the time,” Aylor said.
After joining, Aylor was introduced to the required training known as “Estates Project Force.” “The training and process of becoming entangled in Scientology is very organized and strict,” Aylor said. The Estates Project Force is a boot camp where new members learn how to perform manual labor work, march and salute.
“There is a lot of importance placed on physical work when in training because they believe it teaches a person to be stronger and more in control of their environment,” Aylor said.
The training definitely changed Aylor. “It was as if I could no longer go on without working long hours and doing what I was told every second of every day; I don’t know if it was fear or a desire to be accepted among my peers,” Aylor said.
After all the training, Aylor was assigned to be a receptionist at the American Saint Hill Organization for spiritual training. “I was paid $50 every week for working about 15 hours almost every day,” Aylor said.
Even when Aylor was not working or training, he was sharing his space with about 20 other boys and men. “Life surrounded around work and being committed to your faith, there was no time to really reflect and picture another future for yourself,” Aylor said.
A while passed and Aylor was awarded a “higher ranking” in the community. Aylor was no longer a receptionist, but a PTS watchmen. A PTS watchmen monitors certain Sea Organization members who wish to leave the order. “I was honored to be chosen to fulfill such a major role, but I later came to realize that my job was not ethically right,” Aylor said.
In the Sea Organization, there is no concrete rule that bans members from leaving anytime they desire, but there is a process that must be completed before being released.
The “route out” process usually puts a lot of pressure on members wanting to leave. “The church doesn’t really believe that a member may want to leave because they are unhappy, it’s usually assumed that the reason members want to leave is because they have done something wrong that is motivating them to get out,” Aylor said.
The route out process is taken very seriously and must be completed. So to make sure members who are in the process don’t leave before completion, they are placed under PTS watch.
The PTS watch job entails shadowing members who are in the route out process. Aylor describes this shadowing as a serious matter that can go to extremes at times.
“I was ordered to spend all night sleeping on the floor against the door of a member who was on watch many times. I had to know and feel when they opened the door and if they wanted to use the restroom in the middle of the night, I would stand outside the door for them to finish,” Aylor said.
Amongst all the madness, Aylor was still performing his duties as a good member with no intention of leaving anytime soon.
After six years of service for the Sea Organization, Aylor finally realized how unfair the organization can be to its members. Circumstances changed in 2004 when Aylor became very ill. Aylor has had asthma and other health issues since he was a child.
Aylor kept his health under control while in the Sea Organization, but when he became sick, there was no help in sight for him.
“It was just some serious chest pains in the beginning but it got worse and before I knew it after a few months, I could no longer work and get out of bed,” Aylor said.
All members in the Sea Organization are promised medical care, but no matter how sick Aylor became, he did not receive any medical attention. “For months, I was bedridden and had to keep asking for someone to take me to the doctor, but it never happened,” Aylor said.
Most Scientologists in the church view illnesses as something a person has created in their mind; in other words, they believe individuals bring illnesses upon themselves. Due to this notion, Aylor was sent to ethics counseling and when that didn’t help cure him, he was advised to start over with his Estates Project Force training to get better.
“I had no options left. I had no strength and ability to work because I was bedridden and needed a doctor,” Aylor said.
One night, Aylor was thinking when he made his final decision to leave and never go back. He decided to call his mother to tell her to pick him up and he left without any intention of ever returning.
Aylor managed to easily flee without any trouble whatsoever due to his PTS watch training. “I knew what to do and how to not get caught, the training I was taught to keep members from leaving later helped me get out,” Aylor said.
Now, Aylor is an assistant manager at a bank and lives a very normal lifestyle but there is no denying that Aylor is a little more different than everyone else due to his experiences. Aylor’s manager, Alan Denner describes Aylor as a very hardworking person. “He is definitely much better than most individuals at taking commands and always doing what he is told,” said Denner.
Aylor’s other co-workers describe him as a quiet man who at times can be socially awkward. Brenda Gourley, a teller at the bank says he is not easy to get to know. “It is very obvious to see that Jeff has a lot of walls and boundaries, it’s hard to become close to him personally at the beginning,” Gourley said.
Aylor realizes that his experiences have made him a unique individual that many may not understand. “I look around and see that I am different because I take certain things more seriously than others and find that I have a tendency to be anti-social at times,” Aylor said.
Aylor doesn’t regret his seven years of life with Scientology, but he regrets not being able to experience his youth. “If I could I would go back to tell myself to not make the decision to join because life is too short and every experience at every age should be cherished,” Aylor said.