You may not know the name, but I'll bet you've seen Larry Anderson a few times in your life. He has appeared on more than 30 television shows, from Charlie's Angels and Mork and Mindy to Desperate Housewives and Mad Men; he was a game show host and had bit parts in several movies.
But Larry Anderson isn't a household name to many people, unless those people are Scientologists. See, Larry Anderson had a starring role in the Church of Scientology's 1996 film Orientation, a church recruitment film. As the film ends, Larry Anderson says:
"If you leave this room after seeing this film and walk out and never mention Scientology again, you are perfectly free to do so. It would be stupid. But you can do it. You can also dive off a bridge or blow your brains out. That is your choice. But, if you don't walk out that way, if you continue with Scientology, we will be very happy with you. And you will be very happy with you.''
Now, after 33 years as a Scientologist, and the past 13 as the voice of Scientology, Larry Anderson is walking away because he feels the church failed to deliver the spiritual gains it promised. And he also wants his money back. Anderson paid almost $120,000 for services never taken and that the Church of Scientology has a policy which states that parishioners can get repayments, but if they do, they cannot come back.
So Larry Anderson met with Scientology spokesbot Tommy Davis eleven months ago to discuss his reimbursement, and he taped their meeting. His 90-minute recording offers a rare glimpse as to how the church deals with what they call a "defector" and his demand for his money.
On the tape, Tommy Davis asks Anderson to promise not to publicly announce his decision to leave Scientology nor join the ranks of its critics. Anderson refused, saying he was entitled to his money without conditions.
In a written response to the St. Petersburg Times, Davis says that Anderson's prepayments are charitable donations and the "church is under no obligation to return any donations received.'' He goes on to say that it is "offensive and reprehensible'' that Anderson "feels he must punctuate his departure with a public attack.'' Tommy Davis says Larry Anderson is not entitled to the return of any monies because he "declined to follow the prescribed policy and procedures.''
Anderson says he did follow procedure, and that it was Davis who insisted they meet to discuss the request for repayment. Anderson says he was told to wait for the church's reply, which is just "evasive techniques to try to make it look like I'm the one who didn't follow procedure.''
Larry Anderson isn't out to denigrate the Church of Scientology. He simply wants the church to follow procedure set up by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard decades ago, which states that prepayments for services never received must be repaid. But I guess it's true what they say about Scientology: it's all about the money, and only about the money. And they seem to be running out of it.